Train travel—just hearing those two words brings up images of romance and adventure.
Canada’s love affair with trains started in the 1800s when a wood-burning steam locomotive rumbled its way out of a railyard in the Province of Quebec to the sound of a cheering crowd.
The “Last Spike” was driven in 1885 and Canada was on its way to becoming the nation it is today. At the time, this was the largest railway in the world and it played a significant role in the development of Canada, the world’s 2nd largest country.
Without the trains, it was almost impossible for anyone except the hardiest to travel across the wide expanse of this country, especially during the extremely cold winter months. It was exciting times.
Train travel is even more important today
Trains are still an intricate part of Canada’s transportation system with more rail cars being put on the tracks every day, hauling almost everything and anything a person can think of from one part of the country to another.
This wouldn’t be possible today if it wasn’t for those early wood and coal burning locomotives and the hard work of those who actually laid the tracks and built the railway.
Over the years, these old trains were often left neglected and forgotten as the newer and more modern trains arrived making trains more economical and easier to operate.
Thank goodness many organizations and people who love train travel were able to save many of these historic trains and restored them to their original glory. They still rumble their way across the rails but in a more conservative manner.
Visitors to many parts of Canada can enjoy many museums and monuments dedicated to train travel in Canada and actually ride on some of these lovingly restored artifacts.
Time travel actually exists! Step back into time and ride the cars being pulled by the historic steam locomotive 2141 where anything can happen.
Wine tours, Halloween haunts, dance hall girls, and be extra careful—because Bill Miner, the famous local outlaw might be planning another train robbery. There’s always something going on at the Kamloops Heritage Railway in Central British Columbia.
Located in Quebec, this museum has the largest collection of railway equipment in Canada.
There are over 140+ pieces of rolling stock and over 250,000 pieces of history and documents pertaining to Canada’s railway history and train travel.
This Vancouver Island Discovery Centre is in Duncan and chronicles the history of logging in British Columbia with many reconstructed displays and buildings.
The heritage railway is pulled through the living museum by a fully restored steam locomotive and is just one of many locomotives on display. Children love riding the train over the trestle, past the sawmill and other exhibits along the way.
These two heritage streetcars located in Nelson were the first to operate as a heritage railway in British Columbia.
The original streetcar system operated here starting from 1899 to 1949 and now operates seasonally to carry tourists along the beautiful waterfront.
Four hours on a heritage train can be an exciting experience and if that’s what a person is looking for then this is the place to be.
Its station is a Federal Heritage Site located near Winnipeg, Manitoba.
Visitors say it’s more than just a train ride. Watch out for the cowboys and cowgirls—they’re about to rob the train from their horses. Bonnie and Clyde have been known to target this train as well.
In Southern Saskatchewan, visitors can experience train travel as the early settlers and pioneers did.
There’s even a pioneer village with 30 historic buildings, and for those interested in antique machinery and artifacts there are thousands here for you to enjoy.
Train travel still continues to be romantic and adventuresome. There are many opportunities to ride a train in Canada whether its regular passenger service across the prairies, one of the luxury trains through the Rockies, or by having a fun experience on one of the many heritage trains.
Coming to Canada? Learn more about crossing the border
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