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Canada Inspirations 2018

Where in Canada tops your travel wish list ? Quebec City / Northern Lights / Inside Passage Cruising / Canadian Rockies / Polar Bears / Calgary Stampede / Niagara Falls

Publisher’s greeting


anada tops the travel wishlist for a huge number of YourLifeChoices’ 250,000 members. Many have visited already, and are keen to return. Others are yet to discover the delights of this vast North American nation, so we conducted a special survey in July 2017 to drill down and learn more about your next Canadian adventure. Here are the results of the survey, with some great practical insights into getting the most out of your Canadian touring.

Whether you choose a guided tour, self-drive or independent exploring, this special eGuide covers some great ways to meet locals, wine and dine affordably and learn much more about Canadian history and culture. YourLifeChoices writers are in frequent contact with Australia’s Destination Canada team to ensure we keep up-to-date with new events, activities and opportunities for baby boomer travellers.

to research some of the quirkier, fun ways to meet real Canadians. We travel to learn, and we trust this Canada Inspirations 2018 eGuide will encourage you to do the same this year. I’ll see you there! Kaye Fallick, Publisher

We also try to visit Canada as frequently as possible in order

Contents Published by: Indigo Arch Pty Ltd Publisher: Kaye Fallick Contributing Editor: Debbie McTaggart Copy Editors: Olga Galacho & Lucy Fallick Contributing Writers: Leon Della Bosca & Jocelyn Pride Designer: Word-of-Mouth Creative Phone: 61 3 9885 4935 Email: Web: All rights reserved, no parts of this book may be printed, reproduced, stored in a retrieval system or transmitted, in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, recording or otherwise, without the permission in writing from the publisher, with the exception of short extractions for review purposes. IMPORTANT DISCLAIMER No person should rely on the contents of this publication without first obtaining advice from a qualified professional person. This publication is distributed on the terms and understanding that (1) the publisher, authors, consultants and editors are not responsible for the results of any actions taken on the basis of information in this publication, nor for any omission from this publication; and (2) the publisher is not engaged in rendering legal, accounting, financial, professional or other advice or services. The publisher and the authors, consultants and editors expressly disclaim all and any liability and responsibility to any person, whether a subscriber or reader of this publication or not, in respect of anything, and of the consequences of anything done or omitted to be done by any such person in reliance, whether wholly or partially, upon the whole or any part of the contents of this publication. Without limiting the generality of the above, no publisher, author, consultant or editor shall have any responsibility for any act of omission of any author, consultant or editor. Copyright Indigo Arch Pty Ltd 2018


More bang for your buck Savvy seniors can save so much


Great Canadian Bucket List 2017-2018 Your top 10 Canadian adventures


Diary of Hidden Gems Canada’s cultural calendar makes any time of year the best time to visit


Ten amazing places to stay Exploring the unlikeliest of accommodation


Canada’s rich history First Nations’ settlements, gold rush fever and Celtic culture are waiting to be experienced


Island-hopping in the east A ‘fins and fiddles’ cruise in the Maritimes


Local taste sensations Time to try a touton, maple taffy or Newfie Jiggs?


Face to face with Canada’s wild side Manitoban insider Lynda Gunter shares her love for Churchill’s polar bears


Driving the Cabot Trail Enjoy the rugged scenery and rich Celtic heritage of Cape Breton Island


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More bang for your buck Grabbing yourself a deal to get to Canada is the first step to an affordable holiday – making your money go further once you’re there is just as important.


he good news for Australian visitors is that the Canadian and Australian dollar are almost at parity, so it’s relatively easy to work out exchange rates. Also, the Canadians are incredibly generous with discounts for those over 60. Even if you’ve just turned 55, you shouldn't be afraid to flash your passport and ask for a discount. To ensure your holiday money lasts as long as your trip, we’ve uncovered the best discounts on travel, accommodation, dining and national park entry across Canada.

VIA Rail Getting around Canada by rail is one of the truly great ways to travel across this vast country. With clean, punctual and spacious trains, you really don't need to opt for more than an economy fare when you travel with VIA Rail. Offering a 10 per cent discount to those over 60, you can buy VIA Rail tickets from ticket counters throughout Canada.

Parks Canada If you’re planning on visiting several of the superb national parks (think Banff, Jasper, etc) then buying a Parks Canada Annual Pass could be cost-effective. If you’re over 65, you’ll only pay CA$57.90, which includes international shipping and is accepted at more than 100 parks across Canada.

