Canada's six-time cycling and speed-skating Olympic medallist Clara Hughes is making a 110-day bicycle journey around Canada supporting local mental health initiatives by community groups, schools and other local organizations in every province and territory. Clara's Big Ride for Bell Let's Talk will cover 12,000 kilometres and visit 95 Canadian communities.
For more information, visit Bell.ca/ClarasBigRide.
Day 2, Hamilton, ON
By Nhl4hamilton, via Wikimedia Commons
Today Clara cycles into Hamilton, home to the prestigious Canadian Football Hall of Fame. A must-see attraction for football fans, the hall is Canada’s state of the art National Football Museum, which honours the individual achievements of players, as well as the history of the glorious game.
The Canadian Football Hall of Fame was awarded to the city of Hamilton in February 1963 after a successful presentation by Mayor Lloyd D Jackson. Ivan Miller, retired sports editor of The Spectator, was named the first curator of the museum in an old temporary building near the stadium.
By Nhl4hamilton, via Wikimedia Commons
Football memorabilia began to flood in from all over the country. In 1968 a prime location next to City Hall became available. Hamilton was hosting the Grey Cup game in 1972 and the new glass and marble Hall of Fame building opened during the Grey Cup week festivities.
Each year, during the football season, an “Induction Weekend” is held in one of the eight CFL cities. The inductees are formally accepted into the Canadian Football Hall of Fame at the weekend’s gala dinner and are recognized during a special “Hall of Fame Game”.
The museum’s Zone of Champions displays the busts and a brief biography of each honoured member. To date, 264 Hall of Famers are included in the Zone of Champions.
Today the collection at the museum boasts more than 30,000 trophies, helmets, playing equipment, game and record balls, jerseys, sweaters, jackets, flags, banners, photographs, films and videos.
By Nhl4hamilton, via Wikimedia Commons
Did you know that the Grey Cup –the trophy for Canadian professional football supremacy – was actually never intended for football at all? In 1909 it was an award for the amateur senior hockey championship of Canada. However, Sir H Montagu Allan stepped in and offered a trophy, the Allan Cup, for the hockey competition. This made the trophy donated by His Excellency Earl Grey, the Governor General of Canada, an award for the amateur rugby football championship of Canada. Having decided to offer the trophy, the Governor General promptly forgot about his promise and the cup was not ready to present to the first champions, the University of Toronto, in December 1909. Two weeks prior to the championship game, a hurried order was placed with the silversmiths to produce a sterling silver cup, on a wooden base, for a total cost of $48. Three months later, in March 1910, the Grey Cup was presented to the University of Toronto.
Teams in Quebec and Ontario were the sole competitors until 1921, when teams from the west also entered the competition. The Grey Cup celebration as we know it today began back in 1948 when the Calgary Stampeders went to Toronto to play the Ottawa Rough Riders. The westerners, dressed up in ten-gallon hats, high boots and spurs, invaded the city with horses and chuckwagons and parades. Good-natured hijinks were the order of the day!
In 1993 the CFL entered a new era when it expanded into the United States, accepting the Sacramento Gold Miners into the League. The following year three more United States teams were awarded franchises.
Day 5, Windsor, ON
If she didn’t have so much peddling to do, Clara could stop off for a wee taste of whisky in Windsor.
In 1916, the State of Michigan adopted Prohibition, and in 1919 it was adopted nationally across the U.S. From then on, the city of Windsor became a major site for alcohol smuggling and gangster activity.
The waterways between Windsor and Detroit transported up to 75 per cent of the alcohol that was consumed in the U.S. during Prohibition. Many of Windsor’s citizens were involved in smuggling during the 1920s and some of the most prestigious mansions in the area were built on the profits from Prohibition. With the repeal of Prohibition in 1933, the area returned to its more law-abiding nature and the traffic in bootleg liquor virtually disappeared.
To learn about this fascinating side to Windsor’s history, make your way to The Canadian Club Heritage Centre in the historic Walkerville district. The centre takes visitors back in history to find out about Canadian Club founder, Hiram Walker, and his personal friendships with the biggest names in history – Henry Ford and Thomas Edison.
Check out the basement’s Speak Easy room where meetings were held with Al Capone and The Purple Gang, and learn about how Canadian Club whisky quenched the thirst of many U.S. citizens over the 13 long years during Prohibition.
Day 7, London, ONCreativecommons.org/Walt Stoneburner
Clara may well take her cowboy boots with her to London, Ontario, today, because the city has something of a reputation when it comes to the love country music.
In fact, it was just announced last week that the Canadian Country Music Association (CCMA) has chosen London to host the 39th Country Music Week, which will take place from September 8 to 11, 2016. This four-day music extravaganza will culminate with the CCMA Awards, which will be broadcast on Sunday, September 11.
“What an exciting time this is in Canadian country music,” said CCMA president Don Green. “We couldn’t be more thrilled with the engagement of the city of London and truly look forward to celebrating the Canadian country music industry in this vibrant city for the first time ever!”
One of the largest music events in Canada, Country Music Week will showcase some of country music’s best talent, as well as all of the attractions that London has to offer. The event is expected to attract 2,000 hotel nights to the city and have a historical economic impact of $6-8 million dollars.
Mayor Joe Fontana added: “The CCMA brings out the brightest country music stars and they’ll be shining a great light on our city. London will be the heart of country music and it will welcome music enthusiasts from across Canada. I guarantee an amazing week, because London loves to have guests and we know just how to treat them – like family.”
Before heading to London, Country Music Week 2014 and this year’s CCMA Awards will be celebrated in Edmonton, Alberta, from September 4 to 7. In 2015, Country Music Week and the CCMA Awards head to Halifax, Nova Scotia, from September 10 to 13.
Day 11, Peterborough, ON
By Tonywirthlin at en.wikipedia, from Wikimedia Commons
Clara peddles into Peterbourgh today, a city that, together with the Kawartha Lakes, boasts a rich aboriginal history.
The region is home to two First Nations: Curve Lake and Hiawatha. Some of the area’s most unique gems stem from this heritage, including Petroglyphs Provincial Park, where you can see the largest collection of aboriginal rock carvings on the continent.
By D Gordon E Robertson via Wikimedia Commons
These glorious carvings are located at a sacred site known at ‘The Teaching Rocks’ and they feature everything from turtles and snakes to birds and humans. A Learning Place Interpretive Centre reveals the traditions of the Ojibway people through the teachings of the medicine wheel symbol.
It’s also well worth stopping by McGinnis Lake – one of only a handful of meromictic – layers of water that don’t intermix – lakes in Canada.
Swing by the Whetung Gallery for a behind the scenes look in the craft workshop, rare arts and crafts from First Nations from across North America, a museum showcasing the area’s history and a souvenir shop. The gallery has a spectacular collection of fine art, sculpture, masks, leather work, clothing, jewellery, music and books.
