I Backpack Canada » Drinks http://ibackpackcanada.com A backpackers travel guide to Canada Fri, 16 Jan 2015 15:58:32 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=4.1 16 Winter Activities to Enjoy in Canadahttp://ibackpackcanada.com/16-winter-activities-canada/ http://ibackpackcanada.com/16-winter-activities-canada/#comments Wed, 07 Jan 2015 18:25:00 +0000 http://ibackpackcanada.com/?p=6856 Short on things to do in Canada during the winter? Check out some of these popular winter activities in Canada. Winter is a tough time of the year for everyone. It’s sometimes easier and more appealing to just hunker down in the warmth of your home and avoid the cold outdoors. Pushing yourself in the […]

16 Winter Activities to Enjoy in Canada is a post from: I Backpack Canada

]]>

Short on things to do in Canada during the winter? Check out some of these popular winter activities in Canada. Winter is a tough time of the year for everyone. It’s sometimes easier and more appealing to just hunker down in the warmth of your home and avoid the cold outdoors. Pushing yourself in the winter to try new things, or pickup new winter hobbies is a great way to stay sane in these long winter months. This list below should hopefully kick you in the butt to get outdoors and learn how to embrace the cold and have some fun!

snowboarding-fairmont

Snowboarding / Skiing

One of the most popular winter activities in Canada. Snowboarding and skiing is available nearby just about any major city centre. Most people end up road tripping to the mountains, or the nearest ski/snowboard hill. Even in places like Regina, SK, my hometown, you can make a quick 45 minute jaunt over to Qu’Appelle Valley and enjoy the cute little valley resort of Mission Ridge. These little micro resorts aren’t exactly the best Skiing or Snowboarding you’ll come across in Canada, but provide a great weekend day trip.

Look for more information on Snowboard / Skiing in Canada?

Cross Country Ski Canada

Cross Country Skiing

The first time I went cross country skiing I was 13. It may look like an easy way to spend a sunday, and I’m sure it is if you do it often enough, but I still to this day think Cross Country Skiing is one of the most intense workouts you can do in the winter. Cross country ski rentals are available in many towns, and can be picked up very cheap at used sporting good stores or online at websites like Kijiji. Most Canadian cities also have Cross Country Ski clubs, where you and a group of similar aged people will head out and explore nearby trails.

Snowmobile Canada

Photo by Jordan Cameron – CC Licensed via Flickr

Snowmobiling

Snowmobiling, snow-machining, skidooing, same diff. Whatever you call it, just know that it’s one of the best winter activities you can get into. While there’s a high barrier of entry to snowmobile, if you can make friends with a snowmobile owner, or join a group or find a snowmobile rental company that can get you out on the trails, you’ll be pleasantly surprised by how much fun you’ll have, despite the cold.

Want more information about Snowmobiling in Canada?

Dog Sledding Canada

Dogsledding

Nothing says rugged Canadian winter sport like Dogsledding. Dogsledding is a little harder to just pick up as a hobby, but you can certainly find tour operators across Canada that are experts in the subject. Head out on a weekend trip and experience one of the most unique Canadian winter activities you can find. Bundle up, and explore the great outdoors with your own team of dogs. Mush!

Find out more about Dogsledding in Canada

Ice Skating the Oval

Ice skating

Many Canadians proudly claim to have learned to skate before they could walk. While I’m not sure exactly how that’s possible, it’s safe to say that we’re all a big fan of this winter passtime. Ice Skating is probably one of the cheapest, easiest ways to get outside and enjoy the fresh winter air. Most cities have free skate rentals at local outdoor skating arenas. Nearly every Canadian school has an Ice Rink near the playground. Outdoor rinks are almost always community run, allowing any ordinary person to enjoy this awesome winter activity.

Mount Pleasant Tobogganing in Saskatchewan

Tobogganing

Nothing says Canada quite like hurling yourself down on a hill with no form of steering. Despite the occasional injury, it’s still one of the best things to do in the winter across Canada. Find a local hill, rent, borrow, or buy a Toboggan, GT, Saucer, or Crazy Carpet, and let the fun begin. I was having a tough time tracking down hills last winter here in Regina, SK, so I decided to create a website dedicated to Regina Toboggan Hills. Hop on google and see if you can find something similar near you.

shopping canada

Photo courtesy of Mack Male – CC Licensed via Flickr

Shopping

While it’s not exactly the most adventurous thing to do in the winter, shopping is a great time killer, and on top of that, it’s great for the economy (let’s ignore that it’s hard on the wallet). Mall visitors greatly increase in the winter months, and with the weather being so cold, you have an excuse to shop for multiple layers.

Ice fishing Last Mountain Lake

Ice fishing

Ice fishing isn’t exactly the most exciting winter sport, but I have to admit, there is a peaceful serenity to cutting into the ice, dropping a line, and catching food in the face of -30 degree celcius weather. Hop onto your local tourism board’s website and look for ice fishing outfitters that can walk you through the process. Or make friends with an old fisherman. If they don’t ice fish, chances are they know somebody that does.

Want more on Ice Fishing?

Polar Plunge winter swim

Image courtesy of Suzanne Schroeter – CC Licensed via Flickr

Polar Bear Dips

Probably not everyones idea of a good time, winter swims are growing in popularity across Canada. Most of the time polar bear dips are done to support a fundraising event or charity, and it’s typically supervised by professionals or emergency services. I wouldn’t recommend this activity unless you’re nuts. Or like the idea of yours shrinking.

Warning: Please don’t attempt to swim during the winter alone. Hypothermia can kill you. Stay off thin ice too. That stuff is not good for your health.

Want more on Polar Bear Dips?

Check out the Courage Polar Bear website for more information.

ice climb canada

Image courtesy of Laurel F, CC Licensed via Flickr

Ice Climbing

Every wanted to climb an ice wall? Ice climbing is a fast growing sport in Canada, and challenges not only your strength and endurance, but also your fear of heights. Ice climbing courses are available with Whistler Alpine Guides, Yamnuska, and Summit Mountain Guides. Again, this isn’t exactly a “head out on your own” winter activity. You’ll need proper training, instruction, and safety in order to turn this into a regular pastime.

Pond Hockey Canada

Pond Hockey

The sound of blades slicing through hard ice. Pucks echoing off sticks, snow spraying stops. Pond hockey can be heard from miles away, and joining a game is just a matter of bringing a pair of skates and a stick out and introducing yourself. Most pond-hockey spots are privately maintained on public lakes or ponds. If you can’t track down an authentic pond-hockey arena, you’ll have to make due with the local outdoor hockey arenas that are free to play, and easily found near schools and parks.

ice wine canada niagra grapes

Image courtesy of Mya – CC Licensed via Flickr

Icewine Festivals

Ice wine is a sweet, very concentrated wine, made from frozen grapes. This curious type of wine is typically enjoyed as a dessert drink. While purchasing quality bottles of it can set you back quite a bit, icewine festivals allow you to sample multiple types of this very Canadian, very unique wine without having to spend an arm and a leg on one singular bottle.

