I Backpack Canada » Activities http://ibackpackcanada.com A backpackers travel guide to Canada Tue, 24 Feb 2015 16:26:51 +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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The Ultimate Canadian Candy Listhttp://ibackpackcanada.com/ultimate-canadian-candy-list/ http://ibackpackcanada.com/ultimate-canadian-candy-list/#comments Fri, 30 Jan 2015 15:27:32 +0000 http://ibackpackcanada.com/?p=5858 It’s late January, meaning a lot of us have fallen off the “Get Healthy New Years Resolution” bandwagon. Let’s celebrate failure today by going over the wicked world of Canadian candy. This is sort of a continuation on my last post on 17 delicious items of Canadian Junk Food. I’m concentrating primarily on Canadian chocolate bars, Canadian Candy, […]

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It’s late January, meaning a lot of us have fallen off the “Get Healthy New Years Resolution” bandwagon. Let’s celebrate failure today by going over the wicked world of Canadian candy. This is sort of a continuation on my last post on 17 delicious items of Canadian Junk Food. I’m concentrating primarily on Canadian chocolate bars, Canadian Candy, and Canadian Chips this time around. There’s a lot of treats in the junk food aisle that you can only find in Canada. Candy and chocolate bars make for very cheap and easy souvenirs to bring home for friends, or just when you’ve got a sweet tooth. 

Canadian Chocolate Bars

Big Turk

I still have not eaten a Big Turk. Though the more I talk about them, the more people tell me “You gotta have one!”. One of these days I will, but when I’m buying chocolate or candy here in Canada, I end up falling back on my go-to’s. The big turk consist of pink turkish delight, rosewater confection based on a gel of starch and sugar, then coated in milk chocolate. Supposely they’re awesome, and those that like them rave about them and demand them to be sent from afar. This is one Canadian chocolate bar that I’m going to try to pick up, next time I’ve got a hankerin’ for chocolate.

Coffee Crisp

The Coffee Crisp Chocolate bar is one of those bars that grows on you as you age. As a kid, I remember these things were just plain weird. But I recall my Mom & Grandma picking through my Halloween pickings and doing me the favour of eating them. As I grew older and found a love for coffee, these Canadian chocolate bars soon became my go to. Airy, waffery, chocolatey. These fellows can be found just about anywhere Candy is sold in Canada.

Crispy Crunch

The Crispy Crunch chocolate bar used to be sold in the United States, but due to some chocolate-drama, can only be found in Canada. This uniquely Canadian chocolate bar is basically a flattned bar, filled with crispy, crunchy, flakey/chewy peanut butter.

Neilsons Jersey Milk

Neilsons Jersey Milk is made in Canada, and very popular amongst die-hard chocoholics. This chocolate bar is known as one of Canada’s most creamy-milk bars. You can’t beat simple. And this is by far one of the simplest.

Sweet Marie

The Sweet Marie Chocolate bar was inspired by a Canadian love affair, which was wrote about in a poem titled “Sweet Marie”. Raymond Moore then took the poem, put it to music, and the song took off. This hit song / poem / story then inspired a Canadian chocolate company to create the Sweet Marie Chocolate Bar. The Sweet Marie is sort of similar to a Mr. Big. It has rice crisps, peanuts, cramel, and a chewy nougat.

cadbury-pepCadbury Pep Bar

I always associate these mint chocolate bars with my Grandma. I don’t know what it is about older ladies and mint-chocolate, but they just eat that stuff up. The Cadbury Pep Bars aren’t that popular, and are actually kind of tricky to find. My guess is Grandma’s across Canada are scoopin’ them up like hot cakes. It’s a working theory…

Aero

The Aero is one of my personal favourite chocolate bars. While not completely unique to Canada (I’ve enjoyed one in Australia before), they’re widely popular here. While Aero’s expanded into more flavours, including caramel, orange, and mint, the original milk chocolate Aero is where it’s at. The quirky, fun, bubbly texture is melt in your mouth awesome.

