THE CANADIAN: GHOST TRAIN CROSSING CANADA
Endless pockets of wonder await your discovery in a country big enough to hide mountain ranges. Considering Canada is 8000 kilometres (5000 miles) wide, it’s amazing how many people set out to cross the country from sea-to-sea. With so much ground to pass beneath you this is one pilgrimage where the journey truly is the destination. Whether by car or bicycle, train or canoe, travellers form their own river running across the landscape. Like a river, these travellers are forever shaped by the country they pass through.
It’s hard to make sense of living in a big country. Maybe that’s where the sea-to-sea travel urge comes from. I remember eating lunch in an Acadian village on New Brunswick’s coast. The restaurant’s other patrons were lobsterman eating rappie pie and discussing the weather in french. The village and its harbour formed a self-contained world, yet these people actually share something in common with, say, a software engineer four time zones away in the mini-Hong Kong that is Richmond, BC. How does one flag wrap around all of this?
My own cross-country exploration is done by taking the train, but not in the usual sense…I carry the train rather than it carrying me. It fits into a shopping bag from Mountain Equipment Co-Op.
The train is a miniature version of the vintage 1955 streamliner that was first called The Canadian, a ghost from the not-too-distant past. It rolls on tiny rails just one-inch apart. While it is tempting to document such a huge country from a plane or helicopter (in fact it has been done several times) the miniature train gets close to the heart of the land. Regal, silent, and fragile, The Canadian is a fine emissary for exploring the landscape. Those tiny rails are tenuous binds for a project this large, and that feels exactly right.
You won’t find scheduled service for this Canadian’s scenic dome route, though you may see evidence of its passing. For all of you who have encountered me working on this project and offered many kind words I hope you enjoy the finished photographs.
Thanks to David Shron for making a train that is in itself a work of art.
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