Participants will begin their Canadian cycling adventure in the archipelago of Haida Gwaii, often referred to as the ‘Galapagos of the North’. The route then follows the mighty Skeena River giving riders the opportunity to visit First Nations communities and continues into the heart of the Rocky Mountains along the breathtaking Icefields Parkway through to beautiful Banff and then down into Calgary, home of the world famous stampede. The cyclists will then turn east into the rising sun, beginning their journey across Canada’s vast prairie landscape -golden fields of wheat and canola, striking grain elevators, rolling hills, hidden creeks and shimmering lakes all under the endless mid-summer sun.
The expedition quickly crosses into the province of Ontario and the spectacular Lake of the Woods region, an area of endless islands, lakes, river, forests and abundant wildlife. This is quickly followed by a spectacular ride along the north shore of Lake Superior – an endless vista of colourful granite outcroppings, framed by windswept pine trees and wild waves crashing against exposed rocks and deserted beaches. The route continues to Manitoulin Island before heading down the stunning Bruce Peninsula to Toronto. The riders then spin through Prince Edward County, Canada’s newest and most exciting wine region, the picturesque university town of Kingston, Ottawa, the country’s capital and Montreal, the world’s second largest French-speaking city after Paris, renown for its joie-de-vivre and incredible culinary scene. Quiet cycling trails then lead the riders on a car-free journey to Quebec City, the heart of French culture in North America.
Following the mighty St Lawrence River the riders will be exposed to the unique rural Quebecois culture. The remote coast along the Gaspé Peninsula is rugged and wild but the hospitality and home cooking of the region’s small villages will make the cyclists feel at home. The route allows the riders to experience the sandy beaches of Prince Edward Island and the challenge and beauty of the Cabot Trail running around the edge of Nova Scotia’s Cape Breton Island – over 300 km of stunning ocean views, waterfalls, highland scenery, small fishing villages and river valleys. Finally the cyclists arrive in Newfoundland, fondly known as ‘The Rock’, and pedal into colourful St John’s and its quaint harbour where their incredible Canadian Cycling Adventure draws to a close.
Since this is our home country we thought we would throw in a few don’t-miss highlights… on us.
*Haida Gwaii museum visit.
*A Rocky Mountain white water rafting trip
*Winnipeg Museum of Human Rights tour
*Toronto Craft Brewery tour
*Acadian Heritage Village tour
*Charlottetown walking tour
*6 local heritage celebration meals
Participants will enjoy a couple days of cycling through the unique environment of Haida Gwaii, often referred to as the ‘Galapagos of the North’, before boarding a ferry for the scenic journey across the Hecate Strait to Prince Rupert. The route then follows the mighty Skeena River along the Yellowhead Highway, weaving its way past logging towns like Terrace and Smithers and stopping overnight in historic locales including Hazelton where steamboats in the 1870’s dropped off miners heading for nearby goldfields.
Riders will also have the opportunity to visit First Nations communities such as the ‘Ksan, a matrilineal society of the Gitxsan peoples, consisting of Frog, Eagle, Wolf, and Fireweed clans. Pedalling past misty mountains, small farms, and bustling sawmills they will then arrive in Prince George for a well earned rest day and the chance to visit the city’s fascinating Railway and Forestry Museum.
The cyclists now head into the heart of the Rocky Mountains following the route of one of Canada’s 2 transcontinental railway lines, past stunning Mount Robson and on to the mountain resort town of Jasper. Then it’s down the breathtaking Icefields Parkway which runs alongside the continental divide, past Mt Edith Cavell, the Columbia Icefields and serene Lake Louise en route to the winter sports and hiking haven that is Banff. From there it is another day’s ride out of the mountains and into Calgary, home of the world famous stampede and the end of this spectacular section.
