Barry Lane is a Canadian historian with special interests in British colonial and maritime history. He has accompanied Smithsonian travelers on numerous journeys across Canada. Here, he tells you why he’s so thrilled to share Canada with new travelers and what he loves about his country. Click to learn more about Barry and traveling through Canada with him.
Over the years I have had the privilege of acting as Study Leader on the Smithsonian’s Trans-Canadian Rail trip. As a Canadian, this is the All-Canadian trip and it makes me very proud of my country. For over 3,000 miles travelers sit back and experience the stunning beauty and diversity of the Canadian landscape, and also meet and converse with people from around the world as well as with ordinary Canadians who use the train as a means of transportation. There is also the crew, a mix of younger and older Canadians, dressed in attractive dark blue uniforms who work so hard to help travelers enjoy their journey. This too is typical of Canadians, a people known for their egalitarianism and conscientious spirit. All in all, this is the perfect opportunity to become engaged and familiar with a country and its soul.
The first part of the train journey is my favorite, as it passes through the rugged Shield country of Northern Ontario, with its beautiful myriad of forests, lakes, and granite outcropping. For Canadians, this is our heartland area, a symbol of the wilderness, cold, and challenges that have seared our souls throughout our history. With only a few resource-based towns and a scattering of native reserves in the region, the train travels for a thousand miles through an almost unspoiled landscape.
As I sit in my compartment looking out the window, I savor the wonderful views of nature which give me a deep sense of inner peace and a feeling of closeness to eternity. But at the same time, my sense of well being is also enhanced by the rhythm of the rails, and the partaking in the rituals and camaraderie of our railroad family, on-board meals seasoned with interesting conversation, chatter in the dome car, good books, and shared ideas. (more…)