Almost Free Train Travel Across Canada
How To Travel Across Canada On Via Rail For 28% Of Full Price Or Less
We recently completed a life-long dream by travelling on "The Canadian" from Toronto to Vancouver. The trip was luxurious, comfortable, and fun. The three and one-half day trip had several short stops along the way. We slept in a sleeper car equipped with bunk beds, that doubled as a couch during the day, and a washroom. A shower was just down the hall. The sleeper cabin and shower were impeccably clean. All meals were included in the ticket price and we purchased the tickets at 28% of full fare!
This lens will tell you about The Canadian accommodations, the three and one-half day experience, and how you can reduce the cost of the trip by up to 75% off of full fare!
The Dining Car
With Sleeper Plus Class, All Meals Are Included
With the Sleeper Class Plus, meals are served on linen table cloths with silverware and crystal glasses. You usually have three or four entrees to choose from. Breakfast was served between 6:00 am and 9:30 am each day. Choices for a typical breakfast could be two eggs prepared any style with hash browns and choice of bacon, ham or breakfast sausage; a Chef's Omelette; Cinnamon French Toast; or a Continental Breakfast.
Lunch was served between 11:30 am and 2:30 pm. Lunch might offer a soup of the day and salad with a choice of an Angus Burger, Barbecue Shrimp Wrap, or a Roasted Turkey and Provolone Sandwich.
Dinner was served in shifts starting at 5:30 pm and ending at 10:00 pm. Dinner might offer an Atlantic fish chowder, tossed salad and choice of prime rib of beef, Pickerel with remoulade, honey Rosemary glazed chicken supreme, or vegetarian chili. The entrees are accompanied by a choice of vegetables. All meals were delicious and the service was both friendly and attentive.
Dome Top Cars for Sightseeing
During the day, most of the passengers relaxed in the dome top cars or in the lounge cars. The dome top cars had comfortable seating and excellent views of the passing sights. There was plenty of room to recline your seat and doze if you felt like it.
Baggage Allowance and Restrictions
Each passenger is limited to two carry on bags with a maximum size of 66 cm x 46 cm x 23 cm (26 inches x 18 inches x 9 inches) and weight of no more than 22.7 kg (50 lbs).
For the Toronto to Vancouver trip we were allowed three checked bags each for free and up to 6 bags with an extra charge. The maximum weight for each bag was 32 kg (70 lbs). Baggage had to be checked one hour before departure.
The First Full Day
It took 24 hours to leave Ontario behind.
We left Union Station in Toronto, Ontario at 10:00 pm. When we awoke in the morning for breakfast we were passing through the small settlement of Capreol. This area of Ontario is very rugged with exposed bedrock from the Canadian Shield. We had a 40 minute stop in Hornepayne, Ontario at about 2:40 pm that afternoon. Hornepayne started as a railway town but the major industry today is wood. We could see piles of logs and pulp and plywood plants that bordered the railway tracks.
We stopped for 30 minutes at Sioux Lookout, Ontario at 11:40 pm on our first full day of travel. Sioux Lookout is located on the English River/Lac Seul waterways. It, too, is a centre for the pulp industry, but is very popular with sport fisherman and outdoor enthusiasts. Alas, we were already in our bunks by that time of night.
Northern OntarioClick thumbnail to view full-size
The Second Full Day
The Prairies of Central Canada
During our second full day of travel, we began to see the prairies of Central Canada. There had been heavy rainfall that year, which resulted in much flooding. The flooded land provided a visual sense of the topographic relief so we did not find the prairies boring to look at hour after hour. We stopped in Winnipeg, Manitoba's capital, for 4 hours and 45 minutes. We took the opportunity to have a guided 2 hour tour of the City. The tour included the Manitoba Legislature Building, The Forks, a downtown area near the confluence of the Red River and the Assiniboine River with a park, restaurants, shopping and live entertainment. (Both rivers were reaching peak flood stage during our visit.)
