We recently had the rare pleasure of seeing significant swaths of Canada through the windows of a Skyline dome car on our Kingston-Edmonton round trip aboard VIA. What better way to celebrate Canada than with a few photos taken through this unique portal? Along with each photo presented in this post, I've provided a short commentary blending my observations of the trip with the Canadian character. Happy Canada Day!
Two New Zealanders (top photo) joined us in the air-conditioned Skyline, specially garbed in sweaters and down jackets for the cool conditions. 'CANADA' and red toques! The chilling cold and the undying wind require preparation to deal with, but when properly dressed, we can laugh at the cold. Even if it's air-conditioned cold!
Rivers, roads and rails. From earliest days until today, Canadians know that there is always much more to explore. Not content with their solid brick buildings, frame structures or modern subdivisions, we want to see more of our country. On skis, on rafts, by helicopter or Red River cart, there was always another horizon beckoning us onward. And that will never change. High on the CP trestle over Parry Sound:
Miles and hectares and quadrants, full of trees. And lakes. And plains. And tundra. Why? This land 'that God gave to Cain' is one gigantic wilderness that we have managed to somehow shoehorn humanity into, despite its best efforts to push us back out. Beautiful sunsets from a cozy dome car, but in years past, a sunset over the gathering gloaming meant another day of back-breaking hard work ahead. West of Red Lake Road, approaching the Ontario-Manitoba border:
Grainy photos of bewildered immigrants arriving in Winnipeg, shown in our history textbooks, flashed through my mind as we waited to head west again. The cities spit out immigrants as fast as they could, eager to make way for more, as the settlers went on to seek their fortune in an unforgiving land. The railway was there to make this happen, using its fan-like network to propel prospective pioneers deep into that very same wilderness.
The sheer immensity of the land dwarfs us. As we move farther into it, we are met by waves of grass, by towering stands of trees, by a sea of mountains. Set on conquering it, civilization sprouted like weeds among cobblestones - though the endlessness is truly unending. Once the distant seashores are reached, the unending seas at our gates beckon again. Saskatchewan:
Where new civilization began, commerce followed. Minerals, crops, furs were duly discovered and warehoused for sale. Proceeds were held close and privately lent out to promote more further profits. Solidly built, certain town buildings were visible signs of prosperity and commercial promise. Young, Saskatchewan:
This immense land makes one realize that there has to be something bigger than oneself, something greater, grander and omniscient. Realizing that each person was not alone, houses of worship sprung up and were populated by those perhaps not God-fearing but in a stronger sense than today, God-knowing. Neighbours and friendships were made, sustaining each other in success and struggle, birth and death, sorrow and joy. West of Melville, Saskatchewan:
Darkness breeds doubt. Survival seems shaky, the night seems interminable, and even passengers wonder if the rain will abate. The raindrops provide a spiderweb-like pattern across the window, whipped by the wind. But the darkness is overcome by the light, tomorrow always comes, and once again, our future seems assured. Northern Ontario:
That particular blue-sky type of optimism comes on a day when everything seems possible, when the moments pass slowly and we hope they will never end. There are no bounds, and the ceiling is unlimited. A land like ours begets this opportunity and in no small way, continues to ensure its bright future. Saskatchewan:
The next generations want a share of Canada. In the past, survival. Today, openness and inclusivity are words used in a land where survival is assured, and we continue to welcome newcomers and learn to live together. Simultaneously, we harness and expand the sheer size of our country using technology. A child's hand reaches toward the future. Toronto:
An evocative scene, taken from our bedroom window (I really can't use the VIA terminology 'Cabin for 2' despite my best efforts!) near Yarbo, Saskatchewan (below). Departing Kingston on June 1, we returned June 26.
There will be more photos of this 'trip of a lifetime', rest assured! Since there are 1400+ photos, it takes a while to savour, sort and share them. I will not, however, inflict a 24-part series on our trip upon Trackside Treasure's patient readership!
Happy Canada Day, and to Trackside Treasure's readers in America, Happy Independence Day!