Check out the Niagara Ice Wine Festival on January 23rd, 24th, and 24th (2015) at the Scotiabank Convention Centre. Or check out the Winter Wine Fest on January 9th, 10th, and 11th (2015).

sleigh ride canada

Photo courtesy of bambe1964 – CC Licensed via Flickr

Sleigh Rides

The winter variety of a horse-drawn carriage, sleigh rides might not be as popular as they once were 60 years ago. But you’ll often find local farmers that arrange sleigh ride tours within or around the community. I’d recommend talking to your local tourism board. Some sleigh ride operators require that you book a group, rather than singing up just yourself. But in Late December you’re more likely to squeeze yourself in.

snowshoe-canada-cypress-hills-sk

Snowshoeing

Little is known about the history of snowshoeing. Most experts claim that they appear to be an invention older than the wheel. Regardless of when humans figured these bad boys out, it’s safe to say it was a good invention, as they’re still regularly used by hunters, trappers, and outdoor enthusiasts.

Snowshoes can be purchased for fairly cheap, but tour operators and outdoor outfitters will typically rent out snowshoes by the hour or by the day. Exploring winter trails by snowshoe provides you with the ability to get some tremendous winter photos that you wouldn’t have been able to get in ordinary boots.

peak to peak gondola whistler

Photo by Jon Wick – CC Licensed via Flickr

Gondola Ride

Sore from all the other fun winter activities you’ve enjoyed? Sometimes a relaxing gondola ride is all you need in order to make your day feel a bit more exciting. Whistler’s Peak to Peak Gondola, or Banff’s Gondola up Sulphur Mountain are terrific ways to view the mountain terrain. While they’re not exactly the cheapest activity to enjoy, it’s worth it in photos you can score.

kiteboarding ski

Photo courtesy of Jamie McCaffrey – CC licensed via Flickr

Winter Kiteboarding / Kiteskiing

Kiteboarding is a growing sport. Harness yourself into a giant kite, strap on your snowboard or skis, and let the power of wind propel you as you sail over snow drifts and icy terrain. You’ll easily hit the speeds that you’d experience when enjoying downhill ski or snowboarding. While the gear may be a bit out of your price range, kiteboarding tour operators are popping up all over the place. Allowing you to sample this winter sport without the initial cost.

Want more information on Kiteboarding / Kiteskiing?

Missing any of your favourite Winter Activities? Share them in the comments below!

16 Winter Activities to Enjoy in Canada is a post from: I Backpack Canada

]]>
http://ibackpackcanada.com/16-winter-activities-canada/feed/ 0
16 Superb Canadian Craft Beers You Need To Tryhttp://ibackpackcanada.com/16-superb-canadian-craft-beers/ http://ibackpackcanada.com/16-superb-canadian-craft-beers/#comments Fri, 12 Dec 2014 18:55:54 +0000 http://ibackpackcanada.com/?p=5644 Once upon a time, a 19 year old version of me wrote a post about the best beer in Canada. Looking back, it was a stupid post, and angered beer snobs connoisseurs everywhere, mainly because it was apparent my taste buds hadn’t fully developed, or I hadn’t been fully introduced to the world of microbrews. […]

16 Superb Canadian Craft Beers You Need To Try is a post from: I Backpack Canada

]]>

Once upon a time, a 19 year old version of me wrote a post about the best beer in Canada. Looking back, it was a stupid post, and angered beer snobs connoisseurs everywhere, mainly because it was apparent my taste buds hadn’t fully developed, or I hadn’t been fully introduced to the world of microbrews. Pilsner, Kokanee, Molsons, Keiths!? I clearly hadn’t been drinking long enough, and at the time was likely drinking for the effect, and not the taste.

Garbage beers were being spoken about as if they were worth going out of your way to try. I formally apologize for that. The real brewmasters, the ones who understand beer from start to finish, didn’t deserve that at all. I have since stopped drinking swill (well, most of the time), and have upgraded my beer choices to some of the best craft beers in Canada. So let’s see if I can redeem myself and share some of my favourite micro-brews in Canada. Not the garbage I wrote about several years back.

paddockwood-606-craft-beer

Paddockwood 606

Saskatoon, Saskatchewan

Saskatchewan isn’t often known for incredible beers, which is a shame because there is such a large drinking culture here. Out of Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Paddock Wood has been crafting delicious beers since 2004. I first tried their 606 at Winstons Pub in downtown Saskatoon. It’s a malty-hoppy refreshing slap in the tongue that makes you crave more, and more, and more. Ever since that first pint of 606, I am constantly keeping an eye out for their beers anytime I’m in the liquor store. Their 606 is likely my favourite, though when you’re feeling like a bit of a kick in the pants to get you going, their “Loki” is a strong and safe alternative. Hands down my favourite beer in all of Saskatchewan, and perhaps all of western Canada.

half-pints-little-scrapper-ipa-canada-craft-beer

Half Pints Little Scrapper

Winnipeg, Manitoba

Half Pint’s Little Scrapper is another IPA I’m quite fond of, and while their Bulldog Ale is quite nice, it’s the Little Scrapper that stands out. It’s got a nice hoppy kick with some unique grapefruit notes. Certainly a hopheads delight. I was fortunate enough to share my first Little Scrapper at the HI Hostel Winnipeg Downtowner’s attached Vegetarian Restaurant the “Lo Pub & Bistro“. Both the hostel & restaurant unfortunately closed since my visit, but I am eternally grateful to them for introducing me to Little Scrapper (and serving me one of the best bean burgers I’ve ever chowed down on).

la-fin-du-monde-beer-quebec

Unibroue La Fin Du Monde

Quebec, Quebec

While they’ve made the move to being a Macrobrewery (as they can now be found nearly anywhere), they are still the kings of Canadian Belgium styled beers. Strong, sometimes fruity, and very proudly french Canadian, La Fin Du Monde, which translates to “The End of the World”,  is one strong mother that needs to find it’s way into your hands someday. It’s a strong 9%. Many call it a Champagne-esque beer with floral, honey, and malt notes. I found myself enjoying several of the 750ml bottles at picnic lunches throughout my travels in “La Belle Province”. Nothing makes you practice your french quite like a bottle of La Fin Du Monde.

boreale-blanche-beer

Boréale Blanche

Montreal, Quebec

Small Quebecois brewery Boréale, named after the Aurora Borealis (aka the northern lights) was a beer I found myself picking up quite often while perusing Quebec last summer. Their Blanche is superb for a summer’s afternoon.

dieu-ciel-peche-mortel-micro-brew-canada

Dieu Du Ciel Péché Mortel

Montreal, Quebec

I’m normally a wimp when it comes to the dark stuff. I can sip a Murphy’s or a Guinness, but I rarely have more than one. Not so with Dieu Du Ciel’s Péché Mortel, a dark, fair trade coffee infused stout that will knock your socks off with it’s fine aromas and uniquely smooth taste. As a coffee lover, this one goes down smooth and has quite a punch to it.

wild rose velvet fog craft beer

Wild Rose Brewery Velvet Fog

Calgary, Alberta

Alberta’s Wild Rose Brewery started off as Draft Brewers, which then led to bottling their delicious nectar and sending it out amongst western Canada. I’ve had the pleasure of trying a bottle of their Velvet Fog and I can honestly say it is nothing short of heavenly. Their beer is good, and you should try it. ‘Nuff said.

