On April 5th, 2014, I took the train across Canada from Montreal to Vancouver.
Here is a Google Map of most of the 30+ stops from Montreal to Vancouver.
April 5th: Montreal to Toronto
I arrived at the station well ahead of the 3:40 PM departure time to sort out my luggage and pick up some food for the trip.
When I got to the baggage counter, the Via Rail staff couldn’t agree whether or not to charge me for my snowboard. After a 10 minute discussion, they finally decided to let me keep my money, and carried my suitcase and snowboard bag onto the train while I went to get some take out.
Train #67 entered Union Station at 8:35 PM. After checking in my suitcase and snowboard, I went to the business lounge and checked myself in. For tomorrow’s meals, I chose the third of three seatings. Lunch at 1:30 PM and dinner at 8:00 PM. Breakfast is FCFS, from 6:30 to 8:30 AM.
While waiting in line, I chatted with a lady from England. She and her husband had flown in from London at 3:00 PM. She told me about their plans to go heli skiing in the BC interior after visiting relatives in Vancouver. She had taken the Canadian® from Vancouver to Montreal in 1967 when she was 17 years old. One night, there was “an international group of teenagers singing Beatles songs in the dome car.”
We left Toronto at around 10:45 PM, forty five minutes later than sheduled. After putting all my gear in my upper berth, I enjoyed Toronto’s industrial parks under the crescent moon and stars from the dome car.
April 6th: Ontario
With all the rattling and bouncing, it took me forever to fall asleep. Once I finaly did, it seems like I woke up every 15 mins. I feel like I only got a total of 2 hours sleep. At 8:00 AM, I zombie walked into the dining car for breakfast. The choice is eggs & bacon, omelette of the day or oatmeal porridge. Coffee bad (not more than caffeine delivery mechanism), but I drank it anyways solely for the caffeine.
Unless you’re one of those people who can fall asleep anywhere at the drop of a hat, bring eyeshades and earplugs, and don’t expect to sleep well the first night.
After breakfast, we stopped in Capreol, Ontario for about 10 mins. I got out and walked the platform to stretch my legs and get some fresh air. It was sunny and not too cold.
There’s a ton of snow in Northern Ontario. On the ground and trees.
At 1:00 PM-ish, we were offered a complimentary bon voyage glass of Champagne. It was supposed to be last night, but we left Toronto too late.
We arrived in Hornepayne at 5:00 PM. First cellular reception since Capreol. Once againg, went out to take a walk and get some fresh air.
April 7th: Manitoba & Saskatchewan
Unlike the first night, I fell asleep fairly quickly and woke up feeling rested.
We arrived late (11:30 AM) in Winnipeg, so the city tour ($30.00 for 2.5 hrs) that I had reserved the day before, was cancelled. Too bad, because I really wanted to explore Winnipeg.
We were told that we had 30 mins. in Winnipeg, so I exited Union Station on Main St. and walked towards Portage, hoping the take a photo of the famous Portage and Main intersection. Two blocks away, I turned back fearing that I may miss the train. They will leave you behind. Turns out I would have had enough time, since we only left at 1:30 PM.
Short stop in Melville.
A quick stop in Saskatoon at around 11:30 PM. However, I had gone to bed by then. They put me in the lower berth. The window was nice to have, but I find the upper berth mattress larger and more comfortable. There are also more places to hang stuff. Also, the mesh storage thingy that looks like a hammock is handy for storing stuff that you may want in the night or, like a water bottle, eyeshades, or phone.
April 8th: Alberta & British Columbia
We crossed the Alberta border sometime in the night and arrived in Edmonton at about 9:00 AM. Once again, got out, got some air, stretched my legs, and took a couple of photos.
We arrived in Jasper at about 1:30 PM. I walked around the town for an hour or so.
After Jasper, it got windy, cloudy, and then it started raining. As a result, Mount Robson, the highest peak in the Canadian Rockies, was shrouded in clouds.
April 9th: British Columbia & Vancouver
We rolled into Vancouver’s Pacific Central station at 8:30 AM, ahead of schedule.
I spent the day walking around downtown Vancouver and Granville Island.
Thoughts? @reply to me on Twitter.