A Winter Ride On VIAs Canadian (with photos)

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NS VIA Fan

Conductor
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Sep 24, 2011
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Nova Scotia
Thanks Tricia......enjoy your trip! The cars were always comfortable inside......but a Jim says, take a sweater. Also when walking between cars, the vestibules will be cold and there could be fine snow.
 

tricia

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Aug 23, 2011
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Spring Creek, NC
Thanks, both of you, for responses. I'm asking mostly for the three elders I'm traveling with, whom I've already urged to pack clothes that can be worn in layers. If you have any other suggestions for their on-board comfort, please let me know.

Looking forward to a wonderful trip! We leave a week from Tuesday. Will post trip report when we return.
 

TVRM610

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Apr 30, 2007
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Chattanooga TN
Ever Am-Fan should experience Canadian Railway food n service, then they'd understand half of the rants about Amtrak's short commings....
I wasn't really that impressed with the service on the Canadian last year... I also didn't have any major complaints. I sort of feel like the Canadian staff is consistent but not excellent. Amtrak staff for me has been more of a mixed bag.. they are either excellent.. and BETTER than the staff I encountered on the Canadian, or they are down right rude and/or lazy and are far WORSE than Amtrak staff. Now it should be noted that last year I rode over 20,000 miles on amtrak, and only 2,700 on VIA (one round trip.. 2 service staffs). I just didn't see what people rave about when it comes to the service...

The food is certainly a step up from Amtrak.. I've mentioned before the dining cars are so much more classy on VIA.. and it's little things like not having a table with the LSA's paperwork all over it... not having a table with random supplies all over it... these things just take so much away from the "charm" of a dining car.

To me.. the main reason for riding the Canadian is the dome cars and the park cars. There is simply nothing like a dome car! And certainly Canada is a lovely country and naturally the best way to see it is on the train.

Thanks for the report and pictures.. since I also rode in the winter (last year) it looks very familiar and indeed I hope I get the chance to ride again!
 

KC Ghost Rider

Service Attendant
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Jan 27, 2014
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131
Location
Kansas City, Kansas
NS Via Fan, you were my inspiration for booking a 25th Wedding anniversary trip aboard the Canadian for Mrs. Ghost and self. Your descriptions and photographs made it easy for one to imagine how pleasant such a trip would be. Thusly, I booked a trip from Toronto to Vancouver and I chose the Romance by Rail package for this special occasion. Thank you for your review. :hi:
 

lyke99

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Aug 10, 2009
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138
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Rochester, MN
Excellent trip report - my wife will love the photos. We are booked for an eastbound trip on the Canadian this summer.
 

ScottR

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May 24, 2021
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Monterey
It's been several years since I had a winter ride on the Canadian and IMHO……the best time to ride! The crowds are gone and there’s lots of room to just sit back in the dome and watch the snowy winter landscape go by from the warm and cozy train.

With some vacation time coming due I started watching for deals on VIA. The best fare I could find for a Cabin for 1 from Toronto to Vancouver in early December was $1200…...but I still had a couple of weeks before I had to book so thought I'd wait and see if anything better would come along.....and it did!

A Cabin for one had dropped to $800 but for that $1200 I was going to spend anyway….. I could now have single occupancy of a Cabin for 2 (Bedroom) Much more comfortable for the 4 night trip and when I did the on-line booking I got Bedroom D in car #139....the Park Car and the centre of everything!

Now to get to Toronto from Halifax: I didn’t have enough vacation time to start out from Halifax on VIA's Ocean so I settled for a quick two hour flight on a WestJet '737.

I was at the airport at 4:45am for my flight at 5:45 AT. It was a clear, cold, cloudless early morning. The route took us over Saint John, NB then basically followed above the old VIA Atlantic route across Maine. By a quirk of border geography, flights between the Maritimes and central Canada overfly about 200 miles of the USA, re-entering Canadian airspace just north of Lac Magnetic, Quebec. I had a window seat and a great view of the city lights of Montreal, Ottawa then on into Toronto at 7:30 ET.

WS261 (WJA261) WestJet Flight Tracking and History 29-Nov-2013 (CYHZ-CYYZ) - FlightAware





I’d be spending the day in Toronto before the Canadian’s departure that evening at 10pm so I picked up a TTC Daypass and besides getting me downtown via bus and subway it allowed me unlimited rides for the day including the extensive street-car system. I also did some GO Train riding out to Milton and back:



And what wouldn’t be the start to a Transcontinental rail journey without a visit to the Royal York…. a classic former Canadian Pacific Railway Hotel. I had dinner there and sat in the nicely decorated lobby for awhile before heading across the street to Union Station through a maze of construction. (Union is undergoing a $700 million restoration)





Oh that is beautiful. I’ll be at the Royal York for New Years. I’ll get to see that.
 

