The Agawa Canyon Tour Train

The Agawa Canyon Tour Train in northern Ontario is a long-running tourist attraction that brings thousands of visitors to the remote and beautiful Agawa Canyon. Canada’s famed Group of Seven painters traveled this route and painted several gorgeous views of the area. Today artists and tourists alike enjoy the views.

The train originates in Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario and travels 114 miles (183 km) to the Canyon station, within the Agawa Canyon. Numerous trails and waterfalls await the traveler within the canyon.

It used to start from Bay Street, but in 2023 it starts from a new station at 99 Huron Street. After passing under the International Bridge (to Sault Ste Marie, Michigan not confusing at all) it passes the massive Algoma Steel facilities and the Steelton train yard before heading north out of the city.

An elderly couple regards a colourful train in the Agawa Canyon
Agawa Canyon train at Canyon, 1992, collection of Steve Boyko

The train is an “out and back” affair, departing Sault Ste. Marie at 8 AM in the morning, pausing in the Canyon for 90 minutes, then returning to “the Soo” by 6 PM.

In 2023 the train runs from August 3 to October 15. Book on their web site!

A CN locomotive leads the Agawa Canyon tour train in Sault Ste Marie, Ontario
Sault-Hearst train, Sault Ste. Marie, 2007. Copyright by David Morris.

The Algoma Central Railway used to own and operate this line. They ran two passenger trains over the line – the tourist train from Sault Ste. Marie to Canyon, and a regular passenger train that ran to Hearst, ON. The tourist train often operated with 20 to 24 passenger cars, making it among the longest passenger trains in North America.

The Algoma Central Corporation sold the railway to Wisconsin Central in early 1995. CN acquired the WC in late 2001. The train to Hearst was terminated in mid 2015 after efforts to operate it by Railmark Canada Ltd. failed.

CN sold portions of the former Wisconsin Central to Watco in early 2021. The tourist train has been a separate organization since 2015, operated by a group including the Missanabie Cree First Nation, N1 Strategy and the Machine Shop.

The Agawa Canyon tour train in Sault Ste Marie, Ontario
Sault – Hearst train, Sault Ste. Marie, 2007. Copyright by David Morris.

The Agawa Canyon train used to operate with a collection of historic train cars, including the stainless steel “Canyon View” observation car on the tail end.

Stainless steel railway car with large windows
Canyon View train car, 1979

Today the train operates with many ex CN/VIA cars. The train is pulled by one of three ex Denver Ski Train F40PH locomotives – 104, 105 and 106 – acquired by CN in late 2009.

More Ontario tourist railways and museums

3 thoughts on “The Agawa Canyon Tour Train”

  1. I rode this train in 2008; I was unfortunately a bit late for the Algoma Central operation with the “F” units and I think this was the last year of the “camp car” an interesting option where you could stay overnite in the canyon in a converted caboose. There was actually a couple who did this on the train I was on. How cool is that ! Of course CN was not interested in tourism and after they spoiled the service, sold it to someone, not sure who owns it now. Glad I went when I could, I even got a shot of the train from Hearst that went through the canyon just before our train left. Anxious to see what you think of the service now. Cheers, Steve.

  2. Its a good trip. We did it in 2014 as friends gave it to us as a wedding present. I had a fun chase of it southbound last September on our way up to Neys for a few days get away in September. The new station facilities are gorgeous, and cut out a solid mile of horribly rough track at a creeping pace…of course, the platform track looked desperately in need of some levelling as the train rocked and rolled to a stop as I watched it!

    2022 Chase –


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