Sex: Beyond the Canoe

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We do it in igloos, canoes and Ski-Doos: for the rest of the world, Canadians’ sex lives are subject to cliché.

But the True North does possess some pop culturally significant romantic addresses. Chief among these is Room 1762 of the Fairmont Queen Elizabeth Hotel in Montreal, where John Lennon and Yoko Ono tucked in for a weeklong bed-in in May of 1969. They invited along the CBC’s cameras, Tommy Smothers, Allen Ginsberg and Timothy Leary, who contributed to “Give Peace a Chance,” which was recorded prone.

It was another two iconic Canadian hotels that played host to a great love story: that of Liz and Dick. When the couple, fresh off quickie Mexican divorces, set up unwed housekeeping at Toronto’s King Eddie in puritanical 1964, crowds protested their immorality. The lovers fled to Montreal, to the Royal Suite at the Ritz Carlton, where they were married and conducted their first honeymoon.

But let’s get back to our fresh-air roots. We  Canadians – who can thank Pierre Trudeau that the state has no business in our bedrooms – certainly don’t need to have sex in a bed! It was our other beloved Pierre – Berton – who is responsible for the pro-naturalist quote: “A Canadian is someone who knows how to make love in a canoe.”

We are blessed with the world’s finest array of rivers, lakes, bays and brooks from which to select a good canoe parking session.

Berton’s idea has become a sort of national merit badge: an Environics poll last year found that one in 10 Canadians had indeed done the deed while successfully avoiding capsizing.

But there are some grown-up places we suggest you christen across the country.

Get it on outdoors in style via glamping, (“glamorous camping.”) B.C. is home to environmentally friendly glamping all along the Sunshine Coast, on Salt Spring, in the Queen Charlottes and Clayoquot Sound, but our favourite is in Tofino. Check out the options at for safari-style personal palaces furnished with oriental rugs and rustic Arts and Crafts-style full furnishings.

Yellowknife glows with international sex appeal as a location of renown – especially among Japanese fertility tourists – as the place to make lucky babies. Folklore holds that children conceived in its inherent green glow are robust and favoured by the stars.

You don’t have to be making babies or go alfresco to soak up the aphrodisiac vibe. Try Blachford Lake Lodge (blach, host to one of the world’s hottest couples, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, on their first Canadian tour.

Other hot spots to make out by the light of the aurora borealis are Churchill, Man., (where as a bonus you get to see polar bears – how sexy is that?) and Berton’s hometown, Whitehorse, where canoe season is a blink of an eye.

If cowboy turns your crank, get riled up at Ranchmans in Calgary, the most famous Western bar in the country (as seen in Brokeback Mountain). Besides a mechanical bull to impress your date (or new friend) with your stamina, there is two-step dancing, live music and plenty of beer for whistle wetting.

Yes, the Canadian landscape has had some sexy cameos. There are few more romantic sites than the grassy hillock Mordecai Richler’s Duddy Kravitz found to roll around on with his love, Yvette, beside the Laurentian lake he plans to build his dreams on; the swooping crane shot in Ted Kotcheff’s 1974 movie shows the lovers bathed in late-summer light.

And it is director Sarah Polley’s great transformative feat that most inspires: she turns Hamilton into a yearning backdrop for the final coupling of Gordon Pinsent and Julie Christie in 2006’s Away from Her. Heart-wrenching, as Pinsent’s character acknowledges his own infidelities and lets go of his wife of 50 years as she is losing her mind.

But the award for sexiest place in the country has melted. Open January through March, Hôtel de Glace (, the chicest igloo in which to rub noses, features rooms made of ice, outdoor spas and even an ice chapel so you can make like Liz and Dick and turn your stay into a second honeymoon.

Leanne Delap is a freelance journalist who writes about fashion, lifestyle and, yes, sex.


Zoomer magazine, July/Aug 2014