Overland Traveller



Canada by train: mountains, lakes, clouds and bears

The Canadian passing through the Rocky Mountains © VIA Rail

Canada is immense. The second largest country in the world, Canada spans six time zones and is nearly 70 times bigger than England. In short, travelling across this enormous, sparsely populated country is daunting.

Thank the gods of luxury travel then, for VIA Rail. In this nation where drive-through ATMs are de rigour and the car is king, VIA Rail exists almost solely to ferry tourists across Canada’s vast and varied land in the comfort and style that only rail travel can offer.

The Canadian
It takes nearly four days to travel across Canada on The Canadian, the train that is the crowning glory of VIA Rail’s impressive rail system. It links two of Canada’s most vibrant cities: Vancouver on the west coast and, 4,456km to the east, Toronto. Bear in mind you’ve still got a long way to go if you’re planning to cross the whole country, to Halifax, the easternmost station on VIA Rail’s network.

I travelled the 2,523km from Vancouver to Winnipeg, in the heart of Canada, on The Canadian. The journey takes 45 hours so I decided to break it up with an easy overnight stay in Jasper. Once on board it became clear that my pre-emptive strike against cabin fever was entirely unnecessary. The train itself was a delight; a shiny, stainless steel bullet of retro beauty. The interior could do with some modernisation (some parts looked as though they hadn’t been upgraded since the ‘70s) but everything was impeccably clean and well serviced.

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Overland Traveller copyright © Emma Field 2010