So we prepared to leave from the giant station.
Because the train is so long, Viarail makes sure to have large “golf carts”
at the ready to carry passengers to their rail cars.
What a difference from the long walks in airports.
Our attendant, Tim, greeted us and made us welcome. All the ViaRail
staff on The Canadian are especially “people persons”..
...including our dining car hostess, Wendy. “Oh, you’ll find it boring –
the prairies are just flat” they said.
“Just” flat? Joan and I found “just flat” just thrilling! You’ve never seen “flat”
until you reach these astonishing wheat fields, now in autumn golden stubble.
They stretch forever – as far as one sees, in every direction. Manitoba
has roughly 1.1 million people, and 26,000 farms, mainly wheat, though
that’s been decreasing. (Also the largest hog farms in Canada!)
And how easy to see the wonders of prairie skies from a ViaRail train!
Did you know why our trains rails are four foot eight and one half inches
across? Why on earth? Well, it’s obvious — because wheel bases of
Roman chariots were that size... Hard to believe.
Did you imagine Manitoba was all prairie? Just check out the marvellous wetlands.
Towards the end of the day, our activities hostess (they often explain where we are
and what we are passing) announced we had entered Saskatchewan,
which has the largest potash deposits in the world. We sometimes run along
beside the Trans-Canada Highway – carrying those unfortunate drivers
who decide not to relax on ViaRail.
This train (carrying now 278 passengers) has four observation cars and of course
the splendid “bullet” car at the end, with observation space upstairs, a nook
for serving drinks underneath, the main space with easy chairs and snacks,
and a view all around, especially out the back window.
After the amber waves of grain across this glorious prairie, we were surprised
by threading among wonderful rolling hills...
...and then we sped along the Qu’Appelle valley, many miles long. ViaRail...
What a way to travel!
What a way to travel!
Again, great meals prepared by experienced chefs in the ample kitchen.
After a splendid sleep, we awakened at sunrise as we pulled into Edmonton.