The Man Who Loved Shakespeare
Should you drive from the southern coast of British Columbia into the Interior, you might choose to take the Coquihalla Highway. Along the way you might be intrigued by road signs for Romeo, Portia, Lear, Juliet, and more.
Andrew McCulloch was the brilliant engineer in charge of constructing the Kettle Valley railway through an incredibly challenging landscape, including the Coquihalla River canyon with its sheer cliffs and narrow gorges.
If you take the turn off to the Othello Tunnels, you can walk along the old railbed and through the tunnels, as we did a couple of weeks ago.
There are three tunnels, dark, damp places blasted and chipped from solid rock. It's good to have a flashlight, or failing that, a strong arm to hold. Between the tunnels are two bridges.
Looking down, the water rushes over and around boulders of all sizes and shapes. Rock faces jut sharply over the river, low now in late summer. It was a hot day and the water looked cool and inviting, but there were warnings that the swift water was dangerous and one could be swept away by the current.
McCulloch loved Shakespeare, and named several of the railway stops for characters in the plays. It is said that often, in the evenings, around the campfire, he read Shakespeare.
Although the rail line has been long abandoned, McCulloch's feat of engineering is remembered as modern travelers hike along his route, and the signs that flash by as cars zoom up and over the mountains bear witness to his literary preferences.
I wonder what he would think of our modern highways and fast cars. I like to think Andrew McCulloch would smile to see the names he chose still in use today.