Canada in 2013 -- Beth and John Lucas Travel across Canada by Rail (mostly)

All pictures, unless otherwise noted, are copyright 2013 by John A. and Elizabeth B. Lucas. All rights reserved.

Introduction Vancouver/Victoria Kamloops/Banff/Lake Louise/Jasper Toronto/Niagara Falls Montreal Quebec/Baie St. Paul Halifax Wildlife Second Thoughts Technical Details

Your adventurers at Bow Lake, Alberta on 18 June 2013

This is only frame with both of us in it. On the other hand, two trends continued on this trip:

  1. We were asked dozens of times to take other peoples' pictures. I guess an older couple with serious camera gear looks like a good bet.

  2. People continue to guess incorrectly where we are from. In Australia in 2008, more than one person guessed we were Canadians. Fair enough it turns out as two Canadians thought we were Australians! (And a railroad car lounge full of Brits wasn't sure). We don't sound like JFK or Lyndon Johnson or Ronald Reagan. Certain diagnostic words will give us away to people who know -- "schedule", "laboratory", "aluminum" (note spelling too), "project" (as a noun) and others.


Canada has a larger land area than the US, but only about 10% of the population. Most of its population is concentrated in cities only 100 miles or so from the US border. Canada like Australia has large areas of very sparsely inhabited land.

Canada's transcontinental railroad was built to unify the nation -- in part to induce British Columbia not to join the US and thereby block Canada from the Pacific Ocean. Canada's railroad was also built to promote tourism which was not a goal of the US transcontinental railroad. We've watched television documentaries and listened to radio ones, too, about the Canadian railroads past and present.

This trip was not like our previous trips:

This trip actually started out as a planned Scientific American cruise around South America from Machu Picchu (Peru) to Iguazu Falls (Brazil/Argentina) by way of Cape Horn, the Beagle Channel and the Falklands. Unfortunately, Beth was unable to get sabbatical leave for February and March. Eventually, this led us to realizing in March that we had nothing planned for the coming summer. We've thought about a Canadian trip of course -- Montreal is only five hours driving time door to door after all. A former business colleague from my days at DEC (before Compaq and HP) had told me about her plans for a similar trip after a cruise to Alaska.

After some comparison shopping, Beth contacted Fresh Tracks Canada and they came to the rescue! Timing was particularly tight as we wanted to go early in the season to beat the worst of the crowds and catch the tail end of the snow in the high Rockies.

How We Did It -- Modes of Transport

Athabasca Glacier

No light planes, helicopters nor catamarans were used on this trip! Had there been better weather there would have been opportunities for airplane or helicopter rides at several locations.

You'll probably want to have a good map of Canada handy as you follow this re-creation of our journey. We visited all of the Canadian provinces directly bordering the United States -- (from west to east across five time zones) British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Ontario, Quebec, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia.

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