Canada’s equivalent to Amtrak runs most of the current passenger services. Contact VIA Rail Canada, Rail Travel Bureau, Central Station, Montreal, Quebec H3C 3N3 (Tel 514 989 2626).
The refurbished Canadian train travels between Toronto and Vancouver, a journey of almost 2,765 miles taking three days and nights. The Skeena travels among British Columbia's mountains and snow-filled valleys, starting from Jasper in Alberta and following a route formerly used by fur trappers and gold prospectors.
VIA’s busiest routes are between Quebec City and Windsor by way of Montreal, Ottawa and Toronto. A new overnight service now operates between Montreal and Toronto, so you can replace a hotel stay with a comfortable bedroom on the train, departing at 11:30 pm. By choosing sleeping car class, you sleep as you travel and with on-board showers you arrive fresh and rested. A single Bedroom costs $195 and economy class (no bed) $95 or less.
The Ocean train travels between Halifax, Nova Scotia, and Montreal via New Brunswick. The Chaleur operates three days a week, following the Ocean’s route before continuing along the beautiful Gaspe peninsula. The Hudson Bay goes north from Winnipeg, crossing a desert of ice and snow to Churchill and polar bear country.
The Rocky Mountaineer
A leisurely two-day journey among the mountains and forests of the Canadian Rockies then on to Calgary makes this one of the world's most spectacular train trips, operated by the Great Canadian Railtour Company Ltd, # 130-1150 Station Street, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada V6A 2X7 (Tel 604 606 7200). For information contact 604 984 3315 (in Canada and USA) or 1 800 665 7245; fax 604 606 7201.
The Algoma Central
Trains operate between Sault St Marie and Hearst in Ontario, travelling on twisting route among forests, lakes, waterfalls and ravines, with terrific views of the Agawa River Canyon. For information or tickets contact the Algoma Central Railway, PO Box SB7000, 289 Bay Street, Sault St Marie 26, Ontario P6A 5P6 (Tel 705 946 7300; fax 705 541 2989).