Category Archives: Travel Guides

The Top 5 Ontario Travel Destinations in 2021

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For most, 2021 is shaping up to be a really great year to explore what’s in your own backyard. The Province of Ontario has so much to offer, which makes it hard to narrow down the list of things to see and do, and so to help, I put together a shortlist of my top 5 Ontario travel destinations to consider in 2021.

Tl;dr: Manitoulin Island, Sleeping Giant Provincial Park, Pickle Lake, Algonquin Provincial Park, Niagara Falls.


1. Manitoulin Island

In my opinion, Manitoulin Island is one of the most underrated destinations in all of Ontario. I visited Manitoulin Island last year and fell in love with the place almost instantly. Surrounded by Lake Huron, dotted with a number of lakes, and covered by dense forests, the natural beauty of this place is just stunning. I recommend taking the time to hike the Cup & Saucer Trail, which offers a number of lookouts over the island, and navigates a northern section of the Niagara Escarpment.

Aside from the natural beauty, Manitoulin Island is home to around 14,000 people, a good portion of whom belong to the many thriving Indigenous communities on the island. This means if you’re looking to learn more about Indigenous history and culture, Manitoulin Island is the place to be.

To get here, you can take the ferry across from Tobermory, or drive along the north shore of Georgian Bay, west of Sudbury. If you’re doing the latter, I recommend staying at Chutes Provincial Park to break up the trip.

Cup and Saucer Trail, Manitoulin Island. The Top 5 Ontario Travel Destinations in 2021.
Cup & Saucer Trail, Manitoulin Island
2. Sleeping Giant Provincial Park

Sleeping Giant Provincial Park offers some of the most iconic views in the entire province. Located an hour outside Thunder Bay, along the north shore of Lake Superior, Sleeping Giant Provincial Park is one of those destinations I think the majority of Ontarians never get around to seeing, mainly due to its sheer distance from the southern portion of the province.

Sleeping Giant Provincial Park offers over 100 kilometres of hiking trails, car-camping, excellent wildlife viewing opportunities, and of course a number of stunning lookouts and views you just can’t find anywhere else. If you’re willing to make the almost 15-hour drive from Toronto, you won’t be disappointed with what you find here.

Sleeping Giant//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.js

(Photo Source: Ontario Parks on Flickr)

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3. Pickle Lake

Pickle Lake is my one obligatory oddball destination on this list, and somewhere most people probably haven’t heard of. It’s also one of those places that’s more about the journey to get there, than the destination itself.

See, Pickle Lake is… kind of in the middle of nowhere. It has a population of less than 400 people, and is a staggering 22-hour drive, and 2,000 kilometres away from Toronto. So why would I include this as one of the top 5 destinations in 2021? Well as it turns out, Pickle Lake lies at the end of the northernmost point of the Ontario provincial highway system.

I might be alone on this one, but I just can’t help but think how cool it would be to say that you’ve driven to the most northern drivable point in Ontario. You might want to think about bringing an extra jerry can though.

4. Algonquin Provincial Park

Alright, back to reality with this one.

Algonquin Provincial Park is the oldest provincial park in Canada, and one of the largest in the province as well, covering a staggering 7,600 squared kilometres. The best part? It’s only a 3-hour drive from Toronto; great for those looking to escape for the day or weekend.

Algonquin Park offers activities for everyone, and for all ages. Car camping, backcountry camping, hiking, fishing, guided tours, historical sites, and more. If you’re looking for it, chances are Algonquin Park offers it, which no doubt contributes to it being one of the most visited and popular provincial parks in Ontario, year after year.

If you’re interested in learning more about what Algonquin Park has to offer, make sure to check out some of my Algonquin guides here.

Spruce Bog Boardwalk Trail, Algonquin Provincial Park. The Top 5 Ontario Travel Destinations in 2021.
Spruce Bog Boardwalk Trail, Algonquin Park
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5. Niagara Falls

Now, I know what you’re thinking with this one: “Niagara Falls? Wow, how original…”

But hear me out, when’s the last time you actually went to Niagara Falls? Those of us who are within driving distance of Niagara Falls tend to take for granted just how lucky we are to live so close to one of the most awe-inspiring natural wonders in the world, something people travel from all over the world to come see. Most of the people I’ve met in my life have been to Niagara Falls at least once, but can’t remember when they went, or who they went with last. Just because you’ve been there before, doesn’t mean it’s not worth going again, especially when it comes to Niagara Falls. It could even make for a good Tim’s Run destination!

