50 Ways to Experience Canada During Its 150th Year

50 Ways to Experience Canada During Its 150th Year

From digging for dinos in the badlands to sleeping in a castle, there's no shortage of ways to celebrate By: Heather Greenwood Davis
<p>The Maple Leafs are Toronto’s beloved hockey team. // © 2017 iStock</p><p>Feature image (above): Watch the Northern Lights in Yellowknife. // ©...

The Maple Leafs are Toronto’s beloved hockey team. // © 2017 iStock

Feature image (above): Watch the Northern Lights in Yellowknife. // © 2017 iStock

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Canada’s Anniversary

Canada's 150th anniversary is underway, and the entire country is celebrating. Whether you're already a fan or you're looking to offer something new, the 50 activities listed here are a great place to start.


Watch the Northern Lights in Yellowknife
At Blachford Lake Lodge, guests sign up for the “Aurorawatch,” and someone wakes them once the dancing lights appear. Views are always incredible, whether they are seen from the air as travelers arrive by bush plane, or from a hot tub at the day’s end.


Dip Your Toes in the Bering Sea
The Dempster Highway is Canada’s only public road crossing the Arctic Circle, allowing travelers to take an RV trip along one of the great wilderness routes. A planned extension this year will mean the drive can end with a toe-dip in the Bering Sea.

Drive the Alaska Highway
This year marks the 75th anniversary of the highway, built during World War II to connect mainland U.S. with Alaska. Today, it’s used by travelers enjoying the small towns, parkland and wildlife along the way.

Bike the Gold Route
Local First Nations communities have transformed Klondike Gold Rush paths for unique mountain biking experiences. H+I Adventures offers options along the nearly 500 miles of Yukon trail.

Learn the Old Ways
Guests learn to make a knife or a drum while spending three nights with the First Nations communities located just west of Whitehorse. Interactive cultural experiences from Shakat Tun Adventures’ immerse travelers into local life.


Help Search HMS Erebus
After vanishing more than 170 years ago, Sir John Franklin’s expedition ship has been found. Adventure Canada has partnered with Parks Canada on a sailing from Kugluktuk, Nunavut, that allows passengers to watch as an underwater archaeology team examines and interprets the wreck.


Surf in the Rain in Tofino
When the clouds roll in, Tofino locals grab wetsuits and surfboards and head for the beach. Travelers who join them will find swells suitable for newbies and professionals alike. Finished for the day? Bike, hike or drive to sample the area’s award-winning cuisine.

Save the Whales
Orca, minke and humpback whales call northern Vancouver Island home. This year, the area will be designated a “Whale Heritage Site,” honoring Vancouver Island’s commitment to education, research, culture and sustainable practices.

Soak in Views of Stanley Park
Opt for a local First Nations guide when planning a tour of Vancouver’s popular park. Talaysay Tours’ Talking Trees walking excursion shares the park’s unique role in the food, shelter, art and medicine of First Nations people.

Preserve the Rainforest in Haida Gwaii
Bluewater Adventures offers a carbon-neutral cruise and exploration. You’ll meet resident Haida people who share their stories, art and heritage. One percent of Bluewater’s revenue goes to conservation every year, which means every trip is an investment in preservation.

Eat Like a Canadian in Vancouver
At Timber gastropub’s Long Table Canadian Suppers, guests dine with locals. Sip Caesar cocktails and hoist craft beers in the presence of a stuffed and mounted beaver, before tucking into deep-fried cheese curds or bison burgers. It doesn’t get any more Canadian than this.


Dig for Dinos in the Badlands
The Royal Tyrrell Museum is a dinosaur lover’s dream. It’s not unusual for tourists to find real dinosaur bones while out on a program. The newest exhibit, “Grounds for Discovery,” shares the stories and specimens of past digs.

