Travel Guide to Canada
RAIL: RIDE THE RAILS!
Built in the late 1800s, the railway soon enabled valuable freight to be moved, making our country a solid business proposition for all provinces.
While freight was key for the growing economy, the railway was equally important for European tourists, eager to see this vast country. Soon tourist travel 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, luxurious hotels designed to rival the most elegant European châteaux. Located conveniently near the train tracks, the CP hotels invited guests to relax at the end of a day of touring. The combination of elegant accommodation, and this magical manner of travel, fostered a thriving Canadian rail tourism industry.
Rail travel still entices tourists with train journeys topping the list for sophisticated travellers from all over the world. 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 an easy, safe, sustainable and enjoyable travel experience in Canada, VIA Rail is a great choice! 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 accessible 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 City Windsor 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.
You can also opt for the Winnipeg Churchill train which travels through 1,697 km (1055 mi.) of Canadian landscapes, from the Prairies to boreal forest to subarctic tundra. You’ll travel through many unique communities and enjoy two days and two nights of awe-inspiring views. Once in Churchill, you’ll be immersed in untamed wilderness. Bask in the warm village atmosphere and experience some truly memorable moments. Be ready for adventure as you enter this world of exceptional flora and fauna (www.viarail.ca).
AGAWA CANYON TOUR TRAIN
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 stops 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 six 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 ).
WHITE PASS & YUKON ROUTE RAILWAY
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 are really keen to explore further, complete your adventurous itinerary by adding a motor-coach tour through parts of Alaska, British Columbia or the Yukon (www.wpyr.com).
Is the Rocky Mountaineer 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, 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, B.C. aboard select Holland America Line ships (www.rockymountaineer.com).
TRAIN DE CHARLEVOIX
This rail adventure travels 125 km (78 mi.) through the stunning but remote countryside between Québec City’s Montmorency Falls and La Malbaie, 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 mid-October (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!