CANA­DIAN SIG­NA­TURE EXPERIENCES WILL DE­LIGHT AND EN­TER­TAIN

Travel Guide to Canada - - Table Of Contents - BY KATE POCOCK

Look­ing for a new travel ex­pe­ri­ence that you will al­ways re­mem­ber? Per­haps you’d like to ven­ture off the beaten path, learn a new skill, ex­plore a unique cul­ture, or sim­ply im­merse your­self in Canada’s jaw-drop­ping beauty? But where— and how?

To the res­cue comes Des­ti­na­tion Canada’s cu­rated list of Cana­dian Sig­na­ture Experiences, a ter­rific col­lec­tion of more than 200 once-in-a-life­time pos­si­bil­i­ties. This ex­ten­sive list could spur some new ideas, tempt your culi­nary pur­suits, prompt ex­otic ad­ven­ture, in­tro­duce cul­tural op­por­tu­ni­ties, or sim­ply si­t­u­ate you— and your friends and loved ones—in the midst of Canada’s awe-in­spir­ing scenery (www.des­ti­na­tion­canada.com/en/pro­grams). To fur­ther your own travel plans, here are just a few of the pro­gram’s pos­si­bil­i­ties:

DIS­COV­ER­ING NORTH­ERN DE­LIGHTS

Have you ever wanted to truly ex­pe­ri­ence Canada’s North­west Ter­ri­to­ries? To see the beauty of the north­ern lights, sleep in an igloo, or feel the thrill of snow­mo­bil­ing along­side a trav­el­ling herd of rein­deer?

Thanks to Tun­dra North Tours such experiences are pos­si­ble, es­pe­cially be­tween Fe­bru­ary and April when rein­deer are graz­ing in their win­ter range, and the north­ern lights might be daz­zling the skies (www.tun­dra­north­tours.com/our-pack­ages­tours/cana­dian-arc­tic-rein­deer-sig­na­turepack­age ). Over four days of travel with ex­pert guides through this north­ern

ter­ri­tory, hear sto­ries from Elders and taste spe­cial­ties such as Arc­tic char, moose meat, and other North­ern del­i­ca­cies. By night­time, set­tle down to sleep in an igloo that’s lit by flick­er­ing can­dle­light. Warm cloth­ing, sleep­ing bags and all gear are pro­vided.

Your ad­ven­ture will start in Inuvik on a snow­mo­bile tour with lo­cal ex­pe­ri­enced guides along the world-fa­mous Aklavik ice road. Then, on the newly con­structed Mackenzie Val­ley high­way to Tuk­toy­atuk, set out to fol­low the rein­deer, a herd that’s some 3,000 strong, as they travel to new graz­ing ter­ri­tory. To hear the thun­der of hooves and click­ing of antlers as they are on the move is un­for­get­table! Visi­tors who would rather ride than drive can travel on snow­mo­biles with pas­sen­ger seats.

The next morn­ing, ex­plore fur­ther along the world’s most re­mote high­way all the way to the Arc­tic Ocean where you will marvel at the strange ge­o­graph­i­cal land for­ma­tions of the Cana­dian Pingo Land­mark. Fi­nally, back in Inuvik, dis­cover at­trac­tions such as the Igloo Church be­fore say­ing “Thank You” for a truly ex­tra­or­di­nary and mem­o­rable ex­pe­ri­ence!

HAV­ING FUN WITH HIS­TORY

In Au­gust, why not join the fes­tiv­i­ties of Québec City’s TD New France Fes­ti­val (Les Fêtes de la Nou­velle-France)? From Au­gust 1 to 5, visi­tors can join cos­tumed “cit­i­zens” to re-en­act life as it was in the 17th and 18th cen­turies (www.nou­velle­france.qc.ca).

With an en­ter­tain­ing pa­rade and hun­dreds of ac­tiv­i­ties, it’s North Amer­ica’s largest his­tor­i­cal fes­ti­val.

