Malahat Skywalk adds to Canada’s growing list of elevated attractions

With the official opening of Malahat SkyWalk on British Columbia’s Vancouver Island last week, Canada has added another “skywalk” attraction.

Located about 35 minutes drive from Victoria, Malahat SkyWalk visitors embark along a 600 m (1,968 ft) elevated, wooden walkway rising 20 m (65 ft) through an arbutus and Douglas fir forest. Guests then ascend a circular ramp gently rising to the top of a 10-storey, architecturally-inspiring spiral tower lookout.

At the top of the tower, guests are 250 m (820 ft) above sea level and enjoy 360-degree views of two countries, including islands, inlets, fjords, forests and mountains in B.C. and Washington State. Also at the top, daring guests can walk on an adventure net suspended partially across the centre of the tower for another thrilling perspective.

On the descent, guests can choose to retrace their steps or take an exhilarating ride down a 20 m (65 ft) spiral slide. Available to everyone over five years of age or minimum 107 cm (42 in) tall, guests can ride as many times as they like.

Malahat SkyWalk is located on the traditional territory of the Malahat Nation and their Indigenous stories are embedded in the visitor experience.

Tickets are available online at www.malahatskywalk.com/pass and are valid for one year from date of purchase. Admission is $31.95 CAD (adult 18+), $28.95 CAD (senior 65+), $18.95 CAD (child aged 6-17) and $86.00 CAD (two adults, two children), plus taxes. Children aged five and under are free.

If you want more skywalking adventures, here are some other elevated attractions you can experience in Canada:

Columbia Icefield Skywalk
Jasper, Alberta

Step out on a cliff-edge walkway where giant glaciers perch above you and the spectacular Sunwapta Valley spreads out below. The Columbia Icefield Skywalk experience features waterfalls, wildlife, fossils and more on an exciting 1-kilometre walkway that leads to a platform where glass is all that separates you from a 918-foot (280 m) drop. The walk is presented in an interpretive storytelling format that will connect you to the natural world in a deep and meaningful way.

https://www.banffjaspercollection.com/attractions/columbia-icefield/skywalk/

Saint John Skywalk
Saint John, New Brunswick

Handout photo: Saint John Skwyalk

The Reversing Falls Rapids on the Saint John River in New Brunswick have amazed visitors for generations. As the powerful tides of the Bay of Fundy rush up the river twice per day, they reverse the direction of the river’s flow that is an unforgettable demonstration of nature’s power. Visitors can step out on the glass-bottomed skywalk that perches above the roiling waters below. There’s also an adjacent restaurant that they can visit before or after the tide’s approach

https://www.skywalksaintjohn.com

CN Tower’s Glass Floor
Toronto, Ontario

Handout photo: CN Tower

The granddaddy of all glass-bottomed attractions in Canada is the CN Tower’s glass floor that was the world’s first when it opened in 1994. A mere 2 1/2″ of glass keeps you safe from the ground which is 342 m (1,122 ft) below, but it’s strong enough that you can walk on it, or even jump on it, without worry. Despite those reassurances, you have to force your mind to tell you that it’s safe when you step out on the transparent 23.8 square metres (256 sq. ft) surface. If that’s not scary enough for you, then you might be ready for the EdgeWalk, where you walk outside the tower while attached with safety straps.

https://www.cntower.ca/en-ca/plan-your-visit/attractions/glass-floor.html

 

Pay your respects and learn some history at the gravesites of Canada’s prime ministers

Unlike other countries, Canadians haven’t erected many monuments to their former leaders. There are a few statues of prime ministers from the era that statues were a thing, but not much else. Even most of their graves are understated and ordinary and not the overblown, ornate tombs that are national pilgrimage sites in other countries.

So they wouldn’t fall into disrepair and lapse into obscurity, the federal government created a program in 1999 to conserve and promote, with dignity and respect, the grave sites of the country’s deceased prime ministers.

Aptly named,  the National Program for the Grave Sites of Canadian Prime Ministers encourages Canadians to visit these historic sites in order to reflect on the the lives and accomplishments of former prime ministers who have had an impact on the history of the country.

