Whistler, the Rockies, the Prairies and VIA Canada Rail

Sorry for the lack of updates about my travels!  Christmas time is around the corner and many are taking a break or pause.  Now is a good time to catch up on some reading and writing, including this blog entry.


Around late November, I decided to go to Whistler Blackcomb (or just Whistler to some) which is a world class ski resort in British Columbia.  I took the Greyhound fairly early and luckily there were no delays unlike the Seattlites at another bus who had theirs cancelled due to poor road conditions.  The British Columbia landscape is interesting – suburbia making way to the Sea to Sky highway and revealing beautiful mountains, semi-frozen rivers and lakes, and pretty country towns with isolated houses. (see images below):

The village was very much developed because of the 2010 Winter Olympics and you can see traces of it with the Olympic rings near the middle.  Whistler was open and, because the ‘usual’ track was still closed for beginning skiers, on the first of skiing we were near the peak.  The sun was shining and the sky a clear blue so one can see the mountains in the distance – very much looking surreal and almost like as if they were painted on with watercolours.

The second day there was a huge layer of fresh powder for the slopes and snow on the ground – about 15-20cm.  There were a lot more in the village because of Thanksgiving Day (in America) and because of the opening of Blackcomb Mountain.  Here’s a photo after the snow fall:

I was slightly nervous catching the Greyhound back to Vancouver because of reports of icy roads and also because of all the fresh snow but luckily the Greyhound bus drivers know their way around these sorts of conditions.

Vancouver to Toronto and the Prairies in Between

I had one day’s rest in Vancouver before I boarded VIA Canada Rail.  I wanted to see the Prairies and what the landscape and scenery is like in between the capital cities.  The layout of the cities is interesting in that you have Vancouver and Victoria on the east, Toronto, Montreal, Ottawa and Quebec City clustered closely together on the west and a huge expanse of land between the two big cities.  What lies in between?


There were times when I really wanted the train to stop so that I could step out and take in the landscape.

I was talking to a man who lived in Saskatoon on the train.  He lives on the land – from his occupation as a meat cutter to the daily necessities of food and also shelter.  There is something about the train and its ‘inhabitants’ that you can’t find on the plane.  I would overhear conversations of other travelers talking about their adventures in Nepal, families from Edmonton talking about why they love Jasper, mothers from elsewhere exchanging the best way to cook boar meat.  What struck me was the hospitality and also approachability of these people – sometimes conversations going all the way until the end of the trip, whatever it may be.  So this man from Saskatoon gave me his number and name should I ever decide to stop by Saskatoon longer to take up hunting, mountain hiking and camping which is an invitation that I had to refuse because I don’t think I could ever do that in the winter! (But a good tip for anyone wanting to do something similar in the prairies: local knowledge!).

A town to note is Winnipeg (photo above) which is fairly large compared to the other towns.  Winnipeg is the starting town for the Winnipeg-Churchill train line which will take the adventurer to the edge of Hudson Bay and witness arctic wolves, polar bears and the aurora borealis or northern lights.

Next entry: Toronto, Ottawa, Montreal, Quebec City and back to Vancouver…