Syracuse to Ottawa Canada

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mattcub

Train Attendant
Joined
Mar 28, 2010
Messages
18
Hello All,
I am looking for some help planning a trip this June from Syracuse NY to Ottawa Ontario. I look online and it shows the Maple Leaf running from Syracuse to Toronto but when I actually try to look at dates it says there is no route. Is this because of Covid closures? I also tried the viarail site but it Sends me to amtrak. Does anyone have any advice? I know it would probably be easier to drive but that is my last resort option. I would prefer to travel by train or bus.
 

Shanson

Train Attendant
Joined
Sep 17, 2021
Messages
52
Location
Austin TX
All three Amtrak routes to Canada are suspended due to COVID-19. Substitute service by bus from Seattle to Vancouver was to start in December, but no alternative service to Toronto or Montreal is available as far as I know.

Part of the issue is customs, and part is switching from VIA Rail crews to Amtrak crews.
 
Joined
Jul 8, 2015
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NYC/Queens
I know driving is last resort, but it is just not convenient the other ways. Its about 200 miles to drive up 81 and cross and then go East, anything that goes to Toronto takes you way far West and then doubling back. I don't know of a bus running to Ottawa from Syracuse, and any flight will likely take you somewhere else first, not be cheap, and not faster than driving.
 

zephyr17

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Washington State
All cross border rail service is suspended indefinitely due to the pandemic. The Cascades has substitute bus service between Seattle and Vancouver only, but not the intermediate stations. The Maple Leaf doesn't even have that.

You could take an Empire Service train to Niagara Falls, NY, taxi or uber to the Rainbow Bridge, cross as a pedestrian. Metrolinx/GO Transit has several buses a day between Niagara Falls, ON and Toronto with a transfer to train in Aldershot or Hamilton (I misremembered which).

Then you could take VIA to Ottawa. BTW, the Maple Leaf did not connect with any trains to Ottawa. It arrived too late. You would have had to layover in Toronto. You need to look at VIA's service between Ottawa and Toronto and work backwards from there to try to construct a same day connection using Empire Service and Metrolinx.

It sounds pretty arduous to me, self transfer across the border from train to bus, bus to train at Aldershot(?), train to train at Toronto. @PVD's driving suggestion sounds both easier and quicker.
 
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mattcub

Train Attendant
Joined
Mar 28, 2010
Messages
18
I know driving is last resort, but it is just not convenient the other ways. Its about 200 miles to drive up 81 and cross and then go East, anything that goes to Toronto takes you way far West and then doubling back. I don't know of a bus running to Ottawa from Syracuse, and any flight will likely take you somewhere else first, not be cheap, and not faster than driving.
Yeah thanks for your help. I definitely would drive before i fly for this trip.
 

mattcub

Train Attendant
Joined
Mar 28, 2010
Messages
18
All three Amtrak routes to Canada are suspended due to COVID-19. Substitute service by bus from Seattle to Vancouver was to start in December, but no alternative service to Toronto or Montreal is available as far as I know.

Part of the issue is customs, and part is switching from VIA Rail crews to Amtrak crews.
Thanks I figured it had more to do with border crossings/Covid
 

mattcub

Train Attendant
Joined
Mar 28, 2010
Messages
18
All cross border rail service is suspended indefinitely due to the pandemic. The Cascades has substitute bus service between Seattle and Vancouver only, but not the intermediate stations. The Maple Leaf doesn't even have that.

You could take an Empire Service train to Niagara Falls, NY, taxi or uber to the Rainbow Bridge, cross as a pedestrian. Metrolinx/GO Transit has several buses a day between Niagara Falls, ON and Toronto with a transfer to train in Aldershot or Hamilton (I misremembered which).

Then you could take VIA to Ottawa. BTW, the Maple Leaf did not connect with any trains to Ottawa. It arrived too late. You would have had to layover in Toronto. You need to look at VIA's service between Ottawa and Toronto and work backwards from there to try to construct a same day connection using Empire Service and Metrolinx.

