Three train trips to celebrate Canada's Confederation

Via Rail Canada's map resembles a constellation, with 19 train routes connecting such stars as Prince Rupert, B.C.; Ottawa; Churchill, Manitoba; and Halifax, Nova Scotia. The tracks pass through the prairies and the Canadian Rockies, French Canadian cities and Atlantic coastal towns. Daryl Adair, who wrote the "Canadian Rail Travel Guide" and runs a train-travel tour agency in Winnipeg, shared his favorite rail voyages as well as tips on when to drop the book and gaze out the window. 

- Jasper-Prince Rupert: The two-day daylight trip (guests spend the night in Prince George; hotel is extra), boasts beauty-pageant views of Jasper National Park, Bulkley Canyon and the Rockies, as well as waterfalls, the highest mountain in the Canadian Rockies (Mount Robson) and totem poles. Water is a prominent feature, with Moose Lake, the Skeena River and the mighty Pacific on view. Adair calls the route "the best-kept secret in Canada" for its railside scenery. Keep your binocs handy for such wildlife sightings as bears, elk, bald eagles, seals and wolves.  

- Winnipeg-Churchill: The train departs from the capital of Manitoba (visit the Canadian Museum for Human Rights and the Forks Market before boarding) and spends two days chugging through sunflower fields, prairies, boreal forest and uninhabited Arctic tundra. The train often stops on First Nation lands and at other isolated communities to pick up passengers from the side of the tracks. At night, sleep with your eyes wide open so that you don't miss the Aurora Borealis. Adair said one guest compared a stretch south of Churchill to "traveling on the surface of the moon." In Churchill, a subarctic region on the Hudson Bay, watch for polar bears or beluga whales, depending on the season.  

- Sudbury-White River, Ontario: The day-long journey sets out from Sudbury, an outdoors-centric city with the country's largest Franco-Ontarian population, and travels to the Lake Superior region and through the Canadian Shield. The train stops in remote communities with no roads, only train access. White River is famous for a certain bear: In 1914, a soldier purchased an orphaned cub from a trapper at the railroad station. He named the bear Winnipeg, or Winnie for short. Author A.A. Milne discovered the bear at the London Zoo - and the rest is Pooh history.

Reader Comments ...

Next Up in Travel

In Chicago, finding the right bites in Lincoln Square and Ravenswood

Living in Chicago, I am spoiled. The food here is ridiculously good, whether you're visiting your neighborhood hot dog stand or you scored a reservation at Alinea, often lauded as one of the world's top restaurants, where a course may take the form of an edible, green-apple-flavored helium balloon. The restaurants are so exceptional that I've become...
Making the most of your European cruise
Making the most of your European cruise

Last year I spent two weeks on a Mediterranean cruise, filming a one-hour TV show designed to present an honest look at the pros and cons of cruising and equip travelers with the knowledge they need to be smart cruisers. You might not think of it as budget travel, but cruising can be extremely affordable. When you consider that the price includes accommodations...
A hidden Big Bend gem: The Lajitas Arch
A hidden Big Bend gem: The Lajitas Arch

Tucked behind a trash dump about 10 miles west of Terlingua, a crumbly stone arch stands like a rocky red reminder that Utah didn’t get all the cool geological formations. The arch — actually a double arch, because you can glimpse a second, smaller one just upstream of the main one — looks much like the ones scattered through Arches...
A gamble on a revitalized Reno, Nevada
A gamble on a revitalized Reno, Nevada

Midway through his 1940 Western classic “The Ox-Bow Incident,” author Walter Van Tilburg Clark paints the barren Nevada landscape that is the backdrop to a lynch-mob killing. He writes plaintively of snowy peaks, even in the summer months, of dried creekbeds, meadows bedecked in purple and golden wildflowers, violets “as big as the...
Traveling to Brazil? Get a yellow fever vaccination first.

Travelers headed to Brazil should add one more item to their trip prep list: Make an appointment for a yellow fever vaccination.  The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently raised the level of concern for Brazil, in response to a yellow fever outbreak. The agency expanded its warning to travelers after a number of unvaccinated tourists...
More Stories