3 Things You Might Not Know About Canada’s Railways

Canada’s railways © Courtesy of Transport Canada

At some point, most Canadians have taken a train trip. It could be to a different province to visit friends or family, sightseeing on a historic tourist train, or simply heading downtown on a daily commute to work.

Many of us may take for granted how important railways are in our lives. Here are three things you might not know about them.

Historic Significance

In the late 1800s, the drive to create a cross-country railroad was at the core of creating the nation known today as Canada. In fact, its completion was essential for British Columbia to join the Confederation as Canada’s sixth province.

The famous “last spike” of this railway was driven into a railroad tie on November 7, 1885, near Eagle Pass in the B.C. interior. It connected the country from coast to coast. It was just one of about 30 million iron spikes used to complete the line.

Countless new communities developed along railway lines across the continent, and the tracks opened up access to farmland, forests, and other natural resources that literally helped build the country.

Economic Impact

The fleet of freight trains traversing Canada is one of the economic engines driving the national economy. There are more than 2,000 locomotives that haul 50,000 freight cars across more than 40,000 km of railroad track in Canada. Trains carry nearly $400 billion in goods to and from ports, trucking yards, and major manufacturers and distribution outlets every year.

Canada’s rail network is also closely connected with our North American free-trade partners, carrying goods back and forth between Canada, the U.S., and Mexico.

Plus, millions of passengers travel on regional and interprovincial rail networks every year to get to work, visit family, or go on holiday in Canada.

Various Options

While shipping freight is by far the most common use of railways in Canada, there are other important and entertaining uses for Canadian tracks.

canada's railways
© Pexels/Adrien Olichon

Many of Canada’s historic steam trains are still in operation, taking tourists on scenic outings through forests, canyons, and mountain passes. There are also modern luxury trains that take passengers through remote parts of the country you couldn’t otherwise see.

We can’t overlook the many municipal commuter rail cars that people use daily, including subways, streetcars, and light rapid rail lines.

All Aboard!

British Columbia is full of sights to behold, and there’s no better way to see them than by getting on board and letting the train carry you across the province. Rocky Mountaineer has several exciting train routes that offer a unique view of B.C.’s rich history and picturesque views.

Start your trip in Vancouver and choose between a railway ride to Lake Louise, Banff, or Jasper, with stops in Kamloops, Whistler, and Quesnel, depending on your route. Travel through the iconic Spiral Tunnels, traverse the Continental Divide, and be inspired as you wind through mountain passes and dramatic canyons. You’ll see the mighty Fraser River and the raging whitewater of Hell’s Gate, all while enjoying incredible service and delicious meals.

ViaRail also has great options for trips by train, like to the lush cultural hub that is Prince George, or to the quaint and natural outdoor haven of Prince Rupert. It’s the perfect blend of outdoor adventure and unique views.

(Source: News Canada)

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