Day 13, Cornwall, ON
Clara has been peddling on her bike for almost two weeks now, so a leisurely stroll around a heritage village would surely sound very tempting.
With its 40 heritage buildings and host of lively costumed interpreters, Upper Canada Village accurately portrays life back in the 1860s.
Located in a rural riverside setting with no visual intrusions of the modern world, just 29 kilometres west of Cornwall, visitors can witness exactly how their ancestors lived. Transporting visitors back in time to 1866, the park showcases authentic buildings and tells the tale of the people who lived there – and how they lived.
This is one of the largest living-history sites in Canada, featuring authentic homes, functioning mills and workshops. You can explore Asselstine's Woollen Factory, Bellamy's Steam Flour Mills, Beach's Sawmill, Cook's Tavern, Crysler Store, Crysler Hall, the Dressmaker's Shop, Loucks Farm, the Gazette Printing Office, the School House, Ross Farm or the Blacksmith Shop.
Traditional farming techniques are demonstrated through the growing of vegetables and the raising of livestock. And the village’s decorative gardens feature the flora and designs that were fashionable in the late Victorian era.
Learn how weavers, spinners and dressmakers went about their daily work, as well as what the local folk of 1866 thought about music, religion and politics. There are also impressive educational camp programs that allow the kids to experience everyday life in 1860s Canada.
It really feels like you have stepped back in time. So much so that many movie and television productions have filmed on site, including CBS’s Salem Witch Trials, Disney’s The Liberators and CBS’s Tom Sawyer.
Day 14, Montreal, QC
Creativecommons.org/Chun Yip So
Today Clara crosses the border and makes her first pit stop in La Belle Province in Montreal. Let’s hope she’s brought her appetite with her!
Montreal is a big hit with foodies, and for a taste of Montréal’s local culinary culture, head over to Jean-Talon Market, the largest outdoor public market in North America and a Mecca for foodies from near and far.
If the best way to experience a culture is by tasting its cuisine, Jean-Talon Market is an essential stop on your tour.
Nestled in the heart of Little Italy, this market is a veritable feast for the senses. The irresistible aromas of slow-roasting lamb, freshly baked baguettes and authentic French crêpes waft out of the market’s many lunch and snack spots.
The colourful produce displays are a sight to behold, no matter what time of year it is. In the summer months, baskets of blueberries, blackberries and strawberries abound, while in the fall, the sight of fresh pumpkins and the smell of roasted chestnuts take the chill out of the air.
And whether you’re filling your basket for a picnic or looking for a souvenir with local flavour, check out the market’s speciality cheese and meat vendors, as well as its gourmet food shops. Marché des Saveurs is renowned for its selection of Québec wines. Cheese-lovers will want to linger just a little longer at two of Montréal’s premiere cheese vendors, Fromagerie Hamel and Fromagerie Qui lait cru, both of which feature Québec cheeses.
Day 18, Trois-Rivières, QC
By Fralambert ,via Wikimedia Commons
Located halfway between Montréal and Québec City, Trois-Rivières is a vibrant harbour city, nestled between the St Lawrence and the Saint-Maurice rivers. The second oldest French city to be founded in North America, the city is very proud of its historic quarter, where museums, art galleries and boutiques celebrate over three hundred years of history.
One of the biggest highlights for visitors to Trois-Rivières is the Old Prison. François Baillairgé, a Québec City architect, prepared the blueprints for the Old Prison back in 1815. It opened officially in 1822 and remained in operation until 1986.
The building, once the longest-operating detention centre in Canada, is now an object of fascination – especially as visitors can be ‘Sentenced to One Night’ there.
Yes, visitors (in groups of 15 or more) can experience life behind bars by spending the night in an authentic jail cell.
On your arrival you’ll be greeted by the warden. You will then be booked, fingerprinted, photographed and issued with a prisoner’s t-shirt. The warden then guides you to the incarceration wing, where a former inmate will recount the penal life of yesteryear.
You will then spend the night with your cellmates under the warden’s supervision, as so many hardened criminals have before you.
On the following day, you will clean up the wing and proceed to a breakfast that’s fit for a prisoner – porridge and toast. Before leaving the prison, the warden will hand over your prisoner’s file with a stamp marked ‘RELEASED’.
Day 19, Quebec City, QC
With its quaint cobblestone streets and upscale department stores, Clara will be lucky if she can resist the opportunity to indulge in a little shopping spree in Quebec City.
A charming cobblestone street called rue du Petit-Champlain, located at the foot of the cliff on which stands the Château Frontenac — one of the city's best-known landmarks, is the oldest commercial street in North America.
There you will find exclusive fashions by regional designers, jewellery, decorative objects and Native handicrafts. You can take a walk through yesteryear by visiting the numerous antique dealers along rue Saint-Paul, a bustling street located a short distance away in the same neighbourhood, and the historical Old Port district comprises many of art galleries showcasing the works of Québec artists and Inuit sculptors, as well boutiques specializing in leather clothing.
Your tour of the city is incomplete until you have taken a stroll outside the fortified walls surrounding Old Québec. Walk along rue Saint-Jean in the picturesque Saint-Jean district and browse through the shops offering a wide selection of gift ideas and fine foods.
Day or night, Grande Allée is always a hive of activity. The sunny sidewalk cafés, beautiful architecture and exciting nightlife draw local residents and tourists to this popular thoroughfare.
Running through the heart of the chic Montcalm district is rue Cartier, a must for shopping aficionados. In the Saint-Roch district, you will find rue Saint-Joseph, a street lined with trendy shops and restaurants. More fashionable boutiques and excellent restaurants are located along avenue Maguire in Sillery.
If you want a larger selection of merchandise, then you should visit the city's major shopping centres: Laurier Québec, Place de la Cité, Place Sainte-Foy and Galeries de la Capitale. Hundreds of stores, some of which are exclusive to Québec City, are gathered under one roof.
Day 23, Rimouski, QC
Rimouski is home to the only submarine in the whole of Canada that is open to the public.
Located at the Site Historique Maritime de la Pointe-au- Père, the Onondaga boasts the longest active career in the history of the Canadian Navy. The submarine was in service for some 33 years, during which time she travelled more that 500,000 nautical miles – a distance equal to circumnavigating the globe 23 times. She visited 53 ports in 12 countries and was under the command of 25 commanders during her long career. An audio-guided tour reveals how the crew could be confined within the 90-metre ship for months at a time.
The Site Historique Maritime preserves some 200 years of maritime history. The Empress of Ireland Pavilion charts the life of the passenger ship, from its construction in 1906 to its sinking on the Saint Lawrence River in 1914, following a collision with the Norwegian collier, SS Storstad. The museum houses a fascinating collection of objects from the wreck and period photos.
Visitors can also climb the 128 steps to the top of the iconic Point-au-Père Lighthouse. Erected in 1909, this 33-metre-high lighthouse is the third to be built on this site and is one of the tallest in Canada.
