Saturday, 9 November 2013

A Musical Train Ride

We've started our long journey to the Bahamas with a train ride to Montreal. (Strange, I know!)

Although we've taken the train to and from Vancouver and Andrew has travelled this eastern route on a couple occasions, this is the first time we've experienced Via Rail's musical entertainment program. Essentially, musicians can get complimentary sleeper class travel in exchange for entertaining the rest of the passengers. It's a great gig if you've got some musical talent!

Although we didn't know her, we noticed Kristen Berkel at the train station in Saskatoon. An accordion, a guitar and a banjo amongst a person's luggage does make them stand out.

Kristen and her husband are the owners of The Bruno Arts Bank, a coffee shop, musical venue, gallery and record store in Bruno, Saskatchewan.

Kristen & Cleo


After lunch during our first day on the train we went to the observation car. Soon after, Kristen was introduced and for the next half hour sang and played known country ballads as well as some songs either she or her friends had written. She has a lovely voice and a story to go with each song. What started out as a handful of us, soon grew into a standing-room-only venue.

Kristen did three shows daily (one each in sleeper and economy class lounges and a third in the evening in sleeper class). Although she never brought out the accordion she played both guitar and banjo and then recruited a talented young ukelele player on the train to join her. (Kristen will be playing several shows in the Toronto area in the next few weeks with her two sisters.)

We always lament the fact that Saskatoon's Via Rail station is located on the outskirts of the city and does absolutely no justice to the city itself. It was nice to see both Winnipeg and Toronto stations had been allowed to maintain their original history and charm.
High domed ceiling of Winnipeg train station.

Centrepiece of the domed ceiling.

The old train station at Hornepayne, Ontario

Toronto Union Station

Names of cities carved into wall at Union Station

Andrew's first blog post of the trip features a beautiful photo of Toronto's old and new - a stone church and glass skyscrapers.

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