Canadian Explorer

Journey by train and coach through Canada’s diverse cities and untamed wilderness, discovering architecture in Montréal, cuisine in Toronto and sweeping views in the Canadian Rockies.
Rating (4.73)
Program No. 3844RJ
13 days
Starts at
Special Offer
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Flights start at

At a Glance

Experience Canada’s iconic landscapes on this epic journey by train and coach – from the charm of Old Montreal to the wilds of the Rockies and the splendor of the British Columbia coast. Journey 3,000 spectacular miles to historic cities, magnificent great lakes, sweeping plains, soaring mountains and coastal rainforest. Explore the rich legacies of its provinces, the architecture of its cities and the incomparable blending of Indigenous, French and British cultures.
Activity Level
Keep the Pace
Walking up to two miles daily over varied terrain; some stairs. Elevations up to 3,000 feet.

Best of all, you'll ...

  • Experience the unique and diverse cultural offerings of Canada’s great cities – Montréal, Toronto and Vancouver.
  • Learn the history of the Canadian railway and its central role in the building of a nation.
  • See farms, lakes and forests transform into the flat prairie landscapes of central Canada followed by Rocky mountain peaks crowned with snow, all from your cozy railcar.

General Notes

Frequent delays on VIA Rail require a flexible itinerary. Be sure to review the Lodging description for details on the overnight accommodations on VIA Rail.
Featured Expert
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John Atkin
John Atkin is an author, historian and heritage advocate who has been fascinated with Vancouver since moving to the city over 30 years ago. He if the co-founder of the Heritage Vancouver Society, has contributed to a documentary on the city, and has appeared regularly on television and radio, including CBC Television and CTV’s Canada AM. John is the author of four books on Vancouver, including “Strathcona: Vancouver’s First Neighborhood,” and is an editor for the B.C. Historical Federation.

Please note: This expert may not be available for every date of this program.

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John Belshaw
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Patricia Brown
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Kirsten Schmitten
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Ken Purvis
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John Atkin
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Jim Manson
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Bruce Bell
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Visit the Road Scholar Bookshop
You can find many of the books we recommend at the Road Scholar store on bookshop.org, a website that supports local bookstores.
The Last Spike, The Great Railway, 1881-1885
by Pierre Berton
Part two in Berton's exhilarating narrative of the boldest project in Canadian history, the building of the transcontinental railroad.
Vancouver Then and Now
by Francis Mansbridge
This installment in the Then and Now series takes stock of Vancouver’s evolution by placing antique photographs side-by-side with contemporary ones. It peels back the years so that readers can see city fixtures as they once were.
Bear Tales from the Canadian Rockies
by Brian Patton
Bears hold an honored place in the mythology of the Canadian Rockies. This collection of stories draws on the adventures of hunters and trappers, native legends and traditional tall tales to create a portrait of the animal that has captured the wild imagination of the region.
The National Dream, The Great Railway, 1871 to 1881
by Pierre Berton
Part one of the great Berton's exhilarating account of the boldest project in Canadian history, the building of the transcontinental railroad, from idea to the start of construction.
Trans-Canada Rail Guide
by Melissa Graham
A compact, kilometer-by-kilometer guide to the 4,000-mile rail journey across North America from Halifax to Vancouver.
The Railway Anthology
by Deborah Manley (Editor)
An anthology of evocative writing from the rails. Manley includes works from 50 of the world’s preeminent literary figures including Agatha Christie, William Dalrymple, Peter Fleming, Rudyard Kipling, Eric Newby, Paul Theroux and Colin Thubron, brilliantly celebrating this most "civilized" mode of travel.
Railroads Across North America, An Illustrated History
by Claude Wiatrowski
This entertaining account of the golden age of rail in the U.S. and Canada is illustrated with 600 vintage and modern photographs, period advertisements, maps, timetables, postcards and brochures.
National Geographic Field Guide to the Birds of North America
by Jon Dunn
This guide is the veteran's choice for birding anywhere in the United States. Practical to use in the field, it has maps, illustrations and descriptions of the birds on facing pages.
Switchbacks, True Stories from the Canadian Rockies
by Sid Marty
A native Albertan and park warden in the Canadian Rockies, Marty relates colorful anecdotes from friends, colleagues and his own youth in this collection of tales, which includes A Horse Named Candy.
Rising from the Plains
by John McPhee
McPhee's elegant and accessible essays show the geology of the Rockies through his travels with U.S. Geological Survey scientist David Love.
The West Beyond the West, A History of British Columbia
by Jean Barman
A fascinating history of the Canadian province from the 18th century to the mid-1990s. The author weaves portraits of major personalities and events into a readable overview of the cultural and social influences that have shaped the region.
Train, Riding the Rails That Created the Modern World
by Tom Zoellner
An informative and entertaining history of railway travel around the world -- from the frigid Trans-Siberian Railroad to the antiquated Indian Railways to futuristic Mag-Lev trains. Zoellner examines mechanics and innovations in rails and engines, trains’ impact on societies and even America's ambivalence toward mass transit.
Spectacular Canada
by Gerald Bryan Hall
Featuring 177 color photographs showcasing the diversity and grandeur of our neighbor to the north.
The Forest Lover
by Susan Vreeland
In her acclaimed novels, Susan Vreeland has given us portraits of painting and life that are as dazzling as their artistic subjects. Now, in The Forest Lover, she traces the courageous life and career of Emily Carr, who?more than Georgia O?Keeffe or Frida Kahlo?blazed a path for modern women artists. Overcoming the confines of Victorian culture, Carr became a major force in modern art by capturing an untamed British Columbia and its indigenous peoples just before industrialization changed them forever. From illegal potlatches in tribal communities to artists? studios in pre?World War I Paris, Vreeland tells her story with gusto and suspense, giving us a glorious novel that will appeal to lovers of art, native cultures, and lush historical fiction.
The Incredible Journey
by Sheila Burnford
Instinct told them that the way home lay to the west. And so the doughty young Labrador retriever, the roguish bull terrier and the indomitable Siamese set out through the Canadian wilderness. Separately, they would soon have died. But, together, the three house pets faced starvation, exposure, and wild forest animals to make their way home to the family they love. The Incredible Journey is one of the great children's stories of all time--and has been popular ever since its debut in 1961.
In the Skin of Lion
by Michael Ondaatje
Bristling with intelligence and shimmering with romance, this novel tests the boundary between history and myth. Patrick Lewis arrives in Toronto in the 1920s and earns his living searching for a vanished millionaire and tunneling beneath Lake Ontario. In the course of his adventures, Patrick's life intersects with those of characters who reappear in Ondaatje's Booker Prize-winning The English Patient.
This Wild Spirit: Women in the Rocky Mountains of Canada
by Colleen Skidmore
In 1912, Mary Vaux, a botanist, glaciologist, painter, and photographer, wrote about her mountain adventures: “A day on the trail, or a scramble over the glacier, or even with a quiet day in camp to get things in order for the morrow's conquests? Some how when once this wild spirit enters the blood…I can hardly wait to be off again." Vaux's compulsion was shared by many women whose intellects, imaginations, and spirits rose to the challenge of the mountains between the late-nineteenth and mid-twentieth centuries. This Wild Spirit explores a sampling of women's creative responses—in fiction and travel writing, photographs and paintings, embroidery and beadwork, letters and diaries, poetry and posters—to their experiences in the Rocky Mountains of Canada.

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