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Notes from an upper bunk while rocketing towards Winnipeg


At Hornepayne, while the train took on fresh water, we got out, strolled around, took photos of ourselves with The Canadian (21 cars) and also of the old brick train station, its boarded windows decorated with art. At Longlac, a site well-known to fur-trade voyageurs of the 18th and 19th centuries, we rocketed beneath an overpass. Apparently the road overhead, Highway 17, constitutes an extension of Toronto’s Yonge Street, the street formerly known as the longest in the world.
Night has fallen and I write from my upper bunk. Tomorrow morning, we arrive in Winnipeg, our first destination. Surely this is the best way to cross the country, no security checks, no heavy-lidded driving, just rocking and rolling, well fed and watered, along the route that Sandford Fleming surveyed and championed some fifteen decades ago.
We are in a “Cabin F” and about that I will offer some unsolicited advice. If you get to choose from among cabins A to F, choose Cabin F: it is slightly larger than the others, and has a neighbor on one side only.
What, you want more? If you seek extra space, or are uncertain about bunk beds, you can select either a cabin for three or else two adjoining cabins. Some of these sleepers, notably the Fs, can open up and double your space.
More tips, you want? Check out the “Park Car” as soon as possible. It is located at the rear of the train, and is the deluxe version of four or five dome cars. You already know about dome cars: nothing beats looking out as the scenery rolls past: the autumn leaves a blaze of color and the sun going down beyond the far side of a vast lonely lake.
[Oct. 15, CTV Morning Live, 8:15 am; Oct. 16, McNally Robinson, 7 pm]
Ken McGoogan
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Before turning mainly to books about arctic exploration and Canadian history, Ken McGoogan worked for two decades as a journalist at major dailies in Toronto, Calgary, and Montreal. He teaches creative nonfiction writing through the University of Toronto and in the MFA program at King’s College in Halifax. Ken served as chair of the Public Lending Right Commission, has written recently for Canada’s History, Canadian Geographic, and Maclean’s, and sails with Adventure Canada as a resource historian. Based in Toronto, he has given talks and presentations across Canada, from Dawson City to Dartmouth, and in places as different as Edinburgh, Melbourne, and Hobart.