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Christmas Gifts for the Traveller in Your Life

Is there a traveller in your life? Somebody who loves exploring new places, trying new foods, driving long distances for a picture and who will yammer on and on about their travels if you let them?

For the first time in Kenton de Jong Travel history I decided to put together a list of gifts you can get the traveller in your life. Many of these gifts I own, so I can testify that they are worth investing in.

Many of the links in this article are affiliate links, which means if you buy the products I recommend, I may get a little financial kickback.

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Must See Things for Your Toronto Bucket List

Toronto is one of the most vibrant cities in the world and is home to a mix of cultures unlike anywhere else in Canada. It is the personification of Canada's proverbial mixing-pot. Toronto is comprised of six different districts, each its own unique neighbourhood. Much like the people who live in Toronto, the areas of Toronto are just as diverse.

With so much to do and see, many travellers are overwhelmed. If you're in town or passing through, here are some sights near Toronto that should be on your bucket list:

Toronto is proud of its arts and has one of the most progressive music scenes in the world. In fact, it's impossible to visit the city without sampling this iconic music scene. If you are a musicophile and you want to take in a live music performance or opera in Toronto, you will want to visit the Roy Thomson Hall.

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Exploring Moose Jaw's Abandoned Zoo

Before you read this article and freak out over the amount of snow you're about to see, I want to clarify that I took these pictures last March. Moose Jaw had a lot more snow than they do at the time of publishing this. I just postponed the article to prevent you from any winter PTSD during the summer months.

The Moose Jaw Wild Animal Park opened in 1929 as a 540-acre zoo. It contained over 200 types of animals from across Canada and the northwestern United States. For almost eighty years the zoo was in operation, educating visitors on different animals and environmental preservation. It started with bison, bears and wolves, and eventually expanded to include more exotic animals such as lions. It was difficult to get numbers, but it had an average attendance of almost a million people per year.

All this ended in 1995 when the zoo failed to gain the necessary liability insurance. On September 28, 1995, the Environment and Resource Management shut down the zoo. In 1997 the zoo's property was sold to the City of Moose Jaw for $1, with the provincial government providing a $50,000 grant to restore the area.

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How To Get Inside Chernobyl's Reactor 4

When I visited Chernobyl in 2016, very few people had ever heard of it. Fast-forward to 2019 and Chernobyl is one of the fastest-growing tourism spots in Europe, thanks to the HBO mini-series Chernobyl. It has grown so much, so fast, that in July 2019 Ukrainian President, Volodymyr Zelensky even declared it an official tourism destination.

It's been incredible to see this location get the international recognition it deserves, but with it comes the question of what to do with Reactor 4 – the unfortunate reactor that exploded and radiated the area. The reactor is imprisoned inside the "Sarcophagus" and is now covered in the New Safe Confinement structure. This means that hopefully, no radiation will escape its fiery, burning pit.

But what if somebody wanted to get inside?

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The Horrors of the RCMP Heritage Centre's Black Museum

They say dead men tell no tales, but these ones do.

The RCMP Heritage Centre's Black Museum only opens for a couple of weeks every few years, with the last time being in 2015. I loved the museum and am disappointed every year that followed when it didn't open. I heard a rumour that it was opening this year after a four-year hiatus, so I reached out to the Heritage Centre and they confirmed the rumours to be true. A few days later, I was there, camera and notepad in hand.

The Black Museum opens with Oliver, a terrifying mannequin that once toured across northern Canada for Christmas shows. Although Oliver says he'll be your guide through the displays of horror that await you, you never have to see him again. However, some people say his eyes follow you as you walk around the room, so don't be surprised if you turn around and he's staring right at you.   

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Review of Inim Bala by Alchemy Prophet

I first met Matt Lay when I partnered with Paranormal And Supernatural Team (PAST) during a paranormal investigation of Boards n Beans last summer. I've heard about Lay in prior work with PAST, but it wasn't until that night that I met him and saw some of the technological wizardry he creates.

Lay has been creating music since he was a child, with his focus being violin and electronic keyboard. Many of his musical inspirations include The Alan Parsons Project, Pink Floyd, Tangerine Dream, Gustav Holst and Mike Oldfield. He's always had a love for music, although his life has often led him down different avenues of expression.

