New immigrants would often find themselves aboard a colonist car with only the basic comforts. They would have to bring their own bedding and cook their own meals on the stove provided. There were no toilets, just frequent stops at train stations. In contrast, rich travelers would travel in luxury aboard a first-class car.
Listen to This
"In the old-style immigrant coaches the seats were wood, built to a contoured form with narrow wood slats. Above every two seats and above the windows along the length of the coach was a wide wooden shelf about three by six feet. It was hinged on the wall and kept up during the day by two chains, which supported it when it was let down for sleeping."
"A Cheque for Ten Cents", by Magne Stortroen. From the book Voice of the Pioneer, Volume Two, edited by Bill McNeil. Toronto: Macmillan of Canada, ©1984, p. 23
"It is rather fun to pass down these cars and see the babies squatting round, and the people, some eating, some cooking, and some sleeping (they make up their beds for themselves, so they often go to bed at odd times)..."
On the Cars and Off: Being the Journal of a Pilgrimage along the Queen's Highway to the East, from Halifax in Nova Scotia to Victoria in Vancouver's Island, by Douglas Sladen. London: Ward, Lock & Bowden, 1895, p. 228
Advertisement for Canadian Pacific Railway's cross-Canada train service, around 1889
Sleeping car on the Grand Trunk Railway, 1870
Listen to This
I Was There
"When the retiring hour arrives, the car porter pulls down the slanting upper parts, and after putting everything in order, the beds are ready for use. The seats below are provided with ... sliding extensions .... These ... are pulled out and mattressed ... as above. ... the ladies and gentlemen ... then taking off their boots, and taking out their nightdresses from their bags, or coming from their dressing-room in dressing-gowns, retire at once into privacy and there unrobe."
3800 Miles Across Canada, by J. W. C. Haldane. London: Simpkin, Marshall, Hamilton, Kent, 1908, p. 60, 62
Kitchen car on the Canadian Northern Railway, 1915
Dining car on the Grand Trunk Railway, 1893
I Was There
"The food provided is simple and good; supplies come chiefly from Winnipeg and Montreal, but the conductors have the power to buy fish, poultry, and whatever become necessary, at any of the stations that they pass. At one station, two Indians brought some wild ducks for sale, which our conductor bought."
Impressions of a Tenderfoot: During a Journey in Search of Sport in the Far West, by Mrs. Algernon St. Maur. London: John Murray, 1890, p. 24-25
Preparing berths for sleeping on the Canadian Northern Railway, 1915
Canadian Pacific Railway poster advertising scenic tours, 1924
Visit the website ARCHIVED - Canada, by Train