I Backpack Canada » West http://ibackpackcanada.com A backpackers travel guide to Canada Fri, 15 May 2015 19:13:52 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=4.1.1 Joe Goes to CANADA: Vancouver (~NSFW)http://ibackpackcanada.com/joe-goes-to-canada-vancouver/ http://ibackpackcanada.com/joe-goes-to-canada-vancouver/#comments Sun, 03 May 2015 16:42:45 +0000 http://ibackpackcanada.com/?p=7181 I know, I know. It’s been a while since I’ve been posting random Canadian travel videos on Sundays. I’m trying to get back in it. But today I brought a good one! When I first saw Joe Goes travel series, I wasn’t sure what to make of him. Part of me wanted to think he […]

Joe Goes to CANADA: Vancouver (~NSFW) is a post from: I Backpack Canada

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I know, I know. It’s been a while since I’ve been posting random Canadian travel videos on Sundays. I’m trying to get back in it. But today I brought a good one!

When I first saw Joe Goes travel series, I wasn’t sure what to make of him. Part of me wanted to think he was being obnoxious, but then I realized he’s just a fellow who doesn’t take the world all that serious. And why should you when you’re a traveling comedian and part time rapper who gets to rib people from around the world. While this video might not feature breathtaking tourism-style shot cinematics. It does manage to capture some quirky Canadianisms, and Canadian people just being ordinary people when they’re getting harassed by a sometimes cringe inducing comic on the street.

Joe, if you ever read this. Keep up the great work. I also dig your rhymes.

Joe Goes to CANADA: Vancouver (~NSFW) is a post from: I Backpack Canada

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Interview with the Award Winning Big White Ski Resorthttp://ibackpackcanada.com/interview-award-winning-big-white-ski-resort/ http://ibackpackcanada.com/interview-award-winning-big-white-ski-resort/#comments Thu, 26 Feb 2015 17:10:42 +0000 http://ibackpackcanada.com/?p=7096 I wanted to flesh out my site with some more ski & snowboarding content as I’ve had a hankering to get out there again soon. Then I heard Big White Ski Resort picked up a shnazzy new award, and thought I’d grill them to answer some questions and explain to me what exactly makes Big White so […]

Interview with the Award Winning Big White Ski Resort is a post from: I Backpack Canada

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I wanted to flesh out my site with some more ski & snowboarding content as I’ve had a hankering to get out there again soon. Then I heard Big White Ski Resort picked up a shnazzy new award, and thought I’d grill them to answer some questions and explain to me what exactly makes Big White so different from the other ski resorts in Canada. Their friendly team happily answered my email, and I think it’s safe to say I might have just decided where I’m going to snowboard next. Let’s get to the Q’s and A’s.

Photographer:Quickpics Photo Credit:"Big White Ski Resort"

Photographer:Quickpics Photo Credit:”Big White Ski Resort”

Ski Canada Magazine recently awarded Big White “Best of Skiing in Canada,” what is it that sets Big White apart from other ski resorts?

Big White Ski Resort offers up big outdoor adventures in the heart of the Okanagan Valley. Nestled in the picturesque Monashee Mountain range, Big White Ski Resort is just 45 minutes from Kelowna International Airport. Boasting Canada’s largest ski-in, ski-out resort village, Big White Ski Resort can accommodate more than 17,000 guests. And all that winter fun hasn’t gone unnoticed. Big White has racked up numerous accolades, such as the people’s choice for 2014 Family Ski Resort of the Year.

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How long has Big White been in operation, could you share a bit of the history?

The history of Big White Ski Resort dates back to 1963 when the hill opened with a day lodge and the longest T-bar in Canada. In 1963 the Serwa’s and Mervyn’s families started a huge undertaking, creating Big White Ski Hill from scratch. In their first year they had to build a road, a day-lodge and a lift. The original base area was located approximately where The Aspens is now. In that first year they did successfully complete the road, the day-lodge and the T-Bar. That feat put Big White Ski Resort on the path to becoming what it is today. In 1985, the Schumann Family purchased Big White Ski Resort with the goal to build a world-class ski resort focusing on customer convenience and service, while increasing capacity, and offering new skiing terrain.

Photographer: Keiran Barret Photo Credit:"Big White Ski Resort"

Photographer: Keiran Barret Photo Credit:”Big White Ski Resort”

While some ski resorts are known for powder, some for the terrain, some are known for parties, what would you say Big White is most well known for?

