The route of the "Canadian"
Map courtesy of VIA
On departure I
went straight to the restaurant car for dinner. We’d
change the two very pretty waitresses for two very attentive
young men, both students working for VIA in the vacation. Nothing seemed too much
trouble for them. At Portage la Prairie there is a complex rail interchange with
the CP and CN lines to Edmonton and Churchill. The main line is well laid,
fairly straight and there are frequent loops and grain elevators. The train’s
speed was now noticeably higher probably about 70mph.
I woke up as the train pulled out of Saskatoon still 2 hours late. Despite what everybody thinks it is clear the prairies are not always completely fiat. There are snow fences along the line in places. It was rather misty to start but this was soon burnt off by the sun.
West of Saskatoon
The prairies soon gave way to rolling countryside
and lakes. There were numerous cattle ranches in this area. The train crossed
from Saskatchewan into Alberta and by Wainwright was only an hour
and 15 minutes late. Around Cockerel is evidence of the oil industry with
nodding donkey oil pumps. The Winnipeg crew obviously had a sense of humour
because at 8.00 there was the sound of a cockerel crow over the loudspeakers!
The Battle River bridge
The line crossed over the 2911 foot long trestle bridge over the mile wide Battle River valley as it climbed to the summit at the head of this valley.
The Battle Valley on a world scale is not important or mighty, but does have quite a history, both politically, and anthropologically. The Battle River was the drain from Glacier Lake Edmonton millions (or thousands) of years ago, after the ice age. It was also the location of many a bloody Indian war (Battle) between the Cree and the Blackfoot Indians c. 150 years ago. The train had earlier passed through the Neutral Hills very near Wainwright, where the Cree and the Blackfoot had drawn their borders and truces, until one or the other decided to infringe on another’s territory…And the battles began. (thanks to Patrick Robinson from Edmonton, Alberta for this information)
The entry into Edmonton was through yards, industrial areas.
The approach to Edmonton station with the traffics of the LRT on right
The line to the VIA station
is a single track that leads into the semi derelict platforms of the former CN
station . Once again the station had a well laid out and pleasant concourse for
just six trains a week. The Edmonton area LRT electric line parallels the VIA
tracks before going underground in the city centre. It uses 2 car light-weight
emus and has some rather futuristic looking stations. I phoned home from
Edmonton, the first time the time zones permitted it. The train backed out of
Edmonton to rejoin the CN main line past the enormous freight yards. VIA has
apparently decided to build a new station here to replace the existing city
The old station at Edmonton (now replaced by a new one on city outskirts)
An Edmonton area 2 car LRT electric multiple unit passes the "Canadian"
of Edmonton the line begins to climb slowly towards the Rockies through forests
and over trestle bridges spanning creeks. Gradually the view opens out and the
mountains can be seen in the distance. Most of the line is double track. Vast
forests stretch as far as the eye can see. I saw at least one forest fire in the
train entered the Jasper National Park the dome car filled up. The steward tried
to organize a competition to spot the bears/goats/moose/elk etc. It all became a
little too American for me. And yes, we did see mountain goats, elk and moose
but no bears. The moose even come down into the rail yard at Jasper and cause
problems for the drivers when they get in the way of trains. Our train was just
30 minutes late arriving in Jasper. As I left the station the maintenance and
cleaning crew were giving the train their
Passengers disembark from the "Canadian" upon arrival at Jasper
hotel was just across the street from the station so, after having a shower, I
headed back for a few hours train watching and spent the rest of the evening
discussing American and British railroads with various rail fans on the platform.
Preserved CNR 4-8-2 #6015
CN coal train heads west through Jasper
CN eastbound double stack headed by SD75#5660 and ex CP SD40-2 #5389 arrive in Jasper
The moose grazing on spilt grain cause problems for the crew of the "Rocky Mountaineer" arriving at Jasper form Vancouver. The loco is GP40-2 #801
Jasper's main street with the railway station on the left
I spent most of the day in and around the station. There was plenty of traffic although it tends to come in batches, three or four trains in an hour and then nothing for an hour or so. I felt so hot and tired by mid afternoon that I went back to the hotel for a sleep! I went out again in the evening and had a pleasant time watching trains.
Grain cars in the advertising livery for Canada and Alberta
"The Canadian" arrives in Jasper from Vancouver on its journey east
Tailcar of "The Canadian"