Saskatchewan is associated with miles of endless fields, an incredible collection of lakes in the North and just happens to be the sunniest province in the country. It is here where you can experience vibrant cities, uncrowded parks, abundant wildlife, incredible outdoor adventures and a plethora of museums and galleries. From stunning hiking trails that wind their way through forests and around lakes to the largest RCMP heritage centre in Canada to miles of clear rivers and lakes to canoe, it is easy to spend weeks exploring this province. The list could go on and on but for now here are 7 things to see and do in the province of Saskatchewan.
7. Visit Prince Albert National Park
It was the home of First Nations people for thousands of years and is a stunning landscape of spruce bogs, large lakes and aspen uplands. Whether you are a serious adventurer looking for an overnight experience or a daytripper, this park offers something for everyone. One of the classic Canadian adventures you can have here is the Bagwa Paddling Route, an overnight canoe or kayak loop that covers multiple backcountry lakes with portages between.
This experience covers the parks diverse terrain without requiring an extensively long time commitment. For daytrippers, there are plenty of short hikes and day trails that are accessible from the road. Keep your eyes peeled for plenty of wildlife including bison, white pelicans, moose, world, bears, caribou, eagles, elk and more.
6. See the Sandcastles at Beechy
They were first discovered in the early 1990’s, these towering sandcastles that look as though a million or so kids were involved in the biggest sandcastle building competition in the world. They sit on the banks of Lake Diefenbaker, easily accessible from the town of Beechy.
Feel free to climb around these magnificent structures where Prairie Falcons nest and Bull Snakes can be found. Along with these unique formations, visitors will find a sunken hill- where one side of a grassy hill just seems to slide away, as well as Magnesium Sulphate Lake.
5. Fort Walsh National Historic Site
In 1875 this site was established, intended to stop the illegal whiskey trade and became one of the most important posts in the West. Visitors to this site can step back in time and discover what life was like on a working fort in the time of rotgut whiskey runners. Here you will meet costumed characters who tell true stories of the days when rifle shots and canons were fired at the fort.
Hike the 400m trail through the Cypress Hill forest along Battle Creek, visit the trading post and test your bartering skills, pack a picnic to enjoy or visit the visitor’s centre for a fantastic panoramic view of the Cypress Hills from the patio area. Kids will love becoming an official Parks Canada Xplorer and there are plenty of fun activities and cool souvenirs for them at this historic site.
4. Visit the RCMP Heritage Centre
A truly Canadian experience awaits visitors to the RCMP Heritage Centre, the largest of its kind in Canada. The centre is breathtakingly beautiful, designed with stone, glass and concrete and houses state of the art exhibits, multimedia technologies, and engaging programs. The centre tells the story of the RCMP to the world, through numerous tours and engaging activities. Equipment, weapons, photographs and more are on site for visitors to discover.
Visitors won’t want to miss Sgt Major’s Parade where the drill staff put cadets through their paces. The parade includes a roll call and inspection of the troops, accompanied by the cadet band. If you visit in the summer expect to be treated to the outdoor theatre on horseback, driving tours and more.
3. Canoe the Clearwater River
The legendary Clearwater River has it all- unspoiled wilderness, inviting campsites, excellent fishing, thrilling white-water and awe-inspiring scenery. Paddling the Clearwater means following the footsteps of incredible historic northern explorers and voyagers. If you want to paddle the entire river it takes about two weeks, although most canoeists tend to focus on one section- in particular the 105km section from the Clearwater’s confluence with the Virgin River to Contact Rapids, which takes about a week.
Expect one stunning scene after another with waterfalls, rapids, cliff-lined canyons and rock gardens. The campsite that overlooks Smoothrock Falls may just be the best wilderness camping you have ever done, or at least that is what you think until you arrive at Skull Canyon. Whether you are a professional paddler setting out on your own, or you join a guided canoe trip, this is one thing to put on your Saskatchewan bucket list.
2. Head to Regina
It is the capital city and deserves a visit, seeing as its home to a 100-year old symphony, some lively sports fans, fascinating museums, events and more. If you happen to visit here during the CFL season, it is essential to get to a Roughriders game where you can join thousands of fans eat, drink and cheer their favorite team on, just be sure to bundle up! Journey through the history of the province at the Royal Saskatchewan Museum, where geology and natural history take precedence.
If art is more your thing head to the Mackenzie Art Gallery where free admission offers you access to outstanding local and international artists. Free public tours for people of all ages make this an awesome experience. Or spend the day wandering the downtown streets in search of unique shops, awesome restaurants, spas and more.
1. Go Underground in the Tunnels of Moose Jaw
This year-round attraction entertains guests from all over the world with its unique productions of Canadian history. Visitors will head under the streets of downtown Moose Jaw for two guided theatrical tours. The Chicago Connection Tour lets you relive the days of Al Capone, as a bootlegger in 1929. Start out at Miss Fanny’s club, wind your way up and down seven sets of stairs and through tunnels, with surprises along the way.
The Passage to Fortune Tour lets visitors experience first hand the hardships of early Chinese immigrants as you follow their path through Burrows and Sons Laundry into the kitchen of Mr. Wong’s café. This is an excellent, informative and realistic look at a small piece of history.
When you imagine badlands, the mind goes to alien looking formations, minimal vegetations, fascinating colors and other geological forms. Badlands are actually a type of dry terrain where softer sedimentary rocks and clay-rich soils have been extensively eroded by wind and water. These badlands can be found all over the world, from Canada to the United States and all the way to New Zealand. What fascinates people most about these landscapes are the incredible formations that look as they have come from another planet. They may be designated as parks, hidden along deserted roads or turned into tourist destinations but one thing remains the same; these badlands are “badass.” Wondering where are the badlands? We’ve got you covered with the best spots to see the badlands around the world.
10. Theodore Roosevelt National Park, North Dakota
When Theodore Roosevelt came to Dakota Territory to hunt bison in 1883, he was just a young guy from New York. The rugged landscape and strenuous life that he experienced here would help shape a conservation policy that we still benefit from today. During his administration his conservation efforts led to the founding of the National Park Service, established to protect and preserve unspoiled places, just like his beloved North Dakota Badlands. Visiting Theodore Roosevelt National Park can be done year round and visitors have their choice of seeing the North and/or South Unit of the park. In the north visitors will be treated to an abundance of wildlife, along with deep gorges, and colorful badlands; making this sweeping vista absolutely incredible. The South Unit offers the chance for visitors to see the badlands that have been shaped from millions of years of wind, rain, erosion and fire. The Painted Canyon Visitor Center is also a stop along the way, giving you a first glimpse of the badlands from above.
9. Hell’s Half-Acre – Natrona County, Wyoming
Years ago this badland was a tourist stop, famous for its place in the 1997 Starship Troopers movie. At one point the canyon rim held a restaurant, campground and small motel but for years the landscape has been deserted. Although not as big as other badlands on this list, the sheer remoteness and desolation of Hell’s Half-Acre makes it unique. The history behind this canyon can be found on an interpretative sign stating that Native American tribes used the ravines to drive bison to their death during their hunts. Today it stands as a geological wonder, deep ravines and caves, colorful rock formations and alien looking columns that rise above the clay. Bands of yellow, pink, white and orange stripe the canyon walls. For now, this abandoned badland sits deserted, in the middle of nowhere but perhaps that’s just what makes it so intriguing.
8. Caoshan, Taiwan
Taiwan’s badlands are unique, and unlike any other in the world, seeing as they are the only badland formation on the face of this earth in a tropical area with good rainfall. The Taiwanese refer to these badlands as “moon world” and although these areas are slowly being turned into tourist destinations, complete with walkways and buildings, there are still a few places to go that remain untouched. Head to Caoshan, where some the of largest and most expansive of badlands are found. Start at 308 Viewpoint where you can get birds eye views of the surrounding landscape and then head to the “Grand Canyon”. As you walk photogenic pinnacles of earth start to loom above the road on either side like miniature mountain ranges. A little further along the ground suddenly falls away and the ‘Grand Canyon’ is revealed, the countless formations of the rain- and wind-carved ravine walls. It is impressive, exquisite, delicate, and appears to defy gravity.
7. Cheltenham Badlands, Ontario
It is one of the most striking geological features in the province of Ontario and these badlands are a brilliant red in color. At one point this area was actually occupied by a river and the hills at this site signify the riverbed. Thousands of years ago the lake dried out and the badlands were created. The red color is due to iron oxide deposits and features faint green streaks. Visitors come from all over the province to walk among the badlands here but unfortunately all the visiting is causing accelerated soil erosion. In 2015 the site was closed to visitors, although they can still be seen from the viewpoint at the top of the badlands slope. Conservationists will be spending the next few years trying to come up with a plan for these colorful and unique badlands.
6. Putangirua Pinnacles, New Zealand
This geological formation is best known for its appearances in the Lord of the Rings movies and is one of New Zealand’s best examples of badland erosion. These amazing rock formations, called Hoodoos are essentially hundreds of eroded pillars that form a quiet and eerie atmosphere, transforming you into what feels like a different world. Here you will find a total of two walking trails to choose from and allow yourself 2-4 hours for a round trip. The Walking tracks into the Putangirua Pinnacles generally follow the river bed into the valley and do change with river flows. This makes the tracks rough but easy enough to get deep into the rock formations. Pack plenty of water, snacks and don’t forget your camera as you travel into this incredible landscape.
