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Ranges by rail – Train takes couple on stunning trip through Canadian mountains

Stan Kistler

Second of two parts

During the night we passed from Alberta into Saskatchewan and, just after dawn, into Manitoba with brief stops at Brandon North and Portage la Prairie as the snow began to let up. At 11:20 a.m. we arrived in Winnipeg. Here again we had an hour as the train was serviced and we said goodbye to our onboard service crew that had been with us since Vancouver. A new crew took over and would be with us until the end of our journey in Toronto. We looked around the stately station, built in 1911 and designed by the same architects who had created New York’s Grand Central Station, then went outside for a little stroll in downtown Winnipeg. This is a beautiful city, as I recalled from a previous, albeit summer, visit more than 40 years ago. It was cold and overcast this time, so we soon opted to get back into the warmth of our train and partake of lunch in the diner, which was served upon departure.

That afternoon we raced across the prairies of eastern Manitoba to our next stop six hours later at Sioux Lookout, Ontario. We crossed numerous rivers and the upper reaches of Lake of the Woods but settlements were few and far between. Spruce forests abounded as darkness overtook us. We enjoyed another fine dining experience in the dining car, again meeting new travelers at our table and exchanging train travel experiences.

Following our meal, we decided to see what was happening in the “activities” car. This was a car where an attendant supervised games for young and old alike, and where video movies were shown at various times during the trip. There were ample magazines and books, also a small kitchen/snackbar, and a dome accessible for all passengers to enjoy the views.

During the night we were crossing southern Ontario province through sparse settlements that sprung up to service the steam locomotives for years before the Diesel-electric came into use. Early in the morning of our last day on the “Canadian” we made a brief stop at Hornepayne, and around noon at Capreol. We reached Perry Sound in late afternoon, and after another sumptuous supper and farewell to an outstanding dining car staff, we arrived right on time at 8 p.m. in downtown Toronto.

The rest of our journey would be by train, rented car and air, taking us to parts of New England and New York before returning to Grass Valley. But that’s another story.

This relaxing train trip across Canada was a pleasant experience all of the way. We would highly recommend it to anyone who has the time and the inclination to be pampered in such a way as to equal the best cruise lines and see a lot of beautiful scenery from the ground.

For more information, go online to http://www.viarail.ca, or call 1-888-VIA-RAIL (1-888-842-7245).


Stan Kistler is a photographer who lives in Grass Valley.

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