Other discounts on offer Scattered across Canada are many hotels and restaurants offering seniors a discount, so long as you can show proof of age. Here are a few of them: • Fairmont Hotels and Resorts – discounts vary depending on property, so ask for a discount when booking

Best Western Best Western Hotels are commonplace throughout Canada and offer 10 per cent off rates. Many hotels are also providing extras, such as early check in or late check out, room upgrades and complimentary breakfast for those over 55.

Greyhound If you opt to jump on an iconic Greyhound bus while you’re in Canada, remember to ask for a senior fare if you're over 62 years of age. Already an affordable way to cross the country, you can save a further 20 per cent on an unrestricted coach fare.

• Marriott Hotels – 15 per cent off your room rate if you’re over 62 • Radisson Hotels – 10 per cent discount on standard rates if you’re over 50 – select ‘Senior Citizen Rate’ under rate type when booking online • A&W fast food restaurant – 10 per cent off food purchases if you’re over 60 • Golden Griddle – 10 per cent discount on meals (excluding alcohol) if you’re over 55 • Museums and galleries – simply ask for a seniors discount if you’re over 55 – savings and discounts vary. YourLifeChoices Canada Inspirations 2018



Northern Lights The aurora borealis is Nature’s surreal other-worldly display of coloured lights.

We asked, 4550 members voted, so here it is, the inaugural Great Canadian Bucket List 2017-18. And the top ten adventures are:

11.. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8. 9. 10.

Rocky Mountaineer Train Niagara Falls Banff Inside Passage Cruise Lake Louise Canadian Rockies Polar Bears Calgary Stampede Northern Lights Icefields Parkway

winner And the top 5 cities:

11.. 2. 3. 4. 5.

Vancouver Quebec Toronto Montreal Banff



YourLifeChoices Canada Inspirations 2018


Drive, ski, hike, or snowshoe these mighty mountains all seasons of the year.

Inside Passage Cruise


Sail through this network of deep sea channels alongside western British Columbia and Alaska.

A 230-kilometre road trip through the heart of the Canadian Rockies.


T p da ch rac and

A tiny hamlet with a huge historic hotel and featuring glacier fed turquoise lakes.

Icefields Parkway


Canadian Rockies


Rocky Mountaineer eer ain Train All aboard this outright winner, on the ‘First passage to the west’ from Vancouver to Banff.

10 5 Banff

Lake Louise



C St

Banff A resort town dominated by the mighty Rockies, with culture, fine dining and wildlife.

The world’s biggest party with line ancing, rodeos, uck wagon cing, arts, crafts d more.

Calgary tampede


Polar Bears Travel in the unique Tundra Buggy to get up close and personal with a polar bear

Quebec City Montreal






Niagara Falls The mist may freeze the waterfall, but your heart will glow at this extraordinary sight.

YourLifeChoices Canada Inspirations 2018


Diary of Hidden Gems Canada is a country for all seasons. Summer, winter, spring or fall there is so much fun to be had in all provinces and territories. Here’s our take on where you can go to meet the locals.






Dine Out Vancouver: Jan19 – Feb 4 17 days of gastronomic fun with food, wine, beer, celebrity chefs and neighbourhood food tours. It’s all about community, so get set to meet the locals.

Stay up to date on British Columbia on the Hello BC website. british-columbia/thingsto-do/festivals-events/ all-events.aspx

Yukon Sourdough Rendez-vous Festival: Feb 16-25 Since 1945, local ‘sourdoughs’ have celebrated winter with beard growing, hair freezing, Can Can and burlesque. A fun festival with wacky activities and characters created to overcome cabin fever.

Boasting year-round beauty and stunning wilderness, Yukon is truly ‘larger than life’.


Montreal en Lumiere: Feb 22 – Mar 4 A cultural highlight in the winter months, there’s food, dance, circus, theatres and over 700 artists. Nuit Blanche is for ‘nighthawks’ and includes a 7km underground art circuit.

French-speaking Quebec is a wonderful mélange of Native Indian, North American and European culture. www.quebecoriginal. com/en


Ottawa Tulip Festival May: 11-21 Signalling the arrival of Spring in Canada’s capital city, the original tulips were a thank you from the people of Holland in gratitude for safe haven for their royal family during WW2. It’s now the largest tulip festival in the world. Visit and see why.

