The Royal Train, Elkhorn, MB. Oct 17, 1951

Above left is pic­ture of Princess Eliz­a­beth & Duke of Edin­burgh on rear of Roy­al Train at Lon­don Ont. on Oct. 14th, 1951. At cen­tre is Page 1 and at right is page 2 of a let­ter that I sent to my par­ents the morn­ing after the Roy­al Train went through Elkhorn, Man. on Oct. 17, 1951. I was the CP Oper­a­tor on duty for Roy­al Train. Below please find a revised ver­sion of these 2 pages, which explains the expe­ri­ence more specifically.Click your cur­sor on all small pic­tures to enlarge them. At the bot­tom you can find copies of clear­ances and train orders issued to trains involved. Click on them too…This is his­to­ry shared with you.…Ferg Devins.

Kirkel­la, MB,Oct. 17/51

Dear Folks,…Well I got back to Elkhorn on Monday…and into the old rou­tine again. Worked at Elkhorn until 8 a.m. today, and into bed by 9:00 a.m.…Then was called at 11:50 a.m. to go to Kirkel­la to clear the branch way freight from the Neudorf/McCauley subs, onto the Broad­view sub (Main Line). So am sit­ting here wait­ing for it & decid­ed to drop you a line.

Well the Roy­al Trains went through Elkhorn this morn­ing with offi­cials on each train. Ahead of the pas­sen­ger Extra trains was reg­u­lar pas­sen­ger train #1 at 2.37. Mau­rice Roach (Assis­tant Super­in­ten­dent from Minnedosa) was on it. Then Pas­sen­ger Extra 2861 West (the Press Train) with Assis­tant Super­in­ten­dent Bar­ney O. Fry­er from Souris, arrived at 2:59 and depart­ed at 3:10. The Roy­al Train ‚Pas­sen­ger Extra 2863 West with Super­in­ten­dent Wood from Bran­don attend­ing it arrived at 4:58 and left at 5:05.  RCMP and offi­cials were all over it. There were about half dozen peo­ple down to see it and 5 cops (3 from Vir­d­en and 2 from Elkkhiorn). I was stand­ing on the plat­form after it arrived and this guy came up and asked if I was the Oper­a­tor on duty. I told him I was. He asked me my name and I told him. He said “Well, my name is Thomp­son” and we shook hands and stood around, shoot­ing the breeze for 5 or 10 min­utes. After he left I dis­cov­ered that he was the CPR Vice-Pres­i­dent. He seemed like a very nice person.

East­bouind pas­sen­ger train #2 arrived at 3:46 and could­n’t make Har­grave in time to clear these 3 trains by 30 min­utes and so it had to pull into the num­ber two pass­ing track at Elkhorn because the sid­ing switch­es at Reaper were spiked closed. After #2 pulled into pass­ing track the sec­tion men spiked the east switch closed and then pulled spikes after the Roy­al Train was by. No. 2 sat at Elkhorn from 3:46 until 5:00. I had to make 3 copies of train orders for train #1, 4 copies for the press train and 5 sets for the Roy­al Train. But they were only slow orders, which were already on the hook when I came on duty at 24 O’clock All freight trains had to be in the clear 5 hours ahead of the Roy­al Train, but there were none on the Broad­view Sub­di­vi­sion. There was no sign of the Princess and Duke, just Moun­ties, Offi­cials and Train Crews. Speed lim­it was 35 mph. Roy­al Train was sure shined up and coach­es from CNR & CPR. I could see into some of them and they were real­ly fixed up nice.

I was wrong about the Roy­al Cou­ple going to Rivers.They will be pass­ing through there on return trip via CNR on Sun­day Oct. 28th.

That’s all the news for now. So will sign off and see you on Sun­day. Bye for now…Fergie.

(Please note…The rea­son that all trains stopped at Elkhorn was so they could take on more coal and water for the engines. The engines 2861 and 2863 on the “Press train” and the “Roy­al train” were oil burn­ers and only required to take on more water, which meant they took less time at Elkhorn than the usu­al trains. Also Princess Eliz­a­beth’s father King George sixth died a few months after this tour and she became Queen of Eng­land, and the Com­mon­wealth, and is still the Queen in 2018)

You might be won­der­ing why the spaces on these clear­ances shown below are filled in with a short dash, instead of the “Train ahead, etc”. The Broad­view sub­di­vi­sion con­sist­ed of dou­ble track from Bran­don to Vir­d­en, then sin­gle track, Vir­d­en to White­wood, and dou­ble track again White­wood to Broad­view. The sin­gle track por­tion was Auto­mat­ic Block Sys­tem and trains were con­trolled by Auto­mat­ic block sig­nals, so it was not nec­es­sary to fill in that por­tion of the “Clear­ance form” as shown below.….FD