Prince Rupert Rail & Ferry Terminal.
Western Canada on VIA Rail Canada's Skeena
Friday, June 21, 2002
We slept in late and then checked out of the hotel around noontime, as our train departed
at 12:45. The taxi service took care of our transportation needs and we had time to take
more pictures while we waited at the station. I could see the train go on another set of
tracks by the Canadian National Railway (CNR) building and then back up so that the
engine was facing west, rather than east. So, it had basically turned around.
The Skeena that runs between Banff, Alberta, through Prince George, BC, onward, ever
onward, until the train eventually reaches the Canadian west coast at Prince Rupert, BC,
is one heck of a ride. This is a special trip for me as so few people have taken it when
you compare it to the other VIA routes. You name it, much Canadian wildlife is in this
neck of the woods.
The train staff was super friendly and accommodating. I think that they were being
themselves! From coast to coast, it never ceases to amaze me of the friendliness of these
people. I can certainly see it on VIA. It is so easy to make friends up here. Why just
settle with just an acquaintance when you can meet a genuine friend? My very good and
close friend, Guy Faulkner, who works for VIA, is more that than he is a business
associate. A number of the room attendants that I had years before recognized and
genuinely greeted me when they saw me. It’s all in the state of mind!
Terry McIntyre was the quality Service Manager on board and the two great attendants
were Chris Cabot and Lorne Lyster. Our lunch came shortly after we left the station. I
had cold chicken, which was very good. We went through the mountains, zigging and
zagging along the tracks, giving rail fans and tourists alike great opportunities to take
excellent pictures of the train with breathtaking backdrops.
We eventually came to McBride station, a small stop on our way out west. As I got off
the train I saw Matthew Wheeler talking to our Service Manager, Terry McIntyre, in front
of the station. Now Matthew is a very well known Rail photographer and writer and he
just happens to live a few miles up the road from McBride station. We met in 1999 when
both of us were going east on VIA RAIL. He was writing a story for a newspaper about
travel on VIA and taking his great pictures.
Soon we were off again and dinner was soon served. I had heated chicken, and again, it
was good. I saw one bear that was pretty close to the train, and two deer. We did pass a
number of bears but I missed most of them. Our arrival to Prince George was around
7:00 PM and we were very tired. Everyone debarked and the British tour group would
prepare to go on BC Rail tomorrow morning. We took a taxi to the hotel and were soon
booked into the Ramada Hotel.
We later went across the street to the “Tandoori Restaurant Indian Cuisine.” I was not
hungry but was so shocked that there was such a restaurant in these parts that my
curiosity got the best of me. A very pretty girl named Mony (pronounced Moony) was
serving us. She and her family were from Bangladesh. Everything was brought on a big
stainless steel dish with a large rim around it and it had a number of stainless steel bowls
with condiments in it. I ordered their vegetarian dish which consisted of five different
ingredients. A little on the hot side, but that was okay. All you have to do is tell them
you want it mild before you order & then you’re all set. Their mango lassi (a yogurt
mango flavored drink) was very different to anything I have ever tasted. But it was quite
Bob and I then went straight to our hotel room and “hit the sack.” We were both drained!
A lot of sunlight up here so you have to keep the heavy curtains pulled or else the light
keeps you awake. We both slept well from our deep sleep.
Saturday, June 22, 2002
We were up by 5:00 AM, ready for the next day. We checked out and called for our taxi.
It is not too far to the VIA train station, $3.50 by cab, but the BC Rail station is at another
site and I hear that the cab fare is around $10.
We were at the station around 7:00 AM and I was surprised by the number of people in
the station at this time. Our train leaves at 7:45 AM. Everything seems “laid back” out
here so one just settles back and relaxes. The VIA gals at the station checked our heavy
luggage for the baggage car and then we were soon boarding the train with the same crew
that took us here. In fact, the same crew will be taking Bob and I back to Prince George
It is nice to have the same crew for a few days as that way everyone gets to know
everyone. It gets to a personal basis and as you good folks out there know, all good
people love good company. In fact I met Bob and Karen Ritchie, www.coastaldrill.com,
of Campbell River, British Columbia, on the train. They are loyal “visitors” to TrainWeb
through the Internet. Dave Schick, a tour Manager for a tour firm out of Richmond, BC,
and Dolf de Vries, www.dolfdevries.nl,
from Holland, who is a writer and whose wife is
a photographer. I can go on and on, but you should be here and meet the people on the
We soon had breakfast and I was very impressed with it. A good size plate of fruit,
Raisin Bran Flakes with 2% milk, a raisin bran muffin with butter, and apple juice. I saw
a deer this morning. Lots of river watching with very strong currents. Very dangerous
waters! Many pictures of these beautiful mountains.
