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Riding the rails

As I looked at a map of Manitoba I located my childhood community and the parcel of land where my parents still reside. I was surprised to see a dot identifying a former train station near my childhood home. I recalled Dad mentioning the train station, and the railway bed is still evident by its raised mound under tall prairie grass. I also remember my grandmother telling stories of how young adults would take the train to Winnipeg to work and then return to assist on the farm on weekends.

Why don’t we travel back to the farm by train? With a pilot husband, we have flown home. We have travelled home by truck, car and van but never by train. It would definitely be a new adventure. How difficult would it be to take four children under the age of four on a train? After a little research, it seemed it may be a possibility. Car seats and seatbelts are not required on the train so children enjoy a bit more freedom.

Going to Via Rail’s website, I inserted our family size, children’s ages, destination, and intended date of travel. The experience would cost our family approximately $100. “Let’s go for it,” my husband said. Our children were ecstatic as they envisioned riding the rails.

I supplied them with child-size suitcases that they cleaned, packed, and practised pulling around the house. With wheels and a sturdy handle, even our two-year-old was self-sufficient with her suitcase.

We arrived at Winnipeg’s Union Station an hour before departure and the children were awed by the rotunda topped with a steel and glass skylight. Once on the train, it lurched ahead to begin our voyage and the children squealed in excitement and waved at passing cars. The sights were great from the dome car, and we enjoyed walking from one car to another. The kids also loved our on-board picnic lunch of sandwiches and juice boxes.

My parents were waiting beside the rails in Gladstone, Manitoba when we arrived two hours later. For the little ones, the two-hour trip was a bit long but we thoroughly enjoyed this relaxing form of travel. A train ride is definitely something we’ll be doing again!

For more information go to Via Rail’s website: HYPERLINK “http://www.viarail.ca” www.viarail.ca for routes, scheduling, and fares.

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