I Backpack Canada » History http://ibackpackcanada.com A backpackers travel guide to Canada Mon, 25 May 2015 17:53:59 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=4.2.2 Curious Mysteries at The Winnipeg Legislative Buildinghttp://ibackpackcanada.com/curious-mysteries-winnipeg-legislative-building/ http://ibackpackcanada.com/curious-mysteries-winnipeg-legislative-building/#comments Tue, 20 Aug 2013 14:06:03 +0000 http://ibackpackcanada.com/?p=5628 Dan Browns famous novel “The Da Vinci Code” mixes history, mystery, and a curious plot that keeps pages turning. Whether you love it or hate it, I personally remember putting that book down several times while reading it and thinking “Woah, it all makes sense!“. That feeling of “what the…” is hard to come by. […]

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Dan Browns famous novel “The Da Vinci Code” mixes history, mystery, and a curious plot that keeps pages turning. Whether you love it or hate it, I personally remember putting that book down several times while reading it and thinking “Woah, it all makes sense!“. That feeling of “what the…” is hard to come by. Sometimes it shows up in a book, a movie, a well written blog post, but rarely does it happen in real life. I was fortunate enough to have the opportunity to experience this feeling out in the wild. Found right under your nose in downtown Winnipeg, the local Legislative Building has a strange history that has to be seen in order to fully believe.

Sphinx on Winnipeg Legislative

The Hermetic Code Tours

Dr. Frank Albo takes you on a tour through this historic landmark explaining such mysteries as “What the heck is a sphinx doing on top of a building in the middle of the prairies?“, “What’s with all of the freemason imagery, and what does it all mean?” and “How come all of this in Manitoba?“. This hour & a half tour through an architectural wonder is a breathtaking experience. A curiosity that makes you question history in Canada, and the prominence in Freemasons as late as the 1930’s.

Dome Ceiling
I would love to share more about this unique experience and tell you all of it’s wonders, but the delivery of this incredible information is best seen on the tours, surrounding by marble floors & stunning art & with the superb narration of Dr. Frank Albo. In short, you’re going to see some mind boggling things, hear some crazy stories, and be presented with answers to some mysteries you never knew existed.

Special thanks to Tourism Manitoba for blowing my mind by putting me on this tour.  

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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 […]

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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.

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

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

churchill-manitoba-flag

The Metis Infinity Flag

1. The Local People

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

churchill-manitoba-polar-bear

2. The Danger

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

churchill-manitoba-beluga-whales

3. The Wildlife

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

churchill-manitoba-kayak-tours-beluga

4. The Adventures

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

churchill-manitoba-via-rail

5. The Travellers

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

seal-skin-kayak-churchill

6. The History

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

Tundra Pub Churchill Manitoba

7. The Food

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

Tundra House Hostel

8. The Tundra House Hostel

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

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

8 Reasons I Can’t Get Churchill Off My Mind is a post from: I Backpack Canada

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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 […]

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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

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The Giant Flowerpots at Hopewell Rockshttp://ibackpackcanada.com/the-giant-flowerpots-at-hopewell-rocks/ http://ibackpackcanada.com/the-giant-flowerpots-at-hopewell-rocks/#comments Mon, 23 Jul 2012 15:40:22 +0000 http://ibackpackcanada.com/?p=5069 Straining your neck upwards it’s hard to grasp the immensity of these massive boulders. Carved out of the landscape by thousands of years of erosion from the largest tides in the world, with the assistance of the hot heat of summer in New Brunswick and its frigid temperatures in the winter (known formally as “Freeze […]

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Straining your neck upwards it’s hard to grasp the immensity of these massive boulders. Carved out of the landscape by thousands of years of erosion from the largest tides in the world, with the assistance of the hot heat of summer in New Brunswick and its frigid temperatures in the winter (known formally as “Freeze Erosion”). The Flowerpot Rocks are one of the most serene natural wonders of Canada. High tide or low, it’s hard not to shake your head in disbelief at this enormous landscape of boulders the size of small buildings, surrounded by the Bay of Fundy, home to the worlds largest tides.

Southbound to Hopewell Rocks

Located south of Moncton New Brunswick at Hopewell Cape, you’ll drive past covered bridges, beautiful farmlands, and then finally you’ll see the waters of the Bay of Fundy. Driving down into Hopewell Cape you’ll come across a rather large parking lot. Don’t let the amount of cars scare you off, Hopewell Rocks is massive, and there’s plenty of room for all – even those that steer clear from big tourist destinations.

