Darlene's Trip to Vancouver
On VIA Rail Canada's Canadian
Following a trail left by those who came before
The trip I have dreamed of is about to begin. My grandfather was a
section foreman in the early days of the railroad. Five of his sons also
worked in different capacities for the C.P.R (Canadian Pacific Railroad
) . Thus an early fascination with trains began.
Today as I sit in the Brockville train station awaiting our train to
arrive my mind is filled with cherished memories of a time long past.
The grandfather I loved so much seems very close. When I visited my
grandparents at Bedel station I would wait not so patiently until my
grandmother would say 'Its time for grandpa to come home'. I would cross
the road under the watchful eye of my grandmother and travel via a well
worn path across a neighbours field to the spot known to me as the
little red house. This was the small building that stored the handcar
that grandpa and his men would board each day to go to the job site for
the day. I can at this point sense the scent of the railroad men as they
trudged home after a long hard day of work. I looked forward to the
treat that was always left in his battered black lunch bucket. I would
carry the lunch bucket in one hand and he would gently take my other
hand in his large rough hand and together we would walk back to the
modest home not far from the tracks.
Memories for a lifetime.
We had planned to take some pictures at the station but the train was
right on time and the 'All aboard', sent us scurrying to enter our car.
We stowed our luggage and found our seat just as the first shunt of the
train took place. The first leg of our journey had begun. What a joy to
hear the whistle blow and feel the soothing motion of the train.
An especially rainy spring and summer has left a lush abundance of green
abounding in vigorous growth. Small creeks are running high and fast
that just this time last year had little or no water in them. As I look
from the train window I notice the dark clouds that have covered our
area for over a week part and the sun begins to shine. A good omen for
the ten days ahead I am sure.
The attendant arrives and it is time to order breakfast. A breakfast of
an omelette, orange juice, toast and coffee arrive. Breakfast is not
only pleasing to the eye but the taste buds tell the real tale,
delicious. As if this was not enough a large tray of pastries arrives. I
reluctantly had to decline as a full breakfast would not allow for one
We sat back in our comfortable seats and watched the panorama unfold
before us. We quickly moved with stops in Kingston, Belleville, Cobourg
and Guildwood to arrive at Toronto's Union Station a short three hours
later, right on time.
As you pass through the massive station you cannot help but be
impressed by its large ceiling dome and large pillars reaching high
above you. Abundant sculpturing in the cement work is most impressive.
The sounds of voices as people greet each other has an echoing sound in
this large chamber.
Our adventure calls for a one night stop over in Toronto so we find our
way to the main entrance to find a line of taxi cabs waiting to take us
to our next destination the Radisson hotel on the waterfront. After a
short cab ride we arrive at the Radisson Admiral Queensway West. While
Ray checked us in Laurie and I conversed with Kevin our friendly
Concierge. He had a wealth of information and let us know if there was
anything we needed we should just give him a call. We found our way to
our rooms and soon had settled in. Our stay was to be a short one
consequently we only took what we needed for the night and morning from
It was now lunch time and Ray had decided it was about time Laurie and
I be introduced to Indian Food. We inquired at the desk and were told it
was about a ten minute walk. From in front of our hotel we took a
streetcar and then transferred to the subway. We managed to turn a ten
minute walk into a two hour journey. After a few laughs about this I
confessed the streetcar ride and the ride in the subway had been my
first. I had been delighted to have done both. We walked a few blocks
and found just the right restaurant. As we entered the aroma of curry
and other spices I could not identify filled the air. A full smorgasbord
gave us an opportunity to try a large variety of new taste sensations.
We tried just about everything in fact we might just have tried it all.
Our beverage was a Mango Delight a combination of mango and cream.
Delicious, smooth and 'Oh so good'. I am sure the calories had all been
removed. The expression it brought tears to my eyes is true of Indian
food as it did this and cleared the sinuses as well. Our tummies saying
thank you for a delightful experience. We left the restaurant taking a
handful of mixed seeds and spices in hand that we are told will act as a
breath restorer. I guess it worked as no one backed away as we spoke to
It was the unanimous decision of all that after this food experience a
long walk was in order. A stroll up Spadina Avenue into the heart of
China Town was our choice. The street was very busy with many shops and
vendors selling their wares. The open stalls on the street offered
browser and buyers a large choice of fresh fruits, vegetables, fish,
nuts and all kinds of wares. The air was filled with various aromas,
colours of the rainbow abounded and the hum of voices could be heard as
shoppers bartered for their goods. A few purchases made our trip
complete. As we had travelled up one side of the street and down the
other the eye was constantly taking in a new picture to file in our
memories. The beautiful faces of the children were most appealing to me.
After a much shorter trip back to the hotel Ray presented us with a
taste treat of some fruit he had purchased in China Town. The secret of
reaching the heart of the fruit was shown to us by Ray and then only
did we enjoy a truly unique delight.
Laurie and I decided another walk was in order as we had got just too
relaxed. As we strolled leisurely along the lakeshore we found ourselves
walking with a number of other visitors who were part of a group tour.
It seemed like a good idea to travel along with them . Laughter
accompanied us as the tour guide looked back once as we crossed a small
bridge and a rather puzzled look crossed his face as he wondered I'm
sure who these two interlopers were. We walked as far as their bus with
them and then parted company waving goodbye as we left.
We strolled back to our hotel along the waterfront where boats of all
sizes and age lined the many docks. From antique cedar strips to the
newest and largest ships offered an eye appealing picture. Large mast
ships plied the harbour and offered trips out on Lake Ontario for anyone
desiring to do so.
We opted to cross the street to what appeared to be a small deli for a
snack for supper as we both felt that this was all we wanted. To our
sheer delight upon entering the door, one of the cities hidden treasures
awaited us. What a find. In a spotlessly clean store you could find just
about anything in food you had ever wished to see. You could purchase
prepared or unprepared dishes. A wide variety of fresh fruits and
vegetables along with all the ingredients to prepare a salad of your
choice or take a pre-packaged one are available. After making our
choices a small snack turned into a substantial variety of different
After about an hour a knock came to the door and we opened it to find
Ray cookie in hand. He told us that they are available at the front
desk. After taking a bite Laurie and I decided a trip to the lobby was
in order. Bob had told us about the deli across the street so we decided
to reward him with a few cookies. Cookies in hand we entered the
elevator. We exited the elevator and walked down the hall to the boys
room. After knocking several times the door opened and an unfamiliar
face stared in wonderment at the cookie held high in Laurie's hand.
Excusing ourselves two dumb blondes walked back to the elevator to find
we are on the seventh not the sixth floor. Who would have guessed the
floor plans are identical. After dropping off the cookies to the right
room and the guys enjoying a good laugh at our expense we decided we
should go to our room and stay there.
Much laughter continued over this most embarrassing moment as we
prepared for bed. A vow of silence was made as we did not want anyone
back home to know that we went to bed shortly after nine while in
Toronto. Nighty night.
Tuesday June 18,
Rose 6 a.m. showered, dressed and off to breakfast. The dining room
looked to the harbour presenting a most picturesque way to start your
day. A huge cruiser docked at the base of the hotel dock and we all gave
a guess as to who would own such a marvellous ship. As I ate my
breakfast of bacon, eggs toast and coffee I could see a small plane land
at the island in front of the harbour. We were not the only early
Time passed quickly as we packed up , checked out and after a short cab
ride found ourselves back at the beautiful Union Station. The station is
a most impressive structure. You enter a massive hall that is adorned
with large cement pillars. To me this beautiful building represents the
glory days of rail travel. Our voices echo in this massive expanse.
After some picture taking we found our way to the Silver and Blue
waiting area and enjoyed a leisurely coffee while we waited to board for
the second leg of this most amazing journey. Soon we would leave the CN
tower, high glass towers and busy city of Toronto behind us to enjoy the
changing landscapes of farm, villages and breathtaking beauty from our
It seemed no time until we were allowed to board and with great
excitement we found our way to our sleeper car that will be our home for
the next few days.
We stowed our luggage quickly so that we could find our way to the
Park car and climb the stairs to the Observation car to watch Toronto
pass from view. I felt now that our journey had really begun.
I soon found conversations with complete strangers would soon be like
talking with old friends.
Susan Friedman a native of New York was a wealth of the most
interesting tales of her world travelling. She had appeared very pushy
to me at first in the line-up to board the train and then on the train.
I soon learned talking with her that her technique was one of survival.
In her many trips with-in this continent and also abroad she would have
been a formitible challenger in getting from point A to point B
successfully. We all listened in awe as she told us about travelling
under the most deplorable train conditions to the most elegant ones
aboard luxury trains. She travels ten months of the year, spends one
month at home and one month with her business associates. She said she
would truly miss this contact if she completely retired. I knew we
would have some great chats over the next few days. It goes to show you
how wrong you can be by judging people too quickly.
