Belles & Whistles at the Westcoast Railway Heritage Museum

As the 75th anniversary of the first [British] royal [family’s] visit to Canada fast approaches, I thought I would share this belated post on the historical fashion show that Ivan Sayers presented at the Westcoast Railway Heritage Museum in Squamish, BC on 20 April 2013.

Royal History

King George VI and Queen Elizabeth visited Canada for the first time in 1939, from 17 May to 15 June. It was a 29-day voyage by rail across Canada, starting in Montréal, QC to Victoria, BC, then back toward the east through Jasper and Edmonton, AB. This royal visit was particularly significant as Canada had only eight years earlier gained full sovereignty from British rule.

The tour would also have a lasting impact on Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mother:

‘It is now some 46 years since I first came to this country with the King, in those anxious days shortly before the outbreak of the Second World War. I shall always look back upon that visit with feelings of affection and happiness. I think I lost my heart to Canada and Canadians, and my feelings have not changed with the passage of time.’ – On another royal tour in Canada in 1985

To commemorate this anniversary, the Royal Canadian Mint has come out with a limited edition 1 oz. Fine Silver coin.

Westcoast Railway Heritage Park & Museum

The Westcoast Railway Heritage Museum is in Squamish, BC, about an hour away from Vancouver.


The Westcoast Railway Heritage Park



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Prior to modelling, the models were invited to have lunch in the British Columbia business car from 1890 (if I remember correctly).  We sat around an elegant table in the dining cabin and enjoyed a meal (I don’t remember what we had), fruit, and dessert.


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Please excuse my reflection. This is not the dining cabin we were in as ours was grander.

After the fashion show, we roamed around the museum to photograph the collection of historical railway. It was near the entrance that I discovered the wall dedicated to the royal visit in 1939.


From the display, I learned that the locomotive that pulled the royal train was a CPR Hudson 2850. Due to its ‘outstanding performance’ during the royal tour, the CPR (Canadian Pacific Railway) was granted permission from King George VI to allow ‘semi-streamlined’ CPR Hudsons 2820 to 2864 to be decorated with crowns and be designated as Royal Hudsons. The museum kept one Royal Hudson, 2860.

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The crown on the CPR Hudson 2860

Belles & Whistles Historical Fashion Show

The historical fashion show took place inside the museum.


The audience and stage between two trains

The stage

The stage

The title of this historical fashion show fundraiser was a play on train bells and the lovely women, or the belles. The theme was on historical and vintage attire for travelling. I wore two outfits: the first was Edwardian and the second was from the 60’s.

My Edwardian suit from 1908 looked like a long linen skirt at first. It was only after I had taken long strides that the audience noticed that I was not, in fact, wearing a skirt but a pair of ‘trousers’ that looked like a skirt. This would have allowed the wearer to go cycling. Very clever indeed. 😉 I wore a matching long blazer and covered the suit with a long elegant coat. To top it off, I wore a wide hat with a poor dead white bird which was all the rage back then, apparently. This hat went on top of the Edwardian ‘poof’ (that’s what I call it) wig made from real hair so it felt as if I were balancing a heavy encyclopedia atop my head as I walked up and down the stage.

Edwardian Outfit – B&W 2013

My 1960’s outfit was a chic camel-coloured wool suit (skirt with matching jacket) that could be worn for work. It was no ordinary suit, however, but vintage Dior. Yes, Christian Dior. 😉 The suit is from around 1966-68. The suit was matched with a unique square hat and shoes with a rectangular embellishment.

Dior Outfit - B&W 2013

The show was a success, of course, and I was very grateful to be given the opportunity to model for Ivan Sayers for the second time. It’s especially exciting when we models get the chance to model inside a museum.

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