The interpretive center located before you descend to view the Hopewell Rocks is superb, with information relating to the formation of the area, the fauna that call Hopwell home, along with some great explanations of how exactly the Flowerpot rocks were formed. Be sure to look for the historical photos of the Hopewell Rocks, as tourists have been visiting this area to gaze at these natural wonders for decades. It truly lets you appreciate the age of the rocks along with how much erosion has taken place since the early 20th century. The changes to many of these Flowerpot Rocks in just the last 60 years will astound you!

High Tide Or Low Tide

A visit to the Hopewell Rocks can be done at either high tide or low tide. During high tide you can rent a kayak for $59 (plus tax) and padding through the megalithic boulders. A handful of hours later in low tide, you can be walking along the sea floor of the Bay of Fundy observing the Flowerpot Rocks from ground level and snapping some of the most wild photos you’ll take during your travels in New Brunswick. Remember the number 100 Billion, as that’s how many tons of seawater goes in and out of the Bay of Fundy!

Our guide knew more about these rocks than I know about myself, and it’s clear to see that the staff here aren’t just doing their job, this is something they are all clearly passionate about. The Hopewell Rocks staff meticulously keep the area clean & safe, any garbage that shows up around these parts from the waters of the Bay of Fundy or from forgetful tourists is quickly picked up, and disposed of properly, while safeguards are put in place to keep tourists away from rocks that have seen so much erosion that they’ve become a danger to the public. In September 2002 there was a massive landslide at Hopewell Rocks which could have been disastrous had anyone been near by.

A Humbling Experience at Hopewell Cape

Walking between two Flowerpots can make you a bit clausterphobic, but knowing that most of these rocks have remained standing for centuries allows you to breathe a sigh of relief. Pictures and video of the area really don’t do this place justice. While they showcase the beauty, in order to fully take in the size and immensity of each of these massive rocks, you need to walk around the floor of the Bay of Fundy and observe them from each and every angle. If you’ve never been blessed with that belittling feeling large landscapes can give you, gazing upwards upon a small forest growing on the top of a rock in the middle of the Bay may just what you need to ignite that intrinsic feeling. Talk about a humbling experience!

For more information on the Hopewell Rocks be sure to check Tourism New Brunswick’s website on Hopewell Rocks, which is full of images, video, tide tables, and all the information you’ll need in order to plan a trip to the Hopewell Rocks. The Park is open mid-may until mid-october, Adults $9.00, Seniors (65+) $7.75, Students (19+ with valid student card) $7.75.

Note that visitors may still enter the park during off-season; however, no facilities are open and you visit at your own risk. It’s good to remember to play it safe with tide timetables, it would make for an uncomfortable visit if you get trapped by rising tides. 

Special thanks to Tourism New Brunswick for helping organize my trip through Grand Manan Island and Hopewell Rocks! 

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

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

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

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The History of the Ottawa Jail Hostel

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

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Hangings in Canada

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

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Tour the Haunted Jail Hostel

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

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

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

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Panning for Gold at Claim 33http://ibackpackcanada.com/panning-for-gold-at-claim-33/ http://ibackpackcanada.com/panning-for-gold-at-claim-33/#comments Thu, 21 Jun 2012 12:13:41 +0000 http://ibackpackcanada.com/?p=4718 The Yukon, home of the largest gold rush in history. 100,000 stampeders from across the world invaded the region in search of riches. While only 30,000 to 40,000 actually made it across the treacherous terrain, and only a few thousand even struck gold, people continued to flock. Gold fever they call it! It’s a game of chance […]

Panning for Gold at Claim 33 is a post from: I Backpack Canada

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The Yukon, home of the largest gold rush in history. 100,000 stampeders from across the world invaded the region in search of riches. While only 30,000 to 40,000 actually made it across the treacherous terrain, and only a few thousand even struck gold, people continued to flock. Gold fever they call it! It’s a game of chance with the elements; however, I was about to find out there was also some skill to it.

 

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Gold Fever at Claim 33

I arrived at Claim 33, a museum, souvenir shop, and one of the few locations the public can come to pan for gold themselves. It’s here that I’m taught that you can pan for gold all you want, but if you don’t have a proper technique, you’re going to lose every bit of gold you find.

I’m handed a black steal pan with a pile of gravel and dirt. I’m guided to the water trough where I’m given a brief tutorial on the proper way to pan for gold. I start sifting through the dirt and gravel, trying to separate the gold flakes from dirt in hopes of striking it rich. I shake my gravel in water, washing it, trying to loosen the dirt. I’m corrected multiple times due to my poor technique but soon get into the rhythm. Wash, pour, dip, wash, pour, dip.