Day 27, Fredericton, NB
We all know that Clara Hughes has a few Olympic speed-skating medals to her name, so she’s sure to be interested in what’s happening at Fredericton’s Amateur Speed Skating Club.
The club welcome the best short track speed skaters in Eastern Canada in 2015 when it hosts the Canada East Short Track Speed Skating Championship.
Taking place at the Grant Harvey Centre on March 21 and 22, 2015, the event will see the club building upon a championship hosting resume that includes the annual Harold Joyce Short Track Speed Skating Invitational and the Speed Skate New Brunswick Tail Ender event that concludes the skating season.
"FASSCI is pleased to be able to demonstrate our capabilities on the national scale. Now that we have a facility capable of hosting national events we want to demonstrate our ability to do so," noted event chair Trevor Corey. "This competition will bring the best 11 to 15-year-old skaters and their families to Fredericton. It will be a great opportunity for Fredericton citizens to see some great competitive speed skating at the highest level.”
The championships will see 128 athletes, coaches and spectators visiting Fredericton for top quality, fast-paced action.
"It's great to see the Fredericton Amateur Speed Skating Inc. working diligently to bring an event of the calibre of the Canada East Short Track Speed Skating Championship to our community," said Mayor Brad Woodside. "When we were designing the Grant Harvey Centre, we envisioned the potential to host events like these. We are glad to see community partners support the City of Fredericton's commitment to Sport Tourism. The economic activity stimulated by these events plays a significant role in the community."
Day 28, Saint John, NBCreativecommons.org/Boris Kasimov
With its charming, historic streets, a plethora of restaurants, pubs and art galleries in the uptown and the beautiful Bay of Fundy on its doorstep, Saint John is a vibrant city full of urban adventure on the edge of nature.
The Bay of Fundy, home to the world’s highest tides, offers excitement and thrills in the heart of the city with the famous Reversing Rapids. This is where the world’s highest tides rush up and over the St. John River, colliding spectacularly in a series of massive rapids and whirlpools. The river actually reverses in the face of this unstoppable natural power.
At low tide, the St. John River, which runs for 724 kilometres through New Brunswick, empties into the Bay through a narrow rocky gorge. Near Fallsview Park, an underwater ledge 11 metres below the surface causes a series of rapids and whirlpools. At this point the tidal waters are 4.4 metres lower than the river level. As the Bay tides begin to rise they slow the river current to a stop and for 20 minutes a rest period called ‘slack tide’ allows boats to navigate the rapids. As the Bay's tides continue to rise, their powerful force gradually reverses the flow of the river and the rapids begin to form again, reaching their peak at high tide. The water rises up to 4.4 metres higher than the river.
After high tide the Bay's tides slowly descend until they are at river level again, resulting in another slack tide. A complete high-tide/low tide cycle occurs about every 12.5 hours, with the tides rising to 8.5 metres.
It is recommended to view the rapids twice; near low tide and near high tide. View this wonder from the Falls Restaurant observation deck or Fallsview Park. Alternatively, you can ride the powerful rapids on a jet boat, experience them on a harbour sightseeing tour, or even race a friend on a dual zipline over the water for an extra adrenalin rush!
Day 29, Moncton, NB
Today Clara cycles into Moncton, New Brunswick, which is an especially interesting city for ecologically-aware travellers.
Moncton is the only major city in New Brunswick to have signed on as a partner in one of Canada’s most dramatic and ecologically diverse landscapes.
The UNESCO-designated Fundy Biosphere Reserve is an area of terrestrial and coastal ecosystems promoting solutions to reconcile the conservation of biodiversity with its sustainable use.
Aboriginal artifacts there date back more than 6,000 years and some of the earliest colonial settlements in North America were established in the area.
The reserve recently launched its first ever Trail Amazing Places video. Filmed in Fundy National Park, it showcases Dickson Falls using state-of-the-art filming techniques similar to those seen on the BBC’s popular nature documentary series, Planet Earth.
“We take our audience into tiny bird nests perched on the mossy gorge walls flanking the waterfall,” explained the project’s director of photography, Craig Norris. “Not only do you get to see a flycatcher feed its chicks, you also get to see the parents swoop into the nest in super slow motion. We have slowed their movements down ten times, which really highlights their astounding agility.
“Our array of equipment gives us a lot of options in the field – the crane gives us a bird’s eye view, our underwater cameras adopt the perspective of fish in rivers, and our time-lapse equipment can compress time, producing a seconds-long Bay of Fundy tide cycle video. By combining all these techniques we are constantly giving our viewer a unique perspective of the location.”
According to Ben Phillips, the project’s co-director, and Conservation program manager of the Fundy Biosphere Reserve, the intention of each video is to explain important characteristics of each amazing place.
“The videos explore a wide variety of interesting animal and plant species, like the endangered Inner Bay of Fundy Atlantic salmon, the incredible sandpipers and other shorebirds, animals like great blue herons and beavers, giant old growth trees, many strange and wonderful insects, tiny mosses and lichens, carnivorous plants – there really is a lot to explore within the Fundy Biosphere Reserve.”
Day 30, Summerside, PEI
Today Clara is heading to Summerside, Prince Edward Island. She’s sure to have a picturesque ride, because this gorgeous island is a glowing gem of rich green pastures and brilliant red cliffs.
Summerside is the island’s second-largest city – and it likes to dance to the beat of a different drum. Its lively boardwalk allows visitors to shop and dine beside the ocean, and just down the road at the College of Piping & Celtic Performing Arts of Canada, performers show off the Island’s Celtic roots with energetic displays of dancing, piping and drumming.
The Celtic heritage of the island is alive and well and throughout the summer, the college boasts a busy schedule of ceilidhs and concerts, including free mini-concerts each afternoon.
Affiliated with The College of Piping in Glasgow, the Summerside college has developed a world-class reputation as an international school of excellence in Highland bagpiping, Scottish-style drumming, Highland dancing and island step dancing.
With a mandate to preserve and promote the Celtic heritage of Canada’s most Celtic province, the college ignites passion in the hearts and minds of students and visitors alike.
As the only year-round institution of its kind in North America, the college attracts students from across Canada and from as far away as New Zealand, Australia, Kuwait, Japan, Singapore, Germany – and even Scotland.
Day 32, Charlottetown, PEICreativecommons.org/Finding Josephine
Today Clara is pedalling down memory lane into Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island – a town that is celebrating a hugely significant part of Canadian history this year.
2014 marks an important chapter in Canadian history, as PEI marks the 150th anniversary of the 1864 Charlottetown Conference – where the idea of Canada, as a nation, was proposed.
To celebrate this momentous landmark, PEI is hosting a spectacular year-long tribute to the beginning of a great nation. Part of downtown Charlottetown will be turned into a "Celebration Zone" where visitors can follow the footsteps of the Fathers of Confederation.
There will also be daily concerts, food tastings, children's activities and historical presentations. In the Zone, each province and territory in Canada will have the opportunity to showcase its local cuisine, culture and history, making this a truly Canadian celebration.
