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Postcard From The Canadian Railway

January 17, 2018

Filed in: Voyages

Today I want to tell you a lovely winter tale. This one is precious because it exists and we lived it during these holidays! When we set foot on the Canadian soil this summer, the first thing we did was to book some tickets for the famous Trans-Canada railway trip. The line runs between Toronto and Vancouver. This tour is managed by Viarail and is called “The Canadian” (this post is not sponsored)

The Canadian Railway: Embracing Slow Travelling

I could talk for hours about the beautiful things we saw through our windows. I could also tell quite long about the comfort of the train, and the relaxing 4 days and 5 nights we had on board. Here you have to know that, usually, the trip takes 3 days and 4 nights, but apparently, this train almost never arrives in time, not to mention that we chose a winter trip, and had an extreme cold warning during a couple of weeks in Northern America at this time.

But this is the point of this adventure: a perfect Slow Travelling. The one during which you don’t count your hours and are just happy to know that you’ll have the opportunity to enjoy it even longer.

In a later post, I will talk a bit more about our luggage, but this is what we had with us for this week to the Western Canadian Coast.

Several levels of comfort

On board, the train looks comfortable. There are 4 kinds of travellers offering various level of comfort.

There are the “Economy” passengers who travel on seats only. These must remain at the front of the train. They do not have access to the second and third panoramic cars and their cafes, the lounge car, or the restaurant. At night the seats can lay down.

There are the “Plus” passengers, divided into two categories: the ones who have comfortable benches during the day, transformed into beds during the night. They sleep behind curtains and have access to the shared bathrooms only. These share the same coaches along with the next category.

The second “Plus” passengers (us) travel in private compartments with a mini lounge during the day and beds during the night, a private sink and private toilets but common showers. They have access to the “Prestige” common area. This is what our double cabin for 4 looked like during the day:

Then there are the “Prestige” passengers. They have a larger compartment, and a private bathroom, and more luxurious features in the cabin. They also have the priority for the use of the Prestige car and the very end of the train.

I must say that I found everything perfectly clean, including the common areas at any hour of the day and the night. The beds are very comfortable, so we were relaxed and fresh after 5 nights on board.

So, to come back to the trip, I could talk for hours, but I won’t because this is a postcard, so I must keep it concise. But anyway I hope this glimpse of what the Canadian landscape has to offer during the winter will charm you as it charmed us.

Ontario and its forests

After boarding quite late at night, we walk up to this:

We took our breakfast, walked up to one of the Panoramic coaches and just enjoyed watching the line of the train slaloming in the rising sun (more from the rising sun!)

You will understand that we rapidly adopted the habit of staying all morning in the Panoramic coach!

The forest of Ontario:

We spent the New Year’s Eve on the train and coincidence was that the 1st of January was a full moon! How better can this be?

Manitoba and its plains

Now you understand why Manitoba has a bison on its flag; isn’t that the dream place for these huge mammal herds? They also have some unicorns on their Coat of Arms, but we haven’t seen any! Indeed, we did not see any Bison when we crossed Manitoba either. But I guess the rails proximity nowadays is not the best place for them.

We managed to set foot in each Province we crossed, even if it cost us some small sacrifices sometimes. For example, in Winnipeg, we went outside with light summer shoes and no more than a jumper when it was -39°C (same in Fahrenheit!) I don’t need to tell you that our steward noticed us immediately!

Saskatchewan and its fields

Of course, there are also the minerals, but quite expectedly noticed the crops and the beautiful farms (at least when they remain traditional!)

So we set foot in Saskatoon, where the temperature was “normal” with a -20°C (-4°F). It was a correct hour; therefore this one was quite easy, plus we had the help of the “steward fan” of ours to get down and up rapidly. A piece of cake!

Alberta and the Rockies

And then there was Alberta. The stop during which we were allowed to get down was in Edmonton, no surprise here. The difficulty is that it was supposed to be during the morning, but the stop occurred at night, quite late indeed. But never mind we did it, some of us already in PJ’s as you can see, but this was one more thing that increased our steward admiration!

And then this last morning we walk up at this and Mount Robson, and the Pyramid falls in ice. After these, we followed the North Thomson River during hours, and it was just amazing! There I realized that there’s no way we could have seen such a fantastic landscape from the road. The Trans-Canadian Railway was leading us through a dense forest far from the openness of the road.




End of the rails

We travelled all day in the Rockies, and arrived in Vancouver early morning. The swirls of the train were still running through our legs during few hours after we got down. Our head was full of memories and unforgettable sceneries! We spent 100 hours on board but not once we were bored!

I even found myself thinking of that small cabin we saw and wondering how it would be to spend a Slow Living retreat in there for one or two weeks… This trip is once in a lifetime experience as everybody told us, but we can only agree. The Canadian line allowed us to witness a winter wonderland as we couldn’t have enjoyed if we had to drive all along. This trip was the quintessence of Slow Travelling! Therefore there will be more episodes as we discovered there are some more routes offered by Viarail across Canada!


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comments +

  1. Rosie

    January 17th, 2018 at 11:33 am

    Beautiful photos. I’ve visited Canada a couple of times, but I would love to travel with my Mum and take her on this train ride because she’s wanted to do it for years. I’m not sure how much sleep I’d get, I feel like I’d be constantly peering out the windows in case I missed the northern lights or an amazing night sky.

  2. SageOnEarth

    January 17th, 2018 at 12:46 pm

    Hello Rosie, and thank you for your comment!
    You should definitely go, it’s worth it! Try to thoroughly think about the comfort level you’ll need to enjoy the trip thoroughly. At night well there is a lot happening but I must admit that I was glad to go to bed and fell asleep easily (unexpectedly), thanks to the swinging of the train! Unfortunately it’s too far South for Northern lights. Let me know if you book your tickets. I would love to hear from your experience.

  3. Celine

    January 30th, 2018 at 8:06 pm

    I had heard you were doing this trip and was eager to read about it. Thanks for this little glimpse of your slow travelling. PS I love your pictures!

  4. SageOnEarth

    January 31st, 2018 at 11:58 am

    Thank you Celine! It was a fantastic experience! I am planning to put together more photos in a new Photo-Guide, that will be available in the VIP Library soon!

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