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Armchair Brakeman
White River to Sudbury

VIA Rail: The Lake Superior

It was while visiting my sister-in-law Marilyn who lives in Sault Ste Marie, Michigan that I decided to take the VIA train from White River Ontario to Sudbury. I take my wife to visit her sister quite often but I do not enjoy staying with them while they play scrabble and haunt garage sales. I usually take that time to travel around and see the various sights of the upper peninsula of Michigan.

At one point in the past, instead of just driving around I started taking train trips that originated in northern Michigan and upper Ontario, Canada. This was one of those trips. From Sault Ste Marie, Ontario, White River is easy to get to. You take highway 17 north  about 180 miles (which is along the shore of Lake Superior for quite a way) and the highway runs into White River at the junction of highway 631.

White River is not very big (population approximately 900) and was set up as a rail town on the Canadian Pacific Railway in 1885. A road out of White River was built in 1961 which finally provided car access to the town.  

White River is the western terminus of the VIA train: The Lake Superior from Sudbury Ontario.

A surprise awaited me as I waited for the train at the station. As the train pulled in I realized it was a Budd Rail Diesel Car (RDC). I was not aware that the motive power for this line was a Budd, and I was happy that I was going to ride in one. The Alaska Railroad has one that runs from Anchorage to Whittier but I was not able to make that journey during my trip to Alaska.

The Budd is a two unit train with the front unit housing the engineer and passengers (#6215) and the rear a baggage car. These cars were self-propelled diesel - hydraulic cars primarily used in rural areas and places that had a small amount of  passengers.

When we left White River there were only three passengers besides myself. A little over halfway to Sudbury we came to the town of Chapleau, Ontario and stopped for a 15 minute lay over. It was here that the other three passengers got off the train. During the few minutes there I found out there is a museum in back of the train station with a steam engine on display. There were also a few small hand operated carts around the museum. Fifteen minutes was not enough to cover everything I wanted to see, even in a small museum. This is a town I must come back to.

When the train left Chapleau I was the only passenger. The engineer saw that I was interested in the train and asked if I wanted to sit up front with him. He sat on the right side and drove the train and I sat on the left side and waved to all the kids as we passed by. It was fun.

When we reached Sudbury I found out that from White River you come into a different station than the main line Toronto to Vancouver station. We arrived at Sudbury Station which is about 10 kilometers from Sudbury Junction Station. If you wanted to continue on to Toronto or Vancouver you would have to take a taxicab to the main line station.

Sudbury is called the Nickel City because of the nickel and copper mines in the area. Sudbury is also the largest city in northern Ontario.  The Northern Ontario Railroad Museum has its home in Sudbury.

Schedules and Fares

Departs White River: 0900 (9:00 AM)      Mon, Wed, Sun
Arrives Sudbury:  1830 (6:30 PM)                                           

Departs Sudbury: 0900 (9:00AM)             Tues., Thurs., Sat
Arrives White River:     1745 (5:45PM)

White River to Sudbury Fares   (Canadian Dollar)

Adult                                                                $107.10
Senior                                                              $107.10
Youth                                                               $107.10
Student                                                         $107.10
Child                                                               $54.60






white river station
White River station



Budd train at Chapelleau
Budd train at Chaplleau



Inside the bud train
Inside the Budd train