I Backpack Canada » Hostels http://ibackpackcanada.com A backpackers travel guide to Canada Fri, 27 Mar 2015 17:25:49 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=4.1.1 Check out these Canadian Backpacker Tour Companieshttp://ibackpackcanada.com/canadian-backpacker-tour-companies/ http://ibackpackcanada.com/canadian-backpacker-tour-companies/#comments Thu, 19 Feb 2015 03:47:20 +0000 http://ibackpackcanada.com/?p=4480 There are many different types of travellers. From long term travellers, to weekend warriors, finding something that will suit you is crucial to getting the most bang for your buck. If you’re short on time, but want to pack in as much adventure, sights, and memories into a week or two, then these three Canadian […]

Check out these Canadian Backpacker Tour Companies is a post from: I Backpack Canada

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There are many different types of travellers. From long term travellers, to weekend warriors, finding something that will suit you is crucial to getting the most bang for your buck. If you’re short on time, but want to pack in as much adventure, sights, and memories into a week or two, then these three Canadian backpacker tour companies are definitely worth checking out.

Moose Travel Network Backpacker Tours

moose-travel-network backpacker toursI’m going to start with Moose Travel Network, because they’re the only one I’ve had a chance to experience. Their staff are incredibly helpful and knowledgable. When you book a tour with them, you can pick from several routes, allowing you to see a variety of regions throughout BC, Alberta, Ontario, Quebec, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, and Newfoundland. You’ve got a ton of flexibility as well, as they allow you to setup hop on and hop off style itineraries. If you decide mid way through your trip that you want to explore Banff a little while longer, it’s just a matter of letting your driver know, and then you take care of your hostels and you’re set. When you’re ready to pick up where you left off, just inform Moose Travel Network and you can hop back on the tour.

Their drivers ensure that they break up the drives between destinations with fascinating stops at stunning panoramic views, random trips and excursions, and some of the best food and drink joints along the way. Good music, laughs, and company are easily found on their trips.

Check out my interview with a Moose Travel Network Guide.

Read my experiences in the Rocky Mountains with Moose Travel Network.

Salty Bear Adventure Travel Tours

Salty-Bear-tours canadaSalty Bear Adventure Travel was started by a local Nova Scotian backpacker who was keen on showing off the maritimes to people from across the world. Salty Bear hires local Canadian drivers with a passion for their locale, ensuring you’ll know that what you’re seeing and experiencing authentically Canadian. Salty Bear is similar to Moose Travel, as they do drop offs at hostels, but will accomodate anyone if you’re staying elsewhere. They also supply tours along the way, ensuring that you get to experience the best tours along the way.

West Trek Tours

West trek tours backpackerWest Trek provides high quality adventure tours to backpackers both young and old, interested in seeing and experiencing the best of Canada. Explore the Rocky Mountains, mountain bike in Whistler, Surf in Tofino, Explore Victoria, Vancouver, and even parts of USA. Their award winning tour company is rated highly by visitors across the world.

Am I missing any other awesome Canadian Backpacker Tour companies? Don’t hesitate to share below in the comments.

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How to deal with Bed Bugs Like a Champhttp://ibackpackcanada.com/how-to-deal-with-bed-bugs/ http://ibackpackcanada.com/how-to-deal-with-bed-bugs/#comments Wed, 07 Aug 2013 14:34:16 +0000 http://ibackpackcanada.com/?p=5577 When you stay in hostels & hotels long enough, you will get bed bugs at some point. It’s just the way it is. No bed is immune to them. From the Ritz, to the budget hotels, to your local hostel. You can’t expect to share a bed with hundreds of travellers and be the lucky […]

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When you stay in hostels & hotels long enough, you will get bed bugs at some point. It’s just the way it is. No bed is immune to them. From the Ritz, to the budget hotels, to your local hostel. You can’t expect to share a bed with hundreds of travellers and be the lucky one who remains impervious to their nibbles. You might get them in the first week, the first month, or maybe a couple years. For me, it was 4 and a half rotations around the sun after starting my adventures in hostels.

Bed bugs hit the Central District

Upon first glance at the red dotted lines they left, I laughed. “Maybe it’s just a rash”, I thought. It wasn’t. I asked my girlfriend to inspect me further, and we found further bites. Under situations like these, many people will hastily jump to action, blaming the hostel, the cleaners, and even their bunkmates for dragging in these vile creatures. I don’t recommend that route. Travel is met with countless unexpected situations, treat this just like a wrong turn that turned into another ride. These things can be dealt with in a civil manner.

Step 1. Confirm They Are Bed Bugs

Bed bugs are nearly impossible to see, most won’t be seen until they’ve had enough you-juice to fill them up to a visible level. So in most cases, don’t trust your eyes. Chances are you’ll see their bites before them. They feast while you sleep, enjoying what the experts like to call as “Breakfast, Lunch, and Dinner”, on account of the 3-4 pockmarks they leave in a straight line. Inspect your entire body to see if they got you anywhere else.

