Travel Guide to Canada - - Table Of Contents - BY LIZ FLEM­ING

When this vast land we call Canada be­came a coun­try, the prom­ise of a rail­road was the tie that bound one coast to the other. On that his­to­ry­mak­ing day in 1867 in tiny Char­lot­te­town, Prince Ed­ward Is­land, the con­cept of a per­ma­nent link be­tween the West and the Mar­itimes clinched the deal for the Fa­thers of Con­fed­er­a­tion.

Ul­ti­mately built in the late 1800s, the rail­way would en­able valu­able freight to be moved, mak­ing our coun­try a solid busi­ness propo­si­tion for all prov­inces.

While freight was the lifeblood for busi­ness, the rail­way soon be­came im­por­tant for an­other pur­pose. Eu­ro­pean tourists, ea­ger to see the New World, were ar­riv­ing by the shipload and, with few cars and even fewer roads, the rail­way was the an­swer for all in­land travel. Tourist travel soon ri­valled freight, and ex­plor­ing the ex­cit­ing young coun­try by train be­came ul­tra-fash­ion­able. Cap­i­tal­iz­ing on a prof­itable trend, the Cana­dian Pa­cific Rail­way Com­pany built glam­orous, high-style ho­tels to ri­val the most el­e­gant Eu­ro­pean châteaux, lo­cated con­ve­niently near the train tracks so guests could re­lax at the end of a day of tour­ing. The com­bi­na­tion of el­e­gant ac­com­mo­da­tion, and what must then have seemed a com­pletely mag­i­cal man­ner of travel, gave birth to a thriv­ing Cana­dian rail tourism in­dus­try.

Still hugely pop­u­lar in Canada, train jour­neys top the list for so­phis­ti­cated trav­ellers from all over the world, ea­ger to tour parts of this rugged coun­try that are oth­er­wise sim­ply in­ac­ces­si­ble. Many ar­eas of the Far North can still only be reached by train, and sit­ting in a com­fort­able rail­way car is by far the most invit­ing way to cross vast stretches of prairie, see the Rocky Moun­tains, and ex­pe­ri­ence the wealth of nat­u­ral beauty that is Canada.


For trav­ellers look­ing for ef­fi­cient and en­vi­ron­men­tally friendly trans­porta­tion, VIA Rail is a great choice—and there is no bet­ter time to ex­pe­ri­ence it than in 2018, VIA Rail’s 40th year! Since May 2014, VIA Rail has worked to im­prove its ser­vice of­fer­ings by fo­cus­ing on cus­tomers and their travel needs. Some of the en­hance­ments in­clude up­grades to the Busi­ness class ser­vice on the Québec City-Wind­sor cor­ri­dor, which of­fers re­fur­bished lounges, a spa­cious on-board en­vi­ron­ment, a greener and more re­lax­ing trip, com­pli­men­tary meals and per­son­al­ized ser­vice. WiFi ac­ces­si­bil­ity is also in­cluded on the Ocean east­ern overnight long-haul ser­vice be­tween Mon­tréal and Hal­i­fax.

VIA Rail of­fers some of Canada’s best scenic travel experiences, in­clud­ing one of the world’s most leg­endary and pop­u­lar long-haul rail jour­neys—the Cana­dian—a cross-coun­try ser­vice link­ing Toronto and Van­cou­ver. Wel­com­ing close to 100,000 trav­ellers ev­ery year, this route of­fers breath­tak­ing land­scapes, cosy ac­com­mo­da­tions, at­ten­tive and cour­te­ous ser­vice and out­stand­ing din­ing.

Day trip­pers love the Québec Ci­tyWind­sor cor­ri­dor as a means of ex­pe­ri­enc­ing some of the coun­try’s most vi­brant cities. Ev­ery year, when the streets of Toronto, Ottawa, Mon­tréal and Québec City ex­plode with the en­ergy of iconic fes­ti­vals and events show­cas­ing top tal­ent from around the world, VIA Rail Canada makes get­ting there part of the thrill. Fes­ti­val hop from city to city to ex­pe­ri­ence some of Canada’s many great events.