Canada’s second largest province has a wealth of things to see and do. en/home

British Columbia


YourLifeChoices Canada Inspirations 2018





George St Festival: July 26 – 1 Aug 1 2018 The ‘biggest little street’ in North America is in downtown St John’s. Here 50,000 people party in Newfoundland the iconic pubs, bars and restaurants enjoying live and Labrador music, craft beers and the renowned Newfoundland hospitality. Book early as it’s a super popular event. festivals-and-events/211268 or


Manitoba August



Nov – Jan

Yukon River Quest: June 27 – July 1 The so-called ‘Race to the Midnight Sun’ is an annual canoe, kayak and standup paddle board marathon more than 700km down the Yukon River from Dawson City to Whitehorse. If you’re not a racer, you can enjoy the fun by volunteering. This remote Atlantic Province has the prettiest towns and the wildest coastlines. www. newfoundlandlabrador. com

Calgary Stampede: July 6-15 The biggest party in the northern hemisphere has There’s a lot morphed from an agricultural show with chuck wagon happening in Alberta. racing and rodeo, to a non-stop celebration of all things Canadian. Impossible to summarise, this festival au should be experienced at least once in a lifetime. Folklorama: August 5-18 In Winnipeg, Manitoba, Folklorama is a dynamic, multicultural arts festival highlighting diverse cuisines, music and dance.

Mountains, lakes, prairies and forests make Manitoba an outdoor wonderland.


Edmonton International Fringe Festival: Aug 16-26 A celebration of risk, craft and community, the 37th fringe will be held in the old Strathcona neighbourhood of Edmonton.


Toronto International Film Festival: Sept 6-16 Movie fans will love this feast of red-carpet celebs, new releases and quirky art house cinema. Book early for the best seats and enjoy the street festival.

Nova Scotia


Celtic Colours Festival: Oct 6-14 The autumn colours of Nova Scotia need to be seen to be believed. So visit in October when you can combine your touring with this festival of music and community featuring performance, workshops and delicious lobster suppers.

The Maritime province of Nova Scotia deserves a week at least – find out why.

Winter Festival of Lights, Niagara: Nov 18- Jan 31 It’s smart to keep Spanning 8km of stunning illuminations across the parks an eye on Niagara and islands of Niagara Falls from dusk to midnight is an Falls activities. www. Ontarian winter tradition. Combine it with the Niagara Ice wine festival in late January. YourLifeChoices Canada Inspirations 2018


Ten amazing places to stay

Want to experience the real Canada? Here are our top suggestions for great places to spend a night or two.


anada breaks all the rules when it comes to ‘unique’ as so many of its iconic places to stay simply cannot be experienced elsewhere. Here we highlight our favourite hotels, lodges, monasteries, B&Bs and even a boat!


Fogo Island Inn, Newfoundland If the earth actually had corners, the Fogo Island Inn would sit on one of them, giving you a sense that you’re actually at the end of the world. All 29 suites have floor-to-ceiling views of the sea and sky, ensuring that architect Todd Saunders’ design complements the surrounding environment.


Great Bear Lodge, Port Hardy, BC Owned by fellow Aussies, the Great Bear Lodge can only be reached by water. With grizzly bears as neighbours, and salmon caught from the river served at dinner, this is getting back to nature in the best way possible.


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Photo: Courtesy Canadian Tourism Commission

The Train Station Inn, Tatamagouche, Nova Scotia You don't have to be a train lover to stay here, but you will be by the time you leave. Purchased in 1974 by 18-year-old Jimmy LeFresne, you can now sleep in one of the refurbished box cars or cabooses and enjoy a meal in the dining car. Monastere, Quebec City If you’re looking to get away from it all, even if just for a night, then why not retreat to a former nun’s cell at the 17th century Le Monastère des Augustine?


Hôtel de Glace, Quebec City You may never have considered a night in an igloo, however, hotels don't come much ‘cooler’ than this. And you won't have to freeze, as all rooms come with proper beds and suites even have a roaring fire.


Claramount Inn, Picton Built in 1904 by Edward M. Young, for his young wife Clara, the inn overlooks Picton Harbour and is the perfect place from which to explore the local lanes and woods, just as Anne of Green Gables did.

… why not retreat to a former nun’s cell?

7 8

Dalton Trail Lodge, Yukon Follow Jack London’s Call of the wild and explore Kluane National Park – try fishing, hiking or white-water rafting, then relax in this true Yukonstyle lodge.


Fairmont Le Chateau Frontenac, Quebec City With its views of the St. Lawrence River, the Fairmont Le Chateau Frontenac lays claim to being the world’s most photographed hotel. As well as indulging in the luxury of the hotel’s recent refurbishment, why not take one of the daily guided tours of this historic building?


Flora Bora Forest Lodging, Emma Lake, Saskatchewan If you’ve ever fancied glamping, then this is the place to give it a go. Located in the heart of the Boreal Forest, each yurt sleeps four and even has its own bathroom, kitchen and patio – now that is luxurious camping.

