We left Toronto at 10 p.m. on Saturday, September 4th for a four night and three day trip upon VIA Rail Canada’s Flagship Western Transcontinental the “Canadian”. The train travels north and west through Ontario, on to Winnipeg, Manitoba, then through Saskatchewan, Alberta and finally British Columbia. To see the website for this trip go to: http://www.viarail.ca/en/explore-our-destinations/trains/rockies-and-pacific/toronto-vancouver-canadian
THE SCENERY IS FABULOUS. If you want to see Canada, I highly recommend this trip. (I’ll put up a separate post of just scenic pictures taken from the train.) Since the train leaves at 10 p.m. – you go to bed almost immediately (after the complimentary Champagne and appetizers). You awake the next morning to the forests of Ontario.
Our accommodations onboard were two single berths across the aisle from each other. (That’s me below in my cabin in a picture taken by Holly in her cabin.) We would have preferred one two-person cabin, but VIA offered a two-for-one sale on single cabins, saving us over $2,000 so the decision to take two singles wasn’t hard. And honestly, we were very happy with the single cabins. Mostly, except for sleeping, your time onboard is spent in the club car, usually upstairs in the dome where there are 360 degree views of the scenery, or in the dining car for meals. (Below are two pictures of Holly in the dome of the club car.)
The single cabin includes a toilet and a sink and a chair with a back that folds down to take almost all the space in the cabin. If you want to use the toilet, you either go down the hall or raise the bed. A shower is down the hall. Overall, quite nice.
The dining car was very nice. Linen table cloths and full waiter service. Breakfast is available between 6:30 and 9:30 a.m. Come when you like. Lunch and Dinner are served in three seatings. Choose first, second or third seating and that choice is for both lunch and dinner. The dining tables are set for four people, each meal we were seated with a new pair of fellow passengers. This is a very nice way to become acquainted with the other folks on the train. After a few meals and time spent in the dome car, we start to form a fairly cohesive group. When new passengers joined at Edmonton, one of my fellow travelers commented that she felt funny about new people joining our little group.
There is also, coffee, tea, water, fruit and snacks available continuously in the club car. We did not go hungry. In fact, I became concerned that if I showed so little restraint in the dining car of a train, I’d be completely out of control when I get to the cruise. The food on the train was good to very good. At each meal we were presented with a menu with four entrée choices and considering the food comes from a kitchen on a rolling train, I was pleasantly surprised at how good every meal was.
Sleeping on the train can be a little challenging. The beds in the single cabins lie parallel to the train tracks. The train tends to jostle side to side and at times the jostling woke me up, or prevented me from sleeping. After a few days, however, both Holly and I were sleeping better, probably due to becoming more accustomed to the motion of the train, and the lack of sleep from the previous nights.
Hornepayne, Ontario – a small town of 1,050 souls where we had the opportunity to purchase postcards and stretch our legs in the afternoon of the first day.
- Winnipeg, Manitoba – Winnipeg (Cree for “muddy waters”) is the capital of Manitoba – population 666,617 – stands at the confluence of the Red and Assiniboine Rivers. We took a city bus tour to hit the highlights in the four hour stop on the morning of the second day. Tour was worth it, the best way to see something of Winnipeg in the short time available. We stopped at the Saint Boniface Cathedral (destroyed by fire in 1968), the Manitoba Capital building, and Assiniboine Park including the Leo Moi Sculpture Garden.
3. Edmonton, Alberta – Alberta’s capital – population 812,201. We had a very short stop in Edmonton, about 20 minutes. Not enough time to do much more than go into the station to use the Wi-Fi. (Wi-Fi is not available on the train.)
4. Jasper, Alberta – located in Jasper National Park, a wildlife sanctuary. We had about 45 minutes to buy postcards, use Wi-Fi, buy ice cream. But not enough time to really see what looks like a cute little town (population 4,051). I took a lot of pictures from the train of the National Park, see my post of pictures from the train.
5. Vancouver, British Columbia – the trip ends in Vancouver. We reached the station about 8:30 a.m. after three days and four nights. We spent three and a half days in Vancouver. That will be the subject of another posting.