This is what I saw when I woke up.
(Taken with my Firefox OS phone.)
So, it took us 8 hours to reach Sudbury. Sudbury is only about a 3 and half hour drive by car on the highway. You could call this a leisurely pace.
We are now on tracks that were originally owned by the Canadian Northern Railway (not to be confused with the Northern Railway of Canada, whose tracks we were on before). These tracks stretch across the country from Vancouver to Quebec City. Canadian Nothern Railway was the second railway to provide transcontinental service across Canada (the first being Canadian Pacific Railway, who still dominate Canada’s rail industry today).
Now these tracks are owned by CNR (Canadian National Railway).
If you look at a population map of Canada, you’ll see there’s a mostly unpopulated gap between Sault Ste Marie and Kenora, separating western Canada from eastern Canada. I’m currently in that gap.
I didn’t realize it would be so hard to get internet here. I haven’t managed to get an internet connection since leaving Sudbury, and I suspect I won’t be able to until we’re near Thunder Bay.
I’m supposed to be working today, but lack of internet is really hindering what I can do. I spent a while glued to my phone, hoping to glimpse a bar of service or two, but eventually gave up. It’s frustrating, because I’m trying to submit a patch for review, and I was hoping to get it approved before this weekend. I don’t like my chances of getting it reviewed next week when everyone’s busy at Whistler.
After a while, I went to the observation car and stared out the window, which I found relaxing. There seem to be countless beautiful lakes and rivers up here. We never seem to be far from a watercourse. I wonder if these rivers were a route used by fur traders in the early days of Nouvelle France.
The train stopped a couple times to drop off canoeists. I suspect we’re in a part of the country only accessible by rail.
I saw a beaver! You know, I’ve been in Canada all these years, and I think that’s the first time I’ve actually seen a beaver.
Most of the signs on this train are embossed with Braille. The signs use uncontracted Braille. I notice that the English is prefixed with dot-6 (⠠) while the French is prefixed with dot-46 (⠨). I wonder if that’s a standard convention.
Update: Sioux Lookout
We’re near Thunder Bay. For about 15 minutes we had cell phone and internet coverage, and everyone was staring to their phones.
We’re now on tracks that were part of the National Transcontinental Railway, built in 1885. This route spanned from Winnipeg to Moncton. The section from Winnipeg to Quebec City is almost a straight line stretching across northern Ontario and northern Quebec. The idea was that it would provide the quickest route from the Prairies to the Maritimes by bypassing cities like Toronto, Ottawa, Montreal. The railway was never successful.
Most of the railway is now abandoned and owned by no one. Parts of it are owned by CNR, and we’re currently on one of those parts.
Many francophone towns in Northern Ontario, like Kapuskasing and Hearst, lie along the abandoned portion of this railway. Those towns are now serviced by Highway 17.
But there are no highways along this section. There’s barely a road in sight.
Musical Interlude II