Memories gone by of traveling on VIA Rail train.

Traveling Islander Jay at 5 years old in 1983 going for a VIA Rail Train Trip. Memory number 4 will melt your heart! Memory number 5 is just funny!

Written By: Jay Kennedy, Traveling Islanders

That’s a picture of me at 5 years old in 1983 posing for a Traveling Islander’s picture that would be used 30 years later!

Flash forward to present day… and in just a few days we will be sharing with you our romantic VIA Rail train trip through the Canadian Rockies!

As if the train trip wasn’t amazing enough, I got to be with my wife making it truly a trip of a lifetime. And through the Canadian Rockies to boot!

VIA Rail Canadian Rockies Jasper

I’ll tell you right now, my favourite part of the VIA Rail train trip was watching Gretta experience everything for her very first time.

It was so fun watching her take delight in the wonder of a train trip as she took in this whole new world of a sleeper-train.

She wouldn’t look at any VIA Rail promotional pictures or videos before the trip, so she literally started with a blank slate unless you count Mission Impossible movies… but those are European trains…and no one was trying to kill us,  so that doesn’t really count.

Canadian Rockies by Train, Best Vacations in the World, Canadian Rockies, Canada, Traveling By Train, Train, Train Vacation, Jasper, Alberta, Vancouver Train, Canadian train experienceFor those new to Canada – That is a picture of the Canadian Rockies. The trip from Ontario to Saskachewan is beautiful… the landscape is just a little bit different! (Image credit: VIARail)

Second favourite was reliving so many fun and positive childhood train memories.

Traveling out West by train from Ontario to Saskatchewan (Canada) as a young boy was by far my favourite part of our family vacation. Most all our extended family was out West so we would go visit them during the summers or Christmas time.

VIA Rail Train, Old VIA Rail Train, Old Train, Old Canadian TrainThere’s the whole fam! Including Grandma and Grandpa, Uncles, and others seeing us off back to Ontario. Now you can see where I get my family haircut from!

Traveling by train to me was more fun than water-skiing, snowmobiling, summer camp or even being chased by my older cooler cousin who liked to throw water and flour down my pants at the same time. Okay, I admit it’s not hard to top that last memory.

Point is… I just love the train.

I still remember my father lifting me up into the top bunk of the train and saying good-night as we pulled out of the Toronto VIA Rail train station. I leaned down, gave him a big hug and said “I love you”.  I can still look down and see his face looking up at me even now.

I was just so overjoyed to be back on the train having a grand adventure.

I don’t think it was any one thing that caused me to love the train so much… all I know is that I have so many positive memories from my train trips that I will forever look back at this time with fondness.

I’m thirty-five now and here are eight memories thirty years later!

Memory #1 – The friendly crew who would somehow magically transform our daytime seating area into the greatest blanket fort ever! complete with bunk bed!  I loved having my own little bunk bed, and listening to the train sounds as I was rocked to sleep.

Memory #2 – Going for breakfast with my mom in the dining car and having just me and mom time. We rarely went out to restaurants as a family, so this was very special.

Memory #3 – Walking the train from beginning to end! This was one of my parents favourite ways to get my wiggles out. There were about 30 cars on the train, so it was loooooong. I felt so big, being on my very own walking the train. Everything at that age was gigantic! The metal doors between the cars were made for giants and took all my might to open them.

Memory #4 – Waking up and climbing into my parents bed to snuggle while watching the picturesque Canadian scenery go by. I still remember seeing wild animals out in the snow and my mom excitedly making sure I saw them.

Memory #5 – Getting off the train at station stops during the dead of winter (-27 degrees celsius) and running down the length of the train in our t-shirts seeing how many train doors you could pass before freezing to death.

Memory #6 – Thinking that someday I would work on the train and have the best job in the whole world!

Memory #7 – Playing games with my parents and having their undivided attention. No wireless or laptops back then!

Memory #8 –Visiting the “dome car” and seeing the whole length of the train snake around the corners. The dome car is an observation seating area that sits on top of the train fully made out of windows. Kind of like a half of a hamster ball.

VIA Rail Train, Train trip, Train, Train trip Canadian Rockies, Canadian Rockies, Canadian Rockies by Train, best vacations in the world, Canada, Canada must do, Canada attractions, Jasper, VancouverImage Credit: VIA Rail – Canadian Rockies “The Canadian” Train. 

When Gretta and I got on the train last week for our romantic Canadian Rockies train trip, I was hit with a strong “back to the future” experience as I showed her around something that was strangely so very familiar.

