Michigan Central Railway Tunnel, enabling Michigan to Ontario train travel, ca. 1910. Click to enlarge.

(See page for author, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:PostcardDetroitMIEntranceDetroitRiverRRTunnel.jpg)




Dominion-Overseas redirects here.

The Canadian and later, Canadian-Niagara, was the longest running named international train from Chicago to Upper Canada via Detroit, for its first two decades running to Montreal. This overnight train was operated by the Michigan Central Railroad (NYCS) from Chicago to Detroit, and in a pool arrangement, it operated over Canadian Pacific Railway tracks and used the same train number from Detroit eastward. The train would carry a second section, bound, variously for Buffalo or New York City via Buffalo.


Canadian, Canadian-Niagara Route Map. Click to enlarge.

(Canadian Pacific Railway, Public domain)


In 1955 the Canadian Pacific moved the name ‘Canadian’ to its transcontinental Montreal to Vancouver operation, the Canadian. The train numbers 19 (west) and 20 (east) remained on the CP's Toronto to Detroit train (and vice versa), only as an unnamed train. Briefly in early 1961 the New York Central moved the name to ‘Canadian’ again. However, by the end of the year, the New York Central terminated the Canadian, and thus ended the tradition of a continuous international Chicago-Detroit-Windsor-Toronto itinerary, and ending the New York Central's passenger service east from Detroit into Southwest Ontario, except for its Wolverine route bound for Buffalo and New York City. The CP sustained a Detroit to Toronto train until 1967. Any traveler wishing to make the full trip would need to change in Detroit for the Chicago to Detroit portion. The CP cut its service back to Windsor to Toronto in 1967.

21st century developments

On January 6, 2022, Amtrak announced that Canadian Pacific Limited and Kansas City Southern railroads would cooperate with Amtrak expansion plans. This agreement would allow Amtrak to link with VIA Rail (Amtrak's counterpart in Canada) through the aforementioned Detroit-Windsor rail tunnel. However, news reports did not indicate a timeline for the resumption of passenger service between Detroit and Toronto.


1943 Canadian Pacific Timetable showing the Canadian (Canadian-Niagara). Click to enlarge.

(Canadian Pacific Railway, Public domain)


Service type: Inter-city rail
Status: Discontinued
Locale: Great Lakes region
First service: 1914
Last service: 1961
Former operators: Michigan Central Railroad, New York Central Railroad, Canadian Pacific Railway
Route Termini: Chicago / Montreal or New York City
Train numbers: 19/20