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Quintessential Canada

10 Amazingly Unconventional Canadian Tours


(Photo courtesy of Banff Activities and Tourism)

The Grotto Canyon tour in Banff (Photo courtesy of Banff Activities and Tourism)

Canada attracts over 35 million visitors per year thanks to its natural beauty, cosmopolitan cities and amazing attractions scattered throughout the country. With so many options for those visiting the Great White North—and for Canadians just checking out a new part of their own country—it can be hard to pick options that will let you get the most out of your itinerary. Here, we profile 10 of the best unconventional tours that will be sure to leave a long lasting impression.

50 Canadian Things You Must Do Before You Die



Bucket lists have been compiled for ages, indexing all the goals that one wants to accomplish in his or her lifetime. People can obsess over them, download apps for them, and even make movies about them. Travel, of course, is one of the top things people put on their bucket lists, which inspired us to put together our list of must-do activities in Canada. Come with us as we go through a photographic tour of the 50 Canadian things you must do before you die. And be sure to let us know your favourite Canadian activities that should have made the list!

Start the slideshow of “50 Canadian Things You Must Do Before You Die” »


INFOGRAPHIC: 50 Insane Facts About Canada


50 Insane Facts About Canada

Brought to you by Cheapflights.ca

Special thanks to NeoMam Studios in Manchester, UK, who created the “50 Insane Facts About Canada” infographic. To see more of NeoMam’s work, including “The Geek’s Guide to Proposing” and “50 Insane Facts About Australia,” check out their online portfolio.

Montreal Bagels: The Delicious 93-Year-Old Institution No Visitor Should Miss

Montreal Bagel

Montreal Bagel: a thing of chewy beauty (Photo: Resident on Earth)

Montreal bagels get at the heart of civic pride in Quebec’s largest city. Like Montreal itself, these delicious treats are unique in the world, and locals identify not only with what flavour they prefer, but also which bake shops they frequent. Merely mentioning the word “bagel” can provoke an extreme reaction.

A quick tip to avoid conflict: don’t compare Montreal bagels to the New York version. The former is chewier than the latter, and is prepared differently. The process begins by kneading flour, malt and eggs (no yeast or salt here), forming a large ring out of the dough, and boiling it in honey water. They are then baked in a wood-fired brick oven on a long stick. The result is a bagel that is never perfectly circular or evenly browned. Compared to the New York version, Montreal bagels are thin, slightly crisp, and have a large hole. As a friend once explained, “It’s not a bun, it’s a bagel.” (more…)

Great Lakes Surfing: Catch a Freshwater Wave on Canada’s “Third Coast”


Photo: Alastair Macpherson

With the Pacific Ocean and Tofino to the west and the Atlantic and Halifax to the east, Canada is no stranger to great surf. But there is a lesser known third coast: the Great Lakes. With more than 10,000 kilometers of coastline that create a mix of beach and point breaks, the Great Lakes have plenty of spots where you can catch a freshwater wave. (more…)

East Coast Beer and Breweries: A Historic Maritime Tradition


Garrison Brewing Company in Halifax (Photo: Nicole Bratt)

Canada’s east coasters love their beer and it shows. The Martimes region is famous for its historic breweries and has been producing the delicious amber drink since the early 19th century. It has given the rest of Canada notable brands Alexander Keith’s and Moosehead. Jason Foster, a CBC beer columnist, insists that Atlantic Canada has developed a unique beer personality that is essentially British in balance and fruitiness, to reflect local history and culture. (more…)

Alberta Beef: Cowboy Country’s Most Famous Food


Alberta beef: the food, the legend (Photo: Tourism Calgary)

Alberta may mean cowboys and mountains to many, but for carnivores it’s the centre of all things meat. As a popular bumpersticker says, “If it ain’t Alberta, it ain’t beef.” (more…)

British Columbia’s First Nations Totem Poles


Totem poles at UBC’s Museum of Anthropology (Photo: Adam Jones)

The iconic Coastal Mountains may dominate the west coast skyline, but the landscape includes another native attraction: indigenous totem poles, original to this part of North America. (more…)

The Saskatoon Berry: the Prairie Provinces’ Perfect Fruit


Photo: Tourism Saskatchewan

A favourite summer taste in Canada’s Prairie provinces, the Saskatoon berry is in season during July and August. Similar to a blueberry in size and colour, the wee berry was gathered by aboriginal people for medicinal purposes—the name comes from the Cree word mis-sask-quah-toomina—and became a staple of the diet of the early farm pioneers.

Modern science has found this purple fruit is high in antioxidants as well as vitamin C, calcium, magnesium and potassium and that it has three times more iron than raisins. Once found only at farmers’ markets or in the wild, the berry it is now the second largest crop in the three Prairie provinces after strawberries, and can be found throughout the Prairies in jam, jelly, syrup and pies as well as in a wide variety of savoury recipes.

Where and how to try Saskatoon berries:

The Riverbend Plantation in Saskatoon offers an array of gourmet treats using Saskatoon berries from its farm—you can even order Saskatoon-berry-and-buffalo pemmican online and have it shipped. If you’re in the Prairies and want to pick your own, check with the Alberta Farm Fresh Producers Association (Alberta), BuyFromtheFarm.ca (Saskatchewan) or the Prairie Fruit Growers Association (Manitoba).