I always look forward to catching up with Mitch Azaria. He’s the executive producer behind the unique “Tripping” series of real time documentaries featured each spring on TVO.

In the past few years, and especially throughout the pandemic, these docs have allowed viewers to travel virtually throughout Ontario when real travel was not an option, or at best a very limited one.

The series all started with Tripping The Rideau Canal (2020) followed by Tripping the Niagara (2021), and last April, Tripping the Bruce (2022).

The latest adventure is Tripping Train 185, which premieres Friday, April 7 on TVO. It takes viewers northwest out of Canada’s mining capital and along the stunning Spanish River.

The route goes from Sudbury to White River, a 480 km trip. “It’s a hidden gem,” says Azaria. Best of all, it is all aboard a stainless steel Budd Car, the last-remaining, post WWII vintage, diesel train in North America still operating on a regular route.

Part of the fun is the bond between the crew and the passengers. “It’s like Old Home week every trip on this train,” saysd Azaria. As you’ll see, many canoes and backpacks are along for the ride.


Taking this 70-year-old train is a bit like traveling back in time and the only way to several fishing camps. Azaria enhances that with pop up info nuggets along the way, including an animated recreation, enhanced with NFB film clips, of one of the teaching train cars that shuttled to northern regions from the ’30s thru the ’70s. Children would board these train cars, parked on side lines, for a week, do homework for three and catch the school train a month later. 

The story is told of one teacher who lived in the train with his young family. Over a four decade career, he taught 4000 students, some First Nations, many immigrants, and the academic achievements of these kids far exceeds those of students in regular school systems.

The Train 185 production cred (l-r): Andrea Minty, producer; Richmond Lee, sound; Mitch Azaria, executive producer; Jeff Semple, 2nd unit director; Mike Darby, director of photography; John Morrison, director;
Terry Zazulak, 2nd unit camera

For many, Train 185 is the only way to get to some of the best fishing sites in North America. For TVO viewers, thanks to Mitch and his crew, this is the only way to travel.

To listen to Azaria, simply click on the blue and white arrow above to link directly to the podcast.

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