10 Mostly Serious Reasons to Cycle Canada in 2017
Canada seems to be having a moment, some have said. Whether it’s our new Prime Minister’s popularity, or our welcome embrace of more than 25,000 Syrian refugees this year, Canada is increasingly being seen for its liberalism and even its exceptionalism in the wake of nationalist movements in Europe and the US. Our small Canadian cycle tour company is feeling very patriotic these days, and recently announced our own coast to coast cycle tour across Canada for 2017.
Travellers in general, and cyclists in particular, have been criss-crossing our country for decades. There has always been so much to offer a visitor in a safe and welcoming environment. So why might 2017 be the year for you to decide to take it on? I have identified both some practical reasons and some more philosophical/nonsensical reasons why 2017 might be the year for you to join us in cycling across the ‘Great White North’.
1. Canada is Turning 150, National Parks are Free
Canada became a nation on July 1, 1867. For our sesquicentennial (say that 5 times fast!), we are throwing a big bash and you are all invited, especially you cyclists. The Canadian government announced that entry fees to all the National Parks will be waived for 2017. What a great opportunity to explore the wilderness that so many associate with Canada – lakes and coniferous forests filled with moose, owls, beavers and canoe-riding Canadians.
2. Winnipeg. (Winnipeg?)
Yes, Winnipeg. Fondly known here as ‘Winterpeg’, the frosty capital city of the province of Manitoba is in the limelight these days – having it’s own moment, if you will. Boosted by a strong economy and investments in the city, it recently caught the attention of Vogue and Elle magazine. For cyclists crossing the country you can’t really avoid Winnipeg, but you will be glad you stopped here for a night or two. From the recently completed National Human Rights museum, to a lively local music scene it is increasingly eclectic in what it has to offer.
As Lonely Planet puts it (with a bit of hyperbole perhaps), Winnipeg is “cultured, confident and captivating, it’s more than just a pit stop on the Trans-Canada haul, but a destination in its own right.”
3. Chance to Spot a Shirtless Trudeau in the Wild
Last summer, while the US primaries were getting ugly down south, Canadian media was busy with more relevant news – multiple sightings of our shirtless Prime Minister on vacation with his family.
Besides spotting moose, grizzlies, beavers, and the Canada Goose you now need to watch closely for the elusive shirtless-Trudeau. Experts expect sightings only to increase in 2017.
4. Completion of the Great Trail
Coinciding with Canada’s birthday bash, the Trans-Canada trail (a.k.a. the Great Trail) is due to be completed in 2017. It will offer an astounding 22,000 km (13,500 miles) of trails, making it the world’s longest trail network. A great deal of these trails are appropriate for bikes and over 30% of the trail system utilizes public roads marked for cyclists. This will allow touring cyclists many more options for crossing the country and avoiding the dreaded Trans-Canada highway.
5. Canada is Topping All the Travel Lists
The first big announcement came from Lonely Planet who chose Canada as its top country to visit in the ‘Best in Travel’ list for 2017. Following that up, it also topped Wanderlust’s ‘Hot List’ for 2017.
Travel + Leisure had Montreal on its ‘Best Places to Travel‘ list. And National Geographic had Banff on its list of Best Trips for 2017. We could go on… you get the point. There is a reason these travel experts are talking so much about Canada. There is so much to discover, and being the 150th year, there so many communities, clubs, and government organizations planning exciting events.
6. Exchange Rate is in Your Favour
We Canadians remember a few years ago when our colourful money was on par with the US greenback. Those were the days. These days it is sitting at around $1.32 Canadian to $1 US. And for those of you living in Europe its at $1.42 Canadian to €1. So what might be painful for us travelling abroad, is a benefit for our foreign guests.
7. Multiculturalism and our Native Cultures
Multiculturalism isn’t just a nice idea, it’s official Canadian policy – and we were the first nation to take such a step. Though in practice we have a long way to go for true equality in our country, it is an idea that we hold dear.
Where Canada (and Canadians) have fallen short is in the history of our treatment and relationships with the native communities and their cultures across our country. But attitudes are changing and slow progress is being made to better the lives of the original inhabitants of this land. Learn about some of that progress being made in Winnipeg at the National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation which was created to preserve the shameful history of Canada’s infamous Residential School system. Or check out this amazing multimedia project called the Secret Path by Gord Downie (a Canadian music legend) with all proceeds going to the National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation.
8. A Reprieve from Trump’s America
Half-jokingly, a Cape Breton radio DJ launched a website to help encourage Americans to move to lovely Cape Breton (on Canada’s east coast) in the event of a Trump election. Local tourism officials have seen a spike in visitors to the island which they now refer to as the Trump Bump.
So to our American friends, we know it has crossed your mind (our immigration site crashed on US election night). Although you don’t necessarily need to move here (though you would be most welcome), you should certainly come and experience how things are done north of the border next year.
9. Food Diversity
We are running our own coast to coast tour across Canada next summer and we recently wrote about some of the Local Heritage meals our participants will get to experience along the way. Canada is not just bacon and maple syrup, you know.
Multiculturalism means that we have food influences from all over the world. Smoked salmon on the west coast, steak in Calgary, Ethiopian cuisine in Toronto, sushi in Montreal, lobster boils on the east coast – there is something for every taste.
10. Music Diversity
Canadian musicians have, for decades, made it big – both at home and abroad. From Leonard Cohen, and Celine Dion, to modern acts like Drake, and Bieber – our talent runs the gambit. We play instruments as common as the electric guitar to oddball ones like the ‘Newfoundland Ugly Stick.’
From Native drum circles, to Scottish bagpipes, to indy rock bands in the clubs of Winnipeg, Toronto, and Montreal, to Celtic inspired music on the east coast, there is a amazingly diverse array of music talent in Canada just waiting to be heard.