JontyMort

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May 4, 2021
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United Kingdom
Wonderful Hotel in a Great City, and the Best North AmericanTrain ride available!😎

We're envious!
The Royal York is a bit sad in pandemic mode. We spent four nights at the end of last week, and no spontaneous cocktails etc. But Fairmont were much more on top of their game in Vancouver, when we moved on there.
Tenuous link, but while we were in Toronto we went to Niagara (on GO, but the route of the Maple Leaf). Here’s a couple of shots A487C46C-CBF2-4EF8-BC2D-DDED3C018234.jpeg1D9EED7D-49AB-4537-846E-719C03699F62.jpegof the state of the track at Niagara Falls, ON. It reminds me of that terrible film The Cassandra Crossing.
 

NS VIA Fan

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Sep 24, 2011
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Nova Scotia
Tenuous link, but while we were in Toronto we went to Niagara (on GO, but the route of the Maple Leaf).

Here’s a couple of shots of the state of the track at Niagara Falls, ON. It reminds me of that terrible film The Cassandra Crossing.

I'm guessing those photos are of the platform track in front of the Niagara Falls ON Station? There's only one GO Train a day using it (4 GO on weekends) and I don't think anything (freight) is crossing the Whirlpool Bridge right now into Niagara Falls, NY.

The main track of CN's Grimsby Subdivision (below) just west of there between Niagara Falls and Hamilton sees more service including freights to/from the US via the Fort Erie/Buffalo International Bridge.

Grimsby Sub.jpg
 
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JontyMort

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May 4, 2021
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United Kingdom
I'm guessing those photos are of the platform track in front of the Niagara Falls ON Station? There's only one GO Train a day using it (4 GO on weekends) and I don't think anything (freight) is crossing the Whirlpool Bridge right now into Niagara Falls, NY.

The main track of CN's Grimsby Subdivision (below) just west of there between Niagara Falls and Hamilton sees more service including freights to/from the US via the Fort Erie/Buffalo International Bridge.

View attachment 24651
Yes, it was indeed taken at the extreme east end of the station. The GO train from Toronto pulls up some way before that point. The speed restriction as far as the lift bridge over the Welland Canal is very slow - I’m guessing 20 km/h. The date on the rails in my photo was 1945.

The GO trip from Toronto was an easy way to visit the falls, which seemed - relatively - uncrowded last Saturday when we visited.
 

Bob Dylan

50+ Year Amtrak Rider
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May 31, 2009
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Austin Texas
The Royal York is a bit sad in pandemic mode. We spent four nights at the end of last week, and no spontaneous cocktails etc. But Fairmont were much more on top of their game in Vancouver, when we moved on there.
Tenuous link, but while we were in Toronto we went to Niagara (on GO, but the route of the Maple Leaf). Here’s a couple of shots View attachment 24648View attachment 24649of the state of the track at Niagara Falls, ON. It reminds me of that terrible film The Cassandra Crossing.
😱😥
 

Tennessee Traveler

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Apr 11, 2010
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Location
Franklin, TN
I did the Canadian Vancouver to Toronto in February 2018 and while the on board crew and dining was as good as you reported, the added Prestige Class has even in Winter sorta downgraded the Cabin for 2 and Roomettes and my train lost time all the way arriving Toronto 12 hours late. In 2018 the regular sleepers were in front of the dining car which was followed by the Prestige Class cars and the Park car. Incidentally the cabins in the Park car are now Prestige class. In 2018 the Prestige Class was $5,000 way, way out of my price capabilities. This was my third time crossing Canada on the Canadian and, in my opinion, it is on the brink of failure. If you are interested you can view my photos of this trip along with eastbound trip in USA on Captitol Limited, California Zephyr, and Coast Starlight here: 2018 Winter Rail Trip
 
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JontyMort

Service Attendant
Joined
May 4, 2021
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172
Location
United Kingdom
I did the Canadian Vancouver to Toronto in February 2018 and while the on board crew and dining was as good as you reported, the added Prestige Class has even in Winter sorta downgraded the Cabin for 2 and Roomettes and my train lost time all the way arriving Toronto 12 hours late. In 2018 the regular sleepers were in front of the dining car which was followed by the Prestige Class cars and the Park car. Incidentally the cabins in the Park car are now Prestige class. In 2018 the Prestige Class was $5,000 way, way out of my price capabilities. This was my third time crossing Canada on the Canadian and, in my opinion, it is on the brink of failure. If you are interested you can view my photos of this trip along with eastbound trip in USA on Captitol Limited, California Zephyr, and Coast Starlight here: 2018 Winter Rail Trip
A tenuous link, but here is a picture of the Park car on the rear of the Canadian at Jasper yesterday, when we happened to be passing. Also a rather splendid 4-8-2.4E20A997-3C57-42DA-86C1-6810DE881700.jpegDE28F7BE-B26C-4040-89D8-02A55B9E717F.jpeg
 
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