If you were to plan a road trip to see them all, you wouldn’t even have to cross all of Canada, but you would have to go overseas to visit one of them. Eight former prime ministers are buried in Ontario, four are interred in Quebec, two in Nova Scotia, just one in Saskatchewan and the only one not buried in Canadian soil lies in England.

If you feel like paying your respects to some Canadian legends, here are a few more details on the gravesites of some of the country’s most famous leaders:

Sir John A. Macdonald
Buried in Kingston, ON

Canada’s first prime minister, Sir John A. Macdonald, has always been ranked among the country’s great political leaders, but his legacy is controversial mostly due to his assimilationist policies towards the country’s indigenous population. Born in Scotland and raised near Kingston,  Macdonald was instrumental in the making of the Canadian Confederation.

Sir Wilfrid Laurier
Ottawa, ON

Canada’s first francophone prime minister, Sir Wilfrid Laurier, followed policies of moderation and reconciliation and always held the belief that Canada is an English-French partnership. He served as PM from 1896 until 1911 during a period of rapid growth and immigration.  Alberta and Saskatchewan were welcomed into Confederation while he was in office.

William Lyon Mackenzie King
Toronto, ON

At 21 years, King holds the record for being Canada’s longest-serving prime minister. He was Canada’s PM before, during and after the Second World War and into the beginning of the Cold War.  Among his most notable accomplishments were social programs that are familiar to Canadians today such as unemployment insurance and family allowances. His government also introduced the Canadian Citizenship Act.

John Diefenbaker
Saskatoon, SK

One of Canada’s most beloved leaders, John Diefenbaker was a prairie populist and a stirring orator. When he came to office in 1958, it was with the greatest electoral victory in the country’s history. He is responsible for introducing the Canadian Bill of Rights.

Lester B. Pearson
Wakefield, QC

A diplomat-turned-politician, Pearson is most famous for winning the Nobel Peace Prize for his role in ending the Suez Crisis after he proposed the concept of peacekeeping in the United Nations.  Social programs that his government introduced include the Canada and Quebec Pension Plans and universal health insurance. The maple leaf flag that is flown today was introduced during his time in office.

Pierre E. Trudeau
St. Remi, QC

Love him or hate him, there’s no denying that Pierre Trudeau was a giant in Canadian history.  His vision of the country was always of a strong united federation with equality among provinces and guaranteed rights for individuals in a bilingual, multicultural Canada. His most lasting accomplishment was the repatriation of Canada’s constitution and the entrenchment of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

Richard Bedford Bennett
Mickleham, Surrey, England

Bennett was Canada’s prime minister during the Great Depression. Ultimately, he became linked to the economic hard times in the minds of voters and wasn’t re-elected. He retired to Great Britain where he sat in the House of Lords. Although he was born in New Brunswick, he was ultimately buried in England, the only Canadian PM not to be interred in Canada.

As Tourism Week begins, many Canadian province’s still restrict travel

Canada canoe

As Tourism Week in Canada kicks off, it’s still unclear where Canadians will be able to travel this summer. The American border remains closed until at least June 21, international travel restrictions are still being strictly enforced and some provinces still discourage visitors from other parts of the country.

Despite the uncertainty, the Tourism Industry Association of Canada (TIAC) says that vaccinations are the light at the end of the COVID-19 tunnel. Seeing our American neighbours and people from the U.K. already beginning to take vacations, the feeling is that it won’t be long before Canadians will join them.

However, before we all jet off to foreign locales, TIAC is asking Canadians to take a special pledge to support tourism in Canada. They want to drive more domestic tourism business to Canadian travel firms which have lost billions of dollars during the pandemic.

“We are calling on Canadians to take the 2021 Tourism Pledge to travel in Canada, when restrictions are lifted,” says Beth Potter, the President and CEO of TIAC in a release. “This is an invitation to come together as a country and support our local tourism destinations, businesses and employees.”

