Another Trans-Canada Train Ride.
VIA Rail Canada’s premier train, “The Canadian”, is one of the world’s great train rides. And I oughta know … I must admit that I’ve made the journey seven times and trip number eight is scheduled for next April. The Canadian’s route runs between Vancouver on the Pacific Coast and Toronto, which is just north of Detroit. It’s a rail journey of 2,775 miles, an impressive distance for any train ride.
You’re traveling in stainless steel beauties originally built in the 1950s and lovingly refurbished to remind us all what train travel was like in the Golden Age. The sleeping cars include roomettes for solo travelers, cabins for two, and three “sections”, which include an upper and a lower berth.
The last car on the train is a “Park Car”, so called because each is named for one of Canada’s national parks. Their distinguishing features are the rounded end and a glass dome where you get amazing views of all that spectacular scenery. I took this photo during the stop at Sioux Lookout, Ontario, under a heavy overcast.
The lower level of the Park Car has two lounge areas, one for relaxing and meeting other passengers (or snoozing); the other includes a bar staffed by a VIA employee who will be happy to serve you the beverage of your choice.
Personally, I prefer the westbound train because it just seems as though the scenery keeps getting better and better the farther west you go. First there’s the fertile farmland after leaving Toronto, then the train burrows into thick forests of pine and birch trees as it crosses the rocky Canadian Shield.
Next comes the seemingly endless fields that supply grain to all of Canada and half of Eastern Europe. The view from up in the dome never gets boring.
Three times a day, you can enjoy this varied and wonderful scenery from a table in the Canadian’s dining car, where the menu varies from day to day, the food is of gourmet quality and nicely served. Frankly, the whole experience is several cuts above the best that Amtrak is able to do. (Pause here to give a raspberry to Congressman John Mica.)
Just after the Canadian reaches the Rocky Mountains, it stops at Jasper, then continues to thread its way through some of the most spectacular mountain scenery in the world.
The next morning, the train leaves the mountains behind and follows the Fraser River for miles through a lovely valley all the way into Vancouver.
A train trip worth doing? Absolutely! And I must add that for a limited time, members of NARP get a 10-percent discount on both the basic rail fare and the sleeping car supplement … a fabulous deal. And why not? It’s a fabulous train ride!