Protruding foot

Step 2. Inform Staff Quietly

There’s no sense in screaming at the top of your lungs in hopes that your decibel level will effect the amount of help you’ll receive. Calmly find a staff member at the front desk and pull them aside from other guests and explain that your room may have an issue while showing them the “track marks”. Most people in hospitality have been trained to deal with them upon first glance of the bites. They will advise you of their procedures, and will help you in all ways possible. You might worry that they’ll be mad at you, but know that they are unable to track where bed bugs came from. They could have been in the bed long before you got there. Or yes, perhaps you dragged the critters in with you. It is usually policy for staff to contact any hostels or hotels that you may have stayed in previous to your visit there to ensure the problem is dealt with completely.

Biohazard

Step 3. Wash, Kill, & Decontaminate

Depending on where you’re staying, staff may do this for you if you’d like. If the thought of hotel staff touching your under-gotch gives you the queezee’s, they’ll likely assist you in the decontamination process. When it comes to getting rid of these things, heat is your saviour. Wash everything you’re wearing, everything in your bag, and if possible, the bag itself in the hottest water you can get, followed by drying everything in the hottest dryer you can find. Most hostels and hotels will cover this charge for you if it’s coin operated laundry.

Bags, shoes, and anything else un-washable may not be able to be soaked, so in those cases, a steam machine may be used to heat everything up hot enough to kill the little critters. Other methods include putting everything unwashable and placing it into black garbage bags and leaving it in the hot sun for a day.

Hostel Room

Step 4. Disinfect the Room (Hotel/hostel does this part)

This step usually doesn’t involve you. Staff will likely check surrounding rooms, usually entire floors to ensure the bed bugs haven’t spread elsewhere. Depending on the procedures, they may heat the infected room up to a point where the bed begs & their eggs (yes, they lay eggs, lots of them) will die. Many procedures also include some heavy chemicals, meaning that room is going to be off limits for a few days while everything is dealt with.

Bed Bug Bites

Step 5. Heal Those Bites

Many people suffer from allergic reactions to their bites. Bed Bug spit has a numbing effect on the area, which allows them to bite you through the night, going completely unnoticed until you wake up. While many people find the bite marks will go away on their own after a handful of days, others will require medication in order to heal those marks. My bites unfortunately got infected, leading to a good portion of my arm turning an off-red off-purple. The bite marks began to swell, puss, and bleed. A quick stop at a walk-in clinic, and the doctor prescribed some heavy duty topical hydrocortisone cream along with some variety of penicillin in pill form. Within a few days, I was fully healed, with the exception of some scars. Most people don’t have this reaction, just be wary that it can happen.

Step 6. Speak to the Hotel/Hostel

Ensure that your hotel or hostel understands you’ve been inconvenienced by this situation; however, please note that they have been as well. You can cry all you want, but besides having them comp you a dinner, or a couple beers, or if you’re really lucky, a free night, there’s a good chance you’re not going to see much else in return. You didn’t win the lotto by being bitten by these bugs. You are just another statistic in the widespread travels of these blood-sucking critters. You did however earn a tremendous story, and a few shocked gasps from those who don’t realize how incredible common bed bugs are throughout the world. Wear those bites with pride, and treat them as an education tool to other travellers.

While waving around my own bed bug bites, I had many people ask if I gave the hostel 0 stars on Yelp. I’m sure I considered it, but there’s really no proof, I simply don’t know where I got them. It could have been from a bus, plane, train, or car seat, it could have been from a bed, a towel, who knows. Even if I was 100% sure I got them from a specific place, I don’t feel like that would be a valid representation of the hostel. This kind of stuff happens. Bed bugs are just part of the tourism industry. If I need to get nibbled on here and there in order to experience the world, so be it. Eat me bed bugs!

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See Churchill on the Cheap with Tundra House Hostelhttp://ibackpackcanada.com/see-churchill-on-the-cheap-with-tundra-house-hostel/ http://ibackpackcanada.com/see-churchill-on-the-cheap-with-tundra-house-hostel/#comments Tue, 30 Oct 2012 12:04:26 +0000 http://ibackpackcanada.com/?p=5369 When a new hostel opens up in Canada, particularly those in unique or new settings, I can’t help but get excited. In the small town of Churchill, Manitoba, home of the polar bears, belugas, and all things arctic adventure related, the Tundra House Hostel opened its doors to eager backpackers and budget travellers from all […]

See Churchill on the Cheap with Tundra House Hostel is a post from: I Backpack Canada

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When a new hostel opens up in Canada, particularly those in unique or new settings, I can’t help but get excited. In the small town of Churchill, Manitoba, home of the polar bears, belugas, and all things arctic adventure related, the Tundra House Hostel opened its doors to eager backpackers and budget travellers from all over the world. Tundra House Hostel is Churchill’s first, and only hostel, and possibly one of my favourite hostels I stayed at during my cross Canada travels.

