The leaves are beginning to turn red, the start of the spectacular splash of colour that awaits fall visitors to canoe-crazy Algonquin Provincial Park. We choose the classic, popular Big Trout Loop, a 73-km circuit of sixteen lakes (each with at least one pair of resident loons), marshy waters, narrow creeks, and slow-moving rivers. We give ourselves ten days (this route is usually paddled in four or five days). Still, our physical strength and Doug’s engineering skills are tested by foreign gear and fourteen portages, the longest portage being 2.3 kilometres.
No wonder Quebec is nicknamed La Belle Province. Landscapes bursting with beauty, lively towns and villages, hospitality in heritage homes, a world-class 5,000-kilometre network of bikeways: Quebec is a province that welcomes visitors. We spend seven days cycling between Montreal and Ottawa on bike paths, including the 232-km abandoned railway Le P’tit Train du Nord. Beautiful? Oui!
Seventeen giant windmills stand before us at the North Cape, and suddenly we get it: this tiny province is a windy place! With gale-force headwinds, our six days of bicycle touring are not quite as easy as advertised, but we successfully pedal Prince Edward Island from tip to tip, buoyed by the camaraderie of our tour group and our two professional guides.
A cod-killer is a good thing, while a smatchy brine is not. Newfoundland’s rural fishing villages are long-abandoned, but the stories are not lost. A fisherman born in Kerley’s Harbour, Captain Bruce educates and entertains us with tales of everyday life in the enchanting coastal communities near Trinity, one of Newfoundland and Labrador’s best preserved historic towns.
Safe yet playful river rafting, spectacular alpine walking, wildflower meadows and waterfalls, comfortable cabins to stay in, congenial new friends: check! Destinations, dates, and companions are a mystery until the last minute, as tour companies scramble to work around an evacuation alert for Clearwater and a two-week wildfire-related closure of Wells Gray Provincial Park.
Why is there no one here at the far end of Maligne Lake, the most famous body of water in Jasper National Park? Gorgeous glacier views, interesting folded rocks. A trail that’s not-too-hard but not-too-easy, 16 km (return) on an enjoyable grade following a stream up through the forest.
Instead, thousands of visitors board tour boats to cruise mid-lake to Spirit Island, a well-marketed patch of land with about a dozen trees. Have you guessed that we prefer the lower half of Maligne Lake?
The Tourism Whistler web site lists forty-eight summer activities. From the list, our multi-generational group chooses seven sports – a heptathlon. We hike, bike, paddle, swim, climb, slide, and zip. Snow-capped peaks, creeks with views at every bend, wildflowers, wild animals, bucket list-worthy thrills: Whistler, a mountain resort two hours north of Vancouver, is truly a family-friendly, multi-sport mecca.
Joining us on this Whistler-week are our son Alec, his wife Angie, and their three children, Nathan (14), Scarlett (12), and Robin (11). Nick (18), our oldest grandchild, comes, too; the rest of his family are occupied elsewhere with work, summer school, or dragon boating.