Grand Trans-Canada Rail Journey
An epic rail expedition spanning the continent's amber fields, trestle bridges, the Rocky Mountains, glaciers and prairies once inhabited by Native Americans and other cultures of the frontier. . . .
Vancouver · Jasper National Park · Saskatoon · Winnipeg · Thunder Bay · Ottawa · Montreal
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Day 1 - Vancouver, British Columbia
We gather at the Pan Pacific Hotel for our champagne reception and welcome dinner. This evening, we overnight at the hotel.
Day 2 - Vancouver / Board the American Orient Express
This morning Vancouver's culture and history beckons. We tour the city, with stops at Stanley Park, Prospect Point and a drive through Chinatown and Gastown, with its gas lamps and famous steam clock. We then board the American Orient Express for lunch before we settle in for our first night on the rails.
Day 3 - Kamloops to Jasper, Alberta
The sun climbs into the sky as we forge northeast across trestles and through tunnels, passing the city of Blue River and 300-foot Pyramid Falls. Views of the Rockies are outstanding. Today offers opportunities to enjoy the amenities of the train, including a lecture and afternoon tea presented by our pastry chef. Near the Alberta border, we skirt snow-capped Mount Robson - which at 12,972 feet is the highest peak in the Canadian Rockies - and cross over Yellowhead Pass to Jasper.
Day 4 - Jasper National Park, Alberta
The largest of Canada's national parks, Jasper's rugged and magnificent landscape invites us to play. Choose a Snocoach expedition across the Athabasca Glacier, part of the 130-square-mile Columbia Icefield. Lunch will be served on the train, followed by an excursion to Maligne Canyon. Or choose an optional tour of Lake Louise, one of Canada's most photographed sites, with time to explore on your own. Later, we enjoy fine dining and overnight on board the train.
Day 5 - Jasper through Alberta & Saskatchewan
This morning you are free to explore the mountain town of Jasper; or take an optional tour of Maligne Lake with a guide. During the afternoon we complete our rail trek through the Rockies, following the routes of the region's earliest explorers and settlers - people we learn about in today's lecture. In central Alberta we pass sprawling cattle ranches and begin our 900-mile journey across grassy prairies and Canada's richest agricultural lands.
Day 6 - Saskatoon, Saskatchewan
The Saskatoon area, situated on the banks of the South Saskatchewan River, has been inhabited for some 6,000 years. The city was founded in 1883 as a temperance colony, and today is a leader in biotech research. We devote part of our day to experiencing Wanuskewin Heritage Park. The park and museum interpret the lives of First Nations people on the plains, and their reliance on buffalo. Here archaeologists have unearthed a medicine wheel, teppe rings, evidence of a huge buffalo jump, and other artifacts.
Day 7 - Winnipeg, Manitoba
Winnipeg was once a frontier trading post built at the confluence of the Red and Assiniboine rivers. Today, we tour the city and the Museum of Nature & Science, and enjoy lunch at the historic Hotel Fort Garry. Spend the afternoon shopping, relaxing, or tour a small rail museum right in the train station. This area is an excellent choice for birding, where nearly 300 species have been sighted.
Day 8 - Thunder Bay, Ontario
Local fiddlers playing traditional tunes welcome us to Thunder Bay this morning. Situated on the northern shores of Lake Superior, Thunder Bay has a long history as a frontier town. In the 1800s, it played a central role in the booming fur trade, with its convenient access to the commercial routes of the Great Lakes. Today costumed guides lead us through old Fort William, a settlement depicting life in 19th-century Canada. After a frontier-inspired lunch, you are free to explore the blacksmith's shop and other buildings in the fort.
Day 9 - Across Ontario
Today, we enjoy the train amenities and a lecture on board as we cross the Canadian Shield into Ontario and ride the rails toward the eastern edge of this thousand-mile stretch of water-pocked bedrock. It took 20,000 men to lay these tracks. Tonight, there is a special farewell cocktail reception and dinner on board before we overnight en route to Ottawa.
Day 10 - Ottawa, Ontario & Montreal, Quebec
This morning we see the majestic Parliament buildings and visit the Canadian Museum of Civilization as we tour Canada's capital city of Ottawa. This national museum of human history houses more than 3.75-million artifacts. This afternoon, lunch is served on board as the American Orient Express continues to our final destination of Montreal. The train arrives in Montreal late afternoon. Famous for its French flavor with a Quebecois flair, Montreal can be further explored on your own. Feel free to sightsee or transfer to the airport for flights home.