The Celebration Zone party kicks off on July 1 and daily activities will be taking place until September 7.
Founders Week will take place from August 28 to September 7. Tall Ships will dock in Charlottetown and Summerside, and the special Founders Week Concert will be headlined by Canadian icon Shania Twain. This will be Twain’s first performance in Atlantic Canada for 15 years – as well as her first ever performance on Prince Edward Island.
Day 34, Halifax, Nova Scotia
Art Gallery of Nova Scotia
Clara cycles into an artsy town today: Halifax.
Halifax is a city that is in love with the arts. Theatre, galleries, music, exhibitions – if you want it, you’ve got it.
It is also home to the house where Canada’s best-known folk artist, Maud Lewis, created her iconic works.
Lewis’ iconic images of rural life in Digby and Yarmouth counties of Nova Scotia resonate with all ages.
Art Gallery of Nova Scotia
The conservation of the house is also a story of triumph over difficulty. After Lewis’’s death in 1970 and Everett’s passing in 1979, the Painted House, as it became known in the community, was in desperate need of care. In 1984, in an effort to save a fast-deteriorating structure, the government of Nova Scotia bought the house and placed it in the care of the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia.
In 1996, after the structure was moved to Halifax, the painstaking conservation and restoration of the decorative images on and inside the house began and continued for two years. Specialists were needed to conserve metal objects, hand-painted wallpaper, polychrome wood, linoleum, furniture and painted oil-cloth. It became the largest conservation project ever carried out at the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia.
Although Lewis is best known for her small paintings on board, the tiny one-room house she shared with Everett for 32 years is perhaps her greatest work. She decorated every available surface, inside and out, from bread boxes and trays to the walls, windows and doors, making the house come alive with her imagination and the touch of her brush. It had no electricity or running water, but it became her first canvas for expression during her married life.
The fully restored Painted House is now on permanent display in Halifax, and Lewis’ work can be seen at both locations of the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia, at Halifax and Yarmouth.
Day 40, Corner Brook, NF
By Luben Boykov, via Wikimedia Commons
Today Clara is peddling through Corner Brook on the west coast of Newfoundland.
This city is particularly famous for its association with Captain James Cook, the British explorer who was the first to survey and map the Bay of Islands back in 1767. The Captain James Cook Historic Site on Crow Hill Road pays homage to the explorer, and whereas cliff top monument in honour of Cook there is admirable, it is really the panoramic view over the Bay of Islands that is the real payoff.
However, there is another ‘man’ who attracts admirers in Corner Brook. Just off the Trans Canada Highway at Exit 7 you’ll find the ‘Old Man in the Mountain’, a natural, craggy rock formation that some say resembles the face of a fisherman.
According to local legend, the Spanish buried a treasure on Shellbird Island in the Humber River. As this ‘face’ overlooks the island, it is said to be a marker for the treasure. It is best viewed from the rest area at the Exit 7.
There are a couple of trails that take in the Man in the Mountain. Check out the Humber Valley Trail, which follows along the hilltops above the north side of the lower Humber River Valley, from the western trailhead near Ballam Bridge to Wild Cove road, Humber Village and the eastern trailhead near Humber Valley Resort.
The trail begins with a 2.5-kilometre ascent to the top of the Old Man in the Mountain, offering a breathtaking view overlooking Shellbird Island in the fast flow of the Humber River. Corner Brook and the Humber Arm are laid out below and to the northwest. Following the ridge, the trail offers panoramic views of western Newfoundland, from the far end of Deer Lake to the east, Blow-Me-Down Mountains to the west, North Arm Hills to the north, and Marble Mountain ski hill to the south.
The vistas of the Humber Valley Trail are particularly pleasing in autumn when the brilliant colours of changing leaves intermingle with the coniferous greens.
Day 43, Gander, NFBy Plismo, via Wikimedia Commons
Today Clara wheels into a town where an altogether larger, noisier form of transportation takes centre stage: Gander, Newfoundland.
The town’s North Atlantic Aviation Museum houses all manner of fabulous fliers, from the Lockheed Hudson MkIIIA mid-range Bomber (one of only eight left in the world) to the Voodoo Fighter Jet and the Beech Craft l8S.
Add to that a 1939 Tiger Moth, a DC3 Cockpit and a selection of aircraft engines, machine guns, uniforms and propellers, and you’ll realize that this is paradise for aviation buffs.
Renovated in the spring of 2012, the museum’s collection focuses on North Atlantic aviation history as it pertains to Gander and Gander International Airport, from the 1930s to today.
With the bulk of the artifacts and photos in the collection focussing on the World War II years through the early jet age, highlights include a WWII DeHavilland Tiger Moth bi-plane and a 1940s’ Canso PBY-5A waterbomber.
Over the main entrance you’ll find the tail section of a DC-3 (1930s model), and behind the building, overlooking Gander Lake, you’ll discover the cockpit of the DC-3.
Day 48, St John’s, NL
Today Clara rolls into the beautiful provincial capital of St John's, a city that effortlessly blends big-city luxury and oodles of historic small-town charm.
As the oldest and most easterly city in North America, travellers stumble upon symbols of Canada’s colourful heritage and charisma at every turn.
Take a hike up Signal Hill through the famous Battery, where tiny wooden homes still cling valiantly to cliff sides that are ravaged by ocean waves.
Not only will you be rewarded with fabulous views of the harbour, skyline and the North Atlantic spreading out beneath you, but you’ll also come face to face with the iconic Cabot Tower.
This tower guards the top of this hill, where valiant military men guarded Canada’s shores throughout the 1700s and 1800s. Let your soul be stirred by the crack of muskets and the roar of cannon fire and discover the story of how British and French soldiers battled fiercely to control this strategic location.
During the summer months, travellers can experience performances of the award-winning Signal Hill Tattoo. These engaging re-enactments demonstrate the military drills of the Royal Newfoundland Regiment of foot as formed in 1795.
Audiences thrill to the echo of the cannon, mortars and musket fire combined with the stirring tunes of the Fife and Drum Band, which beckons visitors to a bygone age of 19th century British military might. The Tattoo portrays the garrison life and duties of His Majesty’s Royal Newfoundland Regiment of Foot and the 27th Company-2nd Battalion-Royal Regiment of Artillery who endured the harsh conditions of the Newfoundland Station in the late 1790s.
The hill also has massive significance in the history of international communications. Centuries before the advent of ship-to-shore radio, signalman perched high up on Signal Hill surveyed the ocean for ships headed toward the city’s port. Flag signals flown on the hill communicated the names of the ships to the people working in the harbour.
This is also where Guglielmo Marconi famously received his first historic transatlantic wireless transmission in 1901. In our modern times of instant international connectivity, a visit to Signal Hill is a reminder of simpler times.
