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Brahmama Apr 16th, 2005 12:46 PM

Train between Canadian Cities?
I wasn't sure what to put down for a subject.
My husband and I (60's) want to visit Canada for 2 or 3 weeks this summer to get out of the NW Texas heat.
We have driven up there a couple of times, but it was a long time ago, with kids.
This time we'd like to take the train whenever possible, not hire a car, and stay in Ottowa (we have an email travel buddy there) Toronto, Montreal, and then at least one smaller town. Can this be done by train?
We have taken a direct train all the way from Texas to Halifax! But we had a lot of stopovers and changes - this time we want to be more relaxed and take time to look around and drink the wine, etc.
Can you help with a tentative schedule of how long in each place? We are very flexible, but this is a new pace of travel for us and we need help.

MikeT Apr 16th, 2005 01:33 PM

You can easily travel between Toronto, Ottawa, and Montreal by train. The trips are not terribly interesting, but VIA--the Canadian train system--is efficient.

But are you trying to figure out a train from Texas to Canada? That is much more complicated.

wow Apr 16th, 2005 01:33 PM

Hi, Carol! Go to
That will get you started. Your one "smaller town" cld be Niagara-on-the-Lake which is about 1.5 hours from Toronto. But to do that you wld probably want to rent a car from Toronto. Are you planning on taking the train from Texas or flying to a Canadian city & then using the train?

prairiegirl Apr 16th, 2005 02:50 PM

The train is a great way to get around the corridor (especially now with gas prices on the rise!).

The best idea is likely to purchase a “Corridorpass” from VIA Rail ( Seniors rate is
$224 + tax for economy / $585 + tax for first class (VIA 1). This pass allows you 10 days of travel.
Don’t forget that as US citizens, you will be able to claim back part of the GST (federal tax).
Information is available at airports, train stations, etc.

I just booked a ticket for my parents on VIA and know that there is also a promotion for July and
August, with 5 days advance purchase, called “Bring a friend for free”. This is a promotion for seniors
aged 60 and over, thought the companion can be of any age. If you buy a ticket at the full senior’s fare,
you get a free ticket; if you are in VIA 1, you get a 75% discount for the second traveler. THIS IS AN
ON-DEMAND SERVICE. You need to demand the ticket at the time that you purchase the other.

Toronto, Ottawa and Montreal are all easily accessible by train and the stations are fairly convenient.
In Montreal and Toronto, the stations are downtown, and in Ottawa, the station is a $7 cab ride to

I’m not sure what you enjoy, but would suggest visiting some/all of the following, depending on the
length of your visit and interests: Toronto, Niagara Wine Region, Kingston and the 1000 Islands,
Ottawa and Montreal. Another might be Quebec City - beautiful! The wine tours in the Niagara are
fantastic, as are the spectacular views of the 1000 Islands. If for some reason you end up with access
to a vehicle, try taking the old highway (15) from Ottawa to Kingston. It winds through some very
quaint little towns, dotted with antiques, cheese and chocolate factories, etc.

This is a natural flow for the train, as well, depending where you are flying into. From a budget point of
view, I think that you will find the cheapest flights into either Toronto or Montreal. My suggestion
would be to fly into Toronto and start your train excursion from there. Be sure to get to Montreal
before heading back to Ottawa. Presumably, you will have to fly out of Toronto again, and then you
could perhaps purchase one of the buy 1 get 1 free tickets from VIA for that leg (if you are staying over
10 days). There are also very good bus connections between Ottawa and Toronto/Montreal. Check
with Voyageur and Greyhound bus lines.

FYI, a good website for Ontario travel options is:

BAK Apr 16th, 2005 03:44 PM

Toronto, Monteal, and Ottawa are train friendly cities; for a smaller place, consider Kingston, which is on the train routes between T-O-M.

London is reachable easily by train, but sort of boring, expecially compared to Kingston.

Or you could go to Quebec City by tain, from Montreal, easily.


Brahmama Apr 16th, 2005 04:39 PM

How happy I was to check back and find so many good responses to my email! Thank you all for taking the time.

MikeT- We are trying to decide if we are going to train up from Texas or fly. My husband is thinking that we need to fly - to train will include at least 2 nights on the train and then trying to make a connection after crossing the border near Buffalo.

We fly out of DFW or LOVE and a quick (relatively speaking) non-stop flight sounds very appealing.

wow - I have always wanted to go to one of the plays at Niagra-On-The-Lake! I wonder if there are theatre tours going there from Toronto? We really are trying to avoid the car!

prairiegirl - my next stop is the website you gave us! What great advice - especially about the free pass and also the suggested itinerary. Invaluable information!!

BAK - Kingston sounds ideal for our "smaller city" - and Quebec-City is tempting,too.

Thanks again to all of you. I'll be checking back after doing some research.


GaryA Apr 16th, 2005 05:20 PM

Brahmamas, you should know that central Canada in the summer can often be quite as hot and humid as Texas so if you're thinking that it will be cool and unhumid I think you may be dissappointed.

