The national railway helped build our country, and its stations were a big contributor to its success. In many cases, the train station remains an important symbol and meeting point in Canadian cities and towns.
The Jewel of the Rockies: Jasper Railway Station
In 1925, Canadian National Railways built a station in the center of Jasper, with the intention of creating a focal point. The impressive building, which has lived up to its goal, was designed in the “Arts and Crafts” style and inspired by a rustic concept.
In 1992, Jasper station was designated a Heritage Building by Parks Canada who became the owners of the property. In 1999, the building was renovated in keeping with the original architecture elements and has become a major attraction for residents and tourists.
In addition to being VIA Rail’s train stop in Jasper, the station also houses Parks Canada offices, a café and a souvenir shop for train lovers. What’s better than trainspotting with a warm latte?
St. Marys’ Grand Trunk Station
In 1857 the people of St. Marys began demanding that a train station be built in their city. 50 years later, their request finally came to fruition and the Grand Trunk station was built on November 20th, 1907 by the Grand Trunk Railway. The unique building was designed by architect E. Chandler. The facade is constructed of glazed Logan brick, distinguished by its varying brown tint. At the time it was built, the 92 foot station contained a lobby, a waiting room, offices and ticketing facilities, a rest room for the ladies, and a smokehouse for men! Some journalists of the era even compared St. Marys station to the one in Paris.
In 1987, St.Marys station was designated a Heritage Building by the City of St.Marys, who became the official owners. In 1988, the station underwent a major restoration and now holds a tourist information center. It continues to serve as VIA Rail’s train station as well.
At VIA Rail, we are proud of the important role that the railway and its accompanying infrastructure plays in Canadian culture.
In August 2013, VIA Rail launched its On Train Entertainment system, an interactive digital platform that provides passengers on trains within the Québec City – Windsor corridor free access to Canadian programming. Content includes television programs from CBC/Radio-Canada, documentaries and animation from the National Film Board of Canada, and “Heritage Minute” vignettes produced by Historica Canada.
At the six month mark, we thought it would be fun to take a look at the numbers and compile a list of your favourite programs to date, as chosen by you*, our passengers.
The top Canadian Broadcasting Corporation programs are:
- Dragon’s Den: Who can resist these catty and brutally honest moguls telling hopeful business owners the truth about their products? Not our passengers! This program was a clear favorite.
- Cracked: Just starting its second season on the air, this CBC drama is a unique blend of a police and medical drama inspired by the real-life experiences of police officers and mental-health professionals.
- Murdoch Mysteries: It’s not your typical forensics show, this one takes place in Toronto in the 1900s!
The top National Film Board shows are:
- OCD: The War Inside: This feature documentary explores the daily lives of individuals living with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder.
- WAL-TOWN The Film: A documentary in which 6 student activists take on one giant corporation.
- Being Caribou: You got it, this one is about caribou! The documentary follows a herd of 120,000 caribou on foot across 1500 km of Arctic tundra.
The top Heritage Minutes are:
- Wilder Penfield: The infamous “I can smell burnt toast!” line comes from this Heritage Minute that gives a glimpse into the innovative advancements of Dr. Penfield and his work on the human brain.
- Inukshuk : On the wild arctic landscape inukshuk (stone sculptures) are often the only sign that humans have passed through, a symbol of the traditional Inuit way of life.
- Jennie Trout: A brief portrait of Jennie Trout who, in 1875, became the first woman licensed to practice medicine in Canada.
Make sure to check out all the other programs being offered on our entertainment system. We hope to see you on board soon… and keep watching!
* The list of top programs is based on the number of times a program has been viewed.
The winter weather blowing outside did nothing to cool down the warm and jovial atmosphere on Train 50 last Tuesday, which was transporting over 160 kids from Toronto to Ottawa for an educational and exciting day trip. With the beginning of February, so begins Black History Month, along with VIA Rail’s annual Breakfast train in collaboration with the Toronto Children’s Breakfast Club (TCBC).
For the eighth consecutive year VIA Rail has invited children from the TCBC as well as key members of various municipalities across the Greater Toronto Area on board for a very special ride. This year two Aboriginal schools from the Cobourg area joined the trip, which was chaperoned by the Honourable Jean Augustine.
The train ride itself was a source of great excitement for many of the children, who had never been on a train before. The VIA Rail team made sure they experienced all that the train had to offer, including a great meal (prepared with local ingredients). Everyone was encouraged to ask questions about the train and participate in organized competitions. Our amazing employees were delighted to share their knowledge and witness the kids’ pure joy of being on a train.
In Ottawa, the young participants attended a reception held in their honour at the Parliament buildings, where once again the kids were encouraged to ask questions – this time to Members of Parliament. They were then given a guided tour of the Parliament building followed by a visit to the Royal Canadian Mounted Police stables.
True to their mission, the Toronto Children’s Breakfast Club in collaboration with VIA Rail gave these kids an amazing experience they won’t soon forget.
Recently, VIA Rail teamed up with the Canada Company’s Military Employment Transition Program. This new initiative assists Canadian Armed Forces members who are transitioning out of the military to obtain employment in the civilian workforce. Over 5,000 military personnel transition towards a civilian life each year. This partnership gives VIA Rail access to a pool of highly trained employment candidates with complementary abilities and competencies in maintenance-related trades, as well as safety and operational positions.
Passenger rail’s relationship with the Canadian Military dates back many years. Historically, the railway was integral in the transportation of both soldiers and equipment during the world wars. To see some film footage of this, check out the National Film Board production, “The 100 Year Old Station”, created in honour of the centennial of VIA Rail’s Winnipeg Union Station.
VIA Rail also continues its support of the Canadian Military through special programs such as a discounted fare for military personnel, veterans and their families, and by sponsoring events like the Canadian Armed Forces Photography Contest. We are also an active supporter of True Patriot Love, an organization that honours the sacrifices of members of the Canadian Forces, Veterans and their families through various health support programs.
The Military Employment Transition Program is a further extension of our mandate to promote Canadian values and connect Canadians.