I AM THE CANADIAN (VIA Train #1-2) © David Watts
Canadian Specific ®
I am The Canadian, the western transcontinental of VIA Rail Canada
I am a train of Canada’s past and Canada’s present, of tradition and technologyi
I am a meeting place for Canada and the world.
Travel me and discover what rail travel really is,ii for I am The Canadian.
I am a window on Canada:
a window on the land: the great rivers and endless lakes I run beside, iii
open prairies and dense forests, high mountains and deep canyons.
I am window on Canada’s people:
the First Peoples whose lands border my route,iv
the people of Canada’s small townsv I pass through,
the people of her great cities, who come from every country on Earth.
I am a window on Canada’s spirit:
the spirit of toleration, of embracing our differences
a spirit that is not just the hope of Canada but of Planet Earth.
I am The Canadian
I am a Canadian tradition: the first great train of the modern eraviii in Canada
the first to have diesel electric power coast to coast, the first of all steel construction
the first with a name that was neither American nor British.ix
Like all living traditions, I’ve changed and adapted.
My original colours were silver and red: first the burgundy redx or royalty,
then the psychedelic redxi of the 60’s and 70’s.
Today I’m silver and blue:xii the silver of quality and durability,
the blue of the Canadian Connection,xiii showing the Canada stretches from sea to sea.
My first route was the southern transcontinental line of the CPR along the Great Lakes
and through the Rockies by Rogers Pass.xiv
Today I take the route of the Canadian Northern and Canadian National Railways,xv
a route that was surveyed even earlier by Sanford Flemmingxvi
who gave the world Standard Time,
a line that was built by Mackenzie and Mann.
Years ago I ran from Montreal, Canada’s largest city, on the St. Lawrence River.
Today I run from Canada’s largest city, Toronto, on the St. Lawrence Seaway on a route
through Yellowhead Pass by Mount Robson, the highest peak in the Canadian Rockies.
I still follow Fraser Canyon down a mighty river
to Vancouver, where ships complete the Northwest Passage to India, China and Japan.
I am the Canadian.
I rank with the great trains of the world:
the Royal Scot, the Hiawatha and the Orient Express
I am a connector
I connect Canada’s peoples: the people of her cities
and the people of her farms and towns
I connect her regions: the prairies and Pacific, the Canadian Shield and the Rockies,
the St. Lawrence Lowlands and the Fraser Valley
I connect with the other countries of the world:
Travel me, and you see not only Canada
You meet with people from Europe and Australia, from America and Asia
the Pacific Rim and the middle east
“Kanata” means “a meeting place” and that is what I am
a meeting place for Canadians with each other
with our American neighbours, and with travelers from all over the world.
I am The Canadian
I am a window.
I am a tradition.
And I am a connector, a meeting place
I link Canada together
I bring the world to Canada,
and I share Canada with the world (488 words/3 min.40 sec.)
i The coaches on “The Canadian” were specially built by Budd Corporation with all-new welding methods. They have proven very durable, still operating in Canada 48 years later. Originally heated by steam and lighted by axle-driven generators on each coach, they were converted to Head End Power (electric heat/light from locomotive) in the 1990’s. So “Canadian” coaches continue to employ the latest technology.
ii In its first decade “The Canadian” was promoted worldwide in full page colour ads as “the longest scenic dome ride in the world.”
iii Whenever feasible, rail lines were built along river and lake shores, as the natural force of the water had already created a channel in the rock.
iv Many Indian Reserves front on rail right of way. More correctly, the rail corridor was bought or expropriated from the Indian lands.
v The railway still passes along or bisects the main street of many towns, giving rail travelers a glance of life there for a century back.
vi This refers to a personal spirit of industriousness more than to large industries which have not always kept the spirit of their founders!
vii We’re making progress here, in construction and reclamation. All new rail construction projects must now pass environmental impact studies.
viii The first new postwar transcontinental train, inaugurated in 1955.
ix Early CPR trains had names that referred to our British origins such as Imperial Limitied, (“Limited” (i.e., number of stops) is an American usage, equivalent of the European “Express.” CPR’s transcontinental train before The Canadian was The Dominion, an originally Canadian term that came to be linked more with the British connection than with the Canadian one. Canadian National Railways continued to use the American term for its trans-Canada train, the Continental Limited, until the 1960’s.
x The technical term for this Canadian Pacific shade of maroon is “Tuscan Red.”
xi This was part of the “CP Rail” logo and corporate image.
xii “Silver and Blue” is a patented trade mark of VIA Rail Canada.
xiii The blue flag of The Canadian Connection Awareness Foundation, incorporated in 1993.
xiv Actually under Rogers Pass, in the Connaught Tunnel opened in 1916. The original CPR line went through the Pass, on the route now followed by the Trans Canada Highway.
xv Canadian Northern became part of the Canadian National system created in 1919. Some parts of the CN line now traveled by The Canadian were part of the Grand Trunk Pacific Railway.
xvi Flemming also took part in the survey of the Canadian Pacific Railway line.