In light of a recent snow storm (or rather storms), we decided to take advantage of the abundance of fresh snow and head up north to spend our Family Day long weekend here in Ontario. We visited Arrowhead Provincial Park and the neighbouring Algonquin Provincial Park, which both boast of hosting a variety of winter activities, including: skating, snowshoeing, and cross-country skiing.
We flew into Calgary at the end of August to embark on a twelve-day road trip across six national parks: Glacier in Montana; Waterton, Banff and Jasper in Alberta; and Yoho and Kootney in British Columbia. Yoho And Kootenay are nestled right beside Banff and Jasper in eastern British Columbia and together these four national parks, along with three nearby provincial parks, form the Canadian Rocky Mountain Parks World Heritage Site.
Bon Echo Provincial Park is located in southeastern Ontario and is situated along several lakes, including Mazinaw Lake - the seventh deepest lake in the province. For years we've been saying we'd like to visit Bon Echo, in large part because it's located close by K's family cabin. So this year we finally made it happen. While there are just over 500 car camping sites to choose from in this provincial park, we booked one of the 25 coveted canoe-in campsites located in the backcountry on Joe Perry Lake.
The Fathom Five National Marine Park is located right off the rocky shores of Tobermory and boasts of being one of best fresh water dive sites in the world. This underwater playground consists of 22 shipwrecks and a variety of neat geological features such as caves, cliffs and overhangs. While the pristine turquoise waters of Georgian Bay offers phenomenal visibility for fresh water diving, the only catch is that the water is cold. Very cold.
Niagara is referred to the honeymoon capital of the world. It is perhaps best known for it's waterfall that shares the same name as its city - Niagara Falls. Although technically Niagara Falls refers to three waterfalls: Bridal Veil Falls, American Falls, and (the most famous of the three) Horseshoe Falls. Collectively they form one of the largest waterfall networks on the planet.
Even though Newfoundland is a part of Canada, with its charming and friendly culture and a more relaxed pace of life, you can't help but feel like you are in an entirely different country. They even have their own time zone (an hour and a half ahead of Eastern Standard Time). Sure, the weather is predictably unpredictable and there are wind warnings on the regular, but the scenery out on The Rock is hauntingly breathtaking.
Every winter Ottawa hosts Winterlude - a three-week festival to celebrate winter. The city is transformed into a winter wonderland with ice and snow sculptures scattered around the downtown core. But its main draw is the Rideau Canal Skateway. At 7.8 kilometres long, when completely frozen, it forms the largest skating rink the world. We visited Ottawa during Winterlude two years ago. But due to an extreme cold warning (we're talking -42°C with the windchill) we were unable to spend much time outdoors let alone skate on the canal. So this year we were ready for a second chance.
Blue Mountain is the largest "mountain" in southern Ontario and is situated along the highest part of the Niagara Escarpment. Due to its sheer size and placement along Ontario's snowbelt region, every winter thousands of people flock up to the Blue Mountains to alpine ski. But there are a few options in the area for cross-country skiing.
The Bruce Peninsula is a ruggedly scenic peninsula in Ontario that is bordered between Lake Huron and Georgian Bay. The Bruce Peninsula National Park is nestled along the northern part of this peninsula. And a large section of the Bruce Trail (an 885km trail that runs along the Niagara Escarpment from Niagara to Tobermory) that cuts through this national park offers phenomenal views of jagged cliffs, rugged rock formations, and overlooks the crystal clear turquoise waters of Georgian Bay.
With its European stye feel and traditional style poutine we were excited to brush up on our français and travel to the largest French speaking province in all of Canada. We visited for four days at the end of November. Sure, the temperature was a little on the chilly side. But the light layer of snow coupled with all the holiday decorations and lights transformed Montreal and Quebec into a magical winter wonderland.