With modern-day air travel, most people haven’t experienced the wonder of train travel. Canada offers some of the most breathtaking scenery in the world, and a first-rate way to see it is to take a train ride. Trains offer riders a chance to sit back, relax, and enjoy the beautiful scenery without the worries of driving or the hassle of flying. Whether the trip is a quick jaunt between cities, or a tour of the entire country, the Canadian rail systems present numerous travel options for those wanting to get around this friendly North American country. Riders can imagine themselves back in time, when train travel was chic, and everyone waited for their cue from the conductor: All aboard!
History of Canadian Railroad
Canada is a country that was built on its railway system. Because the country boasts some of the toughest terrain in the world, settlers could only establish themselves in areas where, at first water travel, and then train travel allowed them. Canada incorporated its first railway system in 1832. This incorporation was a venture between Champlain and St. Lawrence railroads, and construction of the rail system was completed in 1836. Numerous other railroad projects followed suit, some even connecting with northern U.S. railway systems. Unfortunately, these railway systems were shoddily constructed and managed, and the Canadian government took over the failing systems after WWI. Fortunately, the Canadian citizens understand the importance of Canada’s railway system and pay additional tax to keep them afloat.
Major Canadian Railways
The two major Canadian railways are the Canadian National Railway Company, which runs its trains on 14,096 miles worth of track, and the Canadian Pacific Rail Company, which runs trains on 7,961 miles of track. The remaining Canadian railways are referred to as regional or shortline railways. These trains run smaller routes and some offer localized services. Tourist trains travel on all tracks throughout the country.
Major Train Stations
The major cities in each Canadian province have centralized train stations to facilitate the passengers who use the railway system daily. Visitors to British Columbia will find major train stations in Vancouver, Victoria, Courtenay, Prince Rupert, and Prince George. Alberta travelers will find the major stations in Edmonton and Jasper. The aptly named Saskatoon Station is the Saskatoon province’s primary train station. Manitoba boasts major stations in Winnipeg and Churchill. Those visiting Ontario will find stations in Toronto, Ottawa, and Niagara Falls, among others. The French-speaking province of Quebec houses larger train stations in Montreal and Quebec City. Those visiting the Atlantic side of the country will stop in Moncton and Halifax. Canada also has numerous smaller station stops in between the major ones.
Canadian Railway and Tourism
Modern-day commerce has flourished on the train tracks, and Canadian tourist trains offer visitors the chance to see the entire country in ways they never imagined. These tourist trains offer packages for just about any occasion. Travelers wanting to see Canada from coast-to-coast can book a scenic train route across the country. There are weekend getaways for those just taking a few days from the real world, and, yes, this is Canada, so ice hockey train packages are available that take fans from one game to the next.
Trains and Disabilities
Travelers with disabilities shouldn’t fret; Canadian trains are prepared to accommodate visitors with special needs. This includes travelers who require mobility assistance, special meals, and those traveling with companion animals. Each train company is different, so travelers should discuss their needs with the service provider prior to making reservations. It is not likely, however, that a visitor with special needs will not be accommodated.
Kids and Trains
Kids who love train rides will also enjoy traveling Canada by train. Kids can learn about the very trains they are riding in, the tracks they are riding on, and the scenery they are viewing from the train all while enjoying the trip. Many tourist trains offer children’s videos, literature, and games that kids can play during the train ride. Most trains also have Wi-Fi access, so children can play interactive games to learn about trains on the computer while en route. Children can also learn about the variety of animals they will be able to see from the train’s windows, including elk and bears.