For the past four days the Canadian Rockies Sleeper Train has been our home. We boarded the west bound vintage stainless steel “Park” train in Toronto on Thursday night at 22:00 after a glorious day out at Niagara Falls. We were travelling on the iconic, shiny, all famous west bound vintage stainless steel “Park” train complete with observation car at the rear of the train operated by Via Rail, Canada.
Onboard The Canadian Rockies Sleeper Train
I love the stainless steel and jade green coloured seats. Above you can see our stainless steel vintage Park train on the tracks under the blue sky and the seating area where you could sit around playing chess, cards and making friends. We were seated in ‘Comfort’ Class (economy) we had reclining seats with ample room to lounge around and stretch out. The trains on a whole are more spacious than European trains so they seemed pretty roomy to us.
We had very limited wifi at one or two of the stops along the journey, on a whole no internet connection, so I would advise to bring a good book. The only slight downside to ‘Comfort’ class was the lack of showering facilities, though the bathroom was large enough to get changed and wash, if you don’t mind slumming it for a couple of days it’s no big deal really. We made full use of the seating area, reading the paper and eating our lunch. There is a dining carriage on board too, we brought a whole bunch of food with us so ate this in the seating area and ate a couple of times at the restaurant dining carriage too to mix things up.
One of the greatest features of the vintage ‘Parks’ train is the observation deck which you can sit in and see some of the greatest views in Canada and across the Rockies. We also spotted some great wildlife on our journey including llama, cows, horses, mountain sheep, thousands of Canadian geese, buffalo, white-tailed dear and a moose(!) Along the journey the train makes several stops where you are able to jump off and stretch your legs, have a walk around and see some of the smaller towns you may not otherwise visit.
Whilst in Jasper we spotted some great vintage Canadian Railways Adverts. The posters were originally displayed all over England and Europe’s major cities in the hope of attracting immigrants to Canada. Describing the rich farm land and the opportunities to be found. The campaign worked as many immigrants came to the West of Canada.
As well as Jasper our journey stops included: Day 1: Board in Toronto- Straight to bed. Day 2: Jumped off at Hornepayne, sat in the sunshine for about 2 hours Day 3: Arrived early into Winnipeg and spent 4hours walking around taking in the sights and sounds Day 4: Early morning stop in Edmonton for 1hour, lunchtime arrive into the stunning Jasper in the heart of the Rockies and have 2:30 hours to breath in the captivating surroundings, 23:00 stop at Kamloops for an hour (in full party mode playing on the station platform with our new-found friends) Day 5: 09:42 arrive into Vancouver.
Travelling for the first couple of days we passed through the Prairie lands, a stark contrast to the mountainous rockies. The prairie lands consist of the provinces of Alberta, Saskatchewan, and Manitoba. We travelled for miles through great plains, flat and vast land with the occasional house, stretch of water and not much else in between. It’s incredible to think of all those crowded cities with people fighting for space and yet there is such an abundance of land untouched in the World.
Occasionally we would slow down to let a freight train pass, these trains are colossal, we counted one to be 162 carriages long with crates stacked two high. Early morning on Day 4 we passed through Edmonton where there was heavy snowfall and icicles lined along the side of the buildings a sign that we were approaching the Rockies. By lunchtime we reached the spectacular Rockies which was a sight to behold. What could beat sitting in the observation deck drinking hot chocolate surrounded by the towering peaks of the Canadian Rockies?
We felt very privileged and would like to thank our wonderful, friendly and considerate team of train staff on our journey. We also made a bunch of new friends from our carriage. We played cards, taught a group of Canadians how to play snap (our favourite card game) drank whiskey (not Me of course!), laughed hysterically, picked up some local knowledge and all sang Gogol Bordello and Leonard Cohen songs with live guitar accompaniment.
There was a very relaxed atmosphere on board with frequent live performances by travelling musicians including a pretty swell ukulele player. I have it on good authority that musicians willing to play twice daily to passengers get a free ride! I’ve also been informed that Coronation Street is extremely popular in Canada, so nobody had any trouble understanding our accents. Our last night on board meant full party mood ensued so we treated ourself to a slap up breakfast in the dining carriage just before puling into Vancouver.
Now where’s my bed?
The Fabulous Times