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Canadian Railroads > Trip Report - Riding the legendary Canadian, VIA 1 and 2.


Date: 05/18/23 13:27
Trip Report - Riding the legendary Canadian, VIA 1 and 2.
Author: viatrainrider

I admit to having a long love affair with the Canadian ever since I made my first trip in 1969 on the then CP Canadian.

So it was that my wife Naomi and I recently made the long drive from Wisconsin to Winnipeg for trip number - well who knows for sure how many as some trips have been Winnipeg - Vancouver - Winnipeg and others Winnipeg - Vancouver - Toronto - Winnipeg.  And oh, it used to be so much easier to get to Winnipeg using the over night  GN Winnipeg Ltd from St. Paul, MN.

Excitement built that Monday evening as we boarded the 111 car.  We were soon on our way on time celebrating with a glass of wine in our room B.  We were greeted by Claude the dining car SM who came by to give us meal time reservations and Janelle  (sp?) our car attendant.

I have known Claude for years and he does a great job running the dining car along with his cheerful staff of servers.  As always, the food was great.  I am always impressed with the fact that the menu changes daily - rack lamb, prime rib, salmon, and the wonderful desserts all low calorie the server told me.  I am impressed that real china and silverware are used - six piece placesetting  at dinner.  And after dinner each night Chef Jerard came out to visit with the diners about the food.  And the cloth table clothes are changed after each sitting.  All food cooked on board including the morning muffins!

My wife needs gluten free food which the dining car staff had no problem providing.  But at one lunch, while the items on the menu were gluten free, there was another item in all of them to which she had an allergy.  So get this:  the chef made her a special not on the menu lunch!!!  Naomi was very pleased.

The trip west continued mostly on time with an on time arrival at Edmonton - shower time here on the stationary train - and early arrival at Vancouver.  OT performance greatly improved over a few years ago!  I have had the fun? of sitting in the Winnipeg station until 03:00 waiting for the very late #1.  If it takes a padded schedule  and a little help from the CN to make it work, so be it.

And Amtrak note this:  even after the early arrival at Vancouver, a full breakfast is served in the dining car even as the train sits at the bumper posts until 08:00.  Now that is classy!  At an earlier time, I was put off the Sunset Ltd at Los Angeles at 05:00 with no breakfast!

And also classy is that a VIA staff person was waiting for us to detrain to help us get our checked bags which we wanted to leave in the baggage room until that evening when we would go south on Amtrak to Seattle.  (A word on the Cascade train below.)

After close to a week in the Seattle area it was back to Vancouver for an overnight there and boarding #2 for Winnipeg.  VIA employee Emilee impressed me as she was right there to take our bags the minute they were unloaded from the cab.  And Zachery, Cecil, Kelly and Flo were also of great help to us offering to get a cart to take us out to the 213 car after they loaded the Prestige PAX.  This train now the long summer consist so the 213 car a pretty long ride/walk.

After departure it was off to the Skyline dome especially to watch the train on the Fraser River bridge crossing and have some champagne and hors d' oeuvres.  And then of course the start of the wonderful dining as we moved across the Fraser River again at Mission and on to the CP.

All good eastbound with another great dining car SM by the name of Kelly.  And Kevin in the Skyline did an outstanding job of story telling and wine tasting enjoyed by all.  And the SM Meredith whom I have known for a long time came by for a visit.

Several comments:  1)  Someone on TO  recently asked if route guides were available on this train.  YES!  There were route guides waiting for us in our accommodations.
2)  Unlike the inconsistent staff one can find on Amtrak - some great, some not so great, all VIA staff we encountered were very cheery and helpful.  I believe they liked their jobs and were glad to be on board.
3)  At I think it was Rivers on our return, we arrived perhaps 45 minutes to an hour early which would have put us into Winnipeg early.  However, someone boarding there did not arrive until just a few minutes prior to the scheduled departure time so we had to wait.  All I will say about that is that I am a get to the train maybe two hours prior to departure time type guy!
4)  Buffer cars:  I have noted some negative comments on TO about buffer cars.  Not a problem for this guy as I spend most of my time in the dome and I am facing forward!!!

CASCADES TO SEATTLE:  Business class well worth the extra cost as southbound we were boarded before anyone else waiting in a huge line.  On our return to Vancouver we did not have business class as it was sold out when I tried to book.  So business class was first off the train while we had to wait in a very long line to get our bags and customs.  Also board as soon as you can to get forward facing seats.  We had to ride backwards in both directions!  Wonder why they don't turn the seats.?

 Ride the legendary Canadian!!!  The talk is that it may not be the same in a few years.  Take out a loan, use your credit card, sell your car!!   But RIDE THIS TRAIN !!!!  It is a lifetime thrill, the only remaining streamliner.

As for me, I am a little older than I was when I made the first trip on the CP Canadian in 1969.  So I  told my wife I want one more ride on  the Canadian for my 80 th birthday!!!

Finally, a tip of my VIA cap to all the great VIA people who take care of all the many many details that make this train happen and great!!!  I feel honored to know many of you!!

Eliot

 



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 05/18/23 13:50 by viatrainrider.



Date: 05/18/23 15:47
Re: Trip Report - Riding the legendary Canadian, VIA 1 and 2.
Author: DrawingroomA

Thank you for your detailed and well-written review.  I know only a few of the crew mentioned. There have been a lot of retirements in the past few years.

For such a significant birthday I hope you get a trip in Prestige, at least part way. I thought I was going to have to take out a mortgage for a Winnipeg-Vancouver portion, but VIA allows partial trips on points so I made it free.



