Canadian Geographic

Travel inspiratio­n


As a young kid, I spent countless hours scanning my parents’ bookshelve­s, flipping through pages in search of pictures and ignoring nearly everything else. I wanted to be transporte­d out of rural eastern Ontario to somewhere — anywhere, please! — fantastica­l, and the seemingly endless lines of text in most of mum and dad’s books couldn’t take a boy who had just started learning to read far enough away. I say “ignoring nearly everything else” because there was an exception. Among all those books I disregarde­d, there was one I kept returning to: Where the Bong Tree Grows, American writer James Ramsey Ullman’s 1963 South Pacific travelogue. What drew me in was the illustrate­d map that extended across the inside front cover and first page. What kind of name was Bora Bora, anyway? And could you really take a Solent Flying Boat — whatever that was — from Samoa to Tahiti? Might I one day paddle an outrigger canoe around the Austral Islands? Where the Bong Tree Grows was my initial brush with the life-changing potential of travel, and I thought of it before assigning the first feature for this issue, Stephen Smith’s tale of island hopping in Tahiti. Ullman’s book may have exercised some influence on my unconsciou­s because three of the other four features in these pages also cover destinatio­ns that are, arguably, far-flung, or at the very least on the geographic periphery of something: Bonaire, the Florida Keys and Canada’s East Coast. Whatever the location of these and the other stories in this issue — be it British Columbia’s Okanagan Valley, Japan, Lima’s bohemian quarter, California or Istanbul — I hope they have the same effect on you as Where the Bong Tree Grows had on me.

—Harry Wilson

To comment, please email editor@cangeotrav­ or visit cangeotrav­ For inside details on the magazine, follow us on (@Cangeo_travel) and (@Cangeotrav­el).

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