The CP Holiday Train will not be leaving the station this year.
Canadian Pacific announced last week that the popular Christmas event is another victim of the COVID-19 pandemic, and has been cancelled for 2020.
Instead, there will be a virtual concert for all to enjoy, but the company says that it will still make donations to the food banks in communities along its network, including the South Cariboo Elizabeth Fry Society (SCEFS) food bank in Ashcroft.
The Holiday Train started in 1999, and has stopped in Ashcroft every year (except one) since then. At each stop along the way there is live entertainment from Canadian music stars, and CP makes a cash donation to a food bank in the community. Those attending the event are also encouraged to bring food and cash donations for their local food bank.
Last year some 1,200 people attended the Ashcroft event, and CP donated $5,500 to the E. Fry food bank. SCEFS executive director Trish Schachtel says that attendees donated more than $650 and 650 pounds of food, which was greatly appreciated. Music was provided by multi-platinum Juno Award-winner Dallas Smith—Canadian Country Music Association’s 2019 Entertainer of the Year—and Holiday Train favourite Terri Clark.
Details of this year’s virtual event have yet to be released, but CP intends to continue to draw attention to food security issues.
“COVID-19 has created many challenges for communities across our network and has only increased the need at local food banks and food shelves,” says CP President and Chief Executive Officer Keith Creel. “It is our honour to continue to donate to communities across our network this year, even if the train itself will not run.
“The spirit of the Holiday Train program and the Christmas spirit will carry on this year through our virtual concert. We will have the Holiday Train rolling again spreading Christmas cheer as soon as it’s safe to do so!”
Every year since its launch, the Holiday Train has traveled across Canada and the northern U.S. raising money, collecting food, and drawing attention to the important work of local food banks.
Since its inception, the train has raised $17.8 million and collected 4.8 million pounds of food for local food banks in communities along CP’s network.
CP intends to resume operating the annual train tour in 2021.