Ok so the Alberta Prairie Railway had to be one of the best trips we’ve done with the kids! I’ve seen several ads over the years for the Stettler train but we picked up a pamphlet at the Supertrain show this year and I decided that it might just be the perfect Father’s Day gift this year.
It’s not cheap however once you go on the trip you’ll definitely feel you got your money’s worth! We spent just over $225 for the 4 of us (my 2 year old son was free and my daughter was discounted) but for a 5 hour day of entertainment and food we thought for a special event like Father’s Day it was very reasonable. I think it’s it’s just so great that they have found a way to keep some of these old trains and stations running. It really makes you realize how much some of these small towns relied on the railway.
Stettler is about 3 hours NE of Calgary and even though you could do the train trip in one day, leaving Calgary very early and arriving back after supper, we chose to camp for the weekend up near Stettler. The train left Stettler at 11:00 a.m. and we headed out on the prairies. I can’t say enough about this tour. The guides on the train were very knowledgeable, there was a commentary over speakers to describe things along the way and some of the characters on the train came by and introduced themselves and kept the 1.5 hour trip feeling very short. Ours was a Father’s Day special and so Dad got a free conductor hat as a souvenir which the kids loved. The train had 2 concessions on board where you could buy food and souvenirs. Everyone has assigned seating so there’s no rush at all to board and the seats actually flip so that if you have more than 2 in your party you can sit facing each other. We found it amusing how, with all the gadgets now a days, everyone on the train was beyond wowed with this feature! There was also a licensed saloon with entertainment and a kids play area. There was a change table on board as well as washrooms. Passengers were welcome to wander along the cars and there was an open air car where you could get fresh air and great pictures of the landscape.
Part way through the trip the train stopped and all of a sudden a group of bandits came riding by on horseback and started shooting. They boarded the train and demanded money (small change) from the passengers. The Buffalo Hunter aboard jumped off and after a short gun fight he captured them all and retrieved the money. They donate the collected amount to charity – our train’s totalled $411.
When we arrived in Big Valley the train stopped for 2 hours to let us head to the community hall for a buffet dinner. The food was good and the kids actually ate it all which impressed me. After lunch we strolled through Big Valley and bought some fudge. There are some museums to wander through and everyone is very friendly. The ride home went back the same route and this time there was singing entertainment in each car.
The kids had a blast and they can’t stop talked about the armed bandits. This is high on our list of recommendations to friends and family!