Canada in 2013 page 4 -- The Canadian, Toronto and Niagara Falls 19-23 June 2013
All pictures, unless otherwise noted, are copyright 2013 by John A. and Elizabeth B. Lucas. All rights reserved.

Introduction Vancouver/Victoria Kamloops/Banff/Lake Louise/Jasper Toronto/Niagara Falls Montreal Quebec/Baie St. Paul Halifax Wildlife Second Thoughts Technical Details

19-June (evening boarding), Jasper AB - 22-June (morning) Toronto ON

We boarded eastbound The Canadian in Jasper at about 6 PM and an hour late. Although we were able to check our suitcases for the baggage car, we still needed to "carry our carry-ons" and the "Sleeper-Plus" cars are always at the end of the train. It felt like we were retracing our steps to Lake Louise!

Here is the train (parts of it anyway, and photographed on the afternoon of the 21st in Hornepayne, Ontario between Lake Superior and Hudson's Bay, about 600 miles and 18 hours still to go to Toronto).

We and many others are out, stretching our legs, during a crew change and replenishment at a division point on the railroad. Our sleeping car was the second one after the nearer dome car. On this train, the diner was the car just in front of us, which is why we had to get out to exercise! Of course the train nuts, like ourselves, usually headed for the locomotives.

If you are following this on a map, the major cities and stops were:
19 June    Jasper and Edmonton, Alberta
20 June    Saskatoon, Saskatchewan to Winnipeg, Manitoba (the prairie day)
21 June    Winnipeg to about Westree, Ontario (the Canadian Shield day)
22 June    Westree to Toronto, Ontario (arriving mid-morning)

22-23 June, Toronto and Niagara Falls, Ontario

Accommodation: The Westin Harbour Castle
Transfers: Rosedale Livery Ltd.

We arrived in Toronto and transferred to the hotel mid-morning of a gray day. It wasn't actually raining... yet. It was too early to check in so we left our bags with the porters and decided to start using our three-day pass on the Hop On Hop Off tour.

There is a lot of construction in Toronto including the immediate vicinity of the hotel. Further, there seems to be confusion if not outright piracy among the bus and boat companies in Toronto. We're still not sure that our city and harbour rides were actually with the companies we were supposed to be using. Each accepted our vouchers from Fresh Tracks Canada so it worked out for us.

We took the Harbour and Islands Cruise first as it was starting to drizzle but visibility was still good. Examination of a map or Toronto will reveal an arc of small low islands about a mile offshore in Lake Ontario. There is a downtown short-haul airport and a port based partly on landfill. In good weather it would have been fun to walk through the islands and get back our landlegs after three days on the train -- but it was not good weather. It had been raining and all the plastic sides had been pulled down on the tour boat. Coming back, we were the only two passengers and the tour guide came back and talked to us directly instead of using the microphone.

The Toronto skyline with the Rogers Centre (formerly the SkyDome) and the CN Tower. Our hotel is on the right with what looks like a turret on top (a revolving restaurant).

We had lunch and then walked back to the hotel to check in. We then went back out to try to find the stop for the Hop On Hop Off Tour.

The Hop On Hop Tour used an open-top double-decker bus. We didn't go upstairs, fortunately. It began to rain. No, it began to be a serious downpour. The upstairs crowd fled downstairs, the water cascaded down the steps behind them into the bottom level. Every time the bus accelerated or decelerated (remember this is a city tour), a wave of water a couple of inches high surged from one end of the bus to the other. It didn't last long but it was a disaster while it was happening. We rode the loop all the way through and got off at the stop nearest to the hotel.

The storm had passed for moment so we walked along the waterfront back to the hotel. Several tall ships were moored right in front of our hotel to commemorate the 1813 Battle of York (as Toronto was named at the time). American forces captured, plundered and burned a part of the town, which was then the capital of Upper Canada. This was later avenged by the British by burning Washington DC (and causing the Executive Mansion to be whitewashed to cover the smokestains, the White House ever after). Judging by the 4:1 ratio of US flagged vessels to Canadian vessel, the reconstruction was a foregone conclusion. (Much smoke and noise during the weekend at times.)

And here was the view from our 25th floor room in watery late afternoon sun.

23 June Toronto-Niagara-Toronto

This was an all-day trip to Niagara Falls and Niagara-on-the-Lake, about 75 miles (121 km) from Toronto. This was the only part of Canada that Beth had seen before and the first revisited location on the trip for John (he estimates being about 6 the first time which would have been about 1953). The falls haven't really changed much but the commercialization on the Canadian side is far worse. Shame on the American hotel chains and shame on the Canadians giving in to them. The American side seems less commercialized but then the view is far less spectacular from there.

The following photos have been selected from onboard The Maid of the Mist (water level), from a hotel where we had lunch and from Table Rock (on the brink of the Horseshoe Falls).

American and Bridalveil Falls, US side (above) and approaching Horseshoe Falls, Canadian side (below, Table Rock on the right).

The blue polyethylene ponchos are not nearly large enough nor heavy enough to protect a large person like John who got drenched up to elbows and knees (but protected the camera!).

The Horseshoe Falls from a hotel roof on the Canadian side. The Maid of the Mist is exiting the maelstrom. Identical fleets of the boats operate from both shores so passengers do not have to clear border formalities.

(Below) Approaching the maelstrom viewed from Table Rock. You cannot imagine the chaos of water and wind and shrieks and crying of the children (and possibly some adults). The decks are blue with the ponchos of the packed humanity. It is possible to get much closer to the base of the Horseshoe Falls than it is to the American Falls as there is no large boulder field at the base.

Although it was sunny in Niagara Falls, it was raining by the time we got back to Toronto.

Next page->