Toronto to Vancouver by Rail -- Advice?

Old Aug 31st, 2007, 04:21 PM
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Toronto to Vancouver by Rail -- Advice?

As a surprise for my husband and son's birthday next summer, I'm planning a round trip rail vacation starting in Los Angeles. I have roughly from Saturday the 19th of July to Sunday the 3rd of August (maybe a day or, at most, two more) to complete the trip. We can probably be in Toronto by the 27th. I've never been to Toronto, and would love to spend at least one night there, but I'm wondering if we can really do that, spend a night or two in Banff or Calgary, see a fair amount of the territory between Calgary and Vancouver by daylight and still make it to Vancouver by August 2nd? Another possibility would be to leave Toronto off our schedule and travel from New York to Glacier in the US without worrying about seeing much of the scenery in between, and then pick up the Via from Calgary to Vancouver after spending a day or so in Banff. That, I think, would get us on the train in Calgary by about July 31. My parents, who are approaching their 50th wedding anniversary, would want to join us for the Canadian Rockies part of our trip, so we probably would be splurging on sleeper class.

Any advice on itinerary, places to stop/see, places to stay, and travelling Via Canadian Rail would be greatly appreciated--I'm pretty much flying blind!

Thanks,
Pam
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Old Aug 31st, 2007, 04:52 PM
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Now that I've read Judy's tips for asking questions, I'll add that my son will be going on six, my husband and I will be 45, and my parents are in their 70s and are younger at heart than they are in stamina. We would like to explore shopping and eating in Toronto, but most important is having a comfortable and attractive base from which to explore the wilderness -- the younger two generations will likely want to hike, while the older would enjoy a stroll followed by a book in a deck chair, followed by VO and water. As my folks are not likely to make this trip again, we probably want fairly high-end accommodation in the Banff area (but I prefer lodge-like to velvet curtains!). In Vancouver we will likely stay at a sister hotel of my husband's company.

Thanks again for your help,
Pam
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Old Aug 31st, 2007, 05:36 PM
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Take lots of picnic fixin's for the train trip.

Not junk but quality food you can store in a small disposable cooler- you'll be glad you did.
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Old Aug 31st, 2007, 06:02 PM
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First thing to do is check the via rail web site, for routing.

VIA's main trains do not go through Calgary. It's Vancouver to Edmonton to Saskatoon to Winnipeg to Toronto.

There are some special tour-type trains that go from Vancouver to Calgary -- Roclky Mountain Tours or some similar name comes to mind.

There are trains from Calgary up to Edmopnto so you can catch the Candian (VIA's transcontinental train)

Anyway, I'd rethink the trip a bit, and probably use several forms of transport.

More, later.

BAK
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Old Sep 1st, 2007, 06:06 AM
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Are you planning to do it all by rail? I like these sorts of long-distance train adventures but be sure your husband and son do too. But you have to be very careful with timing when planning... for example, it took me two weeks approximately to go from Montreal to Vancouver and back with a 4-day stay in Vancouver and two overnights with friends in Toronto. You essentially have 3 weeks.

Leaving LA on the 19th July and taking the Southwest Chief to Chicago followed by Lakeshore Limited would put you in Buffalo Depew NY on the 22nd July. Buffalo Depew is in the middle of nowhere, about a $30 cab to downtown and maybe $65 to Niagara Falls USA. Technically you could cross the bridge that day (2-3 hrs.) and push on by bus ($23) or train to Toronto (but you may wish to spend one night at the falls). So, July 22nd would be the absolute earliest you could show up in Toronto.

(NOTE: I took train from San Francisco to Chicago, overnighting in Chicago, took a sleeper to Buffalo and pushed on all the way to Montreal in one day from Buffalo. Bit adventurous but doable.)

Toronto-Vancouver trains run only 3 times weekly. I did a quick check and found July 24th and July 26th; so technically you could spend the night of the 22nd in Niagara and nights of the 23rd -25th in Toronto and then push west. One day only in T.O. area seems a bit harried to me, so let's say you caught the train on the 26th.

You would arrive in Edmonton, AB in the morning or Jasper on July 28th at 2pm, and could then spend 3 days exploring the area by rental car: Banff/Jasper, Icefields, Lake Louise, catching the Jasper-Vancouver train on the 31st. That puts you in Vancouver on August 1st.

With sleeper class all the way, it would be quite $$$. A bit rushed IMO but do-able... but you can't vary it too much though from what I wrote if it's all (or mostly all) by rail! (You could drive all the way to Vancouver from Jasper, spend only one full day in Toronto leaving July 24th, or catch the private, more expensive Rocky Mountaineer from Banff- Vancouver) If you choose to fly a portion, you'll far more easily be able to fit in all you want to do.

Have fun! DAN
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Old Sep 1st, 2007, 07:24 PM
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<<
There are trains from Calgary up to Edmopnto so you can catch the Candian (VIA's transcontinental train)
>>

There are NO passenger trains between Calgary and Edmonton. Some of us really wish there was.

If you took Via to Edmonton and wanted to get to Calgary to take the Rocky Mountaineer train to Vancouver, you'd either have to take a bus, plane or rental car (with an extra charge for dropping the car off somewhere other than where you rented it).
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Old Sep 2nd, 2007, 10:08 AM
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I lose track of time; apologies for misdirecting the travellers to the train that isn't there anymore.

Nowe that I strat thinking back, I'm not even sure there was a train when I lived there; the trains I took between the two cities may even have been before that.

But at least they did not run on coal. I'm not that old.

BAK
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Old Sep 6th, 2007, 10:12 AM
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Wow, thank you all! I obviously need to do some more research. I suspect I'll have to leave Toronto out of the itinerary this time. The big idea for the trip is that it's sort of a travelling reunion/birthday party for my husband, so that we can see friends who can't travel all the way to us. That means a stop in the Southwest, one in Chicago, one in Washington, DC and possibly one in NYC before we turn and head for Seattle/Vancouver. I think I need to look more closely at whether we could hook up with a Rocky Mountain tour train if we train to Glacier and then drive to Calgary.
thanks for your help -- any more thougts would be very welcome.
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