Considering a holiday at home? Whether you’re a staycation warrior or a fan of armchair travelling, there are two books out now to consider.
Edited and written by Canadians for Canadians about Canadian travel, the ideas put forth are sure to get your wanderlust flowing. And when you’re ready to venture out, these two books can serve as inspiring guides to where to go in this great big backyard of ours.
As such, we asked the authors to choose some of their favourite Canadian locations to share here.
Ontario Escapes: 19 Great Places to Visit Right Now, by Jim Byers
Toronto journalist Jim Byers has published an electronic book that’s just right for the times we live in. Byers, an occasional contributor to Zoomer, focused the book on quiet nature spots with great hiking, kayaking, waterfalls and other outdoor activities.
He also has mixed in some food places and attractions, such as the Buxton Settlement, a vital part of Ontario’s Black history. You’ll find colourful, engaging locals in towns like Millbrook, Rossport, Baysville and Erieau, as well as a winery called The Frisky Beaver and a garden near Peterborough that’s filled with hand-carved Zimbabwean stone art.
Byers has stories from a good deal of this vast province, including Grand Bend, Gananoque, Thunder Bay, Killlarney, Toronto, Prince Edward County, Port Dover, Peterborough and the Kawarthas, Grey County, Niagara Falls, Muskoka, Ottawa and more. Here, we take a quick trip with Byers to two spots in the province.
Rossport is a small, blink-and-you’ll-miss-it kind of place. Do yourself a favour, though. Don’t blink.
A few years ago I arrived in this town dog-tired after a long drive on the Trans-Canada Highway. I was supposed to go out on a boat ride on Lake Superior at 6 p.m. but it was already 5 and I was exhausted. It also was raining lightly.
The owner of The Willows Inn B&B, the small inn I was going to be staying at, a woman named Dawn, was aghast when I suggested I might skip the boat trip. And also quite upset.
“Oh, you don’t want to do that,” she said. “You should go.”
Memo to self: always listen to Dawn.
I got to the dock at 5:55, just as the sun came out. I didn’t get back on dry land until 8:15, a half hour late for my dinner appointment. The lake trip with Discovery Charters and Paul Turpin was one of the best tours I’ve had on the planet.
You can tell a lot about a place by its coffee shop bulletin boards or the signs in the window. Are there are ads for organic soy milk? Goat yoga? A concert starring a KISS cover band?
At the Pastry Peddler in the Millbrook, a small community a few minutes southwest of Peterborough, the messages in the window seem all about community. “Support local farmers.” “Thank a Quilter Day.” “Port Hope Fair.”
The interior might be even better. You’ll find beautiful, wood floors, soaring ceilings, bicycles hanging from the walls, local art on display, and the delicious, beckoning smell of baked goodies and strong coffee. A latte was $3.35 when I stopped in last fall; a long way from Toronto prices.
It’s definitely a community hangout; the type of place where locals gather and chat about their day or the heat or last night’s Maple Leafs game.
“Hey, George. Morning.”
“Hi, how’s it going?”
“What do you feel like today?”
It’s like walking into the Ontario coffee shop version of “Cheers.”
Excerpted with permission by the author from Ontario Escapes: 19 Great Places to Visit Right Now. $4.99 on Apple Books.
150 Nature Hot Spots in Canada, Edited by Debbie Olsen
In 150 Nature Hot Spots in Canada: The Best Parks, Conservation Areas and Wild Places, Canadian travel writer Debbie Olsen selects some of the best outdoor destinations from across the country and includes trails, scenic drives, accessibility and even birdwatching spots. This guide is for travellers and adventurers looking to explore Canada’s outdoors and breathtaking nature destinations. That includes…
Ancient Forest/Chun T’oh Whudujut Provincial Park
A northern stand of inland old-growth temperate rainforest that is home to 1,000-year-old trees
by Lyndsay Fraser
Please note that while you may already be dreaming up amazing future nature adventures, please remember to only visit parks close to your home at this time. Watch for signage and other important information posted about the areas you visit, and be respectful of the safety and wishes of the communities close to any nature hot spot you look to explore. The Ancient Forest on the west coast of BC has reopened to the public, but there are still restrictions and potential for unexpected closures due to Covid-19. Please check online at bcparks.ca before heading to this destination.
Situated along the northern limits of the Interior Wet Belt, this stand of trees protected within the boundary of Ancient Forest/Chun T’oh Whudujut Provincial Park is part of the farthest inland old-growth temperate rainforest known to date, located some 800 kilometres from the ocean. One reason these massive red cedars can thrive so far from the coast is thanks to the heavy snowfall that descends on the forest in the winter. The deep snowpack melts in the spring, restoring water supplies in the ground- water and springs and flooding areas of the forest floor.
Aging the trees becomes quite difficult after they have achieved their great size. Although the trees remain alive, giant red cedars often become hollow with age. The heartwood of a tree provides structural support but is composed of dead cells, so living tissue can still thrive around a hollow core, leaving in tact the vital conduit between roots and canopy. Some of the trees in the area are upward of 1,000 years old, and some time-worn giants may be closer to 2,000 years old, their age an unsolvable mystery. This truly is an ancient forest.
Trees of this great maturity attract a special array of flora and fauna. The park is home to over 200 species of lichen alone! A notable favourite is gold dust lichen, which encrusts the weathered and paled cedar trunks and gilds the forest with an extra layer of life. Devil’s club inhabits much of the undergrowth. The stems and leaves of this plant are covered with a dense armour of needle-like spines that are extremely irritating if touched. This gives visitors one more reason to stay on the trails, though protecting this rare ecosystem is surely reason enough. During a biological assessment of the park’s plant life, bog adder’s-mouth orchids were discovered in the area — the first time this rare species had been documented in the Interior since 1932. The red-listed joe-pye-weed is also found within the boundaries of the park.
This magnificent forest was very close to certain destruction, and it exists today thanks to many passionate individuals working together to ensure the giant trees remained. In 2005 Dave Radies, a graduate student studying old-growth forests of the Interior Cedar-Hemlock Zone, stumbled across this stand and saw telltale forester’s red spray-painted on numerous trunks, which meant some of these ancient trees were tagged for removal. After he alerted the public of this special area and its solemn fate, the community rallied together. The following year, the Ancient Forest Trail was built by devoted volunteers, and two years after that the harvesting plans were cancelled. The area was officially designated a provincial park in 2016. The 450-metre boardwalk of the Universal Access Trail ensures that everyone gets to enjoy this unique forest nestled between mountain ranges along the Rocky Mountain Trench.
This adapted excerpt is taken from 150 Nature Hot Spots in Canada, selected and edited by Debbie Olsen and published by Firefly Books Ltd. Text excerpt by Lyndsay Fraser.