Betty Jean Dickerson from Austin Texas had also been a part of these
conversations and told us of how there had been too many Betty's in her
class and her teacher had found the perfect way to distinguish one from
the other hence she became Betty Jean while others received a different
name such as Betty Sue etc. The name stuck and so Betty Jean it is.
Todd our friendly attendant had told us we should go to the dining car
and make reservations for dinner seating.
I decided to go for our quartet as I needed to take a walk anyway. I
made the executive decision that we would go to the first sitting
fearful that my choice might be wrong but thought I would risk it
anyway. Thank goodness it was a good one as all agreed the choice was
the right one.
When the call came for first sitting and we entered the dining car to
be greeted by our server Michelle. The dining car was cheerfully
decorated with pink tablecloths in a triangle over immaculately pressed
white linen tablecloths. White Noritake china and sparkling silverware
sat perfectly placed on a white napkin. Fresh flowers of pink and white
carnations are placed on each table to complete a perfect setting for
the elegant meal that awaited us. Michelle our server was attired in a
pale blue Via shirt pressed to perfection and navy blue slacks. Her
welcoming smile and friendly 'Hi welcome Aboard 'set the tone for our
first meal on the train. It was good to see that the elegance of train
dining was still to be had in this fast food orientated world. Leisurely
eating was the norm.
The menu consisted of several tempting dishes along with a chef choice
of the day. After pondering the selections for a while I decided on the
Bison burger, Caesar salad, V8 juice and Green tea. A large dish of
ice-cream attractively set off with a triangular wafer finished off my
As I left the dining car I noticed the etched glass bird motif in the
glass at each exit of the car. One glass was placed on either side of
the exits. This was the only time all four of us would sit together as
we wanted to try to experience dining with as many new people as we
could. What a perfect way to meet new people under the most relaxed and
Laurie and I went back to our sleeper just long enough to tidy up and
then off to the park car (lounge) we went. In such a short time we knew
this was a great place to spend time meeting and greeting our fellow
passengers. The atmosphere is most conducive to great conversations. It
is uniquely shaped like a bullet with wrap-around windows offering a
panoramic view. The interior sides are lined with comfortable seats and
you sit across from your fellow passengers so communicating is
inevitable. Fresh coffee and beverages are available to you and trays of
goodies appear regularly. The Mural Lounge allows the smokers in the
group to also sit in comfort and visit as they enjoy a cigarette or
alcoholic beverage. From the lower level you can take a few steps up and
you find yourself in the Domed observation car. This is the last car on
the train so your view is unobstructed.
The first person I talk to is John Doyle (alias Jake when in his clown
paraphernalia). He inquires about our Trainweb T-shirts and the
conversation begins. He tells me that he is a Shriner clown on his way
to Vancouver to take part in a Shriners convention that is expected to
attract 30,000 Shriners from around the world. He chose to take the
train even though many of his friends would fly out. He wanted to see
more of Canada and much like myself had always wanted to go by train
along the mountain passage. He proudly points to his watch and states
that each time the second hand moves once twenty dollars is raised by a
shriner charities. He tells me no one is ever turned away by their
inability to pay and that free world-wide treatment is available to all
children and is pleased that now with satellite hook-up, expertise can
be shared world wide. His journey started in Manchester CT., flying to
Toronto he was looking forward to a leisurely train trip to Vancouver
allowing him an opportunity to meet people and after his stay in
Vancouver he planned to rent a car and visit Shriners hospitals on the
way home. He would put on his happy clown costume, smiling face and
visit sick children along his route. I did not need to see a picture of
this gentle man to know of the passion he had for his organisation and
the work they do on all our behalf . To picture him in my mind standing
beside a sick child's bed putting a broad smile across their face was an
easy thing to do.
People move in and out of the car and every one takes the time to say
'hi' and we chat a bit. Laurie and I had walked the train taking note of
the cars and car numbers as many people are interested in these facts.
We soon learned this as some fellow passengers could identify passing
engines and tell us a great deal about the history of each one. What a
Soon the first call came for dinner and we found ourselves in the
dining car adorned in a new setting of navy blue tablecloths over white.
The menu took on the appearance of one out of a fine restaurant.
A choice had to be made so I decided on the Salmon. It was served with
a dill sauce, sweet roasted potato, a medley of fresh vegetables and a
fresh dill garnish. Dessert of chocolate cake with strawberry and fresh
brewed coffee, to die for, topped off this elegant dining experience.
Our dinner companions had been a couple from Pennsylvania travelling to
Vancouver to cruise to Alaska. They had flown to Nova Scotia and wanted
to see Canada on the ground so had opted for the train as they felt this
way they would not only see the countryside but would be free to do so
without having to worry about driving.
During the last few hours we had passed from the green of Central
Ontario into the rugged, rocky terrain of the Parry Sound, Sudbury area.
There is something eerie yet very beautiful as the train makes its way
along paths breathtakingly surrounded by towering rocks high above the
train on all sides. We soon view once again a change in landscape as an
abundance of lakes on all sides appear. I can only guess the beauty that
the hardwood trees in this area would produce in the fall.
I soon was in conversation with Richard Algona who flew to Toronto from
Michigan to take his first trip across Canada by train to Vancouver
where he was to meet up with friends who had flown out and board a
cruise ship to Alaska. This was just not an ordinary trip by a long shot
as Richard talked we all became excited as he so elegantly described his
passion for Dixieland/jazz music. His excitement is contagious as he
tells us about his world wide travels to personally hear his favourite
bands. His passion for this music is now taking him to Alaska to hear
The High Sierra Jazz Band out of Three River California. Best in the
world he states excitedly.
The conversation goes on with others joining in to talk about
different jazz bands and trips they all had taken to pursue different
passions such as rock collecting, to bird watching.
It had been a busy day so we decided to call it a day and saying our
goodnights went off to our sleeper car.
I knew I would pay for a trick I was about to play on Laurie but at
the time it seems worth it. I asked her to go into the bathroom in our
compartment while I arranged my luggage and got ready for bed. She was
willing to oblige as room was at a premium. I did get ready and into bed
as she occasionally inquired as to 'are you finished yet', as I waited
to see just how long her patience would last. Soon the door burst open
and the laughter began as she saw me comfortable cuddled in under my
duvet. I will watch my back for the next few days.
I woke to the sound of Laurie trying to quietly leave our sleeper to
have an early shower. The compact area you have to move around in does
not leave room for a quiet departure. so I get up and check my watch.
four fifteen . It cannot be. I had turned my watch back an hour as we
had entered a new time zone. When Laurie came back I informed her of the
correct time and once again the laughter of 'so what' filled our room.
I was thrilled and relieved at how well I had slept. The lulling sound
and the movement of the train had offered just the right atmosphere for
a good nights sleep.
I picked up my VIA guest bag of shampoo, body lotion and fresh towels
and headed for the shower. The stainless steel area with change area and
divided shower area was an inviting place to start the day.
Feeling completely refreshed I dressed and went to the observation car
hoping to get some early morning picture taking. Unfortunately the sky
was dark and a gentle mist was falling. As I sat alone at this early
morning hour thoughts of how much hard labour and sacrifice had gone
into building this magnificent rail line. Forging this line joined our
great country in a way no other could have. As I reflect on the way some
rail lines have been removed it saddens me to think of the lack of
foresight on behalf of those who made these decisions.
In just one day I have talked to so many people who have told us that
this train is one of Canada's best kept secrets. With so many people
looking for an adventure in travel in a new and safer atmosphere where
all of their wishes are looked after with professional expertise and
clean safe surroundings what are these decision makers thinking.
My thoughts are interrupted by Pat and Tom Brummett from Canterbury
CT. Early risers as well they inform me that Todd has the coffee on and
a tray of goodies is ready below in the park car. I opt to wait and go
to the dining car as being a farm gal I am used to breakfast as the main
meal of the day. This is the Brummetts first trip to Canada as well as
their first train ride. They are travelling to Jasper then on to Banff,
Whistler on to Vancouver and then a cruise to Alaska. The things dreams
are made of. We give each other a short lesson on our own particular
areas of the world. What a great way to interact with people in such a
Before you know it six-thirty arrives and I am off to the dining car
greeting the people I meet on the way. The morning may be dreary outside
but the spirit of these early risers is one of a cheery 'Hi , how did
you sleep? Talk with you later'.
A Canadian cheese omelette, orange juice, brown toast and coffee got
my day off to a great start. Mr. and Mrs. Anthony Charlton, Emsworth
England had joined Laurie and I for breakfast. We talked about their
journey and a trip to Niagara Falls. They had flown over the Falls in a
helicopter. They could not believe the expanse of our country and the
fact that we are still in Ontario. The conversation of course at one
point turns to trains. They talk about a trip they take from Houston to
Sterling Castle in England by Moto Rail. Their car travels with them on
the train and at their destination they have their own means of getting
around. What an interesting chat we had. We bid each goodbye for now and
after freshening up in our room head to the lounge.
