Train vs driving across Canada

Jan 5th, 2008, 08:11 AM
  #1  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Jul 2003
Posts: 922
Train vs driving across Canada

This July we are planning a trip across Canada.
We will start in eastern Canada (Toronto) and head west to Vancouver Island.
We've driven all over Europe and New Zealand....we like the freedom of driving....but, the VIA rail trip across Canada sounds intriguing.

Any input?

Thanks!!!


Bailey is offline  
Jan 5th, 2008, 10:59 AM
  #2  
BAK
 
Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 2,944
I've taken the train several times, and driven most parts several times (on the Canadian side of the border).

If you drive, you get the choice of all-Canadian, or Canada and the USA both.

And if you take the train, you don't get to see as much, you don't get to stop when you want, and you miss stuff, including the badlands south-west of Regina, the Dinosaur Museum, the city of Calgary, the southern Rockies, chances to see rodeos, and more.

I'd rather drive, and I'd probably go through Chicago and up the western side of the great leakes, coming back into Canada somewhere near Winnipeg or Regina.

BAK
BAK is offline  
Jan 5th, 2008, 07:36 PM
  #3  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Jul 2003
Posts: 922
Thanks BAK....I think that we'd stick entirely to the Canadian drive. We've driven several times across the US.

Is there a particular route for an across Canada drive??


Bailey is offline  
Jan 5th, 2008, 09:23 PM
  #4  
ALF
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 1,521
We've driven and taken the train - both have their advantages. The train can be more relaxing and faster (you don't have to stop to sleep). I would disagree that it is not scenic - the western part of the railway is has some spectacular views. You obviously have lots more flexibility with a car; that would be my choice.

There aren't a heck of a lot of route choices - get on Rte 17 and go! The only real choice is west of Winnipeg, where you could stay south on Rte 1, through Calgary and on to Vancouver; or head further north on Rte 16 through Edmonton. Either way, you end up in Kamloops.
ALF is offline  
Jan 6th, 2008, 11:43 AM
  #5  
 
Join Date: Jul 2007
Posts: 593
You don't say where you are from so I am not sure which situation applies to you... if you are arriving in Tornoto and then renting a car, you may find it difficult (or expensive) to get a one-way rental for that distance because the rental company has to find a way to get their car back to Toronto after you leave it in the west. If you are driving your own car, you will probably find that to be cheaper than going on the train.

If you are interested in seeing more of the Rockies, I would suggest taking highway 16 (the Trans-Canada Yellowhead highway) from Manitoba, via Edmonton and Jasper, then drive the Icefields Parkway south to visit Banff and Lake Louise, then take highway 1 west to Kamloops & Vancouver.
krp329 is offline  
Jan 6th, 2008, 12:54 PM
  #6  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 916
There are many, many routes to choose from once you get to BC. One route is to go via Hwy 1 to Revelstoke, to Sicamous, and head south along Hwy 97 into the Okanagan Valley (wineries & vineyards, lakes, orchards, semi-arid rolling hills) - by July there will be fruit stands selling local produce. There are no trains through this area and a car is mandetory to be able to explore the beaches, the wineries, and such.

From Hwy 97 you can drive south to Osoyoos (desert country) and head west along Hwy 3 "the Crowsnest" through to Hedley, Princeton, and through Manning Provincial Park in the Cascade Mountains. Once through the mountains, you end up in Hope which reconnects to Hwy 1, which is the beginning of the Fraser Valley, and you're about 2 hours away from Vancouver. If you don't want to go to Vancouver, you can bypass the city and head straight for the Tsawwassen ferry terminal to Vancouver Island.


Alternately, if you stick with Hwy 1, you follow along the Fraser Canyon which is another slow, scenic route.

Or... there's the route that takes you to Lilloett, up through the old Duffy Lake Road, via Pemberton, down through Whistler (along Hwy 99) - the "Sea to Sky Hwy" and along the Coast Mountains and the Howe Sound fjord before arriving in Vancouver... and again, you can bypass Vancouver and go straight for Vancouver Island via the Horseshoe Bay ferry terminal.
Carmanah is offline  
Jan 6th, 2008, 02:26 PM
  #7  
BAK
 
Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 2,944
Do you get to come back, or is this a oneway trip?

Toronto, Collingwood and Owen Sound, up tp Tobermpry, ferry to Manitoulin Island, then to Sudbury for the museum, over to Sault Ste Marie, Thunder Bay along the side of Lake Superior, to Winnipeg.

Winnipeg to Brandon to Moose Mountain Park to Weyburn and up to REgina.

Then Moose Jaw, then south toward the border into the Cypress Hills, back up to Maple Creek, into Albrta, and then the highway toward Calgary, turning up to Drumheller.

Then Calgary, Banff, up the Icefields Highway, and I'd then turn around and go back south, into Golden, through Kamloopps and over to Cache Creek (I particularly like this part fo the drive) and south following the mainhighway to Vancouver.

BAK
BAK is offline  
Jan 6th, 2008, 04:30 PM
  #8  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Jul 2003
Posts: 922
Thanks everyone!!

We live in the NY city area....so we'd fly to Toronto and rent a car for a one way trip. I don't think that we could rent in the US and then drop off in Canada. (or if we could, I imagine that drop-off rate would be to-the-moon!)
So we'd drive/train one way to Vancouver Island and then fly home from Vancouver or Seattle.