I mean, it sure beats sitting on the couch, right?

The Top 5 Ontario Travel Destinations in 2021.
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com
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What locations would you add to this list? Where are you looking forward to visiting the most this year? Let me know in the comments below!


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Beaver Pond Trail Guide – Algonquin Provincial Park

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Quick Look:

Name: Beaver Pond Trail

Location: Km marker 45.2, Highway 60, Algonquin Provincial Park, Ontario, Canada

Length: 2.0 km (1.2 mi)

Difficulty: Moderate

Features & Points of Interest: Beaver ponds, lodges & dams; scenic lookout.

Beaver Pond Trail Map, Algonquin Provincial Park, Ontario, Canada
Beaver Pond Trail Map – Algonquin Provincial Park (Source: alltrails.com)

Overview:

The Beaver Pond Trail is a 2.0 km (1.2 mi) hiking loop located in Algonquin Provincial Park, Ontario, Canada. The moderate-difficulty route features an array of beaver activity such as ponds, dams, and lodges, and navigates through several terrains including a bog, a forest, and a scenic rocky lookout. The Beaver Pond Trail is perfect for those looking to explore multiple ecosystems within a relatively short distance, and learn about the impact beavers have on this stunning environment; all while still working up a good sweat.

Beaver Pond Trail, Algonquin Provincial Park, Ontario, Canada
The Beaver Pond Trail begins with a walk across a bog on a well-maintained boardwalk.
Beaver Pond Trail, Algonquin Provincial Park, Ontario, Canada
The contrasting wetland and forest environments are showcased throughout the hike.
Beaver Pond Trail, Algonquin Provincial Park, Ontario, Canada
There is a helpful guidebook at the trailhead which explains how the beavers work to shape their surroundings.
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What do you need to know?:

I highly recommend picking up a Beaver Pond Trail guidebook when you arrive at the trailhead. You can purchase one by leaving the correct change in the honour box below the trail map sign, or you can simply borrow it for free by returning it at the end of your hike. This guidebook provides insight into the dual history this area, and the beavers who live in it, and discusses the processes by which they have created and molded this environment to suit their survival needs. Just be on the lookout for the corresponding numbered fenceposts along the path, and refer to guidebook as you go.

On arrival, there is a sizeable parking lot available just off of highway 60. While crowds on this trail are generally less in number compared to other hikes such as The Lookout Trail, it is always worth keeping in mind the time of year you’re visiting (fall colours season will be busy) in order to enjoy the best experience. If you’re looking for another activity to pair with this hike, the Beaver Pond Trail is only 2 km (1.2 mi) away from the Algonquin Park Visitors Centre.

If you’re thinking of hiking the Beaver Pond Trail, be sure to check the weather forecast in advance as the path is known to become a slush of mud after a good rainfall. If you find that the trail is in an unusable condition when you arrive, consider hiking the nearby Spruce Bog Boardwalk Trail to stay out of the muck and to keep your socks dry.

Beaver Pond Trail, Algonquin Provincial Park, Ontario, Canada
This beaver dam is an impressive example of the influence the beavers have.
Beaver Pond Trail, Algonquin Provincial Park, Ontario, Canada
There are lots of opportunities to stop, take photos, and admire nature.
Beaver Pond Trail, Algonquin Provincial Park, Ontario, Canada
The pinnacle of this hike is the scenic rock outcrop which overlooks one of the two beaver ponds.
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How to get here:

  • From Toronto:
    • Hwy 400 –> Hwy 11 –> Hwy 60 –> Algonquin Park West Gate –> Km marker 45.2

*Be sure to stop in at the West Gate first to pick up your day pass*


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Spruce Bog Boardwalk Trail Guide – Algonquin Provincial Park

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Quick Look:

Name: Spruce Bog Boardwalk Trail

Location: Km marker 42.5, Highway 60, Algonquin Provincial Park, Ontario, Canada

Length: 1.4 km (0.87 mi)

Difficulty: Easy

Features & Points of Interest: Well maintained boardwalk, bird-watching, northern spruce bog, forested path, wheelchair accessible & kid friendly.