We reached Saskatoon, Saskatchewan at 10:00 pm on our second full day and stopped for 25 minutes. Saskatoon is a leader in high technology and mining industries. We were only able to catch a glimpse of the City's lights during the stop.
Downtown WinnipegClick thumbnail to view full-size
Find Out More About Winnipeg, Manitoba
This module provides a link to the official Winnipeg website.
- City of Winnipeg, Manitoba
Official City of Winnipeg website.
The Prairies - Flat and WetClick thumbnail to view full-size
The Third Full Day
Finally, the Rocky Mountains
The morning of our third day we had a brief stop in Edmonton, Alberta and reached Jasper, Alberta at 1:00 pm for a 1 hour and 45 minute stop over. By this time we were getting into the Rocky Mountains and the scenery was breath taking. Via Rail added another dome car to the train at this point so all passengers could enjoy the view of the Rocky Mountains. Our afternoon was spent with jaws open and camera in-hand.
Jasper And The Rocky MountainsClick thumbnail to view full-size
Find Out More About Jasper Alberta
- Jasper, Alberta
Official site of Jasper, Alberta tourism.
The Fourth Day
Alas, things must come to an end.
The morning of our fourth day we arrived in Vancouver, British Columbia at 9:40 am.
Find Out More About Vancouver, British Columbia
- City of Vancouver, British Columbia.
This is the official site of the City of Vancouver, in beautiful British Columbia.
How To Purchase Your Ticket And Get Savings
The Key To Reducing Your Ticket Price!
There are many options to choose from when you purchase a ticket. Economy Class provides you with a comfortable reclining seat for the trip and meals are extra. The Sleeper Class Plus tickets have two types: 1) There are upper and lower berths, which are basically bunk beds along the train car with curtains for privacy. 2) The Sleeper Class Plus Cabin ticket includes a cabin for 2, 3, or 4 persons with a bathroom and beds in the cabin. The shower is either in your cabin or just down the hall. Both Sleeper Classes include all meals served in the Dining Car. The Sleeper Class Plus also includes coffee, tea, and fruit juice and fruit and muffins served in an area of the Dining Car. Alcohol beverages are not included in the ticket price.
For the Sleeper Class Plus ticket, there are price breaks for Seniors 60 years or older if you purchase the full price ticket. For example, the June 2012 full price ticket for adults and seniors is $2,324.41 and $2,091.63, respectively (including Harmonized Sales Tax, or HST) for the cabin for two. The discounted fare is the same price regardless of age. The discounted ticket fare for the Sleeper Class Plus Cabin for two in June 2012 is $1,626.20 including HST.
BUT, you should check out the Via Rail deals. There you may find the ticket price reduced by about 70% from the full fare. You have to become a Via Preference member first. It's easy. Use the link below. Once you are a member, log in and look for "Express Deals". There will be deals listed for many destinations across Canada. Look for Toronto to Vancouver deals. The deals change from week to week, and have specific departure dates, so check them often. For example, past deals have been a Cabin for 1 with all meals for $514.25; a Sleeper Plus Upper Berth for $341.00; and a Berth for 2 for $371.15.
Via Rail's Via Preference Membership
Become a Via Preference Member and get great Express Deals
- Via Preference Home Page
This link will take you to Via Rail's web site so you can sign up for membership in the Via Preference program.
- Via Express Deals
This link will take you to the current list of Express Deals for Via Preference members.
By becoming a Via Preference Member with Via Rail you can save 70% or more on your ticket price!
Railroad Travel Memorabilia
My Zazzle Stores
Visit my two Zazzle stores for photographs and artistic media
- My CRB Photography Zazzle Store
This store has framed and unframed photographs and artistic media as prints or on wrapped canvas. It also has photographs and art work on t-shirts and aprons.
- My Lakeshore Studio Zazzle Store
This store has merchandise with unique photographs of bowels of alphabet soup with messages spelled out in noodles. Included are t-shirts, magnets, mugs, aprons, and pins.
I'd like to know if you have been on The Canadian and your experience.