The Trans-Can

The Trans-Can or more completely the Trans-Canadian Highway is Canada’s version of their Mother Road.  It runs from sea to shining sea, clear across the lower ten Canadian provinces. This highway is recognizable by its distinctive white-on-green maple leaf route markers.

Almost thirty years ago, Anne and I traversed over 600 miles of it through the Canadian Rocky Mountains and we did it while bicycle camping. OK Sherman, jump into the Way Back machine, it is time for another stroll down memory lane as the Marquis recounts another chapter in that great adventure story, The Great Adventure. [Ed. note: We need to work that title some more.]

This adventure occurred in 1982. Anne and I took six months off from work and bicycled around the country. We traveled through 25+ states and provinces and logged 5,000+ miles on the bikes. We first met the Trans-Can in Ontario, on our drive towards the Cabin. We were only on the highway there for a few days, but it gave us a taste for what to expect later. Back then that Manotoulin Island to the Soo stretch was just two lane highway, with iffy shoulders, but pretty good lines-of-sight. The only bike accident that we saw then was a motorcycle accident, nothing too serious though.

We eventually rejoined the Trans-Can in Calgary, Alberta. We rode that last few miles of the great northern plains in to a mountain pass that led us to Banff. In Banff we met Hugh and Scott again, two cyclists that had accompanied us on the run into the Soo. They had taken a more direct route westward than we had, but had been held up at a KOA in North Dakota for two weeks, because the Canadian customs suspected that they might work illegally in Canada. They were right to suspect this, because that is exactly what they were doing in Banff, cleaning hotel rooms. Our downtown Banff photo has a special effect in it. Our dish detergent leaked onto the film canister and discolored part of the film.

Well we got lots of rain today. When we got to Banff we start looking for hotels that are a) cheap and b) have vacancies. Finally get a room at the King Eddy (as the locals say). No bathroom or TV, but nice otherwise. We get settled (i.e. draping our wet stuff hither and yon), then go shopping in Banff. All these gorgeous mountains and everyone (including us) are in the stores! How is it that I like the shopping, but Mark spends the money? I’ll never know!

Two weeks later we were in the Frasier Valley and crossing back into the US of A. I won’t belabor the many logging trucks on a winding two lane road. Instead, I’ll hit the highlights, Lake Louise, grizzly bear scat (oh yeah, you can tell the difference), the continental divide (only 4K+ feet), Yoho, Salmon Arms, Kicking Horse Pass and many others. By this time, I even started to put on weight, but I was eating about four ice cream cones a day, double scoop of course. You know, I’d like to go back. About ten years ago, we drove backwards the Manatoulin to the Soo route and I was amazed with myself with the hills that we had traversed. I even recalled some of them. I can only wonder what memories would be evoked by a return to the Trans-Can.

4 thoughts on “The Trans-Can

  1. We are a great starting point for the BC end. And for a few more months there is even a floor space available in Vancouver (I pay the rent – I can rent it out)

Leave a Reply