Lay's story starts in the 1980s when he lived in Mobile, Alabama. Lay was very open about spiritualism and didn't agree with the mantra of mainstream religion. However, he found the culture in the southern United States very restrictive with religion and spiritualism. He would move to the outskirts of Atlanta, Georgia in 1989 for a fresh start. However, when he was setting up his new life, the United States fell under the "Satanic Panic". Lay found himself once again harassed by hate groups and ridiculed by local churches, many misunderstanding his ideas, teachings and lectures. This was a difficult time for anybody pagan in the United States.

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Journey to Grey Owl's Cabin - Part 2

Normally I sleep very well, but our night in Prince Albert National Park was rough. I woke up a half dozen times, each time curled up at the bottom of my tent, with both my arms on fire. I knew my arms were sore from the sixteen kilometres we canoed the day before, but the pain seemed much worse than normal. Had it been cold out, I would have assumed my muscles were cramping, but it was warm in the tent so that wouldn't make sense. I was too tired to understand why so I straightened myself and attempted to get some sleep.

I woke up to my alarm at seven in the morning. After a little tossing and turning and denial of the day ahead of me, I got up around eight when I heard Kevin getting up.

We brushed our teeth, splashed some of our drinking water on our faces and broke down camp.

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Journey to Grey Owl's Cabin - Part 1

It's been about fifteen years since I last visited Grey Owl's Cabin. I went with my elementary school's Outdoor Ed program when I was about thirteen, and the only highlight I remember was missing school when I got back because of the blisters on my feet.

It was also around fifteen years ago that I last paddled a canoe.

So, it's fair to say I wasn't prepared for the 40-kilometre canoe trip to Grey Owl's Cabin. To make sure I didn't lose my way or end up being bear-food, I asked my good friend Kevin Dunn, the former 2018 Saskatchewanderer, to come along with me.

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8 Places to Visit in Quebec City

I was recently asked if I preferred my time in Montreal or Quebec City more, and while Montreal is a gorgeous city, decorated with thousands of green copper spires, hosts incredible festivals, has some of the most fantastic food I have ever tasted, and is spotted with beautiful parks, there was just something about Quebec City that spoke to me. Being over four hundred years old, Quebec City is one of the last remaining "walled cities" in North America, and is the only one north of Mexico.  Quebec City was the location of some of the greatest conflicts in Canadian history, including the Siege of Quebec by the British.

Belonging to three very different countries (France, England, and Canada) in its four hundred year existence, Quebec City is a mixing pot of old traditions, new ideas, cobblestone streets and modern architecture. Since there is so much to see in Quebec City, I figured I would narrow it down to a couple and let you discover the rest! Here is "8 Places to Visit in Quebec City".

(Looking for more things to do in Quebec City? Check out Lonely Planet's guide to Quebec City and Montreal!)

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How to Spend 24 Hours in Medicine Hat

If you've ever passed through Medicine Hat, or you're spending a few days in the area, you've probably wondered what to do there. To most people outside the city, Medicine Hat might seem like a sleepy little prairie town in the Canadian Badlands; but for those who live in Hell's Basement, they'll tell you that this city is one of the most exciting places you can explore in all of Alberta.

I've gone to Medicine Hat three times in the past two years, and while I'm no expert on this thriving city, I know where the hidden gems are. If someone I know is passing through the area, I tell them they need to visit Medicine Hat. To help explain why, I put an article together for anyone else interested in visiting the Hat.

If you're spending 24 hours in Medicine Hat, you'll need somewhere to sleep. Cypress Hills Interprovincial Park is a little under an hour away and a great place to camp. Camping in Cypress gives you the choice to explore the park, the city, and everywhere in between.

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Journey to Grey Owl's Cabin - Part 2

Normally I sleep very well, but our night in Prince Albert National Park was rough. I woke up a half dozen times, each time curled up at the bottom of my tent, with both my arms on fire. I knew my arms were sore from the sixteen kilometres we canoed the day before, but the pain seemed much worse than normal. Had it been cold out, I would have assumed my muscles were cramping, but it was warm in the tent so that wouldn't make sense. I was too tired to understand why so I straightened myself and attempted to get some sleep.

I woke up to my alarm at seven in the morning. After a little tossing and turning and denial of the day ahead of me, I got up around eight when I heard Kevin getting up.

We brushed our teeth, splashed some of our drinking water on our faces and broke down camp.

Read More