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Almost Free Train Travel Across Canada

Updated on August 4, 2014

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
The Dining Car

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.

Capreol Station
Capreol Station

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 Ontario

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The Manatoba Legislature Building in Winnipeg
The Manatoba Legislature Building in Winnipeg

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 Winnipeg

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A shopping area near the Via Rail station in Winnipeg, Manitoba.Flood stage on the Assinaboine RiverA rock carving/sculpture at The Forks.Near the convergence of the Red River and the Assinaboine River is a natural shallow amphitheatre known as the Oodena Celebration Circle.One of the naked eye observatories at the Oodena Celebration Circle.The Historic Rail Bridge at The Forks.
A shopping area near the Via Rail station in Winnipeg, Manitoba.
A shopping area near the Via Rail station in Winnipeg, Manitoba.
Flood stage on the Assinaboine River
Flood stage on the Assinaboine River
A rock carving/sculpture at The Forks.
A rock carving/sculpture at The Forks.
Near the convergence of the Red River and the Assinaboine River is a natural shallow amphitheatre known as the Oodena Celebration Circle.
Near the convergence of the Red River and the Assinaboine River is a natural shallow amphitheatre known as the Oodena Celebration Circle.
One of the naked eye observatories at the Oodena Celebration Circle.
One of the naked eye observatories at the Oodena Celebration Circle.
The Historic Rail Bridge at The Forks.
The Historic Rail Bridge at The Forks.

Find Out More About Winnipeg, Manitoba

This module provides a link to the official Winnipeg website.

The Prairies - Flat and Wet

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Via Rail At Jasper Train Station
Via Rail At Jasper Train Station

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 Mountains

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The Jasper, Alberta train station.Just outside the Jasper, Alberta train station.Rocky Mountains, Alberta, CanadaRocky Mountains, Alberta, CanadaRocky Mountains, Alberta, CanadaRocky Mountains, Alberta, CanadaRocky Mountains, Alberta, CanadaRocky Mountains, Alberta, CanadaRocky Mountains, Alberta, Canada
The Jasper, Alberta train station.
The Jasper, Alberta train station.
Just outside the Jasper, Alberta train station.
Just outside the Jasper, Alberta train station.
Rocky Mountains, Alberta, Canada
Rocky Mountains, Alberta, Canada
Rocky Mountains, Alberta, Canada
Rocky Mountains, Alberta, Canada
Rocky Mountains, Alberta, Canada
Rocky Mountains, Alberta, Canada
Rocky Mountains, Alberta, Canada
Rocky Mountains, Alberta, Canada
Rocky Mountains, Alberta, Canada
Rocky Mountains, Alberta, Canada
Rocky Mountains, Alberta, Canada
Rocky Mountains, Alberta, Canada
Rocky Mountains, Alberta, Canada
Rocky Mountains, Alberta, Canada

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.

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

Remember

By becoming a Via Preference Member with Via Rail you can save 70% or more on your ticket price!

Vintage Travel Poster - Railroad Florence Italy 24 X 18
Vintage Travel Poster - Railroad Florence Italy 24 X 18

A 24 inch x 18 inch reproduction of an 1890 photo.

Printed on high quality semi-gloss paper with a satin finish.

Includes a 0.5 inch (1.3cm) white border on all sides to allow for matting and framing.

All images have been professionally restored to replicate the authenticity of the original image.

 
Vintage Travel Poster - Mount Vesuvius road and railroad Naples Italy 24 X 18.5
Vintage Travel Poster - Mount Vesuvius road and railroad Naples Italy 24 X 18.5

A 24 inch x 18.5 inch reproduction of an 1890 photo.

Printed on high quality semi-gloss paper with a satin finish.

Includes a 0.5 inch (1.3cm) white border on all sides to allow for matting and framing.

All images have been professionally restored to replicate the authenticity of the original image.

 
Canada By Train: The Complete Via Rail Travel Guide
Canada By Train: The Complete Via Rail Travel Guide

Canada by Train is the complete guidebook to train travel with VIA Rail. Full of useful facts and vivid photographs, this guide provides current, comprehensive details on train services and safety measures. The guide features over 500 full-color illustrations and photographs; updated information on schedules, fares and pass options; mile-by-mile route guides; practical suggestions on traveling light, settling in sleepers and coaches; and much more.

 
Rails Across Canada: The History of Canadian Pacific and Canadian National Railways
Rails Across Canada: The History of Canadian Pacific and Canadian National Railways

This book is about the construction, evolution, and astounding successes of the Canadian Pacific and Canadian National railways. This sprawling volume combines two of Voyageur Press' most successful Railroad Color History titles into one volume taking in the grand scope of both railroads. Author Tom Murray presents fastidiously researched and concisely presented histories of each railroad, along with more than 300 photographs.

 
Trans-Canada Rail Guide, 3rd: Includes City Guides to Halifax, Quebec City, Montreal, Toronto, Winnipeg, Edmonton, Calgary & Vancouver
Trans-Canada Rail Guide, 3rd: Includes City Guides to Halifax, Quebec City, Montreal, Toronto, Winnipeg, Edmonton, Calgary & Vancouver

This comprehensive guidebook gives information for all budgets, from the cheapest rail tickets with shoestring accommodations in the cities along the route to the most luxurious guided tours.

 
VIA Rail (MBI Railroad Color History)
VIA Rail (MBI Railroad Color History)

Here is Canada’s national railway, covering 14,000 kilometers of track from the Atlantic to the Pacific, and from the Great Lakes to Hudson Bay. This illustrated history tells the story of how, starting in the early 1970s, VIA Rail became a separate Crown corporation, once and for all relieving the old Canadian National and Canadian Pacific railways of their beleaguered passenger operations. It is a story rich in history—and marked with failures and misfortunes right up to our day, when a need for convenient, fuel-efficient mass transportation holds out hope for a renaissance.

 

My Zazzle Stores

Visit my two Zazzle stores for photographs and artistic media

I'd like to know if you have been on The Canadian and your experience.

Visitor Comments - Let Me Know What You Think Of "The Canadian" Trip

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    • crbphotography profile image
      Author

      crbphotography 4 years ago

      @askformore lm: Thanks you for your comment. You must place the train trip on your bucket list.

    • askformore lm profile image

      askformore lm 4 years ago

      Thank you for this great 'Travel Lens'

    • Phillyfreeze profile image

      Ronald Tucker 4 years ago from Louisville, Kentucky

      VIA Rail reminds me of some of the challenges that our Amtrak Rail company faces in providing competitive priced transportation for passengers across the USA. I would love to take the 4 day trip across Canada...beautiful photos adds splendid visuals for the transatlantic trip.

    • crbphotography profile image
      Author

      crbphotography 5 years ago

      Hi WindyWinters. After taking the train through the Rockies and flying over them many times, I can't imagine driving over the mountains. However, to be able to stop at any overlook and take pictures would be awesome.

    • WindyWintersHubs profile image

      WindyWintersHubs 5 years ago from Vancouver Island, BC

      I have travelled across Canada twice by car but your trip by train sound awesome!