For lunch Robert had cold cuts with a different assortment of cheese and I had salmon
mousse with carrot cake for desert. I missed quite a few bridges but did catch some of
them with my camera. Many of them were pretty high. Great engineering feats! We
passed a few Canadian Native settlements (Indians?). At one such place the train tracks
went right through their burial site. I was told that the locals said “as long as passenger
railcars came through the area they would allow freight cars to come through as well.”
It’s around 4:45 PM right now so we know that another 30 miles west we’ll be coming to
four tunnels in a row. That should be milepost 121 to 123, the Kitselas Canyon and
Tunnels., which are best seen from dome or the rear end of the car.
The manifest on this 591 train set is:
F40PH Engine 6435
VIA 1 4002
Chris and Lorne, our stewards, are preparing our 5:00 PM dinner now. One gal that lives
up here in the bush just got on the train. A romantic place, but rugged. This trip was
much like northern Ontario, “heavy into the bush.” I highly recommend that everyone
seriously consider taking this portion of the trip, Jasper to Prince George, to Prince
Rupert. I know that you will not regret it!
We arrived into Prince Rupert before 8:00 PM. It would have been nice to stay here for a
few days but our schedule forbade it. I found it a pretty city with a beautiful view of a
lake and other landmasses in the distance with a few boats loafing about. I took some
pictures of the Crest Hotel, where we stayed, [(800) 663-8150,
and its restaurant. A very nice place with a spectacular view. The owner did a good job
putting his place together - well done! I noticed that the train crew likes this run as well.
That should tell you something. You like to go salmon fishing? Well… There are so
many other things to do here as well. I notice that the taxis are set up for natural gas
rather than petrol. These people care for their environment, plus, natural gas is cheaper.
We slept very well in our very comfortable beds. We left the window open all night, as
the weather was just great. A grand place to retire!
Sunday, June 23, 2002
This morning we got up at 6:00 AM. It started to get dark around 11:00 PM last night.
Who knows what time the sun came up this morning. It was long before we did, that’s
for sure. We were checked out around 7:00 AM and our taxi took us to the train/ferry
station. The train was ready for us around 7:45 AM. We brought our luggage over to the
baggage car and had our baggage put inside.
We said our “good mornings” to Steve McIntyre, the Service Manager (conductor),
Lorne Lyster and Chris Cabot. Chris was mentioning to me that his girlfriend, Elana, was
very beautiful. I told him that I would be the judge of that. Now I know what’s on his
mind as we’re riding the rails. Sounds healthy to me!
Only eight people are going to Prince George today. This trip is one of VIA’s great
secrets. The low clouds snaking along the mountains are a spectacular sight. I have seen
a few eagles flying around, missed a bear this morning and took a few photos of
pictograms that were on the side of a mountain (Terry, the conductor had the engineer
slow down so we could take a picture). It is believed that the pictograms were made
around 200 years ago as a territorial mark by local Native Canadians (Indians).
I enjoy breakfast on this run. The same as last time, fruit bowl, healthy cold cereal,
muffins, 2% milk, orange juice and fruit yogurt. Lunch is usually served around 12:00
PM but today we will have it at 12:30 PM. Of course there is always tea and coffee all
the time as well as muffins and other pastries. Today is smoked salmon on a bagel, or
chicken. I tried their chicken which had a lot of vegetables with it. Date square was
served for dessert. We went over a very tall bridge just now so I took a few good pictures
of that. We had gone through three tunnels and by the time you went through the third
tunnel you could see all the way through to the first one. It’s something most rail fans
will not see except on this trip. This is almost like having a whole car for yourself.