pipers-pale-ale-vancouver-craft

Vancouver Island Brewery Pipers  Pale Ale

Vancouver Island, BC

A classic west coast pale ale that you can count on day in and day out. Like a trusty dog, it’s there when you need it. The folks at Vancouver Island Brewery are churning out some great beer, but their Piper’s Pale Ale is hands down my favourite.

beer_griffon_red_canada-craft

McAuslan Brewery Red Ale

Montreal, Quebec

I was first introduced to McAuslan by a friend who would drink nothing but their St Ambroise Apricot Beer, which to be honest. I couldn’t blame him. They’re a tasty fruity beer. I eventually found one of their variety packs and soon found out that it was in fact their Griffons Red Ale that really made me happy dance all over the place.

granite-ringwood-ale-beer-canada

Granite Brewery Ringwood

Toronto, Ontario / Halifax, NS

Granite Beer is tricky to find, but when you do, there is nothing quite like it. Their Ringwood is a great choice, and for those keen on throwing some random stuff in their beer, I can honestly say ordering a Ringwood & Lime is a nice tweak on an already great beer. I tend to enjoy my Ringwoods on the patio of Henry’s in downtown Halifax.

propeller-bitter-beer-halifax-canada

Propeller Bitter

Halifax, NS

I rarely enjoy bitters, but there’s something to Propeller Bitter’s that keep me coming back for more. While their IPA is awesome as well, I find the bitter to be my go to beer when I’m in Halifax. If you ever get a chance to do their brewery tour, go! It’s well worth the $15, and you will leave much more happy than when you went in.

iceberg-beer-quidi-vidi-brewery-newfoundland

Quidi Vidi’s Iceberg Beer

St Johns, Newfoundland

Quidi Vidi’s Iceberg Beer is one of those local craft brews that you’ll feel forced to share on social media, and brag to your friends about. Brewmasters across the world like to say “Water makes the beer“. The folks at Quidi Vidi take that to the next level. They hire a local Iceberg Hunter to catch them the tastiest looking 25,000 year old Iceberg they can find. After harvesting enough ice to create their famous beer, they brew a delicious clear & golden, lightly hopped, very easy to drink brew. Iceberg Beer is easily identifiable due to the bright blue beer bottles. The Quidi Vidi Brewery tour in St. John’s, Newfoundland is one of those tours you can’t miss!

mill st organic

Mill Street Organic

Toronto,ON

My fiancé would smack me if I didn’t include her favourite Ontario summertime beer. Mill Street, popular for its “Tankhouse Ale”, began branching out and catching beer lovers eyes. Mill Street Organic was the first 100% cerified organic beer in Ontario. It’s a light lager, with a floral aroma, and balanced by a very gentle hoppy bitterness. While it’s not as hoppy as I like my beer, it’s an awesome beer that goes along great with seafood, pasta salad, and warm sunshine.

crazy-canuck-great-lakes-brewery-canada

Great Lakes Brewery Crazy Canuck Pale Ale

Toronto, ON

The winner of the 2011 Gold and 2012 Silver for the North American Pale Ale at the Canadian Brewing Awards. This very Canadian ale is 5.2%. A west coast style pale ale, that sports a golden copper colour and hits you with a ton of flavour, a wildly hoppy aroma and a nice bitter finish.

alley-cat-amber-ale-craft-micro-brew

Alley Kat Amber

Edmonton, AB

While my go-to beers tend to be punch-you-in-the-face hoppy beers, every once in a while I wander over to the world of sweet ambers, gentle hefeweizens, and dark stouts. The Alley Kat Amber is one of those beers that when I see on a drink menu, instantly earns itself a long & hard consider. The Alley Kat Amber has a malty-sweet taste with a dark caramel aroma. It hits you with subtle notes of chocolate, raisin, and allspine. If you’re into malts, you’ll be all over this fellow.

sasquatch-stout-canada-beer-of-the-year-2014

Old Yale Brewing Company’s Sasquatch Stout

Chilliwack, BC

Stouts are foreign to me. I can honestly say I’ve never sat down with a case of stouts and said “It’s Friday and I’m about to end you lot!”. But I will order stouts on occasion at craft beer pubs just as a nice change. The latest Canadian stout I enjoyed was the Sasquatch Sout. It was recently voted the “Best Beer in Canada” for 2014. It’s a smooth beer, with mocha/coffee/barley notes.

fat-tug-craft-brew

Driftwood Brewery’s Fat Tug IPA

Victoria, BC

Representing the west coast. Fat Tug IPA is a memorable India Pale Ale with an intense hop flavour profile with hints of fruity grapefruit and malt. A true hop-lovers beer. The Fat Tug IPA was winner of the 2011 Canadian Brewing Aawards “Beer of the Year” award, and in my opinion definitely deserves it.

Share your favourite Canadian Craft Beers

The delicious world of craft beers in Canada has grown immensely in the past 10 years. This list of some of my favourites are just scratching the surface. If you have any other recommendations please don’t hesitate to leave in the comments below.

16 Superb Canadian Craft Beers You Need To Try is a post from: I Backpack Canada

]]>
http://ibackpackcanada.com/16-superb-canadian-craft-beers/feed/ 4
Getting Screeched In at Twillingate’s Anchor Innhttp://ibackpackcanada.com/getting-screeched-in-at-twillingates-anchor-inn/ http://ibackpackcanada.com/getting-screeched-in-at-twillingates-anchor-inn/#comments Wed, 07 Nov 2012 13:46:09 +0000 http://ibackpackcanada.com/?p=5448 What is screech? And what exactly is a screech in? And what’s the procedure? Well, having gone through the Screech In process, I can proudly tell you all about it! I was recently in the gorgeous small town of Twillingate, the infamous small port town in North Central Newfoundland. It was there, with the help […]

Getting Screeched In at Twillingate’s Anchor Inn is a post from: I Backpack Canada

]]>

What is screech? And what exactly is a screech in? And what’s the procedure? Well, having gone through the Screech In process, I can proudly tell you all about it! I was recently in the gorgeous small town of Twillingate, the infamous small port town in North Central Newfoundland. It was there, with the help of Candice, a true blue Newfoundlander, and Riley of Riles for Miles, that I became an honourary Newfoundlander. Let’s start from the top!

cc licensed ( BY ) flickr photo shared by gLangille

What is Screech?

I’ve heard stories about it’s origins, my favourite being that way back, when the cod fisheries were still a lively part of Newfoundland, the Newfoundlanders would trade their skunky gross cod to Jamaicans, while Jamaicans, would trade their skunky gross Rum. Both thought they were getting a helluva deal, thinking “We’ve just scored some exotic Rum or Fish“. Needless to say, they were both giving eachother the shaft.

Hypothetical history aside, Screech is very strong, often strong tasting rum. While it was originally conjured up in the Jamaican islands, it’s now produced locally in Newfoundland, and served with everything from 5 star meals, to ice cream, and of course, to show CFA’s (Come from aways) how strong & prominent the Newfoundland drinking culture is.

The taste of screech has changed significantly in the past years and is now considered a sought after rum in the rum drinking scene. So keep an eye out for it at your local liquor stores.

But what is a Screech In?

