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Tuesday, June 7, 2011

U is for Union Station, Toronto

© Not for use without permission.

My friend Paulette took this photo of me in Toronto's Union Station, May, 2010, as I embarked on the second leg of my solo cross-Canada train trip. Don't I look like an adventurer in my Tilley hat and my Tilley clothes?
In 1967, when I lived with my family in White Rock, BC, my brother Clint joined the Royal Canadian Navy along with two of his friends. They were put on a train in Vancouver and sent to Halifax, Nova Scotia, while boys from the east coast were sent to Victoria, BC.
Mother and I thought the idea of a train trip across the country sounded great, so, off and on for the next 40 or 45 years we talked about it, always saying, "We must do that some day."
Of course, "some day" never came. What did come was a time when Mom no longer felt up to doing it, and then, in 2007, she died. Dad died in 2009. They had done pretty much everything they ever wanted to do, and, as a family, we had no regrets. I still had one dream, though: I wanted to make the trip Mom and I never got around to making.
By then, I had already travelled by train from Vancouver to the Rockies, and I was living here in southeastern Alberta, so instead of going back home to Vancouver to start my journey, I went up to Edmonton to take the train from there to Toronto, from Toronto to Montreal, from Montreal to the Gaspé Peninsula and back, then from Montreal to Moncton, New Brunswick.
First, I spent a few days visiting my friend Paulette at her home near Toronto, before she accompanied me to Union Station to wave me off and to mark the occasion with the above photo. (It was the profile picture on my blog for the next year.)
I highly recommend a trans-Canada train trip with Via Rail. It isn't cheap, and it isn't fast, but it is wonderful. This is old-time train travel, folks. The journey is part of the destination. I had a lower berth (very roomy and comfy) so my fare included three delicious meals a day in the beautiful dining car, where I could meet with, and eat with, my fellow travellers.
It was a veritable trans-Canada cruise!
If I needed help getting on and off the train, there was always a Via staff member to help me with my luggage or with my three-legged cane (I don't leave home without it). The phrase "give me a hand" doesn't need to be spoken, it just happens. The service is great.
Between Toronto and Montreal.
Traveling alone, I had no fear of scrambling unaided on and off Via trains, as I often had to do this year when dealing with European trains, especially if my husband was busy with our luggage.
Yes, European trains are faster (some are a great deal faster), and quieter (because they're electric) but I so enjoy the clickety-clack of the train cars in Canada, the 360-degree beauty from the scenic Park cars, the conviviality of the lounge areas, the luxury of the elegant dining cars, and the gracious help of Via personnel.
Most of all, I love the soulful sound of the train whistle, which, rather than waking me up, lulls me to sleep instead. I'm glad there isn't a sign like this one (right) for the CP Rail freight trains coming through our town. If I'm not asleep yet, the whistle of the midnight train is like a lullaby.


Posted for ABC Wednesday, the meme started by Mrs. Nesbitt in the UK
and carried on by her talented team of photobloggers. Thanks, Mrs. N., and thanks, team!
To see how other bloggers made Use of the letter U, please click HERE!

44 comments:

Sylvia K said...

Great post for the U Day! I love trains and I, too, love the clickedy-clack and miss that on a lot of trains today! You look as though you were ready for the fun! Hope your week is going well, Kay!

Sylvia
ABC Team

Karen said...

Union Station is a beautiful historical old building. You are an adventurous woman travelling alone like that!

Leckeres für Mensch und Katze - Goodies for a pleasant life said...

I like the happy dog on the sidebar! :)

photowannabe said...

Beautifully written story of your wonderful rail trip.
I do love the sounds of the train too. It truly can be a lullabye.

Roger Owen Green said...

Nice building (and nice hat).
There's a Union Station in Washington, DC, which is a marvelous bldg as well.
ROG, ABC Wednesday team

Roger Owen Green said...

Oh, BTW, you always leave THE BEST comments.

Hildred and Charles said...