5. Toadstool Geologic Park, Nebraska
It’s a known fact that the badlands in South Dakota are incredible but what about the ones that start in the northwestern corner of Nebraska. This geological park provides excellent sneak previews of what you may be in for if you are traveling onwards to South Dakota. Park in the lot at the entrance of the park and make sure to pick up a guide pamphlet at the start of the trail. A one-mile loop will take you around the park and past all the incredible formations. The trail starts off slow at first taking you past a few eroded hills, quite beautiful and striking. The flat part of the trail takes you through angled rocks of varying height and size but the real adventure begins when the trail starts to climb. This is where you will get to see many of the formations that resemble toadstools; hence the name of the park. You get an impressive view over the site at the top of the loop and it’s easy to imagine why large prehistoric animals used to wander these grounds.
4. Makoshika State Park, Montana
At over 11,000 acres this state park is the largest in Montana and protects 20% of Montana’s continuous badlands topography. Not only will you get to experience some incredible badland formations but also found here are the fossil remains of Tyrannosaurus Rex, Triceratops and more. There are several trails throughout the park, introducing visitors to different kinds of topography as well as a campground if you plan on staying for a few nights. Cap Rock Trail is a one-mile loop that allows hikers to get up close and personal with the smaller, delicate features such as pinnacles and caprocks. The Diane Gabriel Trail on the other hand shows visitors the bigger features such as sinkhole caves and sod tabletops. The highlight of the trail is a climb up to a series of Hadrosaur vertebrae left partially exposed in the hillside so visitors can see what it is like to find and excavate fossils.
3. Red Deer River, Alberta
The badlands here cut a swatch through southeastern Alberta, and is a fossil hotbed since the 19th century with no signs of slowing down. There are multiple ways to experience these badlands, whether you want to join one of many guided tours or take a self-guided road trip. Start in the town of Drumheller smack in the middle of the Badlands, and well known for its rich fossil beds and mining industry. Want to see the town from a different vantage point? Climb into the mouth of the world’s largest Tyrannosaurus Rex. Other stops along the way include Horsethief Canyon and Midland Provincial Park. Cross the Red Deer River on the Bleriot Ferry and reach the Hoodoo Trail which takes you to the Hoodoos site and the Rosedale Suspension Bridge. Make sure to visit the Royal Tyrrell Museum and Dinosaur Provincial Park.
2. Big Muddy Badlands, Saskatchewan
The Big Muddy Badlands have one of the best names in our opinion and offer up amazing architecture that transports your mind back to the times of the “Wild West.” These remote badlands have a fascinating history and once were a hideout for famed bandits such as Sam Kelly, Dutch Henry, and the Sundance Kid. The valley also is dotted with strange ancient aboriginal stone effigies with names such as Minton Turtle and the Big Beaver Buffalo, which add to the mystery and magic of the landscape. From early May to September is the best time to head here as guided tours operate on a daily basis. Because much of these badlands are on private property, it is imperative you use a guide. Tours range from four hours to eight hours and cover sites such as Castle Butte, the Sam Kelly Caves and the Ceremonials Circles. Come play where the bandits played and you will understand why they were drawn to this particular landscape.
1. Badlands National Park, South Dakota
This unique region has been ravaged by water and wind, resulting in a scenic wonderland, begging to be explored. The badlands region sprawls over thousands of square miles and includes vast prairies, grasslands with sharply eroded buttes, pinnacles and spires. Visitors here can expect some of the most spectacular sunsets in the world, along with viewing millions of stars at night. In order to get the best views of the badlands head to Badlands Loop Road where you can hike along scenic nature trails among spectacular formations. Badlands National Park has two campgrounds for overnight stays and we highly suggest spending at least a few days in the park as the opportunities for exploration are endless.
If you are a history buff looking to explore the many war site in Canada, you’re in luck. From Nova Scotia to Ontario all the way to Saskatchewan, there are an abundance of places to visit, which were at one point, battlefields during the numerous wars. Some of the sites are designated National Historic Sites with activities, events and interactive displays while others are living museums and fortified towns. If you have ever wanted to put your feet onto an actual battleground, now is your chance with these 8 Canadian Historic War Sites.
8. Nancy Island Historic Site, Ontario
It is one of the lesser-known war sites in Canada, but that doesn’t make it any less interesting. The story here goes that The Nancy was a British Schooner, a fur-trading vessel during the war of 1812. It was on the Nottawasaga River on August 14th 1814 when Lt. Worsley, the commander of the ship did everything he could to defend her form the American attack. Unfortunately the Nancy was destroyed, although the crew lived to fight another day. Today on Nancy Island visitors can see the hull of the Nancy, built in 1789. Also on the site there is a replica of a 19th century Great Lakes lighthouse and a video presentation that shows visitors the crew’s heroic story. In the summer make sure to tour the site, participate in a cannon demonstration and interact with a historical character.
7. Plains of Abraham, Quebec
The Battle of the Plains of Abraham, which took place on September 13th, 1759, was a pivotal moment in the Seven Years War and in the history of Canada. General James Wolfe led the British invasion force to defeat the French troops leading to the surrender of Quebec to the British. The battle only took 30 minutes, as the British soldiers climbed the steep hill in darkness and through a single deadly volley of musket fire, defeated the French. Today it stands as one of Canada’s most important historical parks and there are numerous exhibits throughout for visitors to explore the story through uniforms, maps, interactive games and period reproductions.
6. The Fortress of Louisbourg, Nova Scotia
It was during the Seven Years War that British troops were looking to gain control of Quebec with Louisbourg being their gateway to the St. Lawrence River. They attacked this military fortress that was erected over the course of three decades. The British brought a major artillery assault to this fortress, causing major structural damage and with 14,000 British soldiers and only 9,000 French soldiers; the Brits had a significant advantage. Setting the enemy’s ship on fire and then the main centerpiece of Louisbourg on fire meant that the French had no choice but to surrender. This fortress may have been lost to history if not designated a National Historic Site in the 1960’s and today it is one of the largest reconstructed 18th-century French fortified towns in North America.
5. Ridgeway Battlefield National Historic Site of Canada, Ontario
The Battle of Ridgeway was fought on June 2, 1866 between Canadian troops and an irregular army of Irish-American invaders who called themselves the Fenians. It was the first modern industrial-era battle to be fought by Canadians, the first to be fought only by Canadian troops and the first to be led exclusively by Canadian officers. It was actually a defeat for Canadians, and the first and only armed victory for the cause of Irish Independence between 1798-1919. As it happens the Fenians only held Ridgeway for a short amount of time, in which a rapid convergence of largly British and Canadian reinforcements convinced many of them to return in haste to the United States, where waiting US authorities took their weapons. Visitors can find out more at the Battle of Ridgeway Memorial Park site where there are outdoor interpretative displays and panels.
4. Chippawa Battlefield, Ontario
The Battle of Chippawa was actually a victory for the United States Army during the War of 1812 when they invaded Upper Canada along the Niagara River on July 5th, 1814. It was the longest and bloodiest military operations of the War of 1812. The actual site of where it took place was on the fields of Daniel Street’s farm near the banks of the river and started when a force of 2,000 men attacked an invading American army of 3,500. The fighting lasted all day until the Brits were forced to withdraw and the Americans won, but only for three weeks, until the bloody battle of Lundy’s Lane was fought and won by the Brits on July 25th. Niagara Parks has preserved the 300 acres of the pristine battlefield, one of the last remaining sites from the War of 1812 and visitors are encouraged to go on the self-guided walking tour that retraces the events of the war.
3. Battle of the Chateauguay Historic Site, Quebec
It was October 26th 1813, during the War of 1812 when a British force of 1,630 regulars, volunteers and militia from Lower Canada and Mohawk warriors repelled an American force of about 4,000 who were attempting to invade Lower Canada and attack Montreal. The Battle of the Chateauguay was one of the two battles that caused the Americans to abandon the Saint Lawrence Campaign, a major strategic effort put on by the Americans. This site has been turned into a Historic National site in which visitors can come to learn more about the battle and how the Canadian took victory. The interpretation center is where visitors can have interactive experiences learning about the lives of soldiers and more. Outside visitors can tour the archaeological landscape that witnessed the battle or head to the beautiful monument that commemorates the battle.
2. Batoche National Historic Site, Saskatchewan
Batoche is the site of the historic Battle of Batoche during the northwest Rebellion of 1885, which pitted Canadian authorities against a force of rebel Metis. The Metis settlement of Batoche was established in 1872 and by the time the battle took place it numbered 500 people. The battle resulted in the defeat of Louis Riel and his Metis forces, resulting in the collapse of the Provisional Governments. Batoche is now a National Historic Site where visitors can come and learn more about the history of the community and its inhabitants via a multimedia presentation. There are several restored buildings with costumed interpreters who depict the lifestyle of the Metis between 1860-1900’s.
