Canadian Pacific Railway Trips
Discover the unspoiled beauty of Canada on this iconic rail line
In 1886, W.C. Van Horne, President of Canadian Pacific Railway, quipped "If we can't export the scenery, we'll import the tourists." And he did, with impeccable style.
More than 130 years later, the golden era of rail travel is still alive and well on the Canadian Pacific railway. This line traverses the spectacular Canadian Rockies and carries you along sweeping prairie fields.
A fleet of elegant rail carriages gently chugs through the rugged, untamed mountains. Dine on gourmet meals while watching mountain goats peer down at you from rocky cliffs and bald eagles float in canyon updrafts.
This iconic Canadian train journey is every bit as unspoiled and timeless as it was in 1886.
WANT TO MAKE IT BETTER?
Quick facts about the Canadian Pacific Railway
This route was not easy to build. Railway workers had to face many hardships, including forest fires, grizzly bears and huge swathes of seemingly-impenetrable forests.
Several elegant hotels, including Banff Springs Hotel and the Jasper Park Lodge, were built along the route of the railway in the late 19th and early 20th century in order to promote tourism.
The railway played an important part in the Northwest Rebellion of 1885, as it allowed soldiers to get from Ontario and Quebec to the Prairies in only 10 days.
The railway was also to thank for the discovery of natural gas in Alberta. It was found when construction crews were digging a well to obtain water for the steam locomotives in Alderson, Alberta in 1886.
Glide down the rails on a Canadian Pacific Railway train, knowing that you are travelling along the same route that the early settlers of Canada would have traversed over a century ago. There are two popular options for exploring the CPR:
Vancouver to the Rockies
The Rocky Mountaineer is a daylight only train, perfect for experiencing the most spectacular views and optimal photo oppotunities of the Canadian Rockies. The train connects BC and Alberta, with stops in Jasper, Banff, Lake Louise, Vancouver and Whistler on three unique routes. Your overnight stay during your journey will be in Quesnel or Kamloops.
Vancouver to Toronto
Hopping a ride on this train is the ultimate way to discover how big and beautiful Canada is. 'The Canadian' was the flagship of the Canadian Pacific Rail line when it began service in 1955. Travelling from Toronto to Vancouver, the Canadian carries you from the forests of Ontario, through the sweeping fields of the Prairies and past the dramatic snow-capped Rocky Mountains
An icon of Canada's past
Canada's growth was guided by these steel tracks laid nearly a century and a half ago.
- 1871: British Columbia enters Confederation and requests that a transcontinental railway be built. It would not be cheap, but Prime Minister John A. Macdonald sees the value in connecting the nation from the Atlantic to the Pacific.
- 1873: Production is stalled after Alexander Mackenzie takes power. He believes that the railway is a waste of money, but BC threatens to succeed if it's not built.
- 1873-1878: This period of time is known as the "Battle of the Routes" - as there were many arguments over what the best route would be through the mountainous terrain of Alberta and British Columbia.
- 1878: John A. Macdonald is back in power and the Canadian Pacific Railway is now a top priority for the country.
- 1882: William Van Horne is appointed as the leader of the CPR project. He would complete the project in only 5 years — much faster than originally planned.
- 1885: The historic Last Spike was driven by Donald Smith, completing this massive cross-country construction project.
These are some suggested train experiences for your Canadian adventure
The Rocky Mountaineer connects British Columbia and Alberta, with stops in Jasper, Lake Louise, Banff, Vancouver, Whistler, Quesnel and Kamloops. The train runs from mid-April until mid-October. The Rocky Mountaineer is a daylight only train designed so that passengers can experience the most spectacular views and optimal photo opportunities.
VIA Rail Train
The VIA Rail trains connect Canada from Vancouver to Halifax, with four different train routes. Major city stops include Vancouver, Prince Rupert, Jasper, Winnipeg, Toronto, Ottawa, Montreal, Quebec and Halifax. The trains run year round. Depending on the route, they offer daylight or overnight sleeper train experiences.
There are two train routes in Canada which allow you to sleep on the train. Travel between Vancouver and Toronto on The Canadian, with stops in Jasper or Winnipeg. Or travel the East Coast of Canada on the Ocean train from Montreal to Halifax. Both sleeper train routes are available all year long. Sleeper trains in Canada are equipped with special panoramic viewing cars to provide you with the best view of the scenery day or night.