While VIA Rail has done a good job refurbishing “The Canadian” train that goes through the Canadian Rockies… everything from the train water fountain, the hallways, the dinning car, to the giant bedtime forts brought me back to favourite childhood memories of a time gone by.

Often I felt like I could have been a little kid again walking the train by myself… that is until I came to the doors between cars made for giants. I took one look at the first heavy metal door and felt a great deal of satisfaction swinging it open without breaking a sweat.

Stay tuned for Gretta’s blog post recounting her very first time on a train! I can’t wait! Coming this week to Traveling Islanders Travel Blog.

Train trip, Canadian Train, Canadian Rockies Train trip, Travel by train in Canada, Canada travel, Vancouver Train, Jasper trainThe new Panorama car that is on “The Canadian” train between Vancouver & Edmonton. By far my favourite car on the train. 

How about you? Been on a train before or still looking forward to your first time? What are your favourite train memories? Comment below.


For more information on how to book your own Canadian Rockies train trip and to dream about your very own VIA Rail Romantic Getaway visit

You will want to check these SPECIAL OFFERS out as travel by train in Canada can be pretty pricey:
• Best VIA Rail train travel deals & exclusive promotions. Sometimes 50% off!


While our VIA Rail train trip the Canadian Rockies (present day) was complimentary, you can rest assured that our thoughts, opinions, and findings are our own as always.


  • I love watching your photos of this trip recently. It seems like a great way to experience the countryside. We went on a steam train yesterday through part of CT and enjoyed it but the luxury type experience like you had and getting to sleep onboard sounds like great memories indeed! - Reply

    • I don't think I've ever found a better way to enjoy the countryside than the train. It was so incredible! Having our own room was a definite bonus for sure. There's just something special about falling asleep to the very gentle rocking. I'm sure a steam train is pretty special too. - Reply

  • Loving the photos from your childhood Jay, very retro! I love your enthusiasm in this post and the obvious joy you had in writing it - Remembering about the times you shared with your family on the train, very moving. I always like to read about people who appreciated their upbringing and the quality time they had with their parents. This train journey looks amazing, the scenery, the train itself, We don't really have anything like this in England (Well not that I've come across before anyway?) Theres just not enough land haha! - Reply

    • I'm glad my enthusiasm came through. I have great memories from the train. And I've heard that the trains in North America are quite different from those in England. Sounds like you need to take a trip across the pond and try them out. -j - Reply

  • I can't wait to read more about your trip. This has always been one of those dream trips for me. I got to visit the Canadian Rockies for the first time last year and was just blown away by the beauty. Between the scenery and getting to experience it on a train (I LOVE trains!), it really must have been an awesome trip! - Reply

    • Maybe on your next visit though you can try the train, Amy. It was dream trip of mine, that's for sure. The Canadian Rockies' breathtaking beauty is not to be missed! -g - Reply

  • I love traveling by train, and haven't been on one since our trip to Europe. I could seriously handle those views - wow! Canada is so beautiful, clearly I need to plan a trip there ASAP. Love your walk down memory lane, and the older pics of little Jay! Looking forward to Gretta's post!! :) - Reply

    • The train is certainly a world of its own. Yes, Katie, you need to come to Canada to experience some of our immense beauty! -g - Reply

  • Look, it's teeny Jay! :D Awwww! This train looks lovely. My parents went on it when they visited Canada a few years ago. I love the domed car with part of the ceiling being see through. Awesome. I so wish I could do more train journeys but unfortunately some of the world's great train journeys are so expensive! Hopefully in future. :) - Reply

    • Haha. Yes, Karyn, that's what I said when I saw these photos for the first time too. I learned from this train trip, that though expensive, it's worth it. You just have to look at the train as the destination, not where it's taking you as the destination. And that dome care is pretty cool :) -g - Reply

  • wow... Sounds like some great memories. I've only traveled by train in Europe and never overnight, but I imagine that it would be a lot of fun. Trains are one of my favorite ways to travel. - Reply

    • Yes, Cory, the train is pretty special. And the memories made on it sure do last a lifetime. :) -g - Reply

  • Great post, Jay. Favourite photo was the 1983 train trip aboard the 'Prairie Schooner' also known as VIA train number 109/110 which were short trains that ran in 1981-1984. Where did you board the train shown in those photos? I published a post on these diminutive trains in my blog, Trackside Treasure: Eric Gagnon Kingston, Ontario - Reply

    • Wow Eric! You know your trains! Very cool, thanks for sharing that info. We were in Saskatchewan boarding at Moose Jaw. We often visited our extended family during the summer time. Such great memories that are so vivid I can escape back to 1983 anytime I want :) J - Reply