1. Fort Henry National Historic Site, Ontario
It was at the beginning of the war of 1812 that local militia erected a blockhouse and battery on Point Henry to defend the important naval base on Point Frederick, as well as to monitor maritime traffic on the St. Lawrence River and Lake Ontario. On November 10, 1812 this battery was involved in repelling several American warships that were attacking the Royal George that was taking refuge in the Kingston Harbor. Distrust continued after the War of 1812 between the British and the Americans and the original fort that was built was demolished to make way for a more extensive fort, built between 1832-1836. Although this new fort was never attacked, it has now becoming a livening museum for visitors that come from all over the country.
Canada is a relatively new country in the grand scheme of things and isn’t usually considered as a historical tourist destination. Most people who visit Canada come for the expansive, diverse and stunning landscape, and for good reason; Canada has some of the most impressive natural wonders in the world. But Canada does have an important and rich history, and you would be remiss to explore Canada without a visit to one of the nearly 1000 national historic sites and landmarks found across the country.
10. L.M. Montgomery’s Home -Cavendish, Prince Edward Island
Readers of the Anne of Green Gables series, one of Canada’s most well-known literary works, will be familiar with the National Historic Site. Located in rural Prince Edward Island, near Cavendish, is this quaint landmark; included in the historic site are the Green Gables house, the Cavendish home and the surrounding landscapes, including several lovely hiking trails ideal for a relaxing stroll. Even those who are not familiar with the books or the author will appreciate this beautiful home and the scenery typical of Prince Edward Island; plan for the day and bring a picnic to enjoy on the grounds!
9. Rideau Canal -Ottawa, Ontario
A UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Rideau Canal in Canada’s capital city of Ottawa is an impressive feat of engineering and architecture, and is a favorite destination among both tourists and locals. Officially connecting Kingston to Ottawa, this 202 kilometers of canals is a beautiful chain of lakes, rivers and canals perfect for a day out canoeing or sight-seeing. The exact location of the UNESCO site is in Ottawa; originally built for military purposes in the 1800’s, the series of lock stations and fortifications are architecturally impressive and still completely operational- many still hand crank operated! It is a favorite for locals too; during the winter months you can strap on some skates and travel nearly the entire canal- make sure you grab a beaver tail and some hot chocolate at one of the many kiosks set up along the way!
8. Batoche, Saskatchewan
Established in 1872, this Métis settlement was the site of the historical Battle of Batoche during the Northwest Rebellion of 1885 and is now a National Historic Site in Canada. Situated in the heart of the prairies on the South Saskatchewan River, it is here that Louis Riel was infamously defeated and a new country was formed. Walking through this historical landmark, you realize what an important moment this was for Canadian history; in fact, you can still see some of the bullet holes from the final battle. Not just for history buffs, take the family and spend the day walking in the shoes of Métis settlers on the shores of the river and learn how the old way of life disappeared and a new one began.
7. L’Anse Aux Meadows, Newfoundland and Labrador
Visit the L’Anse Aux Meadows National Historic Site on the tip of the island of Newfoundland and you can see evidence of the very first European settlers to set foot on North American soil. Scattered amongst this striking landscape is evidence of an 11th century Viking settlement; the only known location of a Viking settlement in North America, this site holds a tremendous amount of historical importance in terms of migration and discovery. Spend some time looking for the excavated remains of the wood-framed turf buildings (like the ones found in Iceland and Norse Greenland), and wandering around the site. The scenic, yet unrelentingly harsh landscape makes it all the more impressive that an entire culture managed to settle and live here hundreds of years ago.
6. Fortifications of Québec -Québec City, Québec
As the only fortified city north of Mexico, this UNESCO World Heritage Site is rich in history and architectural beauty, akin to historical cities scattered all over Europe. Walk the walls around Old Québec, nearly 4.6 kilometers in length to marvel at the views of the city and beyond, and to marvel at the military engineering of the fortifications developed in the early 1600’s. Old Québec is a beautiful city to explore by foot; many pedestrian only streets make it easy to get around, and the slower pace makes it easier to take all your pictures! There are also plenty of delicious cafés and quaint shops (although venture off the main streets for a less touristy experience), and plenty of maple syrup inspired treats to keep you going during the day!
5. Dawson, Yukon Territory
Way up north, in the harsh, unforgiving, stunningly beautiful landscape of Canada, you will find Dawson, Yukon, the heart of the Klondike Gold Rush and a charming town, well preserved and rich in history. Although small, there is plenty to do here; adventure enthusiasts will enjoy the outdoor landscape made for hiking and rafting, yet those searching for a more relaxing visit will enjoy the traditional pubs and boardwalks through town. Those feeling lucky can try their hand panning for gold in the Klondike Gold Fields and enjoy a tour through some of the still operational gold mines. Dawson is worth the trek up north, but given its remote location, be sure to stay awhile and enjoy the surrounding areas to make the most of your trip!
4. Fort Garry Hotel -Winnipeg, Manitoba
Those afraid of ghosts may want to skip the Fort Garry Hotel- the infamous Room 202 is said to be haunted by the ghost of a woman, but those brave enough won’t want to skip a visit to this landmark. A National Historic Site located in downtown Winnipeg, this famous hotel is one of Canada’s grand railway hotels, and built in 1913, it was the tallest structure in town upon completion. The architecture is reminiscent to other chateau style hotels in Canada, like the Fairmont Chateau next on the list, and is a unique and beautiful addition to the industrial core of Winnipeg.
3. Fairmont Chateau Frontenac -Québec City, Québec
One of the most beautiful and grand buildings in all of Canada, the Fairmont Château Frontenac in Québec is considered as one of the most photographed hotels in the world, in part because of its sheer size and grandiose nature on the Québec skyline. Designated as a National Historic Site in 1980, this hotel was built for the Canadian Pacific Railway company in the late 1800’s to promote luxury travel and tourism; it was a hotspot for wealthy travelers and those searching for a glamorous experience. This is the most prominent building in Québec and surely can’t be missed when exploring the area; spend some time exploring the glitzy, over the top décor inside and the intricate architecture on the outside- bring an extra memory card for your camera when visiting this landmark!
2. Terry Fox Memorial -Thunder Bay, Ontario
All Canadians are familiar with Terry Fox; in fact, he is probably one of the most well-known Canadian icons, recognized nationally and around the world. Visiting the Terry Fox Memorial, overlooking Lake Superior, you can’t help but be overwhelmed by this man’s courageous and inspirational quest to make the world a better place. Terry Fox was a humble young man who has inspired generations of Canadian’s to raise money and improve the lives of cancer patients worldwide; because of him, hundreds of millions of dollars has been raised for cancer research. All Canadian’s can find something to relate to in Terry Fox and the life he led; because of this and his relatability, this Terry Fox memorial is possibly one of the most emotional and inspirational in all of Canada.
1. Fortress of Louisbourg -Cape Breton Island, Nova Scotia
Located on the Cape Breton Island in Nova Scotia, this National Historic Site is one of the most important sites in defining Canada as it is today. The Fortress of Louisbourg was settled in 1713 and fortified later in the mid-18th century, and was the site of historic Anglo-French battles crucial to our history. Enter the fortified city and feel what it was like living in a fishing, port city during the 1700’s. Take one of the many walking and guided tours available, or spend some time exploring on your own; whatever you choose you will be sure to leave with a better understanding of how the original settlers of Canada lived hundreds of years ago.
The common old saying, ‘the best things come in small packages’ holds true when it comes to Canadian small towns. Visiting small towns isn’t normally at the top of our bucket list, but we’ve come up with a list of great towns that are perfect just the way they are, which is often quiet and out of the way, typically passed by on highways and main roads, tucked neatly away on the outskirts of a city. This list is a baker’s dozen compiled small towns to love, we’ve covered all our bases including one from each province and territory. What are you waiting for? Get going!
13. Nelson, British Columbia
For a town of under 10,000 people there is a whole lot going on in Nelson. The skiing in the Kootenay Rockies is sensational. When it’s time for water skis, Lake Kootenay offers any activity you want on and under the water. There are thermal and natural baths and less than an hour away, as is the beginning of the province’s fabulous wine country. Nelson is something of an artistic community with a surprising cache of Victorian, Queen Anne and Beaux Arts architecture. The town website claims more restaurants per capita than San Francisco. It also likely has more hippies per capita as the counterculture is bred by American draft dodgers during the Vietnam War and continues on today.
12. Legal, Alberta
A proud little town whose website says it “puts unity back into community”. It’s close enough to be considered a suburb of Edmonton, but it retains its separate identity with its old rural charm intact. Still bilingual, it was founded as a French-speaking settlement in 1894, before Alberta was a province and less than a decade after French Canada’s champion Louis Riel was hanged for treason. The stop signs still say ‘Arret/Stop’. Legal is renowned for its 28 French murals and its summer Fete Au Village, or Town Festival.
