All aboard! Canada’s top train trips

By Michelle Hopkins

There is something fundamentally “old world” about traveling by rail. The pace slows as stunning landscapes roll by. Whether it’s capturing Canada’s wilderness up close and personal, traveling through snow-capped glaciers or spotting salmon spawning, meandering by picturesque towns or stopping off at remote First Nations villages, this list of Canada’s top 10 most iconic train rides has a picture-perfect adventure for everyone. [Photo courtesy of Agawa Canyon Tour Train]

All aboard! Canada’s top train trips

1. First Passage to the West

Rocky Mountaineer's First Passage to the West takes you on a two-day journey from Vancouver to Banff. The ever-changing panorama weaves through canyons, tunnels and coastal rainforests, into semi-arid cattle ranching country. Highlights include the legendary Spiral Tunnels and Craigellachie, where the last spike on the Canadian Pacific Railway was driven.

2. White Pass & Yukon Route Railroad

For history aficionados, White Pass & Yukon Route Railroad’s Carcross route is a breathtaking journey along Lake Bennett where Klondike Gold Rush history meets railway history. There is a 45-minute minute pit stop in which to visit the White Pass museum or to take in a self-guided walking tour of the historic gold rush town-site. [Photo courtesy of White Pass & Yukon Route Railroad. Photo credit: Frank Portner]

2. White Pass & Yukon Route Railroad

3. Polar Bear Express

Ontario Northland’s Polar Bear Express, from Cochrane to Moosonee, is more of a commuter train. However, this classic train ride, which garnered a spot on National Geographic's list of Top 10 Things to do in Northern Ontario, offers riders an opportunity to tour remote First Nations communities, as well as a former Hudson Bay trading post. [Photo courtesy of Polar Bear Express]

3. Polar Bear Express

4. Agawa Canyon Tour Train

In the fall, climb aboard Northern Ontario’s Agawa Canyon Tour Train to be rewarded with sights of vibrantly colourful trees, towering cliffs, sparkling lakes and if lucky, an elusive moose or two. Leaving from Sault Ste. Marie, the train crosses towering trestles past shimmering lakes and the majestic hills of Lake Superior’s north shore, which inspired some of the Group of Seven paintings.

5. Rainforest to Gold Rush

Another Rocky Mountaineer route, rail fans will enjoy Rainforest to Gold Rush, which rambles from Vancouver to Whistler, then on to Quesnel and Jasper. Get your camera ready for snaps of Howe Sound, Porteau Cove, Green Lake (known for it's milky jade-coloured water), Anderson and Seton Lakes, Fraser Canyon, and Mount Robson.

6. Via Rail Ocean

Via Rail’s Ocean is not only the longest running passenger train in our country’s history, it also provides one of the best way to experience a slice of true Canadiana. Taking passengers from Montreal to Halifax, this rail adventure runs along the Gulf of St Lawrence to the Miramichi River, then to Sugarloaf Mountain, an ancient volcano, before going through quaint Acadian communities on Nova Scotia’s eastern coast.

7. Train de Charlevoix

Train de Charlevoix glides through a memorable excursion hugging cliffs and shores beginning just outside Quebec City to the historic coastal towns and villages from Baie-Saint-Paul up to the La Malbaie. Launched by Cirque du Soleil co-founder Daniel Gauthier in 2011, this scenic rail tour recreates the original journey first started by steam engines back in 1889. [Photo courtesy of Train de Charlevoix]

7. Train de Charlevoix

8. Journey Through the Clouds

One more Rocky Mountaineer route for the list (they must be doing something right!), this one is aptly named Journey Through the Clouds because it ambles through the highest peaks of the Canadian Rockies, from Vancouver to Kamloops all the way to Jasper, Alberta. The rail trip offers enthralling backdrops, like Cisco Crossing, Hell's Gate, Pyramid Falls (a 300-foot waterfall), Mount Robson (the highest peak in the Canadian Rockies at 12,972 feet), and Moose Lake.

9. The Canadian

Another epic Via Rail journey is the three-and-a-half day Toronto to Vancouver route onboard the train giant’s flagship The Canadian. This ride wanders by golden prairie fields, rugged lake country, waterfalls, picturesque towns and the snowy peaks of the majestic Rockies. [Photo courtesy of Via Rail]

9. The Canadian

10. Prairie Dog Central Railway

Finally, hop on one of the oldest vintage operating steam trains in North America, the Prairie Dog Central Railway. This 1880s coal fired steam locomotive pulls 1890s passenger cars, while chugging along from Winnipeg through picturesque prairie scenery, ending at Grosse Isle, a small community 18 kilometres northwest of the Inkster Station.

The material on this website is provided for entertainment, informational and educational purposes only and should never act as a substitute to the advice of an applicable professional. Use of this website is subject to our terms of use and privacy policy.
Close menu