Make Music at Studio Bell
The National Music Centre shares the history of music in Canada with more than 2,000 rare instruments, three Canadian music halls of fame and treasures that include The Rolling Stones’ mobile recording studio and Elton John’s songwriting piano.

Explore the Original RV
The oldest wooden colonist car in Canada (1905) is being restored this year at Heritage Park in Calgary. Visitors can check it out or take in the traveling exhibit across Canada in the fall.


See Picasso in Saskatoon
This year, the world’s largest collection of Pablo Picasso linocuts and almost two dozen of his ceramics will be at the new Remai Modern art gallery. The building has won architectural awards and is listed as a must-see museum by The New York Times.

Experience Metis History
Follow the history of Canada’s Metis people across the prairies on the Trails of 1885. Don’t miss Batoche National Historic Park in Saskatchewan or the family home of Louis Riel in Manitoba.


Search for Polar Bears in Manitoba
Polar bears weighing up to 1,300 pounds roam the shores (and occasionally the city streets) in remote Churchill. Visit the Churchill Northern Studies Centre to learn more about their future survival.

Visit the Canadian Museum for Human Rights
The museum is the first in the world dedicated to the evolution, celebration and future of human rights. The unique building, garden and exhibits offer plenty to explore and discuss.


Snorkel With Salmon
Don a mask alongside Parks Canada biologists and literally “swim with the fishes.” Participants are trained to help survey at-risk species on the Upper Salmon River and gain a First Nations perspective in the backcountry setting.

Paddle Ancestral Routes
Waterways were once the roads of this province. Now, travelers can relive the experience on six routes that are marked, mapped, restored and reopened. Paddle a half-mile circuit of the interior or stick to the 2.5-mile trail in Mount Carleton Provincial Park.

Join an Acadian Celebration
Parties on New Brunswick’s Acadian coast start early and run late. This year, the 55th anniversary of Festival Acadien and the 40th anniversary of Village Historique Acadien are among the reasons to visit.


Sip Ice Wine in Niagara
Visitors can savor Canadian ice wine — made from grapes frozen on the vine — or enjoy a tasting of an award-winning vintage. Guests can also arrange tours and meals in the vineyards.

Skate Through the Forest in Muskoka
Glide along the ice-covered path at Arrowhead Provincial Park’s Ice Skating Trail. Skaters wind their way through the forest setting — one reason Travel + Leisure called it the No. 1 rink in the world.

Cheer on the Toronto Maple Leafs
Toronto’s favorite team (despite a Stanley Cup drought) celebrates its 100th birthday this year. Free events around the city include autograph signings, family activities and games featuring Leaf legends.

Explore Canada
A new 40,000-square-foot gallery at the Canadian Museum of History — a short walk from Parliament Hill in Ottawa — offers the chance to trace the country’s history. The new signature exhibit is the largest and most ambitious project ever undertaken by the museum.

Find Bieber and Shakespeare in Stratford
It’s the small town where the crooner got his start and home to one of the country’s most famous theater companies. Take a self-guided tour of the Biebs’ haunts or fill days with antique shops and classic plays.

Track the Changing Leaves
The one-day Agawa Canyon Tour Train takes you into parts of the province accessible only by rail. Fall tours offer incredible views of the impressive Canadian Shield.

Dance in the Streets
Millions head to Toronto streets each summer to celebrate Caribbean culture. This year, the Toronto Caribbean Carnival (the largest cultural festival of its kind in North America) turns 50.

Search for Celebs in Toronto
Hollywood’s best head north each fall to the Toronto International Film Festival. Book dinner in trendy Yorkville or Bloor Street West to catch actors off set.

Howl With the Wolves
Several times throughout the summer and fall, park rangers go into Algonquin Park and howl in search of wolves. Visitors drive caravan-style into the park and take in the action from the safety of their cars.


Taste Maple Syrup Magic
Sleep in a log cabin at Sucrerie de la Montagne, where the liquid gold is born. Horse-drawn sleighs, gourmet feasts, live music and maple candy round out the treats.

