All Aboard! The Best Way to see Canada’s Vast Landscape is by Train, the Luxury Way!
See Canada the luxury way! Travel East to West, Toronto to Banff (VIA Rail Canada), and Banff to Vancouver (The Rocky Mountaineer). Enjoy Canada’s vast and diverse beauty: breathtaking views, exhilarating activities, and indulgent pampering.
The luxury train adventure in Toronto begins with two nights at the aptly named Fairmont Royal York, the favorite lodging of Queen Elizabeth. The next morning, you’ll awaken to a full day of Toronto sightseeing. Aboard the Hornblower at Niagara Falls, the Captain steers close for an exhilarating drenching of the passengers. In the afternoon, browse the quaint streets of Niagrara-on-the-Lake, stopping for ice cream or a refreshing drink. At night, enjoy magnificent views at dinner high above Toronto at 360 Restaurant, rotating atop the CN Tower.
Canada the Luxury Way!
After two nights at the Fairmont Royal York, Eddie and I checked in at Union Station, just across the street. We immediately felt the luxury of the Prestige Class travel when we stepped aboard the train. Our attendant pointed out the complimentary bottle of champagne as we settled into the L-shaped leather couch in the privacy of our sleeper cabin. The room had a lovely private washroom, shower, and flat-screen TV. After a gourmet lunch in the Dining Car, we ventured out to mingle with other guests in the Park Car Lounge. Later, after an exquisite dinner and a stop at the bar for drinks and snacks, we settled into our reserved seating at the front of the Dome Car to watch the setting sun.
Ontario – Manitoba – Saskatchewan (five nights and four days of Canada the Luxury Way with VIA Rail Canada Prestige Class
Blue sky and puffy white clouds reflected in Ontario’s many lakes create a serene landscape. Then, rugged rock formations begin to rise from the Earth. These are part of the Canadian Shield, ancient rock dating from the Earth’s beginning 4.6 billion years ago. Along the upper rim of Lake Superior into Manitoba and Saskatchewan, land water, rock, and pristine forests give way to arcadian farms in the ever-changing landscape.
Canada’s breathtaking landscape is a sanctuary for a diverse range of wildlife, from black bears, elk, deer, caribou, timber wolves, and moose. Occasionally, we were blessed with fleeting glimpses of these magnificent creatures, reminding us of the wonder and beauty of the natural world.
Guests of VIA Rail Canada, Prestige Class anticipate calls for breakfast, lunch, and dinner! The Dining Car is a beautiful, spacious setting with oversized windows, white tablecloths, and exquisite service. Choose from three locally inspired menu options and a wide selection of beverages. In between meals, enjoy more wholesome snacks and beverages!
Conspiring with lounge attendant Francisca, Eddie and I captured photographs of popular beverage selections, including wine and Canadian-born actor Dan Akroyd’s special drink, top-shelf Crystal Head Vodka. If you’re a wine or spirit lover, see Canada the luxury way with VIA Rail Canada!
Jasper is a great little Rocky Mountain town surrounded by the Jasper National Park. Eddie and I opted to stay at The Crimson Jasper (Via Rail Canada, Comfort Level.) With two nights downtown, we had plenty of time to enjoy the area. Guide Kirsten Schmitten, All Things Wild, led us on a walk through the enchanting hills of Jasper National Park starting at sunrise.
I held my breath as Kirsten periodically yelled out loudly to avoid surprising a bear. We’d seen grizzly bears close up at a stop the day before.
One of the most beautiful roads in the world lured people along its path long before it became the Icefields Parkway. Traveling the spine of the Rockies, I started reading a well-known historical novel set in the area.
“At a quarter past three in the afternoon, on August 17, 1898, Doctor Edward Byrne slipped on the ice of Acturus glacier in the Canadian Rockies and slid into a crevasse…Nearly sixty feet below the surface, Byrne is wedged upside down between the narrowing walls of a chasm, fighting his desire to sleep.” ~ Thomas Wharton Icefields
One hundred and twenty-four years later, with VIA Rail Canada Prestige Class, guests get a thrilling ride to Athabasca Glacier on the Ice Explorer, a bus with monster tires, and dare step onto the ice field. As guides pointed to crevasses along the way, I could only think of Doctor Byrne.
