My top five Canadian destinations

So where have you been in Canada exactly?  someone asked me the other day.  It is six years since we emigrated from England and I've been writing this blog for four years. Looking back at my travels some trips really stand out.  Here are my favourite Canadian destinations:

RVs on the Alaska Highway
1. Travelling the Alaska Highway from Whitehorse in the Yukon to Dawson Creek in British Columbia. This trip appealed to me because it had it all - bears, moose, spectacular landscapes, a chance to ride in an RV and a sort of Route 66 feel about it. Every mile was steeped in history (the fascinating story of how it was built against all odds) and every stop is filled with characters. The sort of characters you could only meet out West. My all time favourite moment was eavesdropping on truck drivers for whom the highway is home. Listening to their stories of bear sightings and stupid tourists. I also loved meeting the Americans for whom the Alaska Highway is a bucket list item. Some had worked on the building of the road and nearly all of them were in RVs with very small dogs. I would say this was my all time favourite road trip. Read my posts from the road on the Alaska Highway.

The town of Dorothy in the Canadian Badlands
2. The Canadian Badlands. Grain elevators, hoodoos, prairie chicken dancing, dinosaurs and lots of ghost towns. We stayed in a teepee one night and listened to the coyotes. We especially loved the Blackfoot Crossing Historical Centre in the Badlands of Alberta where you can learn and experience First Nations culture including the incredible World Chicken Dance competition. You've never seen anything like it. We loved Wayne, a ghost town with a real Last Chance Saloon serving beer in jam (mason) jars and searching for dinosaur remains at Dinosaur Provincial Park, where else?
Read daily posts from my road trip including video here

Abandoned cars in the ghost town of Wayne
3. Photographing the Northern Lights in Manitoba
Sitting in a frozen SUV one night on a quiet road in Churchill waiting for the Northern Lights to appear is one of those moments I will never forget. It reminded me of the movie Close Encounters when someone shouted, here they come. Then suddenly we were all struggling with cameras and tripods on the frozen road. Between every photograph (long exposure required) I leapt up and down in my Canada Goose coat trying to bring life back to my fingers and toes. It was worth it. Read about how I photographed the Northern Lights in Manitoba

Worth losing feeling in your extremities for
4. The Saguenay in Winter. When Saguenay and Lac Saint Jean Tourism in Quebec asked me to make a series of videos for them about the region in wintertime I had no idea what they had on offer.  Of course Canada does snow really well but in the Saguenay, six hours north of Montreal,  they seem to have it down to a fine art. Ice fishing, skiing on a frozen fjord, kite skiing, horseback riding in the snow and the wondrous Valley of the Ghosts where the trees stay covered in snow as if on the top of a Christmas cake. I remember the people especially too - Jean Gagné who runs the Centre Equestre des Plateaux and invited us into his log cabin for tea, Pauline Gagnon who took me ice fishing near her B&B Auberge de la Riviere Saguenay and our guide Patricia Stimpson in the Valley of the Ghosts who shared her home-dried apple slices with us in the snow. Read about the people and the places in Saguenay in winter.

Putting on the mittens in the Valley of the Ghosts, Saguenay
5. The Gaspé in Summer
Jardins de Métis or Reford Gardens in the Gaspé
I had two wonderful trips to the Gaspé - more than 600 miles North-East of Montreal in Quebec. It is famous for its sunsets and I found it a very romantic destination. My first trip was an 18 hour night train journey complete with dinner and private cabin when we explored the bird sanctuary at Bonaventure island. You can read about the trip  on Jools Stone's great blog Trains on the Brain. On my second trip I hiked Bic National Park, bought pickled daisy buds and other home grown treats at one of Canada's best gardens,  Reford and stayed in the gorgeous Auberge de Mange Grenouille (Frog eaters' hotel). Read more details about The Gaspé in Summer

View from Auberge de Mange Grenouille
 I still have a bucket list of trips I want to take. I dream of doing a coast to coast by rail one day. Northwest Territories is also in my sights and I want to visit the Maritime provinces of Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island. This summer I'm travelling to the Shaw Festival in Niagara-on-the-Lake again ( I need to write about my favourite festivals soon) and also New Brunswick for the first time. I'll be blogging of course along the way.


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