After reading my recent post about our day at Yokohama, my father sent the following message. I found it very interesting so I thought I’d share it with the rest of you. Thanks, Dad! It’s nice to have you as a guest on the blog.
Your comments on Yokohama and the silk trade brought reminiscences. Vancouver, of course, was very much involved. When I was young (a long time ago), at 11 o’clock every second Saturday morning, a big 3-funnelled Empress liner — Empress of Japan, Empress of Canada, Empress of Asia, or Empress of Russia — would sail from CPR Pier B or Pier C (opposite sides of the same wharf), about where the cruise ship wharf is now. Destinations would be Victoria, sometimes Honolulu, Yokohama, sometimes Kobe, Shanghai, Hong Kong, and sometimes Manilla. On the following Monday the next Empress would come in, so there would be one at the wharf most of the time. When the ship docked, there would be a train of baggage cars (not freight cars) on the dock and the silk would come off as the top priority. The train would then highball through Calgary to Moose Jaw, cross the border at Portal, and continue on to Chicago, which was then the centre for the silk trade in North America. That was in the days when the passenger train was king. But the passenger trains would pull off into a siding to let the silk train go by.