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Story by y Joe Leary

Michael Downie’s life is on track. The 35 year old Vancouver native has become something of a viral sensation in the digital world, providing informative visual content as he explores Canada and beyond – much of it by rail.

“I started my YouTube channel when I was 29,” he says. “I’ve always enjoyed travel, scoping our different landscapes and different parts of the world, seeing how different cultures interact.” And thus, a concept was created, albeit with a difference,

“I really enjoy doing what other people aren’t doing, and that really sculpted my style.” The channel was created some six years ago, when he was on the cusp of turning 30 and witnessing his peers advancing in their careers.

“You have that existential crisis and feel all the judgment from family,” he says, “parents that think their 30 year old son should be a little further along in life, so I took a job as a junk removal man – a job I would hate so that it would encourage me and motivate me to make You Tube work faster.”

With such an immersive, behind the scenes approach, audience results speak for themselves.

Downie’s YouTube adventure series, known as “Downie Live,” – boasts some 450,000 subscribers and over 40 million views with an additional 207,000 followers on TikTok.

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“I was returning from San Francisco and wanted a more adventurous way to get home rather than flying. A 24-hour Amtrak train ride seemed appealing.” The resulting footage clearly resonated with viewers as Downie’s social media “blew up” after posting the resulting adventure.

“For a channel with 30,000 subscribers at that point – the train video went viral and hit some 600,000 views in no time. I realized then I was onto something and my train adventures began.”

 “I go to places and do things that no one else is doing as I believe that people like to learn in a fun way.”

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As his audience numbers continue to grow, Downie attributes the growing interest in his adventures to a general, natural curiosity among viewers, based on both the informative nature of his storytelling, coupled with his somewhat unique perspectives.

“I’m not going to exclusive resorts and showing you the best deals or discounts,” he says. “I go to places and do things that no one else is doing as I believe that people like to learn in a fun way.

It’s like you having a question in your head – but it’s not enough so that you’ll go out in search of the answer. But if I can bring it to you in the title of a YouTube video; that’s what brings the clicks.

If you can give the audience behind-thescenes information and tell the story and history and why they should care; and pull them into this world where they want to learn more, that’s when I feel like I’ve done my job really well.”

“I go to places and do
things that no one else
is doing as I believe that
people like to learn in a
fun way.”

Downie’s mission is simple – tell a compelling tale and have fun doing it. The viewer ultimately, will appreciate the legitimacy of the storytelling.

“The location doesn’t matter,” he adds. “It’s the story that matters.”

And despite what pitch ideas may be put forth to him, he continues to follow his proven formula for success.

“I’m open to going anywhere,” he admits, acknowledging the various opportunities presented to him.

“I’m not looking for the perfect beach; that’s boring. I’ll go with the next project that interests

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