Alberta Prairie Railways marks 30 unforgettable in the biz

Tickets purchased this year go to a special ‘luxury’ train ride for 30 guests

Marking 30 years of providing folks with an unforgettable experience, staff with Alberta Prairie Railway are eager to keep building on the success of the past.

To help celebrate, through the month of June a 20 per cent discount was offered on all tickets, said Don Gillespie, president and CEO of the Alberta Prairie Railway.

Now, through to the end of the year, ticket purchasers will each be entered into a draw to be made at the end of the year.

“The winner will be given a time of their choice during our season; they will be given our luxury car and we will accommodate 30 people,” he explained, adding that the five-hour trek (excluding the Polar Express train ride) will be a full-fledged VIP experience from start to finish.

It also includes a personal car attendant, and complementary drinks and hors-d’oeuvres, he said.

Gillespie has been with the organization since day one.

“The fall of 1989 was when we took over, and 1990 was our first run,” he said. Since then, Alberta Prairie Railway has attracted people from not just Canada and the U.S. but from around the world as well.

The bulk of that awareness has been fueled by enthusiastic word-of-mouth, added Gillespie. Bookings come in from all over.

“Every trip we do, we have anywhere from between 10 and 25 international riders on it,” he said, adding that the continued popularity of the service goes back at least in part to values that he believes mean a lot to people.

“When I’m loading people, I still put the ladies on first,” he said. “You wouldn’t believe the amount of goodwill it brings.

“You also have to remember that 90 per cent of the families 5o years ago all had someone who was in the train industry.”

Those kinds of family legacies mean a lot to people today, and they want to tap into that in some way, he added.

Ultimately, it also all goes right along with the old-time authenticity of the experience as well, he said.

Another huge highlight of the year is the annual Polar Express train ride, just in time for Christmas.

“It’s as much a theatre event as it is a train ride,” said manager Bob Willis of the magical, seasonal experience that is based on the legendary movie.

“It’s all encompassing.” And it’s not just for the kids – lots of adults sign up for the trip without any kids in tow, he laughed. “The Polar Express is pretty special.”

According to Willis, folks who take a journey on any of the train trips in essence become a part of a community.

“If you think about the major tourist attractions – there aren’t many of them where the staff acts as a catalyst to get you to interact with other people, but that’s what we do,” he said. “And people love to inter-act. That’s what life is all about.

“This whole combination of things is Don’s baby. He created this, he brought it together from his own personal experience.”

As mentioned, the train is known around the world.

You can be in Florida, mention to someone you are from Stettler, Alberta, Canada and chances are they’ve heard of Alberta Prairie Railway, noted Willis.

“On any given train, we will have a pile of folks from all over the place,” he added. “We see this as a passion for the community. And it’s an exceptional experience – let’s put it that way.”

Check out for more information, or call 403-742-2811.


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