From the Vancouver Daily Province, September
BRITISH COLUMBIA'S FIRST EXCURSION TRIP
Mr. C.D. Rand Tells of Trip on First Railway Train West of the
Rockies----In the Days of the Port Moody Boom.
Extraordinary thing about that ticket,"
mused Mr. C.D. Rand, a pioneer who saw Vancouver cut out of the
virgin forest, as he leaned back in his chair and gazed at a little
red pasteboard minus one corner which he held in his hand. Mr. Rand
had a minute before accidentally found the ticket among his office
papers, and it carried him back over memory's pathway through the
crowded experiences of twenty-seven years, till it landed him on
a seat in the first passenger train operated west of the Rockies
on the Canadian Pacific Railway.
That ticket, he continued, giving expression
to the reminiscent thoughts called up by the occasion, reads
to Emory by rail, but there is nothing about it to signify the starting
point of the trip for which it was used. However, there are some
notes in ink on the back of it which explain the whole matter. Read
The cardboard was passed across the room, and this is the inky
inscription, dulled by age but still plain, which it bore:
This ticket was used by me on the first passenger
train on the C. P. R. west of the Rocky Mountains. The train left
Yale for Emory at 9 a.m.and returned at 1 p.m.C. D. Rand
On its face the ticket bore about as much resemblance
to the present-day C. P. R. orders for transportation as an ancient
papyrus roll does to a modern newspaper. To even the oldest conductor
on the road that ticket would be a curiosity. It is probably the
only receipt given by the C. P. R. for fifty cents' worth of transportation
on the first passenger train west of the Rockies which is in existence
Forty Hours' Journey to Yale
I remember very well that first trip of mine
to Yale, went on Mr. Rand, as he stowed the ticket away in
a wallet containing a number of early-day souvenirs. I was
then living in New Westminster, and with others from there I took
an excursion run up the river for the purpose of riding on that
first train on the Pacific division of the then uncompleted first
transcontinental railway of Canada. It was in July, 1881, and there
was keen opposition among the boats running on the Fraser.
The old stern-wheelers left New Westminster
at seven o'clock in the morning for up-river points, and if they
were fortunate arrived at Yale sometime in the forenoon of the next
dayif they had bad luck they sometimes never reached Yale
at all. Nowadays Yale is only three and a half hours' run from Vancouver
by rail, and travellers would roar complaint if they had to spend
thirty or forty hours on the run, but in the old days we thought
ourselves lucky not to have to walk.
The steamers used to stop along the river wherever
there was a passenger to be picked up or landed, or freight to be
handled. Every few hours the nose of the old boat I travelled in
would be pushed into the mud of the banks opposite a woodpile, and
the passengers would be invited to participate in the carrying of
cordwood up the gangplankit was great exercise, and incidentally
saved the owners of the boat the wages of half a dozen deckhands."
Old-time Rivalry of River Steamers
The boat I travelled on that trip was the Cassiar,
and Harry Bishop, now wharf agent of the C. P. R. at Victoria was
purser. Harry was the best dressed man on the river in those days,
and the most obliging and best liked purser on the run. Another
boat, the name of which I have forgotten, was racing upstream with
us. We both had a fair start from New Westminster, and it was a
close seesaw all the way up the river; when we would stop, our rival
would pass ahead; but sooner or later we would crawl up and pass
her as she lay at some woodpile taking on fuel.
The rivalry between the captains of the boats
was so keen that there were some strenuous races, as the holes made
in the woodpiles showed, but fir was cheaper then than now and passenger
traffic more in demand. As we ascended the river the water became
much swifter. The boilers of the boats were limited to a pressure
of one hundred pounds of steam, but when riffles were reached the
little needle on the steam gauge somehow always managed to crawl
up the scale till it registered a hundred and thirty-five or a hundred
and forty-five pounds.
On such occasions a suggestion was generally
made from the pilot house that the passengers had better get out
on the bow of the boat, as with the weight well forward it would
be easier to steer. Whether this was a fact, or whether in the event
of the boilers going through the upper deck on a hurry call the
passengers would be safer out of their path, is hard to say; I always
suspected, however, that the captain always wished to give us a
chance for our lives in the event of an explosion.