Day 50, Iqaluit, NU
Creativecommons.org/Angela Scappatura Photography
Let's hope that Clara is wrapped up warm today, as she's in Iqualuit. Located on the south coast of Baffin Island at Frobisher Bay, this is the largest city and territorial capital of Canada’s youngest territory: Nunavut. This unspoiled natural paradise entices visitors with its vivid displays of the dancing hues of the Aurora Borealis and its unsurpassed access to arctic wildlife.
Creativecommons.org/Angela Scappatura Photography
The word 'Iqaluit' means 'place of many fish' in Inuktitut. The ancient Thule people knew it well. At nearby Qaummaarviit Island, there are several archaeological sites containing thousand-year-old artifacts of Inuit ancestors.
Iqualuit is a great base for getting out and about and seeing some of the region’s most amazing wildlife. Dog sledding, cross-country skiing and snowmobiling are very popular activities in Iqaluit, as are boating, river rafting, canoeing, kayaking, kite skiing and tobogganing. And they all provide great opportunities to catch a glimpse of the local wildlife.
Creativecommons.org/Angela Scappatura Photography
In the summertime there are many scenic places to go hiking, fishing, camping and berry picking, such as Sylvia Grinnell Park, the Road to Nowhere and the seaside trail to Apex. Expect to see large, talkative ravens all year round, as well as ptarmigans, snow buntings and seagulls. Arctic hares, lemmings and arctic foxes are often found nearby.
Caribou are found farther away. When the sea ice breaks up, inquisitive seals can be spotted from town. Polar bears are rare, but they do sometimes do show up.
It’s definitely best to show up in the summertime though, when the city enjoys nearly 24 hours of sunshine in late June and early July, with beautiful twilight skies for two hours around midnight. The shortest days of December have just four hours of daylight, with the sun hovering on the southern horizon.
Day 53, Yellowknife, NWT
Today Clara is in Yellowknife – the fascinating Gold Rush town that is today home to History Television’s Ice Pilots NWT.
By CambridgeBayWeather, via Wikimedia Commons
Now in its fifth season, this hugely popular docu-series follows the adventures of the staff at the Yellowknife’s Buffalo Airways.
Visually stunning and emotionally gripping, the current season takes viewers through the toughest winter – and worst conditions – that Buffalo Airways has ever faced. Every pilot and mechanic in the company faces the huge challenge of keeping the aging fleet in the air.
By RAF-YYC from Calgary, Canada, via Wikimedia Commons
Plus, Buffalo Joe resurrects and races an antique 1940s "snowplane" on Great Slave Lake, pilots a helicopter for the first time and flies with Canada's iconic Snowbirds. Mikey takes his first flying lessons, trains for Arctic survival with the military, leads a hockey team against an NHL squad and connects with astronaut Chris Hadfield aboard the International Space Station.
By CambridgeBayWeather, via Wikimedia Commons
Since its foundation by “Buffalo Joe” McBryan back in 1970, Buffalo Airways has been operating legendary aircraft. Travellers can fly with the Ice Pilots in a vintage Buffalo Airways DC-3 aircraft, on a commuter run between Yellowknife and Hay River over the Great Slave Lake.
By CambridgeBayWeather, via Wikimedia Commons
Day 55, Inuvik, NWT
Today Clara ventures two degrees above the Arctic Circle to the ‘Land of the Midnight Sun’: Inuvik.
Meaning ‘Place of man’, Inuvik is THE vacation headquarters for any adventurer worth their salt who wants to experience the far-flung communities of the Western Arctic.
The first thing to do is to visit the town’s Western Arctic Regional Visitor Centre to pick up your certificate from the ‘Arctic Circle Chapter, Order of Adventurers’, which is awarded to all travellers who cross the Arctic Circle.
Then pay a visit to the Our Lady of Victory Igloo Church, which was built by volunteers, before you start planning your trip into the wilds of Tuktoyaktuk.
Meaning ‘It looks like caribou’, Tuktoyaktuk is an Inuvialuit hamlet on the shores of the Arctic Ocean, just 150 kilometres north of Inuvik. Formerly known as Port Brabant, this was the first place in Canada to revert to its traditional Native name. And its name went on to receive further accolades in Stompin’ Tom Connor’s song, Mukluk Shoe.Creativecommons.org/pony_coach
There are some great Inuvik-based tour companies that will be happy to take you to see Tutoyaktuk’s unique pingos (unusual round hills formed by frozen water), visit an natural underground ice freezer, meet local artists, try your hand at dog-sledding, ice-fishing or igloo-building and catch a performance by the Tuktoyaktuk Drummers and Dancers.
You can even dip your toe in the Arctic Ocean, if you so wish!
Day 60, Dawson City, YT
By Adam Jones, PhD, via Wikimedia Commons
Today Clara cycles into Dawson City, and although pedaling can indeed be tough on the feet, it’s nowhere near as tough as what happens to toes in the city’s Downtown Hotel...
This gold rush city is home to the infamous Sourtoe Cocktail Club. Pop into the Sourdough Saloon at the Downtown Hotel and try the Sour Toe Cocktail, which contains an actual alcohol-preserved human toe. No kidding.
This is a strange, fascinating – and uniquely Canadian – ritual. It all kicked off (excuse the pun) back in 1973, with what is said to be the toe of a miner that had been amputated in the 1920s. For $5 you can try the cocktail yourself and earn a certificate. To earn the official certificate, the rule is: 'You can drink it fast, you can drink it slow — But the lips have gotta touch the toe.'
It really can’t be as bad as it sounds, because more than 65,000 people now have their certificates.
In fact, one American tourist was so enthusiastic about the experience that he swallowed the toe last August. The apparently satisfied boozer immediately paid the requisite $500 – the bar's fine for swallowing the toe. The fine for swallowing the toe has now been bumped up to $2,500.
Day 62, Whitehorse, YT
Named the ‘Wilderness City’, Whitehorse nestles on the banks of the Yukon River and is surrounded by mountains and pristine lakes. And its home to a festival that Clara will certainly be interested in: the world’s only 24-hours mountain bike relay where no lights are required!
This year’s 24 Hours of Light Mountain Bike Festival takes place on June 28 and 29. It’s a fun weekend of bikes and beverages that’s held under Whitehorse’s midnight sun, and it’s the only 24-hour race in the world where lights are illegal.
The 2014 festival will take place under the midnight sun on Grey Mountain. Teams, solo bikers and bike fans of all levels are invited to participate in the all-day, all-night relay.
Yukon is the land of the midnight sun, where life flourishes under hours of intense sunlight as the land hosts millions of migratory birds and explodes in wildflower blooms.
Day 64, Victoria, BC
This would be a good time for Clara to hop off her bike and relax with a nice glass of wine or cider...
As the fastest wine-growing region in Canada, Vancouver Island is considered BC’s “other” wine region, alongside the famed Okanagan Valley.
Cowichan Valley, located 45 minutes north west of Victoria, means the “warm land” in its native language; this area receives more sun and has the best grape-growing conditions of anywhere on Vancouver Island. As a result, it is home to most of Vancouver Island's wineries and vineyards.