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I was picked up, alongside a french canadian fellow and a korean exchange student, at the VIA Rail Churchill Station by Belinda Fitzpatrick, the owner and manager of Tundra Inn and Tundra House Hostel. On our short drive, I learned that she’s an Australian that fell in love with the north and never left. She married a local fellow and started the hostel, based on her worldly experiences, and has been loving every day of it. She gave us a brief run down on safety and smiled the entire time, clearly loving what she does.

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Welcome to the Tundra House Hostel

As we pulled up to 51 Franklin Street, Belinda showed us around the Tundra House Hostel. I hung up my jacket and took a quick tour of this cute and cozy home away from home, with a shared kitchen, on-site laundry, free wifi, private and dorm style rooms, and one of the most comfy common living rooms I’ve ever set foot in. The spacious dining area is the perfect place to swap stories with other travellers or share a beer.

The Tundra House Hostel is a stones throw away from the Tundra Inn Pub, what would soon become one of my favourite spots to grab a pint and a delicious bite. If you’re in Churchill for squeezing in as many tours as humanly possible, you’ll be happy to hear that you’re never more than a few blocks away from your tour operators. Whether you plan on getting out in the Tundra Buggy, or want to kayak with Belugas, it’s a superb location for those wanting to experience as much of Churchill as possible.

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Tundra House Hostel Does It Right

I’ve been to countless hostels. Between the small run ma & pop hostels to the big chain HI Hostels, to the party fueled hostels of Samesun Backpackers. While each have something unique to offer, the Tundra House Hostel pulls off something incredible. Within half a day, this place became my home away from home. Friends share stories, connections are made, and next thing you know you find out you’ve got a lot of the same interests. The common question you’ll hear in Churchill is “What brought you up this far north?” – the answer seems to be consistent. Adventure, curiosity, wildlife, or for some, because it was on the VIA Rail line.

Churchill is a beautiful destination, and while it can be a bit pricey in terms of accommodation, Tundra House Hostel is a breathe of fresh air for the budget traveller. With rooms starting at $32 per night, it’s perfect for squeezing the most of your money and putting it into some of the unique tours & experiences that are offered in Churchill.

Tundra House Hostel

51 Franklin Street, Churchill MB

Phone: (204) 675-8831

Toll-Free: 1-800-265-8563

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8 Reasons I Can’t Get Churchill Off My Mindhttp://ibackpackcanada.com/8-reasons-i-cant-get-churchill-off-my-mind/ http://ibackpackcanada.com/8-reasons-i-cant-get-churchill-off-my-mind/#comments Tue, 23 Oct 2012 13:00:13 +0000 http://ibackpackcanada.com/?p=5375 This summer I had the opportunity to travel to the mecca of arctic adventures. Churchill, Manitoba – home of the polar bears, the belugas, tundra buggy’s, zodiac adventures, and some of the friendliest Canadians you’ll come to meet. In this small town of less than 1000 people, travellers from all over the world board VIA […]

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This summer I had the opportunity to travel to the mecca of arctic adventures. Churchill, Manitoba – home of the polar bears, the belugas, tundra buggy’s, zodiac adventures, and some of the friendliest Canadians you’ll come to meet. In this small town of less than 1000 people, travellers from all over the world board VIA Rail in Winnipeg and take the 2 day northbound journey to the edge of the Hudson Bay to find out what goes on this far north. Little did I know I’d be aching to return. These are the 8 reasons I can’t get Churchill off my mind!

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The Metis Infinity Flag

1. The Local People

On the northbound train from Winnipeg to Churchill, you’ll hear stories. People warn you to be careful up there. While you should be careful wherever you go, and avoid confrontation with everyone you meet while traveling, those warnings were completely blown out of the water after the first day in Churchill. Between the friendly staff, the locals walking by on the street, and yes, even the beer drinkers at the pub, I didn’t have a single run in with anyone I couldn’t shoot the poop with. The people of Churchill are a friendly bunch and happy to talk travel, wildlife, and adventures. With such a beautiful landscape surrounding the region, locals of every colour, culture, and creed tend to have something good to say about Churchill.

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2. The Danger

There’s something exciting, knowing that every time you step foot outside of a house or building, you have to be aware of your surroundings. Traipsing around without a care in the world, could lead you to be a tasty dinner for a full grown polar bear. While it’d be crazy for everyone to carry a gun wherever they went, the people of Churchill have devised a much simpler solution. They don’t lock their doors. Should you come across a big hungry polar bear, run to the nearest house and you’re almost guaranteed to be able to walk right in, and stay until the bear is dealt with. Tour companies like the Tundra Buggy Tours deal with this danger by using custom built giant bus’s tall enough to keep standing polar bears at bay.

churchill-manitoba-beluga-whales

3. The Wildlife

While there are no doubt some dangers when you visit a small town that is more or less surrounded by Polar Bears, fact is, they’re what bring most people up north. I’ll never forget, as I was on a zodiac in the middle of the Churchill River, less than a couple Miles from the Hudson Bay, seeing a Polar Bear enjoying a meal he’d caught at the edge of the water. While Polar Bears are the celebrities up here, the Belugas are a close second in the fame game. Since beluga’s were more friendly to me snapping photos, they win this reason! Be sure to have a good zoom lens if you plan on taking any photos of wildlife – or at the very least a decent set of binoculars. You’ll thank me later!