At three or four points where the river was
very swift, it was necessary to run cables to trees ashore, or to
rocks on the bank, and warp the steamer over the riffles. On these
occasions the passengers were never omitted when invitations to
lend a hand at the windlass were passed around verbally.
The first day's run took us to somewhere near
Hope, where both boats tied up on account of darkness. We started
again at dawn, reaching Yale some time during the forenoon.
Yale was the head of navigation; and from there
started the old Cariboo road, which was built in 1863-64 to the
then famous placer mines of the Cariboo district. During the days
of the gold rush, Yale was the outfitting point of the miners. In
1881 it was headquarters for the gangs of men engaged on railway
construction. That portion of the line between Emory Bar and Savona
was then being built by Andrew Onderdonk, who held his contract
from the Canadian Government.
Yale was the liveliest town in British Columbia
It was the centre of all the upcountry business
as well as the railway work, and the headquarters for all the gamblers
and deadbeats in the country.
First Passenger Train in British Columbia
The first passenger train was advertised to
run on July 4the citizens of British Columbia then celebrating
the Fourth more generally and more strenuously than they did the
First of July. So far as my memory serves me, the train consisted
of an engine, tender and four flat cars, the latter equipped with
the hardest kind of wooden seats in order that the passengers might
thoroughly appreciate the fact that the roadbed was new.
The train started from Yale, went east through
tunnels Nos. 1 and 2, which had just been completed, passing through
Yale and going down as far as Emory, which was about five or six
miles below Yale.
On the way down the conductor of the trainnot
having a conductor's punchtore off the corners of the tickets.
He intended to take up the tickets on the return trip. I was saving
souvenirs at the time and was anxious to keep my ticket, so when
asked for it by the conductor I gave no sign that I noticed him.
Some friends with me volubly explained that I was deaf and dumb,
and the conductor, after going through considerable pantomime in
which I earnestly joined, left me in disgust and I succeeded in
carrying off the ticket in triumph. It is probably the only one
in existence to-day, and I propose to keep it as a family heirloom.
By the way, continued Mr. Rand, warming
up as the pioneer scenes were recalled, I not only rode on
the first passenger train west of the Rockies, but I claim to have
driven the first spike in the Canadian Pacific Railway at tidewater
at Port Moody. I happened to be in Port Moody one afternoon on business,
and while there Mr. A. J. Hill who was engineer in charge of construction
at that point, told me that rail-laying would start on the following
morning, and he invited me to spend the night with him at his home.
He was then living on the wharf at Port Moody, which has long since
been eaten by teredos [a kind of clam; they dont actually
eat the wood, but burrow into it]. I told Mr. Hill that if he would
allow me to drive the first spike I would stay over and attend the
ceremonies. He agreed.
The following morning I arose about five o'clock.
When the first rail had been placed in position I with all due ceremony,
and in the presence of the track-laying gang, the engineering staff
and two small boys, drove the first spike ever planted deep into
the timber at salt water on the Canadian Pacific.
When Port Moody Was Booming
Yes, it is true that Port Moody was then in
the throes of a real estate boom. A great deal has been said about
this boom and the immense sums of money which were lost there, but
the great losses are largely a fable. A certain amount of money
was lost, it is true, but no person was seriously injured financially.
The boom lasted about six months, and lots
at the start sold at from $50 to $75 each. I distinctly remember
one transaction, in which I sold a capitalist seventy-five lots
for $5000. These lots were all sixty-six feet in frontage and one-hundred
and thirty-two feet in depth, and were all business propertyreal
estate men will appreciate this point. The transaction took place
during the latter part of June, and before the end of the following
Octoberor within four months from the time of purchasethe
lots had been resold at an average price of $1000 per lot.
The boom was short lived, and reached its height
on a Saturday afternoon. On the following Monday morning lots were
unsaleable, word having been received that the C. P. R. had altered
its mind about Port Moody as a terminus and intended to push farther
down on Burrard Inlet and take up a position on the ground now occupied
by the city of Vancouver. Of course, some doubt was expressed about
this news at first, but it proved too true, and then there was a
scramble for Gastown.
No, no; I will not go into details just now
about that Port Moody boom; but it is a good story, as some residents
of Vancouver are well aware, and will make interesting reading when
I find time to tell it.
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