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.

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

Comments are welcomed.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on August 16, 2020:

Hello Massey Jones,

Because of your comment, I edited this article and added a caption below that photo you referenced. I also added a link at the bottom of the page to "Stawamus Chief." Thanks for your comment.

Massey Jones on August 15, 2020:

The big slab, so nicely photographed and shown between the sailing school and lighthouse pics, is called “”Stawamus Chief” and it is a local landmark that is considered to have spiritual significance for the Squamish indigenous people. Read about it on Wiki, it’s worth it. The published photo is one of the best one around of the mountain, viewed from the water. The granite dome is 700 m (2,297 ft) high.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on September 10, 2018:

Hello Massey,

I guess we were truly fortunate to be able to enjoy this day trip at the time we did. Apparently, the harbor in Squamish has not yet been dredged out to allow ships the size of the Britannia to enter from what you wrote. It is sad that the Royal Hudson trips had to also be discontinued. At least what we got to see and enjoy is documented in this post. It is now a part of history for that area.

Massey Jones on September 09, 2018:

Unfortunately, the Royal Hudson trips were discontinued in 1991, when the 2860 failed her boiler test. funds were gathered to repair her and she now resides at the West Coast Railway Association Heritage Park, the largest rail museum in Western Canada, next to Exporail near Montreal and still operates for special trips.

As for the Britannia III, my research foun out that it now operates on trips in Vancouver Harbour ant it would seem no more to Squamish.

May I point out that your article and pictures were truly enjoyable, the best I have read, while preparing a YouTube video on Royal Hudson trip I took, back in 1987. Massey

Robert Sacchi on August 23, 2018:

That is a good idea. Locals can definitely help tourists figure out where to go when they visit.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on August 23, 2018:

Hi Robert,

That is true. We will probably never see everything that there is to see and enjoy in the Houston area. I am doing more of it because of my website. It gives us reasons to keep exploring and we are having fun doing so. Tourists would have to pick and choose from among some of the highlights.

Robert Sacchi on August 22, 2018:

Yes, many large cities have a lot to see and tourists rarely have enough time to see everything.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on August 22, 2018:

Hi Robert,

Having a base of operation is always nice. Spending five days in Vancouver was not nearly long enough to see the beauty in that part of the world. It would be fun to go there again and do more day trips from that location.

Robert Sacchi on August 21, 2018:

Yes, that seems a good strategy for a vacation. When I was in vacation I use to do day trips from San Antonio,

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on August 21, 2018:

Hi Robert,

It is nice to be able to unpack and stay in one location for a time. Day trips from that location are then fun to do.

Robert Sacchi on August 20, 2018:

Those are the best kind of day trips.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on August 19, 2018:

Hi Robert,

It made for one very fun, educational and informative day trip away from Vancouver while being based there on vacation one year.

Robert Sacchi on August 18, 2018:

A boat trip and a train ride, two great ways to see a city or countryside. I'm sure those were wonderful trips.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on May 23, 2018:

Hi Dale,

So glad you enjoyed this virtual tour. I have no idea if the Squamish harbor is now open to ships such as we were able to take.

If you look down in the comments, 5 years ago I was contacted by Ana Santos who was writing an article to help promote the harbor there. She wished to use some of the information that I had written along with some of my photos. The harbor had silted up and needed dredging.

Hopefully by now that has been accomplished because it certainly was a wonderful experience for us and I am sure it brought more tourists to Squamish who might otherwise have missed visiting there.

Dale Anderson from The High Seas on May 23, 2018:

LOVE IT, LOVE IT, LOVE IT! Going to re-read this with my wife and then I will have more sensible comments to share, I am sure.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on August 27, 2015:

Hi Au fait,

This really was a delightful day that we got to spend while in Canada. I hope for the folks living in Squamish that their port is once again in full use someday so that more people can see it as we got to do. I am sure it must be cooler in Canada right now compared to our high temps in Texas. Would be nice to be experiencing those cooler temps!