Houseboat on 1000 Islands, Ontario In waters once patrolled by pirates and prohibition bootleggers, why not spend a getaway amongst lighthouses, historic castles, maritime museums and with world-class fishing and diving? There’s also shopping and on-the-water dining right on your ‘doorstep’.

YourLifeChoices Canada Inspirations 2018


Canada’s rich history Canada is a total delight for history buffs, as Jocelyn Pride has discovered. On foot in Quebec City With four hundred years of history crammed into the walls of North America’s only fortified city, UNESCO listed Quebec City is the jewel in the crown. Joined by a funicular, the upper and lower parts of the city are best explored by foot. If you don’t have time to walk the whole wall (around 4.6km) focus on the area around the straightout-of-a-movie Saint Louis Gate. Stand on the 18th century battlefield of the French and British that determined the future of Canada at Parc des Champsde-Bastille and spend time at La Citadelle, an archetypal fort still used today as a military base.

Every turn in the narrow cobbled streets of Lower Town is a leaf out of a history book. Enjoy the splendour of Place Royale, Basilique Notre-Dame deQuebec and Musee du Fort then wander along Vieux Port, the St Lawrence river front or take a boat ride for stunning views of the city.

Gold rush fever in the Yukon Imagine trekking over mountains of ice and snow with the chance of meeting your death through avalanche, disease or encounters with bears and moose – not to mention heartbreak. Such was the lure of one word – gold! After the precious metal was discovered near Dawson City in 1896, more than 100,000 stampeders descended and started the Klondike gold rush.

Fast forward to today and Dawson City is still covered in gold dust – of the tourism kind. Tread the boardwalks steeped in history and rub shoulders with characters straight from Jack London’s novel The Call of the Wild. Head to the Downtown Hotel for a taste of the grizzly historic ‘best drink in town’ – a Sourtoe Cocktail. An innocent combo of a Canadian whisky and honey is laced with a kicker – a mummified human toe that, to make it count, must touch your lips.

Finding First Nations in Montreal As the second largest city in Canada, Montreal is a thriving metropolis where old meets new and history sits beside innovation. Ideally located at the union of the mighty St Lawrence and the Ottowa rivers, trade has always been the buzz of the city.

TOP 5 historic regions

1. Quebec 2. Yukon 3. Montreal 4. Rockies 5. Nova Scotia

winner 10

YourLifeChoices Canada Inspirations 2018

Another beautiful drive that takes in the seafaring history is the Lighthouse Trail. Don’t miss Lunenburg where 70 per cent of the original 18th and 19th century buildings are still intact. So brightly painted, King Street is affectionately known as ‘UNESCO fresco’.

Explore old Montreal, a labyrinth of cobbled streets winding around the waterfront. Basilique Notre Dame is renowned as the most beautiful church in North America, while Chateau Ramezay is a nod to the early settlers of the city, and don’t miss strolling amid the architecture of everyone’s fave neighbourhood – Plateau Mont Royal.

Building a railway … through treacherous mountain ranges … and over thundering rivers was no easy feat. And for an authentic Iroquois cultural experience, head out of Montreal to the Tsiionhiakwatha/ Droulers Archaeological Site,

where you can visit more than 150,000 artefacts circa 1540. If you’re brave enough, you can even sleep overnight on bear skins in a traditional long house.

Meeting the settlers of Nova Scotia Narrowing down your experiences in this kaleidoscope of cultures is a matter of ‘time’. A little smaller than Tasmania and with just-asquiet roads, driving is the quickest way to cover ground. If you’re into Scottish history, the picturesque harbour town of Pictou was the landing spot for the first wave of Scottish settlers who arrived onboard the tall ship, The Hector (a replica is in port). Chéticamp, a French speaking township on the famed Cabot Trail, celebrates its Acadian heritage and Louisbourg is a full-on French fortress on Cape Breton Island where you can immerse yourself into life just as it was here in the early 1700s.

Building a railroad through the Rockies In 1881 William Van Horne, President of the Canadian Pacific Railway said, “If we can’t export the scenery, we’ll import the tourists.” And that they did. Building a railway to link east and west Canada through treacherous mountain ranges, across deep ravines and over thundering rivers was no easy feat. Riding the rails through the Rockies was a treat back then and more than 135 years later, on the Rocky Mountaineer, it still is. The magnificent railroad hotels dotted along the routes were built to attract the wealthy to stay a while in romantic castle-like settings. The most famous of all the ‘Castles in the Rockies’ is the Banff Springs Hotel, a fairy tale setting in the Banff National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage site – visited by Queen Elizabeth II, Marilyn Monroe and Sir Winston Churchill to name but a few.