The Screech In is a Newfoundland custom, whereby local Newfoundlanders encourage those not from Newfoundland to become an honourary Newfoundlander. The steps for a screech in vary from place to place, but the typical way goes as such:

  1. The Screecher Inner asks the CFA (Come From Away) “Is ye an honorary Newfoundlander?
  2. The CFA replies “Deed I is me ol’ cock, and long may your big jib draw!
  3. CFA hammers back a shot of Screech
  4. CFA kisses a slimy cod fish on the mouth
  5. CFA Receives a certificate indicating he or she is an honourary Newfoundlander.

The process reminds me a bit of the Sourtoe Cocktail, only with a little more of a party culture surrounding the process. Screech in’s typically finalize with a few (or a dozen) more drinks, lots of cheering, and a bit of a headache the following morning.

screech-in-certificate-newfoundland

Getting Screeched in at Twillingates Anchor Inn

While many have the screech in ceremony performed in St Johns, we were given the opportunity to have the ceremony performed somewhere a little more small, a lot more quaint, and in a true blue old fashioned kitchen party. The city & region surrounding Twillingate is simply stunning. Tourists from all over the world visit these parts in search of icebergs, picturesque panoramas of the Newfoundland seaside, and to experience the warm & welcoming culture that encompasses every Newfoundlander to the core. I had spent days thinking about the screech in and how it would happen, but something I hadn’t even considered was how much I would fall in love with the place I was to be made an “Honourary Newfoundlander”.

anchor-inn-twillingate-restaurant-1

Enjoying a Newfoundland Brewis & Scrunchions

Delicious Food at the Anchor Inn

After enjoying a delicious meal at the Anchor Inn, we proceeded downstairs to the Pub, where local musician Karen Churchill was putting on a bit of a shindig. Walking into the kitchen party, we noticed that we were by far the youngest people at the kitchen party. Most were well into their 40s, 50s, and 60s, while were were considered the youngin’s in our mid 20s. One might think that we’d be ostrasized from the baby-boomer party-goers, but rather, they embraced us with open arms and practically shoved insturments in our hands.

We were handed a wood clacker, a tamborine, and an ugly stick. What is an ugly stick you may ask? Well, it’s a Newfoundland instrument, made up of an old mop, a bunch of jangling beer bottle caps, a couple old soup or tomato cats, and stick to beat said ugly stick with to produce noise. While rocking out to the awesome Newfoundland folk tunes of Karen Churchill we were slamming back some tasty Newfoundland beers like they were going out of style.

twillingate-newfoundland-power-pose-corbin-candice-riley

Rocking out with Karen Churchill at Twillingates Famous Kitchen Party

The Twillingate Kitchen Party

After my 12th beer, my liquid confidence meter had been filled, and I proudly accepted an invite from Karen Churchill to rock out with her on the small little stage in the corner. I grabbed the acoustic guitar, and followed the lead of the local legend herself, rocking out while she was on the banjo. It was an experience that I’ll never forget!

What might have been a few beers later, the official designated Screecher Inner showed up on stage in full yellow mariner weather suit with a slimy frozen cod fish and a bottle of Screech. Shots were poured as the CFA’s lined up in front of the kitchen party. Riley, myself, and a couple from Quebec nervously awaited the shot that is meant to be feared so much. We stood wobbly, and announced in a slurred fashion “deed I have me old cock” – “No no no!” the Screecher Inner announced. “Did I is my ol’ cock, everyone start all over“. A back and forth of misprounced Newfoundland english went on until finally we all nailed it. “Deed I is me ol’ cock, and long may your big jib draw”. We hammered our shot of Screech, kissed a slimy cod, and laughed as a crowd of cheers erupted the small hall of the Anchor Inn hotel.

A trip to Canada wouldn’t be complete without a visit to Central Newfoundland to see & experience this quirky tradition.

twillingate-newfoundland-1

Beautiful Newfoundland

The screech in has been criticized by some as being a terrible thing, some sort of monstrous atrocity that Newfoundlanders should be ashamed of. To that I simply say “Psssh!” You can’t fight a tradition that fun! Embracing the quirky and often times humourous parts of your culture is the best way of showing a CFA a good time. The entire ceremony is done tongue and cheek, and nobody is forced to participate. It’s this type of custom that people will go home telling friends and family, which will no doubt encourage many more to visit the province of Newfoundland & Labrador and experience this initiation themselves. Harmless fun with some of the friendliest people in Canada. What more could you ask for?

Special thanks to the folks at Adventure Central Newfoundland for the help arranging the trip. Extra big thanks & a high five goes out to Karen Churchill for the awesome performance and the warm & friendly staff at the beautiful & cozy Anchor Inn Hotel & Suites.

Getting Screeched In at Twillingate’s Anchor Inn is a post from: I Backpack Canada

]]>
http://ibackpackcanada.com/getting-screeched-in-at-twillingates-anchor-inn/feed/ 5
How to Become an Honourary Newfoundlander in 5 Dayshttp://ibackpackcanada.com/how-to-become-an-honourary-newfoundlander-in-5-days/ http://ibackpackcanada.com/how-to-become-an-honourary-newfoundlander-in-5-days/#comments Wed, 31 Oct 2012 13:10:39 +0000 http://ibackpackcanada.com/?p=5352 Newfoundland tends to be a difficult name for many to pronounce, but once mastered, you can’t help but want to say it as often as possible. Newfoundland (pronounced New•fun•LAND – with extra emphasis on the ‘LAND’) is Canada’s most eastern province, chalk full of incredible seafood, maritimes culture, and some curiosities you simply can’t find elsewhere […]

How to Become an Honourary Newfoundlander in 5 Days is a post from: I Backpack Canada

]]>

Newfoundland tends to be a difficult name for many to pronounce, but once mastered, you can’t help but want to say it as often as possible. Newfoundland (pronounced New•fun•LAND – with extra emphasis on the ‘LAND’) is Canada’s most eastern province, chalk full of incredible seafood, maritimes culture, and some curiosities you simply can’t find elsewhere in this great nation. I had the opportunity to explore Newfoundland and some of its many picturesque islands in Central Newfoundland with a born and bred Newfoundlander, Candice Walsh of Candice Does The World, alongside my newfound travel companion, Riley Platt of Riles for Miles. Together, Riley and I were going to find out straight from the horses mouth (aka Candice’s mouth), what it truly takes to become an Honourary Newfoundlander in 5 days.

cod-tongues-1

1. Eat Cod Tongues

While most pubs across North America are all but too happy to serve you french fries, sweet potato fries, or even some chicken wings – out east in Newfoundland, they accompany their beers with something a little different. Who wants those gosh darn salted potatoes when there’s giant cod tongues just begging to be battered and deep fried to perfection. Yes, Cod Fish do in fact have tongues, and I can attest that they’re larger than you’d imagine. Cod tongues are roughly the size of a adult human male’s big toe, squashed down to tongue shape.