It sounds pretty arduous to me, self transfer across the border from train to bus, bus to train at Aldershot(?), train to train at Toronto.
Thanks.Yeah I did know I would have had to do a layover in Toronto which I was cool with. I guess if I am set on taking a train I would have to try your suggestion of the empire service even though it seems complicated.
I don’t think there is even a bus running from Syracuse to Ottawa anymore. Maybe I could bus to Toronto do a layover and then take a train to Ottawa. Appreciate the help
 
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Joined
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I know driving is last resort, but it is just not convenient the other ways. Its about 200 miles to drive up 81 and cross and then go East, anything that goes to Toronto takes you way far West and then doubling back. I don't know of a bus running to Ottawa from Syracuse, and any flight will likely take you somewhere else first, not be cheap, and not faster than driving.
Actually, I would think that driving (or a direct bus, if they have one) would be the most convenient way to get from Syracuse to Ottawa. Just drive up I-81, cross at the 1000 Islands Bridge, then take the 401 and 416 freeways right into Ottawa. Going through Niagara Fallas/Toronto is really going out of the way. If I really wanted to take the train (and the cross-border trains were running, which they're not right now), I might consider taking the LSL or Empire Service to Schenectady and transfer to the Adirondack to Montreal, and then a VIA train to Ottawa. That would probably require an overnight in Montreal, and maybe, depending on schedules, in Schenectady.
 

mattcub

Train Attendant
Joined
Mar 28, 2010
Messages
18
Thanks.Yeah I did know I would have had to do a layover in Toronto which I was cool with. I guess if I am set on taking a train I would have to try your suggestion of the empire service even though it seems complicated.
I don’t think there is even a bus running from Syracuse to Toronto anymore.
Actually, I would think that driving (or a direct bus, if they have one) would be the most convenient way to get from Syracuse to Ottawa. Just drive up I-81, cross at the 1000 Islands Bridge, then take the 401 and 416 freeways right into Ottawa. Going through Niagara Fallas/Toronto is really going out of the way. If I really wanted to take the train (and the cross-border trains were running, which they're not right now), I might consider taking the LSL or Empire Service to Schenectady and transfer to the Adirondack to Montreal, and then a VIA train to Ottawa. That would probably require an overnight in Montreal, and maybe, depending on schedules, in Schenectady.
Thanks. Driving is definitely the most convenient. No direct bus service to Ottawa. I could bus to toronto then train to Ottawa if I wanted the train or maybe just bus all the way.
 
Joined
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487
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San Francisco
I was born in Ottawa. My mother was born in Syracuse. As a child, I spent summers at Henderson Harbor, west of Watertown and Sacketts Harbor. I went to Queen’s University in Kingston. As you probably know, the eastern end of Lake Ontario on both sides of the border is all beautiful country. At least it is once you’re off the freeway.

Since you wouldn’t mind laying over in Toronto, it sounds like you have plenty of time for your trip. You say driving is your last option but it might be the only one. It wouldn’t have to be on boring and stressful freeways. You could take a leisurely one- or two-day drive meandering up the eastern lakeshore, crossing the river at Alexandria Bay/Gananoque, and cruising on country roads along the Rideau Canal waterway up to Ottawa. Or, you could take Hwy. 12E and cross at Cape Vincent by ferry to Wolfe Island another ferry to Kingston. You would have to check that the ferries are running at the time of your trip.

All that said, your trip is not for another four or five months, and it’s possible that train, bus, and border crossing procedures might have improved by then. You do have time before deciding.
 
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Know a bunch of folks up there, in Potsdam, Clayton, and Alex Bay. In the good old days, when I had a NYS Hockey meeting up there, you could cross the bridge, make a U turn at the "no U turn sign" pick up cases of decent beer at the duty-free, and drive right back. The Customs guys would laugh and ask where the get together was. (Pine Tree Point was the last one I drove up for I think) There is a new resort hotel in Clayton, supposed to be pretty nice.
 

mattcub

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Mar 28, 2010
Messages
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I was born in Ottawa. My mother was born in Syracuse. As a child, I spent summers at Henderson Harbor, west of Watertown and Sacketts Harbor. I went to Queen’s University in Kingston. As you probably know, the eastern end of Lake Ontario on both sides of the border is all beautiful country. At least it is once you’re off the freeway.