Spruce Bog Boardwalk Trail, Algonquin Park
Spruce Bog Boardwalk Trail Map – Algonquin Park (Source: alltrails.com)

Overview

The Spruce Bog Boardwalk Trail, located in Algonquin Provincial Park, is an easy, wheelchair accessible 1.4 km (0.87 mi) loop that follows a well maintained wooden boardwalk through a northern spruce bog and wooded area. This trail provides excellent opportunities for bird-watching and photography, and is the perfect place to enjoy a slow paced nature walk with younger children and seniors.

Spruce Bog Boardwalk Trail, Algonquin Park
The beginning of the trail hovers above the bog
Spruce Bog Boardwalk Trail, Algonquin Park
A small stream runs through the heart of the bog
Spruce Bog Boardwalk Trail, Algonquin Park
About halfway through the trail, the boardwalk gives way to a forested path
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What do you need to know?

The Spruce Bog Boardwalk Trail is one of the most accessible in all of Algonquin Park. While adventure seekers might prefer hiking somewhere else, this trail is a perfect place to go for a slow paced nature walk, take some photos, and enjoy the scenery with friends and family. The mostly flat grade, and relatively short length makes this a great choice for beginners, seniors, or those with younger children.

While the trail’s location is fairly far along the Highway 60 corridor, and a little ways away from the west entrance of Algonquin Park, the Spruce Bog Boardwalk Trail is well worth the trip, especially as a companion activity to the Visitors Centre, located half a kilometre away at km 43.

In my opinion, this trail is best enjoyed if used from late June until late October to avoid the swarms of bugs you’ll encounter during blackfly season earlier in the spring. However, as this is the perfect spawning ground for mosquitos, you might want to choose a warm, sunny day to hike this trail in order to avoid getting bitten throughout the rest of the summer months!

Spruce Bog Boardwalk Trail, Algonquin Park
Birds, turtles, beavers, and more can be found on this trail!
Spruce Bog Boardwalk Trail, Algonquin Park
This section of the trail, which snakes through a grouping of spruce trees, is perhaps the most photogenic
Spruce Bog Boardwalk Trail, Algonquin Park
While it’s scenic, beware, this is the perfect spawning ground for Mosquitos!
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How to get here:

  • From Toronto:
    • Hwy 400 –> Hwy 11 –> Hwy 60 –> Algonquin Park West Gate –> Km marker 42.5

*Be sure to stop in at the West Gate first to pick up your day pass*


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Waterloo Pioneers Memorial Tower – Kitchener, Ontario

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The Waterloo Pioneers Memorial Tower is an 18.9 m (62 ft.) tall stone tower constructed in 1925 to commemorate the original Pennsylvanian-German pioneer settlers who arrived in what is now Waterloo Region between 1800 and 1803. It is located along the banks of the Grand River in Kitchener, Ontario, Canada, just over a 1-hour drive from Toronto, and lies on what was originally the territory of the Six Nations of the Grand River.


Quick Look

Name: Waterloo Pioneers Memorial Tower

Location: 300 Lookout Ln, Kitchener, Ontario, Canada

Maintained By: Parks Canada

Features & Points of Interest: Stone tower, scenic lookout, historical sites, natural area, hiking trails, community park.

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Although the Waterloo Pioneers Memorial Tower used to be surrounded by farmers fields and forests, the structure now lies at the back of a recently constructed subdivision. To get to the tower, simply follow the Parks Canada signs that begin to appear once you turn off of King St. and onto Deer Ridge Rd. On arrival, there is a small, and free parking lot available.

Waterloo Pioneers Memorial Tower
Parks Canada directions sign
Waterloo Pioneers Memorial Tower
Waterloo Pioneers Memorial Tower parking lot
Waterloo Pioneers Memorial Tower
Waterloo Pioneers Memorial Tower

The tower is located within steps to the parking lot, and sits in the centre of a small clearing. At the site, there are a couple of informational plaques that recount the history of the area, and the historical significance of tower itself, of which I will briefly cover before continuing on to what else this destination has to offer.

