Saturday, April 11, 2015

Following the Trail of the Canadian Northern Railway: Rail Travel Tours 100th Anniversary Trip

My trip started on a warm spring day in Winnipeg.

What would you do if you were offered a chance to take the train?

If you're like me, you'd happily accept--which is what I did this past week when Daryl Adair of Rail Travel Tours asked me to take a trip to write an article for the Winnipeg Free Press about a special August 18-20 tour to mark the 100th anniversary of the Canadian Northern Railway (CNoR).

The tour will follow a portion of the route of the CNoR started as a competitor to the CPR in Manitoba in the 1880s and 1890s. 

By the time we arrived in Dauphin, we were caught
by a spring blizzard.

The railway was officially chartered in 1899 to build a line linking the prairies with the port of Thunder Bay (then Port Arthur/Fort William) on Lake Superior, and then on to central Canada. 

The line reached Edmonton in 1905, and construction to Vancouver began in 1910. The last spike was driven in B.C. in 1915.

Dauphin's railway station, opened in 1912.

About the same time the CNoR was being built, a third transcontinental railway was under construction: The Grant Trunk Pacific. 

When neither railway proved profitable, they were amalgamated by the Canadian government in 1918 to form Canadian National Railways. 

The snow had stopped by the time we
arrived in Canora.

Significant portions of the old CNoR system survive under CN, including the Churchill, Man. line that I travelled on in April, and which the tour will follow in August. 

(Other portions include the line from Toronto to Longlac, Ontario; the line from the Yellowhead Pass southwest to Vancouver; and the line from Winnipeg to Duluth, Minnesota, CN’s primary connection to Chicago.)

The Canora station in nicer weather--like it will in be in August
during the Rail Travel Tours trip.

Coming home, my journey was on the CN main line from Melville, Sask. to Winnipeg—the former GTP line.

The Melville, Sask. station, with The Canadian.

The August trip by Rail Travel Tours will enable participants to travel by VIA Rail on the former CNoR line to Canora, Sask., then bus down to Melville and take VIA's The Canadian back to Winnipeg. 

While waiting for The Canadian, I caught this new pair
of sequentially-numbered ES44AC units.

While in Canora and Melville, the tour will visit local railway stations, museums and other attractions to learn more about the area, and the railway's impact on life in the the two towns.

The tour is also a fundraiser for the Winnipeg Railway Museum; before departure, participants will also get to tour the Museum, which is located at the VIA station in downtown Winnipeg.

View from the dome car; best seat on the train!

The tour promises to be a great adventure for people who enjoy train travel, for history buffs and for those who want to learn more about small-town life on the prairies.

Click here to learn more about the Winnipeg Railway Museum/Canadian Northern 100th Anniversary Tour. The cost is $725 double and $825 single. You can also call 1-866-704-3528.

One of many meets along the way.

In addition to the CNoR tour, Rail Travel Tours offers other railway tour packages and services, including a Sept,. 24-27 fall colours tour to Saskatchewan's picturesque Qu' Appelle Valley.

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