Folk Train update


4.  Folk Train 2001

Picture the off-season consist of this train: baggage car, one or two

coaches, Skyline car (this is a vista-dome upstairs with a lounge at one

end, dining area at the other - meals are prepared on board - though they

may add a separate diner if traffic warrants), two sleepers with a variety

of accommodations - bedrooms for two, roomettes for one, shower, and upper

and lower berths (what you remember seeing in old Marx Brothers movies) and

then the piece-de-resistance, the final car on the train: the Park Car with

its mural lounge, round-end observation area and vista dome. It's called the

Park Car because each one is named after a Canadian Provincial Park (I, for

one, have ridden cross-Canada in "Strathcona Park" three times by chance).


Vista-domes, for those unfamiliar with the term, are second-floor all-glass

observation areas with 24 unreserved seats in each car allowing 360 degree

views of beaver ponds, pine trees, prairies and staggering mountains and

canyons. They are awesomely cool.


All the equipment on the train dates from the golden era of streamlining -

THE CANADIAN was commissioned by the Canadian Pacific and built by the Budd

Company out of shot-welded stainless steel and placed in service in 1954.

All the equipment was completely rebuilt and renovated in the 1990's, and

the heating systems were converted from antiquated steam-heating to the more

modern HEP (head-end power). In short, the trains are in good shape and we

won't be forced to eat our seatmates.


Coach passengers are allowed in the coaches and Skyline car only. Sleeper

passengers have access to the coaches, Skyline car, sleepers and Park Car.

Sleeper passengers get all their meals included, and there is ongoing

complimentary coffee/tea/snack service in the observation area. Sleeper

passengers (in private rooms - not sections) can bring their own stashes of

hootch. Smoking is allowed in the two lounges and in ONE of the sleepers



The train has a wonderful feel to it; the sleeper passengers tend to be

land-cruise types, while the coaches are used by some really _real_ people

as the way they get about in very remote parts of Canada. If you're looking

for modern-day Cisco Houston's, here he'll be. The Skyline lounge tends to

be very spirited (and very late). However, with lots of people playing music

everywhere, I'd think the whole train will get pretty lively.


So far, everyone who has signed up (and we're at about 10 right now - I hope

we get to 50!) has signed up for sleepers. However, I'd expect that we'll

end up with a bunch of folks in the coaches. I picture some round-robins in

both of the lounges, maybe some informal career-building seminars (depending

on who decides to come along) in either a bedroom suite or a lounge or

two... it'll take shape as the clientele emerge. I do promise that, for what

it's worth, I'll be available to participants to talk with throughout the

journey. Topics can include everything from folk music to



Before the trip, I'll send out everybody's tickets and, along with them,

sampler cds containing a song by all (or at least the first eighteen or so)

performers who sign up and send me their moolah and a cd. You'll also get a

t-shirt (be sure and tell me what size you wear), a travel guide and name

badge, so we'll all know who's FolkTraining and who isn't. I figure after we

leave Toronto we'd have a mid-morning confab as the train heads north, then

an afternoon get together once we head West, then an evening

boy-have-you-ever-seen-so-many-beaver-ponds-in-your-life session in the

evening. I would assume the lounges will just become all-day magnets for

talking and picking parties, and I'd assume we'd eat a lot of meals together

in informal groups.


And then we'll do the same thing on the way back. You can go one-way (either

direction) or round trip.



Lv. Montreal Fri 2/9/01 11:30pm (board at Center City or Dorval Airport)

Ar. Toronto Sat 2/10 8:20 am  (change trains - guaranteed connection)

LV. TORONTO Sat 2/10 8:45 am  THE CANADIAN

Lv. Winnipeg Sun 2/11 4:40 pm

Ar. Vancouver Tues 2/13 7:51 am


Lv. Vancouver Sun 2/18 5:30 pm  THE CANADIAN

Ar. Winnipeg  Tue. 2/20 11:10 am

AR. TORONTO Wed. 2/21 10:00 pm

Lv. Toronto Wed 2/21 11:30 pm  (change trains - guaranteed connection)

Ar. Montreal Thur 2/22 8 am (train stops at Dorval Airport and Center City)


Most east-coast people seem to be choosing to board in Toronto. However you

could elect to board a connecting train in Montreal the night before and

have a sleeping car room (it adds +/-40 per person each way) instead of a

hotel in Toronto. If you're in the Midwest, I'd suggest looking into flying

to Winnipeg and joining us there. Perhaps you could return directly from

Vancouver with an open-jaw plane ticket.


Convenient Hotels in Toronto:

The Royal York (a very nice hotel - directly across the street from the

train station) - expensive

The Strathcona (an unmemorable but sufficient hotel around the corner from

the train station) - moderate


If you travel round-trip, clearly flying round trip DC-Toronto or

DC-Montreal makes the most sense.

If you travel one way, the cheapest option may be booking round-trip flights

(including Saturday night stay) DC-Toronto (or Montreal) and Vancouver-DC

and using only the initial leg of each. Currently a couple of Asian carriers

are offering Vancouver-NY roundtrips for $274 (use only the first leg).


You should discuss with your travel agent or poke around the internet for

your best options. Amtrak also runs service Wash-NY-Albany-Montreal (it

would connect to the night train) and NY-Albany-Buffalo-Toronto (stay

overnight in Toronto).



Get me your credit card info and I'll ticket you directly with Via (no

markup) for the railfare and sleeper space (charge will appear as "Via Rail

Canada"). Prices go up after next Wednesday. $104 pp one way and $157 round

trip of the prices quoted above go to FolkTrain. This charge will appear on

your card as "Young/Hunter Management, Arlington, MA," because that's where

the credit card machine lives (even though this is a Charlie Hunter project,

not a Young/Hunter project). If you purchase now, the entire amount will be

charged to your credit card. There won't be any additional deposit. If you

later cancel, you would go directly to Via for your refund. Via's

cancellation charges apply (about $100 per person, I think). The FolkTrain

fee is non refundable.


And, yes, I can go on and on and on about trains until my face turns blue.

You can also visit the website for more information.

-- Charlie Hunter