My Trans-Canada Journey Continues.
I have thoroughly enjoyed every visit I’ve ever made to Canada. Much of the credit for that goes to VIA Rail because, of course, that’s the way I travel when I’m in that country. I’ve found their equipment to be comfortable and well-maintained and their employees competent and friendly.
And so it was on this trip. A relatively short portion of this trip was on VIA’s equivalent to Amtrak’s Northeast corridor—the very busy stretch linking Windsor on one end and Quebec City at the other end.
I left The Ocean here at busy Montreal Central Station, which includes two features both of which struck me as being very nice conveniences.
The first is a single elevator, discretely marked, which ascends directly to the lobby of the Queen Elizabeth Hotel, another Fairmont property. I have stayed there twice—the first time on this trip—and it is highly recommended. It is, like all Fairmont hotels, a classy property.
The station’s second feature is this pastry shop which is, as you would expect, filled with an incredible assortment of breads and pastries. What a great idea!
If there was one mistake made in the scheduling of this trip it was not allowing more time in Montreal. Two nights was not nearly enough.
I rode VIA Rail’s first class service from Montreal to Toronto and enjoyed quite good meal en route—served by an attendant at my seat. We arrived on time in Toronto, where I’m staying at the Royal York, another Fairmont hotel. In fact, there it is, behind the commuter rail locomotives, looming majestically in the background of this photograph. I’ve stayed here each of the several times I’ve taken VIA Rail’s train #1 to Vancouver. It’s also convenient because the Royal York is literally across the street from the train station. I was told weeks later that the Royal York bell hops will help you with your bags all the way to your train . . . although I have no idea if that’s really true.
Heading west out of Toronto, we’re almost immediately in farm country. And these are not subsistence farmers. Judging from the distance between farms and the size and number of buildings, these are serious farming operations.
There are four dome cars on this train. Each of the three in this photo has a lounge area on the main level, featuring tables and chairs and an assortment of games. The dome car from which I took this photo is the last car on the train and is a “Park Car”, named for one of Canada’s national parks and featuring the classic rounded end. There are two lounge areas, one at the very far of the car, the other at a lower level under the dome. It comes with hostesses who serve snacks and will fix alcoholic beverages of your choice. Alas, I was unable to begin my day with a Bloody Mary because of “provincial laws”. However, after 11:00 a.m., a well-stocked bar is available and the staff will even run a tab for you.
This is the railway station in the town of Sioux Lookout, a town of some 5,000 people in northwestern Ontario Province. The stop here is to refuel our locomotives and it’s also a good opportunity get out and stretch our legs.
The evening approaches and The Canadian slows as we pass the site of a derailment that occurred several months ago. What a mess!
There are two sittings for both lunch and dinner. All meals are prepared on board from scratch in a complete kitchen located in the forward third of each dining car. Quality of the food served is excellent.
So much for the second post featuring my train trip across Canada. More to come in a couple of days.