150 years ago, Canada became a country, albeit a much smaller one. Since then, Canada has grown much in size, reputation and as a favorite for travellers from around the world. Lonely Planet recognized these accomplishments last year and ranked Canada as the #1 travel destination in 2017. With the addition of free National Parks all year long, 2017 is the perfect time to visit the Great White North!
I am always interested in Canadian adventures, so I thought I'd check out G Adventure's website to see what tours they have planned this year. Since G Adventures is a Canadian based travel company, I figured they would have something going on this year to celebrate our sesquicentennial. Instead, all I saw were the same eight tours as last year, and the year before. Thinking maybe there was some big announcement coming for 2017, I emailed G Adventures asking about it, hoping, praying, that maybe there was something, something, anything at all… but I received no response.
Now, don't get me wrong. G Adventures has eight great Canadian tours, and they all look really awesome, but they only show off a small sliver of what Canada has to offer. In fact, four of the tours are almost exactly the same:
The remaining four tours hardly venture into Canada at all, except for the "Canadian Polar Bear Experience" tour. This tour is a six-day round trip from Winnipeg to Churchill that costs a whopping $7000. Another tour, "Highlights of the Eastern US & Canada", also ventures into Canada, but I'm sure the majority of Canadians would agree Toronto, Ottawa and Montreal do not consist of all our national "highlights". (Like, Mac the Moose!)
I was incredibly disappointed with G Adventure's selections. So, being the resourceful and experienced traveller that I am, I put together my own set of Canadian tours! While these tours do not even come close to mentioning all the places in Canada worth visiting, they can hopefully inspire you (and a certain travel company) to go out and experience what makes Canada such an incredible place to visit!
Over the next few weeks I'll be sharing these five tours in greater detail. In the meantime, here they are, in 150 words or less. Are there any secret corners in Canada you'd want to share with the world? Let me know about it in the comments and it might make its way into one of these tours!
A mix of old and new, Atlantic Canada is our country's most coveted gem. On this tour you'll start in the only bilingual capital city in Canada (Fredericton). From there you can drop by the majestic Hopewell Rocks, journey to the Birthplace of Confederation (Charlottetown) and have a side stop in Avonlea. From there you'll leave PEI, drive to the seaside city of Halifax, and take a trip around the third most beautiful island in the world - Cape Breton! After you camp near the ocean for the night, you'll hop a ferry to Canada's most eastern province, Newfoundland and Labrador and end your trip in St. John's.
Did you know Canada has had five different capital cities that changed seven different times? Everybody knows Ottawa is the capital, but once upon a time so was Toronto, Kingston, Montréal and Québec City. On this tour you'll explore the streets that witnessed the birth of Canada, the battlegrounds where blood was spilled and the sites of previous parliaments that were burned to the ground. As if this isn't enough, you'll also be visiting the most haunted city in Canada, where every nook and cranny has a spirit waiting to meet you.
There's no Canada like French Canada. While G Adventures has a tour that ventures into Québec, they claim the only thing worth doing is climbing a hill and sampling maple syrup (seriously). On this tour you'll venture into The City of a Thousand Steeples (Montréal) and see the former grounds of Expo 67 – Canada's centennial celebration. Explore an underground museum, shop to your heart's content and drop by some of Canada's most beautiful cathedrals. After this you can visit Trois-Rivières, which is considered the culture capital of Canada. If you're one for adventure, you can even take a tour of the Old Prison, the only tour I've ever heard of with an age restriction! An hour and a half away from here is Québec City, home to the magnificent Château Frontenac and the historic Plains of Abraham, where Canadian history was forged in blood. This tour ends with a relaxing return cruise from Québec City to Montréal down the mighty St. Lawrence River.
This tour starts in my hometown Regina, where you can take an afternoon to walk around the brilliant Wascana Park, the quirky Cathedral Village and the booming Warehouse District. From here you travel west to Moose Jaw and see a city lost in time. Take a tour through their legendary Tunnels of Moose Jaw and learn about the gangster Al Capone. This tour is my longest tour and hits up places like the Great Sandhills, Saskatoon, Christopher Lake, Waskesiu Lake and La Ronge. Some people consider Saskatchewan a "fly over province", so this tour is dedicated to proving them wrong!
Things are different in the North. This tour starts off in Dawson City, where you witness the first hand effects of the famous gold rush. While here you can even visit the house Jack London lived in while he was panning for gold! A plane ride away is Whitehorse, where you can kick back in relax in the Takhini Hot Springs, visit the SS Klondike or hike around the dramatic former volcanic landscape. Your third stop on the tour is Nahanni National Park, my favorite Canadian National Park. Take time and enjoy the parks many friendly named regions, such as Headless Creek, Deadmen Valley and Funeral Range before heading to your final destination, Yellowknife. Here you can visit the many local restaurants, hike around a region untouched by man and spend your night at Aurora Village, the best place in Canada to see the Northern Lights.
Remember to tune in next week where we delve deeper inside my Atlantic Adventure tour. Are there any places you'd like to see on it? Let me know in the comments!
Don't forget to check out all the articles in this series!
When I first started this project, I didn't know what would come of it.
During my interview with the Saskatchewanderer, she recommended I approach Tourism Regina and see if I could write for them. Tourism Regina agreed and published my article, but due to it's size restrictions, I wasn't able to talk about as many places as I wanted to.
Since beginning this project, I have sent over three dozen emails to many organizations and businesses around the city. Once I was done my initial research, I had more questions than answers, some of which I don't think I'll ever know. Once realizing the vast amount of information out there, I decided to cut this project down substantially. But, although it ended up different then I thought it would, I am happy to finally present to you, "8 Places to Visit in Regina".
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.
The Island of the Dolls is in Xochimilco, a borough south of Mexico City. While it would be faster to take a car from Mexico City to Xochimilco, the traffic is dense and the roads are very congested. Instead, if you're going there, I'd recommend taking metro, which is easy and the cheapest in the world. What you gain in comfort, however, you lose in speed, as the train ride takes about 2 hours.
Mexico City and Xochimilco both sit in the Valley of Mexico. Until about a millennium ago, the whole region around Mexico City was surrounded by a massive body of water. Over the centuries due to both climate change and interference by humans, most of this water has dried up, for the exception of Xochimilco. With networks of canals crisscrossing the borough, car transportation is difficult and water transportation is essential. I'm sure there were motorized boats somewhere in the waters of Xochimilco, but I never saw any. Instead, canoes and rafts are common on the water. However, the most popular vessel is a trajinera – a colourful gonadal-like boat that is pushed along the water with a wooden pole.
Xochimilco is known worldwide for their Floating Gardens market, which are essentially canoes floating down the canals, selling wares to tourists on trajineras. These include things like food, drinks, silver rings, trinkets, ponchos and sombreros. Occasionally other trajineras full of Mariachi bands will approach tourists and offer to play beside them on the water.