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Wallace_and_Gromit Sep 8th, 2004 06:06 PM

I've decided to purchase a Canrailpass for a May vacation. I will fly into Vancouver and spend a week or so there - then I will be allowed 12 traveling days anytime before May 30. (after that, the price goes up $300+ - that is why I chose May)

I am not sure where else to go. Any suggestions? I like "city life" (i.e. theatres and IMAX cinemas etc.) but I also really enjoy beautiful scenery (i.e. green grass and duck ponds ;) ) - My goal is to eventually end up on the east coast where I will take a flight home. (Maybe I'll end up in Niagra Falls and I'll take another train to NYC)

Has anyone traveled on the Canadian Rail Network? Is it nice?

BAK Sep 8th, 2004 07:51 PM

I've been everywhere, (almost) which is also a line from a song written by Hank Snow, a Canadian cowboy singer from long ago.

The train will take you from Vancouver through the Rocky Mountains to jasper to Edmonton to Saskatoon to Winnipeg to Toronto to Ottawa and/or Montreal, to Quebec City, to Moncton to Halifax.

So now there are two problems; for what segments do you need sleeping accomodation, and where do you get off the train for a day or two or three.

And, because the transcontinental train does not depart everyday. it is impossible to get off on, say, Sunday, and get on the next day; You may be stuck with two or three days in some cities, using up your 12 days faster than you want.

The train leaves Vancouver on Tuesday, Friday and Sunday, at 5:30 in the afternoon, and arrives in Edmonton almost 24 hours later.

Just playing:

1st Tuesday: depart from Vancouver, in Rockies overnight
1 st Wednesday: more of the Rocky Mountains, Jasper around lunch time, Edmonton at 5:30 pm

Now, if you stopped over in either Jasper or Edmonton on Wednesday, you could not get another train until Saturday. So, stay on the train and save your days for later.

1st Thursday; Travel to Winnipeg, arrive about noon, stay and hour, and then leave towards Ontario. By midnight you'll be deep in the northern Ontario forests.

1 st Friday: arrive in Toronto mid-evening.


Saturday and Sunday in Toronto

Monday: go to Niagara Falls and back to Toronto.

2nd Tuesday: Leave Toronto in the morning and go to Ottawa, by noon. Stay overnight.


2 Wednesday: Leave Ottawa for Montreal sometime during the day, spending Wednesday night and Thursday night in Montreal, plus all of the day on Friday.

Friday: Take The Ocean from Montreal at 7 p.m. overnight, arriving in halifax on Saturday.

THAT, by my count, IS DAY TWELVE.

Now, about duck ponds: when you cross from Jasper to Edmonton to Winnipeg in May, you'll see sloughs, (slews) on the fields, formed by melted snow, and there should be lots of ducks and geese in them.

In Toronto, the biggest city on the country, you can get on the streetcar from downtown Toronto, ride for 20 minutes to High Park and Grenadier Pond, and go walking, and find lots of birds in ponds there. I once found a National Geograhic television cameraman there photographing herons, from an angle that looked like the wilderness, but really ten minutes walk from the streetcar tracks.

There's IMAX in Toronto and Montreal, for sure, and probably in Vancouver although I've never seen it there myself. make sure you see the Ontario Science Center in Toronto. gets you info on high-end live theatre in Toronto.

The ViaRail system is greatly improved over a few years ago, but remember that there are very long distances involved. You might want to spend extra on sleeping accomodation on the trains, rather than just tilting your seat.

Food is variable. Wise travellers bring food onto the train with them when they can. Dining car food is good to excellent, but not cheap.

I think you'll find your trip long, but delightful. have a great time.

And give Grommit a pat for my son and myself. He'll have a great time stirring up trouble on the train, but maybe the engineer will let him drive.



laverendrye Sep 9th, 2004 03:27 AM

BAK's recommendations are good ones, but you will have more time than he suggests. The Canrailpass gives you 12 days of travelling time within a validity period of 30 days. The 12 days are those actually travelling on the train, not the total time available. You can therefore make more and longer stops along the way, You can also buy up to 3 additional travel days during the period of validity if necessary.

Enjoy your trip!

ltt Sep 9th, 2004 07:16 AM

i'd get off in jasper and plan on 2-3 days there. since you say you like city life, a couple of days in edmonton might be good. plenty of theatres, night life on whyte avenue and west edmonton mall if you like shopping or waterslides.
spend a few days in ottawa.
i personally wouldn't worry about getting sleeping accommodations on the train. i've never had a problem sleeping in their economy seats. get up to the dome car as soon as you board for the scenic areas.

Wallace_and_Gromit Sep 9th, 2004 11:10 AM

Thanks for the great replies.

laverendrye, yes, I was going to tell BAK he misunderstood. I do realize it is 12 days altogether, not consecutive. I just have to use them before May 30. After June 1st, the price goes up to over $700.