I am a lover of train travel too, Kay, and have many happy memories of the wonderful service on the CPR - always travelled CPR as my grandfather was a cabinet maker for the company. The first few years we were on the farm the Great Northern came up from Washington to Keremeos, but alas, the tracks have been gone for many years and we are left with just the old steam engine that takes tourists riding the rails in Summerland and treats them to an old time Train Robbery.

Gattina said...

What a nice picture of you exactly like when I met you in Brussels !
Looks nice this old station.

EG Wow said...

I've never taken the train across Canada. But I want to!

Friko said...

I would absolutely adore doing a rail journey like that. I once travelled on a train from North West Germany to Thessaloniki in Greece. That was neither luxurious nor comfortable, but I was young.

Tumblewords: said...

Terrific photos and narrative! I'll be searching for a folding seat, now. Always enamored by trains and travel, my only big US trip was from Kansas City to Spokane when I was about 10. What an experience! European travel was much easier but I was far older, too!

Wanda said...

What a cute picture of you. Loving Union Station. You are indeed quite the traveler. I envy you.

Gigi Ann said...

It sounds to me like you had a wonderful journey across Canada.

Joy said...

What a beautiful entrance to the station. Nice one to pose against:-) Sounds a great trip, and one I've thought of doing but I think will need some more coins in the piggy bank.

Wren said...

What fun! I've always wanted to do that trip, too. Perhaps you'll be the inspiration I need to actually make it. You look quite dashing in your Tilley gear and perfectly outfitted for your adventure. Will we hear more of your cross-country travels?

Carver said...

Great post for the letter U. I love trains.

Kay L. Davies said...

@ Wren: I posted lots of photos of my trans-Canada journey but haven't written much about it until now, as I'm just getting over a bad case of Writer's Block.
The photo-story starts http://unfittie.blogspot.com/2010/05/train-trip-of-lifetime.html
and goes to
http://unfittie.blogspot.com/2010/06/gaspesie-roche-perce-bonaventure-island.html
(June 1-28, 2010)
Thanks for asking.
— K

VioletSky said...

It is a beautiful station - quite a surprise for Toronto!

Seasons said...

Of the many recent posts, this one is really touching and very personal. Thank you for sharing memories of parents you have loved and are proud of. The adventurous spirit and determination you show today has a lot to do with it. You visit beautiful places, and share your pictures and thoughts with us. Once again, thank you and your supportive husband.

Sallie (FullTime-Life) said...

That's a dream trip Kay, one I'd love to do. And wonderful to do that for yourself and in honor of your mom! We took an Amtrak trip from Oregon to Chicago and back through California in 1999 -- that was great fun. And of course train travel, as you say, fits right in with our motto -- it's the journey that counts, not just the destination!!

The Chair Speaks said...

You look great!
Told my brother that if I do travel from east to west Canada or vice-versa, I would use a mobile home so I could take my time and stop wherever I fancy.

VaishVijay said...

Your beaming smile shows how you'd enjoyed your train journey!

Leslie: said...

You are an inspiration to me, Kay! I want so much to travel by train through England and Wales, but worry about being able to handle my luggage with my bad back. If you can do it, then maybe I can, too. Of course, they don't have the same standard of help as Via Rail does. Did you have to share a space with someone else when you had the lower berth? I'd probably keep anyone awake with my snoring!
Really loved this post - and your 3-legged cane! I must get myself one of those - maybe then others will come to my aid. lol

Leslie
abcw team

Linda said...

One of the ambitions my daughter and I share! You've renewed my determination to do this one day.

White Rock - one branch of my Canadian cousins is in White Rock, so I know it a bit.

And that sound of the train whistle - my aunt and uncle who emigrated to Canada lived in Chilliwack, BC, backing onto the railway at the end of their property. I loved to hear the sound of the train whistles, and watch those incredibly long trains pass by.

Kay L. Davies said...

@ Leslie — I have a bad back, too, and the good thing about Via was hardly having to deal with my own luggage at all. I'd wheel it to the baggage department and check it in, then pick it up, wheel it toward the train, and someone would help me get it aboard, then help me get it off.
The person in the berth above me was so quiet I never heard him arriving or leaving, but he's another one who helped me with my luggage, when I got to Toronto and had to get myself onto the subway to meet Paulette in the suburbs.
— K

Dianne said...