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4. The Adventures

If seeing wildlife from afar isn’t enough, the folks at Sea North Adventure Tours can get you closer than anyone to the belugas & polar bears. Between their Kayak Adventures, their Zodiac Tours, & their boat tours, they also offer snorkelling with Belugas, where you get up close and personal with these magnificent creatures. In the small town of Churchill, there is no shortage of adventures to find yourself on. Go off-roading in the Tundra Buggy’s, custom built giant rovers that cruise over land and water in search of Polar Bears. Churchill isn’t just somewhere you can stop over for a day and say you saw it. In order to experience every bit of it, you need to get out of town and see what this place is really all about.

churchill-manitoba-via-rail

5. The Travellers

I’m not sure what it is. Maybe the cold air, the difficulty in getting this far north, or just the spirit of adventure that Churchill inspires within people, but the travellers / tourists that find themselves up here. They’re cut from a different cloth. They’re here for unique reasons. During my brief stay in Churchill I met multiple German backpackers, exploring all that Canada has to offer, I had beers with two women from Minnesota who spent over 2 months kayaking to Churchill, I met a French Canadian student protester who explained to me in his point of view what the big fuss was all about, and a korean student who came up to Churchill on a whim to find work. Those who find themselves up here tend be of the inspirational & interesting variety.

seal-skin-kayak-churchill

6. The History

The Dorset, The Thule, The Dene, The Chipewyan and the Cree Natives had all inhabited this region. Their history, art, and culture can be absorbed at the Churchill Eskimo Museum, home to some knowledgeable staff, and a variety of carvings, and historical findings from the area. They say that it was the Dorset & Thule people who encountered the Vikings in the 11th century. Their people recount how large and strong the vikings were, but how easily they were scared off. If first nations history isn’t your cup, Churchill Fort is a must. Suspected to be built by the stone masons, and home to some incredible british and french colonialism history.

Tundra Pub Churchill Manitoba

7. The Food

Despite the fact that food is difficult to get up north, which in turn makes fresh goods tough to come by, the local Churchill restaurants do surprisingly well. Grab a hearty breakfast at the Seaport Hotel, then work up an apetite for lunch. Gypsy’s Bakery & Restaurant pump out high quality food that keeps everyone coming back. After getting a healthy dose of outdoors and wildlife, stop by The Tundra Inn Pub. This isn’t your average pub grub. Between the quality salads, the massive burgers, the superb pizzas, and their sushi Friday’s, they’ve got plenty to choose from. Hang around after for some live music, billiards, and some good old fashion drinking. A night or two at The Tundra Inn Pub will guarantee you at least a couple of stories to take home.

Tundra House Hostel

8. The Tundra House Hostel

While there are several great hotel deals in the area, I can’t say enough about my stay at the Tundra House Hostel. It’s really more of a house than a hostel, but I think I can speak for many, in saying that when you’re travelling, the revolving door of the “big chain hostels” can sometimes make it hard to meet people. The great thing about Tundra House Hostel is not only how cozy it is, but how easy it is to meet people. After all, the train is only in town a couple of times per week, so you’re guaranteed a few days with other travellers, which is plenty of time to make friendships that can last a lifetime. The beds are outstanding and clean, the kitchen, dining room, and living room are exactly what you’d expect to find in any ordinary house. After a long day of taking in Churchill, unwind in the living room and decompress to the sound of the ticking clock.

Churchill has a way of keeping people. You’ll meet countless locals with the same story. One visit, followed by a second, then they never really left, or at least keep finding themselves back in this unique part of Canada. It reminds me a lot of Dawson City in the Yukon. Slightly closed off from the rest of the world. While accessible to most, the difficulty of getting up there keeps the box stores and the chain restaurants away.  The locals seem truly grateful for each tourist or traveller they meet in their own slice of the tundra. It’s a beautiful thing to see a small town thrive.

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A Local Quebecois Experience at Le Massif’s Hôtel La Fermehttp://ibackpackcanada.com/a-local-quebecois-experience-at-le-massifs-hotel-la-ferme/ http://ibackpackcanada.com/a-local-quebecois-experience-at-le-massifs-hotel-la-ferme/#comments Mon, 20 Aug 2012 17:14:00 +0000 http://ibackpackcanada.com/?p=5147 Travel has been evolving for generations, but one of the most profound changes in recent years within this massive industry is peoples desire to do no harm, to see the world in the most ecologically friendly way possible without sacrificing comfort and style. While companies strive to make less of an impact by decreasing their […]

A Local Quebecois Experience at Le Massif’s Hôtel La Ferme is a post from: I Backpack Canada

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Travel has been evolving for generations, but one of the most profound changes in recent years within this massive industry is peoples desire to do no harm, to see the world in the most ecologically friendly way possible without sacrificing comfort and style. While companies strive to make less of an impact by decreasing their emissions and making changes to how their business operates, travellers too are choosing accommodations that go above and beyond eco friendly. Places that serve not only local food, but offer a unique experience that simply can’t be found elsewhere. No place is more relevant to this new form of travel than Le Massif’s new 4 season hotel, “Hôtel La Ferme” in Charlevoix, Quebec. After arriving in Quebec City by VIA Rail, I managed to find myself on another train to Charlevoix.

