North to Hudson Bay.
VIA Rail’s premier train is the Canadian, a four night trip from Toronto to Vancouver. It’s a great ride and should be on every train travel enthusiast’s bucket list. But VIA has several other great rides and one in particular, the Hudson Bay, belongs on the same list. It runs from Winnipeg almost due north some 1100 miles to Churchill, on the shores of Hudson Bay. I took the trip five years ago in late October, the time of year when polar bears come into the area waiting for the bay to freeze over. The bears spend the winter out on the ice hunting seals, their only source of food. Here are a few of the photos I took on my trip.
Going to Churchill, you either fly or you take the two=night trip on VIA. There are no through roads.
We passed literally hundreds of beaver lodges along the way. Several times the train would stop, a passenger would get off with a huge backpack, and walk off into the wilderness.
The owner of the B&B where I stayed is a famous musher who took several of us on a dog sled ride … although these days the rides are on wheeled carts because there often isn’t enough snow. Climate change skeptics are free to mull that over.
Once in Churchill, I arranged for a trip into bear territory on a huge, ponderous “tundra buggy”. At one point we sat for probably 10 minutes watching two thousand-pound bears tussling like great overgrown puppies.
That’s me, on the platform, heading for my sleeper. It’s about 7:20 p.m. and the southbound train is about ten minutes from departure.
I have taken some extraordinary train rides over the past 20-25 years, and without question, this one ranks in the top three or four.