A Trip on VIA Rail’s ‘Canadian’ (Toronto, ON-Vancouver, BC)

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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.

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 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. Rental car and ferry connections are available in Vancouver to visit the many attractions including the Railway Museum in Squamish and the Oak Bay Guest House in Victoria on Vancouver Island.

As an added bonus VIA allows stopovers, enabling one to leave the train for a few days to explore Jasper & Banff national parks. Rental car connections are available in Jasper, lodging is also available at the Athabasca Hotel in Jasper and the Banff Caribou lodge in Banff. From here passengers can arrange to visit the Columbia Icefield Glacier.

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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