YourLifeChoices Canada Inspirations 2018


Island-hopping around Eastern Canada

PhotoS: Jocelyn Pride

There are many cruises that operate around Eastern Canada, but if you’re looking for a real adventure, Jocelyn Pride recommends this island expedition.


sand bar in the middle of what’s known as ‘The Graveyard of the Atlantic’ might not seem the ideal spot for a cruise ship excursion. But this isn’t a typical cruise, ship or excursion. When Andrew Prossin, owner and managing director of One Ocean Expeditions (OOE), a Canadian-based company specialising in expeditions to the Arctic and Antarctica, came up with the idea of the 10-night Fins and Fiddles cruise around the Maritimes region of East Canada and beyond, landing on Sable Island was high on his wish list. “This is my backyard. I grew up in Sydney (in Cape Breton, Nova Scotia) and the seafaring stories sparked my imagination,” says Andrew, an unassuming diehard adventurer type. “Fewer people have stepped ashore here, than Antarctica.” Located 175km from the mainland, the 45kmlong slip of sand, notorious for blanketing fog 12

YourLifeChoices Canada Inspirations 2018

and pulverising winds, has baffled navigators for centuries. More than 350 shipwrecks lie on the ocean floor – swallowed by sand and time. As we wander the island, reality blurs into fantasy. Sable Island, Canada’s newest National Park, is not only home to thousands of grey seals and birdlife, but, when I catch my first glimpse of one of the 560 wild horses that roam the sand dunes, I feel like I’m in a childhood dream. Led by an archetypal black stallion, snorting and tossing his head, a small band of horses prance towards us before settling down to munch on the dune grasses. Like me, for many of the guests on board OOE’s 92-berth Akademik Ioffe, an ice-strengthened vessel built (and still used) for research in the polar regions, Sable Island is a highlight. But every day on this ‘it’s-not-a-cruise-it’s-an-expedition-with-a-hot-tub’ is a feast for the senses with a change of scenery, province and once even a country.

With ages spanning eight decades and a range of fitness levels and interests, guests are able to choose their own adventure style. Bikes, stand up paddleboards and kayaks are ingeniously loaded by crane onto Zodiacs as we island hop our way around this richly diverse region. Immersed in the wonder of nature, we hike the trails of Parc National Ile Bonaventure to stand in awe and watch row upon row of northern gannets on nest; cycle through tiny fishing villages over hills ablaze with brightlycoloured cottages in Iles de la Madeleine; paddle kayaks across the glassy water through the ochrecoloured arch of Roche Percé; stand on the Earth’s mantle in the UNESCO-listed Gros Morne National Park; sit silently in Zodiacs surrounded by the sound of whale blows and fluke slaps.

One night we’re invited to a ‘kitchen party’ by the entire population. There’s also the day in ‘France’ where the smell of fresh baguettes wafts through the cobbled streets of St Pierre et Miquelon, the last remaining village of what was once French occupation of the region, and for literary lovers it’s all about Anne of Green Gables on Prince Edward Island.

When to go: Due to the popularity of the 10-night Canadian Signature experience Fins and Fiddles itinerary, two expeditions (round trip from Louisbourg, Nova Scotia) will run on board the Akademik Ioffe in 2018 – 4-14 July and 14-24 July. And for golf enthusiasts, the new and unique Fins and Sticks itinerary from 27 June – 4 July (round trip from Louisbourg), is an opportunity to brush up your stroke on some of the most beautiful golf courses in North America. Also starting in Louisbourg and disembarking in Iqaluit (with flight to Ottawa included in the cruise price) is the 10-night Labrador and Torngat Explorer expedition (24 July – 3 August) on board the Akademik Sergey Valivov. This expedition takes in part of the Maritimes and extends into the higher Arctic. Prices for a twin, private ensuite cabin on the East Canada itineraries start from AUD$5690 per person, and include all meals, drinks (alcohol extra), use of gumboots and wet weather gear (just in case), transfers and entrance fees. Discover more at:

Between landings there’s time to catch a breath, enjoy the yoga and massage program, soak in the hot tub, relax with a book in the library or a wine in the bar and indulge in the locally sourced sumptuous meals. The ‘fiddles’ part of the expedition comes in the form of music, an important part of the culture of the East Canadian. Nights are spent in good old-fashioned form with singing, dancing, made up games like ‘how big is it?’, fire-side chats and discussions led by scientists and experts. One night we’re invited to a ‘kitchen party’ by the entire population (80) of Francois (pronounced France-war) – the cute-as-a-button village accessible only by water tucked into the end of a fjord in Newfoundland. Arms linked, we jig and step dance the night away in the local community hall revelling in the music … a perfect way to appreciate this beautiful part of the world. YourLifeChoices Canada Inspirations 2018


