Train Journey to Lillooet (1958)

This 1958 British Pathé newsreel shows a passenger rail journey from North Vancouver to Lillooet on the Pacific Great Eastern Railway. The train comprises three Budd rail diesel cars. Running north to Prince George, this RDC passenger service operated on the PGE (later BC Rail) from 1956 to the end of passenger service in 2002.

The Pathé narration is breezy and informative — but at some points, it also reflects the prevailing attitudes and insensitivities of the era in which the newsreel was made.

For a look at the PGE’s passenger and freight services as they were in the 1940s (operating between Squamish and Quesnel), please see the multiple clips from Rails to Romance (1945-47) that I have previously posted on this blog; the first clip is From Squamish to Alta Lake on the PGE. In that period, there was no land rail service between North Vancouver and Squamish, and the Union Steamship Company provided a sea link to the Squamish railhead. The steamship service, also featured in Rails to Romance, is viewable in this clip.

New Online Research Resources for Vintage Newsreel Footage

In the last year or so, at least two major newsreel film archives have been made publicly accessible online. The British Pathé news archives, comprising 85,000 items from 1896 to 1976, launched its own searchable YouTube channel in April 2014. The British Movietone news archive followed suit in July 2015, joining forces with the Associated Press archive to load some 550,000 items onto two YouYube channels — the British Movietone collection (1896-1985) and the AP Archive of historical, current and breaking news.

Putting these newsreel archives online through YouTube represent remarkable efforts of corporate generosity. The newsreels are now available for free viewing all over the world, providing invaluable visual resources for serious research — as well as for the simple geeky enjoyment of history buffs. In the latter category, I was thrilled to be able to go to these YouTube channels, search on “british columbia”, and immediately bring up a couple of dozen vintage news stories related to B.C. (SO cool!!!)

Filmmakers, documentarians and news organizations who wish to use the footage in their productions can now do their research online and then make commercial arrangements directly with the corresponding archive.

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