We stopped in “Smithers” at 1:50 PM. It’s just a little town that is totally closed on
Sundays. Expect many places in Canada to be closed on Sundays. It “forces” you to go
to the basics and transcend into an inner peace that you possibly forgot existed. The
lovely blue sky with powerful white billowing clouds, clean empty streets among quaint
bundled up houses, beautiful tall green trees everywhere like an army of soldiers
watching your every move and a passenger train that had quietly snaked its way into this
secluded hamlet with only a few passenger cars in tow, make for a nonexistent make
believe world. The issue here is that it is all too real!
The consist coming was 691 and the car numbers are the exact same as when I was going
west to Prince Rupert, yesterday. It is easy for everyone to get to know everyone else
when there are not too many people on the train and you are in a limited environment for
a while. There are always rail fans on board and the rest of the passengers obviously
enjoy train travel. Certainly there is a common bond there and the days go along very
enjoyably. Everyone is certainly relaxed on our way to Prince George. I ate very little
for dinner this day, in fact, hardly anything, as I just felt too filled up. Bob had a nice
bottle of wine with his meal.
I later had a very long and great conversation with Jerry Crawford, who hails from
Newmilns, Ayrshire, Scotland. I had met his wife, Evelyn, earlier. Her ancestors were
heavily involved with rail, during their time. This couple, like so many other people that
I have met on the train, have traveled many times, in many countries, by rail. There is
always learning when meeting good people!
We came into Prince George around 8:00 PM and everyone picked up their luggage and
went their different ways. I had our online crew pose together with the Station Service
Attendants, Sandra Lapointe and Christine Scott. Super excellent service with wonderful
personalities, the bunch of them! One looks to these people as friends more than not. I
notice this phenomenon among many of VIA Rail’s staff. This attitude makes half the
trip and can certainly ruin one if personalities and service quality were reversed. Thank
you VIA, for such a wonderful time!
We took a taxi to the Ramada Hotel and signed in. We were in room 540 this time.
Again, a nice size room with two queen size beds with great room service. We pretty
well stayed in our rooms as we got our things in order and relaxed for the night.
Monday, June 24, 2002
After a good nights sleep, Bob and I left the hotel after 8:00 AM and walked around a
small portion of this city of 80,000 people and stopped in a small bakery/restaurant for
brunch. This is prevalently a lumber community, but that industry has been pretty well
devastated because of the US/Canadian lumber issues and problems. We later went to
the bank to get Canadian money and change so we could then go to the Laundromat. It
was nice to have a whole set of clean clothes again.
That afternoon we both ended up at the Railway & Forestry Museum where we met
Trudy Swaan, General Manager, who keeps organization in check, Grant Mckinnon,
mechanical genius, Michael Hodgson, sharp as a tack know it all (he really does!), Estelle
Struck, volunteer (as are others as well). Estelle lived up in the Yukon by herself for a
number of years. Now that’s one tough gal!
It cost me $6 to get into the museum. Seniors and children are less. This site is one of
the largest vintage rail collections in British Columbia and is set in a spacious park-like
setting where visitors can enjoy a “hands on – climb aboard” experience. Though their
main thrust is historical large rolling stock, there is also historical small rolling stock,
logging machinery, mining equipment, agricultural machinery, fire equipment, radio
equipment and heavy duty equipment.
Bob and I actually operated a velocipede, and that was a blast! Disneyland, eat your
heart out! This great piece of equipment is arm and leg pumped. This is a short run,
single person, rapid rail transit, and is certainly energy efficient. I took a few pictures of
this yellow piece of equipment so you can see what it looks like. Michael was also good
enough to take Bob and myself on a nice ride on one of their “speeders.” Also, a nice
working turntable donated from the CNR roundhouse in Prince George, is here as well.
I personally have a fond appreciation for farm equipment, so it was very nice to be able to
see and appreciate what they had on site along with their rail equipment. Another
display that I had a special appreciation for was the “Penny Station.” This is an old train
station with everything in it that was used in “the old days” by the stationmaster. There
was also the wonderfully furnished living room and kitchen and the upstairs bring you to
the bedroom section of the structure. The museum representatives have been negotiating
with CNR (Canadian National Railways) to purchase one of CNR's beautiful large
mechanical sites across the street from their museum. That would be a wonderful boon to
this group and to the local community as well.