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Montmorency Falls to Charlevoix by “Le Train”

Getting to Hôtel La Ferme  in Charlevoix Quebec is half of the adventure. While driving is an option, to truly take in the experience you’ll want to catch the train. From downtown Quebec City you’ll need to drive, cab, or bus to Montmorency Falls. Be sure to show up early to take in Quebec’s famous Waterfall and snap photos of the small bridge that crosses overtop. If you find yourself above the falls you’ll want to take the Gondola down ($10.39 Round Trip per Adult). Waiting patiently at the bottom of this magnificent vista is Le Train. Le Massif’s luxury locomotive that travels between Quebec City to Baie-Saint-Paul and onwards to La Malbaie.

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The ride north by train to Baie St Paul and La Malbaie includes some impeccable meals made with local Quebec produce along with one of the best views of the Fleuve Saint Laurent (Saint Lawrence River). In true “Cirque du Soleil” fashion, the entire journey is orchestrated with video, music, and a live map of the trains location in Charlevoix. Throughout the entire journey you’ll learn about the history and importance of this region with the help of an array of iPads found on each dining table. After experiencing the sights, sounds, and tastes from the train, disembark at Baie-Saint-Paul – the train literally stops right beside the hotel!

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What sets Hôtel La Ferme apart?

Le Massif’s hotel/hostel/resort hybrid is something completely original and unique to not only Quebec, but Canada. Daniel Gauthier, the man who co-founded the internationally acclaimed “Cirque Du Soleil” is behind this incredible project. This new 4 seasons hotel is home to swiss inspired luxury rooms along with budget friendly hostel dormitory rooms, perfect for a group of friends on a ski getaway or the lone vagabond exploring Charlevoix. The backyard gardens play a large role with Hôtel La Ferme’s restaurant “Les Labours“, which uses produce they grow themselves in all of it’s meals. This new eco-local-friendly hybrid accommodation provides access to some of Baie St Paul’s most beautiful walking trails and some of the best views of the Fleuve Saint Laurent (Saint Lawrence River).

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The idea is to appeal to not only high end travellers looking to relax, but university students and budget travellers. Young adults who want to hit the slopes of Le Massif during the winter while being given an affordable and luxurious room. While these different types of travellers are in separate buildings, they share access to a common lounge, bar, cafe, performance center as well as “Les Labours” – more on it below. The idea is to promote social engagement, and giving equal access to the luxury amenities that are available at Hôtel La Ferme.

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The Hotel Rooms of Le Massif’s Hôtel La Ferme

Not a single detail has been missed at what is likely to become one of Quebec’s most popular tourist destinations. Between the beautiful Canadiana art, the locally produced blankets that adorn each bed, to the salvaged wood from the Charlevoix area that can been seen throughout the hallways and rooms across the entire complex. Beautiful oak hardwood floors can be seen in each and every room, along with some sturdy hand-made cabinetry. A plasma screen TV, iPod/iPhone ready stereo and a “Nesspresso” machine with pop in espresso capsules can be found in each hotel room.

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Stepping foot into the bathroom is like walking into something you’d expect to see in the TV show “Cribs”. The glass walled shower sports two shower heads, perfect for those who don’t like to shower alone. Don’t forget to try out their luxury soap, shampoo, and conditioner, it will blow that Pantene ProV you brought along out of the water.

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Hôtel La Ferme Reinvented Hostel Rooms

It’s been my experience that the majority of hostels tend to suffer from shoddy bedding, cheap mattresses, loud, squeaky and inconvenient bunk beds, and far too many people crammed into the same room. The folks at Le Massif have replaced “cheap accommodations” in lieu of “budget accommodations”, without sacrificing the quality and craftsmanship seen throughout the rest of the Hotel.

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They’ve completely done away with bunk beds, and instead opted for custom lockable murphy beds that fold out from the elegant wall cabinetry. Each hostel room has a limit of 4 beds, along with 4 large sized lockers to store your personal belongings. A large in-room bathroom with multiple sinks can be found within each room, making that awkward traipse down the hall to a shared bathroom a thing of the past. Each dorm style room includes a plasma screen TV along with an iPod/iPhone ready stereo, perfect for getting ready in the morning or sharing music with newfound friends.

Hostel rates at Hotel La Ferme are going to start at $49. While it’s slightly more expensive than your average dorm rate, keep in mind this isn’t your run of the mill hostel. Dorms will have 4 beds maximum and each will be treated with the same exceptional service as the hotel rooms.

