My Canada 150: Day 4

I set out to discover more of the beautiful homes in the downtown core. Let me say now that walking an average of 20,000 steps per day is extremely tiring when pounding the pavement! I only had a coffee at Crave, trying to be a thrifty spender. Then met met my daughter on her way to work – taking full advantage of her proximity to drop off my rather laden down bag. I had left the house prepared for stormy weather – only some squirrel spit. Although not nearly as entertaining as having my daughter be my tour guide I managed to unintentially cover two of the walking tours in about 2 1/2 hours. I started with Earl Street, and ended with William Street when my curious mind wanted to see what was there. Lo and behold it was one of the streets listed in my guide.

Earl Street is one of the oldest streets in Kingston, gaining its current name in 1850. Many of the homes were built as far back as the 1830s. The gentry and industry workers had dwellings here. Of course the grander homes belonged to the wealthy, although it appears some of what we now call duplexes, and row houses, were occupied by various professionals who had tenants, or offices, in the adjoining spaces, and several of the smaller homes were owned by businessmen and managers in trades such as hardware, and various shops. These days doors, verandah and sometimes even the facade of a duplex or row house may be painted in unmatched colours – owners do not seem to discuss choices. At the corner of Earl and Sydenham is the Rosemount, built in 1849. It is now a bed and breakfast – I stayed one night there two winters ago. Quite a difference seeing it surrounded by green. I love the chimneys. 

My room two years ago on 2nd floor. Restored cast iron fence
An early skinny house? Note the 1/2 in the address. I did not find any information. There are a few of these.

I did stop at the Springer Market outside City Hall, not many vendors to entice me to spend my money. Perhaps it is busier on Saturdays. At the urging of my pandas I bought a goodie baked on Wolfe Island. I am quite sure I have had too much doughy stuff since arriving in Kingston. The walking tours are a great way to get in at least 10,000 steps (to make you feel less guilty about a treat) and learn some of he local history of the area. I downloaded the App, so far have not listened to the audio but found the information more useful than in the booklet. 

In an attempt to keep away from a routine I am trying to eat any meals out at places I have not been to. Lunch was at Chez Piggy, although pricier than what I would normally pay for lunch I decided it was about time I checked this hidden place put. A nice outdoor patio, shaded enough for me to not regret the decision to eat al fresco. I chose the Cha Gio Salad: Vietnamese spring rolls (chicken, pork and shrimp), fresh greens, coriander, mint, glass noodles, cucumber, bean sprouts and chopped peanuts with a light dip/dressing on the side. Absolutely delicious! I sometimes worry that a popular tourist spot will be a disappointment, this was not. Attentive service without feeling I was rushed. Very fresh greens, a snap to the bean sprouts – they must grow them in house or buy locally – spring rolls lightly deep fried, none of the usual greasiness often encountered in spring rolls. A satisfying meal that did not sit heavily. I love a good salad. No photos, and my pandas were not happy with me when I told them they could wait until dinner.

The final photo is of Wellington Place, having gone through a major renovation I first noticed in 2014 and watch with interest whenever in Kingston. It is nearly ready for occupation; personally do not like the modern additions. I expect it is better than having it torn down.

2.50 coffee Crave; 2.50 chocolate de pain; 24.00 lunch; steps: 18,007

My Canada 150 Day 1-2

It was beginning to be doubtful I would actually even make it to the airport yet alone get on the plane. Fortunately I was able to put my full trust in my daughter to look after my cat, Mozzy, without feeling exceptionally guilty. I was lucky to begin my trip in a relaxed manner rather than dealing with the frenzy of taking three buses to the airport. Dinner with live music, thank you Sean McCool (his real name). After some discussion about sustainability I decided to have the snapper – I could not find any information when doing a quick search on my iPhone – as it seemed the best choice for a light, and still satisfying, meal. My travelling companions insisted on sharing two very small nibbles of a gluten free, heavy on the chocolate, ‘cake’. Like a dense cheesecake. They then fell into a stupor for the rest of the evening and would not emerge until we arrived in Kingston where I was greeted by my two daughters who live there. I was worn out and my internal clock did not want to switch to Ontario time so we decided to forego lunch. I had a relaxed afternoon in the country, took a rather late nap before a delicious BBQ, a hazy double rainbow when going for an evening walk before crashing for the night. My body is older than my mind.