Similarly, the Saanich Peninsula, just 20 minutes north of Victoria, is rich in agricultural land and an ideal terroir for growing some of the world’s best cool-climate grapes. This climate also brings with it other complementary products, such as meads, ciders and spirits. The temperate conditions closely resemble regions where historically some of the world's best cider apples were grown.
From Victoria, visitors can spend an entire day on a self-guided tour visiting farms, wineries and ciderhouses like Church & State Wines, De Vine Vineyards, Victoria Spirits, Sea Cider Farm & Cider House and Merridale Ciderworks.
Day 65, Nanaimo, BC
All that cycling certainly requires an energy fix, and Clara is in the right place for that today! The legendary Nanaimo Bar is a Canadian favourite, a creamy, chocolately treat with an origin that’s shrouded in mystery.
Reading about the bar’s origin is a little like watching an episode of CSI Nanaimo. According the Wikipedia, although the recipe was reported to appear in the annual Ladysmith and Cowichan Women's Institute Cookbook, no such cookbook has ever been found and there is no record of the organization. The earliest confirmed printed copy of the recipe using the name "Nanaimo Bars" appears in the Edith Adams' prize cookbook from 1953. A copy of the book is on view at the Nanaimo Museum.
Despite the confusion that surrounds its origins, the popularity of the Nanaimo Bar endures – so much so in fact, that there is a special ‘Nanaimo Bar Trail’ for sweet-seekers. This sweet self-guided adventure takes Nanaimo-lovers through the streets of the town to sample its many creative interpretations of the famous Nanaimo Bar – from traditional bars to raw bars, deep fried bars and cocktails! There are 28 stops along the trail, which stretches from Lantzville to Yellow Point. Stop by the visitor centre to pick up a Nanaimo Bar Trail brochure.
Day 67, Vancouver, BC
Whereas Vancouver is undoubtedly a visually stunning city, sometimes it’s nice to give your eyes a rest – something that will help you to appreciate the city’s exquisite natural beauty all the more.
Already a big hit in cities like London, Paris and New York, the ‘blind dining’ concept is now available in Vancouver, offering a unique opportunity to experience dining in a whole new way – in the dark.
Located in the heart of the city’s stylish Kitsilano neighbourhood, Dark Table is a restaurant that takes diners on a culinary journey through uncharted territory, where the familiar — food, drink and friends — becomes a wonder to be explored and discovered.
Without the sense of sight, the senses of touch, taste, hearing and smell are intensified, providing a new perception of reality.
Upon arrival in the lighted lounge, diners and choose from the menu before they are led to their table in the dark dining room by their blind or visually-impaired server. With an unemployment rate of 70 per cent, the blind face obvious challenges in a society that is preoccupied with visual communication, but in a dark dining environment, the tables are turned – and the non-sighted servers guide the sighted.
Day 70, Kelowna, BC
If Clara likes to unwind with a nice glass of wine after a hard-day’s pedalling, she’s in the right place today.
Known as the ‘Napa of the North’, Kelowna in the Okanagan Valley boasts some five distinct wine trails – the Scenic Sip, the Fab Five of Kelowna, the Grapes & Grains Trail, the Lakeshore Wine Route and the Westside Wine Trail.
Each trail has its own identity as well as unique history and compelling stories. From BC's first commercial winery – which opened during the Great Depression! – to a wine country architectural masterpiece and the biodynamics and bubbly visitors are endlessly enchanted by the region’s fleet of dedicated, award-winning winemakers.
Lying in the rain-shadow of the Coastal Mountain range, the Okanagan Valley is actually the northernmost tip of the Sonora Dessert. This means that Kelowna lies in a microclimate and receives over 2,000 hours of sunshine per year and only about 12 inches of rain.
The ecosystem in the area is a big surprise – even to Canadians! Among the plant and animal life in the mountains you’ll find cacti, rattlesnakes and Black Widow spiders. The glaciers carved out this valley thousands of years ago, leaving interesting rock formations, like Layer Cake Mountain and extinct volcanoes.
The rocky, mineral-rich soils are particularly perfect for grape growing (at wineries such as Quails’ Gate, you’ll find shards of volcanic rock in between the vines), and temperatures in the summer range from 85 to 100 degrees.
Day 72, Grand Forks, BC
In the Grand Forks area, Clara can prepare to be dazzled.
Can you imagine a place where the ground is sprinkled with glistening green and purple fluorite and sparkling quartz crystal geodes – and you’re welcome to help yourself to samples? Welcome to Rock Candy Mine, just outside Grand Forks.
Nestled on Big Rock Candy Mountain – which received its name from the first miners who set eyes on its colourful crystals – the Rock Candy Mine provides visitors with hammers and safety goggles so that they can tap away at crystal treasures.
Big Rock Candy Mountain offers family-friendly nature tours at this internationally famous crystal collecting area. Guides at this heritage 1920s’ mine will show you how to collect sparkling quartz crystal geodes, green and purple fluorite crystals, and famous yellow barite crystals, while enjoying the stunning view from the mountain top.
The mine operated until 1929. The crown-granted property saw several periods of exploration in subsequent years, but no further work was ever done.In 1986, the University of British Columbia acquire the mine for teaching purposes. The M.Y. Williams Geologic Museum at UBC arranged purchase by Bob Jackson, a geologist who specializes in collecting museum specimens.
Jackson's company, Geology Adventures, Inc., worked with the BC Ministry of Mines to design ecologically-friendly, small scale mining plans. Collecting of museum specimens commenced in 1991.
DAY 79, CALGARY, AB
Today Clara cycles into Calgary, and let’s hope that she has a healthy appetite after all of that pedaling!
The city has a fabulous reputation for its fine cuisine, from the tenderest, juiciest steaks to bewildering specialities like ‘Scottish curry on yamtastic fries’
Taste Connie de Sousa’s artisan charcuterie at Charcut, pick your own salad greens in Paul Rogalski’s garden at Rouge, belly-up to the oyster bar at Catch with Kyle Groves, or carve into a tender bison steak, perfectly seared by John Donovan at Divino.
‘Quirky’ can also be a common denominator when it comes to Calgary’s food scene. The city’s Big Cheese Poutinerie has taken a new twist on its poutine menu, offering unusual gems like ‘Scottish Curry on Yamtastic fries.’ Another city favorite is Jelly Modern Doughnut, where bacon is one of the main ingredients in the gourmet kitchen.
And to wash it all down? How about a health-conscious cocktail at Raw Bar at Hotel Arts? This stylish bar spearheaded Calgary’s cocktail culture – and as the cocktail menu has a healthy twist – it’s the perfect place to unwind after a hard day’s cycling.