Caramilk

The Caramilk bar is my fiancé’s favourite chocolate bar. Caramilk bars are essentially a bar of squares, each individually filled with caramel, surrounded by milk chocolate. Very much a chocolate you share, as they are easily broken apart. They are wildly popular in Canada.

Mr Big

This Chocolate Bar is crazy popular in Canada. The Mr. Big is one of the largest chocolate bars you’ll come across. It’s the length of two standard sized chocolate bars, hence the name. Canadians can’t get enough Mr Big. It’s found its way into ice cream, and several variations of the Mr. Big, including Mr. Big Fudge, Mr. Big Maple, and Mr. Chew Big.

Wunderbar

The Wunderbar is only sort-of Canadian, but I’ve included enough sort-of’s in this list that I’m obligated to throw it in here. There’s variations of this bar all over the world, marketed under other names such as the Star Bar. The Wunderbar is a superb chocolate bar though, name aside. Chewy, chocolatey, goodness. Eat one. In fact, you should eat two.

Eat More

Ooey, chewy, stretchy, peanuty goodness. I can’t really call this a chocolate bar, because it’s very odd in its taste, and consistency. It’s more of a peanut-candy bar. But since it’s in a bar format, I’m throwing it in with the rest of the Canadian chocolate bars. Whatever we want to categorize it as, it’s one of my personal favourites. The eat more bar is made of dark toffee, peanuts, and chocolate.

Canadian Candy

Smarties

American’s often confuse this Canadian Candy with their local variety of Smarties, which are actually more like our Rockets, a sugary candy disk. Smarties are colourful candy coated chocolates. The crunchy candy shells melt in your mouth, making the 3 – 4 handfuls of Smarties per box disappear very quickly. Smarties are also one of the most expected types of Candy you score while trick or treating on halloween.

Glosettes

You won’t find this popular Canadian Candy in America. Glosettes are extremely popular as a movie theatre snack. Each box contains countless chocolate covered raisins (though peanuts and almond version exist as well). I know a lot of people have some weird gripe with Raisins, but say what you will about those wrinkly grapes, Glosettes are awesome.
Cadbury_MaltedMilk_L

Malted Milk

The Malted Milk is a tricky chocolate bar to find, but if you catch one on a shelf in Canada, it’s well worth picking up. It’s a bit like a milky way, kind of like a 3 Musketeer, only better. It’s got a tasty nougat and a good helping of Caramel. Another delicious Canadian treat to add to your list of things to watch for.

Maltesers

Maltesers are crunchy, light, balls of milk chocolate with a malt honeycomb centre. You can always find a bag fall of Maltesers are the local movie theatre, or in just about any Candy aisle in Canada. They’re a bit like Whoppers (the chocolate, not the burger), but noticably different. Personally, not my favourite, but I know lots of people gobble them up.

Mackintosh Toffee

While at first glance, it looks just like another chocolate bar in a cute tartan package, it’s actually a large brick of toffee. It was briefly discontinued in Canada, but has since come back. Probably one of my favourite types of Canadian candy due to its classic simplicity, I would advise that if you have any issues with your teeth, to be careful with these fellows.

Crunchie bar

Honeycomb toffee, covered in chocolate. Light, crunchy, and incredibly airy, Crunchie Bars aren’t exactly unique to Canada, but they’re very commonly found anywhere candy is sold, so guess what? They’re on the list!

Swedish Berries

Swedish berries are delicious, red, berry-shaped soft chewy candy made by the candy company Maynards, located in Canada & the UK. Commonly found in Canadian convenience stores, gas stations, and in bulk boxes as large department stores, these are very popular amongst Canadian candy addicts. Swedish Berries are related in taste and consistency to Swedish Fish, which is another Maynards product.

Wine Gums

Popular in Canada and in just about any of the Commonwealth countries, Wine Gums are similar to gumdrops without the sugar coating. They come in different shapes and colours, and despite the name contain no alcohol. When I’m having a down-day, I oftentimes find myself eating a bag or roll of these until I feel ill. Totally worth it.