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Waterloo Pioneers Memorial Tower
Parks Canada historical plaque

In 1784, nearly 240,000 hectares of land, including that of which the Waterloo Pioneers Memorial Tower now sits on, was given as a gift to the Six Nations Confederacy for their allegiance and support to the British Crown during the American Revolutionary War. In the years to come, some 38,000 hectares of this land was then purchased and sold again, this time by German Mennonite Settlers from Pennsylvania, who were looking to escape the persecution and high land prices they faced in the United States.

As time passed, more and more German pioneer settlers travelled to what would eventually become Waterloo County. They established homesteads and farms, and began cultivating and developing the land; the first of which was located on this site, where the Waterloo Pioneers Memorial Tower now lies, in present day Kitchener, Ontario.

Waterloo Pioneers Memorial Tower

While today the city is known as Kitchener, Ontario, this wasn’t always the case. In the past, the city went by a different name; Berlin, Ontario. Beginning with the arrival of the original German Pioneer settlers, who established Berlin in the early 1800s, this area has maintained a prominent German cultural presence. Even today, the largest Oktoberfest outside of Germany takes place here every year, attracting over 700,000 visitors annually.

However, in 1916 this heritage wasn’t as keenly celebrated. In response to the growing local anti-German sentiments caused by the outbreak of World War I, the city voted to change its name in support of the British Empire, and thus was renamed to Kitchener, Ontario, after Herbert Kitchener, a prominent Irish-born officer who served in the British Army from 1871 to 1916.

Waterloo Pioneers Memorial Tower
Waterloo Pioneers Memorial Tower

Following the conclusion of the first world war, to make amends for the damage done by the anti-German sentiments, and subsequent city name change, a petition was put forth to the local government to construct a monument to represent the historical significance of the original pioneer settlers, and German heritage. Thus, the Waterloo Pioneers Memorial Tower was built. It cost $4,500 to build, and was eventually designated as a historical site in 1989. While there have been some refurbishments to the original structure over the years, its exterior appearance has remained relatively unchanged since.

Waterloo Pioneers Memorial Tower
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While at one point the interior of the tower was open to the public, today the front entrance is locked. However, if you’re interested in seeing the inside, you can contact Parks Canada ahead of time to gain access and schedule an official tour.

Nearby the tower there is also a small cemetery, inside of which you’ll find the headstones of some of those original German pioneers, including Joseph and Elizabeth Sherk, parents of David Sherk, who is reputed to be the first non-indigenous person born in what would become Waterloo County.

Waterloo Pioneers Memorial Tower
Dedication Plaque located on the side of the tower

Waterloo Pioneers Memorial Tower
Inner staircase leading to the top of the tower
Waterloo Pioneers Memorial Tower
Nearby pioneer cemetery

When you’re finished taking in the Waterloo Pioneers Memorial Tower, I recommend going for a short walk down Joseph Schoerg Crescent to explore the ruins of the Betzner Barn, and the Schoerg (Sherk) farmstead, the first permanent European settlement in inland Upper Canada. There are also several informational plaques which talk about the the history of the pioneers, and the local area which I described above.

Waterloo Pioneers Memorial Tower
Waterloo Pioneers Memorial Tower
Waterloo Pioneers Memorial Tower
Waterloo Pioneers Memorial Tower
The remaining structure of the Betzner barn
Waterloo Pioneers Memorial Tower
Joseph Schoerg Crescent (ruins at left, tower down the road)

The Betzner Barn is also the location of Clarica Lookout, which offers a view of the nearby Pioneer Tower Natural Area. This greenspace was created to protect the winter habitat of the king of the skies, the Bald Eagle. Since the 1700s, the local population of this majestic bird has been decimated due to hunting and habitat loss, and so this natural area remains one of the few refuges in the region.