DAY 80, RED DEER, AB
Today Clara cycles into Red Deer, a city that – considering its name – takes exceptional care of its baby deer population. And recently, the staff at the Medicine River Wildlife Centre have been busy dispelling the age-old myth that a lactating doe will not accept an orphaned fawn that is not her own and has been in contact with humans.
For decades scientists and wildlife organizations have been returning orphaned birds of prey to the wild using an adoption process, but many experts did not believe it could be done with wild deer. The Medicine River Wildlife Centre is proving them wrong.
Every spring, between 30 and 60 orphaned fawns find their way to the centre. Some are truly orphaned and some are mistakenly picked up by well-meaning bystanders. For the past eight years, the centre has been successfully returning these baby deer to the wild. Radio tagging in the past two years has provided concrete evidence that something that many experts believed was impossible is actually working.
“We were told by scientists and some of our peers that this wouldn’t work,” said Carol Kelly, executive director of the centre. “Now we are working to provide evidence that it does. Returning wildlife back to the wild is always the best solution. It’s absolutely magical to watch an orphaned fawn find a new home in the wild.”
The Medicine River Wildlife Centre cares for a variety of wildlife, from orphaned hares and robins to injured eagles and moose – making up some 200 species and close to 1,600 patients annually. Each animal is examined, treated and then rehabilitated in line with their specific needs before being released into an appropriate environment.
DAY 81, EDMONTON, AB
Connormah, via Wikimedia Commons
Forget paying for fancy theatre tickets if you want some serious entertainment in Edmonton. Simply swing into town between July 4 and 13 and take in the city’s 30th annual Edmonton International Street Performer’s Festival.
Featuring over 1,500 outdoor performances by musicians, jugglers, acrobats and unicyclists, StreetFest brings the city to life for 10 days every July.
As artistic producer at the festival, Shelley Switzer hasn’t always had to worry about pleasing the roughly quarter of a million people who swirl through Sir Winston Churchill Square during the festival. When she took over as producer in 1999 she had, what now seems like a modest 180,000 attendees to care for. But that number has grown. And so has the Festival.
During her tenure, she has added new programs such as the “Be Your Own Busker” public workshops, as well as expanding on staples like the “Comedy Cares” program. The Comedy Cares program sees street performers visit children’s hospitals and senior’s facilities.
Switzer is driven by the impact that the festival can have on people’s everyday lives: “In the middle of the din of our downtown, you have a homeless person standing next to a person referred to as a suit, sharing the same laugh because the lights are on,” she explains. “It’s not like when you and I go to the theatre and we’re sitting next to each other. We’re not interacting; we’re watching the show in front of us.
“With street performance, the lights are on all the time. You’re not only watching the artist, you’re watching the audience. So we’re all together. And it really, truly does bond us.”
DAY 87, SASKATOON, SK
In 1882, the founders of Saskatchewan's largest city pitched their tents on the banks of the South Saskatchewan River. Today the centerpiece to this modern city is the campus of the University of Saskatchewan, which is surrounded by some great shopping areas, galleries and attractions.
One of the area’s most impressive attractions in the area has to be Wanuskewin Heritage Park, which is located just five kilometres northeast of Saskatoon city centre, along the South Saskatchewan Riverbank. For more than 6,000 years the indigenous people of the Northern Plains gathered on this site to hunt bison, gather food and herbs and escape the winter winds.
If Clara is a little tired after all that pedaling and in search of some sublime slumber, she should consider booking a peaceful tipi sleepover in the park.
Wanuskewin Heritage Park offers overnight accommodation in traditional tipis all year round. It’s a cosy and educational experience, as travellers sit around the fire and listen to First Nations stories while snacking on Bannock and sipping Muskeg tea before bed.
In the morning, they can take a Medicine Walk to learn about the natural medicinal resources of the Opimihaw Valley, or learn about the values that were associated with each part of the tipi as they try their hand at traditional tipi-raising.
Participants are asked to take a sleeping bag, pillow, bug spray and flashlight with them. And for groups of 12 people of more, this unique experience costs only $35 per person – and even includes breakfast!
DAY 88, MOOSE JAW, SK
Tunnels of Moose Jaw
When in Moose Jaw, you may want to think about going underground...
Head beneath the downtown streets and you can relive Al Capone’s bootlegging days in the Tunnels of Moose Jaw’s “Chicago Connection” tour, or learn about the hardships of early Chinese immigrants in the “Passage to Fortune” tour.
This Chicago Connection tour reveals the role Moose Jaw played in supplying illegal liquor to the United States during the prohibition era. On this tour, Al Capone’s people are in Moose Jaw to buy some illegal booze – from you. Step into the role of the bootlegger and you’ll enter the danger of life beneath the street.
Tunnels of Moose Jaw
You’ll also learn all about chief of police Walter P Johnson, the west’s most infamous lawman. Under his reign, Moose Jaw reportedly became a hideout for American gangsters and the centre of a well-organized rum-running operation to the States. Head of an equally corrupt police force, Johnson succeeded only in confining gambling, bootlegging, opium smoking and prostitution to the River Street area. Rumour has it that he provided refuge for gangsters on the lam, and in return, those same gangsters ensured that Moose Jaw would remain free from any “serious” crime.
Tunnels of Moose Jaw
On the Passage to Fortune tour, you’ll go underground to learn all about the Chinese immigrants who were forced underground in the late 19th and early 20th century. Step into the role of the Chinese immigrant and immerse yourself in the sights, sounds and the secrets of those dark days.
Chinese immigration to Canada took on two forms: coolie broker and chain migration. Coolie broker migration involved an indenture arrangement by which the immigrant worked off his indebtedness to the broker who had paid his passage to Canada before he was free to seek employment of his own. This type of migration was common in the late 19th century, providing gangs for construction and mining companies. On the other hand, chain migration was common after 1900 and occurred when an immigrant arrived in Canada on his own and worked until he was either able to return to China, or send for his family to join him in Canada.
DAY 89, REGINA, SK
Say Regina, and images of noble RCMP officers immediately spring to mind.
The city is home to the RCMP’s ‘Depot’ Division, which is considered to be the ‘Cradle of the Force’ because all RCMP members receive their training there. In fact, more than 1,000 new Mounties graduate in Regina each year.
In a stunning Arthur Erickson-designed building adjacent to the academy, you’ll find the RCMP Heritage Centre, which chronicles the history of the force from the lawless days of the old west, to today’s modern forensic techniques.
Immerse yourself in the story of the North West Mounted Police’s march to tame the Wild West and how their name came to be the Royal Canadian Mounted Police. Learn about Sitting Bull, the gold rush and the North West Resistance and find out more about those beautiful black horses used in the Musical Ride.
This summer the centre has revealed a brand new Women in Scarlet: 40 Years of Women in the RCMP exhibit.
On September 16 1974, some 32 women were all sworn into the RCMP at exactly the same moment and became the first women engaged by the force as regular members. This exhibit invites visitors to walk in the Strathcona boots of these history-making women.
