A Guide to Rail Tours in Canada

A train journey across Canada offers breathtaking scenery and appears on many people’s bucket lists. It’s an excellent way to see the country, whether you choose to travel from coast to coast or whether you just take in one region. Travelling overland across Canada’s vast landscape you will come across emerald green forests, crystal clear lakes, snow-capped mountains, vast wilderness areas and cosmopolitan cities. If you’re planning any rail tours to discover Canada, here are some tips to get you started.

Train Operators

VIA Rail Canada is the operator running long-distance trains across Canada. VIA Rail trains will take you between Canada’s major cities, and even all the way across Canada on the between Toronto and Vancouver. The other very popular train company is the more luxurious Rocky Mountaineer, which takes you through the Rocky Mountains from Vancouver via Kamloops & Jasper. Travelling through this area of rugged natural beauty, you will go past mountain ranges, glacier-fed lakes and rivers.

The Routes

On VIA Rail’s inter city trains you can travel between the major cities of Toronto, Ottawa and Montreal, plus there is a service which links Montreal and Quebec. ‘The Canadian’ takes four nights to complete, traveling all the way across Canada from Toronto to Winnipeg, Edmonton, Jasper and Vancouver. ‘The Ocean’ is also a spectacular route along the St. Lawrence River between Montreal and Halifax. There are also plenty of day trips: you can travel between Victoria and Courtenay on Vancouver Island, do the ‘Whistler Sea to Sky climb’ with Rocky Mountaineer between North Vancouver and Whistler, or take the train between Toronto and Niagara Falls. Rocky Mountaineer offers three rail routes through the Canadian Rocky Mountains so you can observe the magnificent snow-capped mountain peaks from the comfort of a luxurious train.

Rocky Mountaineer

Accommodation on trains

If you choose to take ‘The Canadian’ with VIA Rail, considered one of the world’s best train journeys, you’ll be travelling in an original 1955 stainless steel coach. You can either choose to sit in a reclining seat in Economy Class, or travel in a private sleeping car with meals included in ‘Sleeper Touring Class’.Sleeper Class VIA Canada

The Rocky Mountaineer has three classes of service: RedLeaf, SilverLeaf and GoldLeaf. The RedLeaf coach has large picture windows and you can sit back in a roomy, reclining chair. You receive complimentary soft drinks and snacks, as well as chilled meals served to your seat. The SilverLeaf coach is a single-level glass domed coach with large windows. You get roomy, reclining seats, breakfast and lunch served to your seat, plus complimentary soft drinks and snacks. GoldLeaf is the most luxurious coach; a two-level, glass domed coach with full-length windows and exclusive dining room, gourmet hot meals and complimentary beverages and snacks.

Rail Passes

If you’re backpacking Canada on a budget, then you can save money on train journeys by getting a rail pass with VIA Rail. The Canarailpass-System is best if you are travelling coast to coast, and is valid for 7 one-way trips in Economy Class within a 21-day period. There is also the Canarailpass-Corridor, which is suitable if you are exploring southern Ontario and Southern Quebec. This pass is valid for 7 one-way trips in Economy Class within a 10-day period. Traveling by train all the way across Canada can sometimes be expensive, but you can cut down on the cost by focusing on one region or looking out for special deals with VIA Rail or Rocky Mountaineer.

Thanks to Iain Miller for today’s guest post.  If you are interested in guest posting with IShouldLogOff, email us at info [at] ishouldlogoff.com. Thanks!

Pictures courtesy of freewallpapers.com, titanhitours.co.uk and,VIA Rail Canada.

A Rich Mix in British Columbia

Thanks to Bradley Fink for today’s guest post.  If you are interested in guest posting at IShouldLogOff send us an email at info [at] ishouldlogoff.com.  Thanks!

British Columbia’s claim to fame is its overwhelming natural beauty. The region teems with stunning vistas, seascapes and mountain views. However, a venture into B.C. holds more than a glamorous photo opportunity. B.C. is home to indigenous tribes, and a rich mix of colourful cultures.

DSCF0008Historically, B.C.’s major influences include Native Americans, British colonials, and Asian immigrants. The earliest of these groups to live in B.C. were the First Nation people, who fished and lived off the land for nearly ten thousand years. After centuries of conflict with invading Europeans, the First Nations were granted the reservations that most live on today. Now, their traditional craftsmanship is a boon to industry, and can be seen on totem poles, and in art galleries and villages throughout British Columbia.

In the 18th and 19th centuries, British traders established permanent outposts on B.C.’s coast, and a number of unorganized districts became known as British North America. In 1849 the British created the colony of Vancouver Island, and Victoria was named its capital. Today, Victoria is known for its waterfronts and its relaxed, European atmosphere, as well as world-class gardens that draw visitors every spring.
When Asian economies began to rise in the middle of the 20th century, millions of Asians made their way to the shores of British Columbia. Nowadays, Vancouver is home to millions of Japanese, Chinese, and Southeast Asians. This makes Vancouver a top spot for creative Asian cuisine. Apart from traditional dishes, you will find wild fusions, and delectable specialties fresh from the Pacific Ocean.DSCF0010

City folk will find plenty to do on their visit to British Columbia. Have sushi in Vancouver, explore Stanley Park, and take in the city’s Gastown District. Then ferry over to Victoria for a walk in Butchart Gardens. For a true experience of Vancouver Island, make the five-hour trip north to Tofino, where you will take in the Pacific scenery that makes this region so unique.

Much of British Columbia offers a variety of seasonal activities. Depending on the time of year, you can enjoy winter sports, fishing, surfing, sailing, whale watching and storm watching. If you are interested in British Columbia golf, the best time to visit is from late spring to summer, when the weather is in the clear. No matter what your budget, you can find accommodation in British Columbia within your price range.

Bradley Fink is a travel writer and enthusiast.