The Polar Bear Express, despite its somewhat misleading name has got nothing to do with polar bears. It is a Canadian passenger train run by the Ontario Northland Railway in Northern Ontario. It was first introduced in 1964 and connects Cochrane with Moosonee. It may not be the Orient Express but it’s definitely a trip worth making especially if you crave excitement and adventure.
The service operates 5 days a week throughout the year and besides passengers, also carries equipment like box cars, chain cars, canoe cars etc. It’s no luxury ride but it does have its moments. It also happens to be one of North America’s last remaining “flag stop” train services. A trip on the Polar Bear Express is quite educational because it offers tourists from around the globe a wonderful opportunity to get acquainted with Canadian history, culture and the Northern terrain.
The train takes passengers to the edge of the James Bay Coast in Northern Ontario. The train ride itself is quite a treat. In the summer, the service offers a dining car that serves meals, in addition to a snack car. As a special feature during the summer, the Polar Bear Express presents a family car that is supervised by travel counselors and includes movies, kiddy games and crafts. Besides the family car, the service also features a dome car and some passenger cars.
If you want to get a good view of the scenic landscape as the train scuttles past, make your way to the dome car. With windows that almost kiss the ceiling, there’s no better place on the train to get a smashing view of the rolling terrain. If it’s amusement that you seek, drop by the entertainment car to enjoy some live music. With so much to keep you occupied, time flies past and before you know it, you’ll touch down at Moosonee.
If you’re making the trip on the Polar Bear Express, you might as well take advantage of the Audio Tour. It’s quite unique and definitely adds to the experience. The audio tour takes you through the history of the train and gives you an account of the surrounding landscape as the train rolls past. It also gives you a lowdown on Moosonee and the Moose Factory.
Once in Moosonee, the audio tour gets you acquainted with the docks and the wilderness. You could also take a water taxi to Moose Factory. Touring the Moose Factory is a pleasant experience and a good opportunity to learn about the history of Ontario’s first English speaking settlement. To round off your trip, you could stop by the shore and browse through the local handicrafts on offer.
A trip on the Polar Bear Express is a fascinating adventure for those intrigued by history and culture. Definitely worth a whirl if you’re open to unorthodox experiences.