Robin Esrock, author of the critically acclaimed book “The Great Canadian Bucket List” knows more about Canada than most people on Earth. He’s the former host of the world famous syndicated TV Series, “Word Travels”, has had travel columns in the Globe & Mail, Vancouver Sun, Outpost Magazine, Matador Travel Network, and has been published in countless papers across the globe.
From the culture, to the sights and sounds, he’s seen more, done more, and experienced more than most people will ever get a chance to. He’s compiled his insights into a tremendous book that’s expanding into region specific Bucket List Books that showcase the best places to visit in Canada. I first met Robin back in 2010 when I won the a CTC GoMedia Travel Blog Award, and recently caught up with him by email to pick his brain.
Q: You’ve travelled the World, been a part of a hit travel series, survived and thrived in the wildest places on Earth. What keeps you exploring Canada?
Canada is so big, it’s effectively 13 countries wrapped in one. The more I dig, the more stuff I find that you can’t do anywhere else. Unlike some other parts of the world, a lot of the time Canadians just don’t make such a big deal of it, which is why we’re not as famous as we should be. This is a country of amazing natural assets, and people assets too. It’s been tremendous fun ticking off the Bucket List, getting familiar with the diversity of places and the people that bring them to life.
Q: What inspired you to write the Canadian Bucket List?
I had travelled all over the world, over 100 countries, but didn’t know too much about my adopted home. Living in Vancouver, visiting a place like Labrador or northern Manitoba seemed as foreign as visiting Europe. More than an opportunity to see and do everything that makes Canada so interesting, this was the opportunity to learn what makes this country tick. I got my citizenship over ten years ago, but only started to really understand Canada once I travelled across it.
Q: Your Book is thick to the brim with advice, stories, and inspirational photos. How long did it take you to gather all of this?
I spent the greater part of three years putting it all together, and another year adding new experiences for the upcoming regional books – The Great Western, Central and Atlantic Canada Bucket List. At the same time I was putting together the extensive companion website so people could actually follow in my footsteps, so they could find the information they need after reading the book for inspiration. No shortage of things to do when you archive the best experiences in the second biggest country on the planet!
Q: Are there any particular places in Canada that didn’t make the final cut that you think are still worth checking out?
Absolutely. Fortunately I’ve had the opportunity to add them to the new regional books, and hopefully blend it all back into the parent book for future editions. This summer alone I got to visit Cape Breton, cycle across Prince Edward Island, canoe in Algonquin, explore the backroads of the BC interior on a rented Harley, and take a Ford Escape across the Trans-Labrador Highway. The new books also feature snowmobiling in Saguenay Lac-Saint-Jean, mountain biking in Burns Lake, the Bruce Trail, and other experiences that belong on the national bucket list.
Q: You’re originally from South Africa, but immigrated to Canada. What surprises you most about Canada, and the people that live here?
Canadians don’t know just how good they have it. It’s an exceptional country in an exceptional time in history. There’s a lot of challenges and issues with the environment in particular, but there’s so much to be grateful for. Most Canadians haven’t explored their own country, which is understandable given the distances and costs. But I think there’s more of a burning desire these days to see one’s own country, and domestic tourism is on the increase. I think Canadians, and the world in general, need to realize there’s so much more to this country than the Rockies, Niagara Falls and Quebec City. For more of my thoughts, check out this Love Letter I wrote to Canada. I re-read it all the time. Helps put things in perspective.
Q: What’s on the horizon for Robin Esrock? More Books? TV? Films? Documentaries? Netflix original series perhaps?
Right now I’m packing for Antarctica! I’ve got 5 regional Bucket List books coming out over the next couple years, and I’m incredibly stoked to be putting together The Great Global Bucket List for Harper Collins, my personal investigation into the world’s best experiences. That’s out in 2016, but I’m spending a lot of time filling in the gaps…Antarctica, the Arctic, Galapagos…bring it on! Would love to do more television, but unless I’m going to lose weight in a wedding dress while pawning off the mystery items in my storage locker, I doubt that’s going to happen. Television these days feels less about inspiration and more about a race to produce the dumbest, most mind-numbing filler one can imagine.
Q: Any advice for the backpackers across the world interested in visiting Canada?
It’s a big country. If you only have a month, spend some time in one or two regions as opposed to trying to see it all, because all you’ll end up seeing is the inside of a bus or airport. There are so many activities and destinations here that are unlike any where else in the world. I know. I looked.
Buy The Great Canadian Bucket List
Full of adventure, humour, photos and fun facts, The Great Canadian Bucket List is the definitive list of things to do in Canada before you die.
Renowned travel writer and TV host Robin Esrock spent years visiting every province and territory to craft the definitive national Bucket List. Having travelled to over 100 countries on 6 continents, he never expected Canada to offer so much, and neither will you. This isn”t your typical travel guide – it is an inspiration for your next trip.
Spanning the outdoors, food, culture, history, adrenalin, and quirky, Robin’s personal journey to tick off the very best of Canada features well-known and hidden gems, infused with humour, trivia, advice, and unforgettable characters. Categorized by province and territory, The Great Canadian Bucket List gives readers a firsthand perspective on the ultimate activities and destinations Canada has to offer.
Huge special thanks to Robin for taking the time to share his story. He’s an inspirational fellow, and if you ever get a chance to read his book, you’ll be amazed at the quality of content in there. And you may or may not find something I shared in there.