What a wonderful adventure Kay - I can imagine the scenery would have been spectacular - well done you!

Reader Wil said...

Hi Kay! Thank you for this post, it's well written and it is as if we are traveling with you. It sounds wonderful.
I like your outfit! But I am glad you wore a red t-shirt with Canada written all over it, for that's why I recognized you immediately.
Have a great day, love. Wil.

aka Penelope said...

Kay, so nice to see this fantastic picture of you in its not-so-tiny version. I love the personal telling of your trip across country and how you described the experience. You brought back memories of my own nostalgic journey. There is nothing sweeter than a train whistle to wake the adventure in me, too. It looks like you've been over your writer's block for quite some time now. :) I’m so looking forward to seeing you in person when you come to the Coast!

Cezar and Léia said...

Dear Kay,
I love this picture, you are so adorable smiling and it's really a nice station there!
Thanks for sharing your precious moments!
Hugs
Léia

Mr Puddy said...

Station look good and you look Great, Kay
Love your hair cut : )
xoxo

jabblog said...

I so enjoyed reading this post, Kay. You have a way of making everything sound so inviting, so welcoming.
I like the Tilley hat - we're great fans of them:-)

Leslie said...

i do love that photo of you, and i love the idea of a trip like this (although my last memory of a train trip was the one i took as a child, from illinois to florida, and i was, unfortunately, a victim of violent motion sickness!)

Meryl said...

Training across Canada sounds utterly divine!

Jane and Chris said...

I would love to take this trip, I think autumn/fall would be spectacular!
Jane x

Phil said...

That's what I call a personal recommendation Kay - much better than all the advertisements I have ever seen. Its one journey I would love to make but as you say its expensive, especially starting out from here in the UK. However I have been to Union Station, Toronto, a memorable place in its own right.

Lynette Killam said...

Good for you, Kay, doing that on your own! It's so true that we too often put things off until it's too late The trip across Canada is one we've talked of taking, but so far haven't managed it. Trains seem a perfect mode of travel for those of us with some physical limitations, and I know the scenery is remarkable, having had a brief taste of it as we drove from Ontario to our new life in Vancouver decades ago.

This was a lovely read, indeed..thank you. And I must say I too love the sound of train whistles...they are a comfort when I hear them in the middle of the night...:)

hocam said...

What a wonderful trip. I would love to do it some day.

Cildemer said...

A great entry for U day and a very nice shot of you!
Thanks for sharing;o)
Hope you are having a nice and happy week!

SquirrelQueen said...

The last time I was on a train was from Atlanta to Washington DC, I would love to do a trip across Canada. Via Rail sounds like a great way to travel, thanks for the info Kay.

chubskulit said...

Your smile is so contagious Kay.

"U" are invited to see the "U" at my page. Have a great evening.

Carola Bartz said...

Train travels are so wonderful and relaxing. When I still lived in Europe I travelled a lot on the train - and I actually love our fast trains. When we fly over to Germany nowadays, my daughter and I often take the train because we both enjoy it so much. I wish there was more here in the States!

cieldequimper said...

I usually go crazy in trains, even the TGV...

Francisca said...

What a sweet post, Kay. I'm glad I didn't miss it. I remember this dream of yours from an earlier post. I've wanted to do the cross-Canada train trip and for a journey like that I'd not want a fast train. My last train trip was just a couple of summers ago from Shenzhen to Beijing, and I was a bit sad it took less than 24 hours when two decades earlier it had taken a rambling two days. Like you, I never fear that there are stranger angels along the way when you need them (and sometimes I am one, too).

[I'm a tad surprised you with your super sense of humour didn't get the purpose of my sign from the title of the post - a translation from the German. It's a poop and scoop reminder, with a Euro 36 fine for failure to do so. :-D]

Vagabonde said...

I’d love to do this trip too – it sounds so fantastic. I am sure the view is something not to ever forget. I think Canada is one of the most beautiful countries anyway and I’d love to go there more often. Last time we went was in the fall of 09 – to the Maritime, but I have not done my posts on it yet.