The Canadian, Canada (1): Fretting miles in Ontario, Manitoba and Saskatchewan

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Sunset on the train, Saskatchewan

02-03.07: Ontario. The quest to sleep

Let my next rail adventure begin! I boarded the Canadian (train) to travel 4,500 kilometers from Toronto to Vancouver. It was a journey that would take 4 nights and 5 days. I had learned my lesson from the Transsiberian and had now planned stops in Edmonton (Alberta, +3 nights), Jasper (Alberta, +0.5 day), Kamloops (British Columbia, +0.5 day) and finally in Vancouver (British Columbia, +1 night).

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Curtosy of fellow traveler Fabian and his drone

Canadian [VIA] trains are great, really! Their ‘Business Class’ is luxurious; with good berths and fabulous food. As ‘writer’, I had been granted access to all areas :). My own ‘cattle class area’ wasn’t too bad either. I loved the ‘dome’, which is the upper deck of a double decker and was made out of glass. The dome provided a spectacular 360 view and made train traveling fun as it also was THE place to meet fellow travelers. I haven’t left a single train without making new travel buddies.

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The Canadian departed in the evening so I soon needed to call upon my inventiveness to find a way to get me through the night. Not so easy. My quick scan clearly indicated that the train lacked the necessary open space for my tiny air mattress. As former Director Intelligence, I know that it far more import to know who is the expert and to assess/synthesise ideas than to actually know everything oneself.

So, I roamed around the wagons around midnight to inspect the available sleeping set-ups. My ‘Linda version’ was a combination of several concepts; I created a level surface in a four-seater-section with my day pack and the foot stools which was just big enough to fit my mattress. I jumped in my sleeping bag, pulled the hood over my head [for darkness], put plugs in my ears… and woke up just before 10 am next morning! Most fellow Economy Class travelers complained about the ‘terrible night’ yet I had slept like a baby. Three cheers for achieving the ‘impossible’!

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It took a full day to cross the province Ontario. Yes, Canada is really vast! The scenery was not too spectacular; hours and hours of dense forest hardly without any settlements. We stopped at a handful of stations that barely deserved the title ‘railway station’. A better description would have been: ‘gravel strip with a tiny house’.

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03-04.07: Manitoba. History lesson

The train stopped in Winnipeg, Manitoba’s capital, to let us explore the city for a few hours. It was 7 in the morning so there was not so much to see as all shops and museums were still closed. I didn’t mind at all because I couldn’t wait to get active after the long confinement on the train. My city map led me along the river banks and let me hike to the [wooden] Fort Gibraltar. This fortress had been the safe haven for French army battalions and fur traders brave enough to travel this far into the Canadian interior. Many fights took place at the fortress because the English found it unbearable irritant to have a French stronghold at arms length.

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04.07: Saskatchewan. The shortest entry ever

The train chook-ed through this province with no stops and nothing interesting to report. I think I made only one picture worthwhile to show and surprisinggly this one actually made ‘front page picture’ for this blog (refer to above; sunset from the train).

Well done, Saskatchewan!

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