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M.V. Britannia Boat Ride and Royal Hudson Steam Train Ride Day Trip: Vancouver to Squamish and Back

I live in Houston and have worked as a nurse. I have a lifelong passion for traveling, nature, and photography (preferably all together!).

One of our ticket stubs for the Britannia/Royal Hudson Steam Train trip.

One of our ticket stubs for the Britannia/Royal Hudson Steam Train trip.

M.V. Britannia/Royal Hudson Sightseeing Excursion

One of the five days my mother, niece, and I spent in Vancouver, Canada, while on our 15-day vacation, we decided to take the M.V. Britannia ship ride from Vancouver up to Squamish returning on the Royal Hudson Steam Train back to Vancouver. It was a day trip sightseeing excursion, and we knew that we would discover new and different things that were out of the ordinary for each of us.

It was a slightly cloudy day, and many of my photos reflect that. At least it did not rain! We started by going to the Harbour Ferries dock at the north end of Denman Street, between the Westin Bayshore Hotel and Stanley Park. The Westin Bayshore Hotel was our home for the five days we spent in Vancouver, so this was very convenient for us to get to the boarding area.

The ship was due to depart at 9:30 am and return 6½ hours later. Once the other passengers and we were on board, the Britannia set sail, and we started to see Vancouver from the perspective of being on the water, looking back at the impressive skyline.

Vancouver's Port

Vancouver has the largest and busiest port in all of Canada. It is also a hub for cruise ships primarily going to Alaska and back. You can see some of what we saw by looking at the photos below. We were to pass beautiful scenery on our way up the coastline going to Squamish.

At one point, we saw the Royal Hudson Steam Train chugging along the cliffs along Lion's Bay. We were to take that very same train from Squamish back to Vancouver later that day.

While onboard the ship, we had lunch. Barbequed salmon, a green salad, potato salad, and rolls comprised the menu. Seating aboard the ship Britannia was comfortable. At one point, my niece laid down and took a short nap. My mother and I were engrossed in watching the passing scenery.

Approaching Squamish

As we got closer to Squamish, we saw Shannon Falls from a distance, and also we began to see many logs being floated in the water and transported elsewhere.

Logging is big business in this part of the world. They have a world-famous Logger Sports Show where competition between lumbermen provides excellent excitement each year.

Squamish, British Columbia

We disembarked the Britannia boat at this point and got to see a bit of the town. Squamish means "Mother of the Wind" in Coast Salish. The town is in a very scenic valley at the point of Howe Sound.

The second-largest granite monolith in the world, Stawamus Chief, towers over Squamish. Many mountain and rock climbers come from many places to test their climbing skills along the many trails. There are over 300 climbing routes that can lead one to the summit.

Squamish is only about an hour north of Vancouver by auto. Besides mountain climbing, there are many other activities such as windsurfing, camping, golf, and other lures which bring in many tourist dollars. There is a B.C. Museum of Mining, which we did not have time to explore on our layover.

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We did get to see the Pacific Great Eastern railway #2 Steam Locomotive, which now graces a small park. It was the first steam locomotive built in 1910 in Philadelphia. In 1947 it went to work for Crown Zellerbach Canada and was retired in 1960, going on display in 1967.

Royal Hudson Steam Train

After meandering around the town of Squamish for a short time, the Royal Hudson Steam train pulled into town for the return journey to Vancouver.

These steam engines and rail cars have been in and out of operation for years. At one time, there was a fleet of 65 Hudson-type locomotives operating. Initially built in the 1920s in America for use between New York and Chicago, they made their first appearance in Canada in the 1930s.

There were several classes of steam engines. Due to a royal visit from King George Vl and Queen Elizabeth in 1939, the Canadian Pacific (with the King's permission) attached royal crowns to the engines. From that point on, they were called the Royal Hudson's.

Most all of these old steam engines were decommissioned as were most of the rail cars. But due to interest in reviving this early mode of travel and its romance, we can now again ride the rails in authentic, carefully refurbished British Columbia rail cars powered by the Royal Hudson steam engine.

The trip between Squamish and North Vancouver is very scenic. The rails that were difficult to build initially in that area hug the cliffs and run alongside the water. This train ride was my very first anywhere.

The beauty of this day, which started with the boat ride on the Britannia from Vancouver to Squamish and then the trip back via train on the Royal Hudson, is not one that we will easily forget. Given the choices of all the things that one can do and see while in Vancouver, we were happy that we selected this as one of our day trip adventures.

Royal Hudson Steam Locomotive

Royal Hudson Steam Locomotive


I hope you vicariously enjoyed this ship/steam train day trip from Vancouver, Canada, to Squamish and back to Vancouver. Sadly, I have learned that larger ships like the M.V. Britannia can no longer dock in Squamish there because of a silt buildup in that harbor.

Hopefully, that situation will be remedied in the future so that trips like the one we enjoyed can occur again.


This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2009 Peggy Woods

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