Alberta is called the Land of the Endless Horizon and it’s supremely true.
I grew up in Alberta and often caught myself staring at the sky as it melted into the earth, so long and so hard that my eyes watered. My thoughts at the time were of staring into a void — at essentially nothing.
Living there made me restless, because seeing nothing disturbed me. I wanted to see something, or at least experience whatever my greedy hands could grab.
I never appreciated what I saw everyday and when my Via Rail trek across Canada finally made it over the Alberta border, it became clear those endless skies were a summation of everything. Love, loss, joy, the sureness that we are tiny dots in a whirling universe.
It was there — in front of me — for the entire span of my childhood. I just had to stop staring and actually see.
The town of Jasper has deep, long roots. In 1813 when fur trading was in full swing, a fur trading outpost called Jasper House was built and served the North West Company, and later Hudson’s Bay Company (still around and still a Canadian staple).
In 1907 Jasper National Park was established and by 1911 construction on the railroad began. The township site was named Fitzhugh (after a Grand Trunk Railway vice-president) until it was surveyed in 1913, then renamed Jasper in homage to the former trade post. By the 1940’s, several highways were connected to Jasper, notably the Icefields Parkway, a direct road between Banff and Jasper.
These days Jasper draws avid outdoor enthusiasts for hiking, camping, downhill skiing or just hanging out with a hot coca.
247 photos, whittled down to 19, and 105 edits later — I’ll allow these pics to show you the majestic world of Jasper and the Canadian Rockies.
Jasper National Park is home to 53 species of mammals, so it’s quite common to see them grazing off the railroad tracks. In this case, Wapiti (Elk)!
A quick note on Hell’s Gate. I couldn’t capture a decent photo because I was in the dining car plagued by reflections from the windows. Gah!
Hell’s Gate is a narrow section of the Fraser River where the waters are forced through a passage only 115 feet (35 metres) wide. The name of Hell’s Gate was given by explorer Simon Fraser who described this narrow passage as “a place where no human should venture, for surely these are the gates of Hell.  A must-see on this train trip, so when you do yours, please take photos and send them to me! Just so I can pretend I saw it.
I’m sad to see this photo series wind down, but it will soon with a last look at the succulent eats available on a Via Rail trip. Until the next photo essay! Ta.
If you want more information on the various travel packages from Via Rail, you can contact them through several channels.
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