Bev Busson, a cadet with Troop 17, the first female troop at Depot Division in 1974, was the first woman appointed as Commissioner of the RCMP in 2006: “It’s hard to believe it’s been 40 years since women were first sworn in as regular members of the force, as it seems like it was just yesterday,” she said.
“This new exhibit celebrates the many firsts of women in the force over the last four decades. I’ve had a great career with the RCMP and it has been a true privilege and an honour to serve Canadians.”
DAY 92, BRANDON, MB
Today Clara cycles into Brandon, Manitoba’s second largest city. It is also home to the only air museum in Canada that is dedicated solely to the Canadian, American and Commonwealth air personnel who trained and fought for the British Commonwealth during the Second World War.
Canada made a major contribution to Allied air superiority during World War II. Called the "Aerodrome of Democracy" by President Roosevelt, Canada had an abundance of air training space beyond the range of enemy aircraft, excellent climatic conditions for flying, immediate access to American industry and relative proximity to the British Isles via the North Atlantic.
Located just 1.6 kilometres north of Brandon at Brandon Municipal Airport, the Commonwealth Air Training Plan Museum explores this World War II Royal Canadian Air Force Training Site and showcases the aircraft and artifacts of the time. This site was vital to the war effort and Sir Winston Churchill even called the Commonwealth Air Training Plan Canada’s greatest contribution to the Allied victory in World War II.
Visitors can wander through a period hangar and see the aircraft that were used for training and witness the complexity of these machines first-hand as volunteers work to restore them.
Day 95, Winnipeg, MB
Located in the geographic centre of Canada, Winnipeg is Manitoba’s vibrant capital city – and the gateway to western Canada. The city has more than 6,000 years of history as a result of its significance as an aboriginal meeting place. From the 17th to 19th centuries, the area flourished as the hub of Canada’s fur trade and then later again as a key site of early railroad development.
Winnipeg’s cultural significance makes it an excellent choice for the location of the new Canadian Museum for Human Rights, which is due to open on September 20. Canada’s new national museum will take visitors on a journey of inspiration through human rights triumphs and struggles. A stunning architectural icon designed by Antoine Predock, this unique building sits at the forks of two mighty rivers – on land that has been an Aboriginal meeting place for thousands of years. Inside, multi-sensory exhibits explore human rights stories from across the world.
Day 100, Thunder Bay, ON
Creativecommons.net/ Mike Beauregard
Today Clara cycles into Thunder Bay, and while she’s there, she won’t be able to miss the city’s mighty 50 million tonne mascot!
Known as the ‘Sleeping Giant’, the panoramic Sibley Peninsula is made up of mesas and sills jut out on Lake Superior and form the body of water that is Thunder Bay. When viewed from the city, this incredible peninsula resembles a reclining giant.
Mystery and legend surround the origin of this strange phenomenon of nature and down through the ages. Lake Superior has been home to the Ojibway people for more than 500 years. Ojibway legend calls the Sleeping Giant ‘Nanabijou’. He was turned to stone when the secret location of a rich silver mine was disclosed.
The formation is part of Sleeping Giant Provincial Park, where the giant’s dramatic steep cliffs are among the highest in Ontario at 240 metres high. This is a popular place for hiking, canoeing kayaking, camping, wildlife-viewing, cross-country skiing, snowshoeing – and yes - cycling.
The park offers breathtaking views of Lake Superior from the Top of the Giant Trail and Thunder Bay Lookout , more than 80 kilometres of incredible hiking trails with many spectacular geological features such as the ‘Sea Lion’ and Tee Harbour, and excellent opportunities to see moose, wolf, fox and lynx.
Day 105, Sault Ste Marie, ON
Creativecommons.org/ Javier Lastras
If Clara’s in the mood for some pizza after all that pedalling, she’s in the right place today.
Italian culture, tradition and cuisine are all alive and well in Sault Ste Marie. Italians began immigrating in record numbers during the post-war manufacturing and construction boom of the late 1940s. As a result, Italians are currently the largest ethnic group in Sault Ste Marie, making up almost 20 per cent of the city’s population, according to the 2011 census.
With Italian people come Italian food, and the immigrant’s passion for cooking with the freshest ingredients has become inherent in Sault Ste Marie’s gastronomic culture. From the city’s intimate bistros to its upscale eateries, you’ll find Italian homemade cuisine – as well as numerous bakeries and delis that carry traditional Italian ingredients imported directly from Italia.
So there is no shortage of pizzerias in Sault Ste Marie. Local gems include Fratelli’s Kitchen, Franzisi Maria, Mrs B’s, Ubriaco’s and Solo Trattoria.
Day 107, Sudbury, ON
Today, Clara may well wish that she’d timed her trip a little better – because Downtown Sudbury Ribfest doesn’t kick off until August 29.
That’s when downtown Sudbury welcomes professional rib teams from across Canada and the USA. Visitors get to enjoy racks of ribs, some live entertainment, craft vendor stalls and a vintage car show – all in support of the Canadian Red Cross Sudbury.
Admission is free and the good people of Sudbury promise to serve up the “tastiest, lip-smackin’ ribs, chicken and pulled pork ever”.
This is the seventh year that the city has hosted Ribfest, and last year’s prestigious awards went to Boss Hogs for ‘Best Sauce’, Ribs Royale for ‘Best Chicken’ and Smokehouse Bandits for ‘Best Ribs’. The coveted Peoples’ Choice award went to Boss Hogs.
This year’s ‘ribbers’ include Boss Hogs, Crabby’s BBQ Shack, Smokehouse Bandits, Jack the Ribber, Ribs Royale and Texas Rangers.
Day 110, Ottawa, ON
Creativecommons.org/ Bruce Guenter
It’s been a long ride, but a good one. Congratulations Clara! And what a great way to end your journey – in the country’s capital on Canada Day...
Parliament Hill is the only place to be on July 1 if you’re Canadian, or even if you’re not. There are free concerts, short speeches by politicians, the Musical Ride, maple leaf ‘tattoos’, face painting and fireworks - and everyone is in a good mood.
The crowds start to gather on Parliament Hill early for a 9am flag-raising ceremony, followed by the Changing the Guard ceremony at 9:30am and the carillon concert featuring the Peace Tower bells at 10 am.
Be there at noon for a thrilling performance by the Snowbirds Demonstration team and a show filled with cultural entertainment. This year’s performers include Brett Kissel, the British Columbia Boys Choir, Marianas Trench, Nadja, Serena Ryder, Terry Kelly and Véronic DiCaire.
The celebrations will spill over from Parliament Hill to venues on both sides of the Ottawa River, including Major's Hill Park and Jacques Cartier Park in downtown Gatineau, and the day will be capped-off with a massive fireworks finale that’s visible from any vantage point downtown.
It’ll be a beautiful ending to a beautiful day – and a beautiful trip – for Clara.
Happy Canada Day! Enjoy Clara; you’ve certainly earned it!
Creativecommons.org/ Derek Hatfield