A large smoke stack looms on the horizon which indicates Sudbury
cannot be far away. The landscape in this area is also bleak. Soon an
area of birch trees line the fields adjoining the tracks and I feel we
must now be getting out of the most desolate looking area. With all its
lack of vegetation this area still poses an intriguing appearance as one
might assume an early beginning of earth's evolution.
Todd our car attendant introduces us to Murray who he affectionately
referred to as Brutes and his wife Olive. He is a rugged looking man
with a full black beard and stature of a true northern frontiersman. As
soon as he speaks you discover a much gentler side to this impressive
exterior. It turns out he is a railroad engineer on the train from
Winnipeg to Churchill Manitoba. He and his wife are returning from a
vacation in Nova Scotia. Having started working for the railroad at age
sixteen he shares many stories with us and most willingly answers many
of the questions asked by fellow passengers. Questions ranged from all
aspects of his job to the terrain of his train route and the best time
of the year to see polar bears. By the way October was the month polar
bears are most visible. Murray told us that his family lived in Le Pas
Manitoba. He tells us that we will soon stop at Capreol to take on fuel
and water. He points out that this stop is a division point for the
railroad and the miles again begin at '0'.
In Capreol we got a chance to get off and stretch our legs. The area
is rugged and as we leave the area displays countless lakes, streams and
bog areas that I am sure must be the home of many moose as it is the
same type of landscape described by my husband when he takes his
traditional yearly moose hunting trip. When I check out this terrain I
know my choice to view this scene from the train not the actual ground
is the right one for me. His passion to actually traverse this landscape
in search of the ultimate trophy is not one I share but I must admit
that the moose meat he brings home after each trip is the best meat I
have ever tasted. I even willing listen to the stories of the week the
gang spends in the bush over and over again.
The day is still dreary but spirits are high. It still amazes me how
willing people are to talk to us and eager they are to check out the
Trainweb site when they get back home. A number have said they will send
in their travel log to the site and I sure hope they do. I am as
interested in reading their journals as they are mine.
We look forward now to lunch as we know again we will share many
interesting conversations as with each meal we try to sit with someone
As the train slinks as a long twisting snake through a path of green
dotted by numerous lakes we pass Gogama. My uncle Garnet had spent many
years here while a member of the O.P.P.(Ontario Provincial Police). As I
check out the isolated area I find it hard to believe the love he had
for this area and the people that lived here. He always had tales to
tell the family when he made his rare trips home.
First lunch is called and in the dining coach we sit with Alice and
John from Mississauga. They inquired about our T-shirts and are
delighted to learn about trainweb. They take their grandchildren to
Sudbury each year to the Science Centre and plan to have them send in a
written report of their experience as they look forward to this trip all
year. Alice informed me that sometimes the children one four and one
nine had trouble sleeping on the train. She had a tip to share with us
that worked every time for the kids. She would have them repeat their
destination Sudbury, Sudbury, Sudbury over and over again to the rhythm
of the train wheels. Soon they would be sound asleep. We talked about
our families over a lunch of a triple sandwich. Layers of salmon are
tucked between another layer of bean sprouts, tomato, lettuce and yet
another layer of salmon. An individual white china tea pot serves up two
perfect cups of green tea and a delicious triple fruit crumble finishes
off a perfect lunch. Life is good.
We retire to the observation dome where around each bend you get an
updated weather report. Sunny, rain, cloudy skies and the sun again.
When the sun is out the rock cuts and trees are reflected in perfect
mirror to the lakes that are still resembling a sheet of glass. As the
train rolls along through Horsepayne and Longlac my mind struggles to
imagine just how this great rail system was carved out of such a
seemingly impenetrable area. With the heavy equipment and expertise
available today it still seems like a daunting task. I can only imagine
the pick and shovel and back breaking labour that our forefathers faced.
I feel a total sense of pride and respect for the men who laid this
marvellous track so that I could see this great country from the luxury
of 'The Canadian'. An abandoned and neglected train station stands in a
most tragic and deplorable state at Horsepayne. You can see that it once
had been a landmark in this area. The restoration of this building would
add not detract from this train stop.
It probably seems to one reading this that we seem to eat a lot and
you would be right. As once again we sit down to dinner of curried
chicken tastefully presented on a colourful bed of rice dotted with
fresh vegetables and garnished with a sprig of dill. Doing justice to
describing our meals is a daunting one as each presents a delight to all
your senses. Eye, nose, tastebuds and ears that hear all the hum of
friendly conversations are involved.
I sat with a Mr. and Mrs. Moffat who described in detail the sheer
beauty of travelling this route in the winter months with a totally
different picture presented to us. You imagine this scene draped in new
fallen snow and can only hope that one day you might witness this
personally. With the mind now full of new visual experiences you
reluctantly leave the dining coach to relax once again in the lounge
Edward Wilmot and his mother are sitting with us now. We have a
conversation about their many travels and experiences. They explain how
to travel with a minimum of luggage. Advice Laurie and I could have used
before we embarked on this journey as we find the two large suitcases in
our sleeper car a movers nightmare and yet we feel we can not part with
them as that one thing we could not live without might be sequestered in
the baggage car when we needed it. 'Rubbish', Edward exclaims. He tells
us the three things we must take with us are : a pullover, umbrella and
flyswatter. we laugh at this suggestion but would live to eat our words.
Brutes who is sitting with us tells us the crew on the train will
change at Winnipeg. All employees on the Toronto to Winnipeg run are
based in Winnipeg.
Todd our attendant brings forth yet another tray of goodies and
beverages and sits down to talk a while. He tells us there are three or
four groups on the train. Grand Circle with forty four, Titan with
thirty three Jok View ten and Blake international with ten to Jasper.
Soon we talk more railroad and discuss how the caboose had been removed
from service as a cost saving device. Murray said that some steam had
been used up to five years ago. Trains had been iced up until 1981 and
that the dining cars had been iced from the ceiling.
We decided it was time to call it a day and saying our goodnights
found ourselves going about our usual nightly ritual of silly laughter
This has been a most enjoyable and memorable day. I could not have
imagined as I started this day that I would meet and talk to so many
interesting people who would join in conversations with us and share so
many interesting stories.
Once again up early. The clock has been turned back one hour but this
does not mean we will take advantage of this but rather Laurie is on her
way to be first to the shower. After another great nights sleep I am
wide awake and decide an early start is what I want also. As soon as
Laurie gets back I head for the sheer delight of an invigorating shower.
Once dressed I head to the observation car for some early morning
time alone. To my surprise a few other passengers are moving around as
well. The park is a buzz as during the night a stop had allowed a large
number of mosquitoes to enter our secure domain.
Not to worry.
The gallant Edward Wilmot arrived on the scene and the war was on.
With the help of his brave mother Vivian the battle begins. Vivian had
rolled two newspapers together one for each hand and bringing the papers
together swatted mercilessly at the dive bombing enemy. She said this
technique was foolproof as they did not feel the breeze coming at them
and pop they went to mosquito heaven. The brave six foot something
Edward lean and trim with his red and black flyswatter stood his ground.
Long arms reached extraordinary heights as his long legs took strides in
all directions. A battle raged for several minutes as Edward even
challenged the wrath of Susan our to the point New York city passenger
who gratefully told him to swat her at will.
It was a scene that would have been hard to duplicate by a first class
We all witnessed with great delight this drama unfold. As the victors
finally subdued their pesky enemy applause filled the car. Edward and
Vivian left the car heads held high in this glorious defeat of one of
Canada's winged invaders. As Edward left the car he left Laurie in
charge of his swatter. She was first in command until his return.
Swatter in hand she took her responsibility very seriously as an
occasional buzzing sound would have her spring into action.
She decided that since she was on duty she would have the continental
breakfast in the park car as I went off to the dining coach.
Cornbeef hash was the chefs special of the day so I decided this was
my choice. Along with a fresh fruit dish, orange juice and coffee I was
ready for another day. I enjoyed the company of Charles and Nancy from
Pittsburgh PA. They are travelling to Jasper for a few days vacation and
travel back to Toronto and take a flight home.
When the train had stopped at Sioux Lookout passengers left the train
to take a walk on the platform. Some local residents passed out a
booklet which described the areas many services and businesses as well.
It was a very informative book with an attractive cover of a wolf
family. What a great idea that was. The booklet also told the legend of
Sioux Lookout and enclosed a postcard. As if that was not enough a pin
which depicted brotherhood was also given. This gesture will be
remembered by all.