Death by chocolate

Flight: delayed 1 1/2 hours due to a weather system in Toronto. I later heard it was a potential storm. Everyone exhausted. This was a red eye flight, nothing was open for anyone in need of sustenance. There is a water fountain.

Trains: if anyone needs to go to downtown TO from the airport the UP train is wonderful and only $12.00. I believe the GO Train is even less expensive but I was already familiar with UP going to Union Station. This station remains in the throes of a major overhaul. I believe every trip I make I am given a different completion date. The most recent information I found is completion of Stage 2 in 2018. There are three stages. Official statement, “Union Station Great Hall and the VIA Departures is going through extensive renovations through multiple phases as part of the City of Toronto Revitalization Project.” That is putting it mildly. 

Via, GO & UP passengers are affected so it is adviseable to give yourself time. I slated in delays and was happy I had. It gave me about 1 1/2 hours to find some breakfast and coffee. No mean feat, when I say in the throes of construction I am not kidding. Stairs make finding your way around even more arduous. As I take a lot of trains in my travels I am grateful I stuck with a backpack. Cumbersome but easier to maneuver. 

 Via Rail to Kingston, window seat. Slept. Trains tend to lull this tired Beast.

Kingston Station is also going through a major overhaul. More stairs. I did manage to get a couple of tickets dealt with while there.

Expenses: 25.00 dinner (Evedar’s), 12.00 UP Train, 6.75 breakfast (turkey sausage, scrambled egg on pumpernickel bagel, coffee (Bagel Stop), 5.60 Flat White (Star Bucks), 23.28 cash portion of Via ticket for July 22nd (I had $40 in E vouchers)

My C3 Canada 150

I find I need to explain my title. C3 refers to the three ocean coasts that touch Canada, the 150 refers to 150 years since the signing of the Constitution in 1867. I hope to stay from the politics of the event while still talking to anyone I meet who is travelling this summer. I had hoped to make it to the Atlantic Ocean during my June/July trip – so far not on my itinerary. Instead I opted to head north. The following is just a taste of the month I spent preparing this trip.

Of Course I Can Get There 

It took some effort, frustration and doggedness to finally sort out my mid-June trip in Canada. One flights, six train trips, and three hostel stays booked – one will be a repeat – but I am set! It does pay to collect reward points whenever possible. What should have totalled over 1200 CAD for all the transportation came to 73.82 CAD – and that is how I manage to travel. I even managed to have Airmiles and Via points left over to build up for other Canadian trips. 

Victoria to Toronto to Kingston: air and train ✈️🚞

Kingston to Toronto to Winnipeg: two trains 🚞🚂

Winnipeg to Churchill to Winnipeg: two trains🚂🚞

Winnipeg to Vancouver: Air🛩

Vancouver to Victoria: ferry (hurray, the ferry!)🛳

Technicality: I did pay for a flight to New York, that stops in Toronto. The airline made some changes so I decided to take them up on their offer to make a major change rather than request a full refund. That one way trip was about $228, paid way back in January! However, when breaking down my month long trip I did not factor that trip into total fare. So, approximates for two flights, six trains $1450+, paid $300. Still an excellent saving.
Where to and what I will do. I will leave Victoria to fly out of Vancouver, fantastic because it means I can take the ferry. I have said this before, leaving the island by boat makes my trips seem like an early start to my adventure. It is unlikely I will take the brand spanking New V2V Empress as it goes to downtown Vancouver. Another time. I am thinking budget all the way. I love that I will have a non-stop, overnight flight. I am hoping I will be relatively refreshed and ready to hit the tracks to Kingston. Another travel must for me when I fly east, land in Toronto, take the train to Kingston. I will take it back mid-July also, then board another train for Winnipeg.
A week of emails and UWinnipeg Hostel has finally been booked.

Definitely no V2V Empress, I did not even get my free trip – it was supposed to be offered at a later date, never happened. Rather disappointed.