Recommended Canadian Pacific Train Tours
Canada Coast to Coast by Train
Vancouver, Kamloops, Banff, Lake Louise, Icefields Parkway, Jasper, Toronto, Montreal, Quebec City, Halifax
19 days from Loading... pp
Essential Rockies by Train
Vancouver, Kamloops, Lake Louise, Banff, Calgary
6 days from Loading... pp
Iconic CPR Hotels: Fairmont Banff Springs
Built in 1888, the Banff Springs hotel was one of the grand railway hotels that really put the Canadian Rockies on the map as a tourist destination. The elegant building, which has the grandeur of a castle, is located just above Bow Falls and is only a short walk away from the resort town of Banff.
Banff Springs Golf Course: This luxury golf course is set within one of the most spectacular locations in the world. It was designed by the famous Canadian architect Stanley Thompson to exist in harmony with the natural contours of the mountains. It can be difficult to concentrate on the game with such dazzling views of snow-capped peaks all around you.
Dining: It has several excellent dining options, including the 1888 Chop House, the Bow Valley Grill and the Waldhaus Restaurant — all with incredible views.
- A fitness center with an indoor and outdoor swimming pool.
- Massage services, ideal for post-hiking sore muscles.
- Tennis courts, bowling, a skating rink, ski storage and a games room.
- Coffee makers, hair dryers and stunning views in every room.
Iconic CPR Hotels: Fairmont Jasper Park Lodge
The elegant Jasper Park Lodge opened in 1922, as a challenger to the Banff Springs Hotel. It has hosted many celebrities — including Marilyn Monroe and Bing Crosby — and is also well-loved by the Royal Family. It was visited by King George VI and Queen Elizabeth in 1939 and also Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Phillip in 2005.
Jasper Park Golf Course: Stanley Thompson also designed the stunning Jasper Park Golf Course, a challenging 18-hole par 71 course that meanders alongside glacial lakes through a wildlife corridor where elk and caribou roam. It's considered Canada's #1 Golf Resort and it's definitely a must-play course for any golf enthusiast.
Dining: There are several restaurants on site, including the Moose's Nook Chophouse, Oka Sushi and ORSO Trattoria - as well as the nearby golf course.
- The Fairmont Jasper Park Spa, where you can get fully rejuvenated.
- A ski shuttle to take you straight to the slopes.
- An outdoor pool, perfect for those hot summer days.
- An arcade and game room.
- Ice skating, mountain biking, horse riding, snowshoeing and other activities on site.
Canada was built along the historic Canadian Rail system, so it makes sense that many major Canadian cities are easily accessible by train. With train stations often centrally located within these cosmopolitan cities or remote towns, it is easy to explore the best of Canada by train.
Biking the Vancouver Seawall
Vancouver is a delightfully liveable city throughout the year, but it really shines in the summertime. You'll have the best of both worlds - the culture, dining and shopping of a world class metropolis and mountains and hiking trails right on the doorstep. The climate of Vancouver is also ideal in the summer — not too cold, but also not scorching hot. It's just the right temperature to treat yourself to some ice cream as you wander around the city.
Jasper is the gentle giant of the Rockies and this small mountain town offers visitors a more laid-back mountain experience – with equal options for adventure, discovery and relaxation.
Banff National Park
The townsite of Banff, established in 1885, is the hub of Banff National Park. A lively mountain town with great restaurants, Banff is a welcome change of pace. Enjoy strolling Banff Avenue or try one of the numerous outdoor adventures offered in this outdoor playground. Banff was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site, for the mountain peaks, glaciers, lakes, and waterfalls.
Celebrated for its incredible skiing, this bustling resort town has plenty to see and do all year round. Take the Peak 2 Peak Gondola high up into the mountains, spend the day at the spa or on the golf course, and in the evening enjoy fine food and wines at one of the many world class restaurants. Whistler has something for everyone.
The quaint hamlet in the heart of the Rockies is named after the nearby lake. Known for its sparkling turquoise blue waters and impressive glacier-clad peaks, Lake Louise offers a surreal paddling experience in the warm summer months and one of the most scenic skating rinks in the world in winter.
Winnipeg will surprise you – a sophisticated, cultured metropolis rising out of an endless sea of flat prairies. It's gaining attention for its diverse dining scene, excellent new museums and the quality of its theatre, comedy and music.
Toronto has great neighbourhoods, wonderful ethnic restaurants and bars, museums, Broadway shows, concerts and galleries. You will want to visit landmarks such as the CN Tower, the Skydome and museums - then get off the beaten path and walk vibrant, quirky neighbourhoods that reflect the incredible diversity of Canada's population.
Sign up for vacation inspiration, insider tips, exclusive offers and more.