The weather has once again changed from the early morning bright red
sunrise to showers. The expression of red sun in the morning sailors
warning red sun at night sailors delight passes through my mind. While
we are sitting on a siding waiting for a freight train to pass the
ominous black clouds that surround us seem to open and the rain comes
down in great sheets. As we start to move and pick up speed , it is as
if the train is entering a massive train wash. Water sprays off the
sides of the dome and as you sit dry and comfortable inside.You feel yet
another truly great experience of riding out a storm in safety has taken
Wes Mc Niece a Shriner from Mississauga and I started a conversation
about his trip to Vancouver to the Shriners convention. I told him how I
had met John Doyle another Shriner travelling with us and he said he
would try to hook-up with him on the train. Wes was a school teacher in
Toronto. I could tell as we talked his students and their needs are a
great part of his life. We talked at length about problem kids and came
to an agreement that the problems are not usually the kids but life
circumstances that create the problem. Kids that he had been able to get
back on the right track ended up being his proudest and most rewarding
accomplishment. He was the kind of teacher that I am sure many kids
remember as an inspiration in their lives. As so many I had talked to it
was his first train trip. Some of his friends had planned to fly to the
convention but he chose to see the country from the ground. This was
something he always wanted to do and he felt his choice was a good one
as he had enjoyed his trip thus far and like the rest of us was anxious
to get into the mountains.
Lunch today consisted of a Caesar fruit salad, pot of green tea and
for dessert a Carmel cake. The menu offers a large choice but at this
point a light lunch seems in order. A couple from Quebec City had
enjoyed lunch us for lunch. The gentleman spoke very little English and
she spoke only French. Laurie took this opportunity to try her French
and between the two of them they accomplished the seemingly impossible
and learned a great deal about each other. His English had been learned
during his time spent in England during the war and Laurie's French from
school and living for a time in Ottawa. Hello and goodbye would be all I
would venture trying. With my hands resting at the side of my face as in
a sleeping position I received a response 'good' to the unspoken
question of 'How did you sleep?' It had been great fun stopping and
visiting along the way as we travelled car to car.
We wore our trainweb shirts which had opened doors to many
conversations as people would inquire as to what it was all about and
soon an interesting chat would begin. One of these most memorable chats
was with a family from Los Angeles travelling on their yearly vacation.
Each year they closed down their business for thirty days and would take
a trip. This is something they had done for many years. You could tell
as you talked to this wonderful family that a strong family bond was in
place. The father of the family said we may not get rich but we sure are
We could all take a lesson from this family in our busy rush to
achieve the sometimes impossible dream. They spent this time together
travelling and in the relatively close confines of their comfortable
coach area bonded in a way otherwise not possible. They geared down and
rested along the way and at their destination could start fresh.
Forest and lake area and the winding track gives way to a straight run
as the train speeds up on its run to Winnipeg. We are now in wide river
valleys and farms now dot the flatter landscape. I have a feeling of
leaving the wilderness and returning to civilised life. I think of how
our forefathers must have felt after travelling this long journey on a
steam train not knowing what hardships they would face. A couple of farm
houses must have been a most welcome sign.
The announcement of Winnipeg in twenty minutes gets us all on the
move. We go to our sleeper cars to pick up purses, cameras and freshen
up as we look forward to the time off the train to check out the Union
We are not disappointed as we view the stations massive dome. I walk
around viewing the station as Laurie takes many pictures inside and out.
Time passes quickly and soon it is back on the train having said goodbye
to some of the passengers that had Winnipeg as their destination. Brutes
and Olive (as they are affectionately known), will leave us now. Their
vacation ending , I now can see Murray in the Engine of his train
heading northward from Winnipeg to Churchill because of the wonderful
stories he had shared with us.
The train rolls along over rivers and the railway bridges giving the
photographers a chance for some great shots. Edward Wilmot and Laurie
check with each other as we go along comparing shots and you hear
'Laurie did you get that one'. Edward an avid photographer gives Laurie
tips and she is a willing student. Vivian had shared with me how on a
trip to Switzerland her son had spent two hours to get just the right
shot of a duck at the side of a lake. This was after getting up before
the sun and climbing down a mountain side to reach the lake. She said
this particular photo had received a first prize in a contest so Edward
had felt it was more than worth his effort. More great photo
opportunities as large, tall brightly coloured grain elevators appear
along the route. A new crew has also come aboard in Winnipeg and as we
sit down to dinner we are cheerfully introduced to them.
A new enthusiasm has arrived with a fresh crew.
A delicious dinner of lake trout with baby roasted potatoes, fresh
vegetables and Caesar salad topped off by chocolate cake and the great
company of Sam Brown who spends twenty five days a year at a cabin he
and his wife rent at Jasper. It is his Twenty Eighth one way trip on
this line and he knows most of the crew by name and looks forward to
seeing them each year as they are like old friends and they can discuss
changes in their lives from one year to the other. They choose to have
no telephone or television at their camp as the space and beauty is what
they keep coming back for. Sounds like a total retreat and a good way to
The evening turns into a fun time as Laurie takes a picture from the
lounge car of a distant potash plant. It is truly spectacular and even
the critical eye of Edward states that this a suburb shot. The large
smokestacks rising high over the large slag piles with an eerie layer of
smoke hanging low over this scene. As the sun sets, the sky gave us a
surreal exhibition of numerous shades of black and grey orange and red.
Even from the distance away you can tell of the enormity of this plant.
A second plant appears even more eerie looking than the first. Suddenly
the imagination of the group sitting in the car took off and the stories
started to flow. From secret space landing pad to top secret God only
knows what the tales began. One would describe a space alien with large
protruding eyes and transparent head and body to the huge space ships
that must be concealed within this mountainous hill. We inquired of some
of our British passengers as to their own tales of crop circles and
other unanswered happenings and they all willingly joined in. We all
laughed and had the greatest time as we sipped on fresh brewed coffee
and took advantage of a tray of cookies and cakes. Edward pointed out to
us that this place had ironically been called Spy Hill Manitoba.
What great fun this had been.
Knowing that tomorrow would take us into Alberta and the mountains we
decided we should turn in for the night. As we left the coach chuckles
of 'sleep well', could be heard.
All our tales could not keep us awake as once our laughter subsided
the lulling motion of the train had me soon sleeping like a baby.
I think it is now Thursday June 20.
Five fifteen and we are up and at it. The clocks are back one hour but
our body clocks are not aware of this. Showered, dressed and feeling
completely refreshed we head for the observation car.
The whole trip has been completely awesome but I must confess this is
the day I have most waited for as I know once again I will see the
Rockies. Twenty five years ago I travelled by land to Vancouver and
always wanted to come back. This trip offered me this unique opportunity
to have a whole new experience. To travel in the air conditioned comfort
of an observation dome on a train is the dream of a lifetime coming
true. No traffic to contend with and I did not feel I had to help my
husband drive as I had so long ago.
The landscape has once again changed from the brilliant greens to a
drought like burnt brown. I had heard about the contrasting weather
conditions this year in Alberta and we would soon witness them for
ourselves. A mist rises from the rolling hills as the sun begins to
rise. I can only find words to describe as picture perfect. I find it
very hard to put into words but the mental snapshots I am taking will
last a lifetime. We decide to have the continental breakfast in the
lounge as we do not want to miss a minute of this day. The coffee is
great and juice and muffins are all I need.
Soon the landscape changes again and the large grain elevators share
fields with pumping wells that indicate to me a producing well. Large
herds of cattle graze in fields with these wells and yet the cattle
seem to be completely unaware of them.
I should describe the table set out for the continental breakfast as the
attendant goes to a lot of work to make it most appealing. An attractive
table covered in a pink tablecloth displays two large pitchers of orange
and apple juice. A bouquet of a variety of colourful flowers is a
perfect backdrop for a tray of muffins and croissants. A large bowl
containing fresh fruit is always present and adds even more colour to
this magnificent scene. At yet another table a large thermos pot of
always fresh coffee and hot water for a tray of instant coffee, tea bags
and hot chocolate. This is all placed in front of a mirrored backdrop so
it appears doubly attractive. When you enter the coach the smell of
fresh brewed coffee greets you and as you sit in the dome the
full-bodied aroma wisps upward. You can see that a full breakfast in the
dining room affords elegant dining but a continental breakfast in the
park coach can also be a most gracious experience as well.
The train crosses a long trestle rail bridge which Edward who always
seems to know our location tells me it is the Battle River. Once again I
hear Edward inquire ' Laurie did you get that?' and the response comes
back 'Sure did', 'good-show'.
We arrived in Edmonton fifty minutes late. There had been a lot of work
being done on the lines . It looked to me as if a new line was being put
in along side the one we travelled on . This may have meant a slower
ride but I sure will not complain as the panorama out the windows was
just wonderful to behold. We can now leave the train for forty minutes.
