The New Zealand Railways Magazine, Volume 2, Issue 7 (November 1, 1927)
Notes on Our Travels. — (Continued)
We left Niagara on Monday, 13th July, 1925, and arrived at Toronto the same afternoon.
Toronto is a fine city with a population of 500,000 people. The University is one of the largest in the British Empire, having a student enrolment of over 5,000. The buildings are very imposing and impressive.
Our stay at Toronto was rather a short one and we left on our journey to Vancouver at 9 p.m. on Tuesday night. We travelled on the Canadian Pacific Railway Company's train. The train had a total load of 12 vehicles—900 tons. The Pullman sleeping cars are very comfortable and run smoothly. We were in the train from 9 p.m. on Tuesday night until our arrival at Banff at 8.35 p.m. on the Friday night, during which time we had travelled 2,145 miles. A dining car is run on all through trians and the meals supplied are particularly good and the service is excellent. The C. P. R. hotel at Banff (which has since been partly burnt down) was a magnificent building and up to date in every respect. As it was the height of the summer season the hotel was packed with people from all parts of the world. The view obtained from the hotel is really wonderful. In the distance are seen the high mountains, covered in places with snow, and near at hand the beautiful falls of the Bow River.
We had arranged to stay only one night at Banff. We were sorry our plans did not enable us to stay longer. The hotel was so comfortable and the place itself so wonderful that we could easily have spent some days there.
We left Banff at 12.20 p.m. and arrived at Lake Louise (distance 36 miles) at 1,27 p.m. The mountains on either side of the railway line are very high. Owing to bush fires, however, the mountains were more or less enveloped in smoke and it was not possible to get a good clear view.
Lake Louise is 5,670 feet above sea level and the air is very keen. The Chateau, Lake Louise, which is owned by the Pacific Railway Company, is beautifully situated on the border of the Lake.
We left Lake Louise at 10 a.m. the next morning and arrived at Glacier (105 miles) at 2.25 p.m. Shortly after leaving Lake Louise we came to “The Great Divide.” This is the highest elevation on the Canadian Pacific Railway and is marked by a rustic bridge spanning a stream under which the water divides. The waters that flow to the east eventually reach the Atlantic Ocean whilst the rivulet that flows to the west adds its mite to the volume of the Pacific. On the left is the monument to Sir James Hector who discovered the “Kicking Horse” pass which permits the Canadian Pacific Railway to cross the Rockies.
Formerly the section between the “Great Divide” and Field was a difficult one, the gradient being 1 in 22. By means of spiral tunnels, however, the grade has been reduced to 1 in 46. In each of the two spiral tunnels the train turns a complete circle, passes under itself and emerges 50 feet lower down the mountain.
On this journey the train also passes through the Connaught Tunnel-so named in honour of the Duke of Connaught who was Governor-General of Canada at the time of its construction. This tunnel is the longest in America measuring slightly over 5 miles from portal to portal. Prior to the construction of the tunnel in 1916 the railway crossed (through Rogers Pass), the “Selkirks” range of mountains. The tunnel page 27 not only eliminated track curvature to an amount corresponding to 7 complete circles, but also lowered by 552 feet the altitude attained by the railway and reduced the length of the line by 4½ miles. There is a double track of rails through the tunnel, and the time occupied in traversing it is 14 minutes. We found the ventilation good and the journey through pleasant.
We left Glacier at 2.30 p.m. and arrived at Sicamous at 6.40 p.m. Sicamous is a favourite halting point for travellers who wish to see by daylight the wonderful canyon scenery between Sicamous and Vancouver.
On Tuesday, 21st July, at 7 a.m., we left Sicamous on the last stage of our journey to Vancouver. This portion of the journey was most interesting, the train running alongside the Lake for a distance of over 40 miles; thence almost continuously alongside the Thompson river to Vancouver. About 120 miles from Vancouver we arrived at “Hell's Gate,” a famous cataract created by the sudden compression of the river between two jutting promontories whence it escapes as through a bottle-necked outlet.
