Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 10/7/2015 (654 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
If you like trains, what better way to track the history of one of Canada’s oldest railroads than through the windows of a coach as it rolls across the prairie?
Rail Travel Tours, a Winnipeg-based rail tourism company, is organizing a special tour through the Parklands of Manitoba and Saskatchewan to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the Canadian National Railway completing its transcontinental line.
"The idea is to get people out there, travel the train, and learn a bit of history," Daryl Adair, owner and operator of Rail Travel Tours, told The Herald after a stroll through the Winnipeg Railway Museum (located at Gate 1, Tracks 1 and 2 at 123 Main St.).
This special centennial train leaves the station Aug. 18, heading west along VIA Rail’s Winnipeg-Churchill route through Gladstone to Dauphin, where the Canadian Northern Railway got its start at the end of the 19th century.
"Some people don’t realize that the Canadian Northern Railway was Canada’s third Transcontinental Railway, and it started in Manitoba," Adair, a resident of Harbourview South, explained. "It’s a sort of footnote in history."
After a tour of Dauphin’s railway museum, the train rolls on through scenic parkland west to Saskatchewan. The train pulls into station for a visit to Canora, Sask. At one point a bustling railway town, Canora is itself named after the Canadian National Railway.
Guests on the rail tour will spend the day in Canora — which has a rich Doukhobor and Ukrainian heritage — visiting museums and enjoying a "special themed BBQ banquet" complete with potato salad and shishliki.
"It’s an old Doukhobor recipe," Adair said. "It’s very specific to the area."
After overnighting, the group will then move south by bus — the rail line no longer carries passenger traffic, only freight, Adair explained — to Melville, Sask. Before loading up on an eastbound locomotive, guests will visit Melville’s historic City Hall and Opera House. On the way homewards, passengers will board VIA Rail’s world famous Canadian and travel through the beautiful Qu’Appelle Valley.
"These are two of the best kept secrets in the province," said Adair, who is also the author of the Canadian Rail Travel Guide. "The area around Riding Mountain National Park, the views are incredible. The stretch along the Qu’Appelle Valley is stunning."
And while the tour is meant to be a fun way for people to learn about western Canada’s railway history, and the impact of the Canadian National Railway in particular, the trip also acts as a fundraiser for the Winnipeg Railway Museum.
"It’s a good excuse to travel some areas of Manitoba and Saskatchewan that people might not know," Adair said. "Hopefully we’ll get some new members to the museum, learn some history, and experience something new."
Rail Travel Tours’ Canadian Rail Tour takes place Aug. 18 to 20. To register for the tour, or for more information, call 204-897-9551. Final registration is due July 18. CN retirees with a long service pass can call for a special rate on the tour.