As we rumble slowly past the Last Spike Gift Shoppe, two women standing on the wooden building’s porch wave to the half-dozen of us on the open vestibule at the back of the Rocky Mountaineer train.
We wave back, then turn our cameras to the cairn marking the spot where the Canadian Pacific Railway was completed. On November 7, 1885, Scottish-born Lord Strathcona ceremonially hammered the final spike into the transcontinental track here at Craigellachie in British Columbia.
A rail link was promised to British Columbia in return for becoming part of Canada. It may otherwise have now been a part of the USA.
Wild ride: The mountains in The Canadian Rockies
Canada turns 150 this summer. Guests on the luxury train heard about the significance of the railway in the nation’s development during one of the intermittent announcements made by the ‘guest experience team’ as we rolled by points of interest or wildlife.
We’re travelling from Vancouver to Banff, a two-day journey that saw us overnight at a hotel in Kamloops. Yesterday we snaked alongside the Fraser River and observed bald eagles gliding above its swirling water.
We passed Fort Langley, Hell’s Gate and Skuzzy Creek – place names evoking the rugged frontier history of the western Canadian landscape.
Today we’ll pass through the Selkirk Mountains and the Kicking Horse Canyon while rising into the snow-capped Canadian Rockies, where elk and grizzly bears roam.
Wide west: Panoramic views from the Rocky Mountaineer train
After taking some photos, I head back upstairs to my reclining seat in one of the glass-domed coaches reserved for passengers opting for GoldLeaf service. Adam, originally from Liverpool and in his first season of working on the Rocky Mountaineer, asks if I’d like anything to drink.
He duly brings a Caesar, a Canadian speciality made by blending tomato and clam juice with a measure of vodka.
Rocky Mountaineer (rockymountaineer.com) offers a four-day, three-night First Passage To The West Classic package, including two days aboard the train, from £1,633pp in GoldLeaf Service.
Westjet (westjet.com) flies from Gatwick to Vancouver, via Toronto, from about £264 (one way). Tour operators include Canadian Affair (canadianaffair.com).
For more information, visit uk-keepexploring.canada.travel.
The duration of the 372-mile journey means opportunities to get to know fellow guests.
Over a three-course lunch, served downstairs at a table in the dining car, I chat with Darrell and Linda, an American couple from Montana.
They married in Las Vegas on the same day as Elvis and Priscilla Presley, May 1, 1967, and are celebrating their golden wedding anniversary.
A lifelong rail enthusiast, Darrell tells me he’s ridden pretty much every train on the North American continent and rates this among the best of them. By contrast, this is my first. It won’t be my last.