Category Archives: Canada

How to Travel Europe Without Leaving Canada

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In Canada, specifically in the southern portion of the province of Ontario, we’re not exactly in the running for the “most creative city names” award. It seems like almost every place is named after somewhere else, and this has led to some interesting conversations whenever I’ve gotten back from travelling somewhere abroad.

When I was in elementary school, my family went on a trip to London, England and Paris, France. I was in grade 2, and was about to turn 7 years old. My dad had scrounged together enough frequent flyer miles from travelling for work to take the family on vacation. It would be my first trip to Europe, and as far as I’m aware, I was the only kid in my class who had travelled overseas. So when I got back from the trip and was talking to my classmates about where I went, there was some initial confusion.

See, there are two Ontario towns not too far from each other that are named London, and Paris. So to everyone else it wasn’t exactly an impressive feat heading for a short drive down the highway. It took a while but eventually I managed to convince them that I had been to the Real London and Paris out there way across the Atlantic Ocean. There have been a few examples of this throughout my life, and every time I can’t help but wish those early settlers had come up with some original names, or better yet just used the Indigenous names that had already been given to those areas.

However, this lack of creativity means that you are able to travel to a multitude of “European” cities over a small part of just one day. In a mere 4 hours, and 300 km you can visit Paris, Vienna, Copenhagen, London, Dublin, Brussels and Lisbon! All without buying a single plane ticket; talk about bang for your buck.

Check it out on the map below:

This road trip is definitely on my radar come 2021, and I’ll be sure to document my “European” adventure when the time comes. While these are mostly small towns surrounded by nothing but boring roads and farmland, doing it for the sake of doing it is really all the convincing I need.


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Canadian Road Trip: A Snapchat Story

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In May of 2018, I was invited on a 17-hour, 1500 km road trip from southern Ontario to Beresford, New Brunswick with my friend Sam and his family. In order to help pass the time, and in an effort to remember the experience I posted a story on my snapchat account every hour of the car ride, plus a little extra. What follows are the pictures documenting the journey:

We had to leave bright and early in the morning in order to make it in time for dinner later that day. The 3:30 a.m. wake up call also insured we would be driving through the dense forests of New Brunswick in the day-light. Crucial in avoiding a deadly collision with a Moose.

If you’ve ever driven through Toronto, you would understand the extra benefit of driving through the city in the middle of the night. Highway 401, which runs right through the heart of the city is the busiest highway in all of North America, carrying upwards of half a million people per day. No traffic meant we saved upwards of an hour and a half on our trip.

At this point we had been driving for quite a while, and seeing as none of us had eaten yet, Tim Horton’s was always going to be our first stop. Double Doubles, Timbits, and some bacon breakfast sandwiches were just what we needed.

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After picking up refreshments, we got back on the road. Now, if you’re not from Canada then it’s important to know that we tend to make fun of the French province of Quebec. The English – French rivalry in Canada has it’s roots in the formation of the country, which was dominated by settlers from the United Kingdom, and France battling for control of the land surrounding the St. Lawrence river, and the fertile great lakes region.

The closer we got to Quebec, the more vocal my jabs at the French became. The only problem – Sam and his family have French heritage (hence the road trip to partly French New Brunswick) so they were having none of it. It was all in fun, but deep down I knew it ever so slightly got to them. Thus, in order to prevent a civil war in the car, some ground rules had to be established:

  1. There shall be no French slander of any kind; and
  2. If said rule is broken I will be spending the remaining 10 hours of the drive sitting in the trunk.

We continued.

For those that don’t know, Canada is a bilingual nation. This means that our two official languages are French and English. The school system is mandated to teach both, but this doesn’t mean they do a good job.

This trip was the first time that I had been to another Canadian province other than my home of Ontario. It was a long time in the making, and I thought Quebec and New Brunswick were well worth the wait.

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Most of this trip was spent on the road in 5 hours blocks, and there was no exception to this rule. You had better use the washroom when we were filling up on gas because otherwise you’d be peeing in a water bottle in the backseat.

The legal drinking age in Quebec is 18 years old, which is one year lower than Ontario, so you better believe we took this opportunity to buy some beer. To our surprise, we didn’t get ID’d by the gas station attendant and made it out without issue. Don’t worry, we didn’t open the beverages until we got to our final destination. It was a well deserved cold one.