Update, it is never a good idea to plan two trips. It seems I am flying out of Victoria, no ferry trip. I also had to re-confirm UWinnipeg Hostel is booked for two different stays. If I am having this much trouble booking at a university in Canada I wonder if it is even feasible to consider universities in some cities in China.

Why Planning Ahead Is Not Micromanaging! 🗓🗒💻📞

I like to plan everything as far ahead of time as possible when it comes getting to where I need to depart from – airports, train stations, ferries, buses – they all need to be got to. So glad I do this as even so close to home things change. I was working on getting to the airport by local transit ($5.00) only to discover the route and buses used have had significant changes. Rather than two buses I will now have to take three, the last is at the McTavish Park ‘n Ride that is basically in the middle of nowhere – fortunately, so long as I work everything out properly, I should be able to catch the last community bus and still get to the airport 1 1/2 hours before departure. So there is absolutely no room for error! I can see making the decision to leave earlier just in case. There is no standing room on the community bus. It carries fewer passengers, no idea what is suggested if there are too many passengers all vying for the last trip.

Train Delay: Or How to Pass the Time 

It cannot be said often enough, trains in Canada are not like trains in Europe and many other countries. They do not run on time. Factor in winter and they can be many hours behind. I arrived at the station 8:30am – only to discover it does not open until 10:00 – having taken the free shuttle. No problem, I headed for the Information Centre, opens at 9:00. Library not until 10:00. So I headed for Smitty’s where I drank copious cups of coffee. During that time I checked my email, messages and texts. An email shortly after 9:00 am from Via Rail, a delay, expected ETA in Jasper, 6:00pm. That would be the only official notice I would receive. I had to drop off my bags and find a way to amuse myself.

Via station service manager (he was at the station until the train arrived except for a couple of breaks) updated the ETA, 8pm. I needed lots of distraction. First stop, Information – again. There I found out the Jasper Pride Festival House was nearby. I wanted some stickers or pins. I headed back out into -21 C. It is important to have a destination in such weather. I thought I could hang out for a while but only managed to buy some things just prior to their closing the doors at 11:00! (I found out later they only had a handful of volunteers to man the various venues) They did tell me about a documentary that would be showing at a local hotel, In the Turn, about a young girl in Canada who is transgender and a lot about roller derby. Interesting connection.

A quick trip to the art gallery at the Jasper Libary and Cultural Centre showed little of interest to me. I was rather disappointed, perhaps it was just what was on offer at the time. Once again I headed into the blowing, dry, tiny, biting ice-snow. In the wrong direction. Perseverance, or pigheadedness, got me in the right direction and I only missed the introduction of the movie. I was a little worried I had a touch of snow blindness- my eyes and face felt quite odd. Just adjusting to the warmth and dark. It was a completely unexpected way to spend my afternoon. A short, unplanned intermission meant a chance for everyone to grab a coffee, popcorn and candies – I gravitated to the licorice allsorts. My time was slowly being whittled away.

Before searching for lunch I checked for an update. Between 8 – 10:00 PM. I felt rather sorry for the station manager having to give this news to everyone as they arrived. Lunch was at The Other Paw Bakery Cafe, on Connaught Drive I discovered on my last train trip through Jasper. I still have to find Bear’s Paw Bakery. Delicious red pepper soup. Except I had to reheat it when it was put on the wrong table. I also had a wrap with egg, red peppers, cheese and bacon. The eggs were sort of spongy, not palate friendly. Trying to think ahead I had half bagged for dinner despite not really liking it.

I actually bought a souvenir type t-shirt with a grizzly bear wearing a baseball cap silkscreened on it. Rarely do I make such purchases; however, I desperately needed something light to wear that I would not be in for another 24 hours. I headed back to the station to hang out where I discovered a VIP gala was being set up, something to do with Via Rail’s sponsorship of Jasper Pride Festival. That seemed to be the theme of my day. I suggested those of us who were actual passengers should be invited.