Thrills Gum

Thrills is a popular (but kind of in an indie way) brand of chewing gum made in London, Ontario. It’s deep purple colour is easily recognizable, and the rosewater flavour cause many people to compare it to the flavour of soap. The package pokes fun at itself with a cute tagline “It still tastes like soap!”. It’s weird, but in a quirky awesome way.

ganong-Fruitfull-jellies

Ganong Fruitful Jellies

Locally produced in Canada, Ganong Fruitfuls are the rolls royce of candies in Canada. They’re soft, real fruit jellies, made with six fruity flavous, including strawberry, kiwi, lemon, orange, raspberry, and peach. Tricky to find, but wildly popular to those who’ve found them.

Maple Candies

You can’t get more Canadian than “Maple Candies”. These sugary Maple Leaves made of 100% Canadian Maple syrup make for great souvenirs. While they’re a bit too sweet for my liking, if you or someone in your family has a sweet tooth, these are a must. The good thing with Maple Candies is it’s nearly impossible to binge eat them. So you can pace yourself and celebrate knowing you haven’t completely ruined your diet.

Canadian Chips

Dill Pickle Chips

I’m not completely sure who had the bright idea to bring the flavour of dill pickle into chip form, but I have to commend them. They are one of my go Canadian chips. They’re a bit like sour cream & onion, only more pickly, and immensely better.

Ketchup Chips

The king of strange Canadian snacks, but so very, very awesome. Ketchup Chips are a very awesome gift to bring home for some raised eyebrows. I grew up on these red, finger staining chips. Hockey rinks, swimming pool, movie night. Look for Lays or Old Dutch ketchup chips, the latter are by far more ketchupy, but either or will rock your socks. Or completely gross you out.

All Dressed Chips

People all over Canada rave about All Dressed chips. But I dont know, I’ve never been sold on them. Just too intense for me. They’re a bit like sour cream, a bit like barbeque, and sort of like ketchup. I wouldn’t be surprised if the chip scientists just jammed all those falvours into the bag (hence the all dressed), but I’m probably out to lunch. Not for me, but I’d still say give ‘em a shot!

Hickory Sticks

Kind of strange chips, as their shape are completely different than the other chips you’ll find in Canada. These are more like tiny, flat, crispy french fries with a hickory smoked flavour. They’re highly addictive, so consider yourself warned.

hawkins-cheesies

Hawkins Cheezies

Cheezies on their own aren’t exactly Canadian. In America, you’ll find Cheetos, and Cheese Balls, and Cheese Fluffs, and all sorts of cheesey tubes. But Hawkins Cheezies are ours. They’re the Canadian Cheezies. They’re crunchier, chunkier, mis-shapennier (Yes, that’s a word now) tubes of cheesy goodness. A staple for Canadian snackers with salty, cheesy cravings.

Funky Canadian Flavoured Chips

There’s countless other uniquely Canadian flavoured chips out there. Maple syrup, poutine, sour cream and bacon, you name it. Many of them are only for a limited time, or are just considered experimental. So keep your eyes out for some of the funkier flavours popping up in a junk food aisle near you.

Am I missing any Canadian treats?

Please don’t hesitate to leave some suggestions in the comments below and I’ll try to update this list as more junk food ideas come in.

Disclaimer: Some of the Candy / Chocolate / Salty treats may be found in other countries. In this day and age it’s hard to say “These chocolate bars you can only find in Canada, period.” Candy wholesalers ship this stuff around like the addictive drugs they are, so you’re bound to find a few of these treats in specialty Candy stores all over the world. Also – there’s some affiliate links in this post that link to Amazon. Please support my site by buying something through them.