One might think that a big slimy atlantic Cod fish’s tongue would taste a bit off, but hand over heart, they were deeeeeeeelish. Crispy on the outside, tender on the inside, spiced to perfection and the perfect complimentary snack to go alongside an ice cold Newfoundland Beer. I hope their quirky pub grub makes it off the island, because I have been craving to pop some more of those tasty Cod tongues back in my mouth.

quidi vidi beer newfoundland

2. Drink Newfoundland Beer, then drink some more

Newfoundlanders drink the most beer per capita in all of Canada. Perhaps it’s the sporatic weather that changes on a whim, or the fact that they have a wide variety of beer to choose from. Dominion, Jockey Club, India, Blue Star, Black Horse,  While some might complain that all of the local Newfoundland beer have been bought up by the big boys (Labatts, Molson, etc), served cold, there’s worse things to drink.


Local Newfoundland Beer

Beer afficianados will rejoice though, as there is still three local Newfoundland Beers you can sample on the island. I’m speaking of none other than Quidi Vidi Brewing Company, Yellowbelly Brewery, and Storm Brewing. While you’re much more likely to find Quidi Vidi throughout the island, any of the larger liquor stores will carry both Yellowbelly & Storm.


edge-of-world-1

3. Hike to the Edge of the World

One of the coolest hikes you can possibly do, particularly for bragging rights & the stunning vistas, is the Brimstone Head hike on Fogo Island. According to the Flat Earth Society, a slightly kooky bunch who promote all things Flat Earth related, Brimstone Head is one of the four corners of the “Flat Earth”. Whether or not you are a flat earther or a “rounder”, the hike is absolutely breathtaking. Sharp cliffs, pounding waves, strong winds, and a stunning panorama of Fogo Island. It’s a fairly easy hike, and definitely worth it. If you’re curious about the Flat Earth Society I recommend reading Man on the Lam’s post. It’ll give you a couple chuckles.

Be sure to dress appropriately on these hikes. I highly recommend bringing a rain jacket at the very least. After all, it’s Newfoundland. One of the few places where you can experience every season in a day.

kitchen party-1

4. Rock out at a Kitchen Party

We were fortunate enough to get to visit the small town of Twillingate, made famous in the Newfoundland Folk Song, “I’s the b’y“. Driving into town, we blasted the song on the car stereo, as we pulled into the Anchor Inn, a cute little hotel with a fantastic restaurant, a pub, and a weekly kitchen party, which just so happened to be taking place the night we pulled into town.

After a few warm-up drinks at the Anchor Inn restaurant, we made our way down to the pub and pulled into a kitchen party. Despite being 20-30 years younger than most at the party, we were committed to having a time. We filled our table up with beer, grabbed an ugly stick, a wood clacker, and rocked out. After my 10th beer I had enough liquid confidence to hollar up to Karen Churchill, the host of the Twillingate Kitchen Party, and happily informed her that I was eager to back her up with some guitar. She invited me on stage and next thing I know it I’m rocking out on stage, having the time of my life.

screeched in

5. Get Screeched In

This is the official “Become an Honourary Newfoundlander” tradition that has been taking place for years, with the help of a tremendous amount of alcohol. In order to get screeched in the willing participant has to reply to the epic question, “Is ye an honorary Newfoundlander?” with the phrase, “‘deed I is me ol’ cock, and long may your big jib draw.” The ceremony continues as you’re asked to kiss a Cod fish, followed by taking a shot of Screech. What is screech you might ask? Very strong, and very nasty rum. This is usually done in front of a crowd, and accompanied by several more pints and some heavy amounts of laughter. Sort of like the Sourtoe Cocktail, only more fishy. You’re given a certificate at the end to brag to your friends & family about how awesome you are.

I got screeched in at the Kitchen Party in Twillingate, but many insist the best place to get screeched in is at Kristians in St Johns, Newfoundland.

6. A night on George Street

George Street isn’t just famous in Newfoundland, but across all of Canada as being the street that makes St Johns the city with the most Pubs & Bars per capita than any other city in Canada. The Newfoundlander’s know how to party, and a night on George Street will show you exactly how much. People pour out of bar after bar, jumping from dance clubs to pubs to greasy spoons, all in the name of a good time. Cheap drinks, greasy food, one of the liveliest atmospheres mixed with people speaking with their nearly indecipherable accents, and all I can say about George Street, is “Go for it!“.

In the two weeks I spent in the province of Newfoundland & Labrador (note: I haven’t visited Labrador… yet), I was greeted with open arms from some of the warmest people you’ll find in all of Canada. Their unique sense of humour and ability to find a laugh in every situation makes them the type of people you can’t help but want to spend more time with. The culture & scenery that overflows in Newfoundland is hands down one of their greatest treasures. Kissing the cod, drinking the screech, and experiencing such a remote and special part of Canada, that’s the stuff you write home about!

How to Become an Honourary Newfoundlander in 5 Days is a post from: I Backpack Canada

]]>
http://ibackpackcanada.com/how-to-become-an-honourary-newfoundlander-in-5-days/feed/ 5
Burlesque & Beers at Diamond Tooth Gertieshttp://ibackpackcanada.com/burlesque-beers-at-diamond-tooth-gerties/ http://ibackpackcanada.com/burlesque-beers-at-diamond-tooth-gerties/#comments Mon, 08 Oct 2012 12:30:18 +0000 http://ibackpackcanada.com/?p=4724 Red velvet curtains, wood floors, games of chance, and cold Yukon beer greet each visitor of this unique gambling hall. Smiles crawl across the faces of new visitors and only enlarge at the sight of Gerties Girls, a beautiful bunch of cancan dancers who take stage three nights a week. Welcome to Dawson City’s famous […]

Burlesque & Beers at Diamond Tooth Gerties is a post from: I Backpack Canada

]]>

Red velvet curtains, wood floors, games of chance, and cold Yukon beer greet each visitor of this unique gambling hall. Smiles crawl across the faces of new visitors and only enlarge at the sight of Gerties Girls, a beautiful bunch of cancan dancers who take stage three nights a week. Welcome to Dawson City’s famous gambling hall – Diamond Tooth Gerties – a unique blast from the past that continues to dominate the nightlife of of this small Gold Rush town.

Timing is Everything

As with most gambling halls, the atmosphere in Gerties changes with the clientele. Show up too early (say the 6pm or 9pm show), and expect to see the PG rated version of the Yukon. RV Tourists and Cruiseline Crusadors fill the hall for a very tame taste of Gerties. However, if you’re able to pump your brakes for a few hours, you’re in for a completely different show.

yukon-slot-machine

I was amongst a loyal group of comrades, hell-bent on seeing every side of Dawson City. Being fans of beer and gin & tonics, we felt obligated to sample drinks coincidentally close to 2 separate showings of Gerties Girls. The 9pm was quiet, we observed people that were well over 20-30 years our senior gamble and drink. The girls danced, embarrassed a few older gentlemen, and smiled as wide as possible. While it was nice to see some Baby Boomers throw a beer or two back, it was still rather family-friendly in my eyes.

dawson-city-diamond-tooth-gerties-girls

The Midnight Show

Returning at Midnight, the crowd had drastically changed. Lights seemed a little more dim, and Gerties Girls seemed a lot more scantily clad. Locals lined the bar and filled the poker tables. Men with beards longer than the hair on my head slugged beer back like water. The show started, and the bar cleared to watch. Beautiful girls doing sexy things on stage can make the most honest man stop and stare.