It’s all that beautiful champagne powder that makes Big White Ski Resort one of Canada’s top ski destinations, with an average annual snowfall of nearly 7.5 meters (24.5 feet). Big White Ski Resort boasts 118 runs spread across five powder bowls, and to handle all that winter-time traffic, Big White Ski Resort hosts 16 liQs, and a total uphill liQ capacity of 28,000 skiers per hour so you can spend more time on the runs and less time in pesky lines.

As Canada’s most family friendly ski resort, Big White Ski Resort is abound with family friendly fun. The resort has received top honours for offering up this and other types winter-themed fun for the whole family. Snow Action Magazine in Australia named Big White its 2014 Family Ski Resort of the Year, and the resort made the Out & About with Kids Best of Family Awards list as their pick for the 2014 Best International Family Ski Resort.

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Photo Credit:’Big White Ski Resort’

Sore bones, muscles, and ego’s tend to heal best with a day off of the slopes. Besides the amazing ski & snowboard, what are some other things to take in while visiting Big White?

From snowshoe tours to horse-drawn sleigh dinners to snowmobiling, Big White Ski Resort has an activity to suit every preference, including:

  • Dog Sled Tours
  • Ice Climbing Tower
  • Ice Skating
  • Sleigh Rides
  • Snowmobile Tours
  • SnoLimo Tours
  • Snowshoe Tours
  • Tubing
  • Dining Tours
  • Wine Tours

Read more about some of our other Big White Ski Resort Events & Activities.

Are there any big events that take place in Big White that you’d recommend planning your trip around?

Other fun family events:

Special thanks to Big White for letting me ask a few questions and find out more about their resort. If their photos are a sign of anything, it’s that I need to get out there soon! That powder… goodness me.

Interview with the Award Winning Big White Ski Resort is a post from: I Backpack Canada

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16 Must See Canadian Destinationshttp://ibackpackcanada.com/16-must-see-canadian-destinations/ http://ibackpackcanada.com/16-must-see-canadian-destinations/#comments Tue, 24 Feb 2015 16:26:51 +0000 http://ibackpackcanada.com/?p=7073 I get hassled a lot by readers, asking what are the best Canadian destinations to see. I try my best to avoid naming names, but I’ll usually share a handful of what I deem to be the best. While I like to remind readers that the best is all subjective, I partnered up with Expedia […]

16 Must See Canadian Destinations is a post from: I Backpack Canada

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I get hassled a lot by readers, asking what are the best Canadian destinations to see. I try my best to avoid naming names, but I’ll usually share a handful of what I deem to be the best. While I like to remind readers that the best is all subjective, I partnered up with Expedia Canada and came up with my own little hit list to share some of my personal faves. Something a little more public & out there, something that I can just link people to and say “Give this a read“. I’m hoping some readers will comment and share some additional must see Canadian destinations, but I hope this gives you a start!

tombstone mountain yukon

The Yukon

The wild, rugged Yukon has lured people from all over the world for hundreds of years. Home of the Klondike gold rush, thousands of kilometres of dense bush, and some of the most beautiful mountain ranges in Canada (I’m looking at you Tombstone Mountain Range). The Yukon is this mysterious territory where art meets manliness, where nature meets quirky towns and cities, where people don’t take anything too serious, except when it comes to making people laugh. SourToe Cocktails, gold miners trying to strike it rich, and 1:00am sunsets are sure to raise some eyebrows. The Yukon is too weird, too wild not to include in this list.

whale watching vancouver island

Vancouver Island, BC

Beautiful Vancouver Island is larger than it might sound. In fact, it’s the largest island on West Coast North America, and 43rd largest island in the world, measuring 32,134 km2 (12,407 sq mi). From the English inspired streets of Victoria, to the chill surfer vibe of Tofino & Ucluelet, there’s a large amount of must-sees on Vancouver Island, all within a relatively easy driving distance. While most of BC is already pretty laid back, you’ll quickly realize that Vancouver Island has it’s own pace. You see it in the arts, the culture, the sport, the food, and the people. I can’t name any one place in Vancouver Island as the only must-see, so I’m copping out and just saying “Go see it all“. It’s just a terrific island to cruise around and explore. A must see destination if you’re a die-hard hiker, a relaxed camper, an RVer, a luxury traveller, or just someone who likes to snap photos. Vancouver Island is truly a travellers paradise.

