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OT Canada Train Travel Tips wanted

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  • OT Canada Train Travel Tips wanted

    My wife and I were thinking of taking the train from Vancouver, BC to Toronto or vice versa in August to celebrate our 25th anniversary. I'm wondering if any of you have made this trip, and have any suggestions for which direction might be better for scenery during the daylight hours, and any tips for itinerary, stopovers, things to do at either end, etc.

    Thanks for any suggestions,
    Davis

    "Nothing is impossible for the man who doesn't have to do it himself"

  • #2
    If there is any way to include the following in your trip, don't miss it. In no particular order:

    Whistler
    Prince George
    Kamloops
    Jasper
    Hinton
    Banff
    Lake Louise
    Kelowna
    Revelstoke
    Vernon
    Sicamouse

    East of here is prairie - lots of it. Dull as, well dull. At Calgary I'd catch a plane east.

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    • #3
      Don't know anything about Canada, but found train travel in the US very good.

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      • #4
        After you make it to Toronto, there is an extremely interesting train heading North from Toronto through the wilderness. I saw on TV where they stop in the middle of nowhere to pickup trappers, hunters and the like. Very rustic, don't think they serve wine and cheese on this one but the scenery is supposed to be beautiful if you have any more O'oooos and Ahhhhhhhs left from the first leg of your trip !!
        - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
        Thank you to our families of soldiers, many of whom have given so much more then the rest of us for the Freedom we enjoy.

        It is true, there is nothing free about freedom, don't be so quick to give it away.

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        • #5
          There is a local fellow here that moved to Japan to teach English. Every couple of years, he brings back about a dozen students to see Canada. They fly in to Winnipeg. We pick them up at the airport and drive them out here (3 hours west). Shocks the heck out of them to see all that open country for 3 hours! After a week of touring, wiener roasts and BBQ's, they jump on VIARail and head west. Stop in Banff/Jasper (required by all Japanese visitors apparently), and then on through the mountains to Vancouver where they fly home. Everybody seems to love it.

          In University, one of the girls was originally from Nova Scotia. Took her a week each way (Winnipeg->Nova Scotia) to travel for Christmas by train. Said it was neat the first time, but Northern Ontario is just bush and rock and it got boring fast.

          So I guess it depends what you are expecting to see. I've heard lots say they loved heading through the mountains, but probably wouldn't do it again. I'd recommend doing it in the summer/autumn though.

          Andrew

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          • #6
            RW--Sadly, your lack of knowledge about Canada reflects the attitude of many Americans. Two great train trips in Ontario are the Polar Bear Express, which leaves from Cochrane, Ontario and goes north to James Bay on the foot of Hudsons Bay. Another is the Agawa Canyon excursion train that leaves from Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario. Both travel through untouched primeval forest, with many breathtaking vistas of the Canadian north.
            Brian Rupnow

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            • #7
              The Polar Bear Express is the one I was thinking of in the last post.
              - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
              Thank you to our families of soldiers, many of whom have given so much more then the rest of us for the Freedom we enjoy.

              It is true, there is nothing free about freedom, don't be so quick to give it away.

              Comment


              • #8
                A friend of mine did that a few years ago with his wife. Sort of a tour.
                He was enthusistic about it. He is a RR buff and took a "zillion" pix a
                lot of them he put on a CD and gave me a copy.
                ...lew...

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                • #9
                  Canadian rail travel has been treated like the red headed step child. Poorly funded, and ineptly run, often with long delays and missed connections. Most of the rolling stock is from mid last century and passenger rail is low priority. When most of the world was developing and improving their rail systems (Brit rail, Euro rail, Amtrak), Canada was ripping up spur lines and deleting passenger service. Before booking, try to find someone who has actually taken the trip in the last 5 years and check out their comments. All the feed back I have is quite dated (+/- 15 years old).

                  Having said that, the scenery is spectacular through Alberta and BCs mountains and as been suggested try to run through Saskatchewan and Manitoba at night as much as posssible - the main lines run through almost featureless gently rolling prairie where construction of the rail bed was easy. Northern Ontario is mostly rock and bush country with the occaisional swampy patch. I think there might be a few places where there are views of Lake Superior?

