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Sault Ste. Marie's major tourism draw derailed by COVID-19

The Agawa Canyon Tour Train has been cancelled for 2020
2017-09-09 Agawa Canyon Tour Train DMH-3
Agawa Canyon Tour Train is pictured in this file photo. (Donna Hopper/SooToday)

The Agawa Canyon Tour Train is cancelled for the 2020 season due to COVID-19, according to a notice posted to the tour train website.

The popular Sault Ste. Marie-based train had already been delayed. In a notice sent to local political leaders last month, Algoma Central Railway owner CN Rail served notice that the 2020 tour season, originally scheduled to start June 16, would be delayed until September.

"It is with regret that we are announcing that the entire Agawa Canyon Tour Train 2020 season is cancelled in the interest of public health and safety," says a note on the website.

"This decision is in line with existing restrictions at both the provincial and federal levels, as we continue to witness extended states of emergency and limitations on non-essential travel."

CN says those who have purchased accommodation packages and tickets will receive a full refund within 30 days.

City officials consider the tour train a vital part of the city's tourism industry, bringing in 30,000 visitors to the city annually.

Departing from downtown Sault Ste. Marie, the excursion takes travellers 183 kilometres north of the city, through dense wilderness, into the Agawa Canyon.

It’s most popular during the autumn months when visitors can take in the season’s changing colours.

The Agawa Canyon Tour Train was named "one of North America's most popular train rides" by National Geographic magazine in a feature that declared Agawa Canyon one of Canada's "50 places of a lifetime."

The cancellation comes as a new station for the train is being built next to the The Machine Shop – which includes dining options and an event venue – on the property of the former St. Mary's Paper.

The project, which received $5 million from the province, includes an exhibit centre/gallery, a micro-brewery, and an outdoor event centre.