Waterloo Pioneers Memorial Tower, Pioneer Tower Natural Area
The view from Clarica Lookout
Waterloo Pioneers Memorial Tower, Pioneer Tower Natural Area
Waterloo Pioneers Memorial Tower, Pioneer Tower Natural Area
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While the Waterloo Pioneers Memorial Tower and surrounding structures offer a glimpse back into history, this area also features Kuntz Park, the Walter Bean Grand River Trail, and the Pioneer Tower Natural Area, as I mentioned above. These locations are great places to go for a nature walk, and while I only had time to walk the Pioneer Tower Natural Area section of the trail, there are more than 17 km (10.5 mi) of pathways to explore, stretching all the way from Cambridge, Ontario, through the City of Kitchener along the Grand River, and then further more on to Waterloo, Ontario.

Waterloo Pioneers Memorial Tower, Pioneer Tower Natural Area, Grand River Trail
Walter Bean Grand River Trail Map
Pioneer Tower Natural Area, Grand River Trail
Path leading into the Pioneer Tower Natural Area
Pioneer Tower Natural Area, Grand River Trail
Pioneer Tower Natural Area, Grand River Trail

The Waterloo Pioneers Memorial Tower, in combination with the Pioneer Tower Natural Area, and the Walter Bean Grand River Trail makes this destination well worth the visit. Whether it be the history, the nature, or simply being a great place to go for a walk, there is something here for everyone to enjoy.


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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Lookout Trail Guide – Algonquin Provincial Park

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Quick Look:

Name: Lookout Trail

Location: Km marker 39.7, Highway 60, Algonquin Provincial Park, Ontario, Canada

Length: 2.1 km (1.3 mi)

Elevation Gain: 71 m (233 ft)

Difficulty: Moderate – Difficult

Features & Points of Interest: Scenic lookout, large rock outcrop, sheer cliff, well maintained forested path

Algonquin Lookout Trail Map
Algonquin Lookout Trail Map (Source: alltrails.com)

Overview

The Lookout Trail, located in Algonquin Provincial Park, is a moderate to difficult 2.1 km loop that features a sweeping scenic lookout, large rock outcrop, and well-maintained forested path. Despite its relatively short length, this trail can pose a challenge for some due to its steep incline, and elevation gain. At a moderate pace, the hike can be completed in less than 1 hour.

Lookout Trail Algonquin Park
Flat, forested section of the path, just past the trailhead
Lookout Trail Algonquin Park
Shortly past this point, the trail gives way to a relatively steep incline

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What do you need to know?

Hikers will be rewarded with one of the best views in the entire area and a fantastic place to stop, catch your breath, and take an unhealthy amount of photos. Just be warned though, this trail is one of the most accessible in Algonquin Park, and as such will be one of the busiest. It’s best to hike the Lookout Trail earlier in the morning, or later in the afternoon to avoid the lunchtime and evening rushes.

If you’re planning on visiting during the Fall colours season, particularly on the weekend, know that the parking lot reaches over-capacity quickly, and the path becomes nearly unusable due to the congestion. To maximize your enjoyment, consider coming during the week, or visiting the park at a time of year when the crowds aren’t as numerous.

Algonquin Lookout Trail
A bench at the top is the perfect place rest, or take photos
Lookout Trail Algonquin
A small lake is visible in the distance
Algonquin Lookout Trail

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How to get here:

  • From Toronto:
    • Hwy 400 –> Hwy 11 –> Hwy 60 –> Algonquin Park West Gate –> km marker 39.7
    • *Be sure to stop in at the West Gate to pick up your day pass*

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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Chutes Provincial Park Visitors Guide

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*This article was originally posted on September 21st, 2020 and has since been restructured, edited, and reposted to provide a more enjoyable and informative reading experience.*


In September of 2020, I went on a road trip to Manitoulin Island, and decided to car camp at Chutes Provincial Park in Massey, Ontario, Canada for 2 nights. Here are some photo highlights of the stay, and why everyone should make time to explore this small, yet picturesque park.



Chutes Provincial Park, Ontario, Canada

The entrance to Chutes Provincial Park is tucked just off of the Trans-Canada Highway, making it an easy stopping off point while driving in-between Sudbury and Sault Ste. Marie.

Chutes Provincial Park, Ontario, Canada

Chutes Provincial Park is named for its’ logging history along the Aux Sables River. Every Campsite is within close walking distance to the river, and the roar of the waterfall echoes in the distance.

