Earlier this year I put out a survey to hear from my readers and learn what they wanted to read more about in 2017. "More Canada!" was one thing my readers said, "More in-depth articles!" was another, and "More great pictures!" was a third. One comment stuck with me, however, and that was to stop writing about places I haven't been to. I confess, I have done that upon occasion, such as when I write about Christmas traditions around the world or spooky places in Canada. I took this piece of advice to heart so I've tried to talk more about places I've been, and only touch on places I've read about.
This article goes against all that.
I have never been to Northern Canada. I've always wanted to, but fate just hasn't sent me up there yet. Nevertheless, I did my best to research these locations. One day I'll get up there and visit these places, but for now we'll just have to dream about them together.
Before getting started, we need to remember that things are different in Northern Canada. With three territories spanning the width of Canada, there is much more than one could ever imagine. My knowledge of the territories is minimal, so this tour will only talk about some of the places I've heard about. If there's anything else I should add to my tour, please let me know in the comments.
This tour starts in Dawson City, a city with a population that was once 40,000 but has now fallen to just over 1,000. Brought to fame by the Klondike Gold Rush, thousands of people from around the world flowed into this town looking to make it big. Many went home penniless while others died in the unforgiving wilderness. Their stories inspired Jack London to write some of his most famous works, such as White Fang, To Build a Fire and Call of the Wild.
London spent several years in the Klondike, and his presence inspired the creation of the Jack London Museum. Here you can see historical archives and photographs about London's life before, during, and after the gold rush. The museum even has a replica of the house he once lived in while out looking for gold. This structure is made of half the wood from his real house, with the remaining wood on display in Oakland, California – London's hometown.
If you're interested in the history of Dawson, you can also visit the Dawson City Museum, the Dänojà Zho Cultural Centre or the Dawson City Cemetery. For a more unconventional cemetery, you can also visit the Paddlewheel Graveyard, a massive graveyard full of decaying passenger vessels.
If you'd rather be outdoors exploring the beauty of the Yukon, there are several hiking and walking trails nearby worth exploring. For an added treat, you can hike (or drive) up to the Midnight Dome and witness one of the most breathtaking views of the north. At 1,700 feet high, the Midnight Dome offers an unparalleled view of Dawson City, the Yukon River, the Klondike Valley and beyond.
Driving in the north is tricky, and many have lost their way. Instead, the recommended form of transportation is flying. You can fly or drive for six hours to Whitehorse, but keep in mind that this is the shortest distance on this tour you'd be covering.
Like Dawson, Whitehorse grew out of the Klondike gold rush. Unlike Dawson, Whitehorse's population didn't collapse when the gold dried up. It continued to grow and stole Dawson's title as the capital city in 1953. While here you should first visit the MacBride Museum of Yukon History to get a better understanding of this booming northern city. Then hop the Whitehorse Waterfront Trolley to see the roaring Yukon River in all its glory.
If you're into history, you'll want to visit the Yukon Beringia Interpretive Centre, the Copperbelt Railway & Mining Museum, the SS Klondike and the Old Log Church Museum. For those who like getting outdoors instead, the Takhini Hot Springs are a perfect place to rest and relax, while the Miles Canyon Basalts offer a dynamic view of a volcanic landscape prior to glaciation.
Our next destination is Nahanni National Park, Northwest Territories, my favourite Canadian National Park. I've written about Nahanni multiple times on my blog and I'm embarrassed to say I've never been there. It's on the top of my bucket list of places to visit in the Northwest Territories. Nahanni is known for its lurching mountains, thick forests, and waterfalls twice the size of Niagara. It's also known for its mysterious happenings of beheaded corpses. It's these stories that have earned this national park location names like Headless Creek, Deadmen Valley, and Funeral Range. Not only is this national park incredibly spooky, but it's the largest national park in Canada – nearly the size of Switzerland! It's never been fully explored, it's full of mystery, it's full of beauty and it's the perfect place to visit while in Northern Canada.
If you make it out of Nahanni alive (joking!), your final destination is Yellowknife, the capitol of the Northwest Territories. As with visiting any provincial or territorial capitol, one of the first places you must visit is the Legislative Assembly. Unlike other assemblies in Canada, the one in Yellowknife is inside an igloo-like structure with a polar bear skin on the floor as a rug. Don't let that fool you, however, as this building is impressively modern and is a prime example of combining modern and traditional styles of architecture.