If Canadian consumers decided to shift two-thirds of their planned international holiday expenditures towards domestic tourism, it would make up for the estimated $19 billion shortfall currently facing the visitor economy, per a recent report by Destination Canada. It would also help sustain 150,000 jobs and accelerate the recovery of the tourism sector by one year.

“We understand that everyone is eager for some much-needed vacation time and we are calling on Canadians to plan their future travel within Canada,” said Marsha Walden, President and Chief Executive Officer, Destination Canada.

For now, that probably means staying in your home province, but things could start opening up as the summer progresses and more people are fully vaccinated.

Newfoundland & Labrador

The advisory council to Newfoundland’s premier filed a report last week that called on the provincial government to reopen  the province’s borders to the rest of Canada by July 1.

The committee recommends that until vulnerable groups in the province are fully vaccinated, visitors be tested for COVID-19 before arrival although they won’t have to quarantine. The next stage would be to re-open the Atlantic bubble then allow partially vaccinated Canadians to enter as of June 1, although they must present a negative COVID test before arrival.

Nova Scotia

In Nova Scotia, lockdown restrictions that have limited travel have been extended and the province’s premier has said they could last until at least June 1.

In one Global News report, tourism operators were pessimistic that this year’s tourism season would be worse than last summer when the Atlantic bubble partially saved their season.

Prince Edward Island

P.E.I. Premier Dennis King told CBC News he would announce reopening plans on Thursday.

“I think you will see our measures that will include testing coming into our province through all of our points of entry as an added level of protection for Islanders. As more and more of us get vaccinated, we can back our way out of that. That’s going to be part of the plan,” he said.

The premier said the province hopes to allow visitors from the Atlantic region “really soon” and from the rest of Canada in the later end of the summer season.

New Brunswick

New Brunswick is keen to welcome tourists back to the province, at least from the rest of Atlantic Canada.

“We are hoping to open the Atlantic Bubble in July to get the season started,” said Carol Alderdice, the President and CEO of the Tourism Industry Association of New Brunswick. “Our operators have been exceptional at implementing protective measures against the spread of COVID-19 for over a year and we are ready to greet our guests.”

Last year, the province introduced the NB Travel Incentive program which offered rebates for residents who travelled within the province.

The province has said the program will return this summer, but has released no further details.

“As long as all things continue to improve in relation to COVID-19, we will look forward to announcing the dates of the summer Explore NB Travel Incentive Program,” Morgan Bell, a communications officer with Tourism, Heritage and Culture told CBC News.

Quebec

The Quebec government is offering  discounted provincial park passes as well as subsidized activities and vacation packages to encourage local tourism.

“The pandemic has had negative consequences for tourism businesses. These initiatives are a way for the government to revive the industry,” Quebec’s Minister of Tourism Caroline Proulx told CBC News. “I honestly believe that we will have a better tourist summer, especially with the return of festivals.”

The province’s Explore Québec program  offers travel packages at a minimum of 25 per cent off along with other offers at Quebec Getaways.

Ontario

Canada’s largest province announced its reopening plan last week that sets June 14 to restart some activities that would allow a certain amount of tourist traffic to resume, with further restrictions being eased in July and a near return to normality in August. However, there’s concern that those dates aren’t set in stone as they are conditional on certain vaccination and caseload milestones being met.

The province’s border remains closed with neighbouring Quebec and Manitoba to non-essential travel until June 2, but there have been noises that it could be extended, possibly until the June 14 date that is part of the reopening plan.

Manitoba

The tourism picture for Manitoba this summer is unclear, but there’s some optimism that the province will beat back the third wave and gradually begin reopening, at least to local visitors.

Destination Canada projects the province’s tourism businesses will lose about $400 million this year, but that’s a best-case scenario if tourism is permitted by July. Things are bleaker if they remain closed until the end of the summer, reported CBC News.

Saskatchewan

Many provinces are modelling their reopening plans after Saskatchewan’s “road map,” which itself is inspired by the actions of well-vaccinated jurisdictions like Israel and the U.K.