Canada’s taste sensations Canadian food is heavily influenced by its rich First Nations’ history and successive waves of European immigrants. To give you a ‘taste’ of what to expect, here are our favourites. Touton – Newfoundland As is often the case in cold climates, fried bread or dough is a staple of many diets. In Newfoundland, the carbohydrate hit comes in the form of a very tasty, but naughty, type of traditional pancake called a ‘touton’. Made using leftover bread dough, the touton is fried in butter or

pork fat, to produce a thick pancake that is crispy on the outside and has a soft chewy centre. To give an extra energy boost, the touton is often served with dark molasses or corn syrup, maybe even fried crunchy pork back fat, at breakfast time. However, they’re also perfect for elevenses or to curb those 3pm hunger pangs.

Cod cheeks – Newfoundland Fish cheeks used to be the part of the fish that fishermen would take home to their families – unaware of how tender and tasty they are, not many people wanted to buy them. These little bite-sized morsels can obviously come from any fish, but as the predominate catch on the coast of Newfoundland is cod, cod cheek is one of the most popular dishes in the province. Coated in breadcrumbs, or without, and then fried in butter and served with some freshly squeezed lemon, they’re a great snack to enjoy with a glass of the locally brewed beer.

Newfie Jiggs dinner – Newfoundland Despite its rather amusing name, this dish is similar to the boiled beef and cabbage many people would have eaten while growing


culinary destinations

1. Vancouver 2. Quebec 3. Montreal 4. Toronto 5. Victoria

winner 14

YourLifeChoices Canada Inspirations 2018

up. Also known as a Sunday or boiled dinner, the ‘Newfie’ – short for Newfoundland – has a few local twists. Rather than corned beef, the dish is made with salted beef, which is common to the area. It’s also served with pease pudding – boiled split yellow peas. Pease pudding is popular in Northern England and is an obvious nod to the heritage of the region’s settlers.

go all out and enjoy them with strawberry jam, chocolate spread, or bananas and cream.

… legend has it an Iroquois chief tasted sweet liquid dripping from a gash in a tree … Crepes – Quebec City

La tire – Quebec City

With such a strong French culture, there’s little doubt why crepes are so popular in Quebec City. Served all over the city, you can choose to have them with freshly squeezed lemon and sugar (our choice) or you could

Discovered by accident by the First Nation people, when legend has it an Iroquois chief tasted sweet liquid dripping from a gash in a tree he’d axed the previous day, maple syrup can be found all over Canada. The good stuff

(not the maple-flavoured variety) can be quite pricey and it’s for this reason that it’s known as the liquid gold of Quebec. You’ll find plenty of the real stuff in town and in ‘sugar shacks’ on the outskirts. It’s at these sugar shacks that you can taste la tire or maple taffy, for yourself. The maple syrup is poured over snow or ice until it starts to solidify slightly and is then twisted around a stick and eaten like a lollipop.

Photo: Courtesy Canadian Tourism Commission

YourLifeChoices Canada Inspirations 2018


Face to face with C  anada’s wild side You only need to speak with Manitoba native Lynda Gunter for a few minutes to know how much she loves the wildlife of Churchill.


ynda is the founder of Frontiers North – the touring company responsible for first bringing packaged wildlife tours to Canada. In 1982, her husband Merv took a bank manager position in a small town called Churchill, 1000km north of Winnipeg, where she grew up. Churchill has a population of around 900 people, so when she says ‘small town’, she really means it.

PhotoS: Courtesy Frontiers North


wilderness experiences

1. Rockies 2. Wildlife viewing 3. Polar bears 4. Ocean cruising 5. Grizzly bear viewing

winner 16

In 1986 they moved back to Winnipeg, but Lynda left her heart in Churchill. When deciding on her next career move, she started Frontiers North with the aim of showing the rest of the world why she fell in love with this remote region. Fast forward to 2018 when Frontiers North is a major travel company that offers wildlife expeditions to Canada’s far north. Here travellers can witness polar bears at play, spy bison and black bears roaming through Riding Mountain National Park and watch Beluga whales frolic in the Churchill River.

