Monday, September 24, 2012

Lure of the Train...Part II

(continued from Part I)

Agawa Canyon

When my son was a small boy, twice we drove my MGB to Tobermory
to visit friends. We rode the ferry to Manitoulin Island; crossing it, then bridged
to Espanola on the mainland then north to Sault Ste. Marie. One fine autumn day
with Jackie and her son, we boarded the Agawa Canyon Tour Train ~ a one-day
wilderness excursion that was truly breathtakingly brilliant with fall colours. 
We traveled 114 miles north of  The Soo. The scenery:  towering trees alongside
pristine lakes and rivers, trestles that crossed deep valleys, through awesome
granite wall formations and vast medieval forests of the Canadian Shield. 
At mile 102, the train began its descent into the canyon; hugging the canyon wall,
you travel down 500 feet over the next 10 miles to the floor of Agawa Canyon...
which was created 1.2 million years ago. Lunch was served at this stopping point
and time provided to rest, to marvel and bathe in this wilderness wonderland
and for the boys to play before our return ride to the train's station.

Real Estate Challenge

Following 15 years of teaching, I devoted five years as a full-time-mother
for our two children.  It was then I became a Real Estate Sales Representative.
One of my first listings was an “expiry” ~ a semi-detached home on Enfield
Road.  The young couple of two children had been unable to sell their property
through a previous realtor.  The lot, narrow but 210 feet in depth sided along
a trickling stream edged with silvery green weeping willows.  Sounds divine?
The drawback:  14 freight trains noisily sped by daily at the rear of their
property which prospective buyers found very disturbing!

To me, the owners stated, “After living here for two weeks, we really didn't
hear the trains anymore and buyers need to understand that. What can  you do
to sell our home and property?”

It was a “no-brainer”!  The solution was to advertise and promote this property
to...Train Lovers or Deaf Persons!  Within 30 days, I place a SOLD sign
on the standard.  The owners were ecstatic...moving to a new location
which I sold to them.

The Napa Valley Wine Train

It was Labour Day weekend in California.  Visiting my son, we spent a few days
with my nephew and his wife who lived near Oakland.  On Saturday we drove to
Yosemite to view the spectacular Half Dome and the lazy flowing Mercer River.  
For Monday, I had secretly planned  a leisurely journey through the renowned
Napa Valley. What a surprise awaited them! My nephew and his wife were ecstatic
about this venture! We boarded a unique meticulously restored train of vintage cars.

This was not just a train ride…it provided a three hour, 36 mile round trip
going from the historic town of Napa through one of the world’s most well known
wine valleys to the quaint village of St. Helena and back. 
{Guests aboard the Wine Train could enjoy a freshly prepared lunch or dinner
inside a fully restored1915 to 1917 Pullman Dining Car or the 1952 Vista Dome
car  as they pass the many lush vineyards and wineries of Napa Valley.} 
We relived the luxury and tradition of railroad dining as the steward seated us,
offering white linen service for half the journey along this scenic valley,
then led us to the comfort of the lounge car for delicious coffee and dessert.  
How Royal!

He told us the wine train had two engines, three kitchens on board
and a collection of early century rail cars that are pure "Americana". 
The tracks upon which the train runs were originally built in the 1860’s.  
I definitely felt we were “reliving history”… a marvelous and unforgettable
train experience for the four of us.

GO Transit

These trains have been operating from Burlington to Toronto for many years.
Currently, we now have three GO stations in our city....parking lots are full
during the work weeks for this rapid passenger transportation.  

VIA Rail which travels across Canada stops at our Aldershot GO Station.

The complement of the VIA Rail and GO Transit locations allows the two
companies to offer efficient train travel and connection to Pearson International
Airport and two other mid-size airlines.

GO Transit is Canada's first and Ontario's only inter-regional public transit
system...linking Toronto  with the surrounding regions of  Halton, Peel, York
and Durham.  GO Transit offers 180 train routes and 1,973 bus routes.
GO connects with every municipality transit system  in the Greater Toronto
and Hamilton areas.


Recently, I created a “Wish List” of 10 or more things I'd like to achieve during
my lifetime ~ a few were definitely “wishful thinking” ~ others achievable!

The Rocky Mountaineer:  Although I've crossed Canada a few times...twice to
the eastern Atlantic coast and 4 or 5 times to British Columbia's Pacific Ocean,
the Joy of my Lifetime would be to travel by train from Toronto to Calgary...
then boarding The Rocky Mountaineer.

It's a picturesque experience to ride the rails north from Toronto through
the Canadian Shield’s forests and rock...then viewing the rugged shoreline
of Lake Superior, Lake of the Woods and the Rainy River areas before crossing
into Manitoba. I love the golden prairies of this province and of Saskatchewan
and the arrival in Alberta where from Calgary, one views the foothills of the
Rocky Mountains.

The Rocky Mountaineer will present the pinnacle of dramatic beauty
from its glass-domed train...breathtaking scenery of glacier-fed lakes,
majestic mountains, ferocious rivers.  Views from sea to sky...from
skyscrapers to old-growth-forests, from deep valleys to snow-capped
peaks....a Journey of Exhilarating Contrasts.

What makes a street scene beautiful
is that someone is impressed with something special is a viewer of a painting in a gallery of art.

I invite you to read a subsequent article to the foregoing
titled...”Steel Rails Across Canada”
to be later posted.

Merle Baird-Kerr … written September 16, 2012
Comments are Welcome...scroll down...may sign in as “anonymous
or e-mail…


  1. I fondly remember our trip to Yosemite and that great and exclusive Napa train; would like very much to do it again!
    Thanks a lot for this article dear aunt Merle.

  2. Dear Nephew: loved your comment; thanks for responding on this this blog article. In discussing these "train experiences" with Andrew, he reminded me of "Napa Valley".
    Such a great treat for us all. Wish we could all meet again "to ride the rails"!