The time has come to return to one of my favourite countries, and embark on possibly the greatest adventure so far. Travelling coast to coast from Halifax, Nova Scotia to Vancouver, British Columbia in Canada from 2 June to 12 July, 2014. The provinces arranged the itinerary, and coordinated by the Canadian Tourism Commission, with Via Rail kindly be providing my rail transport.
I will be discovering First Nation culture, and tourism, along with a number of adventure activities, and other cultural experiences during the trip. The itinerary is very exciting indeed, but required summarising to share in a single post. The best way to share some of the excitement will be following on Twitter, and Instagram using the #ExploreCanada hashtag.
Monday 2 – Friday 6 June – Halifax
A city that deftly blends the past with the present to produce a skyline dotted with elegant 18th and 19th century architecture alongside ultra-modern towers of glass, and steel. Halifax is perfect for exploring on foot, with tree-lined streets, international restaurants, galleries, libraries and museums. Inviting sidewalk cafés beckon, amid park-like, waterfront, and historic settings in the busy downtown, often with a backdrop of the bustling harbour.
Friday 6 – Thursday 12 June, 2014 – New Brunswick
I’m very excited with the fantastic activities planned during the visit to this beautiful province, selected highlights include:
- Acadian Artisan / Aboriginal Connection with Wild about Wampum in Shediac.
- Little Big Bear Safari – taking me deep into the natural habitat of the black bear.
- Kouchibouguac National Park – stretching along the Acadian Coastal Drive, it boasts some of the warmest salt water north of Virginia. Here I’ll learn about the history of the area and the Mi’kmaq way of life, seeing Grey seals, and a blanket of Common terns, the largest tern colony in North America.
- Metepenagiag – An interactive interpretive centre on 2 National Historic Sites: the Augustine Burial Mound, and the Oxbow. A personal, guided tour of the 3,000-year-old Aboriginal community and Heritage Park.
- Journey at Pabineau First Nation –stepping into Mi’kmaq culture, learning about their traditions and deep respect of nature.
- Acadian kitesurfing
Thursday 12 – Saturday 14 June, 2014 – Quebec City
There will be ample opportunity to explore the city at leisure, along with organised visits to nearby attractions; Secteur Tourilli, Hôtel-Musée des Premières Nations, and La Vallée du Bras du Nord for canyoning, and via ferrata.
Monday 16 June, 2014 – Montreal
With only a day in this vibrant city, there won’t be too much time for exploring, but there will be an opportunity to experience a jet boat on the mighty Lawrence River.
Tuesday 17 – Saturday 21 June, 2014 – Ottawa
Several days in this fascinating capital city will allow me to experience many of it’s attractions. Enjoying canal or river cruises, or sightseeing from the saddle of a hire bike, with plenty of options on offer, including:
- Parliament Hill
- Aboriginal Experiences on Victoria Island – discovering interactive experiences of First Nations culture, and history in a native village, Canada’s only urban aboriginal cultural attraction.
- Canadian Museum of History – Canada’s largest and most popular museum offers a thousand years of Canadian history including the world’s largest indoor collection of totem poles, and the permanent home of Inuit, and Aboriginal-themed exhibits.
- Urban Whitewater Rafting Excursion retracing the steps of First Nations people, early explorers and voyageur fur traders with Ottawa City Adventures.
- Canadian War Museum – a guided tour which will explore the role of First Nations soldiers.
- National Gallery of Canada
- A bi-plane ride from the Canadian Aviation and Space Museum.
- The Summer Solstice Aboriginal Arts Festival.
Saturday 21 – Sunday 22 June, 2014
Transfer from to Toronto, then with “The Canadian” to Winnipeg.
Monday 23 – Thursday 26 June, 2014 Winnipeg, and Manitoba
The details for this stage still need finalising, but I should have opportunities to visit several exciting, new and established attractions, such as:
Forks National Historic Site, Oodena Celebration Circle and Canadian Museum for Human Rights.
The Manitoba Museum including We Are All Treaty People Exhibit.
The Bison and its People – A Canadian Signature Experience, Urban Shaman Contemporary Aboriginal Art.
Thursday 26 – Saturday 28 June, 2014 – Saskatoon
Here I’ll meet Chief Darcy Bear for a guided tour of the Whitecap Dakota First Nation before participating in the dance programme, and dinner at Wanuskewin Heritage Park. There’ll also be an opportunity to visit Saskatoon Farmer’s Market and enjoy a Prairie Lilly River Cruise.
Saturday 28 – Friday 4 July, 2014 – Alberta
I’ll be exploring a great deal of Alberta by rental car, visiting Edmonton, Calgary and Jasper. Along the way I’ll try to visit as many interesting attractions as possible, but will have to drive, which of these are ‘cannot miss’?
- Elk Island National Park, Edmonton Area.
- Royal Alberta Museum,Edmonton.
- Glenbow Museum,Calgary.
- Blackfoot Crossing, 100 km east of Calgary.
- Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Jump, Southern Alberta.
Saturday 5 July, 2014 – Smithers
Exploring Smithers, a cute alpine town at the base of Hudson Bay Mountain, an outdoors person’s town, with skiing, hiking, salmon fishing, horseback riding and many other active pursuits!
Sunday 6 July, 2014 – The Hazeltons
Continuing west towards Prince Rupert, there’ll be time to stop and visit the First Nations communities at The Hazeltons, and Nisga’a Memorial Lava Bed Provincial Park. This is believed to be the site of Canada’s most recent volcanic eruption and lava flow, a geological disaster that killed an estimated 2,000 people.
Monday 7 – Tuesday 8 July, 2014 – Prince Rupert
So much to see, so little time on this leg of my trip, but highlights of Prince Rupert will include:
North Pacific Cannery National Historic Site - This salmon cannery was home and work to Europeans, Chinese, Japanese and First Nations during its operation.
Museum of Northern British Columbia – showcasing Tsimshian, Haida and Nisga’a art from the 1800s to today, and explores the meanings behind the crest carvings of Killerwhale, Raven, Eagle and Bear.
Kwinitsa Railway Museum where I can witness the daily life in a small station along the historic Grand Trunk Pacific Railway.
Grizzly Bear watching boat tour with Prince Rupert Adventure Tours.
Wednesday 9 – Friday 11 July, 2014 – Vancouver
After flying from Digby Island Airport, Prince Rupert to Vancouver, I’ll spend a few days returning to discover a side of Vancouver, I was unaware of. The First Nations focus in Vancouver will include:
The Bill Reid Gallery.
There will also be plenty of free time for me to explore with a Tourism Vancouver Experience Pass, so I’ll also be visiting favourite places like Gastown, Stanley Park and Granville Island.
This trip promises to truly deserve being called epic, as the proposed itinerary demonstrates. Don’t forget to follow on Twitter, and Instagram hashtag #ExploreCanada.