View Circus Tricks
Montreal Cirque Festival — the primary international festival for circus arts in North America — happens every summer on the streets of Montreal. The eighth edition will offer free outdoor, family-friendly programming alongside nightly paid events.

Sleep in a Castle
The iconic Fairmont Le Chateau Frontenac hotel has sat on the banks of the historic St. Lawrence River since 1892. Views from the rooms are unparalleled, and the location — within the walls of Old Quebec — makes it the perfect spot from which to explore the 400-year-old city.

Send Kids to Space
Kids can spend three days training to become an astronaut in Laval. They’ll get the full Commander Hadfield treatment while parents spend days exploring the quaint town, a 20-minute ferry ride from Montreal.

See Living Art in Gatineau
Giant horticultural sculptures will be on fulldisplay this summer in beautiful Jacques-Cartier National Park. “Mosaicanada” is a special rotating exhibit that takes place every three years and is free to the public.

Celebrate Montreal
The city founded by 50 explorers from France 375 years ago is now a city of 1.7 million — seemingly all of whom love a party. Expect an exciting lineup of events throughout the year, including the Montreal International Jazz, Just for Laughs and Montreal Pride festivals.

Experience Cite Memoire
This project features multimedia projections into the trees and onto buildings around Old Montreal that share the city’s history and folklore. Visitors download a free app for narratives that accompany the self-guided walking tour.


Dine on the Ocean Floor
Burntcoat Head Park reports the highest tides in the world on the Bay of Fundy, but by mealtime the tide will be at its lowest point. The dining experience is capped with a campfire on the tidal flats.

Find an Ancestor
Pier 21 was the entry point for immigrants for decades. Their stories are told here through exhibits, and visitors have opportunities to trace their ancestry to its roots.

Make Camping Great Again
Travelers can pack light and still sleep under the stars. Equipped camping in Cape Breton Highlands National Park means that everything from your tent to your pots and pans are waiting.

Throw Like a Lumberjack
During the Wild Axe Lumberjack AXExperience in Barrington, a world-champion lumberjack teaches everything from logrolling to axe throwing in a three-hour class. Graduates can show off their skills at The Timber Lounge — a fully licensed space in Halifax.

Travel Through Time
Costumed interpreters and cannon fire greet guests after an overnight at the Fortress of Louisbourg. The National Historic Site offers a chance to live life as it was in the 1700s.


Spend Time in Anne’s Green Gables
The fictional redhead was born here, and the house the tale is based on is available to tour.

Dig in the Dirt
On a choice of Authentic PEI Experience tours, guests can try their hand at harvesting potatoes, catching lobsters or digging for clams alongside a local with a story to tell.


Kiss a Fish
Head to George Street to be “screeched in.” The ritual includes a shot of rum and puckering up to a fresh cod. Completion will make you an honorary Newfoundlander.

Hide Out on Fogo Island
Stays at Fogo Island Inn don’t come cheap, but the views, rooms and cuisine are priceless. Save up for a stay at the 29-suite hotel that boasts all-Canadian furnishings and art.

Roam Like a Viking
Explore the UNESCO World Heritage Site of L’Anse aux Meadows (home of the Vikings), or head to Gros Morne National Park — the only place on the planet where you can walk on the earth’s mantle.


Join the Party on July 1
The ultimate Canada Day party is planned for Parliament Hill in Ottawa (the nation’s capital), but no matter where you are in the country on July 1, you’re bound to find cake, flags and a sea of Canadians dressed in red and white.

Bike and Hike the Trans Canada Trail
The trail that runs coast to coast is 92 percent complete. Pick your province, and hike, cycle, paddle, ride, cross-country ski or snowmobile across the country.

Pick Your Park
This year, admission to all Parks Canada national parks, National Historic Sites and Marine Conservation Areas is free. Travelers should sign up online for passes.

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