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!
Canada's 150th birthday cannot be complete without visiting the country's capital city... but which one should you visit? While Ottawa is the current capital of Canada, there have been four other capital cities, and it has changed seven times. It started in Kingston (1841 – 1844) and then moved to Montréal (1844 – 1849), believing it to be safer from the Americans. After the citizens of Montréal burnt it down, it rotated between Toronto (1849 – 1852 and 1856 – 1858) and Québec City (1852 – 1856 and 1859 – 1866). Finally, it was placed right on the border between the two provinces in Ottawa (1866 to present day). This tour ventures into each of these five cities and explores what makes them so unique.
Since the capital flip-flopped location seven times, it would be much more convenient to go through the cities geographically then historically. If we started in the West, we would start in Toronto, Ontario, Canada's biggest city. While G Adventures only mentions the CN Tower and Kensington Market, there is much more to see in this city. You could visit the 18th century Casa Loma Castle, stroll through the artistic Graffiti Alley, visit Ripley's Aquatic Aquarium, or go drink and dine in the Distillery District. Looking for more outdoorsy stuff? Check out the Toronto Islands, the famous High Park or the Toronto Zoo. You can even take a boat out onto Lake Ontario and see the city's iconic skyline!
My article "8 Places to Visit in Regina" is by far my most popular article, being read over 7,000 times in the past 6 months. In honour of the anniversary of my blog (and because 1 of the 8 locations mentioned before is now closed), I decided to do a sequel and talk about 8 more places to visit in Regina. This was really easy as Regina is growing at an extraordinary rate and new, incredible places are opening almost every week.
After the Regina Cyclone huffed and puffed and blew down the majority of houses across the city in 1912, Annie Darke asked her beloved Francis Darke to build her a house that could withstand even the worse things Saskatchewan could blow at it. Being one of the richest and most influential men in Regina’s history, Francis Darke took up the challenge and began to create his wife their very own stone castle.
This massive fortress served as their dwelling for the remainder of their days, until Francis Darke passed away in 1940 and his widowed wife passed away in the very house he had built her, twelve years later.
About a year and a half ago I visited Kyiv, Ukraine. As I walked down the millennium old streets and gawked at the towering cathedrals, I saw the beginnings of a new country, one that was slowly rebuilding from a much darker time. The process of what I was seeing had a name. It was called decommunization.
Decommunization includes renaming architecture, changing laws and protocols, and even tearing down monuments. People's Friendship Arch in Kyiv, for example, which symbolised the friendship between the Communist East and the Capitalist West, was torn down. Some statues, like war memorials, are exempt, but there is still talk of making modifications to them. Anywhere you go throughout the former Soviet Union, the hammer and sickle are being removed – not from history, but from modern society.