Dress up as a fine lady, a rus­tic peas­ant or even a no­ble­man with lace and ruf­fles. Walk the cob­ble­stoned streets, dance to fid­dles and drums, wear a crown of flow­ers or a tri-cor­nered hat, or try trad­ing with a mer­chant. With the pur­chase of a $15 Mé­dal­lion, en­joy some 100 ac­tiv­i­ties in­clud­ing live evening per­for­mances; kids un­der 12 are free.

As al­ways, the bustling heart of the fes­ti­val is the Pub­lic Mar­ket—or Marché des Saveurs—in Québec’s Old City. Taste farm fresh eggs or cari­bou with jelly, crèpes with maple syrup or ripe straw­ber­ries. Or, con­coct an en­tire meal at the Fes­ti­val Gourmet Mar­ket where kiosks dis­play de­li­cious lo­cal prod­ucts from mi­cro­brews to bar­be­cue. It is fes­tive, his­tor­i­cal and gas­tro­nom­i­cal!

After the Fes­ti­val, time travel even fur­ther back to the town of Wen­dake, 15 min­utes north, to sleep peace­fully in the First Na­tions-op­er­ated Hô­tel-Musée Premières Na­tions (www.hotel­premieres na­tions.ca). With its ex­cel­lent mu­seum, bu­colic river­side set­ting, First Na­tion­sin­spired dishes and its Na­tion Santé-Spa, this spe­cial ho­tel con­tin­ues the time­honoured tra­di­tions of the Huron-Wen­dat Peo­ples shar­ing their Mother Earth.

CRUIS­ING THE EAST­ERN COASTS

This July, set sail on one of two un­for­get­table “Canada’s East Coast Fins & Fid­dles” cruises through Canada’s spec­tac­u­lar Mar­itime re­gion. Through­out the 10-night/11-day voy­age, the One Ocean Nav­i­ga­tor Akademik loffe—a spa­cious well-equipped ex­pe­di­tion ves­sel—will be your wel­com­ing home away from home. For not only is this ship able to nav­i­gate the charm­ing small coves and colour­ful fish­ing ports along the coasts but, through­out the voy­age, pas­sen­gers will be able to join friendly, knowl­edge­able guides and en­joy many ac­tiv­i­ties along the way.

Tap your toes to fid­dle mu­sic at an East Coast kitchen party. Ask a bird­ing ex­pert to iden­tify birds soar­ing over­head, or lis­ten to a ge­ol­o­gist ex­plain­ing the Table­lands in Gros Morne Na­tional Park. Highlights for many are the is­lands such as Sable Is­land, Canada’s new­est Na­tional Park Re­serve. Ex­plore with a cam­era in hand to marvel at the fa­mous wild horses or the world’s largest breed­ing colony of some 50,000 grey seals.

And no mat­ter what age, from kids to grand­par­ents, ac­tiv­i­ties can be tai­lored both on and off the ves­sel. Zoom by Zo­diac to see Atlantic puffins, or at­tend a ses­sion on cook­ing and pre­par­ing mus­sels. Set off

on a stren­u­ous hike or cy­cle along Prince Ed­ward Is­land’s easy Con­fed­er­a­tion Trail—or go whale watch­ing with the kids. It’s up to you. Any­one from eight to 80 can be as ac­tive as they de­sire—or not, and truly feel that they’ve ex­pe­ri­enced the best of Canada’s beau­ti­ful East Coast (www.one ocean­ex­pe­di­tions.com/canadas-east-coast/ canadas-east-coast).

SEARCH­ING FOR THE SPIRIT BEAR

Trav­ellers from around the world ar­rive on this Bri­tish Columbia coast, 280 nau­ti­cal miles north of Van­cou­ver, to view pris­tine wilder­ness—and its wildlife. For this largely re­mote area of for­est that sweeps north­ward from Van­cou­ver, known as the Great Bear Rain­for­est, is the largest tract of in­tact, tem­per­ate rain­for­est on earth.