Once Gerties Girls left the stage to change outfits, a male performer took stage – clearly trying to seduce the opposite sex in the same manner that Gerties Girls do. It didn’t appear to be working; however, it was then that I figured it out. I looked back at the bar & every inch of standing room around the bar had filled with men seeking refills. As the man-dancer got off stage, the man-drinkers returned to their observation stations. This was genius – Gerties was using the man-dancer to get the men to drink more & also allow the lady-dancers time to change. Yukon ingenuity at it’s finest!

dawson-city-yukon-beer

A Run-in with an Angry Fellow

I joined the flock and learned the rhythm of the bar – it would appear timing out your next drink required accurate planning. Showing up too late meant you missed a song and dance with Gertie & her Girls. After refilling my beer I managed to bump into a local Dawson City gentlemen who didn’t like the cut of my jib. With the assistance of his friend, I was able to convince this rather angry fellow that smashing my face in wouldn’t do either of us any good. In lieu of his act of kindness I was merely encouraged to buy the three of us a shot. That seemed like a fair trade, “Three Tequila’s it is!“.

dawson-city-diamond-tooth-gerties-gambling

A Beautiful Venue

As the final set of Gerties Girls finished up, I did an ocular pat-down of the gambling hall. Men and women were playing blackjack against traditionally dressed dealers in suspenders. The sound of a slot machine spilling it’s guts into the cup of a lucky winner rang through one corner of the bar, lights flashed, people drank, smiles were all around, and the floor was filled with people enjoying a show that could have been put on in the early 1900’s.

Dawson City is this little hidden town in it’s own bubble. Time doesn’t appear to have had much of an affect on it. The beer tastes good, the locals are friendly (even the drunk one that wanted to fight became an ally after drinking tequila with him), and the amount of things to see and do around this little town is astounding. Find a way up here if you’re ever in Whitehorse and see what I feel is the “real Yukon”. A little rough around the edges & jammed full of sexy history, beautiful scenery, and an ample supply of alcohol.

Diamond Tooth Gerties is a non-profit gambling hall that started in the 1950’s by a keen bunch of locals who wanted to promote tourism in The Yukon. Named after Diamond Tooth Gertie, a real life Klondike superstar / lady of the eve who differentiated herself from the “other girls” by sticking a Diamond in her teeth. Diamond Tooth Gerties serves beer, liquor, texas hold’em, roulette, blackjack, and all the slots you can shake a stick at.

Entry Cost: $10.00

Special thanks to the kind folks at Tourism Yukon for helping arrange this excursion, and to the fine people of Diamond Tooth Gerties who let me snap photos of this unique piece of Yukon culture.

Burlesque & Beers at Diamond Tooth Gerties is a post from: I Backpack Canada

]]>
http://ibackpackcanada.com/burlesque-beers-at-diamond-tooth-gerties/feed/ 2
Grilled Cheese, Mill Street Beer, A Museum of Shoes, & a Heckuva Timehttp://ibackpackcanada.com/grilled-cheese-mill-street-beer-a-museum-of-shoes-a-heckuva-time/ http://ibackpackcanada.com/grilled-cheese-mill-street-beer-a-museum-of-shoes-a-heckuva-time/#comments Mon, 24 Sep 2012 15:54:42 +0000 http://ibackpackcanada.com/?p=4833 Toronto! I somehow end up in this magnificent city at least a few times a year. Despite meandering through it occasionally, I’ve never been back and not found something unique and new to see, do, or try. The Cross-Canada Travel Blogger Tour, put on by the Canadian Tourism Commission, not only gave me the opportunity […]

Grilled Cheese, Mill Street Beer, A Museum of Shoes, & a Heckuva Time is a post from: I Backpack Canada

]]>

Toronto! I somehow end up in this magnificent city at least a few times a year. Despite meandering through it occasionally, I’ve never been back and not found something unique and new to see, do, or try. The Cross-Canada Travel Blogger Tour, put on by the Canadian Tourism Commission, not only gave me the opportunity to meet a handful of other incredible writers and bloggers, but opened the doors to a few places in “The Big Smoke”, that I’d never got around to seeing.

In true rockstar fashion, I was swept up by a limo company as soon as I landed in Toronto, and brought to the Cambridge Suites in downtown Toronto. While I’m used to public transport and splitting cabs with fellow airportee’s, I have to admit, having your own driver is something I could get used to. After dropping off my backpack in these luxury Toronto Suites, I promptly grabbed the 505 Streetcar to Chinatown. Chinatown; however, wasn’t my destination. A short walk and I was back in one of my favourite neighbourhoods of Toronto. Kensington Market.

kensington market

Kensington Market

The streets of Kensington Market are filled with local produce, small restaurantes, patios, vintage shops, hand made crafts, and the occasional smell of incense. For those who’ve ever been to Australia, I like to compare this area of Toronto as “Byron Bay”, but without the beach. It’s a gathering place for free-spirits, hip young adults, and people interested in seeing a local side of Toronto.

the-grilled-cheese-kensington-market-toronto

Having not eaten in 7 hours, my gut was beyond grumbling. It was screaming at me to feed it. Everything looked so good though, and decision making has never been a skill I’ve excelled at. Mexican? A bakery? Burgers? Pub grub? Then, of the corner of my eye, I gazed upon The Grilled Cheese. I B-lined it there, and ordered the best Grilled Cheese sandwich I’ve ever eaten.

After inhaling a tremendous amount of cheese, I ran into a fellow Cross-Canada travel blogger, Frankie Bird of As the Bird Flies. As someone who’s been to Kensington Market a handful of times I was nominated as leader. In true Canadian fashion, I found beer. Mill Street beer, Steamwhistle & Tankhouse to be exact. The patio of The Last Temptation is one of my favourite spots to people watch in Toronto. The patio & window seating is just high enough to observe a bit of everything going on around you, and the food & drinks are surprisingly easy on the pocket.

bata-shoe-museum

The Bata Shoe Museum

After intros and pitchers of beer, it was time to see some more of Toronto. While we discussed the possibility of the CN Tower, as well as the Royal Ontario Museum, it was the Bata Shoe Museum that won our attention. A museum dedicated to the history of footwear. Thousands of years of it! Hands down one of the most interesting and cute museums I’d ever been to. It also gave me a huge appreciation for the sneakers I wear, and added even more respect to women for putting up with some of the uncomfortable footwear they’ve endured in the past, and continue to occasionally wear today.

pimms-easy-fifth

Pimm’s, Gin, & a Filet Mignon

By 630pm the rest of the group had congrugated to the lobby of the Cambridge Suites, and we left as a group to Easy & Fifth. A trendy and unique restaurant located a short old-fashioned elevator ride above one of Toronto’s funnest clubs. It was there that I enjoyed Pimm’s & Gin, tackled a lovely salad, then finished it off with what might have been the tastiest and best cooked filet mignon I’d ever ordered.

For 24 hours in Toronto, we squeezed in a bunch, but we’d only just scratched the surface, and there was more TIFF & Toronto sights, sounds, and eats to take in. All in all, a great way to start off a superb trip catered to showing the world a slice of Toronto.

