Calgarian Parmjyt Bal anchored the final leg of the 2010 Olympic Torch Relay visit to Revelstoke, running the last stretch along Victoria Road to the Revelstoke Railway Museum before lighting a cauldron located at the back of the CPR’s Mount Stephen rail car.
After a brief photo-op at the back of the train, the travelling media was corralled inside, joining local and regional politicians, as well as other local representatives such as Parks Canada and Canadian Avalanche Centre personnel. Also on hand was Fred Green, President and CEO of Canadian Pacific.
The luxury train then departed on the 45-minute trip to Craigellachie, the location of the driving of the Last Spike.
Guests were treated to a continental breakfast in the board room of the Mount Stephen Car. Built at Canadian Pacific’s Angus Shops in Montreal in 1926, the luxury car was originally used to serve as a directors’ car for daytime use. The interior features art deco finishing. The decor includes wooden panelling made from maple and Circassian walnut panelling and veneer which was imported from Russia — pretty fancy, in other words.
Winston Churchill, Queen Elizabeth II and the Duke of Edinburgh are a few of the guests to have travelled in the car.
In 1971, the previously mothballed Mount Stephen was assigned to the CP’s public relations department after undergoing a restoration, and has served during these types of functions since then.
Revelstoke Railway Museum executive director Jennifer Dunkerson said the chance to ride in the car was a wonderful experience. “It was great. In the coaches they gave us a wonderful reception and a continental breakfast and we chatted over a number of things,” she said adding it was a good chance to make a number of contacts with CP representatives.
An historian, Dunkerson said it was great to be part of history in the making. “From my end of things, with railway heritage, the whole combination of involving the torch with the train and CP and going through this part of the province in that way — on the train — not only was creating a historical moment, but was also linking history with the present in the whole torchbearer relay. It was a brilliant combination of things.”
Also on hand was acting Revelstoke mayor Steve Bender, who was filling in for mayor David Raven. “Emphasis on acting!” he joked. “I just felt so privileged to be on that executive car, being served a continental breakfast and to be part of the whole Olympic thing. I think some of the hoopla kind of glosses over the fact that that’s a real historic event that we just experienced and I was just so privileged to be part of it.”
Once at Craigellachie, Cranbrook-based CP diesel mechanic Randy Dudka lit his torch from the cauldron before doing a lap around the Last Spike historic site. He was one of 20 CP employees from across Canada to be selected through an internal program. He had applied to be a torchbearer through RBC, but wasn’t selected, and was thrilled to get the chance. “It was absolutely awesome,” he says. He was joined by his wife Diane, daughter Georgia and grand-daughter Leah.
Like many participating in the relay, he has a background in athletics. He has been to several B.C. Winter Games, winning a few different medals with the Flying Tigers broomball team from Cranbrook.
Once back at the Last Spike memorial, he passed the flame over to Fred Green, who also did a lap around the complex before posing for photos and then returning to the train to light the cauldron once again.
The train then departed westward, with the next scheduled stop at Canoe, B.C.
Check the photo galleries page for photos from the Jan. 27 Olympic Torch Relay in Revelstoke and Craigellachie.