This is My Canada – favourite Canadian experiences from a family’s perspective – the 7 places or experiences that my kids have enjoyed most.
I’m on a mission to show my kids the world – one trip at a time – and a big part of that goal is to have them explore as much as possible of Canada. I want them to grow up to be proud Canadians who appreciate everything that we have here and share that love of country with friends they meet around the world.
So when Pamela from Savoir Faire Abroad organized a group of Canadian travel bloggers to share what they love about Canada in a “travel blog roulette”, I was excited at the prospect of sharing some favourite experiences from a Canadian family’s perspective. I have Corinne from Have Baby, Will Travel to thank for tagging me in her post on Favourite Canadian Destinations for Families.
Since the vast majority of my travels, both within and outside of Canada, have been with my children (now 16 and 9), I thought it would be fun to feature the places and attractions that they have enjoyed the most. To date we have visited the provinces of British Columbia, Ontario, Québec, Prince Edward Island, Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and Newfoundland as a family and were even briefly in the Yukon Territory while on an Alaskan cruise yet we have hardly made a dent in all that there is to see in Canada. We were supposed to pick our 5 favourite things about Canada but it was so difficult trying to narrow down the choices that we ended up with a list of 7 instead.
Feeling the Spray from Niagara Falls
We have more than our fair share of natural wonders in Canada and one of the best is close enough for our family to make regular day trips. The Niagara Falls area is chock-a-block with attractions that appeal to kids of all ages but the falls themselves eclipse everything else. Sailing into the basin of Horseshoe Falls on the Maid of the Mist, hearing the deafening roar as millions of gallons of water rush over the 170ft falls and squealing as the “mist” soaks passengers in their plastic ponchos is an unforgettable thrill ride that every Canadian and visitor to Canada should experience at least once in their lifetime. My younger daughter didn’t stop grinning during the entire boat ride and when we disembarked the first words out of her mouth were “can we do it again?”!
Day Trips to Toronto
Both my husband and I grew up in Northern Ontario but we were long-time Toronto residents until moving outside the city when our older daughter was a toddler. One of our favourite things about Canada is definitely living so close to this amazing family-friendly city and the endless list of activities that we can enjoy there. Both of my girls have always loved our regular day trips into the city (especially by GO train) to the theatre, Blue Jays games, the CN Tower, the Art Gallery of Ontario, the Royal Ontario Museum, the Ontario Science Centre – and I could go on and on. Toronto is a world-class city and a great place both for families to live and to visit.
Walking the Ocean Floor – Hopewell Rocks
Hands down one of the coolest Canadian experiences is visiting the Hopewell Rocks in New Brunswick. Both of my kids think that walking around on the ocean floor (even if it’s a bit squishy in places), playing with sea weed and then coming back later to see how deep the water is when the Bay of Fundy’s tide comes rushing in is one of the coolest things that they have ever done. We have been twice and the next time that we visit we will definitely be paddling a kayak at high tide.
Lazy Summer Days on Manitoulin Island
Lazy summer days playing in Lake Huron at Granny and Grampy’s cottage in Kagawong on Manitoulin Island has made for many great childhood memories. Manitoulin Island is the largest freshwater island in the world but not many people are familiar with this nature lover’s paradise. The island has extensive hiking trails, inland lakes for water-sports, boating or fishing and even a large aboriginal community happy to teach visitors about its culture but what my daughters really love is the greater freedom they have on the island to run and play in the great outdoors – well that and Granny’s chocolate chip cookies.
Chillin’ on Prince Edward Island
We have made numerous trips to PEI over the last 15 years and the island means three things to my daughters – playing on the red-sand beach, Cows Ice Cream and Anne of Green Gables. We have traveled there so often that it feels like arriving home when we cross the Confederation Bridge and it’s the one place to which my kids would be happy to return again and again and again. I’m fairly certain that one day they will travel to PEI with their own children and reminisce about childhood vacations spent there.
The View at Ferryland, Newfoundland
We visited Newfoundland for the first time last summer and were blown away by the rugged beauty of the province. We had an amazing week but the one day that stands out for the girls is the afternoon that we spent at the Ferryland lighthouse having a picnic lunch and enjoying the breathtaking view. When a teenager is impressed by the scenery then you know that you have stumbled upon something truly spectacular.
Feeding Elk at Omega Park, Montebello, Quebec
We have visited Omega Park in Montebello in the summer and the winter and regardless of the season the kids love feeding carrots to the elk out of the car window. Nothing is guaranteed to bring on a fit of nervous giggling like one of these majestic beasts eating carrots from your hand through your (slightly) rolled-down car window.
So there you have it – 7 of my daughters’ favourite things to do in Canada. We could go on about speaking French in Québec, snacking on BeaverTails in Ottawa’s ByWard Market, or eating lobster for the first time in Halifax but I had to draw the line somewhere. We still need Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Alberta and the other two territories in order to complete our family’s coast-to-coast Canadian bucket list so I’m sure that one day they will have an even longer list of favourite Canadian experiences to share with friends.