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It’s all about the Technique

After a dozen attempts I appear to be making some progress. My friendly instructor laughs at my terrible technique. In the time it’s taken me to get half way through my pan, she’s finished three, and found gold in each. It seems I would have been a starving stampeder had I been around during the Gold Rush of 1898.

As the large stones are sifted out of my pan I see my first flake shining in the lip of my black metal pan. “GOOOOLD!” – I concentrate on not losing the flake. Praying that by shaking the last big rock out, I don’t accidentally knock out the precious flake with it. Another gold flake pokes through the thin dust. I think to myself “I’m gonna be soooo rich!“.

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Gold Fever in the Yukon

It soon becomes apparently that I have Gold Fever. I begin planning to sell my life and move up here to become rich. I shake, dip, wash, pour, until finally – I present my earnings for my 15-20 minutes of labor. 4 gold flakes – estimated value… not a lot. In that instant I’m cured of the fever. While clearly my technique needs some work, it’s surprisingly fun sifting through dirt, a practically worthless pile of nothing, and turning it into a few gold flakes that could actually be worth something. My back aches from the short time I was bent over – those Stampeders had a hard life. For those that struck it rich, it must have seemed worth it. For those who didn’t, I can’t imagine the despair.

While panning for gold my seem a bit “touristy” – it’s a great way to learn the history of the Klondike Gold Rush and really does provide an accurate portrayal of the pain and frustration the thousands of Stampeders would have felt. Many locals in this area spend their time off knee deep in rivers and streams panning. It’s sort of a mix between a hobby and a part-time job. If it pays off, it pays well, if not – well, they get their fair share of Vitamin D and get to take in the outdoors. Which in my eyes, is one of the best riches you can find in the Yukon.

Panning for Gold at Claim 33 is a post from: I Backpack Canada

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Remembering the Victims of the Titanic in Halifax Nova Scotiahttp://ibackpackcanada.com/remembering-the-victims-of-the-titanic-in-halifax-nova-scotia/ http://ibackpackcanada.com/remembering-the-victims-of-the-titanic-in-halifax-nova-scotia/#comments Mon, 23 Apr 2012 13:54:32 +0000 http://ibackpackcanada.com/?p=4527 100 Years ago the Titanic hit an iceberg that caused the deaths of  over 1,500 lives. While many seem to only remember the event through the romantic movie, friends and family of victims, survivors, and rescuers continue to honour the event, and with it being the 100th anniversary many history lovers found themselves in a […]

Remembering the Victims of the Titanic in Halifax Nova Scotia is a post from: I Backpack Canada

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100 Years ago the Titanic hit an iceberg that caused the deaths of  over 1,500 lives. While many seem to only remember the event through the romantic movie, friends and family of victims, survivors, and rescuers continue to honour the event, and with it being the 100th anniversary many history lovers found themselves in a small Graveyard in the North End of Halifax, myself included. People often forget that Halifax played a large role in the tragedy. While the survivors were being moved to New York, the deceased were pulled from the icy Atlantic waters by the crew of the MacKay-Bennett and laid to rest in the port city of Halifax, Nova Scotia.

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The Fairview Cemetery

There had been countless Titanic events throughout the week in Nova Scotia, and while I wasn’t able to catch them all I wanted to make sure I visited the Titanic memorial at the Fairview Cemetery. I ended up biking to the grounds, and watched as people from all walks of life quietly walked through the rows of graves. I have to admit I was concerned that people would be a bit “off” at these graves. Many of these people likely didn’t have a clue who any of these Titanic victims were, and I was no different. I feared that young girls would be crying out for Jack Dawson, the fictional character from James Cameron’s film. But it was nothing like that.

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The Unknown Child

Young and old stared at the stones, reading the inscriptions to themselves. I watched as a young girl laid out flowers in front of the tomb of the youngest victim. I small boy who had remained unknown until 2011, 19-month-old Sidney Goodwin. He was an English child whose entire family died in the sinking. I watched an elderly couple hold eachother as the women shed a tear, perhaps for the unknown child, perhaps due to the heart warming sentiment of the youth of today honouring a child who never got to lead a full life.

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The Brave Crew of the Titanic

I walked the rows and read the names, the numbers, the dates. Many of the men who perished in this tragedy were my age. Men in their young twenties. I couldn’t help but shake my head in disbelief, I asked myself “Would I have been so brave had I been put in that situation?“. I decided it was time to leave, and found one last stone stone to photograph. The stone was that of Everett Edward Elliot. It poetically read “Each man stood at his post while all the weaker ones went by, and showed once more to all the world how Englishmen should die.”

Remembering the Victims of the Titanic in Halifax Nova Scotia is a post from: I Backpack Canada

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