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Crossing Canada by rail

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Crossing Canada by rail

I plan to visit Canada next year and hope to do the cross-country Toronto-Vancouver rail trip. Any tips or suggestions how to make the most of this great journey would be v. welcome. Is it best East-West or West-East? When is the best time of year? Do you advise breaking the journey, and if so where, or doing it in one go? What are your opinions on the different accomodation offered on board?

Calgary, Alberta...
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1. Re: Crossing Canada by rail

Hello MOTZA,

I strongly recommend that you break the journey at Jasper in the Rocky Mountains.

If you have some flexibility as to timing, I think it would be best to avoid July and August. The reason is that those months can be very hot and humid in Toronto. I'm sure you're accustomed to heat in Israel, but my understanding is that you don't experience high humidity. Besides that, the mountain resort towns and the scenic lookout points in the Rockies are more crowded in July and August.

If you go east-west, I think it would be good to start in Ontario in the first half of June. That means you would be there before the onset of the hot, humid weather, which can start around mid-June.

Try to reach the Canadian Rockies some time in the latter half of June. The mountain lakes will have thawed, and you'll see them at their turquoise best, but the main summer crowds will not yet have arrived.

Conversely, you could do a west-east trip in September / early October. In that case try to reach the Rockies before the end of September. The side roads to some scenic lookout points start shutting down around the beginning of October. This would get you to Ontario in early October when you could expect to see the beautiful reds and oranges of the Ontario autumn.

If you were willing to rent a car and drive from Jasper to Lake Louise and Banff and then back to Jasper again to resume your train journey, that would give you the maximum flexibility in the mountains.

My website has information about the Rockies and Vancouver:


You didn't say how much time you would have. In my opinion you would need at least three weeks to do your contemplated trip any justice. If you have less time than that, say two weeks, you should consider spending that time in Ontario / Quebec only or British Columbia / Alberta only. If you insisted on fitting both east and west into a two-week trip, you would need to fly between east and west.

Hope that helps.