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The Okanagan Valley, BC

Picture massive valleys, mild temperature, vineyards, warm lakes, wind & kite surfers, boaters, and cute beaches. The Okanagan Valley is often skipped by visitors in lieu of the nearby mountains. A weekend in the Okanagan is well worth the small detour, particularly in the summer. Rent a car, a bike, or a boat, and find yourself exploring this unique BC countryside. Panoramic views of this beautiful part of Canada will leave you with empty SD cards and countless warm memories. Or possibly a hangover, as the wine is delightful.

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Vancouver, BC

Vancouver, it’s often dreamed about by other Canadians due to its year round mild weather. While the weather may not be as extreme as other parts of Canada, the amount of activities you can squeeze in during a short stay in Vancouver is sure to make you think this area is anything but mild. Mountain biking, stand up paddle boarding, hiking, skiing, snowboarding, surfing, kayaking, you name it, you can probably do it in or near by Vancouver. While Vancouver is one of Canada’s larger cities, it’s still fairly easy to get around with public transportation. Surrounded by mountains and pacific ocean, Vancouver is a must-see destination simply due to its beauty, and also due to the sheer number of exciting activities that you can enjoy. An outdoorsy, nature lovers paradise, with an extremely large amount of good restaurants, and a superb stop for any visitor to Canada.

jasper mountains

Jasper National Park, Alberta

Nothing compares to Jasper. A rocky Mountain mecca that truly lets you feel like you’re alone on this planet. While Banff continues to draw in more visitors per year, Jasper has kept its pristine look and feel. You never really feel like you’re too close to people. There’s room to breathe, and even more room to explore. Countless hiking trails await you, world class skiing and snowboarding, Jasper is a year round meccca of discovery. By day you’ll come across all sorts of wildlife, and by night Jasper’s Dark Sky Preserve allows for some of the starriest nights you’ll ever experience.

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Grasslands National Park, Saskatchewan

The prairies we know in Canada are not same prairies that existed 300 years ago. Once upon a time, a large part of Alberta, Saskatchewan, and Manitoba were covered in grasslands, feeding herds upon herds of wild bison. Before the fields of wheat, barley, canola and flax, there was grass, and lots of it. Visiting the Grasslands National Park lets you truly experience what that would have been like. It has become a refuge for wildlife, flora, and some of the most beautiful sunsets in the world. If you want to really take it in, camping for a night or two in these parts is a must, just be on the guard for the wild bison, rattlesnakes, and the thousands of prairie dogs that live in these parts.

Winnipeg Legislative Golden Boy Hermes

Winnipeg, Manitoba

Winnipeg gets poked at across Canada, but spend a weekend there and you’ll quickly discover that Winnipeg is actually very awesome. I can’t help but wonder if the insults directed at Winnipeg for being too cold, too boring, are just tactics to keep the tourist masses out of this prairie city. With a wildly popular music scene, home to such great artists as Neil Young, The Guess Who, Bachman Turner Overdrive, and more, you can hop from bar to bar catching incredible indie bands and singer songwriters. Spend a day exploring the Forks, the historic & mysterious Legislative Building or any of the countless festivals that setup in downtown Winnipeg. Or simply explore the wildly different neighbours of the Exchange District, Osborne Village, or the french quarter, formally known as St. Boniface. Winnipeg’s got a lot to offer for those willing to look!

polar bear canada churchill mb

Churchill, Manitoba

I regularly receive emails asking where someone can spot polar bears. I’m always quick to educate people that the majority of us don’t live near polar bears, but there are some places in Canada where they’re regular visitors. The easiest place to see them without getting mauled to death, is hands down Churchill Manitoba. Located on the tip of the Hudsons Bay, known as the the home of the polar bear, beluga, and countless other wild animals. Churchill is a quirky town where industry meets rugged outdoors. This place is easily a must see Canadian destination. The VIA Rail trip from Winnipeg up to Churchill (2 days), is long and difficult, but very much worth it!

