Meanwhile the railway was being built, often with Chinese workers brought north from California. One crew built from the east across the Prairies and another crew built from the West, up the Fraser River. It is difficult to imagine the hardships these early surveyors and builders endured, especially in the snow and across a very rugged landscape. Yet succeed they did, although it took 14 years instead of 10. In Nov 1885 they set the Last Spike of the Canadian Pacific Railway! It was a miracle of railway engineering.
The first trans-continental railway train arrived in July 1886 and soon the railway extended into Vancouver. The city of Vancouver, which incorporated in 1886, became the country’s gateway to the Pacific; the province of British Columbia could ship its natural resources east.
Map of the trip (all train except for Banff-Calgary)
In the Gold Leaf Dome Coach, guests sit upstairs in a glass cabin to watch the scenery. Passengers enjoy gourmet meals which are served on crisp linen, in the dining room on the lower level. In the Red Leaf carriages, boxed lunches are served in the passenger’s own seat. And because the train travels only during the day, there are no sleeping cabins on board. Each evening, passengers are picked up from the local railway station and taken to hotels. This is different from other tourist trains eg The Trans Siberian Railway.
Vancouver is renowned for its scenery and has one of the largest urban parks in North America, Stanley Park. Encircled by high mountains, the city is filled with hiking trails, large green spaces and gardens. We loved Vancouver's beautiful beaches and harbour. Our tour visited the BC Place Stadium, which was built for Expo 86. It is the world's largest air-supported domed stadium.
Vancouver, Stanley Park
Europeans arrived in Kamloops in c1811 to set up a fur trading post, and then got involved in trade, industry, the railroad and ship transport. The Gold Rush brought wealth and a large influx of people searching for a better life, but it was also a bit wild - stagecoach holdups and cattle rustling. In 1893, Kamloops had 1,000 people; today it is a population of c86,000 and growing, based largely on its role as a major cattle ranching centre and as a transport hub.
In the evening, we train travellers experienced frontier dining with the Lumberjack and Train Robber Musical Show, then slept in Kamloops.
Back on board, watch out for the region’s fauna and flora. Animals never seen in Australia wandered near the train tracks, so the driver slowed down for all photographers: cougar, black and grizzly bears, moose, elk, bighorn sheep, wolves, lynx and caribou on protected land. Passing Mount Robson, the Canadian Rockies’ highest mountain, the train followed the route of the Overlanders, those C19th homesteaders who tried to settle this rugged region.
Banff's history is connected to the expansion of railways across Canada. In 1885 the federal government sets aside a reserve surrounding the hot springs, recently discovered. Two years later, The Canadian Pacific Railway Co. and the federal government cooperated in promoting the area as an international resort and spa. The Canadian government passed the first National Parks Act during WW1 and people flocked to Banff Fairmont Springs Hotel 1888, in the Scottish Baronial style. As did we.
Banff Springs Hotel
If you select the Banff option, then you miss the Lake Louise and Jasper options, with their steep gorges, snow-capped mountain ranges, exquisite lakes and natural beauty. This image of beautiful Lake Louise therefore comes from a friend's trip and not from my own.
Calgary’s 2 city halls are amazing. The Old City Hall opened in 1911 while the 14-storey, triangular Calgary Municipal Building opened in 1985. In 1966, oil man Eric Harvie gave his vast collection of historical material to the people of Alberta, and the Glenbow-Alberta Institute was formed. Today, Glenbow is western Canada's largest museum, with three floors of exhibition space. Most impressive are the First Peoples’ artistic traditions and material culture; so are 100,000 objects which provide glimpses into the lives of those who explored/settled western Canada from the late 1800s on. Glenbow's art collection naturally focuses on the prairies. The Pengrowth Saddledome is the home of the Calgary Flames in the National Hockey League and the site of the 1988 Winter Olympics.
Calgary Stampede parade