After you're done at the Legislative Assembly, your next stop should be the Northern Frontier Visitors Centre. Here you can learn about the city's history, mining and geology, natural history and Aboriginal culture. While in Yellowknife you can explore the many museums, shop in its 1930 themed Old Town, or try some of the over two dozen eateries around the city. Menus vary from fresh fish to elk and include cultural treats like bison and musk-ox. For more traditional meals, you can also order Chinese, Japanese and Italian food too.
You can then end your time in Northern Canada at Aurora Village, the best place to see the Northern Lights in Yellowknife. Sleep in a tipi, immerse yourself in the beauty of the north and watch blue and green lights dance across the night sky.
That concludes my "Five Canadian Adventures to Take in 2017" series. We've covered Atlantic Canada, historical cities in Canada, French Canada, Saskatchewan and now Northern Canada. I left a lot out of these 5 articles, as there's a lot more to discover. Are you planning to explore Canada later this year? Let me know where you're heading in the comments below!
Don't forget to check out all the articles in this series!
Nestled between the impressive Mount Royal and the majestic St. Lawrence River is Montreal, a city known for its festivals, abstract art, history and mosaic of countless cultures. Montreal is the second largest city in Canada, with a population floating around four million people. While the city is a dynamic mix of Canada's two primary cultures – French and English – there are areas of the city that are culturally specific, such as Little Italy, Greektown and Chinatown. Known for its artistic and liberal mindedness, Montreal also boasts the largest community of homosexuals in North America in their very own "Gay Village".
Being nearly 375 years old, Montreal was pivotal to the creation of New France and Canada and at a time held control over every waterway from the St. Lawrence down to the Gulf of Mexico. Having such incredible influence over the western part of the New World, Montreal hosted the "Great Peace of Montreal" in 1701, which started sixteen years of peace between the French and over 40 different First Nation tribes in North America.
Since its early days, Montreal has been one of the most influential cities in Canada. Montreal housed "internment camps" during World War I, became an ideal location for Americans looking for alcohol during Prohibition, and was the official residence of the Luxembourg royal family during World War II. Montreal held host to the incredible Expo 67, showcasing some of the most incredible architecture of that decade. The seventies saw serious political reformation in Montreal, with many Americans arriving, fleeing the Vietnam Draft. The late seventies paralyzed the city as a terrorist organization, the Front de libération du Québec, detonated explosives throughout the city and kidnapped and killed political figures. These actions forced the Prime Minster to enact the "War Measures Act" and deploy the military into the city to apprehend the terrorists. The eighties and nineties saw two referendums in the province of Quebec to separate from Canada, with Montreal playing a major role in both decisions. The last referendum in 1995 ended with 51% percent of Quebecers wanting to remain part of Canada and 49% wanting to separate.
When it comes to Saskatchewan, your next adventure can be around any corner. As you venture off the main highways, signage is scarce and directions such as "if you've passed the gate with the buffalo skulls, you've gone too far" are all too common. Communities grow smaller, people grow warmer and the list of things on your Saskatchewan Bucket List seems to only get longer.
My adventure to Leader started a few months ago when Christine over at Cruisin' Christine shared a list of Leader bus tours on Facebook. Some of the tours were in June, but one was in September. The September tour caught my eye because it was a two-day tour and I had to ask myself what we would do for two days in Leader. Leader has a three digit population, so I was perplexed on what the tour would comprise.
I was so perplexed that I decided contacted Leader Tourism and booked the tour to find out.
Although the hot summer days of July are long behind us, 2017 is still Canada's 150th year. In honour of Canada's sesquicentennial birthday, I decided to put together a list of 150 things about Canada. This list talks about our quirkiness, our strengths, our weakness, and our legacy, for better and for worse. There are some sad facts, some odd facts and some facts that will probably make you open another tab to look into for yourself.
Hope you enjoy this list, and I hope you all had a great 2017!
1. Canada's two official languages are French and English, but only 20.6% of Canadians speak French.