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Canadian Railroads > VIA Trans-Canadian Riding Advice

Date: 11/29/21 03:00
VIA Trans-Canadian Riding Advice
Author: Passfanatic

Happy Thanksgiving everyone from a railfan who lives in the USA who has never ridden the Canadian! Early this Spring, I am going to be taking my first ride on the VIA Rail Canadian. The plan is to take the westbound from Toronto to Vancouver. I see that there are stretches of the Canadian route where the train doesn't run along the same right of way-I think between Toronto and Sudbury Jct and then between Kamloops and Vancouver.  I will look into riding the eastbound back but if let's say I am able to see the other stretch of the right of way from the westbound that the eastbound takes between Kamloops and Vancouver(when riding Skeena in a few years), then I might only take the westbound on this trip and save the stretch from Sudbury Jct to Toronto when I decide to ride the RDCs roundtrip from Sudbury Jct to White River and back. What are the main things that I should look out for scenerywise and from a railfan perspective? Thanks so much.

Date: 11/29/21 03:38
Re: VIA Trans-Canadian Riding Advice
Author: Train29

There is directional running  from Toronto to somewhere south of Sudbury. Unless you are a mileage collector, I wouldn't be too worried about riding both ways as the scenery is quite similar although it's a completely different routing in and out of Toronto with the east bound through the Don Valley being the more interesting. . Out west it's directional from Kamloops. CN westbound and CP eastbound. Both lines follow basically the same route on opposite sides of the Thompson and Frasier River Canyons at times crossing over each other. And of course with the recent mud slides and washouts, it's possible you might end up on a different track than planned.  Most of the run west out of Kamloops will be at night if on time. To me, the CN routing is from a railfan standpoint more spectacular  with several slide sheds over the tracks and more running along a high cliff along the river. Either way you will probably see very long freights on the opposite of the river.

As for on the train, assuming you are going in a bedroom, try for Bedroom F. It's a bit larger than the others. CP actually used to sell it at a higher price as a " Compartment."  If  Roomette, avoid 1 or 2. Both are next to the door and right over the wheels. 3 & 4 are also over the wheels but not quite as bad. 

Again if on time, be sure to get off at Winnipeg and Jasper. They can be very long stops if early. In Winnipeg I suggest either the Forks shopping mall inside old CN yard buildings. Mostly tourist type shops but some restaurants if you get sick of the train food. Out the back door of the station and turn right.  Or the historic former CN Fort Gary Hotel. They have a nice bar. Out the front of the station. Two blocks on the left. You can't miss it. There's also a large museum out the back door in a very modern looking building. Not sure it's contents. Others can perhaps elaborate. Year's ago VIA offered double Decker bus tours of Winnipeg when the layover was even longer. But that's long gone.  Jasper is basically a one street town. Lots of shops and restaurants. But if on time you will get there very early morning.

Biggest advice. DO NOT plan onward travel day or even night of arrival. Get a hotel in Vancouver and ask for early check-in. The Exchange  Hotel on Howe is basic but excellent and lower priced than some of the high end locations. For mega bucks, stay at the Fairmont waterfront.That's where the Queen stayed her last visit.  Sadly, the two greeter dogs are long gone unless replacements have been found.  Vancouver is a great city with lots to see and do. The Skytrain is quite interesting. Get a seat right up front for great views. It can also be used to get from the VIA station to downtown. Out the front door and just off to the left. You can't miss it.  Hope this helps. There are several others on here with as much and in one case lots more experience than I have. Perhaps they can fill in what I might have missed. 

Date: 11/29/21 08:40
Re: VIA Trans-Canadian Riding Advice
Author: viatrainrider

Well said Train29.  I would add that riding Skytrain to the end will take you to Seaboat.  You can ride this on your Skytrain ticket across the water to North Vancouver viewing ships from all over the world unloading containers which I hope will leave town on CP or CN.  At North Vancouver is a market that is interesting.  There is a soup bar -   Mr Soup, I think offering 4 soups per day and you can watch them make soup as you eat.  For Skytrain I suggest buying the day pass as it allows you to travel wherever you wish with no time limits.  Think they have a website showing routes.