We take this time to get some pictures of the station , train yards
and once again bid farewell to those who have reached their destination.
Soon we hear 'All Aboard' and back on the train we go.
Returning to the dome I talk with Marjorie Cassimatis not the first
female I had talked to on our journey travelling alone. She said it was
her first trip on this train and she felt very safe travelling alone as
she had talked to many people and soon could freely chat with people who
a few days ago were strangers. We travelled together to lunch and are
joined by a couple from Surrey England. I tell them of Vivian and Edward
also from Surrey and they are very surprised to learn someone from their
area also travels so close to them and as yet they have not met. Another
of the appealing fruit salad seems in order and tea and dessert of
vanilla ice-cream are just what the doctor ordered.
Immediately after finishing lunch we entered Jasper Park. The
Athabasca River meanders along the train track and excitement grows as
the mountains come into view. From sheer mountain cliffs dropping
straight down into the river to areas once again mirrored in crystal
clear waters the view is breathtaking. We were soon to learn this was
only the beginning.
We arrived at Jasper Station at two ten and helped Ray and Bob take
their luggage from the train as they are about to begin their next leg
of their journey northward. As we survey our surroundings to locate the
hotel the boys will be staying at, two helpful ladies come to the
rescue. They ask if they can help and before you know it the boys are
loaded into their van, bag and baggage and are scooped away only after a
picture taking in front of the Jasper sign. This all happened so fast I
could hardly believe our party of four had been reduced to Laurie and I.
Laurie and I take a walk around the quaint shopping area and decide we
will shop on the way back as carrying any more packages seems out of the
question. We toured an antique shop and then headed back to our train.
As we approached the station we meet Ray and Bob. They tell us of there
safe arrival at their hotel and the great Jacuzzi in their room. They
walk us to the station to say goodbye as we board the train.
Looking back the town seems amazingly small town considering the
amount of visitors that must pass through. Stunning views abound. I find
myself gazing in disbelief at the glazier capped peaks. It is a postcard
come to life in its prime setting with its mountain background. I do not
know why but the leisurely pace surprised me. Once again the mind
wonders what this enchanting place must look like in the winter.
The tracks climb at what is too hard to really imagine along the rocky
face of the carved mountain while the valley below on the other side
of the train is lush and green.
When I get home I must learn more about how this railroad was built.
It seems an impossible task but here it is.
I believe it was in the Moose lake area that the commentator told the
story of a cargo of whiskey being lost in the bottom of the lake. To
this Edward told the joke about a gentleman who had said, 'all whiskey
should be thrown into the ocean'. Another asked 'Are you a tea-toteler
sir'. The gentleman's reply was 'no I am a deep sea diver'.
At the end of the lake the train and the Fraser river run right
along the tracks. We suddenly pass through a very long dark tunnel. We
had come upon it very quickly and without warning so this unexpected
event sent a shiver up my spine. As the train rounded a bend the
grandeur of Mount Robson is in full view. The whole dome is silent
except for the occasional exclamations of ' I cannot possibly describe
this to anyone with words'. I felt the same way. This scene sends a
humbling feeling as to how truly small we are in this big picture. The
panorama is breathtaking and brings a lump to my throat and a tear to
the eye. When twenty five years ago I witnessed my first sighting of the
mountains I could only describe it as a religious experience and I must
admit the feeling is the same now.
We travelled a long distance with the Mount Robson in view and then
took a sharp turn and we started to descend. By looking back the view
was spectacular. There are just not enough adjectives to describe this
area of our country.
As we go to the dining room for dinner we travel through a flat
area.Tonight salmon is again my choice. I never get tired of fish. The
distinctive flavour of the salmon on the train has been a taste treat
possibly because it is fresh and not what we get shipped to the east.
The plate also displays a number of greens below a fresh vegetable
medley, small potatoes in a mystery sauce. Dessert is apple crumble. As
we sit and talk over coffee the conversations are about the wonderful
day we had all just been a part of and our inability to put into words
to adequately describe what we had viewed.
The talk in the lounge car was pretty much about the beauty and sheer
delight of our day. I sat for a while alone in the dome car counting my
many blessings and having had the opportunity to have witnessed this
best of all days. As a beautiful sky of all the colours of the rainbow
fill the sky Laurie gets her last pictures of this day and after saying
our goodbyes to our new found friends we are of to our sleeper car.
Sleep comes quickly as we had to pack up for our departure from the
train in Vancouver early in the morning. I'm sure our dreams will be
good ones after such a perfect day.
Up at four fifteen. Clocks back one hour but when we wake up we get
up. Laurie showers first so as not to break with tradition. I take my
turn and now wide awake we check to make sure we have everything packed
up and go to the lounge car. We find to our surprise a number of
passengers are up and about as well. We all sat around and chatted as we
knew soon we would part not to see each other again. It had been a great
few days and we knew the people we had shared so much time with would
long remain in our thoughts for a long time.
Disembarking at seven fifteen a cab got us to our hotel at seven
thirty. After checking in our luggage (could not check in until three
thirty) we decided to make arrangements to go to Victoria.
Laurie had tried to make contact with Peter Darroch a former neighbour
from our home village only to get his answering machine three times.
Undaunted we approached the tour guide/concierge who was very helpful in
getting us a bus reservation to Swartz Bay.
Ten minutes and a block away we make our connection. As Laurie's
granddaughter Madison would say 'No problem'. Soon we are on the bus for
the fifty minute ride to the ferry. The bus driver seemed surprised at
our chosen destination and in a while we would find out just why. The
bus arrived just in time to make the eleven o'clock connection and we
soon are sitting on deck five having lunch. We discuss how well we are
doing getting the last two tickets, making our ten minute connection at
the Basmarans Hotel, getting to the ferry just in time to catch the
ferry, having a most helpful Grey Line coach driver willing to drop us
off at the Cordoba Bay highway and offering us many helpful tips about
This seemed not to bad for a pair of country bumpkins. My first
impression of the helpful people of Vancouver is a most positive one.
The crossing would take about an hour and a half. Lunch for me was a
vegetarian sandwich consisting of layers of lettuce, tomato, cucumber
and alfalfa sprouts and a large date square for dessert. Fresh and very
good. A coke washed the whole thing down. I talked with a couple from
Florida as we had lunch. They made an anniversary trip each year. They
modestly started out with visits to family and friends. Time brought the
ability to take longer and more adventurous trips and this fifty third
year was turning out to be their best.
The trip across would take one and a half hours so we took this time
to enjoy the view of the many islands and what I'm sure is some of the
most expensive real estate around. Once again the day is sunshiny and
clear as a bell. The water is completely calm and reflects perfectly the
shorelines. As we dock we now can understand why the bus driver had
questioned our desire to stop at Swartz bay. A terminal reached by a
glassed in corridor is all that is in site. We assure each other that
our decision was the right one as if we could not reach Peter by phone
we would just take the next ferry back. No Problem.
Luckily after deciding to look up Peters home number in the phone
book rather than his cell phone as we had been doing a most welcome
'Hello' was heard. Sharon informed us that Peter had his cell on charge
and in about thirty minutes he would pick us up at the terminal.
His van had barely stopped when he bounded out, door left open to grab
Laurie and give her a big hug. After quick introductions and the passing
of maple syrup carried all the way from Ontario for Peter. Laurie had
carried this syrup proudly in one of the ugliest straw bags it has been
my displeasure to see in public. This bag should have been carried in a
plain brown paper bag. I delighted in tormenting Laurie about this to
the point of refusing to carry it myself. All in good fun. I have been
told maple syrup is the secret ingredient in Peter`s famous smoked
We are on our way to Cordoba Bay. As we turn down the road to their
home flowers and shrubs of all colours and perfectly landscaped
properties greet us. This is one of the things I remember most about my
last trip to Victoria. It is not such a surprise to see this trend
continues to the suburbs.
A warm welcome by Sharon and the families German Shepherd greet us at
the fenced in yard of the Darrochs. Their attractive home in a perfect
setting allows us to understand why this is the area Peter came back to
to make his permanent home. He had told us he had been here during his
time in the service and vowed to come back.
The conversation turned to folks back home and getting caught up on
all the news. Peter is to take us on a sightseeing trip of Victoria so
we are soon in the van and on the road again.
Our tour begins we a drive through some of the most expensive homes in
the area. The perfectly manicured lawns, countless flowers, trees, ponds
and Asian gardens abound. Brightly coloured baskets hang from all the
lampposts adding striking colours everywhere you look. One property
seems to be trying to outdo the next but I know that in this area
beautiful properties are a way of life be they large or small everyone
has a plot of flowers. Green thumbs seem to abound here.
