CANADIAN SIGNATURE EXPERIENCES WILL DELIGHT AND ENTERTAIN
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.
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