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Kayaking with Belugas in Churchill, Manitobahttp://ibackpackcanada.com/kayaking-with-belugas-churchill-manitoba/ http://ibackpackcanada.com/kayaking-with-belugas-churchill-manitoba/#comments Fri, 16 Jan 2015 15:58:32 +0000 http://ibackpackcanada.com/?p=5362 The tip of my paddle sliced through the cold arctic waters of the Hudson River, a loud burst of air and mist erupted from the water. I watched as a smooth, silky white body of one of Churchill Manitoba’s yearly visitors, the belugas, gently peeked out of the water. As I swivelled my head I […]

Kayaking with Belugas in Churchill, Manitoba is a post from: I Backpack Canada

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The tip of my paddle sliced through the cold arctic waters of the Hudson River, a loud burst of air and mist erupted from the water. I watched as a smooth, silky white body of one of Churchill Manitoba’s yearly visitors, the belugas, gently peeked out of the water. As I swivelled my head I realized I am completely surrounded. I let out a nervous laugh & quickly decided that it was time to make friends with these 2000 lb cetaceans.

kayak-beluga-hudson-bay

Paddling with Churchills Belugas

My sea kayak glided towards a pod of belugas headed straight for me. I worried that I found myself in an arctic version of chicken that I have yet to learn the rules to. Thankfully, they all dove before impact and barrel rolled underwater, studying the kayak and no doubt wondering what this cold, wet, bearded fellow above is all about.

I soon discovered that belugas love playing cat and mouse. Chasing a colourful kayak through these cold waters is considered a good time by belugas, and judging by how much I abided, I have to admit it’s my kind of game as well. After an hour of padding with pods of these magical creatures, encouraging as many to follow in my wake, they had all but completely wore me out.

beluga-petting-hudson-mb

An Encounter with an Infant Beluga

As I rested, watching the 4 other paddlers in my group laugh at the excitement of seeing belugas at every angle, I dipped my hand into the cold waters, hoping to get my newfound group of underwater friends attention. A grey juvenile beluga swam closer, inspecting my hand. We maintained eye contact, starring into one another’s eyes, studying. I held still, hoping with all my might that this young beluga might see me as friend and not a foe. The juvenile gracefully floated closer, nudging my hand with his nose. Suddenly he (or she) swam away, only to return a few seconds later to touch my hand again. “Hello to you too“, I quietly said. I pulled my hand from the water in shock, and yelled to the group “I just touched a beluga!“. Jealousy erupted in our group, as I spent the last hour kayaking in complete disbelief, laughing and shaking my head, wondering how I got so lucky. This was hands down one of the highlights of my life!

Polarbears & Belugas

While many people head north in search of polar bears, I traveled north to Churchill for the belugas. Not only because summer is their high season, but because as a child I was Raffi’s biggest fan, belting out the words to “Baby Beluga” louder than Axl Rose could scream. Despite being such a huge fan of his hit song, I had never seen a beluga in real life. I was convinced that this summer was to be the one that changed that, looking back, that was one of the best goals I had set in a long time.

kayaking with belugas in churchill

Churchill’s Kayak & Beluga Experts

The folks at Sea North Adventures offer travellers a wide range of adventures, including kayaking & snorkelling with belugas, exploring the Churchill Fort, or hopping on a zodiac in search of polar bears. The staff at Sea North Adventures have to be some of the hardest (and friendliest) workers in Churchill. When you don’t see them touring people through the frigid waters of the Churchill River, you might find them serving guests at the Tundra Inn Pub.

beluga-pod-manitoba-canada

VIA Rail from Winnipeg to Churchill

I boarded VIA Rail’s “Hudson Bay” train from Winnipeg to Churchill, a 40 hour ride that let’s you truly experience the vast distances and picturesque landscapes of the Canadian prairies, the boreal forest, and the sub-arctic tundra. This is by far the cheapest way to get up to Churchill, and despite the long hours on board a train, you’ll find that it’s just part of the journey. Part of what makes Churchill so intoxicatingly alluring! Be sure to try and remember your fellow VIA Rail passengers names as you’ll likely be seeing them throughout town when you arrive. While flying is an option to get to Churchill, VIA Rail is significantly more friendly on the budget, and in my opinion a better way of traveling to this small northern Canadian town.