11. Forget, Saskatchewan
This town is nothing like it sounds, rather it’s sure to give you an unforgettable experience. It is a one of those places through the Canadian and American Midwest that serves as a reminder that French explorers were the first Europeans to pass through and that many of the early post-Confederation settlers were from Quebec and their descendants still proudly call themselves Saskinoises, as did Canada’s first woman to serve as Governor General, Jeanne Sauvé. Despite its minuscule size (at last count 104) it has become known as an artists’ colony. The old Rectory built in 1904 is now The Ananda Arthouse. Its French Catholic roots are evident in the name of a much-praised hangout and kitchen called The Happy Nun. And should you go there, please recall it’s pronounced for-JAY.
10. Flin Flon, Manitoba
There are few more quintessentially Canadian towns than Flin Flon. A sub-Arctic hardworking mining community with a stellar hockey history. Six hundred miles northwest of Winnipeg in the Manitoba Lake District, it boasts a big trout festival and wilderness activities in summer and with the exception of downhill skiing, a full range of winter sports. It is one of Canada’s hockey factories, having sent a number of big stars to the NHL, including Bobby Clarke, Reggie Leach and Blaine Stoughton. And there is of course its iconic name with a minor literary pedigree, the only town named after Josiah Flintabbatey Flonatin, a character in a 1905 science fiction book The Sunless City. The venerable American cartoonist Al Capp was so intrigued by the story, he created the statue of the town’s namesake that still stands.
9. Port Hope, Ontario
Sixty miles east of Toronto, Port Hope is a pretty little town with a lovely and well preserved 19th century downtown. The Capitol Theatre opened in 1930 and is one of a dwindling collection of ‘atmospheric theatres’, an ornate style movie house that resembles a palace. It has been cited for the province’s Community Leadership award for exemplary “leadership in heritage conservation and promotion”. The antique shopping is renowned as is the fly-fishing in the Ganaraska River. A timeless scene of Victorian Ontario.
8. Hudson, Quebec
Hudson is a picturesque, historic place set on the Lac des Deux Montagnes that dates back to New France and celebrates its 150th birthday as a town in 2015. Now it’s also known as where the late Jack Layton called home. Forty miles west of Montreal, it has long been known as a wealthy Anglophone enclave with a Yacht Club dating back to 1909 and a polo club from 1901. It re-established in the 1990’s as the Club Nacional and is was well-known for its star players that included some of the great Montreal Canadiens from the teams that won five Stanley Cups in the 1980’s. Now it has a nice arts scene, great antiques. It’s not a place you would spend a week, but perfect as a weekend destination or day trip. It just might even leave you trying to figure out ways to move there for good.
7. Victoria-by-the-Sea, Prince Edward Island
When it comes to flat out, good old fashioned small town charm, it’s very hard to beat the Maritimes. Victoria lies on the island’s south coast just 20 miles from Charlottetown. It was once an affluent, busy trading port and the pretty houses and stores don’t seem to have changed much, except for fresh coats of brightly colored paint. Another charming little (population: 200) place that attracts artists and craftspeople. The Victoria Playhouse has been written up by no less than the New York Times. The mandatory red sand beaches and Lighthouse museum are present and accounted for. Sea kayaking in the Northumberland Strait is the main offshore activity. The town website almost brags that when the Trans Canada Highway passed the town by, so did the malls, fast food joints and tourist traps.
6. Saint Andrews, New Brunswick
The town was settled by Loyalists from Maine in 1783. Thirteen of the streets are named after the offspring of George lll (aka Mad King George) not to mention King, Queen and Prince of Wales Streets. Like much of the region, its economic apogee passed with The Steam Age. After decades of bad times, the onset of the railway plus, the ocean breezes and natural beauty, brought well-to-do visitors seeking respite from the heat and filth of the industrial northeast. Saint Andrews became the country’s first resort and was rewarded for its economic stagnation with unspoiled downtown and surroundings that became their major industry and engine of growth. Thelegendary Algonquin Hotel remains a wonderful example of CPR hotel architecture (or ‘Parkitecture). Kingsbrae Gardens is an award winning masterpiece of horticulture and whale watching has been added to the array of watery attractions.
5. Mahone Bay, Nova Scotia
Another coastal gem, Mahone Bay was founded in 1754 and was a shipbuilding center for over a century. The shelter of the Bay encourages sailors, kayakers, and fishers to explore the 365 islands that dot the waters of Mahone Bay, including Oak Island, with its legend of buried treasure. It’s a summertime boom town, attracting visitors for its beaches, biking and ski trails, along with a rich history and oceanfront location. Not to mention that fresh, fresh seafood.
4. Trinity, Newfoundland and Labrador
Fisherman were summering in relative safety in trinity bay since the early 16th century. It is full of heritage buildings of saltbox architecture dating from the 1850’s. All the towns on this list are scenic, but only The Rock combines mint conditioned, brightly colored historic buildings with rugged beauty of the unforgivingly harsh Newfoundland rock face which is a base for hiking and boat tours to see whales and icebergs. Its preserved perfection of houses from the 1850’s attracted the makers of The Shipping News and there are tours of where the famous cast shot scenes and stayed, some of them were so taken by the land and people, they bought houses or cottages nearby!
3. Dawson, Yukon
You can still pan for gold and have the famous Sour Toe cocktail. For a more satisfying taste – attempt to make it yourself! It was parodied by a Dawson banker named Robert W Service in the “Ice Worm Cocktail” a story of a gullible Englishman who downed one with great trepidation and comic results. The romance of the Gold Rush, even more than a century come and gone remains. Such was the transient wealth, it was called the Paris of the North. Heritage buildings from its 15 minutes of wealth and fame abound. And yes, you can see the can-can girls at Gambling Gerties, but it’s not a one-trick pony. Cruise the Yukon River and/or hike 1700 feet up the Midnight Dome and take in the views of it and the Klondike Valley. Parks Canada has a nice tour from Crocus Bluff to Service’s cabin in the hills, conducted with excerpts from his legendary poetry.
2. Rankin Inlet, Nunavut
In Inuktitut, it’s called Kangiqtiniq – ᑲᖏᖅᖠᓂᖅ, meaning ‘deep inlet’. It has become the gateway to the territory for civil servants, mining execs, scientists and adventure travel aficionados, hence the cell phone service and golf courses not common to the rest of the region. There is a thriving Inuit art scene, especially in ceramics and carving. For exploring the stunning, pristineIqalugaarjuup Nunanga (‘the land around the river of little fishes’) Territorial Historic Park has hiking, fishing and fauna that you won’t see south of 90 degrees north. There are also habitations and graveyards from the 13th century. To celebrate spring Pakaluk Time there is a festival which includes music dancing and the famous, unique Inuit sport competitions.
1. Fort Smith, Northwest Territories
Fort Smith deserves a place on the bucket list if for no other reason than it being a place that is a gateway to the remote, spectacular World Heritage Site, Wood Buffalo National Park. The northern boreal plain and forest is home to endangered species like wood bison, whooping cranes and peregrine falcons. Seemingly endless acres of pristine natural beauty that are a paradise for the outdoor enthusiast. Its name in Chipewyan is Thebacha or ‘beside the rapids’, and those rapids on the Slave River are a major attraction for white water buffs today.
The cool crisp mornings and the breathtaking colors of the leaves are sure signs that the summer is ending and fall is upon us. Canadians have an exceptional way to celebrate this beginning of a new season with its abundance of fall fairs. Fall fairs have been around for hundreds of years and what started as a way to celebrate the rural life has grown into fairs that feature midways, incredible horsemanship and yet still retain that small town charm. From the east coast to the west, we have rounded up the 12 best fall fairs in all of Canada.
12. Hants County Exhibition -Windsor, Nova Scotia
2015 marks the 250th anniversary of this incredible long running fall fair, located in Windsor Nova Scotia. It holds the title as being the oldest continuously run fall fair in North America and continues to stick true to its roots in promoting agricultural awareness. A few of the major events at this fall include the RCMP musical ride and horse show and the Classic Heritage Beef Show, the largest of its kind in Atlantic Canada which features over 200 major beef brands. Other interesting things happening at this fair include a large midway, petting zoo for the kids, demolition derby and musical entertainment throughout the weekends. The fair runs from September 18-20th and September 25-27th in 2015 and admission is set at a reasonable $12 per adult and $5 per child under five years old. Locals are encouraged to enter exhibits such as horticulture, food and livestock.
11. Markham Fair -Markham, Ontario
It is one of Canada’s oldest fairs established in 1844 and with over 800 volunteers Markham Fair is the largest community based volunteer organization in Canada. The fair always occurs on the weekend before thanksgiving and features more than 3,000 exhibitors who enter 12,000 items to be judged each year. This fair has an abundance of things to see and do and after being in operation since 1844, they have learned what people love. Part of what makes this fair so great is the entertainment that takes place on the outdoor stage, both farm and wild animals on display and available for interaction, a monster truck madness and plenty of wine to sample. Kids love the midway, school of rock performances and all the interactive events throughout the weekend. In 2015 the fair takes place from October 1st-4th and admission is $15 for adults and $5 for kids over the age of $4.