Grilled Cheese, Mill Street Beer, A Museum of Shoes, & a Heckuva Time is a post from: I Backpack Canada

]]>
http://ibackpackcanada.com/grilled-cheese-mill-street-beer-a-museum-of-shoes-a-heckuva-time/feed/ 1
Why I Love Quebec & You Should Too!http://ibackpackcanada.com/why-i-love-quebec-you-should-too/ http://ibackpackcanada.com/why-i-love-quebec-you-should-too/#comments Sat, 28 Jul 2012 16:08:11 +0000 http://ibackpackcanada.com/?p=5092 Located throughout this french Canadian region are a thriving people that have fought for their culture. The french Canadians are truly one of Canada’s brighter shades of colours, with decadent food, a thriving arts scene, a passion for history, and all things fun. While tensions between the french and the english have seen waves in […]

Why I Love Quebec & You Should Too! is a post from: I Backpack Canada

]]>

Located throughout this french Canadian region are a thriving people that have fought for their culture. The french Canadians are truly one of Canada’s brighter shades of colours, with decadent food, a thriving arts scene, a passion for history, and all things fun. While tensions between the french and the english have seen waves in their numbers, including several demands for independence, one thing is for certain – Canada would not be the diverse and unique country we know today without Quebec.

I am absolutely in love with Quebec. While I’ve shared many a heated debates with english Canadians about their position on the bilinguality of Canada, I maintain that the french canadians are an essential part of this magnificent country. They are the chicken stock to our mosaic flavoured soup. The eggs to our omelette. The cheese to our poutine! I urge every english Canadian to spend at least a week in this province to truly understand its significance to not only the population of Canada, but to the ideals which make Canada what it is. I traveled by VIA Rail to Quebec and traveled around the province for 3 weeks exploring this amazing culture.

These are the reasons I love Quebec:

la-fin-du-monde-beer-quebec

The French-Canadian Food & Drink

While it’s hard not to speak of the seducing allure of poutine, there is more to french canadian cuisine than fries & cheese curds covered in a whopping helping of gravy. Between the artisan cheese, the old country style breads, or the insatiable beauty of french canadian beer, Quebec has no shortage of mouth watering tastes. Try Unibroues “La Fin du Monde“, a 9% golden belgian style ale with fruity hints and a strong punch that will keep you practicing your french with healthy amount of liquid confidence. Don’t forget to watch for local bakeries where you can pick up some of the best Montreal styled bagels along with some of the best tasting bread you will find in Canada.

The French Canadian History

Canadian history is hardly as glamorized as our american neighbours, but looking into the annals of time, an interesting story of settlers, natives, fishermen, farmers, soldiers and wars unravels into the birth of Canada. Stepping foot onto the Plains of Abraham to picture a war that lasted 15 minutes and resulted in the death of both English & French Commanders (James Wolfe and Louis-Joseph de Montcalm), or explore the Ramparts of Quebec, the only remaining walled city in North America besides Mexico City – had it not been for the preservation efforts of Lord Dufferin the Old Quebec landscape might have been lost to a sea of similarity. Don’t forget to check out the “Lieu historique national des Forts-et-Chateaux-Saint-Louis” below Quebec City, a unique look into the past of Old Quebec. The new interactive exhibits and friendly staff of Parks Canada will be sure to bring life to the stories of yesteryear.

cirque du soleil trapeze

The Quebec Arts

I’m always surprised how well the french stand behind their artists. It’s a culture that promotes creativity in a way that is hard to find in western Canada. Between the music, the painting, the sculpting, or the street performing, art can be found throughout this city. It’s not merely tucked away into a corner; rather, it’s promoted and encouraged. From big acts like Cirque du Soleil, to the artists on Rue du Trésor, it’ doesn’t take long to find somebody who is creating something unique and beautiful.

festival quebec

The French Language

While unbeknownst to most english speakers, Quebecois french is much more different than what is spoken in France. Having had the opportunity to share a few drinks with french speakers from France and Quebec, it took less than half a beer before they were arguing over the proper way to say something. Each claims to be more proper french while the other is more influenced by english, and while I’m hard pressed to say who is right, it’s clear they have their differences. Despite their heated debates, Les Quebecois are all but too happy to encourage english speakers to get out of their comfort zone and use whatever french they’ve retained from high school classes. It took me about 2 days before I threw caution to the wind and started fully immersing myself in the french language. After a full week of immersion, my french came back, not completely, but enough that I’m not afraid to start using it again!

The Warm Smiles of Les Quebecois

Perhaps it’s the way english speaking Canadians butcher their beautiful language, but I’ve never seen more smiles in my life than when traipsing through the streets of Quebec City and Montreal. The ability to warm someones day with a genuine smile appears to be engrained in each and every french individual. From the patio waitresses, to the street performers, to the shopkeepers selling t-shirts that read “Oui Oui”, a smile from a French Canadian is like a hug from an old friend. Introducing yourself in french (even the butchered variety) is not only socially proper, but also shows that you acknowledge the rights of french Canadians to live as they please, without forcing english upon them. In this beautiful mosaic that is Canada, I think that’s the least we can do.

The Educational Experience

Having taken french immersion for the majority of my primary and secondary education, I can honestly say that diving into the deep end and experiencing Quebec for a few weeks or longer will give you not only a greater appreciation for the language, but a greater understanding of local expressions, proper connotations of words, and an increased vocabulary. Language is very much a “use it or lose it” skill, and immersing yourself in french language and culture forces those skills to build, to develop and grow upon the foundation that the education system provided you with. While Montreal is a beautifully french metropolis, it has a surprising amount of english speakers, which is why I recommend getting to Quebec City, or further north to Charlevoix and get the opportunity to practice your skills in complete immersion, without any safety net to fall back on. It won’t be easy, but nothing worthwhile is!

It’s been my experience that many western Canadians don’t understand life in Quebec. Stereotypes mixed with preconceived notions of what the french Canadians are like tend to keep most from ever visiting this unique basket of culture and language. Travel has an astounding way of tearing down the walls of peoples assumption. I truly believe that if more english Canadians would leave their bubble to experience Quebec – Peace, happiness and friendship would replace the stereotypes many Canadians possess about this beautiful province, which in turn could help solve the politically sensitive situation that Canada has faced for so many years.

Why I Love Quebec & You Should Too! is a post from: I Backpack Canada

]]>
http://ibackpackcanada.com/why-i-love-quebec-you-should-too/feed/ 9
Ottawa Celebrates Canada’s 145th Birthdayhttp://ibackpackcanada.com/ottawa-celebrates-canadas-145th-birthday-photo-essay/ http://ibackpackcanada.com/ottawa-celebrates-canadas-145th-birthday-photo-essay/#comments Thu, 05 Jul 2012 16:05:32 +0000 http://ibackpackcanada.com/?p=4927 On Parliament Hill, thousands gathered to celebrate the birth of Canada. Flags were raised high, red & white was plastered on everything and everyone, and rowdy screams declaring their love for this country filled the streets. Musicians performed on every other corner, patios herded thirsty customers in and the free events at Confederation Park, Major’s […]

Ottawa Celebrates Canada’s 145th Birthday is a post from: I Backpack Canada

]]>

On Parliament Hill, thousands gathered to celebrate the birth of Canada. Flags were raised high, red & white was plastered on everything and everyone, and rowdy screams declaring their love for this country filled the streets. Musicians performed on every other corner, patios herded thirsty customers in and the free events at Confederation Park, Major’s Hill Park, Parliament Hill, and across the river in Quebec at Jacques-Cartier Park had everyone on their feet. Ottawa Ontario, the capitol of Canada, truly knows how to throw a party fit for a country this big.