Then we were. Except by the time the event (it was definitely not a gala, nor does cocktail party quite work) started I was the only real passenger! Wine, hor d’oeuvres, (including canapés – it seems these are one form of hor d’oeuvres) a violinist, people mingling, laughter, chit chat and very short speeches made the minute hand not seem so excruciatingly slow. It was a pleasant way to spend three hours or so, from set up to break down. An excellent example of going with the flow. I had a sense of looking inside from within a double glass ball – like walking into the wrong wedding party, or over/under dressing for an event. The important thing is that there was no exclusion and I did enjoy myself. I think the three passengers who arrived later were not impressed. Even after being invited to partake of a glass of wine.

The VIPs missed the party – they were stuck on the nine plus hours late train. We did not depart Jasper until midnight. However, we did see some fantastic terrain when morning came that is normally passed by in the dark.

The highlights: the views of course. One free lunch and free coffee. Meeting fellow passengers, hearing some of their stories.
The lowlights: paying for my breakfast and the free dinner. By the time that meal was being served the choices were paltry. Pasta with chicken or pasta without chicken. Or, gluten free pasta with or without chicken. No soup, no juice, no bar service – just as well, I might have been tempted. There was chocolate cake though. Something to appease the masses.

               What they fed the passengers when the food was running low.

                                         Waiting for spring.

The Thompson and Fraser Rivers flow side by side near Lytton, a unique contrast of colours and the might of water. This was a sign of being nearly to our final destination, the only main attraction left was Hell’s Gate, a hop, skip and a jump downstream from Boston Bar, where I lived for about a year when a child. (We did seem to move to some strange, out of the way, places when I was growing up). The most treacherous section of the Fraser River, Hell’s Gate was named after Simon Fraser’s voyage in 1808, who declared in his journal that, “no man should ever pass through here it was truly like passing through the Gates of Hell!” Hell’s Gate is a favourite area for white river rafting and the bridge is a major tourist attraction. To this day I still have not braved the suspension bridge nor the Airtram.
                                         Just one of several tunnels.

Guess who had the right of way.

The only little church I managed to capture. They seem so randomly placed.

Some of my photos are out of order, IPhone and Canon in use and no notes.

I must admit that soon after Hell’s Gate I finally grew bored with everything and hunkered down to read my book. The coach car grew quiet. We slowly wound our way towards Pacific Station.  We were twelve hours behind schedule by the time the train arrived in Vancouver. The last ferry to Vancouver Island is at 9:00pm, there was no possible way I, and some other passengers heading to Victoria, would make it. Some frantic texting and FB messages when there was a signal finally resulted in my having an air mattress to sleep on at my ex-sister in law’s apartment.


                                           This can only mean I was on the ferry!

Interesting Stuff

The Jasper train station was build in 1925 – it is now a heritage building still used by passengers to catch the Via train, or the much more expensive Rocky Mountaineer.

There are four distinct seasons, winter surpasses them all with deathly temperatures and astounding beauty. White is not just white in these mountains.

From Jasper to Vancouver tunnels dug into the mountains and snow sheds to protect the tracks from avalanche are reminders of just how dangerous it was to build the tracks as well as travelling the rails.  I had forgotten how scary it is seeing how far below the Thompson River is and just how rickety the tracks appear at times. Factor in boulders stopped in mid roll, as though frozen in time, on one side and the sheer cliffs below to the river to envision the engineering ingenuity to build these tracks all those years ago.

In 1871 British Columbia joined Confederation, but with a condition attached: a transcontinental railway had to be built within 10 years to connect its capital, Victoria, to Eastern Canada. We did eventually get the railway, running from Victoria to Courtenay. Sadly, it shut down in 2011 and is unlikely to be opened for rail service again. There were grumblings but BC did not leave Confederation in a huff.
In 1987 VIA introduced an on time policy: passengers received travel credits if their train arrived late. When I sent a complaint about the 12 hour delay all I received was an apology. I did not find when the policy was dropped nor if it was only for specific routes. Basically sit back and enjoy the ride.

Final Expense: I managed to come in under budget! $490.00 Items I purchased before or during that I will use again were not factored in. If I add a gift I bought for a friend of my daughter’s it shows I went over by $20.00. Some savings were a result of the late train, and I saved on the tour.

Then there was the money I spent on My cat, Mozzy, $1300.00 plus for tests. I had been on the verge of cancelling, or at least changing, my trip. I am happy to report he is fine, I had a nice break and all is well. Time to plan my next adventure.