Exploring Canada - Part 1

Aspects of Canada in 1989


Our trip begins as winter fades and we cross the Jackfish River bridge at breakup,
travelling the Canadian National line through Northern Ontario.



This is the Sioux Lookout, an important calling point for the three passenger trains a week along this line.



These services are maintained as they provide links to the Indian settlements en route, often at stations with minimal facilities.



This picture shows departure from Allanwater Bridge, where business has been brisk.



There are a surprising number of remote services in northern Canada and this is another,
the mixed train between The Pass and the mining town of Llyn Lake.



This an incredible train and even has catering facilities in the caboose bringing up the rear.



I was well received in Llyn Lake and was taken for a trip down the gold mine.



Llyn Lake's original buildings were moved here in the 1950's from the dying town of Sherridon
the buildings being jacked on to sledges and towed along winter roads by Linn tractors, as illustrated here.



Departure from Llyn Lake was aboard the Thompson bus.



The bus, like the train, providing links to remote settlements en route.



Thompson is a much, much bigger mining town.



With a neat station as a spur off the Winnipeg to Hudson Bay line.



And it was a perfect North American diesel train that reverses into Thompson station
to take us to Churchill and frozen Hudson Bay.



The trees thin as we proceed north with tripod poles to keep telephone wires level in this tricky permafrost environment.



Treeless tundra appears, pushed unusually far south by the chilling effect of Hudson Bay.



With Churchill ahead the whole train is turned on a Y and we reverse for the final mile.



And this is what we have come to see, frozen Hudson Bay, another ambition achieved!



Churchill is a summer outlet for grain exports and also "The Polar Bear Capital of the World"
as bears congregate here awaiting the freezing of the bay.



Heading back to Winnipeg now in the comfortable coaches of this fascinating train.



And from Winnipeg we take Canadian National metals once more, towards Sioux Lookout.
This is a one of the smaller stations we pass, neat Farlane.



As we visit Art, a retired train driver with a fishing cottage at Niddrie.



Art's cottage, a former railway building, is the white building to the right.



And aboard Art's boat we view a beaver lodge.



...............And later, at another location, a beaver dam.



We now move to the Canadian Pacific transcontinental route, a little to the south and the junction station at Franz
with a view that look westwards towards Lake Superior and Thunder Bay.



And this is Roddy, who is rightly proud of this amazing station.



And great that we still have a daily transcontinental service on this line too as the Vancouver train passes by.
In this view we also see the other line, the Algoma Central Railroad from Sault Ste. Marie to Hearst.



And here comes the Algoma Central to Sault Ste. Marie, running three days a week at this time of year.



The Algoma Central is another bear branded route, the Black Bear route.



And this spectacular viaduct is another prominent picture in the Ledbury Station Gallery.



Sault Ste. Marie and the bridge to America that crosses the St Mary River connecting Lake Huron with Lake Superior.



As we travel to Quebec, where Phil flies in,
sadly without her luggage............which has flown elsewhere............hence the impromptu raincoat!



The luggage arrives and off we go along a deserted road to Sept Isles, a town on the northern shore of the Gulf of St. Lawrence.



Where this cabin becomes our accommodation for the next couple of days.



The Nordic Express sails the Gulf of St. Lawrence between Sept Isles and Blanc Sablon except for winter months when the sea is frozen.



And it provides a vital link to the isolated communities en route, some of which are very remote indeed.



Harrington Harbour for instance, an English speaking outpost of Quebec
as settlement here was from Newfoundland downwards rather than from Quebec upwards.



And this is how some people move around Harrington Harbour at this time of year.



At St. Augustin the Nordic Express can't reach the village and unloads here at this isolated quay.
Everything being transhipment onwards in smaller boat.



Visibility is poor at Blanc Sablon and we were very pleased to see our connecting ferry
loom out of the mist for our two hour crossing to Newfoundland.



We found Newfoundland pleasingly sunny but still very remote.



We have a tent with us this trip and it came in very useful here at Plum Point.



As we take the bus to the larger town of Deer Lake.



We regain the mainland at Sydney, Nova Scotia.



And regain train travel again in Halifax, Nova Scotia, for yet another crossing of Canada.



And the wonderful observation car gives excellent views crossing the St. Lawrence River on the approach to Montreal.



Back in rural Quebec the roadsign suggests a grand station for Hervey Junction.



It actually looks like this.



And from Hervey one can still travel through northern Quebec to Cochrane, Ontario, in a superb trains like this.
Cochrane is a bit special. See the steam engine in the background for instance.



That's where I spent the night!



And there are polar bears on the platform too!
This is Doug who is waiting for the thrice weekly train to Moosonee and he, like me, has a long wait.



This was Doug's train, the Ontario Northland "Polar Bear Express" running from Toronto to Moosonee.
Moosonee is on James Bay, the most southerly inlet of Hudson Bay.



I am heading westwards from Cochrane, partly by train and, sadly, partly by bus as train services have almost faded away along this route.
The buses continue to be unusual. This is the Hearst to Hornpayne bus.



And at Hornepayne we connect with the thrice weekly Sioux Lookout to Winnipeg train for the final time.




As we finish Part 1 with a second Jackfish River Bridge photograph,
this time free of ice with green trees in spring sunshine.

End of Part 1


Click here for Canada Part 2

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