YourLifeChoices Canada Inspirations 2018

During October and November, wildlife enthusiasts can spend 24 hours in a Tundra Buggy train and visit the Churchill Wildlife Management Area. Along the Hudson Bay coastline, they’ll be on the lookout for polar bears awaiting the big freeze that enables them to begin hunting their primary food source – seals. In January and February, it’s all about the aurora borealis – the natural light display also known as the Northern Lights. Churchill is the perfect place to view this awesome array of auroral emissions. Then, in July and August, travellers can do the Big Five Safari, where they’ll encounter moose, black bears, bison, beluga whales and the odd polar bear. The polar bears are the real stars of Churchill. At first sight, these magnificent beasts are bewildering, and the look on a traveller’s face makes this the most special part of Lynda’s job. “As a tour leader, some of my most memorable experiences are sitting back and watching the expressions on people’s faces. I’ve seen adults with tears in their eyes because they’re seeing their first polar bear,” she said. Polar bears may be beautiful, but they are wild animals. Frontiers North specialises in offering an up-close experience, with the emphasis on respecting the bears and their habitat. While

“We encourage our guests to learn about the place that they’re visiting and take this knowledge home with them so they can better understand wildlife, environment and sustainable practices – they can then share that with their friends.” One thing Lynda truly believes, is that she has one of the greatest teams on the tundra.

they would never do anything to endanger the bears or anyone on the tour, there has been the odd close encounter.

“I’ve seen adults with tears in their eyes because they’re seeing their first polar bear.” Once late at night, Lynda was baking and asked Merv to borrow some eggs from her neighbour. As he crossed the street, Merv looked up to see a “great, big, huge polar bear” near him in between two houses. Suffice to say, he high-tailed it back home and the cake was not baked. If you ask Lynda, each day on the job is a blessing. “One day watching two adolescent bears sparring, punching each other and sliding on their bellies across the snow, and seeing mothers with their cubs the next – this job never gets old or boring.” Though the bears may steal the show, Churchill’s appeal doesn’t

end there. The locals are warm and funny and always willing to share a tale or two. “Churchill is a small community so you’re going to have characters, especially those who grew up here. They’ve got lots of stories to tell; of close calls, surviving hairy situations and sharing real-life escapades. The harsh environment breeds character. It’s also special to be able to sit with the First Nations People at a local restaurant, to interact and hear some of their stories,” she said.

“We truly have an amazing staff. The people who work with us are people who love wildlife they have passion for what they do and are really excited to share this love and knowledge of photography and knowledge in general with people who visit. They really get excited about helping people have the best possible experience.”

“It makes the experience all the more exciting. It plays a big part in what we can offer to our guests. These interactions also make the tours ideal for solo travellers. Frontiers North will even waive the single supplement every now and then. Seeing wildlife right in front of your nose (sometimes literally) makes visiting the Great White North a truly memorable, often life-changing experience. “You literally have to realise that you are visiting an area that you’re sharing with wild polar bears, so you have to be respectful both in terms of space and environment,” she said.

Five things to pack 1. Layers – be prepared for the cold, in winter and at night in summer 2. Camera and spare batteries – the cold reduces battery life 3. Medications – Churchill is a small town, so don’t expect your specific medicines to be in stock 4. An open mind – be prepared to go with the flow 5. A sense of adventure – be prepared for the unexpected!

YourLifeChoices Canada Inspirations 2018


Driving the Cabot Trail

The Cabot Trail really is a must-drive. Kaye Fallick’s itinerary covers many of the highlights, with ample time to feel the serenity, sip a coffee or stare at the stars. Who? The Cabot Trail is named after John Cabot or Giovanni Caboto, a Venetian explorer who sailed in 1497 from Bristol, England in search of a passage to India. Instead, he discovered the eastern tip of Canada, which he named New-found-land. Cabot met with the original inhabitants of Cape Breton Island, the Mi'kmaq people, at Aspy Bay on the northern-most point of Cape Breton Island.

What? The Cabot Trail is a 300km scenic drive which can be completed in eight hours – but it really should

be savoured slowly over a five or seven-day journey.

Where? The trail, which was established in 1932, takes in eight major communities as well as stunning coastal scenery and the Cape Breton National Park. There really is something for every visitor to enjoy.

When? Any time is a great time to explore what has been described by Travel & Leisure magazine as the most beautiful island in North America. Summer is easy exploring, with fine weather, long

nights and the ability to wander in comfort. Spring is full of colour, as well as the chance to view the elusive aurora borealis (Northern Lights). It’s also lobster season. But visiting during the northern fall is a total winner with unforgettable red and gold foliage and the internationally famous Celtic Colours Music festival.

