27 August 2011

Crossing Canada on the CPR

Approximation of the route Noel took across Canada: (A) Victoria, British Columbia;
(B) Vancouver (C) Banff, Alberta (D) Winnipeg, Manitoba (E) Toronto
The next letter was addressed to Noel in Vancouver. He would have received it right before starting his train journey on the Canadian Pacific Rail across Canada on his way to Toronto.

For more about Noel's crossing of Canada, see
this post from 26 January 2013:
The post contains an audio file from 1982 of Noel
recounting his trip across Canada.

Also, for more about the Canada crossing, click
the tag Canada, which will bring up posts about the
It's a trip that George writes about in his letters with fond memories and a certain amount of wistfulness, although that doesn't come through that well in the Vancouver letter.

While he does end with the wish that Noel has a "thoroughly happy time as you cross the Great Continent," most of the letter is full of advice on how to save money and avoid being swindled. The advice makes me wonder what first-hand knowledge George had of the experience.

It is in the other letters that his fondness for the journey comes out.

A travel poster of the correct-looking
vintage found through AllPosters.com
"Well, I suppose you have had a remarkably interesting journey so far. I know the run through the Canadian Rockies will remain a vivid memories for years to come," he said in an upcoming letter addressed to Noel in Toronto."Then your contacts with the beauties of Lake Louise and Banff will also please you."

And in his Hawaii letter: "You will have a wonderful time going through the Rockies, and I envy you the trip as it is one of the most remarkable railway journeys to be had anywhere in the World."

That sentiment that it is a great train journey holds true today, as the trip is consistently listed in the travel literature as one of the best in the world.

The above video is for the Mountaineer, which is a train that makes the trip across the Canadian Rockies today. Much of the route, especially around Banff and Lake Louise, is in a national park, and I can only guess that it is very similar looking to what Noel saw in 1931 and George saw in 1917 and 1919.

A travel poster of the correct-looking
vintage found through AllPosters.com
On a personal note, my family did  the car trip across the Canadian Rockies twice, both in 1977 and 1979, when I was 8 then 10 years old. I remember it vividly, and I also fell in love with Banff and Lake Louise.

I remember seeing the rail lines carved into and through the mountains, and my parents telling me what an incredible engineering feat it was.

Someday, when my son is older, maybe we'll get back there. Maybe we'll even get to take the train.

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