C E Clark from North Texas on August 27, 2015:

Can't believe I haven't read this before! Even though I haven't been here before 'it' wouldn't let me give you 5 more stars, but I tried.

We're to have 5 days in a row of 99 degrees and Canada sounds like a great place to be right now. All of these activities sound wonderful -- and cool!

Pinned to my 'Travel' board, and shared with followers.

Hope all is well with you . . .

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on September 07, 2014:

Hi CherylsArt,

So glad you found this hub easily and glad that you enjoyed it. It was a wonderful and scenic day for us with those two different modes of travel and getting to see the the scenery that we did from the water and on land.

CherylsArt on September 05, 2014:

Wow, that looks pretty interesting. It's so neat to do the round trip with two different modes of travel. Thanks for sharing the title. I did an easy search in the general search box and quickly found your hub. : )

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on March 12, 2013:

Hi Ana Santos,

Thanks for contacting me with regard to using some of this information with regard to offering a similar trip in the future. Per our telephone conversation, I am happy for you to use a few selected excerpts from this hub and a couple of the photos. I had no idea that the harbor had silted up and had to be dredged so that larger boats like the M.V. Britannia could once again access the harbor in Squamish. If publicizing the fun we had will help bring further funding to accomplish it, then I am happy to be a small part of that. The ship / train trip from Vancouver to Squamish and back made for a very enjoyable day and now...a fond memory of our time spent in British Columbia, Canada.

anasantos on March 12, 2013:

Hi Peggy,

I am from Squamish and I love your description of the trip. I wish I had been here at the time to enjoy it too. I am writing an article for the local newspaper that will deal with issues related to waterfront development and management. I'd like to mention your trip as a great way to attract visitors in hopes that we can have something like that happening again in our town, perhaps reviving this same type of excursion. Do you mind if I use some of your descriptions and a couple of your wonderful photographs? Ana

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on July 19, 2012:

Hi alocsin,

It was fun getting to experience that old Royal Hudson Steam Train trip as well as taking the boat ride up to Squamish from Vancouver. You will definitely see pretty scenery along the way if you take the same journey. With your love of trains, I am happy that I could introduce you to this particular one. Thanks for your comment and votes.

Aurelio Locsin from Orange County, CA on July 18, 2012:

I'm quite the rail afficionado but this is the first I've heard of this steam train. I'm going to explore this great attraction online so I can take it next time I'm in Vancouver. Voting this Up and Useful.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on May 12, 2011:

Thanks again, albertacowpoke!

albertacowpoke from Redwater, Alberta on May 12, 2011:

You're very welcome Peggy.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on May 12, 2011:

Hello albertacowpoke,

Your complimentary comment means a lot since you know the area so well. Thanks!

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on May 12, 2011:

Hi Ethel,

The parts of Canada that we got to see were wonderful. Would love to see more someday. Thanks for the visit and comment.

albertacowpoke from Redwater, Alberta on May 12, 2011:

Having lived on Vancouver Island, with a 90 minute ferry trip to the mainland, I have enjoyed the beauty of supra natural British Columbia. You did an excellent job describing your trip. There is so much to see. Thanks for you fabulous story, extremely well represented.

Ethel Smith from Kingston-Upon-Hull on May 12, 2011:

Fabulous Peggy would love to visit Canada

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on December 03, 2010:

Hi Micky,

That daytrip from Vancouver to Squamish by boat and back by the Royal Hudson Steam train was most enjoyable. We certainly got to see and experience things in a different way. Such a beautiful part of Canada! Thanks for the visit and comment.

Micky Dee on December 03, 2010:

Peggy it's just awesome again! Once more you have a wonderful trip, directions, commentary, and videos to entertain! God bless Dear Peggy!

