On The Rails of Northern British Columbia's History


Kenneth Scott Bateman - CNR Engineer



Ken Bateman of Smithers BC was an engineer for CNR for 25 years before he and Frank Watson died in a slide on November 2, 1978

The Trainwreck of 78 took the lives of Ken Bateman and Frank Watson in northern British Columbia

Boo Graphics in Kelowna British Columbia provides you with professional graphics and web design



Trainwreck of 1978

It has been over thirty years since the Storm of 1978. A storm which affected transportation, services, food, and people who lived in north-central British Columbia, Canada. People who lived there during this time will always remember the devastation of the storm. However, those who were there will also remember how this time brought people together to work as one and to survive as one. They are stronger people now than they were before the storm. Those who were not there have something to learn from those who were.

Three residents of Smithers lost their lives during the storm. Two CNR employees, conductor, Francis William Watson, and my father, engineer, Kenneth Scott Bateman, were washed into the raging Skeena River on November 2. Cheryl May Halwas, passed away at nine years old when a tree was blown over and landed on her at Lake Kathlyn School. You may not be with us today but you are not forgotten, you are in our hearts and we love you.

I have collected information and photos for over thirty years and I am not finished yet. I am giving credit to photographers, journalists, newspapers, and services when I am able to. However, in some cases I do not know who to credit. For any person who feels they deserve credit, please let me know at, hoghead@trainwreckof78.ca and you will receive full credit.

If you have information or photos about the storm of 1978 and want to contribute to this website, please let me know. You will receive full credit. While you are here, have a look at the photos, read the news, or come on over to Boo Graphics and see what Ken Bateman's son, who designed this site, does today.

If you have a link you want posted on this site please let me know at hoghead@trainwreckof78.ca.


Family Reunion - Nanaimo 2015

July 3 to July 5 2015 there is a Bateman Family Reunion in Nanaimo, BC, at the Tony Wright and Diana Bateman Wright's home. For most of us, this will be the first family reunion we have attended. Some of us have never met, and for those who have met, it's been many years since they have seen each other. It's sure to be a good time full of stories and laughter. The weekend will be full of good food, games and contests, fun sports like horseshoes, volleyball, and more.

The meeting place at Tony and Diana's home couldn't be better. There is lots of room, a lake and the ocean nearby. One or more family members is bringing a tremendous amount of ansestry information and will be set up for the family to see. I will be taking lots of photos and be writing a page about the Family Reunion which will be posted shortly after the event.


The Bateman Family Reunion was a great time. It would have been nice to see more people there but those who were had fun sharing stories and being together. The Bateman Blog is now online and is a location to share your photos and stories or documents. I'm really looking forward to the next reunion that may be at Coralynn and Ken's home in Manitoba


The Storm Of 1978



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October 31, the temperature was ten degrees C, about 10 degrees warmer than normal at this time of year. In the Terrace/Kitimat/Smithers area more than nine inches of rain fell in 48 hours. Two inches of rain in 48 hours would cause high water and moving mud but, nine inches was too much of an overload for the terrain which began to crumble and wash away. To add to this tremendous amount of rain was a severe wind which reached speeds of 140 km. Areas like Chapman Lake had over 20,000 hectares of trees blown down.







Zoe, Shirlie, and Cathy at Reunion 2015, Nanaimo


As well as the Bateman Blog there is the BadOrder Blog


Painted photo of CNR locomotive by Ken Bateman of Boo Graphics in Kelowna BC

Kenneth Scott Bateman

Kenneth Scott Bateman died on November 2, 1978 when their CNR train was washed into the Skeena River in Northern BC





Born on January 14, 1933, in Prince George, Bateman was a dedicated railroader, commencing service with Canadian National in Prince George in 1950. He spent 11 years in Prince Rupert and the last 15 years in Smithers. Bateman was one of the original founders of the CN Rusty Rails hockey club. He enjoyed fishing, snowmobiling, and most outdoor activities. He is survived by his wife, Olive, and children, Ken, Denise, and Diana, of Nanaimo. Pallbearers were, Collin Foley, Fred Brine, Verne Jackson, Joe Bodnar, Ed Pollack of Surrey, and Irvin Mann of Kamloops. Honourary pallbearers were, Bill McAloney, Nick Usen, Al Chupa, Cam Bilodeau, Jim Gorden, and Rod Cunningham.

His parents were John Carey and Sophia Bateman. Ken had a brother and a sister, John and Marion. His mother Sophia, my grandmother, is a woman I will never forget. Some of my fondest memories as a child were with Sophia in her home while she told stories as we sat in her kitchen while the fire crackled in her old wood stove. The home was heated by the wood stove and from a stream engine boiler in the basement.


Francis William Watson

Francis William Watson was the conductor who died when their CNR train was washed into the Skeena River November 2, 1978







Francis William Watson, born in Smithers in 1930, was actively involved in the Cancer Society, the United Transport Union, the Noric Ski Club, and the Bulkley Valley Fair Association. He is survived by his wife, Louise, and her children, Sandy, Patrick, and Fran, brothers Wilford and Joseph, and sister Wilma Spencer. Pallbeaers wre, G Rossignol, C Reid, L Thisstle, L Thompson, D Palanio, and B Warmerdam.

One thing I will always remember about Frank is when I was a teen in Smithers BC, Frank played for the hockey team CNR employees in Smithers called, "The Rusty Rails." Frank was not the best hockey player but one year he was named, "The Most Gentleman Player," and that he was.


Cheryl May Halwas

Cheryl May Halwas died in November 1978 at her school in Smithers BC when a tree was blown over during a storm








Nine year old Cheryl Halwas was seriously injured when a gust of wind toppled a tree on top of her. The incident occurred late Tuesday afternoon on October 30 at Lake Kathlyn School grounds. She was immediately flown to Vancouver General Hospital  where she is listed in pour condition.
Born May 26, 1969 in Hazelton, Cheryl moved with her family to Smithers in 1973. She was in grade 4 at the time of her death. Survived by parents Lloyd and Darlene Halwas. Cheryl leaves sisters Kelly and Lisa.
Cheryl was a member of Third Smithers Brownie Park, and she also enjoyed skating and gymnastics. Her hobby was collecting ornaments of all types.





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