Bailey is offline  
Jan 7th, 2008, 04:33 AM
  #9  
 
Join Date: Oct 2007
Posts: 28
My wife and I are taking train Toronto to Vancover end of May. Booked a double bedroom on Silver and Blue. Looking forward to relaxing time. Will spend a few days in Vancouver then fly back to Toronto. Ive driven a couple times but as Via says "a trip of a lifetime" check out http://www.viarail.ca/classes/en_ser...voit_toja.html
john65 is offline  
Jan 7th, 2008, 11:17 AM
  #10  
 
Join Date: May 2006
Posts: 3,221
We've taken the Canadian twice between Toronto and Vancouver and it certainly has its merits. Very relaxing, good food and service, great scenery and certainly a different way of traveling - one in which the journey is actually half the fun. Great way to make new acquaintances. The Silver and Blue service is certainly the way to go if it's within your budget.

We thought the scenery fascinating for most of the trip - from the Rockies, the plains, the Canadian Shield, Great Lakes, etc. If you haven't done this before, would highly recommend it.
dfr4848 is offline  
Jan 7th, 2008, 12:59 PM
  #11  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Jul 2003
Posts: 922
John & DFR...The Via train trip from Toronto to Vancouver sounds great!!
I think it would be a great way to check out the areas that you would want to return to...for a more in-depth look!?
Just a quick question...very mundane....are the toilet facilities is your own personal cabin or are they like the shower arrangements...in the hall??

Thanks again!!
Bailey is offline  
Jan 9th, 2008, 09:45 AM
  #12  
 
Join Date: Oct 2007
Posts: 28
We have booked a double bedroom and washroon is in the room check out via silver and blue on net
john65 is offline  
Jan 9th, 2008, 09:48 AM
  #13  
 
Join Date: Oct 2007
Posts: 28
Bailey when are you planning on going. We are booked to leave Toronto May 29 9:00 am
john65 is offline  
Jan 10th, 2008, 10:46 AM
  #14  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Jul 2003
Posts: 922
John,,
My husband and I will be going in July. We usually don't like to travel in peak season...but this year it will be the only time we can get away!!

I think we will do the train this trip. Then we can decide which areas we would like to return.

Once we are in the Vancouver area we'll rent a car and go over to Vancouver Island and spend a week.


Bailey is offline  
Jan 10th, 2008, 01:09 PM
  #15  
 
Join Date: Oct 2007
Posts: 28
I was told by a Via Rail agent that if I was booking a double bedroom to ask for room F as it is slightly bigger only about a foot but on a train a foot can be a lot. I that room is available when you book you will get it. We have our tickets and it states room F on ticket
john65 is offline  
Jan 10th, 2008, 08:11 PM
  #16  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Jul 2003
Posts: 922
John thanks for the tip about room F.

Will you be staying in Vancouver for awhile or heading back right away?

I've started doing my research for rooms and which town/areas to visit on Vancouver Island...do you have any info?


Bailey is offline  
Jan 11th, 2008, 07:39 AM
  #17  
ltt
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 2,466
a suggestion...
i'm not sure how common a one way rental car is between toronto and vancouver. the drop off fee might be huge.
i'd consider taking the train from toronto to jasper. i love travelling on the train. i think there are a few car rental companies from the rockies that do the one way thing with very little extra fee since going between banff or jasper and vancouver is quite common.
i'd enjoy the train from toronto to jasper and then pick up the rental car for the banff/jasper/bc portion. that's where the fexibility of the car would be most beneficial as there are so many wonderful places to stop.
enjoy.
ltt is offline  
Jan 11th, 2008, 09:25 AM
  #18  
 
Join Date: May 2006
Posts: 3,221
Bailey - to answer your question, the toilet facitilies were in our compartment - they weren't down the hall.
dfr4848 is offline  
Jan 19th, 2008, 04:20 PM
  #19  
 
Join Date: Jan 2007
Posts: 447
Hi Bailey,

Just wanted to throw something out there for your consideration. Fly to Toronto, rent a car and drive to Sault Ste. Marie, take the Algoma Central to Oba (gives you the famous Agawa Canyon train tour and then some), pick up the Canadian from Oba to Edmonton and then rent a car for a drive through the Rockies (and on to Vancouver Island). It's a bit involved but it gives you (IMHO) the optimal way of enjoying some wonderful countryside.

Toronto-Sault-Ste. Marie by car is a nice and varied two-day drive (about 12 driving hours total) to a nice small city. However, west of the Sault, really, your next city of any size is Thunder Bay, another day's drive (and I'd assume a proportionately larger drop fee for the rental car). In addition, aside from missing a lovely hour-and-change drive along Lake Superior from the Sault to Wawa, the rest of the drive to Winnipeg is kind of like the backgrounds in the old Flintstones cartoons where the same 12 trees seemed to be repeated endlessly. On the other hand, taking the train from the Sault to Agawa (and beyond) is definitely a worthwhile experience if you don't mind changing trains. Just a quick look at the ACR's schedule

http://tinyurl.com/c95oe

shows their train arriving Oba at 5:30 PM and then the Canadian arrives about 5 hours later. Also, driving the prairies is an exercise in patience as it really is fairly flat from Winnipeg to somewhere around Calgary for the most part. I mean, it is intellectually interesting to note a grain elevator in the distance that you think you'll be up to in five minutes and fifteen minutes later, you're only getting to. But that gets old somewhere around Portage La Prairie.

Then I'd recommend driving the Rockies and beyond so as to give yourself the maximum flexibility.

HTH
Knick
knickerbocker is offline  
Jan 19th, 2008, 05:22 PM
  #20  
 
Join Date: Jan 2007
Posts: 447
Addendum to my post.

Seconding what BAK says about the Manitoulin ferry. Definitely include that stretch in your itinerary.
knickerbocker is offline  

Thread Tools
Search this Thread

Contact Us - Archive - Advertising - Cookie Policy -

FODOR'S VIDEO

All times are GMT -8. The time now is 06:49 PM.