Field Trips

Field Trips: Steam Engine Tours

Field Trips: Steam Engine Tours

As spring livens up the landscape, steam train tours are a unique way to connect students to Canadian and Social Studies. Step back into the early 1900s onto a locomotive that helped make Canada what it is today. Not only do these field trips educate students on the history of the steam engine, they connect kids to the intriguing past of the region they travel through. Regular excursions normally begin in May and last until at least Fall.

At the Prairie Dog Central Railway in Manitoba for example, students can actually touch and use railway controls during their field trip. Escorted by volunteers, visitors can learn how the steam locomotive boils water with coal. They can experience the growl of the diesel engine, see how trains switch tracks, and receive a lesson in Safety First on the railway. On a vintage train ride through small-town Manitoba with a conservation corridor, groups can see how settlers and immigrants travelled throughout Canada and explore an abandoned railway line that has been reclaimed by nature. The bilingual Social Studies Field-Based Experience Guidebook supports the Manitoba K-12 curriculum. It’s specific on the educational outcomes for each activity, while allowing teachers to decide which experiences and skills to focus on.

Ten miles of amazing views await visitors in British Columbia’s Kettle Valley Steam Railway. Passengers have the option of travelling in a vintage car or in open air as they trek past orchards, vineyards, land, and lake. This same route had once led the way for the fruit industry into the global market, created employment, and carried hobos who traveled across the country by hopping on and off trains. Trips are accompanied by children’s games, anecdotes, and music.

On the South Simcoe Railway in Ontario, the Conductor’s educational commentary will enlighten your trip through the countryside. The excursion promises to immerse passengers in railroad history as they venture across the Beeton Creek Valley in vintage cars that are heated when it’s cold. As a bonus, there’s a conservation park nearby so field trips can include swimming, picnics, and camping.

With every whistle of the engine, kids begin to venture back in time with the Hull-Chelsea-Wakefield Steam Train. Located in Quebec, this trip is one of the lengthiest steam train trips in Canada. At five hours long with a two-hour stop in a scenic town, the train turns back on the last operating manual turntable in the country, according to OttawaTourism.ca.

Alberta Prairie Railway Excursions offer special school excursions. With Canadian history and geography as the focus, passengers will be kept informed of the route’s historical significance. The departure trip includes some Métis history, a children’s entertainer, and the opportunity to travel between cars to the concession area or for open-air travel. The route passes through animal-rich farmlands—deer and moose sightings are common—and oil fields, among other sites. On the stop in Big Valley, a tour guide will take kids through a rural Alberta town, which includes a 1912 Canadian Northern Railway Station turned museum.

Field Trip Opportunities

The Kettle Valley Steam Railway
Summerland, B.C.
www.kettlevalleyrail.org

South Simcoe Railway
Tottenham, ON
www.southsimcoerailway.ca

Prairie Dog Central Railway
Winnipeg, MB
www.pdcrailway.com/schools.htm

The Hull-Chelsea-Wakefield Steam Train
Gatineau, QC
www.ottawatourism.ca/en/visitors/what-to-do/tours-and-sightseeing/21-fast-facts-hcw-steam-train

Alberta Prairie Railway Excursions
Stettler, Alberta
www.absteamtrain.com/typical/school.htm

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