churchill-manitoba-beluga-whales

Churchill is for the Adventurous

Churchill brings about a certain type of traveller. You’ll find that they all have something in common. Whether it’s their desire for the great outdoors, an insatiable quench for adventure, or a passion for arctic wildlife, you’ll come to realize those you meet in the small town of Churchill are here for a lot of the same reasons as you. What’s more shocking than this is the fact that residents of Churchill continue to possess these same qualities, and best of all, they’re willing to share their slice of heaven with visitors from all over the world. With a population of under 1000 people, you’ll come to find that each and every one of them have a story worth listening to. Be sure to take the time to listen, next to the belugas and polar bears, they’re the most interesting form of life this far north.

Special thanks to the folks at Frontiers North Adventures, Sea North Tours, and the warm folks at Tundra Inn for helping out with my Churchill Adventure. Another thanks to the helpful staff at Travel Manitoba for bringing me in to cover the region.

Please forgive the Instagram quality photos in this post, I wasn’t brave enough to haul my DSLR out for this kayak trip and I only ended up having my Waterproof Case for my iPhone to snap these.

Kayaking with Belugas in Churchill, Manitoba is a post from: I Backpack Canada

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5 Snowboarding Tips That’ll Keep You From Dyinghttp://ibackpackcanada.com/5-snowboarding-tips-keep-you-from-dying/ http://ibackpackcanada.com/5-snowboarding-tips-keep-you-from-dying/#comments Wed, 14 Jan 2015 20:03:43 +0000 http://ibackpackcanada.com/?p=6999 We’re going to talk about snowboard safety here – no, wait just there. Don’t go clicking away. Safety isn’t the most exciting topic to write about – I know, but if you’re new to the sport, or just a smart ass know-it-all who’s too cool for helmets, let’s get things straight. This sport is a […]

5 Snowboarding Tips That’ll Keep You From Dying is a post from: I Backpack Canada

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We’re going to talk about snowboard safety here – no, wait just there. Don’t go clicking away. Safety isn’t the most exciting topic to write about – I know, but if you’re new to the sport, or just a smart ass know-it-all who’s too cool for helmets, let’s get things straight. This sport is a somewhat riskier sport than most with a high rate of injury. Adrenaline causes people to make some questionable decisions, and even before that kicks in, we can all sometimes get a bit cocky. So in an effort to keep you from dying on the mountains this season, I wanted to share 5 snowboarding tips that’ll keep you from dying.

snowboarding-safety-tips

Hey cool helmet. You like safety or something?

Gear Up with Quality Snowboard Equipment

You’ve got your snowboard, bindings, boots, what else do you need? First and foremost – grab a helmet. Don’t be a dummy. If they’re cool enough for the pros, they’re cool enough for you. Now I’m the first to admit, I used to never wear a helmet. My reasoning was that since I didn’t plan on doing backflips, or anything more crazy than a 180 here and there, that it just wasn’t needed.

For 13 years of snowboarding I got on fine. I’m not sure if it was my growing maturity, or the one face-plant where I knocked my head on the ground heard enough to freak me out. But I decided then, that not wearing a helmet was just stupid. I remember thinking to myself “What if I broke my skull! I’d be screwed”. I didn’t want to get carried off the mountain. That would be far more embarrassing than wearing a helmet.

Get properly fitted for all the gear you need. Talk to a local snowboard shop or take your things in and get their opinion. If you’re new, you might want to consider investing in some wrist-guards, knee-guards, and if you might even want the hip-guard/butt-guard combos that I’ve been tempted to get. If you’ve ever hurt on your tailbone, you’ll know that these aren’t as silly as they look.

crabbe-mountain-snowboard-newbrunswick-6

Couple of Buddy’s

Use the Buddy System

If you’re unfortunate enough to injure yourself seriously, or do something as goofy as losing your snowboard because you forgot to wear a snowboard leash, the buddy system is going to be your lifeline. Don’t snowboard alone. Stay within shouting distance of a friend at all times, and regularly check to be sure you’re still snowboarding with the guy or girl you rode up with. It’s an easy system, but it works.

