About the Next Several Posts.

Some years back, I pitched a story idea to International Living magazine.  I proposed to travel all the way across the North American continent in Canada, from Halifax on the Atlantic Ocean to Vancouver on the Pacific, a total of some 4,000 miles. Apparently what caught the attention of the magazine’s editor was that I proposed to do it all by train.

It was a wonderful assignment and I enjoyed it immensely. Of course I took a great many photographs, only a few of which appeared in the magazine. I saved most of them, but hadn’t looked at any of them for several years.

As far as this mini-project is concerned, I’m going to try taking you with me on that cross-Canada ride.  I’m anticipating there will be 6 to 8 photos every couple of days with a progression that follows my actual rail experience.   

There were a total of four trains involved . . . five, if you count two separate segments on VIA’s flagship Train  #1, The Canadian, which I rode from Toronto to Jasper, Alberta, and again two days later from Jasper overnight into Vancouver.

Also, I will do my best to respond to your questions and comments. Send all to jim@trainsandtravel.com. 

Here we go. I hope you enjoy. 

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4,000 Miles Across Canada by Train.

My journey began in Halifax, Nova Scotia. I thoroughly enjoyed the few days I spent here. There is a wonderful maritime museum in the city with an entire wing devoted to the convoys that sailed from here across the North Atlantic loaded with military supplies for British and American forces in two World Wars.

Passengers gathered in the  Waiting Room of the Halifiax train station while the on board crew of VIA Rail’s train, The Ocean, finished their last-minute preparations.
The Ocean is ready for boarding and I’m more than ready for this journey to get started.   I’m told this equipment was originally used to transport passengers through the Chunnel linking London and Paris. Here, the train’s destination is Montreal, although I’ll be getting off sooner in order to see Quebec City.
This is my private compartment, which I find to be quite comfortable. There is a compact but very efficient lavatory out of frame to the right. The car attendant, a delightful French Canadian woman, briefed me on all the features in the room and presented me with a plastic card that permits me to lock the door whenever I leave the room. (Amtrak: take note.)

I think I enjoy having meals in railroad dining cars as much as the rest of the travel experience because this is where you meet interesting fellow travelers. An so it was on this occasion. My table mate was an attractive young woman named Veronica, a Montreal native, who works for a pharmaceutical company translating everything from advertising to medical texts from English into French. I left the Ocean  the following morning at a rail junction on the southern bank of the St. Lawrence river. 
On the opposite bank was my next stop: two nights in Quebec City, which sits high above the river. I must say I loved the time I spent here. This is the oldest city in North America and, in the “old town,” it’s as though you were wandering through the cobblestone streets of a medieval village in France.
Another scene from Quebec. I stayed in a B&B and it was a delightful experience, but I had stupidly forgotten that the world famous Chateau Frontenac is in Quebec. 
Isn’t this amazing! You get a great view both from and of the hotel! It’s a Fairmont property and I would have switched, but had paid for my room at the B&B in advance. I did, however, go up to the Chateau for an excellent dinner.
Here our train is starting across the St. Lawrence River. That’s Montreal—the second largest French speaking city in the world—on the far side. I’ve included this photo to show how big the St Lawrence truly is. In fact, I was told that whales are often seen in the river, although
I think that would probably be closer to Halifax. (A disclaimer: Quebec and Montreal are both on the north side of the river and I cannot recallI re-crossing the river after leaving Quebec although obviously I must have done so.) 

That’s all for this installment, but there is still a long way to go. More photos with commentary in a few days. I must say–after seeing these photos again after several years– it was a wonderful trip and an unforgettable experience. I have thoroughly enjoyed all my trips to Canada and my travels on VIA Rail.