Canada is the second largest country in the world – but most of the train routes are on the southern edge of the country, near the border with the United States of America. The main Canadian train routes are east-west, from Vancouver on the west coast through Edmonton, Calgary, Winnipeg, Toronto, Montreal, Quebec City on to Moncton and Halifax on the east coast.
The two main railways in Canada, CN and Canadian Pacific, both operate from British Columbia to the east coast.
CN’s transcontinental network spans the country from Halifax, Nova Scotia to two ports on the west coast: Prince Rupert in northern British Columbia and Vancouver in the southwestern corner of the mainland.
CN inherited two transcontinental train routes – the former Canadian Northern Railway and the former Grand Trunk Pacific Railway / National Transcontinental Railway. Over time the routes have been pruned but the main trunk remains.
The Canadian Pacific Railway (CPR) built the first transcontinental railway in Canada, driving the last spike at Craigellachie, BC in 1885. Their lines spread across the Prairies and throughout the rest of the country. Over time CP has shed some lines – especially in the east – but continues to serve both east and west coast ports as well as cities and industries throughout Canada.
CP’s rail route runs from Vancouver, BC through the Rocky Mountains to Calgary, Alberta, then through Regina, SK to Winnipeg, Manitoba. From Winnipeg the CP line runs through Ontario to Toronto then on to Montreal.