Chutes Provincial Park, Ontario, Canada

The only comfort station is in a central location to all of the campsites and was always very clean. There are plenty of privies scattered along the camp roads if you don’t want to go too far in the middle of the night. They are in some of the best condition I’ve seen in an Ontario park!

Chutes Provincial Park, Ontario, Canada

My campsite was located on Big Chute Crescent, which is accessed via Log Drive Lane, just past the comfort station.

Chutes Provincial Park, Ontario, Canada

Campsite #98. My home for the next 2 nights. Well treed for lots of privacy, 2 picnic tables, and only a short walk to the falls and the Twin Bridges Trail. There are privies just down the road, and a water tap is located right next door. In my opinion, this section of Chutes Provincial Park (which happens to be a radio free zone) offers the best sites for car camping.

Chutes Provincial Park, Ontario, Canada

The park’s main observation deck hangs just next to the Falls and offers a great place to first get acquainted with the scenery when you arrive.

Chutes Provincial Park, Ontario, Canada

The main falls are an awe-inspiring sight, and a short walk from anywhere in the park.


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Chutes Provincial Park, Ontario, Canada

The main falls, and the day use beach in the distance.

Chutes Provincial Park, Ontario, Canada

The day use beach area is only a short walk from the falls, and makes for a great place to have a picnic by the water.

Chutes Provincial Park, Ontario, Canada

Although the Park only has one walking trail, it is well worth the stop. It offers stunning views, rocky terrain, and a taste of the untamed northern wilderness. There are plenty of places to stop and take pictures, and the trail is never overly busy with other hikers. The walking is fairly easy as well, so anyone can take part.

Chutes Provincial Park, Ontario, Canada

The Twin Bridges trail follows the banks of the Aux Sables River, offering plenty of photo opportunities at every turn. The pictures that follow showcase just a few of the many sights to be seen.


Chutes Provincial Park, Ontario, Canada
Chutes Provincial Park, Ontario, Canada
Chutes Provincial Park, Ontario, Canada
Chutes Provincial Park, Ontario, Canada

Chutes Provincial Park, Ontario, Canada

Calmer sections of the river provide a brief and quiet moment of refuge from the raging torrents of the rapids soon to come.

Chutes Provincial Park, Ontario, Canada

Perhaps the most stunning part of the trail, the convergence of the two halves of the river lead into the Seven Sisters Rapids. The raw strength of the flowing water is an impressive sight.

Chutes Provincial Park, Ontario, Canada

The trail past this point continues further into the woods, but the hike up to here is well worth it on its own!

Chutes Provincial Park, Ontario, Canada

I highly recommend staying at Chutes Provincial Park. The staff are friendly, the campsites are well tended to, and the location and scenery are hard to beat! If you have any questions, feel free to leave me a comment below and I’ll do my best to answer.


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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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.


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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3 Days in Seattle, Washington

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In November of 2019, I went to Seattle, Washington for the weekend to watch my hometown Toronto F.C. take on the Seattle Sounders in MLS Cup. Arriving on a Friday night and leaving on a Monday afternoon, we had to make the most of our short stay in the city. Here’s a photo tour of 4 things we did in Seattle (plus some bonus activities), and my thoughts on our trip.

Hopefully you can used this as a basis to schedule your own weekend in Seattle, and if you have any questions after reading, feel free to leave me a comment below and I’ll do my best to help you out!


  1. Visit Pike Place Public Market

The staring point for most first time visitors to Seattle, the Pike Place Public Market is a great place to spend the day. Opened in 1907, the history alone is something special and it’s only gotten better with time. Produce, specialty meats, fresh fish, hand-made crafts, and a wide variety of dining options are some of the highlights of what this market has to offer. We arrived around lunch time and satisfied our hunger at Jack’s Fish Spot with some classic and delicious Fish and Chips. For the coffee lovers, the first ever Starbucks is also located near here, but more on that later.

