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The route of  the "Canadian" from Toronto to Vancouver

Map courtesy of VIA

The tail car of  the "Canadian" seen beneath the roof of Toronto union station with the CN Tower behind

I went down to the waterfront by LRT again and looked at the ships and pleasure steamers. After that I had a walk around part of the central business district. It’s strange to walk by grills in the pavement and feel a blast of hot air from the air-conditioning. I boarded the the "Canadian” at 10.30, first in line due to my being on the ball when they called us. Luckily my berth was in the second from last car and not one of the intermediate dome-cars . 

The "Canadian" stands in Toronto Union station before departure for Vancouver

The train departed late at 11.07 with 19 cars, including a baggage, 4 coach class cars, 4 dome cars and 10 sleepers. The route was out via CN to Snider. As the route from here is now closed we backed up on a spur onto the main CN east-west freight route before heading off to Doncaster and then onto the Bala sub-division towards Washago. At 13.00 running along the shores of Lake Simcoe. The train stopped at Washago at 13.30 and then crossed over the swing bridge over the Severn River- this flows up to Hudson Bay. 

Two views taken as the train headed west through Western Ontario and into the Canadian Shield

The train entered the Canadian Shield a vast area of bare rock, low drumlins and trees. At 15.25 we passed the holiday resort of Parry Sound with the CP line running parallel to us on viaduct over the water. At 17.15 hors d’oeuvre were served in the dome! It had been pouring down for one and a half hours. Four freight trains passed in the last 80 miles. The whole of the CN mainline is CTC signalled with the usual aspect being green over red for clear and yellow over reading indicating entry to the siding line. 

The view from the rear dome-car as the train heads across western Ontario

At 17.30 crossed two vvide rivers., the Pickerel and French River one after the other. At 18.10 the train entered a very rocky area which is believed to have been caused by either a meteorite or volcanic activity. The area around Sudbury is notorious for its nickel mining and slag heaps . The train stood at Sudbury Junction for a few minutes, a really appallingly god-forsaken spot.  

At Capreol, where there was a 20 minute stop, I was having dinner so couldn’t get out. There was a preserved CNR 4-8-2 on the platform. The station is a division point with loco depot and yards and several freights were waiting to follow or cross us. The countryside continued to be rocky with bogs and beaver lakes in the forests. Back to the dome car until it became dark watching the lights in the other dome cars twist and turn as we headed west at a steady 40 to 50 mph. with the signal lights glinting on the coaches- quite hypnotic really.

SUNDAY 27th JULY 1997

I woke at 6.00 with the train still running through the Canadian Shield but now two hours late. Apparently an old lady had died during the night and the train had been delayed waiting an ambulance. At Longlac we passed the eastbound “Canadian” running two and a half hours late. The town is apparently multi-lingual and there is a long lake . A freight only branch line diverges here to run to Lake Superior. 

The train was travelling faster and the sun was out. At Armstrong there is a railway division point and the train was watered here. To do this the train vas moved forward no less than eight times so we left 2 hours 17 minutes late. The train stopped at Collins Indian village to let people off ,then at Allanwater Bridge for campers.

The "Canadian" stands at Sioux Lookout during its refuelling stop 

  At Sioux Lookout there was a scheduled 20 minute stop for loco refuelling but this was considerable extended due to waiting an eastbound freight. The town here is a real one-horse affair, dust roads, lots of Indians and no phone at the station so no chance to phone home as planned. West of Sioux country changes to lake country with a floatplane seen landing on one. The line then climbs into a more rocky and wooded area through several tunnels. Then its more rocks, more lakes, more islands and more lakes- really very beautiful in the afternoon sun. 

Concerns were now being expressed about how dinner was going to be served as thecrew changes in Winnipeg and we were three hours late. They decide to do one sitting before Winnipeg and the other two after with the new crew. A young couple and there baby were dropped off at Farlane Lake to stay in a holiday cottage. They just climb out onto the trackside and the train pulls away! At Minaki the line crosses the Winnipeg River, the location of the Minaki Lodge established to increase railway tourism before WW2. Beavers can be seen swimming in the lake. Once over the Manitoba border little changes at first. It is a holiday area for Winnipeg and there are frequent stops to pick up and set down passengers.

Crossing the Red River on the approach to Winnipeg

After Elna comes the changes to the prairies. The line runs straight and the countryside opens up with the occasional farm and road, although it is still heavily wooded. On the approach to Winnipeg the line crosses over one of the flood channels for the Red River. 

The "Canadian" approaches the Winnipeg skyline

The buildings of Winnipeg are visible although it is still 15 miles away. Arrival in Winnipeg was still 2hours 40 minutes down. 

The "Canadian" pulls into Winnipeg station

All the passengers were required to leave the train for the crew change and cleaning of the train. I went to see the locos being refuelled and to see the first of many long grain trains I would see in the next few days. The station has four platforms with the main concourse being in the subway. 


The "Canadian" is fuelled and washed as its stands at Winnipeg station

Winnipeg station exterior

There are two services from Winnipeg each running three times a week -  the The "Canadian” and the “Hudson Bay” to Churchill. The empty stock of the "Hudson Bay" passes through on the avoiding lines behind the station. I went out into the street to look at Winnipeg close up. Unfortunately time didn't allow me to wander very far. Despite large buildings it has more of a frontier feel to it than the eastern cities.  

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