For the second year in a row, the COVID-19 pandemic has derailed the CP Holiday Train.
On Oct. 8, Canadian Pacific announced the popular Christmas event — which was cancelled in 2019 — would again be a virtual event. The “Holiday Train at Home” program will feature a virtual concert, which can be watched free at home. An event date and artists have yet to be announced.
As it did last year, CP 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 apart from 2020 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.
During its last stop in Ashcroft in 2019, some 1,200 people attended the live 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.
“This is not a decision that CP took lightly,” said Holiday Train Coordinator Vince Lambert in a statement. “We continue to follow guidance of public health authorities, with the safety of our employees and the communities we operate in and through being CP’s top priority.
“We know the need and demand for food bank services has increased throughout the course of the pandemic. CP will proudly make donations this year to our local food bank beneficiaries that would have received a contribution had the train tour gone forward.”
Lambert added that the goal of the concert is similar to last year: to let people know of the ongoing food insecurity in their community and to prompt the train’s supporters to give as generously as they are able.
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, it has raised over $19.4 million and collected 4.9 million pounds of food to help those in need.