Pike Place Market is perhaps most well known for its’ fish throwing, in which customers are invited behind the counter to test their catching skills. Check it out in the video below:

When I think back to my weekend in Seattle, Pike Place Market is always a highlight of the trip. You could seriously spend the better part of a day here, and it’s in close proximity to the rest of the downtown core so it’s easily accessible no matter where you’re staying in the city. Of course, not everybody is the market exploring type of person, and if that’s you don’t fret; Seattle has much more to offer.


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2. Explore the Waterfront

I’ll admit that I’m a little bit biased on this one. I love the ocean, so any excuse to be near it is a opportunity to be taken advantage of. Seattle sits on Puget Sound, an in inlet of the Pacific Ocean, meaning that the sea is centre stage in the fabric of the city. The waterfront follows the Alaskan Way and is in close proximity to attractions such as the Seattle Aquarium, Pike Place Market, the Gum Wall, the Seattle Antiques Market, and the Seattle Great Wheel.

Aside from the numerous attractions, the waterfront also offers the best views of the Seattle skyline. I highly recommend taking the time out of your trip to explore this area. I mean if you’re coming all the way to the Pacific Northwest, you might as well see the ocean!


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3. Visit the Original Starbucks and the Starbucks Reserve Roastery

You can’t talk about Seattle without talking about Starbucks.

We drank way too much coffee during our weekend in the city. There’s basically a Starbucks, or some other local shop on every corner so you’re never far from a cup of joe. If you didn’t know, Starbucks first got its’ start in the city of Seattle in 1971 when it opened its’ first location near the Pike Place Market. While it has grown to become the largest coffee chain in the world, that same original store still exists to this day. Be warned though, there is usually an extremely long line at the entrance. When we were there, it took us close to an hour before we got in.

I suggest you keep in mind that this location is just like any other Starbucks location and sells the same drinks; you won’t find anything special here expect for the collectable mugs and novelty points.

To find some limited, and experimental Starbucks products, your best option is to head to the Starbucks Roastery Reserve on Pike street. Here you can taste a wide array of drinks and food that quite honestly is too elaborate to explain; it’s easier if you head to their website and take a look for yourself. You’ll discover it’s well worth the visit.


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3. Attend a Sporting Event (*When the COVID-19 Pandemic is Over*)

As I mentioned at the beginning of this post, the whole reason for us coming to Seattle was to watch Toronto F.C. take on the Seattle Sounders in the 2019 MLS Cup. While my beloved Toronto F.C. were defeated 3-1, it was an incredible experience and the local fans were nothing but kind hearted and hospitable during our entire stay. If by chance there are any Sounders’ fans reading this, I hope to see a rematch in MLS Cup 2020, this time with Toronto F.C. taking the title. Even if you’re not a fan of sports, there’s nothing more exhilarating than sharing a moment with a stadium packed full of 69,000+ people. (Now more than ever). Here’s a snippet of the atmosphere you can expect to see at a game:

If soccer isn’t quite your cup of tea, you’ll have a couple of other options: the NFL’s Seattle Seahawks who play at Century Link Field (pictured above), the MLB’s Seattle Mariners who play down the street at T-Mobile Park, and if you’re a hockey fan, you’re in luck because it was recently announced that the city of Seattle will be gaining an NHL team in the 2021-2022 season. They will be fittingly called the Seattle Kraken.

After the game, be sure to head out to one of the city’s many top rated bars and pubs to finish off the night.


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4. Walk the city streets

One of my favourite parts about visiting a new place is wandering around and getting lost in the city streets, and Seattle is a great place to do just this.

During my stay, I thought Seattle to be a very clean, safe, picturesque and welcoming city. Our Airbnb was located in Capitol Hill, a neighbourhood known for its nightlife, diversity, and cultural presence. We spent much of our first night wandering the streets and exploring what the area had to offer and continued to do so as we walked everywhere we went during our time in Seattle. I’ve always felt its best to avoid public transit unless absolutely necessary as that’s how you get a real feel for where you are. This is also how you discover the hidden gems of a city, and those places you might not read about in any blog, guide, or news article.

Of course, if you’re looking for something more purposeful to do, I also included some bonus activities that we didn’t get to do during our weekend in Seattle.


