1. You Can Do Yoga on Parliament Hill
Every Wednesday afternoon in the summer, the lawn of our nation’s capital is covered in yoga enthusiasts! This unusual tradition years ago with an instructor from a local Lululemon store and several students, and it has since morphed into a weekly one-hour free class, often with about 1,000 participants. The largest group so far has reached 2,500 people.
2. You Can Paddle Past Icebergs
Canada is one of the best places in the world to view icebergs, and in Newfoundland you can do it from shore, on a tour boat or even a guided sea kayak adventure. These great white giants break off of glaciers in western Greenland and float south along a route known as Iceberg Alley. You can even spot their positions via satellite using icebergfinder.com.
3. You Can Watch the World’s Longest Mammal Migration
Every spring about 20,000 Gray Whales swim north near the western coast of Vancouver Island towards summer feeding grounds in the Bering Sea. They’ll cover a 16,000 to 22,500 km round trip, with their spring journey bringing them right to the Vancouver coast. Some whales can be spotted from shore, and boat tours are readily available. In mid-March, Tofino, Ucluelet and Pacific Rim National Park Reserve celebrate with the annual Pacific Rim Whale Festival.
4. You Can See Mother Nature’s Most Spectacular Light Show
Canada offers some of the best opportunities for viewing the Northern Lights (Aurora Borealis), and Yellowknife is arguably the best place on earth to catch this amazing light show. In Yellowknife there’s the convenience of the nearby community, the landscape is mostly flat, there are plenty of clear nights, and most importantly its one of the most active areas for the Northern Lights. The best time for viewing is mid-August to April.
5. You Have Access To The World’s Longest Recreational Trail
Four out of five Canadians live within 30 minutes of the 16,800 km Trans Canada Trail. It’s actually a network of 400 trails and it’s 73 per cent finished. The goal is to complete the 23,000 km coast-to-coast-to-coast route by 2017, Canada’s 150th anniversary.
6. You Can Swim with a Polar Bear
Only in Cochrane, Ontario will you get an opportunity to have your photo taken while swimming with a real polar bear. Okay, not actually swimming with a polar bear, but it’s as close as possible (they are bears, after all). In a small wading pool next to the polar bear pool, summer visitors can have a photo snapped with the 740 lb. Ganuk. The trick? The polar bear and the wading pool are separated by thick, clear Plexiglas, strong enough to stop even the mighty Ganuk!
7. You Can Sleep in an Ice Hotel
The days of igloos may be long gone, but each winter Canadians build whole hotels out of ice, with beautifully carved bars, chapels, and even bedroom suites with fireplaces. The largest and most famous is Quebec City’s Ice Hotel, and now Montreal has a similar hotel, complete with ice rooms, igloos and an ice restaurant. If you’re not so sure if an overnight stay is for you, you can drop in during the winter season for a day-trip.
8. You Can Take Part in the World’s Largest Canoe and Kayak Race
Starting in Whitehorse, kayak and canoe paddlers from around the world race day and night some 444 miles to Dawson City, Yukon, in the annual Race To the Midnight Sun. It’s a gruelling race, and true to its name, by the time the competition ends each year, paddlers will be so far north the sun won’t set until nearly midnight.
9. You Can Paddle or Walk Through One of the World’s Most Dynamic Bays
Every day over 100 billion tons of seawater flows in and out of the Bay of Fundy, which stretches between New Brunswick and Nova Scotia – that’s more than all of the world’s freshwater rivers combined! The tide is so powerful it exposes ancient fossils in the rock faces along the shore, and causes water to rise up in some spots to more than 50 ft. At sites such as Hopewell Rocks, N.B., you can kayak around flowerpot islands, then walk on the ocean floor just hours later.
10. You Can Visit a Real Jurassic Park
Want to feel like a real Indiana Jones (or perhaps Alan Grant, for all you Jurassic Park fans)? The badlands in the East Block of Grasslands National Park in Saskatchewan are the richest resource for dinosaur fossils in Canada (and among the richest in the world). Parks Canada has a visitor centre to help guide you through this real dinosaur park, though there are some canyons close enough that you can explore yourself and even take photographs of the site’s plethora of fossil finds.
11. You Can Walk on the World’s Most Accessible Glacier
The Icefields Parkway, a spectacular 232 km route that winds its way through the Rockies between Banff and Jasper, takes you past the foot of the world’s most accessible glacier. From mid-May until mid-September, you can hop aboard an off-road vehicle and go right out onto the Columbia Icefields Glacier, just be sure to watch your step.
12. You Can Put Your Face on Postage Stamps
Haven’t quite become Prime Minister yet? Don’t worry, you can still commemorate yourself by having your own stamps made. Canada Post has a service that lets you create stamps using your own photos, logos, etc. You can design them using their website or mobile app.
13. You Can Snorkel With Beluga Whales
Western Hudson’s Bay is home to about 27,000 little white beluga whales, and near the east coast community of Churchill, Man., about 3,000 belugas gather each summer. Local tour operators will take you out to view, or even to have and ‘in the water’ encounter. Cold water snorkeling gear is provided, fortunately.