If I start in Vancouver, there are certainly trains heading east and north (and south). What I want to know is how far north I can get using just trains, if I start in Vancouver, BC? And are they running during all seasons?
The Pacific route is a beautiful route! Expensive, but beautiful none the less.
From the West Coast of the U.S., you can take Amtrak's Cascades train (tel. 800/USA RAIL; www.amtrak.com) to Bellingham, Washington; the dock for the Alaska ferry is quite close to the railroad station. From the east, it makes more sense to use Canada's Via Rail (tel. 888/VIA-RAIL; www.viarail.ca). The transcontinental route starts all the way back in Toronto; you change in Jasper to end up in Prince Rupert, B.C., where you can catch the Alaska ferry north.
Regardless, your prognosis is not good; you'll have to double back East to head North, and you'll only go as far as Prince Rupert. (Screenshot from www.viarail.ca)
I would go with if I didn't have a job!
There is a train running north west from Prince George up toward Nations Lakes.