The Canadian isn't just a train trip, it is a trans-continental journey on one of the most scenic rail routes in the world.
Connecting Toronto to Vancouver, the train snakes through five provinces, crosses three time zones and chugs along nearly 4,500 kilometres of tracks laid out around the forested lakes of Ontario and eastern Manitoba, through the long stretches of Prairie lands in Saskatchewan and eastern Alberta, over the Rocky Mountains and along the scenic interior of British Columbia.
The 4-night itinerary in Sleeper class includes chef-prepared meals, a bed and the chance to travel the old-fashioned way, where you can linger over a glass of local wine and watch the scenery change — and there is always time for conversation with fellow travellers.
Travelling on the train harkens back to an era of travel that seems long forgotten, where traveller comfort was paramount and the journey was as important as the destination.
Vanessa O'Brien, the Rail Expert at Landsby, has taken the Canadian from end to end twice.
She says beyond the jaw-dropping scenery, she was continually impressed with the high-quality food, prepared fresh by chefs in the compact train kitchen, that came out meal after meal.
But her favourite part of the trip is the connections that are made between travellers and the many opportunities there are to have meaningful conversations.
All Aboard: Let's Explore the Canadian Route
You can take the whole route from end-to-end, or plan a stopover or two along the way.
Day 1 - 9:55 am Departure
With an instantly recognizable skyline and a multicultural vibe, Toronto is a great city to start (or end) your journey on VIA Rail's the Canadian.
It is Canada's largest city, a multicultural hub of amazing food, culture and music. A popular attraction close to the train station is the historic Distillery District and Old Toronto.
The Canadian departs from historic Union Station. You'll have a full view of the famous CN Tower as the train departs in the morning.
Note: Toronto is a train hub. Trains depart Union Station for different parts of Canada and the United States.
"I had a great time on the train and really enjoyed the trip. The views were spectacular, the food was amazing, and the people were very friendly."
Day 1 - 4:57 pm
Welcome to Northern Ontario!
Sudbury is home of the Big Nickel, Science North and many cultural attractions. This is the largest city in Northern Ontario and a great jumping off point for exploring the scenic Ontario wilderness.
It takes more than a day for the train to make its way through Ontario's vast forested landscape. This is a great time to linger over that extra glass of wine or have a cup of tea and dive into a good book.
If you're feeling social, there are a few gathering places sprinkled throughout the train where you can read a newspaper, enjoy a cocktail or mingle with other guests.
Day 2 - 7:30 pm (2 Hour Stop)
Winnipeg is one of those cities that surprises and delights visitors. It has a pretty setting on the confluence of the Red and Assiniboine Rivers, is home to the spectacular Museum for Human Rights and has an eclectic food culture.
Note: this is also the start of the VIA Rail Churchill route that heads to northern Manitoba.
Past Winnipeg, the train will start to enter the Canadian Prairies which extend through Central Canada until they collide with the foothills of the Rocky Mountains
"A great experience to watch Canada moving by while having a great meal ordered from the menu. Will definitely do this trip again!"
Day 3 - 9:50 (1 Hour Stop)
Surrounded by wheat fields and big skies, Saskatoon is an oasis of urban fun in Saskatchewan. The city enjoys a scenic location on the South Saskatchewan River and has a great cultural scene. Enjoy great farm-to-table dining throughout the city (read about the city's delicious restaurant Odla in our last issue).
Aurélie Gilles, Landsby's Director of Canadian Sales, chose Saskatoon as her stopover during her trip on the Canadian.
She loved the interesting landscapes and genuine people she met during her stop.
"I highly recommend Saskatoon for travellers on the Canadian who are looking to experience a remarkable and underrated part of the country," she said.
Day 3 - 8:50 pm (3 Hour Stop)
Situated on the North Saskatchewan river, Edmonton is the capital city of Alberta. It is home to the West Edmonton Mall, the largest shopping mall in North America. Edmonton also has plenty of parkland with many trails throughout its River Valley system.
Just an hour north is Métis Crossing, an immersive cultural experience on the North Saskatchewan River.
Shortly after leaving Edmonton, the train will begin to enter the foothills of the Rocky Mountains. Enjoy a good night's sleep. When you wake up in the morning, you will be entering Jasper.
Day 4 - 6:30 am (3 Hour Stop)
The alpine village of Jasper, located inside Jasper National Park, is paradise for those looking for outdoor adventure. Surrounded by the peaks of the Rockies, Jasper is a scenic stop. You'll have three hours to enjoy the townsite or make this a stopover and explore the park for a few days.
"We had an incredible trip, thanks to Vanessa O’Brien. We loved the Via Rail Canadian train from Toronto to Vancouver. We had 3 spectacular days in Jasper/Banff and then got on the next train."
Note: In Jasper, you can also connect with the Skeena train that travels to Prince Rupert.
Gear up for a full day of window gazing and saying "Wow" as the scenery gets particularly jaw-dropping between Jasper and Kamloops. Keep that camera ready and look out for wildlife.
Day 4 - 6:28 pm (30 Min Stop)
Welcome to British Columbia! Kamloops has the reputation as being one of the sunniest places in Canada. It enjoys an average of 2,000 hours of sunshine per year. Kamloops offers skiing nearby in the winter months and plenty of golf and hiking options in the summer.
This is your last evening on the train. Enjoy your chef-prepared meal with a view. In the morning, you will arrive in Vancouver.
Day 5 - 8:00 am Arrival
This coastal city is a strong contender for Canada's most scenic. It has everything you want in an urban city — great dining, culture and art — but with the added benefit of being surrounded by epic natural beauty.