When people go for a ride on the Little Prince for a quick rail tour at Lheidli T’enneh Memorial Park they might not realize how and why a miniature wood-burning steam engine ended up in Prince George.
That mini locomotive, a 1912 Dinky, was one of five of its kind shipped up the Fraser River on a sternwheeler to help build the Grand Trunk Pacific Railway. At that time there were no roads and no railway and the two-foot gauge train was perfect for building a full-size rail line because it didn’t require permanent railbed ballast needed to support a full-sized locomotive.
Because there was no coal in northern B.C., the Little Prince was retrofitted to utilize wood heat to produce its steam, with a never-ending supply of logs to keep it running. Without it, that main east-west rail line between Edmonton and Prince Rupert so instrumental in opening up the territory for the forestry and mining industries might never have been built.
The story of the Little Prince, as well as the history behind Mr. PG and Prince George Auto Racing Association (PGARA) Speedway, home of the city’s stock car racing community, is told in Telus Landmark series in 10-minute videos produced by Calgary-based journalist Peter Hays.
Hays, a former reporter with the Medicine Hat News and Halifax Daily News, switched to television news in 1996 and has been a video producer ever since. He first visited Prince George in June and returned in July, sleeping in his camper van, where he edited footage obtained from hand-held cameras and a drone.
Each of the videos, available here, includes 10 minutes of extended interviews.
The feature on Mr. PG, the iconic symbol of Prince George, sheds light on how he became such a beloved figure in the city’s history. The PGARA video focuses on three generations of the Conn racing family, Milton, Aaron and 14-year-old son Corbyn, among several other stock car racers featured in the 10-minute segment, and there could be more on the horizon.
“There’s a good chance I’ll be back up, because I made some really strong connections with the guys at PGARA and we were talking about maybe doing something more with the racing, so stay tuned,” said Hays.
Hays and his Tangerine Productions also focused on Fort McMurray to launch the Landmark Telus Originals series, which reveals snippets of history of northern communities in B.C. and Alberta. The Landmark videos launched on Dec. 27 on Telus Optik TV Channel 8 and on YouTube.
The City of Prince George is promoting the videos on its social media and Tourism Prince George intends to utilize the three local segments of the series to help draw visitors to the city.
“We are excited about them, any kind of exposure for Prince George and our unique history is positive and they highlight our attractions really well,” said Carmen Herman, Tourism PG’s director of business and destination development.
“There’s opportunity to share them on Linked In and within our newsletter and we’ve got subscribers from outside Prince George on that. I think there’s opportunity for us to look on how to expand on that and really share the history and share the work they’ve done within the tourism context.”