Don’t be a Dick

This is just a good philosophy in general, but in terms of snowboarding. Avoid dickish behaviour. Dickish behaviour can not only get yourself injured, it can also hurt others. Plus it’s just super irritating. What might you ask is dickish behaviour?

  • If you’re chatting with a friend in front of the off-ramp of the chairlift, you’re being a dick.
  • If you’re skiing or snowboarding in a wall-like fashion, preventing people from easily being able to get by, you’re being a dick.
  • If you’re cutting people off going downhill, yes, you’re being a dick.
  • If you’re riding within a couple arms reach of someone else, you’re not just being a dick, you’re being a stupid dick.

It’s fairly simple, just be courteous and watch your surroundings. Oh, and if you can avoid all of the above, that would be great.

snowboard-trails

Stay on the trails

Each year we hear about some poor soul that ended up out of bounds. Most times the story ends on a sad not. Either they get turned around and lost, or hurt themselves bad enough that they couldn’t get back to the trail to be found. People go missing for days, some are never heard from again. Groomed trails keep people safe. No, they might not always have the freshest pow (that’s a cool-guy-snowboarder term for “powder”), but they’re maintained, and are regularly watched out over by Snow Patrol. Break an arm on a trail, you’re going to get help. Break one out of bounds, and you might be there a while.

Just note, as soon as you cross that line into the out of bounds, you’re signing your life away. I personally advise you to stick within the mountains trail system. Safety first!

ski-resort-fire

Respect Your Limits

As adrenaline courses through your veins, it’s sometimes possible to think you’re invincible. New snowboarders on their 2nd day of snowboarding find themselves biting off more than they can chew on a black diamond. Avoid taking on something you’re just not ready for. You’re more likely to hurt yourself, and you’re really not going to enjoy sliding on your butt all the way down.

This rule doesn’t only apply for trail colours. If you’re new to snowboarding, or it’s your first weekend trip back. You’re going to be sore. Expect it. Sometimes you have to listen to your body instead of your brain. You’re brain is going to urge you to get the most bang for buck, hit as many runs, keep up with your friend that gets out every other weekend. There is no shame in calling it quits a run or two early if it means you’re going to be able to get back on your board the next day.

You can read all of the snowboarding safety tips you can find on the internet, but at the end of the day, common sense goes a long way. Use your brain, trust your gut, but enjoy yourself!

This post was published in collaboration with SecuriGlobe Travel Insurance. Check them out if you’re in the market for some quality travel insurance.

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American’s Trying Canadian Snacks For First Timehttp://ibackpackcanada.com/americans-trying-canadian-snacks-for-first-time/ http://ibackpackcanada.com/americans-trying-canadian-snacks-for-first-time/#comments Sun, 11 Jan 2015 11:59:09 +0000 http://ibackpackcanada.com/?p=6793 It’s safe to say that Canada has some curious snacks and treats. From the sweet, the salty, to the eyebrow raising. American’s visiting Canada are often surprised that while we’re only a short drive away, that border is actually a gateway to a whole new world of food not available in America. The smart folks at Buzzfeed […]

American’s Trying Canadian Snacks For First Time is a post from: I Backpack Canada

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It’s safe to say that Canada has some curious snacks and treats. From the sweet, the salty, to the eyebrow raising. American’s visiting Canada are often surprised that while we’re only a short drive away, that border is actually a gateway to a whole new world of food not available in America. The smart folks at Buzzfeed Yellow managed to capture that experience. So without further ado, this is “American’s Trying Canadian Snacks for the first time”. Bon Appétit!