We travel to Mount Douglas and from this high perch view the
breathtaking beauty below.
Travelling yet to another Mountain a whole new magnificent landscape
Beacon Hill Park is our next stop. A sprawling park filled with
fountains, flowers, trees and mat green lawns covered with a spattering
of bodies enjoying this beautiful day.
From here we travel to point zero so that with a few pictures we can
document that two little country gals have reached either the starting
point or the end of Canada. This small thing seems very important to me
Downtown is next. Elegance is everywhere from the horse drawn white
carriages conveying passengers on a leisurely sightseeing tour to the
British influence of the architecture fine living is abundantly
displayed. Double-decker buses can be seen everywhere. The pace of the
downtown area is one of peace and tranquillity.
The original train station is next. It is like everything else here
well maintained. A daily train takes visitors on a run along the coast.
Would like to have time to have taken this trip.
After more picture taking we work our way back past the Legislative
Buildings and The Empress a building in the true British tradition.
A new building being constructed fits right in and upon completion
will look like it has also been here hundreds of years. Much credit
should be given to the decision makers here as their foresight produces
these spectacular results. One of my fears have been set aside as I see
this beautiful city remains charmingly the same.
Sharon has a delicious chicken dinner waiting for us on our return and
even the invitation to stay over night is appealing we must rush off to
get the seven o'clock ferry. Just in time again waving goodbye we rush
to catch up with the passengers already boarding.
Once seated back on the ferry we plan our next move. Needing
transportation back to our hotel an announcement comes that bus passes
can be purchased at a service desk on deck five. Tickets safely in hand
we sit back to enjoy the return trip. No Problem.
The bus drops us off a few blocks from the hotel and we enjoy a
leisurely walk down Howe Street.
Checking in at the hotel we soon find ourselves safe and snug in a
Everything in the suite checked out including the view from the
balcony up and down Howe Street the task of unpacking, showers and into
p j`s is just what we want to do.
Jotting down notes ends quickly as such a busy day as left these
two travellers in need of a good nights sleep. The usual pillow talk
goes on for a while until I find I am now talking to myself as Laurie is
I wake up at six fifteen to the sound of Laurie getting up quietly. We
decide that after showering and dressing we will go to the hotel
Laundromat and get back to square one with our wardrobe. Laundry tucked
away in our carry-on bags to hide the fact that having left an executive
suite we are about to do our own laundry.
To the basement we go.
Washers full we now go to the restaurant for breakfast. A full
breakfast of bacon, eggs, toast and coffee will fortify me for a while.
Laurie a light morning person has her toast and coffee.
We had left our bags with the great staff in the main laundry room
for the hotel. As we loaded our clothes into the dryer we chatted with
the girls. They are glad to hear that we acknowledge the fact that they
are the back-bone of this great hotel. We go back to our room to catch
up on notes while our laundry dries. Laundry back, folded and put away
we decide to go for a walk and check out Vancouver.
The walk is most enjoyable along the tree lined streets. Flowers
abound and we soon hear music in the air. Luckily for us the Aboriginal
Cultural Festival is at the Museum area and our hopes for a possible
trolley tour are replaced by one of a day enjoying aboriginal cultures
from all over the world. The music, costumes and talents of the
participants is second to none. Laurie and I are in awe of the spectacle
that unfolds before us. I take the opportunity to get in some video
taping which I will enjoy many times over at home.
The time came when we reluctantly had to leave as an evening trip
aboard the Pacific Starlight dinner train.
Sunday up at six thirty and decide to do laundry again as it will be
our last chance as we head back tomorrow.
After breakfast we decide to take an early morning walk and head in
the direction of a trash and treasure store we spotted on our cab ride
to the dinner train. It is ten o'clock and we find the store does not
open until twelve.
We'll be back.
We walk leisurely along the street that runs along a block behind our
hotel. We had not gone far before we knew we are not on a street that we
should be and head back to Howe street and our hotel. Returning to our
room after picking up our laundry we meet Arthur an employee of the
hotel who we keep meeting doing all types of jobs. We have learned that
he is in school and I feel he will someday be a great asset to a company
because of his cheerful, efficient way of adapting to all circumstances
be it carrying luggage to bussing tables in the dining room.
Lunch time arrives and we decide to go back to the trash and treasure
store and then have lunch at The Elbow Room a place we had spotted on
our morning walk. A sign read 'best hamburger in the world'. I ask you
'What could be more intriguing than that'.
An hour spent clawing through all descriptions of treasures netted
Laurie a great find of an Ireland made wooden pieces self framed picture
of a mans face. I found a unique ceramic mask of a female face with a
musical note over one eye and a tear on the other.
A small clown sitting on a swing his face a piece of art in its self
,ceramic dolls head and the perfect gift for my daughters birthday a
large brass parrot perched on a ring of brass.
The bartering is half the fun and we both knew we had done very
well so we left the store happy treasures in hand.
Waiting in line at the Elbow Room we knew we are about to enter the
world of yet a new experience. The ruddiness of the staff was just too
obvious. We laughed our way as time and time again we are stumped by the
waitress from hell, as we referred to her, served up one insult after
another. I seemed to be the one receiving the most but it was great fun
and once again we knew we had stumbled into a cities secret. The faces
of many celebrities appeared on the walls. before leaving the rough edge
of our waitress gave way to a softer more caring personality as she
described how they supported a food kitchen and HIV hospice. I gladly
paid my fine for not finishing my lunch. She had earned her good tip and
the Hamburg was the best I ever tasted. Laurie and I admitted it was the
first time either of us had spent so much for a Hamburger but the
experience was well worth the money spent.
By the time we got back to the hotel and packed up it was time to
check out. Bags are checked in the lobby as our train does not leave for
some time and we want to do some walk abouts.
A trip back to the Aboriginal Festival is a short one as time passes
quickly and soon bags in tow we get our taxi to the station.
The station is quite busy so we decide to go to the baggage area and
check in. Now free to move about easier we check out the gift shops and
make a few small purchases.
Heading now to the Silver and Blue boarding we are delighted to find
ourselves on a cool shaded platform with a one-man entertaining show. He
takes requests and we sip on a beverage of choice. Laurie takes a number
of pictures and as we move about a feeling of becoming part of the
entertainment takes place as at one point the need to join in on 'I've
been working on the railroad' overcomes me and I just had to sing
along. All too quickly it is time to board the train and our journey
What new adventures will we face next?
We go directly to our sleeper to find our baggage had been deposited
safely and soon the motion of the train begins. Laurie suggests we do
our train walk identifying cars and then we will not have to think about
it later. This done we stay in the lounge car as Laurie wants to get
some shots out the back of the train. Others start to come along one by
one and soon the dome is filled with the sound of many voices. Accents
abound as I talk to a couple from Japan. Thank goodness their English is
very good as they tell me that this is their first trip to Canada and
what a wonderful time they are having. They are going to Toronto to
visit relatives and hope they can have time to visit New York City with
them as this is a place they also want to see.
We get the call for dinner and I stop and get Laurie. We agree on the
trip home we should cut back on these bountiful meals. We then laugh and
say,'NOT'. Luckily for us dinner is late as the lunch we had would not
have allowed for an early dinner.
The new staff introduced themselves and then took our orders. Never
getting tired of salmon it was once again my choice. The chef had
prepared it with a crusty exterior which when opened was moist and
cooked to perfection. It rested on a bed of rice surrounded by fresh
vegetables. Three berry crumble was my dessert choice and a pot of green
tea was the final touch I needed.
Cliff and Marilyn our dinner companions had talked about how now they
are empty nesters and soon to move into a Condo from a big house. They
love to travel so this decision they felt was the right one for them as
they could turn the key and take off at will. We said bye for now
knowing we would talk again as had been the case on our trip out we kept
running into folks over and over.
Back in the park car I talked with an English lady who shares great
stories of grandchildren with me. I to might have mentioned mine a few
times. I am intrigued as she tells me how she sits before a video camera
and talks about life and her hopes for grandchildren as they grow. Just
in case I am not there she states, I want them to know I loved them and
what I might have said to them on occasion of birthday, wedding days
What a great idea. I hope I have the fortitude to follow this
suggestion when I get home it is such a good one. This thought in mind
its off to bed.
As I travel back to our room I see four beautiful oriental girls are
having so much fun taking pictures of each other. I ask them if they
would like me to take one of them all together. They exited accept my
offer. They all climb into their separate berths, close the drape and
stick their heads out. A cuter scene would be hard to find. I just wish
I had my camera with me. They ask about trainweb and I ask them to
please send in their travel log. I sure hope they do as they seemed to
be enjoying themselves so much.