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Local Eats at Les Labours

A hotel dedicated to providing a unique experience in all 4 seasons wouldn’t be complete without meals made with local in-season produce, most of which is grown in Le Massif’s own backyard. These class act dishes are prepared by Chef David Forbes and his incredible team. Their love and passion for providing visitors the chance to taste this magical region of Quebec is second to none. The menu at Les Labours changes with the seasons, giving you a chance to gawk at freshly crafted meals all year round.

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While You’re in Baie-Saint-Paul

While I could go on all day about how much I’m in love with Quebec and completely infatuated by Le Massif, there is more to this region than lounging around in comfy beds and eating delicious local food. During the summer, explore Rue St-Jean-Baptiste and browse through eclectic local artisan shops, sample the local Charlevoix Microbrews then find out why Baie-Saint-Paul is a mecca for painters, performers and artists of all kind. If nature is more your thing, whale watching tours, hiking trails, and secluded beaches along the Saint Lawrence River are all within walking distance.

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Come winter, ski the 770m (2,527 ft) of vertical at Le Massif. During the winterLe Train carries eager passengers from Quebec City (At Montmorency Falls) directly to the mountain, and continues to Baie-Saint-Paul where exhausted skiiers can relax at Hôtel La Ferme. The staff at the hotel informed me that waking up at Hôtel La Ferme in the winter is going to make for a great Canadian experience, as there will be a skating rink right in backyard of the eco-hotel.

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Baie-Saint-Paul is the heart and soul of arts and culture in Canada. The beauty of this region wasn’t just recently discovered, in fact, the infamous Group of Seven often visited the area, setting up their easel’s and painting the dramatic colours of this picturesque Quebecois landscape. The history of the culture and people in Baie-Saint-Paul and the entire region of Charlevoix is something to be truly appreciated. For anyone keen on exploring the province of Quebec, be sure to include Charlevoix & a stay at Hôtel La Ferme in your itinerary.

Special thanks to the folks at Le Massif for helping out and showing me around this great new project that is sure to bring in countless excited tourists.

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The Haunted Jail Hostel of Ottawahttp://ibackpackcanada.com/the-haunted-jail-hostel-of-ottawa/ http://ibackpackcanada.com/the-haunted-jail-hostel-of-ottawa/#comments Mon, 16 Jul 2012 14:03:16 +0000 http://ibackpackcanada.com/?p=5031 I walk gently down the creaking skinny corridors, grazing the smooth black iron bars of the jail cells that once housed the guilty, the innocent, the crazy, the murderous, and the drunk. Some of these cellars would have been the final form of accommodations as several of the detainees in these cells were put to their […]

The Haunted Jail Hostel of Ottawa is a post from: I Backpack Canada

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I walk gently down the creaking skinny corridors, grazing the smooth black iron bars of the jail cells that once housed the guilty, the innocent, the crazy, the murderous, and the drunk. Some of these cellars would have been the final form of accommodations as several of the detainees in these cells were put to their death in Canada’s still functional gallows. With each step on the old jail floors, you can imagine men yelling from their cellars “Dead man walking!” – a creepy welcome to The Ottawa Jail Hostel.

Located in the downtown core of Ottawa, Ontario is one of the most unique hostels you can rest your head for the night. On 75 Nicholas Street is the HI Ottawa Jail Hostel – known for it’s intriguing history, and it’s unique ability to freak visitors out. The building that houses the hostel holds some incredible secrets, both completely true stories, and for those who believe in the paranormal, some serious hauntings.

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The History of the Ottawa Jail Hostel

Built in 1862, The Carleton County Gaol was a working jail up until 1972 when it was finally closed, then eventually converted into one of Hostelling Internationals most unique hostels in its massive network. The hostel currently sleeps 110 visitors in a variety of rooms, including dorms, privates and shared. While there isn’t anything that sinister going on in the hostel besides the occasional drunk backpacker home from a night out, in its heyday, criminals were not only locked up here, many were put to their death.

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Hangings in Canada

During it’s long history as a jail, the Carleton County Gaol was the location of many criminals final breaths as up to 5 official hangings took place in the still functional gallows of the jail. That number is refuted by many as there have been upwards of 150 unmarked graves found on the property – some believe that unsanctioned hangings took place at the jail. One famous hanging that took place at the Carleton County Gaol is that of Patrick J. Whelan for the suspected assisination of Thomas D’Arcy McGee. Whelan maintained his innocence the entire time, and it’s said to be his ghost that is occasionally spotted at the foot of visitors beds or walking the halls of the top floor, where his final days were spent.

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Tour the Haunted Jail Hostel

If the thought of waking up to the ghost of a dead man freaks you out a little too much, you can bite of a little piece of the hostel by reserving a spot on one of Ottawa’s Haunted Walking Tours. The Ottawa Haunted Walk’s take place rain or shine all year round through the streets of old Ottawa and through the hostel. Spots fill up fast so be sure to call ahead to book your reservation. A free tour of the hostel is typically given by hostel staff as well, so be sure to enquire if you’re staying the night at the hostel.

