It is no secret – I am proud to be Canadian. I have had the privilege of visiting many countries and lived in two – Australia and Canada, and I am still thrilled to come home to Canada!
Above – photo montage of my playground – Ottawa/Gatineau. Clockwise from top – Govenor General’s Foot Guard at the Army Run, skiing in Gatineau Park, Fall Colours, cycling along the Rideau Canal during the Tulip Festival and kayaking on the Ottawa River with friends.
There is so much to love about Canada – the four seasons, the diversity from coast to coast and the people to name just a few! I was not aware of the Country Brand Index before reading about it on Val City Gal’s blog. There was stiff competition for the top spot, with great countries like Australia (my home away from home) rounding out the top 10 in 6th position, neighbouring New Zealand in third and Switzerland in 2nd. And the top spot goes to……(drum roll please)…..Canada!
Here is what the Index (comprised of business and leisure travellers, research markets and experts in 16 countries) had to say:
“Canada has a stable political system, economy and market; an open and tolerant society; and policies that encourage immigration.”
We’re No. 1! For the second year in a row, travellers, market research groups and other experts agree that our country boasts a stellar reputation, the best in the world, in fact. But did we really need a third party to tell us that? In recent years, we’ve shown the world that we can throw a party like it’s nobody’s business. The 2010 Vancouver Olympic Games put the country on a global platform that illustrated our warmth, our natural beauty, and our self-deprecating sense of Canuck humour that endears us to the world so. Moreover, who knew we were such great mimes? RE: miming mechanic who fixed the pillar that failed to rise in the opening ceremonies. According to the Country Brand Index, Canada’s tourism tagline “Keep Exploring” is a strong, successful marketing campaign, as is our iconic maple leaf, easily identifiable as distinctly Canadian. O, Canada, we like to think we speak for every proud Canuck when we say, we truly stand on guard for thee.
It got me thinking, what is it that I love about this fair land? I have been coast to coast, from Vancouver to Newfoundland, living most of my life in Ontario and Quebec. My interests are mostly outdoor activity based – as the photos show. Here are some of my highlights as I have travelled across Canada….
British Columbia – kayak camping, island to island, starting at Salt Spring Island and skiing at Whistler.
Alberta – hiking in Banff and Lake Louise (photo above). My father thought I was nuts – having started cycling in Vancouver, I took a rest day in Banff to climb in the mountains! At least they had the gondola to bring me back down at Sulfur Mountain. The Calgary Zoo was another great rest day before tackling the headwinds on the Prairies.
Saskatchewan – stunning sunsets over the fields of wheat.
Manitoba – more stunning sunsets as I pedalled along. Had the chance to spend a few days recovering and relaxing in Winnipeg. The hospitality of family and friends made it easier to be gone on my own for so long.
Ontario – a little biased here! I have spent most of my life living in Ottawa and university in St Catharines (Niagara and Wine Country). So much to see and do – I could do an entire post dedicated to Ontario. If I had to give the short list – kayaking the Ottawa River, countless great bike routes, Niagara Falls and wine country (Niagara and Prince Edward County – see the PEC post here), and how can I forget the rugged beauty of Northern Ontario!
Quebec – by far, my favourite city in Canada – the incomparable Quebec City. Gorgeous in all seasons – always worth the visit! With many years of racing my bicycle on the road, I have enjoyed many regions of Quebec – the Beauce, Charlevoix and around Montreal. All beautiful in their own right. Montreal is another one of those great cities to visit with great restaurants, shopping and that European feel, especially in the older parts of town. For pure natural beauty – you can’t go past the Gatineau/Wakefield area (my regular playground for cycling, skiing, hiking and kayaking). Fall colours in the Eastern Townships are so beautiful. They attracts tourists from around the world – certainly worth the visit.
New Brunswick – I had the privilege of spending a summer during university working in Dalhousie, a small town on the Atlantic. I have great memories of swimming in the chilly waters of the Atlantic Ocean, of being introduced to eating lobster and meeting the friendly locals. Cycled parts of the Trans Canada Trail and lived it up as a cycling nomad. Summer in New Brunswick was great.
Nova Scotia – such a pretty province. By the time I had reached Nova Scotia, the orchards were overflowing with apples and their was a cold nip in the air in the mornings. My cycling trip across Canada came to an end here as I road into Halifax and put my front wheel into the water.
Prince Edward Island – home to Anne of Green Gables, Charlottetown and stretches of red sandy beaches.
Newfoundland – St John’s Newfoundland – a spectacular destination in its own right. Check out my weekend in St John’s post here for more info. Still on the list of my must do experiences – kayaking in amongst the icebergs and hiking in Gros Morne National Park.
I have yet to visit the territories in Canada, including the Yukon, Northwest Territories and Iqualuit – still on the Canadian bucketlist!
So much to see and do, I am so lucky to have lived and travelled across Canada…..you could say, I am proud to be Canadian.