BuffaloGirl Apr 16th, 2005 05:50 PM

Hi Brahmama! I know you said Toronto, Ottawa, Montreal (all fantastic places), plus a small town, BUT....Quebec City is beautiful, wonderful even, and not very big!!! I would really consider adding it to your itinerary, if possible.

Have a great trip!

goldwynn Apr 17th, 2005 03:29 AM

And Brahmama, I`ll put my two cents in for training up to North Bay in Northern Ontario. It`s located about 225 miles north of Toronto and Ontario Northland railway travels here in about 5 hours for roughly $105 Canadian. You could stop off in the Muskokas also.......great fishing, canoeing and sailing here on Lake Nipissing. Much cooler and quieter away from the traffic and summer heat with cottages on the lake. Check out the city`s website.

goldwynn Apr 17th, 2005 03:36 AM

And sorry.....forget to add this website for you ( And for the Muskokas (

goldwynn Apr 17th, 2005 03:38 AM

And also forgot to say that the cost of the trip $105 Canadian is for a return trip.

Brahmama Apr 17th, 2005 04:08 AM

Thanks for the additional ideas.

GaryA - thanks for the warning about the weather. Of course it is totally unpredictable now with global warning (imho) but where we live, it is hot, dry with many triple digit days. I'm willing to bet that it will be more pleasant in Canada.

Buffalo Girl - you are right. I have just tasted a bit of Quebec City on a cruise stop, and would definitly like to return there. One day was just not enough.

goldwynn -North Bay also sounds tempting, but may be too far away.

I did get out my AAA Canadian maps so I can refer to them. I was suprised how close T O M are to each other.

Prairie Girl - I also checked VIA website and did find info about the Corridor. But I'm confused. If you get the Corridor Pass (say VIA I) - would that be a better deal than the "Bring a Friend" program? We are planning to stay longer than 10 days. Did you check out both ways? We are hoping to rent a sleeper on the longest leg also.
And we do have a friend in Ottawa who has offered to take us around for a couple of days. He may have someting specifically planned, but I will mention HWY 15. He will be impressed with my knowledge!

I did look at getting the North American Pass - and training from Fort Worth to Toronto - and then on from there. It would take 2 overnights on the train to reach Canada. Not bad! The train would go from FTW to Chicago - to Buffalo/Buffalo (2 stops) and then on to Toronto. We would arrive about 8:00 PM.
Is there a hotel close to the station in Toronto by the way?

If we fly to Toronto - is there a shuttle to take us downtown/train station?

Thanks again for all the helpful comments and suggestions from everyone.

laverendrye Apr 17th, 2005 07:37 AM

As others have mentioned, the train is a great way to travel in this part of Canada.

Here's a suggestion for an itinerary:

1.Fly into Toronto, spend 3 or 4 days, including a day at Niagara on the Lake.

2. Train to Kingston, spend 2 days, including Thousand Islands cruise

3. Train to Ottawa, spend 3 or 4 days, including visit to outlying towns of Perth and Merrickville. You should also spend a day in the Gatineau Park and surrounding area.

4. Train to Quebec City, through Montreal, 2 days.

5. Train to Montreal, 4 days. Fly home from Montreal, or if you are taking the train, return to Toronto for your homeward journey. If you want to save a night's lodging, there is a sleeper train between Montreal and Toronto.

As to some of the specifics, there are many hotels very close to Union Station. The closest is the Fairmont Royal York, across the street, and connected by a tunnel. Also in the immediate vicinity are the Victoria, Novotel, Intercontinental, and Renaissance Toronto (Skydome). Not much further, on the harbour, are the Westin Harbour Castle and Radisson Admiral.

The airport shuttle terminal is at the Royal York Hotel, so it is very convenient to Union Station.

I don't think that North Bay would fit in with your trip, as you would have to take the train to and from Toronto. The days when there was a direct connection to Ottawa and Montreal are long gone.

Depending on how you structure your trip, the Corridor pass may work for you, as it is valid for 10 days from the first date of travel. Thus if you arrive in Toronto, stay 4 days, and then use to pass, it will be valid for 14 days from your arrival. You could do the same thing at th end of the trip. The "Bring a Friend" is a good promotion, but there are many restrictions on its use in the corridor, so you would want to check that out.

Finally, as to the weather, I don't think coming from Texas you will find it particularly hot. It may be more humid than NW Texas, but not more so than Houston, for example.

wow Apr 17th, 2005 11:48 AM

Hello, Brahmama! ( interesting screen name....) The Toronto train station( Union Station) is located in downtown Toronto across from the Royal York Hotel(RYH). Call RYH to see if they have "day trips" to Niagara-on-the Lake. Go to for info on plays @ The Shaw Festival, accomodations & how to get there. You shd book your tix asap.
Lots of great ideas here form other posters! I am getting excited about your trip!:) Maybe you cld post back w/a "trip itinerary" once you have finalized things?