Date: 05/18/23 16:03
Re: Trip Report - Riding the legendary Canadian, VIA 1 and 2.
Author: stuporchief

Great report on a great trip indeed.

But I do not share my distinguished Canadian riders' room preferences.

No room has ever been better designed than the Roomette, and it will alwasy be my preference until there are no more.

It's the eptiome of effiency and comfort, and the bed positions you perfectly along the window all night.



Date: 05/18/23 17:30
Re: Trip Report - Riding the legendary Canadian, VIA 1 and 2.
Author: co614

The Canadian is the sole remaining truly first class scheduled passenger train on the American continent. By all means ride it asap as it is in a MUCH higher league than Amtrak ( really a different Universe) and once it's gone it will never be duplicated.

    Ross Rowland 



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 05/18/23 17:58 by co614.



Date: 05/18/23 18:41
Re: Trip Report - Riding the legendary Canadian, VIA 1 and 2.
Author: 1976steve

Isn't it amazing how a staff that's happy to see the passengers sets the mood for the whole trip. Glad you enjoyed it, still on my list of trips to do Thank You



Date: 05/19/23 18:23
Re: Trip Report - Riding the legendary Canadian, VIA 1 and 2.
Author: TheCurator

viatrainrider Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
<<Unlike the inconsistent staff one can find on Amtrak - some great, some not so great, all VIA staff we encountered were very cheery and helpful.  I believe they liked their jobs and were glad to be on board.>>

Riding back and forth on that train...how could one NOT like that job, lol!



Date: 05/20/23 19:55
Re: Trip Report - Riding the legendary Canadian, VIA 1 and 2.
Author: CP8888

Where can you leave a car in Winnipeg for a week or longer?? Also have you traveled on the Hudson Bay train recently. Thanks for the report. I am on 2 June 19 Vancouver to Winnipeg. Glad the buffer is gone.



Date: 05/21/23 09:30
Re: Trip Report - Riding the legendary Canadian, VIA 1 and 2.
Author: viatrainrider

I leave my vehicle in the CN garage which is out the back door of the station all the way down to the right.  Heated and closed and is $10CA per day.  The office for parking FNP is located in the front of the station on your right facing the front.  You can make arrangements to park in the CN garage during normal business hours Monday - Friday.

While I have 21 round trips to Churchill, I have not ridden since before Covid.  However, I believe there is a Skyline dome lounge where food can be purchased and usually Chateau sleepers.  Believe there is something on the VIA website where you can get additional information regarding this train.

Have a great trip on the Canadian.



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 05/21/23 09:32 by viatrainrider.



Date: 05/22/23 21:04
Re: Trip Report - Riding the legendary Canadian, VIA 1 and 2.
Author: gaspeamtrak

Great trip report!!!
I have had the pleasure of meeting "Janelle"  on 2 of my last 3 trips !!! She is a "awesome" Via employee.
The last three trips to Vancouver we were in the station by 05:00 every trip and also got served the full breakfast menue...
I would love to arrive in Vancouver 12 hours late so I could see the "Fraser " canyon in daylight but I guess you can't be to greedy. :):):)



Date: 05/24/23 20:14
Re: Trip Report - Riding the legendary Canadian, VIA 1 and 2.
Author: gaspeamtrak

 I will be taking this trip Tuesday May 30 th round trip to Churchill and will report back on the food...

viatrainrider Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> I leave my vehicle in the CN garage which is out
> the back door of the station all the way down to
> the right.  Heated and closed and is $10CA per
> day.  The office for parking FNP is located in
> the front of the station on your right facing the
> front.  You can make arrangements to park in the
> CN garage during normal business hours Monday -
> Friday.
>
> While I have 21 round trips to Churchill, I have
> not ridden since before Covid.  However, I
> believe there is a Skyline dome lounge where food
> can be purchased and usually Chateau sleepers. 
> Believe there is something on the VIA website
> where you can get additional information regarding
> this train.
>
> Have a great trip on the Canadian.



Date: 05/25/23 04:24
Re: Trip Report - Riding the legendary Canadian, VIA 1 and 2.
Author: jp1822

viatrainrider Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> I leave my vehicle in the CN garage which is out
> the back door of the station all the way down to
> the right.  Heated and closed and is $10CA per
> day.  The office for parking FNP is located in
> the front of the station on your right facing the
> front.  You can make arrangements to park in the
> CN garage during normal business hours Monday -
> Friday.
>
> While I have 21 round trips to Churchill, I have
> not ridden since before Covid.  However, I
> believe there is a Skyline dome lounge where food
> can be purchased and usually Chateau sleepers. 
> Believe there is something on the VIA website
> where you can get additional information regarding
> this train.
>
> Have a great trip on the Canadian.

How were the "Northern Spirit Sleeper Cars" (former Amtrak 10-6 Heritage Sleepers) when they were on the Churchill run? I always heard they failed miserably in terms of freezing up and in operations, but curious to get your opinion on any renovation or what they were like - if you were ever on when they were part of the consist??? Just curious. 

I am glad they put some sort of dome car on the Hudson Bay trains. Would prefer that they re-instate "Touring Class" on the Canadian with the Panorama cars as that was a really nice service when offered consistently in the mid-May to mid-October time range. The Canadian is still top-notch, a great land cruise, but it did lose a LOT of its utility as a basic means of public passenger travel when the scheduled was horrendously lengthened by at least 13 hours.....

Enjoy the VIA Rail train trips! 



Date: 05/29/23 11:48
Re: Trip Report - Riding the legendary Canadian, VIA 1 and 2.
Author: viatrainrider

Yes, I believe Northern Spirit cars froze up often.  When they were no longer used, they sat in the yard at the maintenance facility for years.



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