EdgeWalk CN Tower

Toronto, Ontario

Toronto is a different beast. While still very much Canadian, you can’t help but feel fully immersed in countless different cultures when exploring this city. Each neighbourhood differs so much from the next. With countless museums, parks, sports arenas, architectural wonders, and commonly known as a foodie’s paradise, Toronto has something for everyone. Public transportation makes Toronto easy to get around, and in spite of its size, it’s still very affordable to visit this metropolitan city. Take it all in from the top of the CN Tower, or do something crazy-stupid like hang over the edge of the building on the EdgeWalk. I have clammy hands just seeing that photo again!

ottawa-canada-day-streets-people

Ottawa, Ontario

The national Capital, Ottawa has always struck me as a mix between Halifax and Toronto, with a dash of Montreal. Historical buildings, governmental grandiose buildings, and a growing number of clubs, pubs, and restaurants makes Ottawa a beautiful city to visit. Explore the canals by boat, or bike & hike the countless paths throughout the city. There’s a ton to see and do in Ottawa, making it a great place to add on anyones Canadian bucket list. Consider visiting the nations capital during Canada Day to truly experience the Canadian pride associated with this great city.

montreal-tam-tams-drum-circle

Montreal, Quebec

This city is awesome. There’s really no questioning a visit to Canada should include this hip, cultural centre of Quebec. An incredible mix of french and english, with a dash of european culture peppered throughout. Food, music, arts, and the outdoors are such integral parts of this city, that you can’t help but feel inspired, exploring the streets of Montreal, or using this city as base camp for your Quebecois journey. A summer visit to Montreal is a must, taking in the numerous food & music festivals, such as POP Montreal, or the always-free, always-fun Tam Tams in Mount Royal Park.

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Quebec City, Quebec

The great walled city of Canada, this historic french city centre has been at the forefront of some of Canada’s most famous historical events. A history buffs dream come true, from old gothic architecture, to battlegrounds from hundreds of years ago. This city has retained it’s elegance throughout the years, and is still widely regarded as one of the best places to really expose yourself to french immersion. While Montreal can be very french at times, it’s common for people to live in Montreal and not speak a lick of french. If you want to expose yourself to true french Canadian culture, from the delicious artisan foods, to the beautiful views of the Fleuve St Laurent, Quebec City is a safe bet.

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Hopewell Rocks, New Brunswick

Home to some of the largest tides in the world, this entire area was carved out by the rising tides of the Bay of Fundy. The flowerpot rocks are a stunning example of natures power. During low-tide, hike throughout the rocks and explore the caverns carved from water. During high tide, kayak around the flowerpot rocks on the Bay of Fundy. While Hopewell Rocks are a terrific day trip that really lets you experience the wild elements in these parts, the Bay of Fundy is also home to some amazing whale watching tours, along with some beautiful highway drives.

Barrington St Bike

Halifax, Nova Scotia

One of my favourite cities, Halifax is a superb combination of metropolitan fun mixed with maritime heritage. Easily one of the most walk-able cities in Canada, Halifax is a great place to visit, and an even better place to settle down for a bit. I found myself living there for nearly 5 years, and enjoyed nearly every minute of it. From historical pubs, delicious microbrews, countless colleges & universities, and the gateway to some terrific tours. A weekend in Halifax is sure to be met with a few hangovers, but before the drinks begin to flow, you’ll be immersed in some of Canada’s earliest history.

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St Johns, Newfoundland

Screech, beer, hard drinks, wild parties, all surrounded in a historical maritime harbour. St Johns, Newfoundland is definitely a must-see-must-experience Canadian destination. It’s funny what a stretch of water will do. While very much similar to Halifax, it’s easy to see that Newfoundlanders are their own breed of maritimers. With their celtic inspired tunes, cute but sometimes hard to understand accents, and their affinity for embarrassing CFA’s (come from away’s) by initiating them into Newfoundland culture by kissing a cod. The easy to walk (though be warned, they’re hilly) streets of Newfoundland make it a great city to stumble around, crawling from pub to pub and sampling their local beers, eats, and laughing with some of the friendliest people in Canada. If you can squeeze in George Street Fest on your visit, all the power to you. Just be sure your liver is up to it! Those east coasters can put ‘em back.

fogo head trail

Fogo Island, Newfoundland

This charming, mysterious island takes control of you in weird ways. You’ll find yourself staring out into the Atlantic Ocean, wondering “Why can’t I live here forever“. Fogo Island’s scenery is some of the most unique in Canada. Everywhere you look is rock, moss, trees, ocean, and stunning beauty. The Island residents have known this for a long time, in fact, artists from all over the world fight for the chance to become an artist in residence on this small little island. Some of the worlds freshest seafood, the most spectacular drives, and the friendliest people you’ll meet are all found on Fogo Island.