While I am a pretty large non-believer in ghosts, ghouls, or anything paranormal for that matter – I will admit that walking through the halls of the old jail does have a creepy vibe to it. Perhaps it’s the thought of young men my own age, waiting to be put to their death. Maybe it’s the insane conditions that prisoners of this jail endured. Regardless, the entire building seeps tales of murder, violence, and cruelty – making it the perfect place to rest your head for a few days while taking in the beautiful city of Ottawa.

To book a night at the haunted Ottawa Jail hostel check out the HI Hostel Ottawa website, or for haunted tours of Ottawa & the Jail Hostel, visit the Haunted Walks of Ottawa.
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The Haunted Jail Hostel of Ottawa is a post from: I Backpack Canada

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A Weekend on New Brunswicks Grand Manan Islandhttp://ibackpackcanada.com/weekend-on-new-brunswicks-grand-manan-island/ http://ibackpackcanada.com/weekend-on-new-brunswicks-grand-manan-island/#comments Mon, 09 Jul 2012 15:12:49 +0000 http://ibackpackcanada.com/?p=4852 Hopping onto the massive Grand Manan Ferry from Blacks Harbour, New Brunswick – it’s hard not to anticipate what lies on the the largest island in the Bay of Fundy. A light fog had settled over the water, limiting visibility. We overheard from some locals that it would open up by the time we got […]

A Weekend on New Brunswicks Grand Manan Island is a post from: I Backpack Canada

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Hopping onto the massive Grand Manan Ferry from Blacks Harbour, New Brunswick – it’s hard not to anticipate what lies on the the largest island in the Bay of Fundy. A light fog had settled over the water, limiting visibility. We overheard from some locals that it would open up by the time we got to Grand Manan Island. As the engines roared to life and our boat pushed off from the jetty, we watched as “Land, ho!” became “Land, No Mo!” – our hour and a half journey to the island officially began. Standing atop of the upper deck, seabirds bid us farewell as we left the mainland of New Brunswick.

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Blacks Harbour to Grand Manan

The hour and a half ride flew by thanks to the luxury ride by Grand Manan Ferry Service. With flat screens located all over the passenger deck, a cafeteria, a superb viewing deck, and some of the comfiest seats you’ll find on a ship, it made getting off the boat seem like a chore. Climbing up to the upper deck, we took in our last bit of open sea air. As predicted by the locals, the fog opened up just as the Ferry approached the island – making for a unique vista of wet rocks, sharp cliffs, lush trees, and warm glowing fog.

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The Marathon Inn

As the ferry unloaded its passengers and cargo, I drove our rental car two minutes from the island jetty to the Marathon Inn. Accommodations are pretty limited on this little island in the middle of the Bay of Fundy; but you’ll find all the comforts of home in this old manor. Located just up the road from the Post Office and the delightfully decadano Island Arts Cafe. Speaking to Jim, the owner of the Marathon Inn, it’s clear to see he’s passionate about life on the island. A tour through the Marathon Inn allows you to explore every creak in the wood floors and take in the Grand Manan decor of this old cozy house.

The Marathon Inn is also part of the HI Canada Network – which means budget travellers can rejoice in saving a few dollars off each night if you’re a member of the HI Network. 

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Hike The Island Trails

A visit to Grand Manan Island wouldn’t be complete without a few hikes. I was craving some outdoor experiences, which eventually ended with an evening hike up to the Swallowtail lightstation. This lighthouse is great for photos and provides a superb view of the large expanse of the Bay of Fundy. If the cliffside winds of the lighthouse hike scare you off, hang tight until the morning for a drive to Anchorage Provincial Park. There’s a few light hiking trails with hidden viewing cabins, which have been setup for bird watchers and wildlife fanatics. The trails to the station are pretty tame in comparison to some of the more experienced trails, such as those at Hole in the Wall campgrounds – they have a large network of hiking trails, perfect for getting your heart going and even better for snapping photos!

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Sea Kayaking in the Bay of Fundy

Being surrounded with the largest tides in the world, some of the most picturesque scenery, and an ongoing amount of whales visiting the island, there’s no reason not to get out on the open water in a sea kayak. The fine folks at Adventure High on Grand Manan Island, located on Route 776, a short 2 minute drive from the Marathon Inn, warmly welcomed us to the island. Our guide for the day was Elliott, a local who’s spent the majority of his life on Grand Manan Island. His knowledge of the history of the island was superb, and his patience and advice he provided Riley, a first timer to the world of kayaking, was second to none.

We paddled towards the Swallowtail lighthouse to take in the view from below. An old lighthouse that proudly looks over the shores of the island. Remnants of the history of the lighthouse could be found all around, including lifts that would supply the lighthouse keeper with goods that kept him alive during the entire year. We paddled through massive wooden spikes that had been hammered into the ground, my prairie upbringing forced me to ask “What’s with the wood?” – Elliott explained that Grand Manan is home to countless Fishing Weirs. Fish are trapped with the large tidal bores and these massive netted fences, then hauled from the waters once they’re full. My flatlander mind was officially blown. Sea Kayaking around Grand Manan Island is a must-do activity! It really lets you appreciate the size of the island.

