Guitar legend Steve Hackett vividly recalls traveling across Canada to Vancouver as a child


I interviewed former Genesis guitarist Steve Hackett recently–in advance of his show at Vancouver’s Vogue Theatre this Thursday (December 11)–and found out that he was a pretty huge fan of Vancouver–and Canada as a whole. It turns out that, when he was a kid, Hackett experienced an incredible journey from England to Quebec and then across to Vancouver, one that has stayed with him ever since.

“It was the big adventure of my young life,” said the 64-year-old guitar legend, “traveling to Vancouver via an oceanliner crossing the Atlantic and then Canadian Pacific Railway, driving across the whole of Canada from Quebec onwards. I was seeing the world, as a child, I thought. I was seven years old, and I was seeing icebergs on the sea, I was seeing life on the ocean wave. And I saw the prairie, I saw snow–I saw everything from the observation dome in that wonderful silver train.

“Of course the train went through the rockies–I’d never seen mountains before, let alone driven through them. And I remember places with exotic names like Moose Jaw. It just blew me away! It was every bit as magical as anything I’d seen in the movies, and I was in the middle of it, you know–the matrix opened up! This was it, this was the world!”

Hackett explained that–when his parents moved back to England after just a year in Vancouver–he had a hard time trying to adjust to being back in Britain. “I kind of went off the rails for a bit,” he recalled, “became a little big delinquent there.”

I asked Hackett if any of those unforgettable Canadian experiences from his childhood had landed in song yet, and he said he wasn’t sure. But that idea got him to thinking.

“I don’ t know if they’ve been there in song, but it’s an interesting proposition. In fact if I was a fulltime classical composer I would have to do The Canadian Symphony, for sure, because, really, everything on that journey would be just incredibly emotional–the whole thing.

“If I were to describe to you arriving in Quebec as the boat was coming into dock–the liner called The Homeric–I started seeing in the distance all of this colour which was going up in the air, and it was a ticker-tape welcome–people were throwing up confetti or god knows what it was, but it was this riot of colour, it was this moving rainbow in the air. We were being welcomed like heroes, and it was incredibly touching. That would be tough to write something as emotional as I feel now, you know.

“I learned to sing the national anthem,” he added, “and there’s a part of me that will be forever Canada. Absolutely. Canada forever.”

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