Am I missing any must-see destinations in Canada? I’d love to hear from you, comment below or throw a tweet my way @ibackpackcanada!

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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.

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

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The Outdoor Adventure & Travel Show is Back in Toronto, Calgary, and Vancouver!http://ibackpackcanada.com/outdoor-adventure-travel-show-is-back-in-toronto-calgary-and-vancouver/ http://ibackpackcanada.com/outdoor-adventure-travel-show-is-back-in-toronto-calgary-and-vancouver/#comments Wed, 04 Feb 2015 16:15:59 +0000 http://ibackpackcanada.com/?p=7032 Want to get caught up on the latest products and services in the Outdoor Adventure industry? Over the next few months, The Outdoor Adventure & Travel Show will be arriving in Toronto, Calgary, and Vancouver. The Outdoor Adventure show is one of the biggest consumer shows in Canada. This exhibit brings together buyers and sellers from […]

The Outdoor Adventure & Travel Show is Back in Toronto, Calgary, and Vancouver! is a post from: I Backpack Canada

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Want to get caught up on the latest products and services in the Outdoor Adventure industry? Over the next few months, The Outdoor Adventure & Travel Show will be arriving in Toronto, Calgary, and Vancouver. The Outdoor Adventure show is one of the biggest consumer shows in Canada. This exhibit brings together buyers and sellers from across Canada to showcase the best upcoming products, and travel/tourism services that appeal to anyone looking for a bit of adventure.

Update: The folks at the Outdoor Adventure & Travel Show are giving away a few tickets to I Backpack Canada readers. Find out more below!

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This multi-day event will provide some awesome learning about new destinations and products, with over 200 exhibitors set to show up. Exhibitors will be showcasing everything from camping, water sports, hiking, biking, climbing, outdoor gear and apparel, nutrition, education, destinations, clubs, associations and a whole bunch more!

I Backpack Canada has partnered up with The Outdoor Adventure show to encourage you to take part and check out what this whole event is all about. Adult tickets are already super affordable, but you can save a between $3.00 and $4.00 off your ticket (based on location of your choice) from that price by using the Promo Code: ibackpack when purchasing your ticket online.

Toronto Outdoor Adventure Travel Show 2015Toronto Outdoor Adventure & Travel Show 2015

Dates: February 20, 21 & 22, 2015
Location:  International Centre, Toronto, ON

Toronto Show Hours

Friday, February 20, 2015, 11am – 8pm
Saturday, February 21, 2015, 10am – 6pm
Sunday, February 22, 2015, 10am – 5pm

Vancouver Outdoor Adventure Travel Show 2015Vancouver Outdoor Adventure & Travel Show 2015

Dates: March 7 & 8, 2015
Location: Vancouver Convention Centre, Vancouver, BC

Vancouver Show Hours

Saturday, March 7, 2015 ~ 10am – 6pm
Sunday, March 8, 2015 ~ 10am – 5pm

Calgary Outdoor Adventure Travel Show 2015Calgary Outdoor Adventure & Travel Show 2015

Dates: March 21 & 22, 2015
Location: Stampede Park, BMO Centre, Calgary, AB

Calgary Show Hours

Saturday, March 22, 2014 ~ 10am – 6pm
Sunday, March 23, 2014 ~ 10am – 5pm

Facebook

More info

Use promo code ibackpack & save on your tickets!

Win A Free Ticket to the Outdoor Adventure Travel Show

Let’s keep this easy. Comment below and you’ll be automatically entered to win. Please also indicate which city you’d like a pass to. Something along the lines of “Hey Corbin, I want in on that ticket to the place city here Outdoor Adventure Travel Show. Also you’re handsome.

Or Tweet: “@ibackpackcanada – Enter me in for a ticket to the @outdooradvshow #contest in #Toronto” (Please replace Toronto with Calgary or Vancouver if you’d rather attend those)

Contest closes: February 12th, 2015

The Outdoor Adventure & Travel Show is Back in Toronto, Calgary, and Vancouver! is a post from: I Backpack Canada

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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!

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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.

5 Snowboarding Tips That’ll Keep You From Dying 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, […]

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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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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