A Canadian Journey – Part One – Back to the Source… by train!
THIS is part one of the story of a journey. The underlying theme is Essiac but it is about the journey, too. Hope you enjoy it. Part one involves hot springs, Jasper National Park, and a cross-country tour by rail through the middle of Canada. The journey begins with Polson Montana in the rearview mirror, heads north through British Columbia and Alberta, then east through Saskatchewan, Manitoba, and finally into the giant province of Ontario. The journey continues by car from Sudbury to Bracebridge, Rene Caisse's home town, where Canadian Journey Part two - Coming Back to Bracebridge - will share some brand new insights and perspective, along with the first of 1000+ photos of what Bracebridge collectively still has of the history of their very own citizen, Rene Caisse, who gave us Essiac, and whose legacy continues on. Canadian Journey Part Three will be about the Vision Quest and fast held at Grandma Isabelle's, up in the north, land of the Black Fly and the Mosquito, the Bear, the Sandhill Crane, the Loon, and Many Many Others. Canadian Journey Part Four has a hard act to follow! My life has changed profoundly. Part four will be about the future.
The intention of this trip was taking journey back to the source. Again and again history came alive for me... when going through the old newspaper clippings, photos, documents and other history, it almost felt like those times were now…I sat on the bench outside Rene's Clinic door and imagined how many people had come through that door ("Cross the bridge and turn left.."). Now the treatment rooms are apartments. The Inn I stayed at in Bracebridge is famous for being full of ghosts…although I did not see any. And then there was the long wait at the deserted train station/museum in Staples, MN, echoing with the traces of the many travelers who had passed through there in the heyday of passenger train travel in the US. Let's bring it back! Tell Congress to fund Amtrak!
'Back to the source' in the case of the Essiac herbs in its deepest sense means Northern Ontario, and the people who used these herbs since way before Rene Caisse came along. I was very honored to take part in a Vision Quest and Fast retreat right there where it all began.
There I was - 'All Aboard!'...My journey began with a drive up to Jasper, Alberta from Montana, to hop the train east!
Fairmont Hot Springs in BC was halfway from Polson to the train station in Jasper, and it was really great to soak and let it sink in..the adventure is begun! Kimberly Erickson, Blue Moon Herbs/ReneCaisseTea.com Order Fulfillment Expert and Rental Car Returner, was also very happy to be 'along for the ride' 🙂 The following day, Jasper National Park and the Icefield highway made for an amazing drive. The roads were bare and the place was deserted!
The train arrived on time at Jasper, just when we pulled up! (70 hrs. later my train would finally roll into Sudbury Jct...) Whew, made it! We had gotten a late start due to trying to figure out airplane mode and international texting and as we gazed into the little cell phone screens, time marched right on...and then we needed divine intervention to get the car to start! (It worked!) All in all it was an extremely scenic and enjoyable, albeit fast-paced get-me-to-the-station-on-time kind of drive to the train stop. 🙂
And then, in fairly short order, I was headed eastward, back on a train for the first time in 22 years. I was very surprised to see no mountains after just a few hours, and although I didn't realize it at the time, it would be the last mountains I'd see until I was home again..I guess Montana people think everyone has mountains.. well, if you are from western Montana...:) Although the landscapes I saw were very beautiful, it is good to be home again to my landscape.
The Canadian train is called ViaRail. Their cars are one-story, except for the observation car. The food is good and not too expensive either and the fare is very reasonable especially converting from US dollars. It was really fun making friends with some of the passengers. When you are going by rail, its best to not be fixated on arriving on time! We were 15 hours behind by the time we got to Sudbury Jct.
It was great seeing the country in the spring - Manitoba must grow enough grain to feed a big chunk of the world! But it was a little unsettling for ye olde Western Montanan to gaze into the distance and see a mirage of mountains that upon closer scrutiny were just my brain not computing properly~!
There must still be a lot of uncharted territory in Canada. The allure of Canadian rail travel began when I discovered that there actually is a train called the Polar Express! It goes up to Moosonee, at the bottom of James Bay, 100 miles past where any roads go! Other than Edmonton, Saskatoon, Winnipeg and then at long last Sudbury Junction, there really aren't too many population centers…and north of the country we passed through - the Northwest Territories and the Yukon.."the Bush" - what would it be like to live there? I think about how I love to climb all the way to the tops of mountains and wonder how that would translate to a land like this. Would trying to reach the edge of the horizon in a sweeping place like this..cause one to lose their mind? See, you can daydream about this kind of stuff when on a train.Once into Ontario, things really got minimal - many stretches of no cell phone service, no stops with real stations.. at long last I was off the Hotel California Train. And my luggage, too 🙂 Got my rental car the next morning and set out for Bracebridge by way of North Bay, where Rene lived with her husband Charles McGaughey, in the 1940s. I did get a glimpse of the water--lots of water out here! And the Canadian Shield really starts showing through along the roads.
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