Brahmama Apr 18th, 2005 05:08 AM

Hello again!
I appreciate so much the valuable ideas and information that are in this thread.
And I love the itinerary suggestins. That is what I needed to really get dug into this trip.
Laverendrye - this is where I will begin. I needed some structure! We will either fly into Toronto or Buffalo. There are wonderful prices from DFW to Buffalo - about $200 cheaper pp than Toronto. Since two of our destinations are Niagara Falls and also Niagara-On-The-Lake, we may rent a car here for a couple of days .

If I can figure out the logistics, we can then take the train from Niagara, Canada to Toronto for the unbelievable sum for $28.89 for both of us!
Then after our stay in Toronto we will start the corridor pass.
I did look at the Royal York Website and unfortunately the July/August rates are not discounted. I tried all the packages. $249 per night - Yikes.
(I think I forgot to tell you that we are budget travelers - we travel a lot, but have to hunt the good deals!) I love this location - there is a non- refundable price of $186 - but I can't do that yet.
I love the idea of Kingston and the cruise.of the islands. Hopefully we can do some wine-tastings in this area also.
Any suggestions about where to stay in Kingston?
And also Montreal, Ottowa, and Quebec. We are hoping to find hotels/inns/b&b's that are centrally located - and about 100 - 125 per night. I hope that's possible.
wow - the Brahmama is because we raise a small herd of pure-bred Brahman cattle to supplement our Texas Teacher Pensions - which are in the lower 10 % of the US! We call them our Cash Cows and for sure they are how we are able to travel.

Another train question too - is it worth the extra $$ to go VIA-1? I guess the big difference is the food/wine/spirits. Is the food outstanding?

We are in the middle of calving and have 3 cows left. Will, my husband, just called me to come to the barn, so hopefully we will have another calf soon.


laverendrye Apr 18th, 2005 07:21 AM

Brahmama: In Kingston, you will want to stay right downtown. There are a number of downtown hotels right on the harbour, including Holiday Inn, Howard Johnson, and Four Points Sheraton. Kingston also has many nice B&Bs and historic inns in the downtown area.

Here are a couple of good websites:

You can do wine tastings in the Kingston area, but it is difficult without a car. The wine growing area, Ontario's newest is in Prince Edward County to the west of Kingston. Here's some information:

Many of the Thousand Island cruises leave from Gananoque, but you can also get one right from Kingston, and without a car, that would be the best way. While in Kingston, don't miss Fort Henry, a 19th C fortress, and if you can manage, on Wednesday evenings, the sunset ceremony there is outstanding.

For more on Kingston, see:

There are many great places to stay in Ottawa that meet your budget. You might want to look for a B&B in Centretown or Sandy Hill. If you search on this board, you'll get a good idea of what's available.

Depending on when you are in Ottawa, you'll hit one of the many festivals, starting with the Jazz Festival, then the Blues, then the world's largest Chamber Music Festival and so on. You may want to arrange your accommodation well in advance, as there are many summer visitors here. If you are here on July 1, Canada Day, the whole downtown area is one big festival.

Here are a couple of good websites:

I don't know whether VIA 1 is worth the money or not. The seats are a bit more comfortable, and the meals are included. However, on trains in the Corridor they are served airline style at your seat, rather than in a dining car. The food's not bad, but I would hardly call it outstanding. There are also waiting rooms at the stations with refreshments etc for VIA 1 passengers.

Brahmama Apr 19th, 2005 07:35 AM

I thought I'd post the tentative itinerary that I have so far.
Please comment, suggest etc.

August 2 - Fly from DFW to BUF
(this is on AA - non-stop, but it's American Eagle - my husband thinks that is a commuter plane - does anyone know? This may be the wrong thread to ask about this.....)

August 2 - Van to pick us up at the airport and take us on a 3 hour tour in Niagara Falls and then drop us where-ever. Should we spend the night or train on to Toronto?
(I haven't figured out how to get to N-O-T-L yet)
August 3 - 3 nights in Toronto - no hotel selected yet. Reading threads about hotels.
August 6 - Train to Kingston - to spend 2 nights and take the Thousand Islands Cruise
August 9 - Train to Ottawa - 3 nights
August 12 - Train to Quebec City - 2 nights
August 15 - Train to Montreal 3 nights
August 18 - Train to Buffalo
Fly home

rkkwan Apr 19th, 2005 12:01 PM

AA's DFW-BUF non-stop is on a Bombardier CRJ-700 regional jet. It's one of the larger regional jets, with 70 seats in a 2-2 seating.

Brahmama Apr 20th, 2005 04:03 AM

RKKWAN - Thanks for the information. That is what my husband wanted to know so maybe we can at least get our air booked.

I haven't been able to get my mind around how to get from Buffalo to Toronto (or points north). The train schedule doesn't match - not enough time to get to the station. And then an hour wait at the border.

What is the easiest way to get from Buffalo to Niagara Falls, Canada? There is a later train leaving from there.

Carol / Brahmama

laverendrye Apr 20th, 2005 04:22 AM

I think that Niagara Airbus provides a shuttle service from Buffalo Airport to Niagara Falls, ON, as well as to Toronto, (and vice versa).

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