We are fortunate to live in one of, if not the, greatest countries in the world. Many of us enjoy travelling, but I am curious how many people have explored Canada? The next year or so, is certainly the best time to do this. With the pandemic still raging around the world, Canadians are rushing to be vaccinated, which will make it safer for us to explore areas, such as our own backyard. I have had the privilege of visiting many locales in this great country of ours and will share a few, which I enjoyed, and may not be that well known to everyone.
Starting out west, I spent a few days in Prince George and was greeted by Mr. PG, a massive pulp and paper statue, which welcomes visitors to town. I do not suggest you travel specifically to Prince George, but if you are in the area, stop in.
I drove from Prince George all the way to Kamloops. Stopping in places like Williams Lake, 100 Mile House and many other towns gave me a real appreciation for the interior of BC. Sure, Vancouver and Victoria are picturesque, but nothing beats the Okanogan Valley, with its spectacular scenery and peaceful lifestyle.
Next, we will move further east. Give Banff and Lake Louise a miss and head to Jasper instead, you will not be disappointed. I remember white water rafting and exploring the Edith Cavell Glacier. If you have the time, a tram ride to the top of the mountain is worth the trek. Try to stay at the Jasper Park Lodge, where the Mule deer will greet you every morning.
Saskatchewan is unique with its own charm and beauty. Many people think it is flat prairie land, but I have driven north from Regina to North Battleford, or north from Saskatoon to Prince Albert, and saw the most spectacular northern light show I have ever seen. The drive is surprisingly closer than you think; both are about 90 minutes from Saskatoon, and four hours from Regina.
In Manitoba, I flew from Winnipeg to Thompson, stopping in Flin Flon and The Pas. Although I thought a week was a bit too long in Thompson, i did get a number of hikes in, as well as some of the best fishing I have ever done. I visited the zoo and had a chuckle when I saw cows and sheep. Someone explained to me bears and deer were quite common, but farm animals were not, so they were in the local zoo. My bucket list still has Churchill and the polar bears on it, and who knows, maybe next year.
Ontario, of course, has so much to offer, it is difficult to know where to begin. I rode the Polar Express to Moosonee a few years ago, and then went on to Moose factory. The scenery is spectacular and two days was enough to see the sights (both towns have a population of 4,000 combined). The train ride from Cochrane is 6 hours (one way), but the drive to Cochrane was interesting. I stopped at Timmins for lunch, and Sudbury to explore Science North.
Quebec is a country unto itself and Montréal and Quebec City are worth exploring. For me, driving from Montréal to Québec was a great experience. I was able to stop at several real Quebecois restaurants and enjoyed a traditional breakfast, consisting of pancakes, beans, sausages, lots of maple syrup, and maple sugar for dessert.
New Brunswick is one of my favourite provinces. I have driven the perimeter several times, and found some amazing hidden gems. From Fredericton, drive north through to Woodstock and stop at the Hartland covered bridge (the longest in the world). Then continue to Edmunston, where there is an abundance of local musicians as well as a cheese festival. From there head west to Campbellton through some of the prettiest scenery in the world. Then drive south toward Moncton. If you want to be a real tourist, you can visit the magnetic hill or watch the tidal bore do its thing (the locals refer to it as the total bore). If you have time, head south to St. Stephen (near St. John), and tour the Ganong Chocolate factory
Nova Scotia offers the Cabot trail and Peggy’s Cove, which I loved, having visited it at least a dozen times. Mrs. Mitchell’s blueberry cake was the best, but sadly, she has retired, as has her cake. I enjoyed Lunenburg and Wolfville, on the other side, but every town is a picturesque affair.
PEI is pretty, no matter where you go, but a trip to the Anne of Green Gables attraction is a must. Before you go, check out the TV series, Anne with an ‘E’ on Netflix. There are some great golf courses on the island as well.
The last province on our Trans Canada trek is Newfoundland, and I have been fortunate to visit 14 or 15 times. Each one has been unique, and I love everything about the ‘rock’. My article next month will be dedicated to Canada’s newest province.
I should mention the Territories are also well worth the visit. Dawson City and Whitehorse, both in the Yukon, are steeped with history surrounding the gold rush. The distances are far, but the experience is worth it. I caught a few shows at the local dancehall in Whitehorse, and Dawson is being restored to its former glory.
I did visit Tuktoyaktuk in the early eighties, and unless you really like the north, there was not much to do. Now, however, you can drive from Whitehorse, but I caution you, it is 20 hours due north. If you really want to go, do not leave it too late, as it gets to -45 in the winter months, and it is dark. I should mention, the population of Tuk is just under 900. When I went it was about 650, and I met them all.
Jonathan van Bilsen’s photosNtravel TV show can be watched on RogersTV and YouTube. To follow Jonathan’s travel adventures visit photosNtravel.com