Travels of a New Canadian: From Vancouver to Halifax by Train — with the Cultural Access Pass
Did you ever eat a nun’s fart? Walk on a glacier? Explore an urban national park?
Have you sampled shmoo torte? Taste-tested bagels or perogies? Snacked on Kouign-Amann?
Have you gone about your daily business — as if you were an Acadian in the 1700s?
Have you seen the grave of Louis Riel? Dipped your toes in the surf of the world’s highest tide?
Have you considered how aboriginal artists perceived the explorers who arrived on their land?
…explored a neighborhood museum — in a former public bathhouse?
…listened to stories of immigrants as they came to start life in a new country?
I’ve recently had the chance to do all these things, and more.
All here in Canada.
My Cross-Canada Rail Adventure
I’m just back from a great adventure — an epic cross-Canada train trip.
I spent a month traveling across Canada on Via Rail from Vancouver to Halifax with numerous stops along the way.
As a new Canadian myself — my family and I became Canadian citizens last year — I wanted to explore some of Canada’s iconic, don’t-miss places, from the Rocky Mountains to the Atlantic Coast.
But I also want to follow, and share, Canada’s multicultural story, learning more about other newcomers, past and present.
The Cultural Access Pass
I was able to take this trip, in part, thanks to an excellent program that’s available free to new Canadian citizens: the Cultural Access Pass. Sponsored by the non-profit Institute for Canadian Citizenship, the Cultural Access Pass is good for free admission to more than 1,000 museums and cultural attractions across the country and to all of Canada’s national parks and historic sites.
The pass also gives new citizens a 50 percent discount off a Via Rail trip, and I was excited to learn that you can apply the pass to an already discounted fare. That’s right — when Via Rail announced a 50-percent-off sale, I was able to use my Cultural Access Pass for an extra discount.
If you’re a new citizen, it’s the cheapest way you’ll ever find to take the train across Canada! Thanks to the pass, too, my admission to the national parks, historic sites, and most of the museums I visited — from Jasper to Winnipeg, Toronto to Montreal, Moncton to Halifax — didn’t cost me anything.
Over the coming weeks, I’ll be posting stories about my new Canadian’s cross-country rail adventure. I hope you’ll join me on my travels.
And I’ll be sure to tell you all about those nun’s farts.
Aboard the Via Rail train from Vancouver to Jasper © Carolyn B. Heller
Embarking on the train journey © Alan Albert
Trains departing from Toronto’s Union Station © Carolyn B. Heller