 

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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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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

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6 Best Casinos In Canadahttp://ibackpackcanada.com/6-best-casinos-in-canada/ http://ibackpackcanada.com/6-best-casinos-in-canada/#comments Wed, 07 Jan 2015 00:16:20 +0000 http://ibackpackcanada.com/?p=6933 As a travel destination, Canada is known primarily for its awesome blend of natural beauty and wonderful cities. But for those looking for specific means of entertainment, the country also offers a number of great casino experiences every bit as enjoyable as those in U.S. destinations like Las Vegas or Atlantic City. If betting on black, […]

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As a travel destination, Canada is known primarily for its awesome blend of natural beauty and wonderful cities. But for those looking for specific means of entertainment, the country also offers a number of great casino experiences every bit as enjoyable as those in U.S. destinations like Las Vegas or Atlantic City. If betting on black, or chasing that royal flush is up your alley, here are six of Canada’s best casinos to check out.

jade-room

River Rock Casino Resort

Where It Is: Richmond, British Columbia

Why It’s One Of The Best: The River Rock Casino Resort offers all of the traditional perks of a top-notch casino destination. There are endless gaming options, luxury accommodations, and great restaurants on site, including the Sea Harbour that boasts its own demonstration of Richmond’s status as the “Asian food capital of North America.” But it’s the setting that gives the River Rock an edge. Situated on the Fraser River, it’s a stunning destination that looks equal parts ski lodge and casino resort.

dawson-city-diamond-tooth-gerties-gambling

Casino Niagara

Where It Is: Niagara Falls, Ontario

Why It’s One Of The Best: Like the River Rock Casino, Casino Niagara excels due to the natural beauty of its surroundings. Located a block away from the picturesque Rainbow Bridge near Niagara Falls, the casino naturally draws tourists who are already in the area to see the landmarks. As a result, it tends to have a particularly lively crowd.

Caesars-Windsor-Art-5

Caesars Windsor Hotel & Casino

Where It Is: Windsor, Ontario

Why It’s One Of The Best: Like the Casino Niagara, the Caesars Windsor benefits from close proximity to the U.S., in this case drawing on tourism from Detroit, Mich. Beyond that, it’s a reliable destination in that the Caesars Entertainment group tends to be at the forefront of advances in gaming. The company has a firm hold on many of North America’s top casinos, and even partnered with the Betfair Casino to work toward bringing the online gaming industry into parts of the U.S. This sort of progressive ownership tends to keep the Windsor, and Caesars’ other locations, updated with the best in gaming and entertainment.

Casino-Montreal

Casino de Montréal

Where It Is: Montréal, Quebec

Why It’s One Of The Best: Casino de Montréal may offer the grandest casino tourism destination in all of Canada. According to USA Today’s own countdown of some of Canada’s finest casinos, Casino de Montréal is one of the largest casinos on the planet. It is home to over 3,000 slot machines, 100 gaming tables, and its own street outside the venue. Combine all of that with the fact that Montréal itself is considered by many to be the most fascinating Canadian city for tourists, and this is a must-see casino for travellers.

casino-nova-scotia

Casino Nova Scotia

Where It Is: Halifax, Nova Scotia

Why It’s One Of The Best: It’s somewhat off the beaten path for a major casino, but its gorgeous location right on the Atlantic makes it well worth a visit. As you’ll find reading through Trip Advisor’s reviews on the casino, it’s not the biggest gambling experience in Canada, but many visitors appreciate the cosier and friendlier quality of the casino. If you’re looking to visit a smaller or even somewhat-quaint casino in Canada, Casino Nova Scotia is definitely one to consider.

casino-cree

Photo by Rishad Daroowala – CC Licensed via Flickr

River Cree Casino Resort

Where It Is: Enoch, Alberta

Why It’s One Of The Best: While technically in Enoch, this is essentially the main casino for the Edmonton area, which makes it an exciting venue. There are lots of gaming options and there’s generally a strong crowd of visitors and gamers. Perhaps the most unique aspect of the River Cree, though, is that it offers a glimpse of Canada’s hockey enthusiasm for foreign travellers. The venue includes full-sized hockey facilities, and many fans hope to see Edmonton Oilers players from time to time.

