Canada: Coast to coast by train – Part 2 - Orlando / Florida Guide
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Halifax to Montréal
Halifax, Nova Scotia is a resonant place to begin any train journey across Canada, it also has a great Scottish heritage that is displayed in numerous places. It was the port where Cunard founded the shipping line that dominated the North Atlantic. Consequently, it was the first place that millions of immigrants saw when they made the leap of faith to start a new life in North America. It was by train that they spread west. So don’t miss the Canadian Museum of Immigration at Pier 21 and its simulated railcar journey. Also having breakfast beside the St Lawrence is a definite recommendation.
The Halifax to Montréal railway line winds through the forests of Nova Scotia, crossing salmon filled rivers and skirting the bird sanctuary of Tantramar Marsh, where bluewinged teal and marsh hawks can be seen from the train. Just after the border with New Brunswick, the train passes the hilltop Fort Beauséjour before reaching the sea views on the Baie des Chaleurs (Bay of Heat). At Mont-Joli the railway joins the St Lawrence River and parallels its southern shore all the way to Montréal, with views across the water to Québec until the forest takes over again. The approach to Montréal is heralded by the 2. 7km long Victoria Bridge over the St Lawrence River.
The Ocean train runs three times a week and takes 22. 5 hours. It also uses carriages originally built in the UK for a Channel Tunnel sleeper service that never happened.
Montréal to Toronto
This route gives you magnificent views of Lake Ontario. After leaving Montréal, the train crosses the Ottawa River, used by many early Canadian explorers, such as David Thompson, Pierre Espirit Radisson and Samuel de Champlain. It then passes through farmland and forest before reaching the border. The border with Ontario can be detected by watching as the place names morph from French to British in origin.
The route offers glimpses of the St Lawrence Seaway, built to allow larger vessels to reach the Great Lakes. The terrain becomes hilly and rock cuttings cut through the hills before the line crosses the Rideau Canal, completed in 1832 for the movement of troops and supplies. Views over Lake Ontario, easternmost of the five Great Lakes, alternate with farms stretched across rolling hills and fields lined with trees as windbreaks. From Oshawa, the tracks are shared with commuter trains, and before long Toronto’s distinctive CN Tower comes into view to announce your arrival.
Between five and six trains run daily and complete the journey in 4 hours 40 minutes. The generous coaches are comfortable and you get complimentary hot meals served at your seat in business class.
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