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Jeffrey R. Clarke : Serving Canadians

March 13th 2014 by Yves Desjardins-Siciliano

Last Sunday, Jeffrey R. Clarke of Ottawa passed away. He was a member of VIA Rail’s Board of Directors‎ and Chairman of its Real Estate, Environment and Major Capital Program Committee. He was 58 years old and he had served on the Board since 2007.  

Mr. Clarke was a leader. He moved to Ottawa from his native Nova Scotia‎ in the 1980′s to serve in the office of Prime Minister Mulroney.  He subsequently stayed in Ottawa and built a business that he ran successfully until his passing. All the while, he volunteered for a variety of organizations. 

Despite his busy schedule, Mr. Clarke also accepted to serve on VIA Rail’s (a Crown corporation) Board of Directors. His motivation and dedication were fueled by the same ideal that brought him to Ottawa in the first place: to be of service to his country.  

Today, VIA Rail’s Board of Directors is holding its quarterly meeting‎. The Chairman of the Board Paul G. Smith will pay tribute to his colleague. An empty chair and a name plate will mark Director Clarke’s seat at the table. He will be missed.

May his passing and his lasting memory remind those of us who choose to serve our country that there is no greater honour than to be of service to Canada.

Tooting Our Own (Train) Horn

March 6th 2014 by Yves Desjardins-Siciliano

VIA Rail is continually working on self-improvement: from safety and security to customer experience, we strive to become Canadians’ preferred travel provider.  Despite our goal-oriented focus, it’s always a good idea to “stop and smell the roses” every once in a while, to remember what we do well, instead of always focusing on how to do it better.

Therefore, it is with pride that we highlight some positive feedback received this year from happy passengers through our social media accounts, thanks to our amazing, dedicated employees.

Twitter Tributes:

@16Katiewilson 
Everyone should experience business class via rail at least once in their lifetime!

@goeffdahl Watching #Oiler game in Detroit Feb 9. So glad I took the train-Toronto to Windsor instead of driving in the snow-it was on time! #VIA_Rail

@BrandonWaselnuk 
Riding with @VIA_Rail is great, Wi-Fi and really kind staff. I’m enjoying this (while I work super hard on @tattoo_hero ) now for coffee…

@PeterGrevstad: Thanks again @VIA_Rail for a great trip today. My dog’s crate was draped with a blanket. #greatserevice

@JBishSD70Ace:  Here’s a shot I took in November when the new $10 bill came out http://t.co/KvUTHC3t5o – please share!

@bgrice: I really recommend splurging on the business class… It is well worth it. @VIA_Rail

Facebook Friends:

Troy H.
Cheers from aboard 44 to Ottawa. Reason #44 to take the train between Ottawa and Toronto. New cars, relax and enjoy the view and hospitality.

Natalie d.P.
Thanks Sammy on Via Train 57 tonight who helped this mom out by having her luggage and stroller unfolded before she even got off the train. Help with keeping a baby asleep is priceless!

Vince C.
The VIA representative that help me book my trip was Tanya she was the nicest person in a long while that I ever talked to. Canada could use more customer service reps like her.

On YouTube:

Watch VIA Train 14’s sunset time-lapse from Evans, New Brunswick to near Oxford, Nova Scotia – created by NovaScotianRailfan: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d7x3XbaTmNY

 

We love the feedback, so keep it coming! Connect with us on Facebook, Twitter or YouTube.

Train Stations at the Center of their Communities

February 21st 2014 by Yves Desjardins-Siciliano

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.

This is perfectly demonstrated by the history and current use of train stations in St. Marys, Ontario and in Jasper, Alberta.

The Jewel of the Rockies: Jasper Railway Station

Jasper Station back in the day

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.

Today’s Jasper Station

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

St. Marys. Station during WWI

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.

Today’s St. Marys Station

At VIA Rail, we are proud of the important role that the railway and its accompanying infrastructure plays in Canadian culture.

You’ve Been Entertained…

February 13th 2014 by Yves Desjardins-Siciliano

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: 

CBC’s Dragon’s Den

  1. 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. 
  2.  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.
  3.  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:

National Film Board’s OCD The war inside

  1. OCD: The War Inside: This feature documentary explores the daily lives of individuals living with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder.
  2.  WAL-TOWN The Film: A documentary in which 6 student activists take on one giant corporation.
  3.  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:

Heritage Minute’s Wilder Penfield

  1. 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.
  2.  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.
  3.  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.

A Memorable Journey

February 7th 2014 by Yves Desjardins-Siciliano

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.

 

Kids from Toronto Children’s Breakfast Club having a great time on the 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.