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Bonus: See the Space Needle, go to a museum, or visit a Park

The Seattle skyline fading away in the distance

Given our limited time in Seattle we had some compromises to make. If we had more time, or substituted one of the activities I mentioned above, there are some more things we could have done. The Space Needle, the Seattle Museum of Pop Culture, and Gas Works Park are all excellent options to explore when planning your own visit, and all things I’ll be sure to check out when I return one day.


Seattle is a fantastic city; one of those places that makes you feel right at home. There is so much to do and see, and while it requires more than a weekend to experience it all, I hope this guide was helpful in giving you a starting point to plan your own trip to this gem of the Pacific Northwest. Once again, if you have any questions or comments feel free to leave me a comment below!


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Why You’ll Fall In Love With Japan

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If you’ve been lucky enough to have travelled to Japan, you know that it is a nation full of surprises.

On the surface, Japan is fairly normal. There are large sprawling cities, highly developed infrastructure, and familiar corporate brands not unlike you would find closer to home. This in part, is thanks to the nation’s post-war transition, and subsequent rise to become one of the world’s top economies. (Perhaps a discussion for another time)

But hidden beneath all of those familiarities lies something the Japanese have held onto for dear life: their way of life and unique culture.

One such aspect of this culture is the inherent respect that people have for one another. As a Canadian, we tend to have a global perception of politeness and tolerance in our society and while this is true to some degree, Japan just takes it to an entire other level.

When you arrive at your hotel, the staff handle your passports and credit cards like a newborn baby. Every time you enter a café, restaurant, or store you’re greeted like royalty. The service you receive in Japan is bar-none the best I’ve ever had in all of my travels, and nothing but the best is accepted by those who serve you. In fact, tipping in Japan is seen as rude. The Japanese see it as a pleasure, not an obligation to give you the best experience possible.

Kaminarimon (“Thunder Gate”), Sensō-ji Temple, Tokyo

This inherent respect translates to all areas of life, and are most noticeable in the mega-metropolis of Tokyo. The city streets are spotless despite there being a noticeable small number of garbage cans, the air smells clean and fresh, and in the 17 days I’ve spent in Japan I haven’t heard a single car horn.

Think about that for a second…

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The greater Tokyo area has a population of nearly 40 MILLION people. In any other large city you would be drowning in honking. When I asked a local about this, she was almost offended at the notion that a Japanese person would be as completely irrational as to honk in traffic. Japanese people genuinely care about each other, their environment, and how they can play a part in bettering the world they live in.

The mentality is very much society over the individual.

The best real-world example I can give of the deep rooted cultural tolerance, respect and politeness in Japanese culture is from an encounter I witnessed while waiting for a train in Kyoto in 2018.

Standing on the train platform looking across the tracks, I noticed two businessmen having a conversation. After a couple of minutes, the man on the left motioned to his watch and signaled that he had to leave. The two said goodbye to each other by bowing not once, not twice, not three times or four, but FIVE times back and forth. And these weren’t quick bows; they were slow and meticulous as if they were in the presence of royalty.

The man on the left turned and began to walk away before quickly bouncing back around as if he forgot to mention something. The businessmen talked for a couple of seconds before they began the arduous goodbye process all over again. Just like before they bowed several times, almost as if it was a competition to have the best form. The man on the left turned again and walked away for a short distance before realizing he had gone the wrong direction.

Tokyo, Japan. Not far from Tokyo Station.

He reversed his motion and as he walked past the other man, the two began to bow AGAIN. Each step he took he would stop, plant his feet and bow. It seemed to never end, and not until the two were 10 feet apart did they finally go their separate ways.

This whole goodbye process from start to finish had to have taken 3 or 4 minutes. I didn’t even spend that long saying goodbye to my parents when they dropped me off at University! The level of respect that the Japanese people have for one another and for those visiting their beautiful country is astounding, and quite frankly it opens your eyes to the almost barbaric nature of how we treat each other in North America.

To sum it all up, I could talk and write about everything I love about Japan for hours on end. The culture, the people, the food, and the sights all combine to make the nation somewhere I could return to time and time again. It truly is a special travel destination that never fails to give.

Unfortunately, my words don’t come nearly close enough to articulating just how memorable it is. It’s just something you’ll have to discover for yourself.


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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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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