10. Canadian Western Agribition -Regina, Saskatchewan
It is the largest agricultural and livestock show in Canada and consists of an agricultural marketplace, trade show and a rodeo, the favorite of many fall goers. This isn’t your small town country fair though and it draws visitors from all over the world from some 65 countries. The rodeo here is a big draw and this year there are two rodeos taking place, the Canadian Cowboys’ Association Finals Rodeo and the High School Rodeo. Families love to come out to this fair and take advantage of the family friendly activities throughout the fair including a full contact jousting competition, a family farm animal pavilion, stock dog competitions and the chance to take a ride on a wild sheep. There are cattle shows and sales, equestrian events, sheep, goats and even bison events at this incredible fair. It is one of the latest fall fairs on this list running from November 23rd-28th and all that means is you have more time to prepare.
9. International Plowing Match, Ontario
This plowing match and rural expo can be considered a fall fair although it moves locations every year throughout Ontario. In 2015 it is being held in the rural township of North Stormont from September 22nd-26th. It is one of Canada’s largest outdoors shows and although the main emphasis of the event is the plow competition itself, there are plenty of activities going all week long to keep the 80,000 attendees happy. From an opening parade and ceremonies to live demonstrations on the stages to symphonies to art battles to cooking demonstrations; there is certainly no shortage of things to see and do. There is always plenty of amazing entertainment, hundreds of vendors and an incredible food tent. Experience the one and only International Plowing Match and all that goes with it this year in the village of Finch.
8. Elmvale Fall Fair -Elmvale, Ontario
Since 1860 the Elmvale Fall Fair has been a staple of the community and it remains one of the most popular events in Elmvale all year round. Running on thanksgiving weekend every year, this fall fair offers families the opportunity to get out and enjoy the beautiful fall colors, the community and one another. This fair is jammed packed with award winning baked goods, crafts, needlework, school displays, preserves, field crops, photography and floral exhibits from local community members. Exciting competitions include the tractor pulls for both adults and kids alike and the student pony show. Live events include dog and sheep shows, heavy horse and live animal display and much more. With parades, video dances, a midway and more; this fall fair is the perfect thanksgiving outing.
7. Oktoberfest -Kitchener, Ontario
Although technically it is considered a festival and not a fair, it does occur in the fall and it is simply too good to be left off the list. This annual nine day festival is actually considered the second largest Oktoberfest in the world and attracts up to a million visitors each year. Traditional events include the opening ceremonies with the tapping of the keg, numerous pancake breakfasts, barrel racing, parades and specialty nights. Many of the celebrations take place in venues that sell traditional food and beer and feature polka dancing and live music. Golf events, fashion shows, treasure hunts, an annual Turkey Trot and so much more is featured throughout the nine day festival and one thing is for sure, visitors will have an authentic German Oktoberfest experience.
6. Salt Spring Island’s Annual Fall Fair -Salt Spring Island, British Columbia
It is a long standing tradition on Salt Spring Island and locals and visitors look forward to this annual fall fair. It is often thought of as a “real country fair” where 4H members meticulously groom their livestock, sheep dogs demonstrate their skills and equestrians compete in horse competitions. Like any other country fair that is a small midway, beer garden and local food stands that come year after year but what makes this fall fair stand out amongst others is the incredible design and craftsman ship of the artwork. Think exquisite pottery, intricate basketry, hand woven tapery and more. And don’t forget about the famous Zucchini races and the pet parade that the kids absolutely love being involved in. The community here is all about involvement and welcoming people from outside the community and count on the ultimate friendly atmosphere when you arrive at this awesome fall fair.
5. Great White North Pumpkin Fair and Weigh Off -Smoky Lake, Alberta
Although this event is only one day, the sheer enormity of it is enough to classify it as a fair in our eyes. The Great White North Pumpkin Fair and Weigh Off actually started with a couple of guys who had a brilliant idea to see how large they could grow their pumpkins. The event this year kicks off Friday October 2nd with a pumpkin kick-off and family friendly entertainment but the real magic happens on Saturday. With entertainment throughout the day, a farmer’s market onsite and four hours of pumpkin weighing, there is never a dull moment. Venues around the area offer dancing, art shows, pancake breakfast, garage sales and car shows. Watermelons squash, and long gourds will also compete for their respective titles as the most gargantuan, but the pumpkin is the main draw and competitors have been to known to travel over 600km to enter into this epic fall fair competition.
4. The Paris Fall Fair -Paris, Ontario
Running from September 3rd to the 7th, the Paris Fall Fair invites visitors from all over the globe to visit their country fair that has been running for over 150 years. They welcome over 300,000 guests each year to the historical town of Paris to celebrate rural life, which includes taking in talent competitions; demolition derby’s and baby competitions. Don’t forget about the abundance of homemade jams, crafts, photography, flowers, vegetables, quilts and more that are entered into the competitions year after year. The fair itself is set on 117 acres with six event buildings, livestock facilities, grandstands and a 1/2 mile harness track as well as one of only two Motorcycle Speedway Racing facilities in Canada. From horse shows to dairy shows to dog shows to lumberjack shows, visitors here will certainly have their choice of things to see and do.
3. Western Fair -London, Ontario
This fall fair in London, Ontario is absolutely mammoth and teeming with things to see and do for families. It has been operating since 1868 and each year seems to get bigger and better. The free music stage is a hit amongst all visitors and this year will see acts including Shania Twin, the Dixie Chicklets and the Practically Hip. While some are enjoying the music others are getting their adrenaline rush at the thrill park which includes rides such as the crazy mouse roller coaster and Niagara Falls water flume ride. Kids will love Imagination Park where they can interact with pirates, watch the high dive show and come face to face with some of their favorite characters. Don’t forget to gauge on favorite treats of the fair such as cotton candy, elephant ears, candy apples and corn dogs.
2. Royal Agricultural Winter Fair -Toronto, Ontario
This month long fair technically has the word “winter” in it but considering it falls in the fall and features fall like events, we have to consider it one of the best fall fairs in all of Canada. It may seem like your run of the mill fair with farmers and urbanites meeting in downtown Toronto but truth be told this fall fair is full of surprises around every corner. Get ready for such events as butter sculpting competitions, cow-milking demos, carriage races and performing dogs. The horse show is one of the biggest draws at this fair, along with the lifestyle stage where demonstrations and workshops take place and all the incredible food stalls throughout. Families are more than welcome here and kids will enjoy the petting zoo, education centers and farm-inspired play areas.
1. Rock Creek Fall Fair -Rock Creek, British Columbia
It prides itself as being one of the last true country fairs and although it has only been in operation for seventy years, considered young when looking at the rest of this list, this fair is truly committed to showcasing the rural lifestyle. Commonly referred to as “The biggest little country fair around”, Rock Creek Fall Fair runs September 19th and 20th in 2015. This is a fun filled family event featuring lawn mower racing, a talent show and a large midway. The community is encouraged to enter the competitions that range from horsemanship to produce to photography to culinary and more. There is camping on site at this fall fair but is on a first come first serve basis and is a family only campground. Admission ranges from $12 for adults and $5 for kids and is truly two days of fun and entertainment for both kids and adults alike.
Few things are more essential in the summer than rolled down windows, wind blown hair, long hot days, and the radio blasting in a car filled with friends. All the key ingredients for a summer roadtrip. Western Canada is a land of plenty; from jagged mountain tops and glacier fed waters, to gastronomic hubs and music festivals, time spent here eating, partying, hiking, and sightseeing will be a highlight. So gather up your best buds, load up the car and hit the road for places that will ensure you have the time of your lives!
10. Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Jump, Calgary
Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Jump: a historical site south of Calgary that offers you a glimpse into the lives of the indigenous people who helped shape Alberta’s heritage. This World Heritage Site gives you the chance to experience aboriginal culture at what is one of the best preserved buffalo jumps in the world; camp in a tipi, learn how to make drums and moccasins and explore the rich history and heritage on display at the interpretive museum. Walk in their footsteps through the wind-blown prairie landscape and along the perilous cliff edges; here you can begin to understand an important part of Canada’s history.
9. Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan
Moose Jaw is a city that will throw you for a loop in the most wonderful of ways. People who visit always leave surprised, in awe of this small, unassuming, prairie town. Those who grew up near here will know Moose Jaw is famous for its tunnels and an underground maze rich in history with interactive adventure. Yet Moose Jaw has much more to offer its guests. The Temple Gardens Mineral Spa Resort is a world famous resort built over geothermal springs; come with your family, friends, yourself or significant other and enjoy a weekend filled with pampering and relaxation. Or, spend time wandering around the many shops and cafés on Moose Jaw’s historic Main Street! Moose Jaw is much more than a drive-through town; come explore, wander and enjoy this humble and intriguing town in central Saskatchewan.
8. Drumheller, Alberta
When you are in Western Canada, you don’t have to go to the movies to walk among the dinosaurs; the Dinosaur National Park in Drumheller is home to some of the world’s oldest, most important, dinosaur excavations. Designated a UNESCO World Heritage site because of its fossil discoveries, it’s hard not to be taken back 75 million years ago to when dinosaurs roamed the earth. And if you tire of the museum and the dinosaurs, the Red Deer River cuts right through the city of Drumheller and the badlands, lending to some amazing scenery and outdoor exploration possibilities. After that, be sure to follow the well-marked trail to discover the rich coal-mining history found here; climb the last wooden tipple in Canada, cross the suspension bridge in Rosedale and see the odd-yet-fascinating hoodoos that are said to watch over the people and protect the land.