How? The beginning of the trail is a few short kilometres after crossing the Canso Causeway from mainland Nova Scotia to Cape Breton, at Baddeck or St Ann.


road trips

1. Sea-to-Sky Highway, BC 2. Icefields Parkway, Alberta 3. Cabot Trail, Nova Scotia 4. Viking Trail, Newfoundland and Labrador 5. Dempster Highway, Yukon and Northwest Territories

winner 18

YourLifeChoices Canada Inspirations 2018


Day One – Baddeck Baddeck is a very pretty town located on the edge of the inland sea known as the Bras D’Or Lakes. Eat – There’s only one place in town, really, Baddeck Lobster Supper, which offers either ‘all you can eat’ or ‘just the main’, with detailed instructions on how to get that last piece of meat out of the claw. Learn – Sited atop a hill overlooking his former summer home, the Alexander Graham Bell Museum is a fitting tribute to this visionary man and his wife. In nearby St Ann’s, the Gaelic College of Arts and Crafts is also a wonderful showcase. Stay - The Inverary Resort The Inverary Resort is an 11acre property overlooking the Bras d’Or Lakes with a main lodge originally built in 1850.


Day Two – Ingonish Ingonish is actually five small communities (Ingonish Ferry, Ingonish Harbor, Ingonish Beach, Ingonish Center and Ingonish), clustered in a 16km range, bordering the ocean and the Cape Breton Highlands National Park. Here you can enjoy superb coastal and

wilderness views, fresh and salt water swimming (Yes – in the Atlantic!), scenic cruises, whale watching and hiking.

Ceilidhs are traditional Cape Breton entertainment. Want to join in? Simply follow the signs in the local towns.

Photo: Courtesy Canadian Tourism Commission

Eat – the Chowder House at Neil’s Harbour. World famous chowder and superb lobster club sandwiches with wasabi mayonnaise, washed down with locally brewed beer. Stay – Keltic Lodge Spectacularly sited on windswept cliffs, the Keltic Lodge has full suites or cliff-side cottages, a Highlands Links Golf Course and fine dining.


Day Three – Pleasant Bay Today’s drive is largely spent within the Cape Breton National Park so there is plenty of opportunity for hiking, kayaking or merely strolling and enjoying the fir, birch, spruce and ash trees which tower overhead. Learn - The Pleasant Bay Whale Watching Interpretive Centre is a must-visit for those interested in the mightiest creatures of the ocean Breathe - Gampo Abbey is a Western Buddhist monastery in the Shambhala tradition that was established on the rocky coast of Pleasant Bay in 1984. In summer, visitors can enjoy a guided tour of this spiritual retreat and learn about the mission and achievements of the monastics who live there. Stay - The Mountain View An affordable motel, cottages and restaurant near the centre of town.

YourLifeChoices Canada Inspirations 2018



Day Four – Cheticamp It’s a relatively short drive from Pleasant Bay to Cheticamp, an enclave of French-Canadians (Acadians) who were expelled from other provinces during the 18th century. French is still spoken here and the culture, arts and crafts are also influenced by French culture. It’s easy to spend a day exploring the harbourside activities and dining in this historic fishing port. Stay - Auberge Bay Wind suites Super clean and comfortable rooms, with traditional cuisine on offer in the restaurant and bar.


Day Five Tatamagouche Set off early as you will need a lot of time at the Celtic Music Interpretation Centre in Judique before leaving the Cabot Trail and heading west back across the Canso Causeway to Tatamagouche, to finish your journey in an historic train carriage.


Learn - Celtic Music Interpretation Centre, Judique Exhibits, walking tours, lessons and demonstrations are just some of the fun you can experience at Nova Scotia’s official centre for Celtic music. The lunch and supper ceilidhs also offer the chance to enjoy traditional Celtic music while dining on fine local produce. Consider finishing your journey in Tatamagouche where a craft brewery, historic creamery gallery, and the Jost Vineyards await. Stay - The Train Station Inn This train station was purchased in 1974 by Jimmy LeFresne, then aged 18, to prevent its demolition. It’s now a museum, shop, restaurant and fun accommodation option in one of the refurbished box cars or cabooses.

YourLifeChoices Canada Inspirations 2018

MORE Affordable touring Staying at B&Bs will help keep double room accommodation down to less than AUD $150 per night, including hearty cooked breakfasts. We have included two ‘splurges’ in the above itinerary, the Keltic Lodge and Auberge Bay Winds Suites, but at $220 or so per night, they are still far less expensive than many similar properties in Australia. Car hire plus insurance A Budget Rental VW Passat for eight days, covering two drivers and full insurance, cost AUD $686. Driving across Nova Scotia is relatively hassle free; the roads are good, with the only major hazards wandering moose or breathtaking scenery, which forces you to slow down or stop to take in the amazing views. Timing your trip Not all attractions are open year-round, so be sure to check your preferred activities and accommodation are available well in advance. Best website to start your planning PhotoS: Kaye Fallick

Canada Inspirations 2018  

Where in Canada tops your travel wishlist?

Canada Inspirations 2018  

Where in Canada tops your travel wishlist?