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Royal Tour Was A Whirlwind For Those Involved


One of the highlights from Manitoba’s 100th birthday celebrations included a visit from the royal family.
The royal tour included stops at 22 communities culminating at the Manitoba Legislature on July 15, 1970, the date of the 100th anniversary of the Manitoba Act.

The royal tour was designed to let the royal family see as much of Manitoba and be seen by as many Manitobans as possible.

Two special trains, the Royal and the Press, arrived at Thompson on Friday, July 10. The Royal train consisted of three engines, as well as 15 cars. They included two self-contained Governors General Cars that would be occupied by Queen Elizabeth II, the Duke of Edinburgh, the Prince of Wales and Princess Anne.

Earlier that day, the royal party had arrived by plane at Churchill and were then flown to Thompson.
In preparation for the royal tour a CN memo on June 9, outlined employees’ instructions on neatness, the best possible handling of the trains, general alertness to safety and specially to concerns regarding smooth starting and stopping of trains at stop over points.

Employees were not to promote conversation with any members of the royal family, or party, unless they were spoken to. In the event of a conversation the proper response included “Your Majesty,” and thereafter, “ma'am.” Other members of the royal family were to be initially addressed as “Your Royal Highness.”

It was also noted that the employees would have extremely long hours and “that we will make every endeavor to provide short periods of rest when the schedule permits. The region advises there will be a regional electrician and car equipment person on either train throughout the territory.”

Jack Shmon’s duties on the royal tour included maintenance of the electrical equipment on the trains and making sure that the battery charging cars on each were supplied with power. He always travelled in a half-ton truck ahead and in close proximity to the train and was on call 24-7. Since the two cars occupied by the royal party were self-contained, they were not serviced other than replenishing the water supply.

Jack indicated that the royal train’s arrival and departure times were “dead on” at each stop as there was no interference from any other trains.

As noted in the June 9 memo, “No extra trains are to be run within a twelve-hour period in relation to the operation of either train. No other train is to be operated within a four-hour period with the exception of passenger trains not within one hour of the Royal or Press Train schedule.”

When the train arrived at The Pas the royal party was taken by automobile to Swan River. The royal party did not travel by train as it passed through parts of Saskatchewan.

Jack noted that at Overflowing River two trailers were set up in case Queen Elizabeth needed a “rest” stop. Jack took the opportunity to park his truck at Overflowing River for a quick rest. Soon after, the RCMP knocked on his window and even though Jack showed his identification badge, he was told to keep moving on.

A detachment of RCMP officers was also on board the royal train to provide security. It got to the point that the Sergeant of the train’s detachment told Jack, “Wherever you’re going, take an RCMP officer with you so that nobody will bother you as we have to protect the train.”

Jack noted that at Swan River, Prince Philip wandered around through the crowd and talked to everybody.

“I was talking to him just like an ordinary person,” he said.

After the walk-about, the royal party boarded the train and proceeded for overnight occupancy at the Ethelbert siding.

The next day, the royal party arrived at the Dauphin CN station at 9:55 a.m. and attended an outdoor service at the grandstand before proceeding to other stops in Manitoba.

At Assiniboia Downs, Queen Elizabeth II, Prince Philip and the train’s crew had a group photograph taken.

Jack noted that there were no serious mechanical problems during the tour. Now that the train component part of the tour was complete, it was time for Jack to head home for a well-deserved rest.