Outer Shores Expeditions: sailing journeys at the edge of the Pacific

by Aaron Saunders

Passing CloudCourtesy of Outer Shores Expeditions

Imagine waking up aboard a six-guest sailing vessel, tucked into a remote cove in the heart of British Columbia. The air is cool and damp when you emerge on deck with a coffee in-hand, and only the sounds of the water idly lapping at the ship’s wooden hull and the call of distant birds can be heard.

That’s how every day starts aboard the Passing Cloud; a lovingly-refurbished schooner operated by Outer Shores Expeditions. Each year between April and October, Passing Cloud sails through some of the most remote and hidden parts of Canada’s West Coast, from the Gulf Islands and Pacific Rim National Park to the ethereal surroundings of Haida Gwaii and the life-changing Great Bear Rainforest.

In the latter, go ashore in search of the rare Kermode – or Spirit – bear. In Haida Gwaii, local Haida watchmen take guests through the old-growth forests that are the only remains of the once-great civilization that existed here. From kayaking around a quiet inlet off the Gulf Islands to a stroll around Pacific Rim National Park, Outer Shores showcase the hidden beauty of the West Coast – and Canada.

Whistler...a year-round playground

by Vanessa Lee

WhistlerImagine Golf / iStock

Two majestic mountains, a vibrant pedestrian village, year-round activities of all kinds and  terrific nightlife and dining choices – that’s Whistler Blackcomb for you, truly a Canadian sports and outdoor paradise. 

Not only the largest ski-resort in Canada but also one of the most well known in the world, Whistler, with its unique mountain lifestyle, offers an array of sports activities for all seasons. Naturally skiers and snowboarders race to those beautiful mountains but there are also four championship golf courses,  a superb mountain bike park, opportunities for hiking, zip-lining and horse-riding, snowshoeing, ski jumping and much more. Try paddle boarding in the summer and tobogganing in the winter. There are fantastic music concerts and festivals in the warmer weather and on July 1, the Vancouver Symphony performed to celebrate Canada Day.

The nightlife in the village has a great vibe; classic cocktail spots, cozy pubs, nightclubs, après ski bars and of course, dining of every kind imaginable. The pedestrian-only village – the heart of the resort - is great for people-watching, shopping and enjoying every kind of weather. Whistler has it all, no matter the season.

by Vanessa Lee

As we celebrate our glorious country and Sesquicentennial in 2017, we’re ready to explore the “True North, Strong and Free.”

Maligne LakeMaligne Lake, Jasper National Park, Alberta - By Wheateater (talk) - Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=21187049

There’s no better way to immerse ourselves in all things Canadian than by visiting some – or all! - of our 38 National Parks and eight National Preserves. To commemorate our special year, Discover Parks Canada is offering free admission not only to our amazing Parks and Preserves but also to our National Marine Conservation areas and National Historic Sites.

See Canada’s highest mountain in Kluane National Park and Reserve in the Yukon, watch for magnificent beluga whales along the Saguenay—St Lawrence Marine Park in Quebec or tour the Green Gables Heritage Place in Prince Edward Island, the inspiration for the beloved Anne of Green Gables story.

Gros MorneLighthouse in Gros Morne National Park, Newfoundland - Updogdesigns / iStock

There’s so much to see and do – whether you spend your time gazing at turquoise-blue lakes and towering mountaintops in the Rockies, touring the Pacific Rim National Park Reserve, or staring, in awe, at the magnificence of Gros Morne National Park.

One place to put on your must-see list is Cape Breton Island’s Cabot Trail, one of the world’s most wondrous drives, following the picturesque and craggy coastline around the National Park along an approximately 300 kilometre loop. 

Canada is home to 18 UNESCO World Heritage Sites, including the Rideau Canal Historic Site, Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Jump park in (where else) Alberta! Or the Mistaken Point Ecological Reserve in Newfoundland, Old Quebec City and more.  

Cabot TrailCabot Trail - Nova Scotia Tourism - Scott Munn

Wherever you live or wherever your heart tells you to go in 2017, be sure to check out www.parkscanada.gc.ca/visit for a wealth of information about Canada’s natural beauty and get ready to dive into our country this year like never before.

Get your hiking boots on and traverse some of  The Great Trail which will be fully completed this year (just in time!) offering a nation-spanning network of recreational trails stretching almost 24,000 kilometers across every province and territory even over the top of Baffin Island. See  www.thegreattrail.com

Revel in Rendez-vous 2017 – a Regatta of more than 40 tall ships that will visit 30 communities in Ontario, Quebec and Atlantic Canada between June 30 and August 20th – www.rendezvous2017.com

No excuses Canada! Get out there, travel and take it all in – every majestic peak, crag, cliff, lake, river and ocean! Enjoy the wildlife and the history – glory in Canada, in all its remarkable and profound beauty. From the Yukon to Cape Breton Island, around every corner of this country, your fellow Canadians are waiting with big smiles and warm welcomes.   

Originally published in Cruise & Travel Lifestyles Spring/Summer 2017 issue.

Savour Niagara

by Liz Fleming

Millions of liters of water rushing wildly over those famous Falls each minute. Stunning by day, but even more so by night, illuminated by glistening colored spotlights, Niagara Falls is one of the world’s most famous tourist destinations, but just one of the many wonders the lush Niagara region offers.

Niagara on the LakeNiagara-on-the-Lake - Kiev. Victor / Shutterstock

Visit in the warmth of a late summer day and savor the aroma of ripening grapes on the hundreds of thousands of vines that fill the fields at the sides of nearly every country road. Stop at a tiny fruit stand, and choose a basket of peaches, still warm from the sun and pay by simply popping your money into the ‘honor box’ – no salesperson needed.  Visit one of the more than 200 welcoming wineries where sampling isn’t simply allowed, it’s eagerly encouraged! Sip and savour award-winning wines, famous for the rich Niagara terroir that gives them their unique flavours. Spend an evening or two, or even an entire season enjoying the world-class performances at the Shaw Festival’s three theaters, stroll the streets of Niagara-on-the-Lake, ‘Canada’s prettiest small town, and devour delectable cuisine at a variety of local restaurants and cafés. Gaze at the massive Niagara gorge, bike ride along the trails, visit Fort George and embrace the history of this region dating back hundreds of years.  Then pause and breathe in the peace and tranquility that is the glorious Niagara region.

A Thoushand Reasons To Love the St. Lawrence River

by Liz Fleming

Thousand Islands

The St. Lawrence River begins in the Gulf of St. Lawrence and ends in a tumble of tree-studded granite islands at the mouth of Lake Ontario.

Summer in those Thousand Islands means days of lazy canoe paddling, blue heron watching, fishing, swimming, and waterskiing and long evenings of lolling on the screened-in porch, watching lights twinkle on the cargo ships sailing up and down the channel, and listening to the deep thrumming of their engines - a soft, serene soundtrack.

Cottage life is largely sunny and simple, but the river has its glam side as well with two massive castles dominating Singer and Heart Islands, giving the guests on the tour boat cruises from Kingston, Gananoque and Brockville something spectacular to goggle over.

The summer homes that line the banks of the St. Lawrence on both the Canadian and American shores, and those that perch on the rocky islands range from modest cottages to full-on mansions but they all share one important characteristic. They offer us a place to call home in one of Canada’s most beautiful vacation capitals.  Castles, clear waters and sun-drenched islands - the Thousand Islands are the essence of summer bliss and the St. Lawrence River runs straight through my heart.

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