As destinations and activities reopen throughout the summer,  Tourism Saskatchewan predicts a good summer ahead with about 75 or 80 percent of the activity it would see in a normal year.

“There is light at the end of the tunnel which is something I think the industry and public sees that, “ spokesperson Jonathan Potts told CKRM.  “If people continue to get vaccinated and things continue going in Saskatchewan’s favour, we could see a fairly normal summer this year.”

Alberta

Alberta is still battling its third wave of COVID infections, but premier Jason Kenney has said the provinces will soon outline its reopening plan.

“It’ll be a careful plan that will get us to a great Alberta summer as long as Albertans continue the huge momentum to get vaccinated,” he said.

In an interview with Global News, the Tourism Industry Association of Alberta’s Darren Reeder said he fully expects the province to reopen travel within the coming weeks, but doesn’t think it will see any international travellers.

He hoped that the provincial government would offer tax credits or vouchers to incentivize staycations in order to overcome that shortfall and the association would do its part to encourage Albertans to discover what their province has to offer

“There are things in your own backyard and adventure is something you create with your own ingenuity and your own creativity,” he said.

British Columbia

B.C. premier John Horgan has also promised a reopening plan this week which would outline under what conditions travel restrictions will be lifted.

Tourism Industry Association of B.C. chief executive officer Walt Judas told CBC that it wants restrictions lifted on non-essential travel that have ravaged the province’s tourism  industry.

Judas said the association wants provincial travel reopened this week, followed by increased interprovincial visitors and ultimately international tourists.

Yukon

Yukon has closed off its borders to domestic and international travel for much of the pandemic, but now its plan is to allow anyone who is fully vaccinated to visit and enjoy the territory’s immense beauty.

The world’s longest skating rink is not in Ottawa

LAKE WINDERMERE WHITEWAY

At 7.8 kilometres in length, the world’s longest skating rink is popularly believed to be the Rideau Canal Skateway in Ottawa, but it lost that record in 2008 when an 8.54-km stretch of the Assiniboine and Red rivers in Winnipeg was cleared for skating.

Winnipeg didn’t hold that record very long as a skating trail on Lake Windermere Whiteway at Invermere, B.C., took the title in 2013 for a route that extended almost 30 km.

Despite those competitors, Rideau Canal Skateway has since rebranded itself as the world’s “largest” skating rink.

 

The Canadian Tulip Festival in Ottawa is going virtual once again

Canadian tulip festival

It’s looking like The Canadian Tulip Festival in Ottawa is going virtual again this year.

As of this week, the Province of Ontario has announced a stay-at-home order within weeks of the tulips blooming at the festival site in Commissioners Park, at Dow’s Lake.

“The safest way to enjoy the tulips this year is online,” stressed the festival’s Executive Director,  Jo Riding. “With the information provided by Ottawa Public Health, we knew to prepare for a third variant-based wave this spring and have done everything we can to bring the tulips to Ottawa, Canada, and the world.”

Fans of the festival are asked to stay home and experience the gift of tulips through an immersive virtual experience at www.tulipfestival.ca.

Virtual walking tours with a live tour guide are being offered from May 14 – 24, 2021, 10:00 am to 4:00 pm EST, and cost $10 per ticket.

Festival organizers aren’t new to hosting a virtual festival, having had to pivot to a completely online event last spring within two months of the pandemic. Given their experience last year, organizers were understandably cautious when planning for the upcoming 69th edition of Ottawa’s longest-running, largest attended event.

For those who live in the Ottawa area, the festival is fundraising through the sale of fresh, locally-grown cut tulip bouquets, sold online for curbside pickup or next-day delivery. All proceeds of the flower sales go towards the continuation of the Canadian Tulip Legacy, a registered charity.

The thirty public tulip gardens in the National Capital Region will remain open for local visitors, but festival organizers ask that they wear a mask,  visit at non-peak hours and follow social distancing guidelines while enjoying the flowers.

Admission to the festival site at Commissioners Park beside Dow’s Lake is free.