If you’re a na­ture lover, be sure to make the trip be­tween Jasper Na­tional Park and the rugged North Pa­cific Coast of Prince Rupert, BC. This two-day rail jour­ney winds along the Skeena River where wild griz­zlies, black bears, moose, bald ea­gles, elk and moun­tain sheep gaze as you pass. Visit the Khutzey­ma­teen Griz­zly Bear Sanc­tu­ary and ex­plore Prince Rupert’s re­mark­able Mu­seum of North­ern BC, which houses the fas­ci­nat­ing his­tory, cul­ture and art of the North­west Coast in a tra­di­tional long­house (www.vi­arail.ca ).


If the Rocky Moun­taineer is at the top of your bucket list, you’re not alone! Fea­tur­ing once-in-a-life­time views of ma­jes­tic moun­tains, glit­ter­ing lakes and pris­tine western Cana­dian wilder­ness, this iconic train of­fers a spec­tac­u­lar ex­pe­ri­ence. Guests can choose from two lev­els of ser­vice: Sil­verLeaf or GoldLeaf, both of which in­clude de­lec­ta­ble food and wine, out­stand­ing at­ten­tion to de­tail and fas­ci­nat­ing, in­for­ma­tive on-board com­men­taries. Multi-day ex­cur­sions in­clude such iconic des­ti­na­tions as Van­cou­ver, Vic­to­ria, Whistler, Lake Louise, Jasper, Cal­gary, Banff and Kam­loops. Add op­tional ex­cur­sions such as city tours and he­li­copter rides to your itin­er­ary and en­joy the overnight ac­com­mo­da­tions in­cluded in Rocky Moun­taineer trips. Com­bine your rail tour with a stay at the lux­u­ri­ous Sonora Resort, the ul­ti­mate Pa­cific-North­west wilder­ness re­treat, or plan a pre or post Alaskan cruise ex­pe­ri­ence from Van­cou­ver, BC or Seat­tle, Wash­ing­ton aboard se­lect Hol­land Amer­ica Line ships (www.rock­y­moun­taineer.com).


Fans of the leg­endary Group of Seven artists will want to jour­ney into the re­mote north­ern On­tario wilder­ness that in­spired these tal­ented painters on board the Al­goma Cen­tral Rail­way’s Agawa Canyon Tour Train. Not only does the 367-km (228-mi.) round trip from Sault Ste. Marie wind through the spec­tac­u­lar canyon from late June un­til mid-Oc­to­ber, at­tract­ing wildlife lovers and na­ture en­thu­si­asts alike, but it also makes a stop at Mile 114 to al­low for ex­cit­ing hikes to the floor of the Agawa Canyon, cre­ated by glacial re­treat some 10,000 years ago. A GPS-triggered com­men­tary in five lan­guages makes sure you don’t miss a thing along the way, telling sto­ries of fur traders, ex­plor­ers and the Ojib­way peo­ple.

While spring and sum­mer tours are cer­tainly beau­ti­ful, au­tumn is the most pop­u­lar time for this train tour. In fact, so many leaf peep­ers come look­ing for au­tumn colours that book­ing a full year ahead is rec­om­mended (www.agawa­train.com).


If you’ve ever longed to see Canada’s far­thest north­ern lo­ca­tions, such as the Klondike Gold Rush coun­try, you’ll want to book a seat on the long-serv­ing diesel and steam lo­co­mo­tives of the White Pass & Yukon Route Rail­way. This au­then­tic vin­tage train, an In­ter­na­tional His­toric Civil Engi­neer­ing Land­mark, makes a steep 914 m (3,000 ft.) climb through gorges and glaciers on a nar­row-gauge track. If you’re re­ally dy­ing to ex­plore fur­ther, com­plete your ad­ven­tur­ous itin­er­ary by adding a mo­tor­coach tour through parts of Alaska, Bri­tish Columbia or the Yukon (www.wpyr.com).


This rail ad­ven­ture trav­els through the stun­ning but re­mote coun­try­side be­tween Québec City’s Mont­morency Falls and La Mal­baie for 125 km (78 mi.), stop­ping in seven pic­turesque towns and coastal vil­lages as trav­ellers en­joy a gor­geous view of the St. Lawrence River. The ser­vice runs daily from mid-June to Oc­to­ber 21 (www.re­seaucharlevoix.com).

There is no other coun­try in the world that can ri­val Canada for stun­ning land­scapes, un­touched wilder­ness views, rugged Rocky Moun­tain peaks and shim­mer­ing north­ern lakes; and, there is no bet­ter way to ex­pe­ri­ence that beauty than from the com­fort of a train!




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