What’s on your provincial Travel Life List? Westworld magazine editor Anne Rose picks three of her top spots.
OUR CANADIAN LIFE | Can familiarity really breed dismissal? When it comes to travel, there is always the possibility that locals, wherever they live, will think that only destinations far from home are remotely exotic and rare.
British Columbia has plenty of peerless places the rest of the world flocks to see, and if you haven’t taken the time to visit any of them, you don’t know the whole story about where you live. Anne Rose, editor-in-chief at Westworld magazine, has travelled extensively close to home. Here she shares with Frugalbits readers three superior ways to experience what’s exotic about Canada’s westernmost province.
CRUISE—See the province by water like the first North American explorers. BC Ferries’ 15-hour 400-kilometre voyage from Port Hardy to Prince Rupert traces Captain Vancouver’s historic survey trip and the route First Nations peoples have travelled for centuries, along a whale migration route past breathtaking waterfalls, fjords and the Great Bear Rainforest (see image above). In Port Hardy, drop into the fab coffee shop/bookstore/gallery Café Guido. In Prince Rupert—the deepest harbour on the continent—check out North Pacific Cannery, the oldest remaining fish cannery on the west coast of North America.
BC Ferries/BC Ferries Vacation Centre, Fairmont Pacific Rim, 1010 Canada Place, Vancouver, 1-888-223-3779, www.bcferries.com
HIKE—The redwoods in Northern California may have historically gotten more press, but Carmanah Walbran Provincial Park, a tree-hugger’s paradise on the southwest coast of Vancouver Island, boasts equally awe-inspiring old-growth forest. Some of the towering red cedars are almost 1,000 years old, and the 95-metre Carmanah Giant is thought to be the tallest Sitka spruce in the world. A separate hike near Cheewat Lake will get you up close and personal with the Cheewat Cedar (known as The Monster). More than 18 metres in circumference and over 55 metres tall, The Monster is Canada’s most massive tree and the world’s largest red cedar.
Trekking these forests is nothing short of magical, and it’s free. Both hikes can be daytrips, but be aware that the park is rugged and hikes should be planned around weather conditions.
Carmanah Walbran Provincial Park, 250-474-1336, www.env.gov.bc.ca/bcparks/explore/parkpgs/carmanah/; Tourism Vancouver Island, 250-754-3500, www.islands.bc.ca
FLY—What could be more B.C. than a floatplane ride? It will give you a bird’s eye view of our unique topography and capture the essence of the place where we live. Harbour Air offers “flightseeing” tours over Vancouver (and Victoria too) that will supercharge your senses. Consider a City Look ($69 adult, $35 child) or a Mail Run ($185 adult, $93 child). On a mail run, you ride along with the locals on regularly scheduled service flights from Vancouver Harbour to the villages of the Gulf Islands. This trip is different each time, depending on the day’s pick-up stops.
Harbour Air, 604-274-1277, www.harbour-air.com
Photos, top to bottom: Kristien Rogister, BC Tourism/BFBergeron, Harbour Air