7. Wood Buffalo National Park, Alberta & Northwest Territories
Places like Banff and Jasper are national landmarks, and for good reason; the beauty and sheer magnitude of the Rocky Mountains are bound to knock your breath away. But, straddling the border with the Northwest Territories, Wood Buffalo National Park is the largest national park in Canada, the second largest in the world and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Incredibly, this park is the world’s largest dark-sky preserve, meaning there will never be a better spot to stargaze and witness the amazing Northern lights. This park isn’t completely isolated from civilization either; Fort Smith is a heritage town that plays host to many tourists who come for music festivals, history and world-class rapids. Wood Buffalo National Park is a wilderness and heritage experience found nowhere else in the world- come for the week and stay for the summer.
6. Cypress Hills Interprovincial Park, Alberta & Saskatchewan
Straddling the border between Alberta and Saskatchewan, this unique and adventure-filled park truly is home to the land of the living skies. Spend the night camping under the stars, hike or bike the over 50km of trails, or just kick back and relax at the beach on Elkwater Lake. Ideal for birdwatchers and animal enthusiasts, this park has more than 220 species of birds and a plethora of other flora and fauna that call this vast ecosystem home. And since this park is the highest spot in the country next to the Canadian Rocky Mountains, it is sure to offer stunning views and unparalleled photo opportunities. Whatever’s on your summer must-do list –adventure, relaxation, introspection- this park, high in the prairies, has it all.
5. Salt Spring Island, British Columbia
Named one of the top 10 islands to visit in 2014 by Travel & Leisure, Vancouver Island is a Canadian icon. But Salt Spring Island, the best known of British Columbia’s Gulf Islands, is itself a paradise, and deserves not to be missed. People here have opted to slow down and really enjoy all of life’s pleasures. A mild climate means that the rich nature and outdoor activities can be enjoyed year round; hiking and golfing are popular here. This community is also invested in the culinary and arts scene; local produce, world-class accommodations and a variety of music and artisan craft stores have people invested in this easygoing island life.
4. Penticton, British Columbia
Wine and festivals, outdoor adventure, arts and entertainment, romance, Penticton has it all. It is a place for couples, families, thrill-seekers and even food-enthusiasts. It sits in the Okanagan Valley, south of British Columbia on the shores of beautiful Skaha Lake. Due to its location, surrounded by lakes and highlands, Penticton has always been a draw for adventurists; with boating, rock climbing, and wind-surfing as some of the popular summer activities. But this city is also known for its arts scene, and with a focus on increasing its urban appeal with high class restaurants and events, more and more tourists will be flocking to the many symphonies, concerts, galleries and museums that make Penticton a city for everyone.
3. Edmonton, Alberta
Edmonton is often overshadowed by its neighbor to the south, Calgary. But it is emerging and becoming an international destination in its own right; in fact, National Geographic just listed it as one of 10 destinations to visit this summer. A gastronomic food scene, concentrating on local, farm-to-table cuisine, has Edmontonian foodies raving. Restaurants like the Three Boars Eatery and Meat offer locally inspired menus and craft beers, and places like DaDeO and Langano Skies take it’s guests on a culinary adventure from New Orleans to Ethiopia and everywhere in between. Also, Edmonton is world renowned for it’s many festivals and events held during the summer months; events like Folk Fest and K-Days bring in international tourists. Edmonton is buzzing right now, and you cannot help but be swept up in all of the excitement.
2. Kananaskis Country, Alberta
A horseback ride at sunrise followed by a canoe ride down the river and a campfire in the valley is a quintessentially perfect day in Kananaskis Country. This is cowboy country; where wild horses roam free and the stars shine bright. A vast country spanning over 4000 square kilometers, this wonderland is only 45 minutes west of Calgary. Home to some of the country’s most prestigious golf courses, towering mountains, winding canyons and sprawling lakes, Kananaskis Country is a mecca for outdoor lovers and the perfect escape from city life. And if you can tear yourself away from the countryside, Canmore has plenty of local restaurants and craft shops; a perfect end to a satisfying day out on the trails.
1. Waterton Lakes National Park, Alberta
Waterton Lakes National Park is the unspoilt, dramatic park located in the southwest corner of Alberta that is all at once a UNESCO World Heritage Site, an International Peace Park, a Biosphere Reserve and a place that is magically free of crowds. As the smallest of the Canadian Rocky Mountain parks, this is a place where the prairies reach up to touch the mountains and the animals and humans roam together as one. If golfing is your thing, be sure to take a swing at the Waterton Lakes Golf Course; if you would rather, grab a kayak and swim in the crystal clear (but cold!) Cameron Lake. This is a place where the landscape is inspiring, the people are welcoming, and the adventure is plentiful – just be prepared to have this National Park steal your heart and keep you coming back year after year.
It seems that summer camp isn’t just for kids anymore as more and more adults are looking for a way to escape reality and take some “me time”. Luckily for all of us adults, tons of companies and resorts are now coming up with “summer camp” for grown-ups. Whether you are looking to join like minded individuals to jam, or want to learn how to survive in the wilderness; there is a camp for you. We have rounded up just 10 of the amazing summer camps for adults that are available in Canada.
10. Lake Field Music Camp -Kawartha, ON
This week-long intensive musical program is catered for adult mature vocalists and instrumentalists. Get ready to learn here with over 40 ensembles and workshops in the categories of classical and jazz, with a taste of popular music. Located in the beautiful region of the Kawartha Lakes, campers here will spend a week marveling at the beauty of the region while honing their skills. Nightly concerts by campers and instructors have everyone involved, either by participating or watching. Accommodations are available in the dormitories, making it really feel like a true sleep-over camp. From meals in the dining hall to cash bars to new friends; whether you are a beginner or expert, this summer camp for music lovers promises to be a blast.
9. Camp Ouareau -St. Donat, QB
Although this camp is normally reserved for girls up to the age of 16, every year they hold two weekends of summer camp experience for women. Geared towards women with an interest in arts and/or health and wellness, there are a variety of workshops held throughout the weekend including ones on ceramics, photography, yoga and hiking, to name a few. Along with workshops, campers have full access to traditional camp activities including canoeing, kayaking, hiking, swimming and evening campfires. The cozy heated cabins sleep anywhere from four to eight guests and are outfitted with beds complete with sheets and a pillow. A family style dining room is where all the campers will come together to eat the fabulously prepared food. This weekend celebration of women takes summer camp to a whole new experience, complete with wine tastings, gourmet meals, no curfews and definitely no counselors.
8. Camp Comfort Retreats -Eastern Townships, QB
You don’t need to speak French to attend this all-inclusive luxury summer camp that caters to only adults. Located in the breathtaking Eastern Townships of Quebec is where campers can take an inner journey to find themselves through yoga, meditation and other spiritual exercise. Nestled on the shores of Lake Aylmer, the team here offers seminars, trance dances, Qigong, talking circles and guided journeys to rediscover you. The space here is designed to help you relax and replenish, offering a wood-fired sauna and hot tub to help you do just do. Take long nature walks, dive into delicious vegetarian cuisine to achieve your optimal emotional, social, physical and spiritual health alongside campers who are looking for the same growth. There won’t be any wild parties or talking late into the night here, this is solely a journey to grow yourself.
7. Zombie Camp -Bancroft, ON
If you have ever wanted to know what to do in the case of a Zombie Apocalypse, why not head to Zombie Camp for a few days. The mission of this camp is to learn practical skills which can be used while camping or during the Zompocalypse. Located in the heart of Ontario wilderness on a secluded lake, the camp has everything you have ever wanted in a summer camp. Cabins with bunk beds, a beach with a long dock, archery range, trails and all the food you can eat. Campers will learn such things as weapons combat, basic survival skills, advanced first aid techniques, tactical group organization and hand to hand combat. On the final day a simulated zombie outbreak will take place, putting your new skills to the test. This fun-filled three day summer camp is a must for anyone who believes that one day the zombies really are coming.
6. Renew Your Quest -Squamish, BC
It may not be zombie fighting or archery lessons, but this summer camp for adults is the perfect camp for those looking to rethink, refocus and re-energize. It is designed for people who have been out of school for at least five years and want to enjoy learning once again, while exploring the local area. Campers here will have class from 9 am-12 pm each day, spending the afternoon and evenings participating in guided hikes, excursions, optional workshops or simply discovering nature. There are no bunk beds and cabins here, instead campers can stay in luxurious condos and eat both on campus and at local stops. Subjects change from year to year and range from the politics of war to the biochemistry of food to global warming. Enjoy the beauty of Squamish, British Columbia while furthering your mind, the best of both worlds in our eyes.
5. SOS Wilderness Survival -Bruno, SK
If you don’t want to spend your vacation bunking in cabins or learning about wine, how about learning how to live off the land and immerse yourself in a total survival experience. SOS Wilderness Survival offers an array of courses to teach you the skills and confidence needed to survive a potentially life threatening situation. The company offers both three and five day courses depending on how serious you want to get. The combined field and classroom training will cover things such as how to construct primitive weapons, how to forage for food, how to build a shelter and how to signal for help. Campers will learn how to use the natural resources and everything else around them to survive. For anyone who does a lot of camping, works or lives in a remote area or just wants to further their skills, this is the camp for you.