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The North Head Bakery

Grand Manan Island is also home to a cute little bakery, serving some of the freshest goods you can find on the island. Walking into this little shop, the smell of fresh baked bread and coffee flood your senses, practically forcing you to whip out your wallet and scream “Please, I’ll take anything! It all smells so good!“. The friendly staff welcomes each visitor as if they’re a local, smiling and happily explaining what baked goods you’re staring at longingly for. Be sure to stop by around lunch for their home made pizza. During my lunch time stop they were serving Oregano Parmesan Pizza – after finishing my giant slice it was hard not to jump over the front counter and hug the staff for baking that magical slice. A visit to Grand Manan Island requires at least one visit to this shop of tasty dreams come true.

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Castalia Marsh

Driving back to North Head from Anchorage Provincial Park, be sure to make a quick stop into Castalia Marsh, a serene topography change that covers a good chunk of the island. A small boardwalk and a few paths allow you to walk through the marsh without getting stuck. The flat surface of the marsh gives you a great appreciation for the elevation changes on the island. If you’re big into bird watching, be sure to check out the Castalia Marsh Retreat, where you can stay in some beautiful little cabins that overlook North Head, Swallowtail lightstation, and the Bay of Fundy.

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Hole in the Wall

Whether you’re looking for a unique camping experience, or to see an incredibly old geological formation, a quick jaunt north of North Head will bring you to Hole in the Wall Campgrounds. The grounds are open to hikers and campers (camping will cost you a bit, hiking is free). If you’ve never had the luxury of camping on a cliff side overlooking the Bay of Fundy – this is hands down the best place to do it. Hike the 15 – 20 minute trail to Hole in the Wall and find one of Grand Manan’s most photographed formations. The stone arch leaps out of the water connecting to the sharp edges of Grand Manan Island.

I hate using the cliche words like ‘Hidden Gem’, ‘Quaint’, ‘Unique and mystifying’, but there’s no better words in the english language to describe Grand Manan Island. From the friendly locals, to the scenic drives, to the rugged beauty, to the interesting history of the island, it’s no wonder that visitors from all over the world will somehow or another find a way to this little island in the Bay of Fundy. If you’re going to stop at all in New Brunswick, a side trip to Grand Manan Island is well worth the effort!

A Weekend on New Brunswicks Grand Manan Island is a post from: I Backpack Canada

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Buy your HI Hostels Membership Online, Pump Fist, Save Moneyhttp://ibackpackcanada.com/buy-your-hi-hostels-membership-online-pump-fist-save-money/ http://ibackpackcanada.com/buy-your-hi-hostels-membership-online-pump-fist-save-money/#comments Tue, 07 Feb 2012 12:45:09 +0000 http://ibackpackcanada.com/?p=3985 Buy your HI Hostels Membership Online, Pump Fist, Save Money is a post from: I Backpack Canada

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The largest hostel network in Canada is that of HI Hostels. From the big cities, to the small towns, to the wild, off-the-beaten-path hostels that make you think “No way! There’s a hostel there?!”. Chances are if you find yourself doing any amount of backpacking in Canada, sooner or later you’ll end up with your head on one of their pillows. Something many people don’t take advantage is their HI Memberships. Canada is not the cheapest place to travel, so every little bit counts. Thankfully the folks at HI Hostels have recently made it a bit easier to get their card in your hands.

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Yeah! Pump that fist Marian!

HI Hostels is officially selling memberships online! All you need is a trusty Credit Card along with your details to get the ball rolling. Of coarse, you can always pick up a membership at one of their 300+ membership sales agents across Canada.  If you plan on backpacking for more than a week, the membership literally pays for itself. I should note that I am in no way being sponsored by HI Hostels or anything crazy like that to post about this (although… I am always open to discussion… wink wink). I just thought reminding people to save money was a noble cause, particularly because I’ve been so broke lately.

So what kind of benefits & discounts do you get for becoming an HI Member

  • On average you’re looking at saving about $4.00 off at hostels in Canada. You’re also going to score cheaper hostel rates across their global network of hostels (over 4,200 locations!).
  • For the Canada Travelers, you’re looking at over 420 discounts across Canada. By simply flashing that mighty card-of-awesomeness you can save money on bike rentals, bus travel, car rentals, brewery tours, scenic tours, whale watching, zoo’s, museums, art galleries, and hot springs, just to name a few.
  • The HI-Comm ekit phone services also comes with every membership. This acts as a suped up international phone card, email account, and voicemail where friends can leave you messages while you’re on the road.

 
The hosteling network in Canada continues to grow and expand to new regions of Canada. It gets me absolutely pumped up to see that happen, and I personally look forward to adding new hostels and areas on my bucket list. Hostels really do determine the ease of travel for young adults. Without HI Canada, travel in this vast country would be much more expensive.
Get Your HI Hostels Membership today!

Buy your HI Hostels Membership Online, Pump Fist, Save Money is a post from: I Backpack Canada

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