After a chilling experience walking on the ice, we got a panoramic view of Athabasca Glacier from the Columbia Icefield Skywalk.
Lake Louise Fairmont Château (1890) surpasses the beauty of a “1,000-word painted picture” (Arthur Brisbane.) There is much to do at Lake Louise—rock climbing, hiking, canoeing, and skiing, a way for everyone to absorb the essence of the beauty. Eddie and I paddled leisurely on the lake during the day and seated ourselves at the Gatsby-like windows of Lakeview Lounge morning and evening.
Time for inner reflection—to consider your good fortune to enjoy the incredible views—an emerald green lake surrounded by majestic mountain peaks and glaciers hanging in between. Canada the luxury way!
Banff – end of the journey on VIA Rail Canada
Overnight, the train entered the Alberta region of Canada, and we spent two nights in Banff. Staying downtown at the Elk + Avenue Hotel (VIA Rail Canada Comfort Level), Eddie and I set our sights on enjoying great food. We got no further than Toolooloo’s white-checkered tablecloths, “Louisana Acadiana Canadiana.” “Breakfast Poutine-Eh?” ~ Menu at Toolooloo’s. We ordered traditional grits and eggs and sat at our favorite spot by the window both mornings. After breakfast, we headed to Banff National Park with Marc at Rocky Mountain Photo Adventures.
We captured the magnificent Mount Rundle at sunrise with perfect timing and watched it transform a few minutes later.
Later in the afternoon, we cruised Lake Minnewanka, set in the majestic mountains of Banff National Park. With our faces set against a crisp breeze, we looked for wildlife at the shore’s edge as our host told the story. People hunted and camped around Lake Minnewanka for hundreds of years. Stony Nakota First Nations people called it Minn-waki or “Lake of the Spirits.” Early Europeans called it “Devil’s Lake.” Artifacts show that the area was inhabited as long as 14,000 years ago. Today, thousands of people visit Lake Minnewanka each year. It’s a beautiful place to explore by land or water. But the best time is in the quiet of the night when you can hear the howling of the wolves.
With its stunning scenery and abundant lakes, Banff National Park offers endless opportunities for both relaxation and adventure.
Alberta – British Columbia – two days of Canada the Luxury Way aboard The Rocky Mountaineer, GoldLeaf Service
Red carpet welcome—GoldLeaf is the height of seeing Canada the luxury way aboard the daylight-service train Rocky Mountaineer. Our tummies grumbled as the aroma of breakfast wafted through the bi-level GoldLeaf Service Coach. After finding our pre-assigned seating on the glass-domed upper level, we head below for breakfast. The setting was beautiful, and the food was incredible. The Chef aboard the Rocky Mountaineer prepares several gourmet options for breakfast and lunch, complimented with beverages of your choice.
As you journey through the Prairie Provinces of Alberta and British Columbia, the rugged landscape turns to rolling plains: picturesque farming towns and fields of gold and green stretching to the horizon.
“Five Star Comfort meets Five Star Sights” ~ The Rocky Mountaineer.
The Rocky Mountaineer GoldLeaf Service hosts spare nothing for your comfort and pleasurable experience. They are seasoned entertainers, storytellers, and inspirational in their worldly views. As we sipped wine and nibbled cheese, Brando and Trianna shared the history of the passages, pointing out the highlights such as the Spiral Tunnels, the Kicking Horse Canyon, Rogers Pass, and Craigekkachie.
After a night in Kamloops, we headed for the coastal city of Vancouver and another day of luxury sightseeing. Arid, bare terrain turned from desert-like to riveting canyons, watersheds, unspoiled forests, and cascading mountains. Our Hosts pointed out rock sheds along the Thompson River and the rushing water of Hell’s Gate in the Frazier Canyon and called our attention to wildlife.
Soaring between the snow-capped peaks of the Continental Divide and on to Vancouver, the exhilarating journey ends.
Eddie and I traveled 2,882 miles across Canada from Toronto to Vancouver. With flexible options, we took lower-level accommodations at a few stops. It was a personal choice that coincided with alternate activities at these locations, but doing it this way also saved a few dollars. We opted for the most luxurious accommodations and service on the train – VIA Rail Canada Prestige Class and Rocky Mountaineer GoldLeaf Service. They should come with a warning label:
You’ll be forever spoiled!
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