Bucket List Series: The Great White North

The second largest country in the world, painted white with snowy Arctic frozen tundra and north of the United States. Hence, the Great White North.

 

An apt nickname for Canada, home to the nicest, most apologetic people ever - the Internet wields enough pictorial proof of these lovely folk. 

 

But what we need is more proof of its equally lovely landscapes, showcasing a range of the most diverse, unique geography to drive, hike, ride, swim, raft through. 

 

In an age of nomadic adventure, Canada ought to take a well-deserved top spot in the ultimate globetrotting bucket list. I'll show you why.

 

raft the tidal bores of Shubenacadie

Credit to Tourism Nova Scotia

 

Tucked within the Bay of Fundy, this is Nova Scotia's ultimate watery, muddy roller coaster. 

 

Hardly any railway metal contraption can beat the soaring rush of hurtling through rapids upon the world's highest tides of Shubenacadie River.

 

The sheer power of this muddy adventure in a whitewater Zodiac boat fuels a uniquely Canadian experience as the rapids tosses you like a ragdoll. Needless to say, prepare to be soaked through!

 

 

 

the ultimate highway: nova scotia's cabot trail 

brow wooden stairs on cliff overlooking sea at daytime

 

Wind in your hair and sea breeze in your lungs, whizzing through the most picturesque of vistas atop a motorcycle is a beautiful experience. 

 

This is a Canadian rite of passage, of an impressive length of 186 miles, no less. And with this begins an epic road trip of 8 full hours, only if you don't stop.

 

But trust me, when you witness the stark beauty of the landscape you're up against, it proves impossible not to make a few stops along the trail that could take you days to get through!

 

Be it kayaking, hiking or cycling, Cabot Trail covers all these exciting options for thrill-seekers.

 

Paddles up for sea-kayaking at North River along the Cape Breton Island coastline.

 

Cape Breton Highlands National Park; credit to goCapeBreton.com

 

Where Cabot Trail meets Cape Breton Highlands National Park, this is cyclists' haven with diverse terrain, teeming wildlife, dramatic rocky shorelines and high cliffs showcasing stunning panoramas.

 

Wind your way through Skyline Trail, an icon of Nova Scotia, on foot past remarkable glacial lakes, lush river canyons and more to delight the senses. 

 

Finally, explore the high seas and its monstrous inhabitants at the whale-watching capital of Cape Breton, Pleasant Bay. 

 

 

the greatest outdoor show on Earth

the Calgary Stampede; credit to Chris Bolin

 

No better time to bust out those cowboy boots than at Canada's famed Calgary Stampede. A spirited rodeo, exhibition and festival all rolled in one, this is truly the Greatest Outdoor Show on Earth. 

 

The city erupts in festive chaos during the Stampede; it is a privilege to be caught up in it in July. 

 

Buildings and storefronts are awash with the themed colours. City folk come clad in the showiest of cowboy getups. The atmosphere is vivid, loud and colourful. 

 

Stampede Parade; credit to Calgary Stampede

 

The flamboyant Stampede Parade is a vibrant spectacle, bringing people from all walks of life to the streets in festive cheer. 

 

What is in store is plentiful: from an energetic carnival-style fairground and a diverse music lineup, local and international, to rousing chuckwagon races and the heartstopping Stampede Rodeo. 

 

 

 

canada's most iconic; into the niagara falls

aerial photo of body of water

 

Think of Canada and you think of the Falls; majestic, towering cascades that send water spraying. I can't possibly discuss the Great White North without the Niagara Falls.

 

Credit to Bill Blevins

 

The Maid of the Mist, a ship with an impossibly elegant moniker, offers the most common way to experience the Falls. Swarms of exuberant tourists perch on deck in bright blue ponchos to brave the sprays, brandishing waterproof cameras. 

 

An electric alternative takes the form of the Whirlpool Jet Boat that brings you on a choppy expedition upon the roller coaster that is the canyon's rushing rapids. 

 

 

Or journey behind the Falls - access probably the best viewing platform in the area situated at the base of the Horseshoe Falls. Walk the tunnels behind the sheets of water - it's an insider's view!

 

 

meet manitoba’s polar bears

The polar bears of Churchill, Manitoba; credit to Emma Bishop

 

The furry giants lumber across the white powdery plains, leaving a trail of paw prints in the delicate snow.

 

Some lounge lazily, chins perking up ever so slightly at the tundra buggy rolling past.

 

One of the particularly excitable ones find its way to the vehicle, drawing oohs and aahs from within the buggy. As it stands with paws propped against the side, its warm breath fogs over the window.

 

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These are the most southerly populations of wild polar bears in the world, living undisturbed next to human settlements. So it is no wonder Churchill is 'Polar Bear Capital of the World'!

 

Finally, retire to your Tundra Lodge, a toasty cabin right in the middle of the natural habitat, ideal for polar bear observation and photography.

 

Rest assured, these hosts subscribe to a strong commitment to conservation and sustainability. So both you and the animals can have a deserved peace of mind. 

 

 

crossing canada: aboard the VIA rail 

Credit to Travel Intense

 

Nose to the window before miles of fleeting, evolving landscapes.

 

Headphones snug over your ears.

 

Tucked into the narrow bunk of the VIA Canadian as the train takes on the bumpy tracks.

 

In fact, rail travel is becoming an increasing favourite, especially for millennials in particular. Almost 4500 kilometres, Canada's vast array of scenery will be your entertainment for the days on board from Vancouver to Toronto.

 

Credit to VIA Rail Canada

 

Watch the orange sunrise dip into sweeping golden prairie fields, whizz past quaint picturesque little towns, witness the majestic rise of the snowy Rockies. All from your train window.

 

Evidently, this historical railway trip is arguably one of the best ways to discover the full, spectacular scale of Canada.

 

And forget instant food and road trips. Let the gentle rhythm of the cabin's sway lull you to sleep after filling up with the hearty Canadian cuisine aboard.

 

 

 

foodie haven; st lawrence market

Credit to Travel Notes

 

Last but not least, look no further than the distinctive red brick buildings of the best food market in the world. 

 

Nestled in the heart of downtown Toronto, its time-honoured facade conceals its cavernous interiors. And a tastefully busy atmosphere. 

 

While aisles of delis yield some of the most delicious delights in Canada, nay, in the world, find extraordinary crafts and jewellery here too. 

 

If you have time on your hands, St. Lawrence Market is a go-to for all your needs, from fresh produce and seafood to crafts and artisan souvenirs.

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