Eight Reasons Why Canada Isn’t Boring
Lists: The nation that brought us Don Cherry and seal flipper pie is anything but dull. Eva Holland explains.
01.28.09 | 9:21 AM ET
It’s time for me to acknowledge a painful truth: many people think that my country is boring.
A 2007 study showed that most young Americans view Canada as an “average” or “boring” place to visit, and this past summer, even an official from the Canadian Tourism Commission found herself describing Canada’s “vanilla pudding” reputation. Canada is seen as being “safe and nice,” she told Forbes Traveler, “like the girl next door—not the hot chick you’d want to go on vacation with.”
Well, setting aside my natural Canuck modesty, I’m here to tell you that Canada is that hot chick.
And that’s not just because of our sophisticated cities, United Nations-esque ethnic food offerings, important cultural contributions and friendly people. It’s also because Canada is home to some of the wildest, emptiest and most exciting wilderness areas in the world—meaning endless opportunities for the trip of a lifetime.
Not convinced yet? Read on.
1) We can road trip to the Arctic Ocean.
Stretching from Dawson City, Yukon, to Inuvik, Northwest Territories, the Dempster Highway is legendary—the first Canadian road to cross the Arctic Circle. If you’re a believer in bucket lists, then driving the Dempster should be on yours.
The road follows an old dog sled trail through the tundra for 475 miles, and is not to be attempted without a sturdy vehicle, a spare gas can, good weather reports and first-hand knowledge of how to change a flat tire. In winter an ice road extends the Dempster for another 120 miles from Inuvik, deep in the Mackenzie River delta, all the way to Tuktoyaktuk, on the shores of the Arctic Ocean.
2) We’re funny.
I can only assume that Canada has the highest ratio of famous-comedians-to-normal-folk of any nation in the world.
From SCTV greats like John Candy, Martin Short, Rick Moranis and Eugene Levy, to Saturday Night Live heavyweights Dan Ackroyd and Mike Myers—not to mention the SNL overlord himself, Lorne Michaels—Canada has dominated the past four decades of comedy.
Jim Carrey, Leslie Nielsen and Michael J. Fox? All pure-blooded Canucks. The Simpsons’ Phil Hartman? Canadian born. Tom Green is from my own hometown—though he’s not our proudest export. And how about Seth Rogen and Jonah Hill of “Superbad” and “Knocked Up”? They’re Canadian, too. “Arrested Development’s” Michael Cera and Will Arnett? You betcha.
Even British comedy superstar Ricky Gervais has Canadian blood in his veins.
3) Our local food is to die for—at times, literally.
The home-grown delicacies aren’t limited to Quebec, either. Outside of la belle province, head to the west coast for Nanaimo bars or way up north for caribou jerky. Feeling brave? Try Newfoundland’s (in)famous seal flipper pie.
4) In the Athabasca Sand Dunes, we redefine backcountry.
Talk about getting away from it all. This geographical aberration in Saskatchewan’s extreme north, protected by a provincial park, is one of the world’s most northerly sand dune areas.
The park takes “backcountry” to a new level. Its website warns:
“There are no communities, permanent residents, services, facilities or roads of any kind within or near the park. Independent visitors must be fully equipped for self-contained wilderness travel, and be aware of the potential hazards as well as their responsibilities in protecting this fragile environment; recommended for experienced wilderness users only.”
Arrival is by float plane. Once there, you’ll rely entirely on your paddle and your own two feet. Even the package tours are for veterans only; as one custom tour operator notes drily: “Whitewater canoeing experience is needed.”