10 Quirky Travel Tours Across Canada
Looking to do something a little different in your city or on vacation? These quirky travel tours are like nothing you’ve experienced before.
Bike in a Kilt – St. Andrews, New Brunswick
If you’re bored with traditional cycling tours, this “off-kilter” mountain biking expedition might be up your alley. Tour leader Kurt Gumushel, son of a master kilt maker, takes visitors on two-hour, six-hour or multi-day sightseeing and interpretation trips for riders of all levels. Tour prices include bike, helmet, water, food (on longer trips) and – of course – a loaner kilt. To up the quirk, ask about riding on the Bay of Fundy sea floor. At low tide, of course.
Underground City Hike – Montreal, Quebec
When you need to escape Montreal’s blustery winter snowstorms, its 33 km of underground passageways – the longest such network in the world – are a worthy place to escape, for locals and tourists alike. Join tour operators Fitz & Follwell for a five km “hike” through some of the more interesting parts of the “RESO”, where you’ll come across public art, bustling commuters, a skating rink, water fountain and underground mall with stops for lunch and a chocolate tasting.
Photo: Off Kilter Bike
501 Streetcar Tour – Toronto, Ontario
The Queen streetcar, known for its achingly slow service during rush hour, might be the transit route Torontonians love to hate, but it also crosses through some of the city’s most intriguing neighbourhoods. Local tour operators Foodies on Foot take locals and visitors from Parkdale in the west to Leslieville in the east – a total of more than eight km – on their rush-hour-free Sunday food tour, with stops in six neighbourhoods for full-size tastings. Be forewarned: come hungry.
A Day in a Soldier’s Life – Fredericton, New Brunswick
Grown-ups will be envious of kids who sign up for this one-hour “adventure” aimed at the four to twelve set. Participants dress up in a bright-red soldier’s tunic and tour early 19th-century British barracks before lining up before the drill instructor to learn marches and turns before putting on a parade.
Murders, Mystery & Mayhem – Vancouver, British Columbia
Once you’ve explored the obvious in Vancouver – Stanley Park, Granville Island, Gastown – it’s time to dig a little deeper, something the Tour Guys are happy to help you with. One of their many city excursions (other themes include beer, food carts and Chinatown), evening walking tour Murders, Mystery & Mayhem takes visitors through the city’s “dark side”, showing sites of unsolved murders, gangster lairs, and riots – all historical fact, not mythical hauntings.
Tunnels of Moose Jaw – Moose Jaw, Saskatoon
This Prairie city’s legendary underground history comes to life in your choice of two 50-minute theatrical tours: Passage to Fortune, telling the story of early immigration from China; and the Chicago Connection, which brings to live the bootlegging empire of none other than Al Capone. Tours are limited to 15 people, so it’s worth booking ahead.
Hermetic Code Tour – Winnipeg, Manitoba
Aimed at architecture buffs and Da Vinci Code fans alike, this tour delves into the symbolism in Manitoba’s Legislative Building, revealing hidden meanings in the layout, decorative elements, even measurements and secret hieroglyphics. The 90-minute tour is led by historian Frank Albo, author of The Hermetic Code, his book on the building; for an extra $19.95, you’ll get a copy with the tour.
Guided Segway Tours – Edmonton, Alberta
Love them or hate them in theory, admit it, you want to get on a Segway at least once. Tour Alberta’s capital with River Valley Adventure Co. and you’ll have your chance. The one-hour River Valley Tour includes instruction in riding a Segway – even a safe opportunity to get it up to top speed – and luggage storage and a helmet so you can take off up and down the city’s riverside parkland. And if you fall in love with the vehicle, they can sell you one, too.
Bears and Berries – Vernon, British Columbia
Naturalist Roseanne Van Ee leads guided tours of her mountain backyard winter (in showshoes) and summer, pointing out wildlife, plant life, even locations of ghost sightings. In summer, head to Silver Star Mountain for her Bears and Berries tour, which teaches guests all about black bears and their habitat and lets them sample the tasty mountain berries the bears so enjoy, too.
The Diefenbunker – Ottawa, Ontario
A time capsule of the Cold War, this once-secret bunker was built to house government officials in case of nuclear war and is now open for group or self-guided tours. Covering more than 100,000 square feet, the facility includes offices, living quarters and cryptographic areas, all preserved as they appeared in the ’60s. Special events include summer camps for kids and a free public lecture series.