Dear American Friends,
I’ve been thinking… you may be looking for a wee escape. The sort of escape that lasts a few years. Like four years. A mass exodus happens from time to time, as people need to flee horrible and frightening things. Hurricanes, locusts, disturbing men with inconceivable hair…
To that end, in our traditionally Canadian way, I would like to politely welcome you. For those seeking solace in our land, there are a few things you’ll need to know to fit in.
- Order a Caesar instead of a Bloody Mary. I know. Clam-tomato juice sounds absolutely horrid, but you’re just going to have to trust me on this. After a few, you won’t even notice.
- If you’re unsure of how to spell things Canadian, just tuck a ‘u’ into the word and you’ll be fine. “Hey neighbour, what colour is your favourite?’
- “I’m sorry.” Just keep saying it and you’ll fit right in.
- Try salt and vinegar potato chips. You’re going to thank me. Also poutine. You’ll weep with joy.
Canada is a giant country. Second largest in the world, in fact. So, it’s going to be tough to choose where to linger for the next four years, while the rest of your country comes to its senses. Er… I mean, until the locusts settle. I have a few suggestions.
Grand Manan Island:
Another hospitable Canadian has suggested Cape Breton Island, and I couldn’t agree more. It is absolutely stunning. Winding roads, scenery that will simply steal your breath away, and something called a lobster roll. Definitely worth exploring.
But, I will share with you my secret, as long as you promise to take turns. Grand Manan Island is one of my absolute favourite places on the east coast. Tucked into the Bay of Fundy, this sleepy wee island is my retreat, where I go to recover from the hustle and bustle of life. Sweeping ocean views, cliff-side camping and adorable lodging, and a collection of soulful lighthouses that present themselves to you like gifts being unwrapped. And, if you find yourself homesick, Grand Manan even has bald eagles to keep you company.
Oh Canada Tip: The charm of this little island is its quiet, slow pace – be a proper temporary Canadian and don’t all rush here at once, but line up politely, apologize to everyone around you, and make your way here in an orderly fashion.
St. John’s Newfoundland
If winding mountain roads or sleepy islands aren’t quite your cup of tea, head over to St. John’s Newfoundland for some screech and toe tapping tunes. This city captured my heart in an instant. It’s an insomniac’s paradise as I didn’t get a wink of sleep while I was there – far too busy exploring pubs, stalking whales, sneaking up on giant sea birds, and trying to figure out what exactly the locals were saying.
Oh Canada Tip: Buy a round of drinks, and beg your liver for forgiveness. We take our booze seriously here.
Uclulet and Tofino, British Columbia
If you prefer sunset over sunrise, the west coast might be your place. The west coast of Vancouver Island to be precise. I was absolutely demolished by the beauty of this place. My mouth was constantly agape as I tried to take in every molecule of this magical destination. The forests are lush and filled with giants, the air is steeped in the one million flavours of Mother Nature while the Pacific’s waves simply wash away any hint of stress. Nestle into the super cute, well appointed Reef Point Cottages in delightful Ucluelet, spend your days exploring Pacific Rim National Park Reserve while keeping your eyes peeled for cougars, wolves and bears, oh my!
Oh Canada Tip: We’re not afraid of a little weather up here. Throw on a wetsuit and surf near Tofino. If that doesn’t keep you warm enough, add a layer of lard to your body via regular poutine injections.
I’d be remiss if I didn’t boast a little about my home province of Ontario. In a polite Canadian sort of way. I guess it depends on what you’re after – if it’s chocolate croissants, then you must visit Ottawa. Most people travel there to wander the streets of our beautiful capital city, take in the myriad of festivals, bask in the history, or simply skate on the Rideau Canal while eating a beaver tail (it’s not what you think…) but I visit regularly just for the bakeries.
Oh Canada Tip: Beavers are highly celebrated up here, in every way possible. Embrace the beaver.
Many in Canada say that Torontonians feel as though they’re the centre of the country, if not the universe. I’ll beg your forgiveness for including it here, when there are one million other places just as wonderful in Canada to explore. Yes, that’s right, I’m sorry. (See how easy it comes?) But there is some truth to the central appeal of Toronto. An easy jaunt to so many playgrounds – whether you want to go zip-lining and star gazing in Norfolk County, get soaked in the spray of Niagara Falls, or make the journey up to the almighty Lake Superior Provincial Park, Toronto is a great place to tether yourself.
I have a little crush on the city myself, as an avid traveler, any given plaza has an international selection of foods and goods from around the world. When I don’t have plane tickets lined up, a stroll through the city streets will easily scratch my travel itch. And, we take pride in our Pride – Toronto embraces the LGBTQ community, and the entire city waves the rainbow flag during Pride Week, and all year long.
Oh Canada Tip: Trade in your melting pot for this beautiful cultural mosaic. Up this way, we’re happy to have all the flavours of the rainbow.
So, you’re welcome to hang out here for a while. Four years should long enough to rub up against some of our best Canadian features: free health care, a smokin’ hot Prime Minister, and bagged milk.
I hope you’ll be happy here,