4. Camp Le P’tit Bonheur –Lac Quenouille, QB
If you happen to speak French, want to unplug from technology and relive the magical summer camp experience, this is the camp you will want to sign up for. Only offered once in the fall, this magical experience will have campers roasting marshmallows, singing campfire songs and eating meals in the cafeteria. Prepare yourself to sleep in the cabins complete with bunk beds, participate in the famous volleyball game and jam around the campfire. Activities here include canoeing, climbing, hiking, kayaking, obstacle courses and more. The object of this camp is to get outdoors and remember what it is like to have fun, without checking your phone or email every five minutes. If you can’t make the fall session, they also offer a winter session complete with snow activities such as snowshoeing, skiing and awesome snowball fights.
3. Northern Edge -Algonquin, ON
This is less of a planned summer camp and more about creating experiences, whether you visit as a group, couple or individual. This environmentally conscious summer camp focuses on exploring the surrounding wilderness by offering many different retreats and adventures. From yoga specific retreats to overnight canoe adventures to stand up paddling safaris; there is truly a summer camp experience for everyone. Accommodations include cabins; either wood or canvas and all meals are based on the idea of SLOW- sustainable, local, organic and wholesome. This unplugged experience comes complete with everything you need including all outdoor equipment for activities such as paddle boards, canoes and kayaks; snacks and beverages throughout the day and an experience unlike any other. Discover why so many adults flock to Northern Edge for the ultimate summer camp experience.
2. Canadian Adventure Camp -Temagami Lakes, ON
For most of the summer this camp is a traditional lakefront camp for boys and girls, but for one week at the end of August it is transformed into an adults-only summer camp. Think of all those things you loved about summer camp- the giant water slides, the Tarzan swing, climbing walls and more; for one week you can enjoy all of those things once again. The spectacular location in Northern Ontario offers campers modern facilities, incredible food and an abundance of activities. Many campers come here to learn how to water-ski and wakeboard from the incredible instructors who are on duty from 9 am until evening. Enjoy the Starlight Lake Cruises, relaxing evenings in the lounge and the always comical and awesome talent show to close off the week on this incredible private island.
1. Two Islands Weekend -Haliburton, Ontario
This all-inclusive wilderness escape encourages the 150 men and women to let loose, dance until dawn and meet awesome people along the way. Think old-school camping experiences meets open bar and co-ed cabins. Yes we said open bar and co-ed cabins. Activities here range from cocktail making to kayaking to wine tasting to swimming and yoga. At night is when the party really gets started with late night dodge-ball, scavenger hunts, sing-a-longs and dance parties are all known to happen. Accommodations are cabins which sleep 10-16 in bunk beds, complete with their own bathroom and nearby shower. Food and drink are provided and A-List chefs collaborate on dinners. Did we mention that all alcohol is included in the price? This awesome summer camp getaway sells out every year so it pays to book your space sooner than later and experience a once-in-a-life opportunity.
With a country so diverse in tastes and cultures, it’s no wonder that Canadians develop and attract a unique breed of food enthusiasts who find cause to celebrate any and all things pertaining to the culinary arts. Cold winters and remote locations have no bearing on the Canadian foodie spirit, with food-centered events highlighting every season of the year and spanning across provinces coast to coast. From hilarious celebrations of Canadian food staples to sophisticated culinary and tasting events, here are 7 of the most awesome food and culinary festivals to check out in this incredible country.
7. Prince Edward Island Fall Flavors Festival
A month-long culinary event, the Prince Edward Island Fall Flavors Festival takes place this year from September 4 to October 4. Featuring a number of small sub-festivals, namely the Beef N’ Blues, International Shellfish Festival and Lobster Party on the Beach (yum!), the festival also boasts a myriad of other events across the island consisting of both educational and cooking/tasting components. This year’s event is already poised to be one for the books, with big name Food Network chefs such as Michael Smith, Lynn Crawford and Anna Olson (among others) all slated to host a variety of drool-worthy culinary experiences.
6. The Great Saskatchewan Mustard Festival
As the country’s largest producer of mustard, it’s no wonder that this province holds a festival to celebrate all things yellow. Organizers invite tons of local chefs to exhibit their best creations using this indispensable ingredient and battle each other for the coveted “Yellow Chef’s Coat” awarded to the People’s Choice best dish. Combined with an awesome lineup of music, and a kid-friendly atmosphere, this is one end-of-August event you won’t want to miss.
5. Ottawa PoutineFest
With a tagline like #spreadthecurd, it’s pretty easy to read the vibe of this May festival in Ottawa dedicated solely to the mighty Canadian Poutine. It is here that you can indulge in both tradition and crazy poutine flavors showcasing everything from Lobster to Caribbean Fusion. Add in some live music and an abundance of poutine-centered activities like a Poutine Eating Contest, Potato Sack Races, Spud Up Relay and Potato Shoot Out, and you’ve got yourself one memorable, truly Canadian food-loving party.
4. Eat! Vancouver
This eight day celebration of Vancouver’s extremely diverse culinary scene concluded a successful 13th run in May of 2015. Taking place at various venues in Vancouver’s downtown core, the festival focuses specifically on food and cooking and hosts a variety of hands-on workshops and cooking classes, as well as a Canadian Flavors Gala, Dinner Series, Hospitality Symposium and Pastry Tasting and Panel.
3. A Taste of Niagara-on-the-Lake
Fitting every definition of a culinary adventure, this three day event features the top five Niagara restaurants and the top five wineries, with tastings ranging from cheese and wine to full course gourmet meals. Also included is a shuttle between each location, embodying the event’s nature as a true food and wine tour. In fact, having become so popular in recent years, organizers have been forced to hold the event three times a year, with opportunities to attend now available in January, March and April. Capacity is limited, so if this event is up your alley, make sure to move quickly to snag one of the 130 coveted tickets per date.
Toronto’s answer to the growing popularity of prix fixe culinary events, the next installment of Winterlicious will be held January 29 – February 11, 2016, and will feature the participation of over 200 restaurants across the city’s diverse neighborhoods. The festival series also offers a wide variety of special events centered on the Winterlicious theme, including culinary classes and demonstrations, dinner theater, tasting and pairings and intimate chef workshops.
1. Dine Out Vancouver Festival
One of the biggest food events in the country, Dine Out Vancouver is a 17 day culinary extravaganza that sees 277 of Vancouver’s very best restaurants providing diners with delectable prix fixe menus. First held in 2002, the January event has grown to attract thousands of foodies (both local and visiting) and features over 30 one-time events available only during the course of the festival. Check out next year’s event (January 15-31, 2016) for unforgettable meals paired with local wines, brews and cocktails, and a host of events including tastings, film feasts, food tours and food-photography seminars (we all do it).
Canada’s festival culture is as diverse as its landscape, with a history dating back hundreds of years to when festivals were held to commemorate seasonal changes. Today, this culture has expanded to include over 200 major festivals, a hefty chunk of which are dedicated primarily to music and the celebration of folk, metal, country, EDM and everything in between. So, as the summer approaches the mid-way mark, and you find yourself geared up for your umpteenth festival experience, or, you’re just finally able to flee the office for some summer fun, EscapeHere breaks down the selection of music fests happening in Canada this August:
18. Sunfest Country Music Festival, Cowichan Valley BC
July 30 – August 2
15 years in the making, Sunfest started out as a 1 day rock concert which has since expanded into Vancouver Island’s biggest country music festival. Bringing in over 40,000 music lovers to the Cowichan Valley each year, the event not only showcases world-renowned talent and local artists, but strives to leave an economic impact by increasing the area’s exposure and donating proceeds to local organizations. This year’s festival is scheduled to have 12 main stage performers, including Lee Brice, Keith Urban and Jack Connolly.
17. Osheaga, Montreal QC
July 31 – August 2
With 2015 marking the 10th anniversary of this festival’s particular salute to music and the visual arts, festival-goers are undoubtedly in for the experience of a lifetime. The event, which annually attracts tens of thousands of music fans to Parc Jean Drapeau on Montreal’s Saint Helen’s Island, broke attendance records in 2013 when it brought in an astounding 135,00 people over the 3-day period. The diverse lineup of big-name acts mixed with emerging local and national talent is once again poised for success, with over 100 entertainers set to perform on numerous outdoor stages this August long weekend. The 2015 lineup includes FKA twigs, Florence and the Machine, Marina and the Diamonds, Weezer, Kendrick Lamar, Young the Giant, The Black Keys, Charli XCX and Tyler, the Creator.
16. Kaslo Jazz Etc. Summer Festival, Kaslo BC
July 31 – August 2
24 years strong, the Kazlo Jazz Etc. Summer Music Festival is held each year in picturesque Kaslo Bay Park, nestled in front of Kootenay Lake and the Purcell mountain range. The longest running music event in the area brings together approximately 5,000 people and over 20 jazz, blues and Latin performers, fostering a laid-back atmosphere of family fun. The 3-day festival features ticketless public access every day before 5 pm, tons of local food vendors, family workshops and children’s events and performances in the children’s entertainment tent. With this year’s lineup of established and up-and-coming talent, Kaslo Jazz Fest is truly a family beach party destination.