From June to Oc­to­ber, the Ki­ta­soo/ Xai’xais First Na­tions—who have pro­tected this pris­tine nat­u­ral world on the re­mote Pa­cific North­west Coast for thou­sands of years—wel­comes visi­tors from June to Oc­to­ber (www.spir­it­bear.com/site/tours/ bear-view­ing-over­view.html). Travel by boat or on foot; out­door rain gear and rain boots will be pro­vided. De­pend­ing on weather and the sea­son, sight­ings might in­clude pods of orca and hump­back whales, seals and bald ea­gles, black bears and griz­zly bears and, per­haps—es­pe­cially in late sum­mer and fall when the salmon are spawn­ing in great num­bers, the rare ker­mode or spirit bear with its re­splen­dent white coat. Only one in ten brown bears car­ries this re­ces­sive gene. About 400 of these rare bears live in this ter­ri­tory, the only place in the world where they can be found. These bears can be elu­sive, how­ever, as they travel over an area the size of a small Eu­ro­pean coun­try.

What­ever the month or wildlife you dis­cover, stay­ing at the com­fort­able Indige­nous-themed Spirit Bear Lodge that harkens back to tra­di­tional long houses, al­lows im­mer­sion in this pris­tine rain­for­est (www.spir­it­bear.com). Feast on Pa­cific wild salmon and other seafood dishes—or gaze through large pic­ture win­dows to see pass­ing or­cas, white-sided dol­phins and sea li­ons. You’ll be sure to re­mem­ber this pure, un­spoiled glimpse of na­ture.

DE-MYS­TI­FY­ING MUSH­ROOMS

Would you love to for­age for wild mush­rooms but don’t know a shi­itake from a puff­ball—or how to pre­pare ei­ther one? If so, this day-long Wilder­ness Mush­room Foray and culi­nary feast in On­tario’s Long Point World Bio­sphere Re­serve is for you (www.lp­fun.ca/guided-mush­room-foray). First, join ex­pe­ri­enced nat­u­ral­ist and mush­room ex­pert Robin Tap­ley in a hunt around fields, streams and for­est ad­ja­cent to the Long Point Eco-Ad­ven­tures site over­look­ing Lake Erie. As you wan­der through the wooded St. Wil­liams Con­ser­va­tion Re­serve, Tap­ley will iden­tify which mush­rooms you can or can­not eat, and will en­lighten you about pos­si­ble health­ful ben­e­fits.

Then, back at Long Point Eco-Ad­ven­tures, Ex­ec­u­tive Chef Heather Pond from the Blue Ele­phant restau­rant, will demon­strate prepa­ra­tion tech­niques such as how to rip (rather than cut) an oys­ter mush­room, or how to skin a puff­ball.

The en­su­ing feast of wild ed­i­bles at a long fam­ily-style ta­ble might in­clude a warm wild mush­room salad com­bin­ing leeks with shi­itake mush­rooms and bright yel­low-or­ange chicken of the woods fungi, fol­lowed by mush­room soup, and stuffed chicken breast with a dried mush­room morel sauce. Dessert could be “float­ing puff­balls”—prof­iteroles filled with Chan­tilly cream served in a cham­pagne glass em­bel­lished with ferns. All mush­room culi­nary spe­cial­ties will be paired with award-win­ning wine from the on-site Burn­ing Kiln Win­ery.

Whether it is a culi­nary ex­plo­ration, a na­ture fix, an ad­ven­ture or liv­ing his­tory cel­e­bra­tion that you and your friends and fam­ily are seek­ing, you’ll have the cer­tainty that these—and fu­ture Sig­na­ture Experiences are truly unique, and just a sam­pling of the hun­dreds of travel pos­si­bil­i­ties across this great land of ours.

LES FÊTES DE LA NOU­VELLE-FRANCE/NEW FRANCE FES­TI­VAL, QUÉBEC CITY • ARM­STRONG PHOTO

CANA­DIAN ARC­TIC REIN­DEER SIG­NA­TURE PACK­AGE, NORTH­WEST TER­RI­TO­RIES • TUN­DRA NORTH TOURS/WERONIKA MUR­RAY

GROS MORNE NA­TIONAL PARK, NL • ONE OCEAN EX­PE­DI­TIONS/BOOMER JERRITT

SPIRIT BEAR, GREAT BEAR RAIN­FOR­EST, BC • SPIRIT BEAR LODGE/PHIL CHARLES

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