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Thoughts about the relationships between transport and the urban area it serves

Tony Robinson in Canada

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“Around the World by Train” with Tony Robinson Season 2 Episode 4 – Canada

Currently available streaming on Knowledge Network – or broadcast repeat on April 9 11pm

I will start by stating that I am greatly enjoying this series – just as much as I did Season 1, and I am happy to recommend it. It is in my opinion much better than than Michael Portillo’s similar efforts, although I have yet to see his version of Canada.

BUT there were errors and omissions in last night’s episode that I just cannot let go.

Amtrak Cascades Mud Bay Surrey BC

Tony travelled up the Pacific Coast from California (last week he ended up in Los Angeles) on Amtrak to Seattle, then took the Cascades to Vancouver. Of course that train arrives at Pacific Central but he got that confused with the former terminal of the Canadian Pacific – now Waterfront which handles SkyTrain and West Coast Express. I would have thought that the story of the competition between CP run by an American and the Great Northern which ran across the northern United States and was run by a Canadian would have been opportune here but there is only limited time on the program and they wanted to show Tony pretending to be a hockey goalie. It is, after all, entertainment.

The omission that is less easy to forgive is the first section after his arrival here when he asks why there are so many Scots in Canada, which gets a response about settlers from everywhere else. There is not one word about the people who had been living here for thousands of years, and still do, despite the settlers best efforts to assimilate them. At least we now seem to be trying to make amends, to some extent.

Then he takes off on the Rocky Mountaineer – but neglects to mention the intermediate overnight stop in Kamloops, which gets no coverage at all, and arrives in Jasper, which is in Alberta. Again that fact is not mentioned because he is too busy helping the National Park Rangers chase the elk out of town. He gets back to Prince Rupert on the VIA Skeena service, which gets a great deal less attention than was devoted to the Mountaineer. There is of course no train from Prince Rupert to Alaska, but he does get a short ride to Talkeetna on the Alaska Railroad.

Holland America train from Anchorage to Denali

Again, the opportunity to examine the extent to which Canadians now take care of passenger service on the railways that built modern Canada was missed. Though he does meet a young Calgarian woman who had never ridden any train in her life until boarding the RM.

Written by Stephen Rees

April 5, 2022 at 5:10 pm

Posted in Transportation

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