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Backpacker Extraordinaire Corbin Fraser

Corbin on the Jack Pine Trail, near Ottawa

After backpacking Australia, New Zealand and Fiji, Corbin Fraser was ready to settle down—or so he thought. Back home in Regina, Saskatchewan, he quickly developed itchy feet and set out to backpack across Canada.

That was in 2008. Now, Corbin is an expert backpacker, and his blog, I Backpack Canada is a wealth of information for anyone travelling with a sense of adventure and a limited budget.

He spoke to us from Halifax, Nova Scotia, where he’s studying website and graphic design.

How much of Canada have you seen since you started backpacking?

Well, here’s sort of my highlight reel. In the past three years I’ve:

  • surfed in Tofino, BC
  • high-fived all of Vancouver after game five of the Stanley Cup
  • snowboarded five different peaks in the Rockies
  • almost mountain biked into a wild elk in Banff
  • rafted the Kicking Horse River (twice!)
  • chased a wild herd of bison by horseback in Saskatchewan—and slept in a tipi that same evening
  • partied in Toronto
  • been lost in Quebec and New Brunswick—both times my French immersion education thankfully saved me

How long do you intend to keep going and where do you plan to go?
I honestly have no immediate plans for slowing down on travel in Canada. I’m hoping to spend more time in Montreal and Old Quebec. Plus it’s been over a year since I’ve had a “true” French poutine, and that’s just unacceptable behaviour on my part.

I’d also love to get up to Churchill, Manitoba and of course take in the Yukon, Northwest Territories and Nunavut, and I’ve still got Newfoundland. Hoping to be “screeched” in soon!

I think budget travel is great, but…memories aren’t always free.
Sometimes you just have to splurge!

Could you give an example of one of your best and one of your worst moments on the road?

One of my best moments was staring at Peyto Lake from the top of Bow Summit, Alberta during a mild snowfall. The glacial rock flour that flows into this lake causes it to glow blue. On this particular day it was neon. Breathtaking!

I’ve definitely had a few moments where I thought “What have I done!?” I’ve caught myself exploring a random back road of Canada only to notice I have a quarter of a tank left. Pulling up to a service station on fumes has happened far too often.

Tell us something that has surprised you in your travels.

I’ve met a lot of great people while on the road or in hostels—people from all over the world who came here to see something we as Canadians take for granted. I was once traveling with a young lady from Australia who had never seen snow! When she saw it she was so amazed.

The fact that people are willing to come from all over the world to see a moose or a bear, or to take in the massive wilderness in Canada is humbling. It’s those little things that make me proud to be Canadian.

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