Off To Canada (Again)

Holidays in Canada

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Some Canadian memories

I am often asked why we have been to Canada so many times and why we continue to visit. So here’s the short (ish) reason.

In September 1988 Amanda and I boarded a Wardair flight to Vancouver. This was only the third time I’d flown at this point and certainly the furthest. The flights were an early wedding present from Amanda’s mum. We were getting married the following year but had the chance to have an ‘early honeymoon’ in Canada and it turned out to be a very wise decision but that’s another story. We were going to spend the next 5 weeks staying with Amanda’s cousin and her husband in Vancouver and were really looking forward to this incredible opportunity and adventure.

Personally I was incredibly excited about flying with Wardair. This mythical company offered higher quality service at pretty much economy prices, one of the reasons it went out of operation the following year maybe? Fillet steak served on proper china with metal cutlery and wine in real glasses. After only flying on a package holiday charter to Tunisia perviously this felt like we were flying first class believe me.

On arriving at Vancouver airport, after a brief stop in Edmonton, we disembarked feeling like we hadn’t slept in 2 days….. it was more like 26 hours at this point. Honestly I don’t remember much about the journey to Surrey from the airport but I do remember arriving at the house and I remember our hosts. A more welcoming and lovely couple I don’t think I’ve ever met. They opened up their home to us, shared their friends with us and introduced us to the most amazing country. This is something we’ve never forgotten and why we have returned 9 times. We’ve visited Vancouver, Victoria, Halifax, Montreal, Quebec City, Ottawa and Toronto. We’ve taken a 13 hour ferry journey north up the BC coast and caught a train right across the country. I’ve been in a helicopter over Niagara Falls and driven roads so quiet that we didn’t see another car for over 3 hours. We’ve seen bald eagles, coyote, a BIG Grizzly bear, black bears, mountain sheep and elk, we’ve seen humpback whales and dolphins and orca and grey whales and sea otters. We’ve watched hockey in Vancouver, Toronto (Go Leafs Go), Montreal and Ottawa, Basketball and baseball in Toronto. We’ve stayed in lakeside lodges and five star hotels and historic chateau – like hotels and cheap motels. We’ve sweated in spring in Toronto and summer in Vancouver and frozen in Alberta in November. We’ve driven on highways and unpaved roads and frozen roads and through rain so hard you could barely SEE the road.

We are enchanted by Canada and hope that we will be able to continue to visit for many years to come. I still have ideas of trips I want to do and places I want to see. I want to visit the Northwest Territories and Yukon, I want to drive across country, coast to coast, I want to see more of Nova Scotia and visit, Newfoundland and New Brunswick, as well as explore Quebec and Ontario more, and we would still love to see polar bears in Churchill.

Canada and us still have unfinished business.

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Wildlife Day

When we woke this morning we noticed that someone had stolen the ocean while we were sleeping. Actually it turned out to be fog but this was bad news for whale watching. We were supposed to drive north to Tofino for a 9:30am whale watching trip and while I was wondering whether to call the company, they phoned me. The regular larger boat wasn’t available that morning so would we be willing to change our trip to the 2pm sailing instead? It turned out to be a stroke of luck as this afternoon was glorious but first we had some time to kill. We took a drive to check out the local area and visited a place called Terrace Beach, had a little walk around and took some photos. This was wildlife day wasn’t it, so we should start a list I suppose. Earlier we saw a bald eagle (1) but I didn’t get a decent photo as I’d just got out of the shower and only managed to nab a pic later with my phone. At Terrace Beach I saw a dead crab (2) … nobody said they all had to be alive did they? We also saw sea anemones (3) both sort of dried up and in a rock pool so they definitely count.

Later we visited the local supermarket and got provisions for the big drive tomorrow (you’ll find out more about that another time) and then popped back to the hotel to drop some stuff off and grab a little lunch then it was off to Tofino.

We had a spot of bother parking as the disabled spot by the boats was taken so Amanda had to walk down to the awaiting vessel and as we all know people rush when there are seats up for grabs and as we were a little slower than the others we ended up squashed in a tiny space while we sat through the obligatory safety talk. Thankfully it didn’t last too long and once underway every one spread out and we had space to move ourselves.

Little islands everywhere

We first saw a young humpback whale (4) who quite frankly was a disappointment as all he did was loiter and basically fart about. Obviously a teenager. The skipper moved on so we could see some harbour seals (5) and then as we stopped I saw some tiny jellyfish (6)… I told you, they all count. You’re lucky I’m not including sea gulls and other sea birds, we’d be here all night. The possibly the best bit of the day…sea otters (7). They were anchored to some kelp and had pups too. They were incredibly cute and it’s a good job Amanda has short arms or one would be coming home in our hand luggage.

Sea Otters

Sea Otters

After spending time with those cuties we headed out and saw some Stellar Sealions (8) and then a small porpoise (9) travelled along with us for a bit, before stopping at a bird sanctuary to see a Tufted Puffin (10) which was incredibly cute. While staring at birds (and not in a lewd manner) I also spotted a California Sealion (11). By this time I think they were a bit embarrassed about the sheer lack of whale action so we stormed off to see a couple of other humpbacks (actually it was the same one joined by a larger one) and then we struck out for home but on the way we took a slight detour and saw a Grey Whale (12) which was really what we wanted to see as it’s our 4th whale species (Minke, Sperm, Humpback and now Grey). Blue whales next perhaps?

Stellar Sealions

Then we really went home (well the skipper took us back to port and then I drove us back to the hotel).  Now after all that sea air we’re both exhausted and fit to drop.

By the way, Amanda just reminded me that we saw two deer on the way to Terrace Beach so that’s 13 but that’s obviously unlucky so we’re including a huge mosquito (14) that was trying to get in to the pub while we ate.

Tomorrow we drive all the way up to the northern tip of the Island, which will take us a bout 7 hours or so so I’m going to bed.