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EXPORAIL - a train buffs dream come true!

Updated on February 28, 2012

ExpoRail - Canada's Premier Railroad Museum

Pretending to be lost at the ExpoRail - Photography copyright by Edward Fielding
Pretending to be lost at the ExpoRail - Photography copyright by Edward Fielding | Source

50th Anniversary of Exporail

The Canadian Railway Museum

I've traveling around the past few summers visiting every train and trolley museum there is in the northeast and this time I hit the jackpot. Exporail, the Canadian Railway Museum is the premier location for train buffs for the following reasons:

  1. It's top notch - Beautiful modern buildings and facilities including under roof storage, gift shop, cafe, movie theater and even three train stations. A nice investment by the Canada government for the enjoyment of all!
  2. It's huge! Trains are huge especially when you get up and close to them but this place is even huger. 150 locomotives and railway vehicles plus exhibits.
  3. Its expansive - The museum visit includes a street car ride, a miniature train ride, passenger train rides, a movie, a model railroad layout and even a turntable demonstration if you time your visit right.

The museum packs enough things to see and do to keep anyone occupied for at least half a day. I would have stayed longer but we were exhausted by all the walking.

Go up, under, in and through!

What really stands out about this museum is the access to the trains on display. Trains are huge and difficult to see but at this museum you have access to elevated walkways, tunnels that go under trains and look underneath and even a second floor view so you can look down at the trains. Several of the trains are open so you can even walk into the cab of a steam train or walk through the submarine like belly of a tender.

Plus there are working street cars and passenger trains to ride so you can really experience the trains. Little kids (and adults too!) will enjoy riding on the miniature train ride that is included admission price.

There is also a stunning movie of outtakes from an Imax film underdevelopment that takes you on a journey through the Rocky Mountains following a classic steam train. The film is shot via helicopter and the scenery is so beautiful you might start crying.

Great for Kids

Although young and old alike will love this museum (well maybe not the sullen, jaded teenager) but little kids especially seem to like the enormous trains as well as the train rides and the model train exhibit. The model train layout has its own especially designed room and even has a Thomas the Train layout under the main layout so the little kids can crawl around and see it. There is also a unique Z scale layout that comprises of three traveling suitcases.

Facilities

The museum has a small cafe with pre-made sandwiches, hot dogs and drinks. Its limited but there are plenty of picnic tables available and the parking lot is not far away so many visitors especially those with small children choose to bring a picnic.

There are modern, clean restrooms and some air conditioned exhibits if you need to escape the hot summer sun. Train exhibits are spread out among the main building and several out buildings including three different train stations (one is a stop on the passenger train).

I didn't make it to the gift shop but my twelve year old son said it was terrible which means it had a bunch of stuff aimed at very little kids. I'm sure they have some books and materials about the Canadian Railway system but I can't confirm it.

Photography Advice

As a photographer and train buff, I have a few tips for you. First be prepared for low light conditions. I brought along my tripod and was glad I did as the lighting in the buildings is low. Also bring the widest lens you have. Unfortunately I only had a 40 mm lens but you really will want a very wide lens to capture some of these huge locomotives.

Getting There

ExpoRail is located outside of Montreal at:

110 Rue Saint Pierre
Saint-Constant, QC J5A 1B6, Canada

(450) 632-2410

Our GPS unit had no trouble finding it as we traveled up from the Burlington, Vermont area. It was under two hours from Burlington.

Ride Schedule (summer season)

Here is the ride schedule at least when I visited (everyone takes a one hour lunch break):

  • Streetcar - Monday - Sunday 11:00 - 12:00 and from 13:00 to 17:00
  • Mini railway Monday - Sunday 11:00 - 12:00 and from 13:00 to 17:00
  • Passenger Train: Sundays from 13:00 to 17:00


The Model Railroad at ExpoRail

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