                  I've never been further East in Canada than Montreal, and was so bitterly dissappointed by the reception there as an English only western Canadian tourist, I vowed never to return.... I've been told it's better now, but I still ain't going.
                  Design to 0.0001", measure to 1/32", cut with an axe, grind to fit

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                  • #10
                    The sad fact is that neither direction is particularly good for viewing the spectacular mountain scenery. Departure times are such that the train passes through the best of the best at night. There IS an excursion run that departs Calgary for Vancouver that IS timed for the scenery. Friends of mine took it, enjoyed it but said that it was expensive. I think it was about $2000.00/person for three days.
                    I have made the trip both ways several times, and have driven it MANY times. In fact I am leaving Ottawa for Victoria, by car, in early May. First, if you want to see a strip of Canada and do no work, take the train and sit back and enjoy. Contrary to other opinion, the praries are NOT flat, except in Manitoba, which makes pee on a plate look positively hilly! Second, it is a LONG trip. Winnipeg to Toronto is about 1000 miles, over 80% of it in unbroken forest. In the seventies, there was a trucking firm out of Toronto that boasted 55 hours to Vancouver. Realistic elapsed driving time is more like 70 hours, divided into as many days as one likes or has to spend. The scenery north of Lake Superior rivals that of British Columbia.
                    The Polar Bear express is a great excursion, EXCEPT there are no polar bears. The scenery IS interesting, but be advised it is FLAT! The land falls 50 feet in the last 50 miles into Moosonee and once you get there you can only go back. Just a bit of realism on transCanada travel. Duffy
                    Duffy, Gatineau, Quebec

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                    • #11
                      In general train travel in Canada is a rough ride. In the west for sure passenger trains run on freight tracks and they are far from smooth. Just a warning if you are accustomed to smooth travel on dedicated passenger lines.

                      The most spectacular scenery that you will find anywhere is in the Jasper and Banff National parks. You can take a rail excursion that departs Vancouver to Kamloops>Jasper>Lake Louise>Banff>Calgary. Once in Calagary you have a 1000 miles of flat central plains. After about ten minutes you have seen all there is to see.

                      The section from Jasper to Banff (or vice versa) is staggering. I have traveled widely and there is nothing that compares to the density of spectacular views.

                      Here are a couple of examples:



                      Free software for calculating bolt circles and similar: Click Here

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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by camdigger
                        ----was ripping up spur lines and deleting passenger service. .
                        For a minute there I thought you were talking about NSW Australia.

                        bollie7

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                        • #13
                          I wish I was talking about somewhere else... At one time no farmer in our area of Central Alberta had to haul his grain more than 25 miles to a siding with at least two competing grain buyers elevators. Now the competing grain elevators are sometimes as much as 20 miles apart....
                          There was a spur that ended 2 miles away from my acreage. There's two super Bs a day of liquid sulfur from the gas plant there on the hiway past my driveway hauling material that used to go by rail... The paved road is getting pounded to pieces. They (I think CN??) sold the rails, spikes, ties, and track plates as is where is to a salvage firm who ripped up the material.
                          The railway then donated the rights of way to a charitable organization avoiding costly environmental clean-up costs for wood preservatives leached from ties and oils dripped from half a century of locos and rolling stock bearings and got a HUGE tax write off for the donation based on arable land prices for a debris strewn road bed and a series of fills and cutbanks.
                          There was a huge outcry when the Boy scouts volunteering labor to clean up the road bed for the non profit organization suffered chemical burns from the creosote wood preservative. Seems nobody warned the volunteers about the hazardous preservatives... The non profit co held up road improvements to a local hiway for 2 years getting their ownership straightened out and imposing ridiculous conditions on road construction around an abandoned rail bridge....
                          Last edited by camdigger; 03-06-2009, 10:50 AM.
                          Design to 0.0001", measure to 1/32", cut with an axe, grind to fit

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                          • #14
                            [QUOTE=camdigger]I wish I was talking about somewhere else... At one time no farmer in our area of Central Alberta had to haul his grain more than 25 miles to a siding with at least two competing grain buyers elevators. Now the competing grain elevators are sometimes as much as 20 miles apart....
                            QUOTE]


                            Like this one?

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                            • #15
                              rocky mountaineer

                              I think for the best all-daylight rail tour through the Rockys I would recommend Rocky mountain rail tours. Find them here:

                              http://www.rockymountaineer.com/defa...FRFWagodGH39bg
                              Ernie (VE7ERN)

                              May the wind be always at your back

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