We arrived at Vancouver at 8 p.m. and stayed at the Hotel Vancouver owned by the Canadian Pacific Railway Company. It is a magnificent hotel of 15 stories and is the largest building in Vancouver. Observation cars of the open top type are attached to all Canadian Pacific passenger trains running through the mountains during the summer season, thus enabling passengers to obtain splendid views of the beautiful scenery.
Vancouver has a population of 230,000 and is the terminal of the Canadian Pacific Continental rail lines, and its trans-Pacific Steamship routes. It is the largest commercial centre in British Columbia, having an excellent (almost land-locked and fully sheltered) harbour.
After a few days stay at Vancouver we left on the Canadian National Railway Company's train for Quebec. Our first break of journey was at Jasper (3,470 feet above sea level). Jasper Park Lodge is situated about three miles from Jasper Station and is a miniature village of rustic bungalows grouped round a main lodge.
At Mt. Robson (480 miles from Vancouver), the train stops five minutes to enable passengers to view Mt. Robson, the highest pass in the Canadian Rockies. Mount Robson is 13,068 feet above sea level. It was covered with snow and was an awe-inspiring sight.
We stayed for two days at Jasper Park, our stay being a very enjoyable one.
En route from Jasper Park to Quebec, we broke the journey at Edmonton and Winnipeg. These are both important towns and are the centre of the grain district of Canada. The buildings in Winnipeg are very fine, as also are the parks and boulevards.
The journey from Winnipeg to Quebec took about 49 hours.
The Canadian National Railways have an Observation Car on passenger trains travelling through the Rockies. This car had the wireless installed thereon and it was very pleasant to sit in this car at night and listen to concerts, etc., over the wireless.
Quebec is an absorbingly interesting city. It really consists of two parts. One, the old French city, and the other the modern Quebec, the provincial capital of to-day. The Chateau Frontenac Hotel owned by the Canadian Pacific Railway Company is a splendid building and the accommodation provided is of a luxurious character. Quebec is situated on the side of the majestic St. Lawrence River. About eight miles from the city are to be seen the Montmorency Falls. These falls are 274 feet high (about 100 feet higher than Niagara). Near Montmorency Falls is “Kent House.” This hotel was built in 1778. Some years afterwards-during the time he was stationed at Quebec in command of the British Army-it was the residence of the Duke of Kent, father of Queen Victoria.page 28
From Quebec we returned to Montreal and stayed there for a few days. Montreal, about which there is an historical atmosphere, is a very fine city and has a population of 900,000 people. It is one of the busiest cities in Canada. Montreal was established as a trading post some 250 years ago, and was, for a number of years, the chief point in the struggle between the French and the Indians and later between the French and the British. It was the last place yielded by the French in 1760. The broad St. Lawrence River forms a highway upon which large ocean steamers can safely trade to Montreal, which although nearly a thousand miles inland, is an ocean port.
We left Montreal on the Canadian Pacific steamer, “Montrose” at 11 a.m. on Friday, 7th August. The steamer went slowly down the river from Montreal to Quebec and arrived at the latter place about 8 p.m. The journey down the river was very interesting. The s.s. Montrose, a 14,000 ton steamer, passed under the famous Quebec bridge and had ample clearance. This bridge is 310 feet in height above the pillars and the total length and width are 3,239 feet and 88 feet respectively.
70,000 tons of steel were used in the construction of Quebec Bridge.
On arrival at Quebec a tug came out with passengers and mails and we finally left there at about 9.40 p.m. Shortly after midnight there was a dull thud which awakened most of the passengers. The steamer (which had run into a dense fog) struck a submerged object tearing off the rudder and damaging the oil tanks. The vessel was turned back to Quebec and arrangements made to transfer the passengers to other steamers. We waited until the following Friday for the s.s. “Montroyal,” a most comfortable boat. During the interim the company maintained the passengers on the s.s. “Montrose” and did everything they could to make the stay pleasant and enjoyable.
We left Quebec on the s.s. “Montroyal” on Friday, 14th August. When in the gulf of St. Lawrence we passed quite a number of icebergs and the air in their vicinity was decidedly nippy and cold. The passage, however, was a most enjoyable one the Atlantic Ocean being very calm, and we arrived at Liverpool on Friday, 21st August.