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By this time in the road trip my brain had turned to mush, my legs were practically falling off, and we were all getting pretty irritable. Luckily we didn’t have relatively far left to go and so, we pushed on.

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Let me tell you, when we finally pulled off the highway and saw our first glimpse of the Atlantic Ocean, well, that was a fantastic feeling. We were itching to get out of the car and be greeted by a nice home cooked meal, and a couple drinks by the fire.

Although long, the journey was well worth it. I was grateful to see more of my home country and gained a new appreciation for the diversity such a large nation offers. We stayed in New Brunswick for a week, before cramming in the back of the car for the 17-hour return journey.


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Cup and Saucer Trail Guide – Manitoulin Island

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Cup and Saucer trail

The Cup and Saucer trail is a 14 kilometer hiking trail located on Manitoulin Island, just west of Little Current, Ontario. It navigates an extension of the of the Niagara Escarpment, and features 70-meter sheer cliffs, large forested areas, narrow rock-lined footpaths, and several awe-inspiring lookouts over the island’s many lakes, including the largest lake on an island on a lake in the world, Lake Manitou.

About a 6-hour drive from Toronto and 2 hours west of Sudbury, the Cup and Saucer trail is no day trip for many. However, it makes for a great opportunity to camp overnight and take in the sites of beautiful Northern Ontario. Personally, I recommend staying at Chutes Provincial Park, a small yet picturesque park located about an hour drive away in Massey, Ontario, which offers its own scenic trails, a raging river, and a large waterfall.

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The parking lot at the trailhead of the Cup and Saucer is split into 2 parts: an upper and lower level. The lots are small; when I arrived at around 11 a.m. the upper lot was already jam packed, and the lower lot was quickly filling up, so I recommend getting there early. Each level has convenient access to a porta potty, and considering this is a longer hike I would make use of their availability (although make sure to bring your own toilet paper!).

Cup and Saucer Trail Map
The trailhead map of the Cup and Saucer Trail

The hike consists of 3 sections: the Main Trail (4 km), the South Loop (5 km), and the Adventure Trail (500m). If your looking to keep it short, 3 of the 4 marked lookouts are located on the Main Trail and they alone make the trip worth the effort. This is as far as I went when I did the hike and I was very content with not going any further. However, if you’re looking for more, the South Loop and Adventure Trail are both excellent additions with the latter being relatively more difficult.

The hike along the Main Trail took me just under 2 hours, totaling 5.62 km according to my Samsung Galaxy Fit. Although the parking lot was full, the trail congestion itself was fairly spaced out, making for quite an enjoyable experience. There are several steep and rocky sections that may be more difficult for some than others, but in general the Cup and Saucer can be enjoyed by anyone. (I saw quite a few people that brought their small children, and even dogs along with them!)

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All in all, the Cup and Saucer is well worth the stop. The hike can be challenging at times, but what it asks from you, it gives twice as much back. Manitoulin Island itself is a fantastic destination to visit on its own, offering memorable scenery, quaint communities, and rich Indigenous culture and history which I implore you take the time to discover yourself.

Cup and Saucer trail

Thank you so much for reading, and if you’ve made it this far please consider liking the post, sharing it with your friends, and hitting the follow button so you don’t miss any of my upcoming material! And don’t forget to follow me on InstagramFacebookTwitter, and Pinterest!

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Coffee Run: Niagara Falls

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Have you ever been so bored that you decided to go on an impromptu coffee run to Niagara Falls at 10 o’clock at night?


Well I have.


Welcome to life in boring southern Ontario. It’s not uncommon for myself, and my friends Sam and Devon to go and get coffee late at night. In fact, it had become a daily tradition ever since the beginning of our grade 12 year of high school. Just old enough to drive, yet still too young to drink. That meant the bar was out of the question, so off to Tim Horton’s we went.


The order of choice? Well an extra-large double-double of course, and occasionally a sour cream glazed donut. We would sit in the booth and talk among ourselves whilst browsing Reddit for hours. At about midnight, we would head out, cram into the back of a mid 2000’s Toyota Highlander, and drive 5 minutes down the road to the next Tim Horton’s where we would hangout until either our mothers got worried, or we got kicked out because the 24 hour restaurant was “closing”; whichever came first.


