On Wednesday, July 13, a fleet of vintage coach cars will be rolling into Agassiz as part of its summer tour benefitting the Children’s Wish Foundation of Canada. Come join the Agassiz Harrison Historical Society, the District of Kent, and Tourism Harrison in front of the Agricultural Hall at 9:30 a.m. to greet this iconic locomotive and be part of this momentous occasion.
This will be the second year CP has partnered with the Children’s Wish Foundation to raise money to grant wishes to children with high-risk, life threatening illnesses.
Last year, the summer tour raised $50,000 through ticket sales, making five children’s dreams come true. Tickets are being sold through the foundation’s website (www.childrenswish.ca/cptrainride), ranging from $20-$40, depending on location and length of trip. The train will stop in over 40 communities across Canada, donating all proceeds to Children’s Wish Foundation.
Originally, the trip would have been on the 2816 Empress, a magnificent class H1b Hudson-type steam locomotive. It is the last of its kind, and one of just a few surviving CP steam locomotives in North America. However, it was announced earlier this week that the Hudson would not be able to make the trip.
Seventy years ago, before roads were developed in Agassiz, trains just like it would frequently stop at Agassiz Station— no longer in service— and served as the main source of transportation for both freight and passengers. Marnie Pickard, like many other locals, recalls the familiar whistle of the “Noon Hour” day coach or the early morning “Agassiz Local” picking up milk; and when the 1948 flood hit, she was one of the many residents crammed like cattle in the only source of transportation out of town.
During the 30-minute return to Agassiz, passengers will be both getting off and boarding the train. If interested in purchasing tickets, passengers boarding from Agassiz can explore the rails through North Bend, Ashcroft and Kamloops for the day— note that tickets are one way and return trips must be arranged separately. As part of this unique experience, staff from the Agassiz-Harrison Museum as well as Kilby’s Museum will be dressed in period costumes and offering historical facts and visitor information. The museum will have a table set up selling souvenirs from its gift shop, such as engineer hats and train whistles; coffee and tea will be served to locals awaiting the arrival of the train.
To help make this event memorable, there will be a special presentation on Tuesday, July 12 at 7 p.m. at the Agassiz Legion. Tom Price, Track Specialist- CPR Calgary, will be giving a rare presentation: 128 Years of Mayhem on the CPR Line. Tickets are $5 and can be pre-purchased through the Agassiz Museum and Visitor Information Center. For the full experience, take in the “125 years of Canadian Pacific Railway in Agassiz” exhibit at the Agassiz Museum — entrance by donation.