If you are so inclined there is Christ Church Cathedral across from the Hotel Vancouver, a very old and elegant church open all day - at least in pre Covid days.

And on Robson there is an upstairs Italian restaurant I like - Zefferalli's.  They offer a full menu and specials at lunch.

Another place to stay is the YWCA Hotel located downtown and quite nice.  I started staying there after getting tired of downtown Vancouver hotel prices.   However, I just looked at the website for the Exchange Hotel and that looks pretty good for the price.  Not too much more than the YWCA Hotel.

Enjoy your trip.  I recommend Sleeper Class as then you can enjoy the Park Car and included meals.  I have probably made at least 20 round trips and I am as excited about each trip as I was when I first rode the CP Canadian in 1968!

And yes, there are other regulars to this trip who may wish to add more.

Edited 2 time(s). Last edit at 11/29/21 09:22 by viatrainrider.

Date: 11/29/21 15:36
Re: VIA Trans-Canadian Riding Advice
Author: chakk

On my last trip on Via 1 -- from Winnipeg to Vancouver in October of 2019 -- my wife and I enjoyed visiting the train museum in the Winnipeg station and dinner in the restaurant adjacent to the station before boarding our SECTIONS (I gave her the lower and I took the upper) that evening.   On the last night out, our sleepng car attendent let me sleep instead in the now-vacant lower across the aisle from my wife.

Date: 11/29/21 21:05
Re: VIA Trans-Canadian Riding Advice
Author: P

My wife and I stayed at the Fort Garry Hotel a block from the Winnipeg station in early 2020 on our trip on #1. It's worth seeing if you have the time.

It should be noted that the Winnipeg Railway Museum is being evicted from their Winnipeg station location at the end of 2021, so not likely to be able to visit it in 2022 as they must find a new location. We tried visiting it on our trip as it looked quite interesting, but the lone female employee would not let us look around as she decided to leave early that day and turned us away.

Posted from Android

Date: 11/30/21 02:08
Re: VIA Trans-Canadian Riding Advice
Author: jp1822

Does anyone know what the reason is for the eviction? 

Date: 11/30/21 16:19
Re: VIA Trans-Canadian Riding Advice
Author: Passfanatic

Thanks everyone! I appreciate your responses. I look forward to getting pictures of the actual VIA Rail Canadian consist at the stations with the longer stops. I am looking forward to riding and photographing the restored HEP cars, including the dome cars. I am an F40 guy and am glad that they are still running on VIA Rail, although I believe that they will be displaced from the Corridors when more of those Siemens Venture trainsets enter revenue service.

I did hear about the rr museum at Winnepeg Union Station relocating. I was sort of looking forward to seeing it but that will wait a long time. Next time I'm back in Winnepeg will be whenever I decide to take the Hudson Bay to Churchill. I will probably do that when it's not the height of polar bear season.

I've been to Vancouver BC b4 and it's a very nice city! I went there in August of 2015-I saw Stanley Park, walked in Grantville, rode and railfanned a lot of the Skytrain system. I even took a ride on West Coast Express to Pitt Meadows but then returned to Vancouver by way of bus to Skytrain. On this upcoming trip, I think I will spend only a night in Vancouver as I plan to come down to the Pacific NW and spend a couple of night in Portland. I hope to be able to take Amtrak's Cascades all the way down but if its not restored then, I'll take a Thruway Bus to Seattle and pick up the train there.

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 11/30/21 16:23 by Passfanatic.

Date: 11/30/21 20:35
Re: VIA Trans-Canadian Riding Advice
Author: P

jp1822 Wrote:
> Does anyone know what the reason is for the
> eviction? 

The owner of the station facility wishes to redevelop it, although I do not recall what their stated plan is.

Posted from Android

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