As you can imagine, over the course of 8 months this began to resemble something like Groundhog Day. The solution: visit neighbouring cities and see what their Tim Horton’s were like! Night by night, coffee by coffee we managed to drink our way through pretty much every location in the region. When we realized we had nowhere new left to go, we realized we had reached a defining moment. Would we simply admit defeat, go home, and play video games like a normal group of teenage boys? No! We had to persevere! Surely there were more Tim Horton’s to discover!


Now, here is where I will admit that this expedition to Niagara Falls was not of my planning. It had been mentioned in passing on several coffee runs as a joke, but it was my friend Sam who decided to actually put it all together. (Mainly because he was the only one with a car) I got a text from him at around 9 o’clock on a late August night, reading the ever so familiar question: “Tim’s?”. I agreed but knew something was up when after picking up our buddy Devon from work, and upon arriving at the Tim Horton’s closest to our houses, we did something completely unheard of: we went through the drive thru.


I questioned the night’s plan but received no answer. We got our drinks, headed for the highway, and pulled onto the Q.E.W. This wasn’t too unusual as there are plenty of coffee spots on this route, but with drinks already in hand I watched as we took an exit and passed under the road sign that confirmed my suspicions. We were headed to Niagara Falls. My first instinct was to panic. By this time I was getting ready to move away to university. The last thing I needed was for my parents to find a reason to cut me off, forcing me to live in a cardboard box in Dundas square. On top of that, the very next day Sam was due to come up to the cottage with me and my parents for the weekend. If his, or my parents found out we were headed to the falls, you could throw those plans right out the window.


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Did I mention that we didn’t tell our parents where we were going? Like, as in not just on this trip, but throughout the entire history of Tim’s runs. This whole time they thought we were just down the road safe and sound within arms reach. To venture and hour and a half down the highway without their knowledge was asking for trouble.


It was about midnight when we arrived. We parked the car and walked down to the river where we got our first glimpse of one of the seven natural wonders of the world. Niagara Falls. Millions of people from all over the world have travelled, and paid a pretty penny to see this waterfall, and here we were just on the quest for some sub-par caffeinated beverages. Of course, we took some obligatory photos, but then made our way to the gift shops and arcades where we blew all of the loose change we had to win a collection of cheap plastic toys.The ironic part in all of this was that we had actually lost track of time, and Tim Horton’s closed for the night before we could get there. So, we decided to settle for Wendy’s instead.


It was here, waiting in line for chicken nuggets at 2 in the morning when we discovered what genuine fear for our lives felt like. Out of the blue, Sam’s phone went off. It was a text from his mother that simply read:

“Get home. Now.”

Had she figured out where we were? Was she watching us? Did someone rat us out? By now did she mean now now, or like whenever it suits you now? Either way, we were screwed. We were supposed to be a 2-minute drive from his house, not a 2-minute drive from the United States of America.


We grabbed our orders, hurried back to the car, and put the pedal to metal. How we made it back home in the time we did is one of the top 10 questions science still can’t answer. Regardless, we had made it back. Sam dropped Devon and I off at our houses and headed back to his to face the wrath of God.


I crept into a quiet house, making sure not to wake the dog. I made it to my room and laid awake in bed awaiting the e-vite to Sam’s funeral. But to my surprise, it never came. Darkness turned to light, and a new day was upon us. We had all managed to successfully sneak into our homes and submit the usual cover story to our parents as to where we had gone the night before. We had all given the same, simple yet effective answer: “We were at Tim’s.”


And so concluded our first annual coffee run to Niagara Falls. Was it pointless? Yes. Was it stupid? You bet. Would we eventually decide to venture to seemingly every Tim Horton’s within a 200 km radius of our homes? Without a doubt. But for the time being we had found a way to ease our boredom, if only for the night, and came away with a story to tell. There was only one question left to ask: where to next?


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Pics or it didn’t happen, right?

Thank you so much for reading, and if you’ve made it this far please consider liking the post, sharing it with your friends, and hitting the follow button so you don’t miss any of my upcoming material! And don’t forget to follow me on InstagramFacebookTwitter, and Pinterest!

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