While walking through the streets to Parliament Hill wasn’t exactly what I’d call fast, it was always fun. Whether it was the young adult shot gunning a beer in front of a family with 3 kids, only to have the Dad high five the young fellow for his expert drinking speed, or watching people who aren’t so good in crowds panic and find the nearest corner to breathe. Seeing these little moments pushing through crowd made the journey much more enjoyable.

canada-day-guards-1

The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier

Eager people visited many of Ottawa’s beautiful sights, including the popular National War Memorial, located near the corner of Elgin and Sparks. It’s hard not to stop and watch as eager Canadians & visitors stand with the guards for photographs. As the day progressed, miniature Canadian flags (which are handed out for free throughout the city) begin to be piled all over “The tomb of the Unknown Soldier“. I learn that this is a tradition in Ottawa, that’s done each year during Canada Day and Remembrance Day.

ottawa-canada-day-2012-ipad-photographer

Party on Parliament Hill

Arriving at Parliament Hill, the stage is lit, children sit on the shoulders of their fathers, and people young and old climb, stretch, and squirm their way into the best view they can possibly get for the show that’s about to start. The excitement in the crowd rises with each minute. “God Save The Queen” follows into “Oh, Canada”, and as the Snowbirds fly over the top of Parliament Hill a loud roar explodes throughout downtown Ottawa.

ottawa-canada-day-parks-canada-beaver

A Giant Parks Canada Beaver

After watching some award winning performances, including that of one of my favourite female artists “Feist”, along with a quick speech by Prime Minister Stephen Harper, the noon hour shenanigans on Parliament Hill dissipated, and the party spread to the streets and several of Ottawas finest parks. I made a quick walk to the Rideau Canal, and watched as boaters climbed the historic Ottawa locks. Parks Canada was out in full force educating children and adults about the incredible parks in their own backyard. There was also a giant blow-up Beaver, which could make even the most grumpy of Gus’s smile.

ottawa-canada-day-streets-people

A Wall of Red & White

As my mid-day hunger kicked in, it became clear to me that food was the only thing that would keep me going. I set my sights on Major’s Hill Park, where the Chicken Farmers of Canada were serving what they did best. Chicken! As I slithered my way through the crowds, I hit a human road block. It would appear the entire city of Ottawa was playing a giant game of “Red Rover” with me, preventing me from eating. Hungry Corbin is not a pleasant person to be around; so I Hulked out, and in my most Canadian way, “Sorry’d” my way past roughly a thousand people.

 

Chicken, Chalk, and VIA Rail

chicken-farmer-canada-day-1

I arrived at Major’s Hill Park and watched as the worlds happiest children climbed aboard a miniature VIA Rail train that was cruising around the park. Chalk artists and chalk amateurs coloured the pavement with flags, words, animals, and whatever else their imaginations could come up with. I promptly found myself a $4.00 chicken sandwich and sat back people watching and resting my legs for what was sure to be a busy evening.

td-jazz-fest-ottawa

Ottawa Jazz’s Up Canada Day

After resting up, I made my way to Confederation Park, where the TD Ottawa Jazz Festival was taking place. July 1st was their free day, and the park was a superb reprieve from the business of Canada Day. A beer gardens in one corner, wide open spaces perfect to lounge on the grass, and some incredible musicians from around the world performed to a happy crowd. I sat back in a chair in the beer gardens, consuming my first beer of the day. Beau’s Lug-Tread Lager, a beautiful local Ottawa beer that couldn’t have tasted better on what might have been one of the hottest Canada Day’s I’d ever experienced.

It was approaching 7:00pm and my energy was fading fast. Between the heat, the long walks, the heavy backpack filled with camera gear, and the heavy crowds, I made a decision. Cold shower! I wandered back to the historic Lord Elgin Hotel where I was staying for the night, and jumped into my incredibly awesome shower. I was in and out, feeling like $100, and ready get back at it. I worked my way back to Parliament Hill and just caught the start of the 7:30pm show.

ottawa-canada-day-2012-stage

Live Music & High Fives

After watching Simple Plan do their thing on stage, and watching as the talented Roch Voisine woo’d crowds, the sun was setting fast. The fireworks were going to go off in just over an hour, and judging by the speed I moved through the crowds earlier in the day, I suspected I should leave early. After a 45 minute walk, high fiving the worlds happiest Canadians, I made it back to Major’s Hill Park to watch the fireworks.

Fireworks over the Ottawa River

I set up my tripod, my camera, my remote switch, I had the view framed perfectly for an interesting photo with the parliament with fireworks in the background. I waited patiently, excited for the results. The perfomers in Major’s Hill Park stopped playing. The lights went out. People spread out on the grass, tilting their heads skywards. Then suddenly, an explosion of light and sound. I watched the first one go off, and realized then that I am a big dummy. Turns out I was way off, and I had somehow boxed myself behind a wall. There was going to be no photos of this spectactle.

fireworks-canada-day

I quickly grabbed my camera from the tripod, switched into video mode and hit the record button – I figured worst case scenario, I could grab a frame from the movie. The young couple standing next to me laughed, as did I. We were all shaking our head in disapointment, as we had all arrived early to score the best spot, only to be stuck behind a wall. “Nothing a little laughter and beer can’t fix” – said someone standing behind me. “So true“, I replied. I followed the fireworks for the next fifteen minutes with my camera, grabbing each moment of excitement, laughing at myself the whole time.

As the final explosion went off, a thunderous roar could be heard from Parliament Hill and across the river. The sound of thousands of people screaming for a short 30 seconds was almost deafening. As the bands started up again they played as the massive crowd that had gathered in the park slowly drifted downtown to partake in as much drinking as humanly possible. My beard must be turning grey, because I was beat and didn’t have the energy to party for another 3 hours. A couple patio pints of Beau’s and Kichesippi beer and I was beat. Is this what being an adult feels like? As I finished my beer and wandered back to my room at the Lord Elgin Hotel I couldn’t help but think “I honestly am happier with a few patio beers & an easy wake-up than ridiculously loud club music & all night whiskey & tequila shots. Hello adulthood! You’re pretty okay. And Canada, you’re beyond awesome!

Looking for a place to stay while in Ottawa?

For budget travellers, be sure to check out the HI Ottawa Jail Hostel. The history behind this unique Canadian building will amaze you. If you’re looking for a beautiful historical hotel in the downtown core, be sure to check out the Lord Elgin Hotel. Don’t forget to have lunch at the Lord Elgins Grill 41 & order the Seafood Chowder. You’ll thank me later!

Ottawa Celebrates Canada’s 145th Birthday is a post from: I Backpack Canada

]]>
http://ibackpackcanada.com/ottawa-celebrates-canadas-145th-birthday-photo-essay/feed/ 3