Since you wouldn’t mind laying over in Toronto, it sounds like you have plenty of time for your trip. You say driving is your last option but it might be the only one. It wouldn’t have to be on boring and stressful freeways. You could take a leisurely one- or two-day drive meandering up the eastern lakeshore, crossing the river at Alexandria Bay/Gananoque, and cruising on country roads along the Rideau Canal waterway up to Ottawa. Or, you could take Hwy. 12E and cross at Cape Vincent by ferry to Wolfe Island another ferry to Kingston. You would have to check that the ferries are running at the time of your trip.

All that said, your trip is not for another four or five months, and it’s possible that train, bus, and border crossing procedures might have improved by then. You do have time before deciding.
Yes you are right that we have lots of beautiful areas all around Lake Ontario. Even though I was planning on taking the train from Syracuse I actually live in a small town near Oswego which is right on the lake.
You are also correct that I do have some extra time and don’t need to rush the trip and I also have time to wait and see what happens with the trains and border crossing situations.
I appreciate your suggestions and all of the suggestions I have received here. I don’t post on this forum much but I always know if I do I can get thoughtful and helpful responses. Thanks again!
 
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My grandfather migrated his family by small sailing dinghy from his summer home at Selkirk Shores just east of Oswego to Henderson Harbor in 1908 or 1909. But I'm going off topic, I suspect. I trust your upcoming trip will go well, no matter your route and mode of carriage.
 
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Syracuse to Ottawa isn't a bad drive - should be well under 4 hours even with border delays. Since we relocated to eastern Ontario, Syracuse has become our "go-to" upstate New York shopping destination after years of going to Buffalo. I enjoy driving I-81 (in good weather). There hasn't been a train option on this route for many, many years and flying would require a connection in an inconvenient (and expensive) hub on one side of the border.
 
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Was a volunteer at a NYSAHA player development camp in Baldwinsville, I think I stayed in Fulton. Have a friend who worked at the nuke plant in Oswego until NYPA sold it, then he went back to Massena.
 

fdaley

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Jan 25, 2020
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upstate New York
Another option, if you want to use the train part of the way, would be to drive across the border to Kingston or Brockville and then take VIA Rail from there. Pre-pandemic, there were at least five trains a day each way between these two stops and Ottawa; I think there have been two or three each way in recent months. I believe there is paid parking available at both stations. This would allow for a relatively direct overall routing, and it would allow you to cross the border by car, which is my experience is way faster and easier than crossing on Amtrak when the cross-border trains are running.
 

Willbridge

50+ Year Amtrak Rider
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...substitute bus service between Seattle and Vancouver only, but not the intermediate stations
There is one round-trip bus a day between Seattle and Bellingham, with intermediate stops in Everett and Mt. Vernon. Northbound it is an extension of Train 500 and hopefully connects from Train 7. Southbound it feeds Train 507.

Greyhound has two daily buses making the same stops each way en route to and from Vancouver, BC.
 

zephyr17

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There is one round-trip bus a day between Seattle and Bellingham, with intermediate stops in Everett and Mt. Vernon. Northbound it is an extension of Train 500 and hopefully connects from Train 7. Southbound it feeds Train 507.

Greyhound has two daily buses making the same stops each way en route to and from Vancouver, BC.
Unfortunately the 5622 bus you are referring to only goes as far as Bellingham. The buses to Vancouver do not stop at Everett and Bellingham.

I stand by statement that the buses to Vancouver do not stop at intermediate stations, including Everett and Bellingham. EVR-VAC is not bookable. EVR is my home station and I am planning a Canadian trip at the end of March, and though I can book EVR-BEL, that does not help me.
 

Amtrak25

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Over 10 years ago, Greyhound Canada ran a bus between Syracuse and Ottawa over the Thousand Island Bridge. It arrived and terminated at Syrcause at 230am. No wonder it died rather quickly.

