A Trip on VIA Rail’s ‘Canadian’ (Toronto, ON – Winnipeg, MB – Jasper, AB – Vancouver, BC) 2017

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Note: The images & videos shown on this page are a composite of both the westbound and eastbound trips and are shown in geographical order.

The Canadian

Inaugurated on April 24, 1955, the ‘Canadian’ was a revolution in Canadian train travel. It was the first stainless-steel stream liner in Canada to be equipped with high-level scenic dome cars. The ‘Canadian‘ originally ran on the transcontinental route of the Canadian Pacific (CP). In 1978 VIA Rail assumed operation of the ‘Canadian’ & in 1990 amid massive cuts to service, shifted the train’s route from CP to that of it’s former rival – CN’s ‘Super Continental’.

The equipment on the ‘Canadian‘ was state-of-the-art: 173 stainless steel cars were ordered from the Budd Company of Philadelphia and included baggage-dormitories, leg-rest coaches, dining room cars, ‘Skyline’-series dome-coffee shop-coaches, ‘Chateau’ & ‘Manor’ series sleeping cars with berths, bedrooms, roomettes, compartments & drawing rooms, and finally the ‘Park’ series dome-sleeper-lounge-observation cars. The lounges of the Park cars were adorned with large murals, some by members of Canada’s renowned Group of Seven artists, depicting the National & Provincial parks the cars were named after, making the Canadian a veritable art gallery on wheels. The decision to go with stainless steel was a sound one as the cars remain in service with VIA today in top-notch condition.

In addition to the accommodations described above, VIA Rail has added a new ‘Prestige’ Class of luxury accommodation & service consisting of rooms that are 50% larger than a standard bedroom.

Current VIA Rail motive power on the ‘Canadian’ consists of 3,000 horsepower 6400-series F40PH-2 diesel locomotives built by General Motors Diesel in London, ON.

Today’s route of the ‘Canadian’ passes some of the most captivating scenery in the world, running from the sprawling metropolis of Toronto, ON, past the mining town of Sudbury & the rocks, lakes, rivers & muskeg of Northern Ontario, crossing the Red river in Winnipeg, MB over the vast prairies & through the beautiful Qu’Appelle river valley on its way to Saskatoon, SK & Edmonton, AB, into the spectacular front range of the Rockies at Jasper National Park, through the pretty mountain resort town of Jasper, over the continental divide through the famed Yellowhead pass with views of Mount Robson, highest peak in the Canadian Rockies at 12,972 ft, on to Kamloops & following the Fraser river canyon to the Pacific coast at Vancouver, BC.

As an added bonus VIA allows stopovers, enabling one to leave the train for a few days at Jasper to explore Jasper & Banff national parks before returning to Jasper to catch the train to Vancouver, where opportunity for a further stopover enables travelers to explore the city and Vancouver Island.

For passengers wishing to visit Jasper & Banff National Parks, Avis Car Rental provides rental car connections across the street from the VIA station in Jasper, AB. Passengers may stay overnight at the Astoria Hotel in Jasper. It is then approximately a 3-1/2hr drive along the Icefields Parkway to Lake Louise through Jasper & Banff National Parks (which features mountains, lakes, rivers, forests, spectacular waterfalls and abundant wildlife including bears, elk, deer and bighorn sheep) and after visiting the Parks, persons can stay at the Best Western in Radium Hot Springs about 3 hours south of Lake Louise. From Radium it is approximately a 1-1/2hr drive to Cranbrook, BC where one can view an impressive collection of vintage rolling stock and locomotives at the Canadian Museum of Rail Travel. From Cranbrook it is approximately a 3 hour drive to Banff where persons can stay at the renowned Banff Springs hotel with it’s beautiful mountain vistas before the return trip to Jasper.

Also, for passengers wishing to explore the city of Vancouver & Vancouver Island, Hertz Car Rental provides rental car connections at VIA’s Pacific Central Station in Vancouver. Vancouver’s Stanley Park offers abundant sightseeing opportunities with views of totem poles, the waterfront, the Lion’s Gate Bridge, and enormous trees. From Vancouver it is approximately a 1 hour drive to the BC Ferries Tsawassen Terminal in Delta, BC which provides ferry connections to Swartz Bay on Vancouver Island. From the Swartz Bay Terminal it is then approximately a 4-1/2hr drive to Tofino where accommodations are available at the Pacific Sands Beach resort in Tofino, with its beautiful private beach and views of the Pacific Ocean.

If you enjoy spectacular scenery, fantastic dining, superb accommodations & impeccable service, then you’ll enjoy a ride on VIA Rail’s premier train – the ‘Canadian’.

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