Morning finds me sitting alone in the dome, showered, dressed and
wondering why I am still getting up so early. As I sit alone I wonder
how will I be able to put into words effectively the beauty that
surrounds me. It is such a personal feeling and yet you need to share
it. I will do the best I can knowing nothing words can say will compare
to sitting in the peace and quiet, blue skies above as the sun is just
beginning to rise in a flare of colour over the snow capped peaks. At
this point a highway runs to my left and to the right the river rushes
with water swirling around in whirlpool effect.
The coach attendant arrives to tell me the continental breakfast is
ready should I choose it. I mention the raging river and am told early
spring and summer rains are causing a much greater run off thus the
higher faster waters.
I leave the dome just long enough to grab a coffee and muffin and jam
from the attractive tray. A fresh bouquet of a large calalily, roses,
daisies, and greenery has added a nice touch placed in the corner.
Suddenly from above I here there is a moose in the water and I turn
just in time to see the large rack moving across the swift water. The
water was running very fast at this point but the animals strength
seemed to carry it in a straight path across.
A couple from Kansas City who had just married Saturday sat down
across from me. They are heading to Jasper and hope to go fly
fishing.Calgary will be their next destination and they will fly home
from there. Pam laughs as she tells me about her surprise at finding
upper and lower sleeping accommodations in their car.
Laurie and notice the vivid coloured flowers that have lined the
track. Upon hearing of our dilemma Sally another English lady describes
them to us. Wild flowers had been something she had studied at home and
she could call them by name. I wish I could have remembered them as they
added yet another dimension to an already colourful scene.
An elk is easily spotted in a lush green meadow.
Eleven o'clock and we make a stop in Jasper.
An hour stop so a little shopping seems in order.
As I step down from the train the breath-taking vista that surrounds
me gives me goosebumps. Some how this quaint village seems out of place
in this place of such natural beauty. I find a great little shop with so
much to see that time seems to fly by. I pick up some natural stone
earrings for my daughters and a pair of red with black moose motif
lounge pants for my husband and then must hustle back to the train.
Back just in time for lunch. Laurie was already seated with someone so
I joined Ron and Vivian yet another couple from England. Ron another
Brit. transplanted to Victoria also joined us. Over a Bison burger
served with a potato salad much of the talk was about England. Iona an
island six miles long and three miles long where a Monastery was used as
a retreat held and great history. Sharing these tales delights me to no
We spend the afternoon in conversation with many passengers.
Bert a most fascinating gentleman we had met getting on the train in
Vancouver sat with me and told me volumes concerning many remedies and
cause and effects for ailments that I could not possibly cover in this
Once more it is that time again and off to dinner we go. Lake trout
tastefully served with my choice of small herb wrapped potatoes and
vanilla ice cream for dessert. Cliff and Marilyn once again sat with us
and we talked about their travels our families in general.
After dinner we took my parrot on tour taking picture in different
locations on the train. We had a great time as did those we encountered.
I guess a prop can add entertainment in many ways I had not thought of.
Everyone had suggestions for a name. As of yet it was only known as
Polly. Not very original. Polly soon felt tired so Laurie and I decided
it was time for us all to say goodnight.
We show up for breakfast too early this morning once again the victims
of a time change. We go to the games room and have a coffee and wait for
the dining car to open. Cliff is seated here also too early. Time passes
quickly as conversations are most interesting.
Laurie and I are seated with Cliff and joined with Ron from
Victoria. The discussion this time goes to the best bake shops to be
found in Victoria. Cliff who had visited most of these shops agrees that
Victoria has the best bake shops in the world. Here we sit discussing
pastries as we eat yet again. We all decided to try the porridge not to
let one of us get ahead of the other. I followed this up with eggs
Benedict, juice and coffee.
I hum away to myself 'this little piggy' now I wonder why that tune
popped into my head.
If I visit Victoria I will check out the pastry shops for sure. Our
server had a very young face and gave the appearance of being in his
early teens. He had blue green eyes and large deep dimples in his
cheeks. His broad great smile made each of our visits to the dining car
such a delight. I had found out his age last evening. Requesting Laurie
,Cliff and Ron guess his age he stood waiting to hear their reply. The
guessing game began. Twenty six was his reply after much guessing. His
professional attitude was wonderful to see and this alone should have
given us a clue that he was older than the sixteen which was the
consensus of us all. The most embarrassing moment he encountered he said
had been more surprising than embarrassing. Training for his job was
done in a motionless area and when coming on the job a whole new
We left the dining car to thank Renaldo our sleeper attendant for all
of his considerations. He would be leaving at Winnipeg and we did not
want to miss him.
A tale of emotion greeted us as we came to the lounge car. A search
for her roots had taken an English lady to the U S A to the places her
grandfather had served as an Anglican minister or when in the US
Episcopal minister. She found a man who as a boy had gone to his Sunday
School. The fact that this man could remember several stories to tell
her led her to believe he must have left an impression on this young
boy. A lady who had been married by her grandfather was also found and
talked to as well. As she talked of how she had run her hand over his
handwriting and felt an unusual touch with her grandfather. Her eyes
filled with moisture and we all shared some of her emotion. Her quest
had been completed. You know as different we may all may be we are very
Bert who constantly kept us all up to date informed me it was time to
move my watch forward one hour.
Vivian and Ron talked about their five weeks travelling in the US and
how they are ready to go home now and will fly from Toronto to
Washington. This is the only place they could take the airline of their
choice the 777. They had planned their trip using an old outdates VIA
booklet but said it was close to the new one and that was all that
mattered. Ron said he was the Tour Guide and Vivian had been the
Treasurer. Tonight as we go to our sleeper we pick up and pack what we
can as later tomorrow we will leave 'the Canadian' in Toronto. Laurie
and I talk about the great fun we have had and the wonderful people we
Laurie had been first to the shower again a befitting way to start our
last day as this had been her objective from day one. Only once had she
had to take second place. Ron our tall English passenger from Victoia
had made a point by taking up the challenge and swooped into the shower
just seconds before Laurie. This event had given him bragging rights for
Showering next I came back to our room with the knowledge that a great
thing had happened here. Two good friends remained good friends after
having shared this small space with two oversized suitcases and a
parrot. We had worked together to accomplish this and made it great fun
in doing so. Maybe we should have some world leaders do the same. Give
and take is really not that hard if you work at it.
The sky is dark and rain begins as I move to the dome. the Long Island
NY rock hunter sat across. He knew our area well as he travelled to
Gananoque to fish on a number of occasions. Ottawa was a place he wanted
to visit this fall. We talked about his many trips in search of rock
specimens and how a nephew had been inspired by the hobby of and how he
and his wife would collect specimens for him, place them in empty egg
cartons and look forward to his reaction when he would visit and pick
This dreary weather had covered our area as we left nine days ago and
I wondered if it had lasted all the time we had been away. Good weather
had been one of the many blessings of this trip.
In the dining coach Ron from Victoria and Bert joined Laurie and I for
breakfast. Chatting as I enjoyed porridge sprinkled with flax seed, a
glass of orange juice,brown toast and coffee the conversation is most
pleasant. Ron is anxious to see his daughter who will meet him in
Toronto and Bert talks excitedly about the new train he will ride. When
we reached Toronto we would find out the description he had given had
been almost as accurate as his description. Bert was a wealth of
We say our goodbyes in case in the busy day ahead we missed each
As we sit in the lounge passengers read their own books, glance
through magazines or newspapers that are always available. Others chat
about their nights sleep and plans for their arrival in Toronto tonight.
A couple from Terrace BC gain knowledge from those who have travelled to
the East Coast before. They are looking forward to their trip to Nova
Scotia and will benefit from the experiences of others who have visited
already. The descriptions given lead others to discuss possible trips of
their own in the future.
One of the interesting train stories we had heard was from Jarvis
Doyle from Georgia. His wife had wanted to place a model train around
their Christmas tree. This small thing had started him off on a hobby
that would soon become his passion. He has outgrown the house and now
has a two and a half mile track in his front yard. Now considering
himself a real train buff he and his wife are just returning from a trip
aboard the Rocky Mountain train. The wonderful time they had, which they
described as the best trip yet gained the interest of us all and
stimulated a desire to take this trip as well. They still plan three
days in Toronto and driving to Ohio to visit family.
I skipped lunch today as a big breakfast had been enough. The
afternoon was spent reading the plaques on the different cars. I had
wanted to do this and knew this would be my last chance. To you buffs
out there here they are:
8708 : Kootney Park Following the crooked finger of the Kootney
National Park which gave its name to this car, lies south of Mount
Eisenhower, between Banff and Lake Louise. Hot Mineral springs and deep
canyons decorate the five hundred and forty three square mile valley.
8322 : Drummed Manor William Henry Drummond FRSC (1854-1907) whose name
this car bears, gained fame as a great poet in French Canadian Dialect.
