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Travel Through Time to Toronto

Canada’s VIA Rail transports passengers in both senses of the word

VIA Rail offers a VIA Canrailpass, which includes seven credits for one-way trips in between two cities.
In 1929, during the heydey of train travel, Toronto’s legendary Royal York Hotel was built directly across the street from the city’s Union Station. Built by the Canadian Pacific Railway, the opulent 28-story, 1,048-room hotel was the largest in Canada – not to mention the tallest building in the entire British Empire – and hosted royalty, dignitaries, and other rich and famous.

A National Historic Site of Canada, Union Station remains a hub for Canada’s train travelers. VIA Rail, the nation’s passenger rail service, makes an average of 44 stops in Toronto every day and half of the rail’s entire customer base (nearly 2.4 million passengers), travel to Toronto every year.

The hotel still stands too (though its been called the Fairmont Royal York since 1999), serving connectors with a little time to kill or history buffs who can follow the former era through pictures and texts on display on the hotel’s mezzanine.

Business class and sleeper touring class passengers need not even leave Union Station for this trip down memory lane though. Following a full remodel in 2012, the 6,300-square-foot Panorama Lounge opened to service these 170,000 VIP passengers that leave Union Station on VIA trains every year. While sitting comfortably amidst much of Union Station’s original architecture, guests can access free WiFi, watch HD TV, sip complimentary non-alcoholic beverages, or read a selection of magazines and newspapers.

Soon, Toronto-bound passengers traveling VIA Rail’s Quebec City-Toronto-Windsor corridor will also have free online access to Canadian broadcasts such as “Heritage Minutes” vignettes and Memory Project veteran interviews produced by The Historica-Dominion Institute.

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