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on August 08, 2010:

Hi Billy,

Some of the photos are not quite as crisp because they were shot through the windows while aboard ship on our way up to Squamish from Vancouver, but glad you liked them. Will look forward to your new hub when you get it published. You are making me go back and do some adjusting on these old hubs...and then tweeting them. Thanks! :-)

billyaustindillon on August 08, 2010:

Very informative it reminds me of a story I am researching on commodities and the Canadian economy. The lumber and sulfur here and those mountains there with gold in them (well maybe). great photos.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on July 06, 2010:

Hi ss sneh,

I have always enjoyed traveling and I am simply doing some "memory trips" by posting things like this online. This portion of our trip...Boat, Steam Train ride...between Vancouver and Squamish (and back) made for an interesting and scenic daytrip, providing content for this hub. Happy to hear that you liked it. Thanks for the comment.

ss sneh from the Incredible India! on July 06, 2010:

Hi! Thanks for the trip! ...You have a nice way of living your life and sharing your beautiful moments with others! (and making money out of it too! I envy you) -- Thanks

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on May 13, 2010:

Hi again WE5,

Meeting your wife there and also living in Vancouver for awhile would have created many great memories for you. Your photos and ours of the Vancouver area are probably replicated with different people in them far and wide. So many pretty areas in that city for the taking of photographs.

WE5 on May 13, 2010:


I noticed some of your other Hubs regarding the Vancouver trip you had. My wife and I met in that city (although we are both from Newfoundland & Labrador - the other coast!). We actually lived in North Van and your Hubs are pretty much the same photos as we have in our scrapbooks! With different people...LOL. That park with the nice lighthouse is named rather unimaginitivly "Lighthouse Park". There's a lot of memories there for us.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on May 13, 2010:

Hi WE5,

Lucky you...getting to actually live in Vancouver. We loved that city, what we got to see of it in 5 days of vacationing there. This ship - steam train daytrip was just one of the interesting things that we did while there. We certainly saw some pretty scenery between Squamish and Vancouver. Thanks for the compliment on the hub.

WE5 on May 13, 2010:


I've done part of this trip way back when I was living and working in Vancouver. We used to take the train up to Whistler to ski. you did a great job with the Hub.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on October 28, 2009:

Greetings guylaine,

Happy that you learned a bit more about the western part of Canada in this hub about taking the ship up to Squamish and returning via the Royal Hudson steam train back to Vancouver. We spent 5 days in Vancouver and 3 on Vancouver Island and I wrote hubs about each. Check them out if you want to see more.

I'll be checking out your hubs as well. Thanks for the comment.

guylaine on October 28, 2009:

wow, I didn't realize the west coast was so rocky/granite. That lighthouse pic reminds me a bit of Peggy's Cove! I really really have to get out to BC someday. Thanks for sharing.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on October 28, 2009:

Hello loveroflife,

Thank you! Thank you! LOL Nice to know that you are enjoying our travelogs to places like Vancouver and Squamish in Canada. The ship and steam train daytrip was a real treat. Thanks for the comments.

loveroflife on October 28, 2009:

Your travelogs are a pleasure to both view and read.

loveroflife on October 28, 2009:

Your travelogs are a pleasure to both view and read.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on May 18, 2009:

Hello shamelabboush,

Glad you enjoyed this segment of the trip. Thanks for the comment.

Hi kiran, Once again...thanks for reading and commenting.

Hello Pete, Traveling is so much fun. So are writing these hubs about our traveling experiences. Thanks for the comment.

Pete Maida on May 18, 2009:

You definitely make me want to travel.

kiran8 from Mangalore, India on May 18, 2009:

Excellent ! thanks a lot :)

shamelabboush on May 17, 2009:

I envy you Peggy! This is an amazing trip. Nice photos there..

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on May 17, 2009:

Hi Melody,

So happy that you enjoyed the trip. Have more from Vancouver that I will be doing... Thanks for commenting.

Melody Lagrimas from Philippines on May 17, 2009:

Oh, Peggy, thanks a lot for inviting me. I enjoyed the trip sooo much.

Related Articles