A practising Physician in Montreal, he published several volumes of
widely quoted verse, notably 'The Habitant', Johnnie Courteau' and the
Burton Manor : Major General Ralph Burton for whom this car is named,
commanded the British 48 Th. Foot. He served at the Monongaola, at
Louisburg and at Quebec in 1759. Later he was appointed Govenor of the
8322 : Blair Manor Andrew George Blair (1844-1907) for whom this car is
named, served as Premier of New Brunswick (1833-1896) Minister of
railways and Canals in the Federal Government (1896-1903) and Chairman
of the Board of Railways Commisioners of Canada (1904-1907)
8303 : Amherst Manor This car is named for Jeffery, first Baron Amherst
(1717-1797) Commander in Chief of British Forces in North America after
the capture of Louisburg. Later Lord Amherst was appointed Govenor
General of British North America.
8332 : Laird Manor (1833-1914) for whom this car is named, founded and
published The Charlottetown 'Patriot'. Elected to the Prince Edward
Island Legislature and, after Confederation, the House of Commons, he
was Minister of the Interior 1873-1876, then Lieutenant Govenor, North
8318 : Craig Manor General Sir James Henry Craig (1748-1812)
Govenor-in-Chief of Canada 1807-1811,for whom this car is name, served
in the British Army from 1763-1807. his military service included
'Bunkers Hill' and Saratoga, and African Indian and Mediterranean
8327 : Fraser Manor Simon Fraser (1776-1862) a partner of the North
West Company, whose name this car bears, explored the river named after
him from Fort George, British Columbia, to its mouth in 1808. The
Canadian Pacific Main Continental Line follows his journey through the
Fraser Canyon in the Rockies.
8341 : Thompson Manor. This car commemorates David Thompson (1770-1857)
explorer and geographer, first white man to descend the Columbia River
to its mouth. As Hudson Bay Company apprentice and North West Company
apprentice and partner, he explored the western plains and Pacific
Slope. From 1816-1826 he surveyed on the Canada-US boundary.
8314 : Cameron Manor This car is named for David Cameron (1804-1872)
overseer of a sugar plantation in the West Indies before he came to
Canada in 1853. He was Superintendent of the Hudson's Bay Company coal
mines in Nanaimo and later Chief Justice of Vancouver Island.
8330 : Hunter Manor Lieutentant General Peter Hunter (1776-1805) for
whom this car is named. Was the Lieutenant Governor of Upper Canada and
Commander-in Chief in Canada from 1799 until his death at Quebec. The
'Family Compact' is said to have resulted from the absences from York
necessitated by his dual appointment.
8325 : Elgin Manor This car is named for George Bruce, eighth earl of
Elgin, Govenor general of British North America (1847-1854) Lord Elgin's
term saw the policy of responsible government put into effect and
precedents he created have been followed in general by successors to his
A most interesting walk for sure.
Vivian and Ron sat with me for our last dinner on The Canadian. A
gentleman from near Ocala Florida also asked to join us. I inquire of
him about the large heavy horse show held in Ocala each spring. A very
interesting conversation began with information about all of the horse
ranches in the area he lived in and how important they are to the
economy. The show draws horses from all over the United States and
Canada as well.
The train was running late due to work on the tracks so we all visited
in the Park Car. The conversations ran from well known Canadian and
English comedians. As Canadian and Americans knew most of the English
television shows our British travellers had only seen a couple of our
shows while in Canada. Time passed quickly and we soon arrived back at
We soon learned to our delight we would get to ride the new
'Renaissance' for the last leg of our journey. What an extraordinary
conclusion to this wonderful adventure. Laurie was enthusiastic, to say
the least about getting pictures. Soon after helping a couple we knew
get settled in their compartment the click, click, click of the camera
was heard. The sleek, shiny exterior was carried over to the interior.
Our sleeper was decorated in white as was the aisle outside. This gave a
feeling of space in the somewhat confined areas. The doors entering or
leaving the cars are glass in appearance and allow you, at the press of
a button to go from one to the other. I was most impressed with the
comfortable seats in the coach cars. The high backs and plush seats
would offer a most comfortable way to travel be it business or pleasure.
As we sat in the Lounge for a drink and snack an impression of being
seated in an intimate lounge is created. Newspapers were available but
ten days without them had been a pleasure so I decide that one more
night without one was just fine with me.
Sleeping accommodations with room service and shower should allow you
to arrive in the refreshed for a complimentary continental breakfast
should you choose.
Laurie and I are most surprised while taking a last tour through the
train to find our friend Bert smiling at us as we travelled back to our
I soon was lulled off to sleep by the motion of the train. We had
left a wake up call for five but at three I heard the door open as
Laurie headed out. I guess she must have felt she was missing something
or just wanted to see what is going on at three in the morning on a
train between Toronto and Montreal.
Soon enough a knock came on the door and we would soon arrive at our
home destination Brockville.
The staff had fixed us breakfast to take with us but alas we departed
The Journey had ended but the memories to last a lifetime will long
So many wonderful and memorable people.
The stories shared.
Words cannot do justice to the unparalleled rugged beauty you view
from your train window.
Food. What can I say' Be it breakfast, lunch or dinner the elegance of
fine dining abounds.
Staff ,accommodating, amiable and always ready to communicate and
A trip truly to fill and even exceed your expectations in the most
To once again take time to truly appreciate this great Canada we call
Thank you Grandpa and all the many others who created this track across
this great country and to those who serve it so well today.
Thanks to those who made this trip possible for me.
Last but not least thanks Laurie it was a blast sharing this experience
Let's do it again some time!!
Photos from this trip: (by Laurie)
- Set #01: Jun 16, 2002 - VIA Corridor Train
- Set #02: Jun 17, 2002
- Set #03: Jun 17, 2002 - Toronto
- Set #04: Jun 17, 2002 - VIA Canadian
- Set #05: Jun 18, 2002
- Set #06: Jun 18, 2002
- Set #07: Jun 18, 2002
- Set #08: Jun 18, 2002
- Set #09: Jun 18, 2002
- Set #10: Jun 18, 2002
- Set #11: Jun 18, 2002
- Set #12: Jun 19, 2002
- Set #13: Jun 19, 2002
- Set #14: Jun 19, 2002
- Set #15: Jun 19, 2002
- Set #16: Jun 19, 2002
- Set #17: Jun 20, 2002
- Set #18: Jun 20, 2002
- Set #19: Jun 20, 2002
- Set #20: Jun 20, 2002
- Set #21: Jun 20, 2002
- Set #22: Jun 20, 2002
- Set #23: Jun 20, 2002
- Set #24: Jun 20, 2002
- Set #25: Jun 20, 2002
- Set #26: Jun 20, 2002
- Set #27: Jun 20, 2002
- Set #28: Jun 20, 2002
- Set #29: Jun 21, 2002
- Set #30: Jun 21, 2002
- Set #31: Jun 21, 2002 - Vancouver
- Set #32: Jun 21, 2002 - Victoria
- Set #33: Jun 21, 2002
- Set #34: Jun 21, 2002
- Set #35: Jun 21, 2002
- Set #36: Jun 21, 2002 - Vancouver
- Set #37: Jun 22, 2002
- Set #38: Jun 22, 2002
- Set #39: Jun 22, 2002 - BC Rail Pacific Starlight
- Set #40: Jun 22, 2002
- Set #41: Jun 22, 2002
- Set #42: Jun 22, 2002
- Set #43: Jun 22, 2002
- Set #44: Jun 23, 2002 - Vancouver
- Set #45: Jun 23, 2002 - VIA Canadian
- Set #46: Jun 23, 2002
- Set #47: Jun 23, 2002
- Set #48: Jun 23, 2002
- Set #49: Jun 24, 2002
- Set #50: Jun 24, 2002
- Set #51: Jun 24, 2002
- Set #52: Jun 24, 2002
- Set #53: Jun 24, 2002
- Set #54: Jun 24, 2002
- Set #55: Jun 24, 2002
- Set #56: Jun 24, 2002
- Set #57: Jun 24, 2002
- Set #58: Jun 24, 2002
- Set #59: Jun 24, 2002
- Set #60: Jun 25, 2002
- Set #61: Jun 25, 2002
- Set #62: Jun 25, 2002
- Set #63: Jun 25, 2002
- Set #64: Jun 25, 2002
- Set #65: Jun 25, 2002
- Set #66: Jun 26, 2002
- Set #67: Jun 26, 2002
- Set #68: Jun 26, 2002
- Set #69: Jun 26, 2002
- Set #70: Jun 26, 2002 - VIA 1 Renaissance Train
- Set #71: Jun 26, 2002
- Set #72: Jun 26, 2002
- Set #73: Jun 26, 2002
- Set #74: Jun 26, 2002
- Set #75: Jun 27, 2002
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.
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