Tim­ing per­fect for Cana­dian travel

Winnipeg Free Press - Section G - - DESTINATIONS - RON PRADINUK

FUEL prices are drop­ping, the Cana­dian dol­lar is dis­suad­ing travel to the United States, and the Euro and other cur­ren­cies seem to be ex­pe­ri­enc­ing a re­bound of their own. Per­haps this is the year to visit one of the great­est coun­tries in the world. Yours! Hav­ing trav­elled to more than 65 coun­tries and nine Cana­dian provinces, I can state whole­heart­edly what Canada has to of­fer ranks among the best tourist des­ti­na­tions around the world. From a scenic stand­point there can be lit­tle ar­gu­ment. Moun­tains? Ours are as good as you will find world­wide, with trails and ski op­tions that bring in­ter­na­tional vis­i­tors to see us. Our fed­eral and pro­vin­cial parks sys­tem helps pro­tect the en­vi­ron­ment while al­low­ing mixed ex­pe­ri­ences. And they are main­tained and su­per­vised in ways that al­low fam­i­lies to ex­plore them in safety and com­fort. Lakes? Take a week­end drive around Man­i­toba or travel to On­tario and Que­bec, just two provinces in ad­di­tion to ours that of­fer such a wide range of op­tions that one could not pos­si­bly ever visit more than a small per­cent­age of even the best ones in a life­time. His­tory? You say not as old as those of Europe and other con­ti­nents. Dig deeper into the sto­ries of our abo­rig­i­nal peo­ples. Find­ing the trails they blazed is as ex­cit­ing as those an­tiq­ui­ties we crave on other trav­els. Or pass a few cen­turies in a visit to Que­bec City. You don’t have to take my word about its unique­ness and power to sat­isfy. The cruise in­dus­try will tell you it is one of the high­est-rated itin­er­ary stops an­nu­ally, a rea­son more ships are go­ing there each year and why its port is be­com­ing one of the busier ones. Cul­ture? Few coun­tries have been able to du­pli­cate what Canada has done. There are other im­mi­grant na­tions, but few have al­lowed peo­ple who ar­rive from dif­fer­ent na­tions to keep and cel­e­brate their her­itage, while still in­te­grat­ing into the broader Cana­dian so­ci­ety. Cui­sine? It is a high­light of a Cana­dian tour of tastes, built upon an in­te­gra­tion of what our fu­sion cul­ture re­ally stands for. In the ma­jor cities es­pe­cially, you will find world class restau­rants, with chefs who are ad­mired around the world and have won the culi­nary awards to show tes­ta­ment to achieve­ments that needed no proof to be­gin with. Move a few de­grees above the 49th par­al­lel into our North­ern re­gions, to ex­pe­ri­ence a life­style that brings you as close to na­ture, and a re­silient peo­ple who will wel­come you with open arms, proud to show you why this coun­try’s less pop­u­lated spa­ces are the envy of the world. Nu­navut is still on my list, but hav­ing spent time in Churchill dur­ing the sum­mer watch­ing whales and danc­ing north­ern lights, it too is as good an ex­pe­ri­ence as you will find any­where. North or south, some of the best at­trac­tions and events are played out be­yond the ur­ban cen­tres. Man­i­toba’s own Na­tional Ukrainian Fes­ti­val is just one which is close at hand. Add the Strat­ford Fes­ti­val, the Shaw Fes­ti­val in Ni­a­gara-on-thelake, along with Mon­treal’s an­nual Just For Laughs com­edy ex­trav­a­ganza, and you re­ally have the start of some­thing very big. From coast to coast to coast, we are a coun­try whose peo­ple change with the dy­nam­ics of their ge­og­ra­phy, but who still strongly iden­tify them­selves with the Maple Leaf flag with­out hav­ing to dis­play it os­ten­ta­tiously on gar­ments and flag­poles. For those who love camp­ing, a fam­ily trip across this coun­try is, for the most part, an ex­er­cise in con­ve­nience. While there are com­mer­cial camp­grounds our na­tional, pro­vin­cial and re­gional camp sys­tems are lo­cated in such a way that pre­plan­ning a mo­tor ve­hi­cle trip is quite easy. For those who pre­fer com­mer­cial ac­com­mo­da­tion while still trav­el­ling within bud­get guide­lines, the ho­tel and mo­tel prop­er­ties in the com­mu­ni­ties a few kilo­me­tres be­yond the ma­jor cities are mostly up to date and rea­son­ably priced. If you are think­ing my en­thu­si­as­tic words about the coun­try are just hy­per­bole, I am not alone in my pos­i­tive as­sess­ments of Canada. It is shared by cit­i­zens around the world. Just last week in Davos, Switzer­land, at the World Eco­nomic Fo­rum where Prime Min­is­ter Justin Trudeau was pitch­ing the won­ders of Canada, his words were also strongly backed up with the re­lease of a ma­jor in­ter­na­tional study at the con­fer­ence. It rated Canada as the se­cond-best coun­try in the world. Why were we placed so high, se­cond only to Ger­many, and above the United King­dom and the United States? As I have sug­gested above, the sur­vey high­lighted that we wel­come im­mi­grants, cel­e­brate di­ver­sity, have a high stan­dard of liv­ing in a wideopen ex­pan­sive coun­try, and are a high-tech na­tion that still en­cour­ages world class cre­ativ­ity in artists and writ­ers. This may be the per­fect year to plan your Cana­dian va­ca­tion. While our Cana­dian dol­lar may dis­cour­age travel south of the bor­der, there is a good chance you will be rub­bing shoul­ders with our neigh­bors to the south more than ever. It is the buy­ing power of the Amer­i­can dol­lar that is likely to mo­ti­vate them to come to the coun­try mul­ti­tudes have dreamed of vis­it­ing, but now have added eco­nomic mo­ti­va­tion. Most of us did not need a study to con­clude we are a great na­tion. Even though we may feel that in­ter­nally, we of­ten don’t fol­low through with the de­ci­sion to travel out­side our own home­towns to see the rest of Canada that we too have dreamed of vis­it­ing. This may well be the year. Over the com­ing weeks I will drill down on some of the re­gions you might like and try to high­light some of the at­trac­tions be­yond the ob­vi­ous which might in­ter­est you. Fol­low Ron’s blog at www.that­trav­el­guy.ca

RON PRADINUK / WINNIPe9 FRee PReSS

Walk through 400 years of his­tory on the cob­ble­stone streets of Que­bec City.

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