Where to find these casinos in Canada?

6 Best Casinos In Canada is a post from: I Backpack Canada

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My favourite Canadian Architectural Wondershttp://ibackpackcanada.com/canadian-architectural-wonders/ http://ibackpackcanada.com/canadian-architectural-wonders/#comments Wed, 24 Dec 2014 16:03:37 +0000 http://ibackpackcanada.com/?p=6798 Canada is known by most to be scenic view after view of wild and rugged nature. Surprisingly enough though, this nation is also home to some incredibly designed buildings. A couple of which were even included in the Seven Wonders of the Modern World, a list started by The American Society of Civil Engineers. I’ve always had a strange […]

My favourite Canadian Architectural Wonders is a post from: I Backpack Canada

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Canada is known by most to be scenic view after view of wild and rugged nature. Surprisingly enough though, this nation is also home to some incredibly designed buildings. A couple of which were even included in the Seven Wonders of the Modern World, a list started by The American Society of Civil Engineers. I’ve always had a strange fascination with awe-inspiring buildings, perhaps from that one drafting class I nearly failed in High School. Either way, when I’m on the road, I love making an extra special effort to check out buildings. These are my current four favourites that I came across during my last cross Canada road trip.

banff-springs-hotel

Banff Springs Hotel

Starting in the heart of the Rocky Mountains, the Banff Springs Hotel in Alberta is one of the most iconic hotels in Canada and has stood proudly as a destination of the highest quality for over 100 years. Designed by Bruce Price in a Scottish Baronial style, the resort has over 750 guest rooms, yet still manages to offer an incomparable peace surrounded by the mountains and woodland. Built between 1887 and 1888, it became one of Canada’s grand railway hotels and at one point was even the tallest building in Canada.

cn-tower-city-view

CN Tower

Of course that’s now eclipsed by the magnificent CN Tower, standing over 1,800 feet high and overlooking the country’s largest city – Toronto.

The tallest free-standing structure in the Western Hemisphere, it was completed in 1976 and to this day still holds a number of records including the world’s highest bar, largest revolving restaurant, longest metal staircase with 2,579 steps, and that’s not to mention being able to walk along the edge of itIt’s a truly spectacular building and is one of the most iconic buildings in Canada.

casino-montreal

Casino de Montreal

Shifting our focus down a thousand feet or so is the Montreal Casino, the largest casino in the country and one of the most interesting pieces of architecture in Montreal.

Opening in 1993, it consists of three interconnected buildings and is famed by its unconventional features which include low ceilings and even windows. The casino itself has never been more popular with gaming hitting new heights in the country both online on the likes of Canadian Royal Vegas games, and on the casino floors of this incredible building. Situated on the banks of the Fleuve Saint-Laurent, the casino also has an even more interesting feature, in the fact it’s surrounded by the Circuit Gilles-Villeneuve – home of the Canadian Grand Prix.

chateau-frontenac

Chateau Frontenac

Another of Canada’s magnificent hotels, the Chateau Frontenac has been welcoming visitors to Quebec City since 1893, and is another of Bruce Price’s grand railway hotels.

Overlooking the Saint Lawrence River, this uniquely designed hotel has been the favoured stay of the likes of Sir Winston Churchill, Franklin D. Roosevelt, and many other popular figures throughout history. The building’s Chateauesque architecture cuts a very imposing figure in Quebec’s skyline with its tall chimneys and steeply pitched roofs.

It’s both ideal for a look or a stay if you’re planning a visit one of the oldest cities in North America.

Have you visited any of these buildings? Can you think of other awesome buildings throughout Canada? Comment below and let me know!

My favourite Canadian Architectural Wonders is a post from: I Backpack Canada

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