15. Big Valley Jamboree, Camrose AB
July 30 – August 2
5-time winner of the Country Music Association’s Country Music Event of the Year is the primary reason country music fans from all over flock to Camrose during Canada’s August long weekend. Not only are big names performing on the main stage all day long, but the festival is packed with activities during all 4 days, including songwriter’s workshops, bull-riding, a karaoke contest and a marketplace trade-show. The 25,000 person daily attendance is easy to understand, particularly when you take in this year’s jaw-dropping lineup: Dallas Smith, The Band Perry, Reba and Brad Paisley, to name a few.
14. Veld Music Festival, Toronto ON
August 1 & 2
Established in 2012, Veld Music Festival has grown to become Canada’s largest electronic music fest, attracting upwards of 50,000 people every year to Downsview Park in Toronto. So much more than just a giant electro-dance party, Veld showcases the very best in EDM, with the 2015 lineup presenting over 30 internationally acclaimed performers including Deadmau5, Hardwell, The Chainsmokers, Kaskade and Nicky Romero.
13. Canmore Folk Music Festival, Canmore AB
August 1 – 3
With the inaugural event taking place in 1978, this is Alberta’s longest running folk music festival. Over the past 37 years, crowds have been drawn to Centennial Park in Canmore to chill out and enjoy the mesmerizing story-telling and musical artistry characteristic of folk entertainers. Today, the event has expanded to include over 30 acts across 3 stages, and expects to attract upwards of 15,000 people, all while providing alcohol-free family fun. Kids will be kept busy with a free children’s concert as well as a kids area that boasts crafts, a bouncy castle and a climbing wall, and festival goers of all ages will appreciate this year’s once-again all-star lineup; Juno award-winner Amelia Curran and Grammy winner Mike Farris are both slated to perform.
12. Manitoulin Country Fest, Little Current ON
August 6 – 9
In its 9th year running, this country music fest held annually in Canada’s cottage country has built a reputation as having one of the friendliest and most family-oriented festival atmospheres across Canada. The organizers work hard to create a sense of comfort and above-and-beyond care for both the entertainers and the attendees, fostering that sense of small-town love that makes the event so popular. The 2015 festival schedule consists of 14 musical acts featuring Tom Cochrane, Gord Bamford and the Canucky Bluegrass Boys, as well as a selection of vendors and a family fun zone.
11. Lunenburg Folk Harbour Festival, Lunenburg NS
August 6 – 9
If you find yourself on the East Coast this August, this highly interactive folk festival is a must. Not only is it held primarily at the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Lunenburg, Nova Scotia, but it creates an overwhelming sense of community involvement, with workshops and additional concerts held at various venues throughout the city. In previous years festival attendance has reached 3,000, with increasingly popular evening and Sunday morning main-stage performances.
10. Boots and Hearts, Oro-Medonte ON
August 6 – 9
This music and camping event at the Burl`s Creek Event Grounds in Oro-Medonte, Ontario is one of the largest and most anticipated country music festivals in the nation. The three-day event promises not only the best in Canadian and global country music, but various other events including a bull riding competition, late night dance party and emerging artists showcase. Alumni of the festival include Tim McGraw, Miranda Lambert, and Jason Aldean, with this year’s line-up set to impress with over 30 entertainers headlined by Brad Paisley, Eric Church and Florida Georgia Line. With attendance in previous years topping 30,000 people, this is one event country fans won’t want to miss.
9. Regina Folk Festival, Regina SK
August 7 – 9
This festival has been around for an astounding 46 years, beginning in 1969 at the Regina campus of the University of Saskatchewan and held annually at various indoor locations before moving to Victoria Park in 1985. Since then, the festival has drawn over 20,000 music lovers each year to its free daytime concerts and workshops, evening headliners and artists market, beer garden and children’s area. This year’s event is sure to be another one for the ages, featuring over 30 acts, 15 food vendors and main stage headliners Blue Rodeo and Sinead O’Connor.
8. Heavy Montreal, Montreal QC
August 7 – 9
Not only the largest heavy metal and hard rock music festival in Canada, Heavy Montreal is one of the largest events of its kind in the world, drawing over 70,000 people to Parc Jean-Drapeau each year. This festival is known not only for the big-name acts that grace the main festival venue, but also the smaller events that take place over the weekend at different venues across the city. 2015 marks the 7th edition of the festival and is sure to cause some sort of moshing frenzy with the mind-blowing lineup: over 70 acts including Korn, Alexisonfire, Faith No More, Iggy Pop, Billy Talent and Slipknot.
7. Squamish Valley Music Festival, Squamish BC
August 7 – 9
First started in 2010, the Squamish Valley Music Festival in British Columbia is one of Canada’s most successful outdoor music events. Taking place on Centennial Field, Logger Sports Grounds and Hendrickson Field in beautiful Squamish Valley, the festival offers up an unparalleled assortment of entertainers from all music genres for 3 days of performances, backstage tours and artist meet and greets. The festival also boasts 4 campsites ranging in options from family-friendly with noise curfews, to, shall we say, not-so-family friendly, all within walking distance of the festival. With over 60 acts on 4 stages, it’s easy to see how the event draws crowds upwards of 100,000. This year’s lineup features headliners Sam Smith, Drake and Mumford and Sons.
6. Shambhala, Salmo River Valley, BC
August 7 – 10
During this August weekend, the Salmo River Ranch turns into a temporary city of over 10,000 and is well worth the 655 km trek from Vancouver. Started in 1998, with around 500 attendees, the festival has grown into a highly anticipated event for the west coast electronic music scene. It sports almost an underground vibe, and prides itself on existing without corporate sponsorship and providing festival goers with amazing locally sourced art and organic food. The festival also features 6 unique stages, with themes created by their individual stage directors and aims to showcase the best in local and international EDM artists. This event is truly 4 days of “fun on the farm” with over 300 entertainers and free parking and camping options.
5. MEME, Winnipeg MB
August 13 – 16
A truly unique festival experience, Manitoba Electronic Music Exhibition (MEME), is an annual event that celebrates international electronic music as well as digital arts and learning. The 4 day festival features free daytime concerts at Manitoba’s open air performance venue known as “The Cube” where the 100,000+ event attendees can enjoy a sample of house, techno, deep dub, psychedelic, world, nu-jazz, ambient and experimental sounds. The free concert series is followed nightly by world-class “After Cube” events (tickets required) that are promoted as “electronic music and multimedia extravaganzas” and are held at various venues across the city including the Winnipeg Art Gallery and the Pantages Playhouse.
4. IleSoniq, Montreal QC
August 14 & 15
Once again gracing the festival-famous event grounds of Parc Jean-Drapeau in Montreal, the 2nd annual IleSoniq is an electronic dance music fest that also offers up performances in hip hop, baile funk, house and most other electronic sub-genres. The electrifying 2-day event boasts over 50 acts set to perform on 3 stages, with an audience of around 17,500 per day. The 2015 lineup is one that you won’t want to miss, featuring Deadmau5, Azealia Banks, and Kiesza.
3. Interstellar Rodeo, Winnipeg MB
August 14 – 16
In its inaugural year, the Interstellar Rodeo is being held at The Forks in Winnipeg, and promises to deliver a one-of-a-kind “sophisticated” festival experience of unique music paired with fine wines and local food. The 1-stage event aims to keep things sweet, simple, and completely unforgettable, with a wine list curated specifically for each of the 25 performers. Headliners include Sinead O’Connor (Charles Smith 2012 Eve Chardonnay), Dwight Yoakam (Cameron Hughes Lot 456 2012 Tempranillo/Malbec/Grenache) and Blue Rodeo (Southbrook 2013 Transitions Chardonnay).
2. Riverfest, Elora ON
August 14 – 16
The 10,000+ attendance of this festival in Bissell Park on the banks of the Grand River is a far cry from the 900 patrons that graced the grounds for its inaugural run 7 years ago. Since then, the event held annually on the 3rd weekend in August has expanded to host over 30 world-renowned entertainers, with Tokyo Police Club, the New Pornographers and Alan Doyle of Great Big Sea all scheduled to perform this year. The festival is about much more than just music, featuring a wide selection of food trucks, arts and crafts vendors and a bustling farmer’s market.
1. Time Festival, Toronto ON
This 1 day all-ages event at Garrison Commons in historic Fort York is a must if you’re in and around the Toronto area mid-August. The festival attracts lovers of all genres, presenting 11 acts that range from urban, alternative rock, dance and pop. The 2015 edition will feature Die Antwoord, Mac Demarco, Ariel Pink and Alison Wonderland.
Honorable Mentions: The Edmonton Folk Festival (Aug. 6-9) and Music in the Fields (Aug. 28-29) are also must-attend music events in Canada, but unfortunately, due to the overwhelming popularity of the festivals, 2015 tickets for both were completely sold out at the time of writing this article.