Some random information and thoughts about Canada.
High taxes here to support universal health care, but Canadians hate waiting for elective surgery.
Voltaire called Canada a land inhabited by barbarians, bears and beavers. It will remain forever an unproductive wasteland. I guess he was wrong about many things!
Lots of Aussies on tour here. Also, everybody is old on the train. Including me, though it appears they are about 10 to 15 years older. They are headed to Jasper National Park for a few days off of the train.
Toronto has a Sake Institute and festival, with more than 150 varieties of sake from 50 breweries.
Famous Canadian sports stars: Wayne Gretzky. George Chuvalo, Bobby Orr, Gordie Howe, Crazy Ken Read, Lennox Lewis, Mike Weir, Ron Turcotte, Maurice Richard, Jean Beliveau, Steve Nash, Ferguson Jenkins, Northern Dancer, Reuben Mayes, and the Royal Montreal Golf Club, the oldest golf club in North America, founded in 1873.
Other Canadians: Alexander Graham Bell, Nellie McClung, David Suzuki, Roberta Bondair, Michael J. Fox, Raymond Massey, the Molsons, the Bronfmans, Lorne Greene, Bill Shatner, Christopher Plummer, Mary Pickford, Jim Carrey, Gordon Lightfoot, Neil Young, the Guess Who, Anne Murray, Shania Twain, Paul Anka, Odcar Peterson, Celine, Dan Akroyd, Saul Bellow, Donald and Kiefer Sutherland.
I talked to an old coot who has been across Canada 7 times, on a motor cycle, by car, and now on the train.
Canada lost over 60,000 men in the Great War, buried in France. And another 50,000 to a flu epidemic at war’s end.
Pretty desolate here in western Ontario. Mostly timber and mining. Lots of lakes. But still too cold for much wildlife.
This fleet of rail cars were built in 1953 by the Budd Company of Philadelphia. In 1978, VIA took over both CPR and Canadian National passenger rail services, inheriting these cars. VIA refurbished them in the 90s and again in 2010. Peak season in summer can have almost 30 cars. Three locomotives are used to pull us through the Rockies.
Yesterday, I met an older couple from Ontario, traveling with their adult daughter to a family reunion in Calgary. They are 4th generation Irish dairy farmers. The kicker is the dairy and their little town of 400 is located on Amherst Island in the middle of Lake Ontario. She is an artist, and he misses farming quite badly. The Prairie here in Manitoba is making him jumpy!
At this point not quite to Saskatoon, we are merely 18 hours behind schedule.
Showering and shaving on the train requires the skill of a brain surgeon, combined with the skills of high wire trapeze performers in circus.
So far, I give the food a score of C plus or at best B minus. But the beer is cold!
Propane tanks by the side of the tracks are for service vehicles? Not!! They are used to heat the track switches to enable them to work in extremely cold conditions.
The capital of Saskatchewan rhymes with a female body part.
Interestingly, you must be bilingual to work as a conductor or passenger attendant on the VIA Canadian. That would be English and French! Sorry, Igor and Katerina, you must stay on the Trans Siberian Railway.
The minor league hockey team here is called the Melville Millionaires!
I have officially declared this train, the Groundhog Day Special. The terrain, the train, the food, the nice people, every day seems the same!! Thank you, Bill Murray for the inspiration.
¥*¥₩#%€£¥!!! At Edmonton we are now over 28 hours late, with another day to go until Vancouver.
The US Canadian border is the longest undefended national border in the world, nearly 9000km, longer than the Great Wall. And it did not take nearly as long to build!
BTW, glad to be back in the great USA!!!