Some cities (not all) that have a rail museum, do not recognize on taking advantage of the
prize that they have in their midst. These historical sites need more than grants and
public donations to keep their existence and for growth! Rail museums bring in visitors;
visitors bring in money and offer free word of mouth advertising. Public transportation
coming into the area benefit as well. Politicians who do not fully support Rail Museums
tend to forget that a Rail Museum is not the only place making money, there are also
restaurants, hotels, souvenir shops, Laundromats, you name it! Nice museums can be
responsible for bringing in millions of dollars to a community with the proper financial
and marketing support. It is something that the whole community can be proud of. It is
also a great project to volunteer ones’ services for the community as a whole. Work that
one can be proud of, as not only the local populace, but visitors from other parts of the
world are attracted to come visit the museum and the local area. A nice Rail Museum can
put a local area “on the map!” Comprendez-vous?
The taxi ride back to our hotel cost $7. We picked up a few sandwiches and drinks and
ate in our room and enjoyed the cable television. “Beddy bye” sneaks up pretty fast.
Tuesday, June 25, 2002
This morning I got up at 7:15 AM, cleaned up, prepared everything for tomorrow’s trip,
and worked on my travelogue. Around noon I went to the Indian restaurant and found
that it opens at 5:00 PM, so I went to a Chinese restaurant in the area. The interior looks
nice and they did have a buffet. Period! I came back to my room and spent the rest of
the afternoon catching up on my travelogue.
For dinner I went over to the Tandoori Restaurant Indian Cuisine. Again, I had the
Vegetable platter and it was very good. So was the mango lassi drink that Mony had
made for me. There is a picture of Mony and the meal that she served me that I took, if
you’re curious. A very pretty hard working gal that served a meal that tasted as good as
it looked! I came back to the hotel by 7:30 PM to finish my travelogue for the day and
prepare for the next phase of my travels. Remember, my travelogue with VIA ends at
this point and now my adventure starts with BC Rail on their “Whistler Northwind,”
southbound. See you tomorrow morning up and early!
- Set #01: Jun 21, 2002 - VIA Jasper Station
- Set #02: Jun 21, 2002 - VIA's Skeena: Jasper-Prince George
- Set #03: Jun 21, 2002 - VIA's Skeena: Jasper-Prince George
- Set #04: Jun 21, 2002 - VIA's Skeena: Jasper-Prince George
- Set #05: Jun 21, 2002 - VIA's Skeena: Jasper-Prince George
- Set #06: Jun 21, 2002 - VIA's Prince George Station
- Set #07: Jun 21, 2002 - In Prince George
- Set #08: Jun 22, 2002 - VIA's Skeena: Prince George-Prince Rupert
- Set #09: Jun 22, 2002 - VIA's Skeena: Prince George-Prince Rupert
- Set #10: Jun 22, 2002 - VIA's Skeena: Prince George-Prince Rupert
- Set #11: Jun 22, 2002 - VIA's Skeena: Prince George-Prince Rupert
- Set #12: Jun 22, 2002 - VIA's Skeena into Prince Rupert
- Set #13: Jun 22, 2002 - In Prince Rupert
- Set #14: Jun 23, 2002 - VIA's Skeena: Prince Rupert-Prince George
- Set #15: Jun 23, 2002 - VIA's Skeena: Prince Rupert-Prince George
- Set #16: Jun 23, 2002 - VIA's Skeena: Prince Rupert-Prince George
- Set #17: Jun 23, 2002 - VIA's Skeena: Prince Rupert-Prince George
- Set #18: Jun 23, 2002 - VIA's Skeena: Prince Rupert-Prince George
- Set #19: Jun 23, 2002 - VIA's Skeena: Prince Rupert-Prince George
- Set #20: Jun 24, 2002 - Railway & Forestry Museum
- Set #21: Jun 24, 2002 - Railway & Forestry Museum
- Set #22: Jun 24, 2002 - Railway & Forestry Museum
- Set #23: Jun 24, 2002 - Railway & Forestry Museum
- Set #24: Jun 24, 2002 - Railway & Forestry Museum
- Set #25: Jun 24, 2002 - Railway & Forestry Museum
- Set #26: Jun 24, 2002 - Railway & Forestry Museum
- Set #27: Jun 24, 2002 - Railway & Forestry Museum
Ray Burns and the TrainWeb field crew did quite a bit of rail travel from June 9, 2002 to July 11, 2002, especially in Canada.
Click on each link below to read the travelogues and view the photos and virtual tours:
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