On The Canadian, Edmonton to Vancouver


Our family business in Edmonton having been accomplished, after a months’ work, we’re ready to move on, southward. The weather has been incredible, from an unseasonably warm 15 C when we arrived to a chilly -25 C today (with wind chill that’s in the neighborhood of -40 C). I took an hours walk on our last night here, just to say I did. Packing done, apartment-cleaning done, our next voyage is one sleep away…

This morning, at 06:30, we’re arrive at the VIA Rial Edmonton station, awaiting the imminent arrival of Train #1 — The Canadian — for a 26-hour trip to Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.

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As soon as we approach the counter we’re told the train is a few hours late because of a broken rail in Manitoba; ETA 09:35. A while later we’re told that the train has been running at half-speed because the air temperature has dropped to below -25 C; ETA 11:35. The next update: it’s been sitting on a siding in Wainwright for 3 1/2 hours, waiting for a CN freight train to pass on by; ETA 12:35. At 13:15 the station crew announce the train is fifteen minutes out, and we ought to get ready. A cheer goes up.

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The train arrives, the staff graciously help us aboard, and we’re off into the great white. The snow stopped a bit ago, but everything is bright white, dusted with promise. We find seats in our economy-class car, leave our bags, and explore. Our first stop is the dome car, which hints to be very worthwhile as we go through the Rockies.

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From the public address system we hear last call for brunch, so our very next stop is the dining car, where we’re placed next to Nancy and David, train-loving traveling attorneys from Nova Scotia with many good stories. (I like this style of seating as it guarantees interesting conversations with friends you’ve not yet met.)

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Brunch for us is lobster-filled ravioli and duck confit eggs Benedict, both of which are fabulous. The dining room staff are gracious and the mealtime flies by far too quickly.

We come to a stunning view of a railroad trestle bridge, and as I fumble with my iPhone camera to get a panorama going the right side of the ravine comes up, making this strange scene:

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Carmella figures out that Google Maps works from GPS, and so here’s our location, just outside of Medicine Hat. I don’t know why the direction arrow is pointing the wrong way.

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Finally the last few days of pre-trip catch up to Carmella, and a cat-nap happens:

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The Canadian sports two dome cars. This is the view from ours; the upper-class car is the rear-most part of our train. We gather here just before we traverse a tunnel and Service Manager Janet Fletcher’s voice comes over the PA: “Welcome to Jasper National Park”.

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Apologies to those who don’t have an interest in mountain scenery, a few panoramas follow before we hit our next urban oasis.

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Janet giving an impromptu chat in the observation dome as an oncoming train sneaks up behind her.

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Heading west, into the setting sun.

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The art-deco style of the observation car makes me very, very happy.

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The train slows, as we approach another town, and all of a sudden we see bighorn sheep!

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Yes, we’ve arrived in the town of Jasper, Alberta, Canada. As the sign says, it’s another 534.9 miles to Vancouver, and 2408.8 miles from Montreal. (The rails stayed with imperial measure when Canada switched to metric, says Janet.)

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Quick photo in Jasper. It’s not warm outside 🙂

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The town of Jasper, at sunset, from the main street, with our train waiting for us.

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Because the train is so late we continue through the mountains in the dark; eh, next time 🙂 But it gives us a chance to get some writing done in the office.

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Good night!

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