Travel back in time and explore how the early settlers of Saskatchewan travelled along the railroad – the backbone to how Canada evolved as a nation. A little town called Ogema has put themselves on the map with this fantastic railroad experience.
My kids have never been on a passenger train; it’s just not typical here is Saskatchewan, Canada. So when I heard about the Southern Prairie Railway in Ogema, I was insanely interested in taking the kids for the train ride experience! It was on our summer travel bucket list, so in August we finally went.
Ogema is located about 1 hour drive south of Regina, an easy day drive or you can make it part of a Southern Saskatchewan road trip if you like.
We arrived early with some extra time for the kids to play around in the green space just outside the station. We opted for the Heritage Train tour which would be about 2 1/2 hours. The tour would take an hour train ride to an old grain elevation, get off and tour the elevator and then ride the train back. They have so many options and tours so find the one that fits for you here.
Lined up and waiting to go the kids were ecstatic about getting on the train they couldn’t control their smiles and excitement. Luca called it the Polar Express train and Sofia was hoping we weren’t going to the same place as Harry Potter! Lol – the only reference my kids have to riding in a train is in the movies…. so it probably felt a bit magically to them. We sat in our seats and waiting for the train to leave the station. With a few small bounces in the seats the kids giggled since there were no seatbelts!
The train goes a whopping 18 miles per hour! But, it is a relaxing ride. We sat back and watched the kids gaze out into the prairie fields. As we travelled along the rails the tour guide does point out some key facts about what has happened in the surrounding area and some of the history. It was a good balance and not too much information. If you are lucky you may even get a glance as some lamas in the fields. Along the ride, the tour guide provides drink service where the kids had a good old-fashioned glass bottled pop and we enjoyed a couple of beers!
Cruising along the rails in August gave us the opportunity to see the farmers in the fields at work with the combines and machinery harvesting the crop for the season. Seemed fitting as we approached a 1922 abandoned grain elevator for our tour.
Stretching our legs we were able to go inside an old abandoned grain elevator and learn how the farmers from this area used to bring in the crop and sell it here. So much history in this one building! In Saskatchewan there are still operational grain elevators but so many of these small town elevators have been closed, abandoned or demolished. Grain elevators are ssymbolic to our prairie province, it would be a shame if you came to the prairies and never went into one before. Highly recommend you put this on your list of things to do.
Now the train itself is like a working museum. It is a working 1944 General Electric Diesel Locomotive and a 1922 Pullman 70 Passenger Coach. It has been fully restored and brought back to life for this railroad tour. I had never been in such an old working passenger train before. It also allowed the kids to experience what they had seen at the Western Development Museum in Moose Jaw a few months before. Lots of work was put into the restoration and they did a fantastic job! My favourite was the seats that easily flip from forward to backward seats with nothing but a pull off the seat – super cool!
- Pre-book your tickets online to ensure the train tour you want is not sold out.
- You can also use the train tickets for free entry into the Deep South Pioneer Museum in Ogema. We didn’t have the time to check it out, but if you want to before the train tour just get your ticket stamped at the station window before for free entry to the museum.
- The train does have a toilet (whew), but they also have great bathroom facilities at the train station (baby change table too).
- Cost for the Heritage Train: Adult $47, Youth(12-18) $39, Child (4-11) $32, Under 3 Free (Prices for 2016 season, please check their website for current pricing.)
- Places to eat: If you don’t go on a train tours that offers food; there are some options like the local restaurant, grocery store or the ice cream shack (ice cream, french fries & chicken fingers). We weren’t overly impressed with the food options, so my recommendation would be to pack a picnic and eat at the picnic tables by the train station. There is a place, Solo Italia, to purchase authentic Italian pizza and pasta, but it is not a restaurant. We did buy some great food and brought it home to cook… but just a warning on Saturday and Sunday (when the train tour operates) the Solo Italia does not serve food.
If you are looking for a unique experience to ride the rails in Saskatchewan I highly recommend this trip. It will give you a glimpse of the prairie life and take you back to the early pioneers of the province.