When I began planning this trip I didn’t set out to depart Toronto on a symbolic date. I had wanted to work through June 14 (North America Cup), be off work before my birthday (June 23), turn over my leased car before the plates expired (June 23), and vacate my loft roughly when it came up for renewal on June 30. So in reality it was a combination of factors that led me to launch the cross-Canada leg of this trip on July 1st – Canada’s birthday. And what’s more “Canadian” than boarding “The Canadian”, a train that appears on Canada’s $10 bill, on Canada Day?
After locking the door to my loft on the morning of Tuesday, July 1, a leisurely lunch with friends on a King Street patio, last minute shopping (new jeans at The Bay), and dinner with friends near their Wellington Street condo, I donned my backpack and made the 10-minute walk to Union Station. With no baggage to be checked and no security screening to endure, the VIA Rail check-in process is as simple as finding the right gate and waiting for the agent to scan the QR code on your pre-printed boarding pass.
The twice-weekly Toronto to Vancouver train is known as “The Canadian” but each individual car also has a unique and historically significant name. I made my way far down the tracks to car #120 – The Jarvis Manor, named for PEI Chief Justice Edward James Jarvis (1788-1852).
I tossed my large and small backpacks onto the upper berth, drew the curtain, and headed straight for Park car where the “Bon Voyage Party” was underway and the bubbly was flowing.
We pulled out of Union Station about 10 minutes behind schedule at 22:10 and headed for a marshalling yard northwest of the city where tracks configured like a “Y” are used to turn the train that had earlier arrived from Vancouver. While idling in Vaughan (?) we watched fireworks that were likely being let off at Canada’s Wonderland.
After a few canapés and four or five glasses of Pelee Island Secco (who’s counting?) I was ready for Night #1 in an upper berth.
CANADA DAY OFF / TORONTO by Carolyn Mark & N.Q. Arbuckle
(Click below to play audio file)