Aboard ‘The Canadian’: Day One

Daily Summary
Start: Toronto, ON
Last Stop: Capreol, ON
Toronto - Washago: 98 miles
Washago - Parry Sound: 86 miles
Parry Sound - Sudbury Jct: 112 miles
Sudbury Jct - Capreol: 14 miles
Total distance: 310 miles (499 km)
Stops along the way

This morning I went straight to Union Station after a light breakfast to check in for my train journey across Canada with Via Rail. The trip takes four days and nights, and covers 4,466 kilometres.

My room for the next four days

We were scheduled to depart Toronto at 9:45 but were delayed about an hour. The lounge was very busy, and I was told there were about 160 passengers waiting for the same train.

Great views from the glass domed car
Near Washago

The staff was very organized and got us all on the right cars quickly, assisting with luggage and giving us directions to our berths and sleepers.
Mine is a tiny Sleeper for One. By day, it has a long bench seat, a large, full width window, a toilet covered with padding which can be used as seat (more often a footrest), and a small sink in the corner. A large mirror is opposite the bench seat. Above the mirror is a small luggage compartment.

Calm waters near Washago

Behind the bench seat is the foldaway bed, which comes down above the bench and covers the toilet, leaving the sink accessible but requiring I use the shared toilet for the car once the bed is down.

On a bridge over Parry Sound

The car has four Sleeper for One rooms, as well as double sleepers and open seating that converts to upper and lower beds.

The Archipelago in the District of Parry Sound
Beaver lodge in the Archipelago

We got underway shortly after boarding. The spectacular views began very soon after we were outside Toronto. I settled into my room and looked out the large window for awhile before moving to the car with an upper deck with a glass dome roof, allowing passengers to see above and around the train unobstructed.

District of Parry Sound

We passed through very lush vegetation, often marshy or swampy. Ponds, lakes, rivers, and every other type of water body was visible from the train. We also passed through holiday and camp grounds and towns. Once we left Parry Sound, we passed over the eastern border of the Canadian Shield – billion-year-old bedrock covering half of Canada – and began to see more exposed rock amongst all the water and trees.

Byng Inlet
Cantin Lake

We had a few delays through the day due to passing freight trains but it just gave us more time to enjoy the scenery. Shortly after we were rolling, the dining car was open for brunch. I enjoyed scrambled eggs, bacon and hash browns with toast. Everything was cooked like it wasn’t from an ever-shaking mobile kitchen.

Elbow Lake in Sudbury District

I continued to pass most of the day in the dome car. It was a very warm, sunny day but the train is kept cool and the dome car has strong air conditioning, as is probably necessary or we’d all overheat under the glass roof.

Wanapitei River in Greater Sudbury

Much to my delight there was also a Canadian wine tasting event hosted in the dome car, where we learned of the Vintners Quality Alliance (VQA) designation for quality wines produced in Ontario and British Columbia, and got to taste three specimens (two whites, one red).

Solar farm near Capreol

I then returned to the dining car for dinner, where we had a variety of options. I went with clam chowder as the starter and baked cod with rice and steamed vegetables as my main course, followed by red velvet cake for dessert. It was all delicious!

Vermillion River, Ontario

The train continued its journey beyond Capreol, taking us westward as we slept, or tried to sleep, rocking and bumping along through the night.

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