Exploration of Canada differs from other countries in that we have visited many times over the last 50 some years. Although some places like Toronto and Stratford are well known, we have discovered a few other treasures that we want to share that are not.
Well known among birders, the peninsula of land extending into Lake Erie is a delight for anyone who would enjoy a hike through woodland and marshland. The park literally ends in a point extending into the lake waters. Our visit occured on an RV trip when we stayed at the Leamington, ON RV park, just outside Pt Pelee, on a holiday weekend. My main memory of the RV park is that their were at least as many dogs as humans but only once was there a disturbance from an overexcited young dog. This was an amazing display of Canadian culture whose values of civil behavior even extend to their pets.
It is gratifying to find a place that supports one's stereotype; and when one thinks of Canada the images of wilderness beauty come into mind. MacGregor Point Provincial Park provides that experience. Located on the shores of Lake Huron, it has a natural forest, nicely accessible by boardwalks and trails, and a pristine shoreline. It is a great place for hiking and bicycle riding, with ideal tent camping and RV sites. It is the latter that we used, although we did set up a tent once beside the RV.
The pictures were taken on several visits during the autumn, when the Park was nearly devoid of visitors.
Special (unpaid) mention of the Benmiller Inn & Spa just outside Goderich, Ontario. Great little place for a treat when needing a bit of pampering, including all manner of massages, and, the best restaurant in 50 miles.
What makes a city uniquely special? For Ottawa it is old French architecture on Parliament Hill, Rideau Canal, Jazz Festival, and a joyous street party, all coming together on Canada Day, July 1st every year. Featuring performances from top Canadian talents, First Nations Canadians, and even an emissary of the Queen. This day is equivalent to our 4th of July, but atmospherically much different. The streets in front of Parliament Hill and else where are closed to traffic and are filled with street performers, food venders, etc. The two weeklong Jazz Festival overlaps Canada Day during which all venues are free. Jazz and folk entertainment can be found in parks throughout.
Our discovery of Ottawa/Canada Day was serendipitous. We had decided to shorten our RV trip to Syracuse, NY for a Jazz Festival due to heavy rains. The road led north into unexplored territory where we ‘discovered’ an RV park outside Ottawa’s green belt with easy bus transportation into the city and our awakening to the importance of Canada Day.
Can you imagine traveling from Calgary to Banff to Lake Louise to Kamloops - ending in Vancouver, going through some of the most rugged, mountainous, wilderness in North American while totally relaxing in a modern train car? That sums up our memorable trip aboard the Rocky Mountaineer train, several buses, a helicopter and even a gondola during the summer of 2008.
The trip took us into Banff National Park where we ascended Sulphur Mountain by a gondola to enjoy a spectacular view of the surrounding mountains and, of course, visit the gift shop.
One night was spent at Chateau Lake Louise which overlooks its namesake. The lake has a haunting beauty owning to being nestled between two mountains which lead at the far end to the glaciers that feed the lake and give it its distinct color.
One day was spent getting a different view of the mountains by flying between and over them in a helicopter. We learned that it is best NOT to be seated facing to the rear. Altitude sickness!