Thank you ltt, I am happy to know the economy seats are comfortable! :)

BAK, great suggestions (and you are a Gromit fan too!! :D )

My only other question is a rather stupid one (maybe) If I decide to take a longer train journey (for example, if I actually wanted to go all the way from Vancouver to Toronto) - how is that done? Do you never get off the train? Do they have showers on the train that you can pay to use? etc. etc. ... I have no idea. I have never done anything like this.

laverendrye Sep 9th, 2004 12:08 PM

You can certainly stay on the train for the whole journey if you want. Showers are available, but only if you have sleeping accommodation (berth or bedrooom).

You should be able to find answers to all your questions on the Via Rail website:

BAK Sep 9th, 2004 01:42 PM

Other than feeling a little silly about the 12 days thing, I think that's good news.

There's a train from Jasper that runs north-west into the mountains, to Prince George and Prince Rupert, that covers some of the most beautiful territory in Canada.

Another thought: get off in Jasper, and take a Brewster bus down to Banff and then to Calgary. From Calgary, it may be possible to take a train back to Edmonton (I've done this, but years ago) or take the bus back to Edmonton and catch the train eastbound again.

I think that's a better bet than staying over in Edmonton, because you get to see the interior of the Rocky Mountains, plus spend some time in Calgary.

And, it would be worthwhile to go from Montreal to Quebec City one day on an early train, and then spend the day in Quebec City until late evening, and then board The Ocean for Moncton and Halifax.

And yes, there are showers on the trains now, apparently, although I've never used them.

Ottawa's worth several days, as someone else noted, so the new explanation of 12 means you can spend more time there.


Wallace_and_Gromit Sep 9th, 2004 06:47 PM


Don't feel silly!! The road of life is paved with many misunderstandings ... that is a "Wallace and Gromit" original proverb. ;)

whistler162 Sep 11th, 2004 04:35 PM

What I would do is Vacouver to Winnipeg and then upto Churchill and then on to at least Toronto.

Zavier Jan 30th, 2005 12:36 AM

If you do decide to take the Canadian non-stop from Vancouver across to the other side, I'd reccommend getting a berth, as opposed to a tilting seat. It's a 74 hour trip! And even with the dome cars and restaurant, thats still a lot of sitting down. Being able to lay flat on a berth at night will give your butt a rest. :P

cedar Feb 7th, 2005 02:21 AM

I loved the VIA Rail. We took it from Hornpayne, Ontario to Vancouver.
If you have a birth or room, hang out in the last Dome car if you can. Upstairs...excellet views and free wine and cheese and, seets and fruit most of the day.

dwooddon Feb 7th, 2005 02:16 PM

Cedar: Out of curiousity, is "seets" a typo or a word only Canadians are privy to?

taggie Feb 8th, 2005 07:20 AM

I liked cedar's version of "berth" as well. :)
That'd sure keep me off the train!!

Gavin Feb 8th, 2005 01:47 PM

I thought that we were not supposed to be critical of typing skills here. It does not encourage participation.

dwooddon Feb 8th, 2005 02:00 PM

I wasn't being critical. I truly didn't (and still don't) know if "seets" was a typo or a word I did not understand. There are a variety of Canadian terms not used in the same way US english does.

Just off the top of my head, I can think of loonies, double loonies, etc. I thought "seets" might be in the same vein.

Gavin Feb 8th, 2005 04:56 PM

Canadians sit on seats. Many Canadians use UK spellings for some words. Apart from our pet names for the 1 and 2 dollar coins I can't think of any uniquely Canadian spellings.

Judy_in_Calgary Feb 8th, 2005 05:04 PM

I assumed that cedar intended to say "sweets." That seemed to make sense to me in the context of the sentence.

&gt;&gt;&gt;Upstairs...excellet views and free wine and cheese and, <b>sweets</b> and fruit most of the day.&lt;&lt;&lt;

But I could have misunderstood.

yeadonite Oct 2nd, 2005 11:16 AM

This is agreat old thread any more suggestions

traveller69 Oct 2nd, 2005 12:08 PM

Re the IMAX question. Vancouver has two one is 3D. Edmonton and Calgary have at least one. When you are in Vancouver you should take a trip over to Victoria. The Royal BC Museum is world class and there is a National Geographic IMAX theatre attached.

wheretonext Oct 7th, 2005 03:31 AM

not many suggestions not already said, but it is making me homesick for canada. i am an aussie who visited this year. the trip up to prince rupert suggested is a two day trip, so hard to do in a short time limited by train travel as you have to then come back. i did the first day from jasper to prince george, which is a city coming along and trying to attract visitors, so good value. it may have a connection to edmonton. that would be a good idea. then you see a lot of the rockies in the day time. otherwise you sleep through most of the best scenery. from vancouver to jasper.

staying in jasper is good idea, i stayed there for six days. and took tours to lots of places. including banff.

tuckerdc Oct 25th, 2005 01:17 PM

BAK - I LOVE that Hank Snow song! But didn't realize he was Canadian.

We've about decided to book VIA Rail W'peg to V'couver for next summer, so info here will come in handy! Now, to find that other wonderful rail report that was posted about 5-6 weeks ago....

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