Greyhound and Adirondack Trailways are running 4 buses a day between NYC and Montreal. So take Amtrak to Rensselaer, take a CDTA bus to Albany, and take a VIA Rail train from Montreal to Ottawa.
 

mattcub

Train Attendant
Joined
Mar 28, 2010
Messages
18
My grandfather migrated his family by small sailing dinghy from his summer home at Selkirk Shores just east of Oswego to Henderson Harbor in 1908 or 1909. But I'm going off topic, I suspect. I trust your upcoming trip will go well, no matter your route and mode of carriage.
Thanks for sharing that story and yes the trip will go well! As long as we are allowed in the Country in June lol
 

mattcub

Train Attendant
Joined
Mar 28, 2010
Messages
18
Another option, if you want to use the train part of the way, would be to drive across the border to Kingston or Brockville and then take VIA Rail from there. Pre-pandemic, there were at least five trains a day each way between these two stops and Ottawa; I think there have been two or three each way in recent months. I believe there is paid parking available at both stations. This would allow for a relatively direct overall routing, and it would allow you to cross the border by car, which is my experience is way faster and easier than crossing on Amtrak when the cross-border trains are running.
Thanks for the suggestion!
 

fdaley

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upstate New York
There is also a VIA station at Gananoque that has direct service to Ottawa. It appears to be physically the closest to Oswego and is just beyond where I-81 reaches the border. But only a couple of trains stop at Gananoque, whereas all or nearly all of the Toronto-Ottawa trains stop at Kingston and Brockville. It looks like it would be about a 2 to 2.5-hour drive to any of these -- certainly much shorter than going all the way around the lake to Toronto or going east to Albany first.
 
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mattcub

Train Attendant
Joined
Mar 28, 2010
Messages
18
There is also a VIA station at Gananoque that has direct service to Ottawa. It appears to be physically the closest to Oswego and is just beyond where I-81 reaches the border. But only a couple of trains stop at Gananoque, whereas all or nearly all of the Toronto-Ottawa trains stop at Kingston and Brockville. It looks like it would be about a 2 to 2.5-hour drive to any of these -- certainly much shorter than going all the way around the lake to Toronto or going east to Albany first.
Thanks! I will definitely have to explore these options.
 

chickpea

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Jan 5, 2022
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East Coast
Another option, if you want to use the train part of the way, would be to drive across the border to Kingston or Brockville and then take VIA Rail from there. Pre-pandemic, there were at least five trains a day each way between these two stops and Ottawa; I think there have been two or three each way in recent months. I believe there is paid parking available at both stations. This would allow for a relatively direct overall routing, and it would allow you to cross the border by car, which is my experience is way faster and easier than crossing on Amtrak when the cross-border trains are running.
I came to say this! I have spent 30 years now driving across from Boston or NY to Kingston... (tip: GET NEXUS!)
I would absolutely suggest the drive to Kingston where you can park at the VIA station and train to Ottawa which I have done and was great. Good way to get to Montreal too. :)
 

Seaboard92

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Syracuse to Ottawa isn't a bad drive - should be well under 4 hours even with border delays. Since we relocated to eastern Ontario, Syracuse has become our "go-to" upstate New York shopping destination after years of going to Buffalo. I enjoy driving I-81 (in good weather). There hasn't been a train option on this route for many, many years and flying would require a connection in an inconvenient (and expensive) hub on one side of the border.

In 1952 it wasn't even possible. You could go from Utica or Syracuse to Masena, NY but then you had to get off the train go 10.7 miles to the next station up the line at Helena, NY and get on a winter only train that went into Ottawa. And that was on the New York Central. Now from Utica you could get to Ogdensville (Ogdensburg) and maybe you could get a ferry across the river to the CP/CN lines. But even that wasn't great as the train to Ottawa left on CP at 0700.

As far as now if you were taking the train the only option I know is to take the early morning Empire (that wee hour departure from Niagara Falls) to where you can connect to the Adirondack at Schenectady and go north. Connect to VIA at Montreal. Going back connect to the Lake Shore Limited.
 
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