All aboard! A visit to the Ottawa Train Station

by Vicky

Call me crazy but I have a soft spot for train stations. Maybe it’s from all those years I traveled by train to and from University for holidays or spring break. I remember the nervous excitement about going back home to see my family and old friends, and the feeling of  gloominess that the break was over too fast and I was heading back to reality of readings, essays and midterms.

When I take the train, I always sit next to the window. There’s nothing like looking out on the countryside and watching it zoom by. The train slows down as it passes through small towns, the perfect speed for stealing a quick glance into  backyards. Sometimes the gentle rocking of the train lulls me to sleep. I rarely talk to the person sitting next to me, nor do I read. I just sit and watch and think. I find it extremely peaceful.

Like most 3 year olds, Joel loves playing with trains, so what could be more exciting than seeing them in person! Today my younger brother was arriving by train. Joel and I went to pick him up.

When we first arrived, the train leaving for Montreal was about to depart. We hurried to watch it pull out of the station. Joel grinned from ear to ear as the train’s big wheels started turning. We waved at the people watching us as the train rode by. What was supposed to be a 2:30pm train was in fact late, so that gave us half an hour to explore the station – more than enough time for a 3 year old!

We started by looking at the antique model trains encased in glass. They were larger than most models. I wished there was a story to accompany those trains. It’s a little piece of history that always intrigues me – the way people relied on train travel so much more years ago, and how entire communities were built around stops along the CN railway. Then we discovered the spiral ramp – which thanks to a very kind VIA rail employee, we were allowed to run up and down on despite not having tickets.

Next we tried out a couple of different seats, to find which one was the most comfortable. The massage chairs definitely won that prize, although for $1 for 2 mins we just sat in them to take a photo. Then we found an old luggage scale. Joel hopped on so we could weigh him. I put my foot on the scale to pretend that he had suddenly grown and gained a few pounds, which lead to some hysterical laughter! Then we checked out the restaurant briefly, picked up a few brochures and sat in a chair to wait for the train to arrive. A few minutes later we heard the chimes and an announcement that train number 42 was arriving! We rushed to the window to watch the train pull in. Quickly the passengers arrived up the escalator as Joel loudly said ‘nope’ for each one that wasn’t his uncle. Finally Uncle arrived and we were ready to go! We paid the $2 for parking and headed home.

This summer I’m planning to take Joel on the train to Toronto to visit a friend. We went once before when he was 9 months old, but I have a feeling the next trip is the one he’ll remember.

Vicky is the mom to 3.5 year old son named Joel and 9 month old daughter named Mieka. You can read her blog at blog Some Kind of Wondermom.



Filed under Attractions, Free

9 responses to “All aboard! A visit to the Ottawa Train Station

  1. Pam

    It’s great fun to visit some of these places. We used to go to a local airport too in our old town. Great for the imagination.

    We LOVE travelling by train. We’ve done trips to Montreal and Toronto a few times. It usually works out quite well. We pack plenty for them to do on the train and lots of mini-snacks. They love the mini table to work on. Sometimes the staff will bring around a train activity bag which is nice too.

  2. have you taken joel on the o-train? parking is free and you travel back and forth for 3$ and it takes about 25 minutes. the jellybean loved it. then we went up to chapters and had a cookie and some hot chocolate and played with the tomas trains in the kids section. it was a great way to spend a cold raining fall afternoon.

    • Vicky

      We haven’t done the O-Train yet, but it’s definitely on the list for this summer! My husband is a Highway Design Engineer, so he’s all over anything to do with trains or buses. We did take the 95 downtown last summer, and that was a big hit. I’d also be tempted to try to catch one of those double decker buses!

      • We want to do the double decker bus thing this summer – it’s on our to do list. I’m thinking it might be a blog post even 😉

  3. Vicky

    The only thing with the double decker bus is there’s no guarantee when it will come by. I know there is one on the 94 route, but it’s sporadic.

  4. That is a great idea. My 5 year old loves trains too.

  5. Sounds like you and Joel had a great time!

    I’ve got a total soft spot for Canada’s train stations, especially the grand historic examples in Montreal, TO, Winnipeg, etc. Those beaux-arts buildings have so much detail and craftsmanship evident, and I think it really adds to the romance of train travel!

    Vivian is Virtual
    VIA Rail’s tour guide

    • Thanks for stopping by Vivian! If you ever have any ideas/suggestions for kids with VIA (events, special programs, etc) let us know – we’d love to hear about them and maybe post about them too! 🙂

  6. Pingback: April: What you might have missed « Kids in the Capital

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