This section begins in Calgary, affectionately still known as ‘Cowtown’ despite the city’s numerous skyscrapers and an increasingly diverse population. Leaving “Cowtown”, you will cycle first to Drumheller, the dinosaur capital of Canada, situated in Alberta’s Badlands. Riders should be sure to visit the fascinating Royal Tyrrell Museum of Palaeontology. The next morning the cyclists will head east into the rising sun and begin their journey across Canada’s vast prairie landscape.
As with most regions of Canada, the Prairies have developed a unique cultural identity. The First Nations people had lived in the area for millennia and when the first French fur traders passed through the area, their interaction created the Metis, a peoples with a distinct and unique culture. Riders will be able to learn about the regions history on their rest day in Regina. It was here that Louis Riel, a Metis leader, was executed for his role in Canada’s North West Rebellion in 1885.
Although the image of the Prairies is of one flat endless plain, this is only partially true. In addition to the iconic golden fields of wheat and canola punctuated by grain elevators, the cyclists will discover rolling hills, hidden creeks and shimmering lakes where they can celebrate the end of their riding day under the endless mid-summer sun. The section comes to a close in Winnipeg, home to Canada’s coldest street corner (Portage & Main) and the recently completed and renowned Canadian Museum for Human Rights.
The middle section of our cross-Canada cycling adventure starts in Winnipeg and soon crosses the border into the Canadian province of Ontario. Here the riders will enter the spectacular Lake of the Woods region, an area of endless islands, lakes, river, forests and abundant wildlife. The expedition then stops in Thunder Bay for a rest day at the head of Lake Superior, also known by its original Ojibwe name, Gitche Gumee. The world’s largest freshwater lake holds a significant place in the Canadian psyche, in part due to the classic Gordon Lightfoot song, The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald.
After a last look across the harbour at the famous island aptly called the Sleeping Giant, the cyclists will head out on an incredible week-long ride along the north shore of Superior. The scenery is simply spectacular. Here the unique geology of the Canadian Shield has created an endless vista of colourful granite outcroppings, framed by windswept pine trees and wild waves crashing against exposed rocks and deserted beaches. The evenings spent in campsites like Rainbow Falls and Pancake Bay, when riders gather around blazing campfires and look up into star-studded skies, will remain in their memories for a long, long time.
The expedition takes a break in the border city of Sault Ste. Marie before continuing on to the largest fresh water island in the world, Manitoulin Island. From here the riders will enjoy a beautiful ferry ride across Georgian Bay to the town of Tobermory, home to Fathom Five National Marine Park and its 22 shipwrecks and historic lighthouses. The cyclists then head down the Bruce Peninsula and east along the shores of Georgian Bay. At the resort town of Collingwood the riders will turn south, hopefully stopping for a beer at the legendary Creemore Springs Brewery before arriving in Canada’s largest and one of the world’s most ethnically diverse city, Toronto, which marks the end of this dynamic section.
This section begins in Toronto, the world’s most diverse city – 51 per cent of the population is foreign born and some 230 different nationalities call the city home. After checking out the CN Tower, the stunning Aga Khan museum or simply spending time in one of Toronto’s burgeoning craft breweries, the cyclists will head out of the city along the Lake Ontario waterfront trail. A couple days later the riders will arrive in Prince Edward County, home to Canada’s newest and most exciting wine region. Riders can spin through the county’s back roads, sampling some of the world’s best pinot noir and snacking at roadside fruit stands.
Next up is the picturesque university town of Kingston, Canada’s first capital, littered with gorgeous limestone buildings. From here the route turns north and follows the historic Rideau Canal, North America’s oldest continuously operated canal, which was built in 1832 to deter an attempted American invasion. The cyclists reach the end of the canal in Ottawa, the country’s capital and the headquarters for the Canada’s 150th birthday bash. After a rest day spent exploring the city and visiting sites such as the Parliament Buildings, the Canadian Museum of Civilization, the National Gallery, and the Royal Canadian Mint, the riders head east along the Ottawa River bound for Montreal.
Montreal is the world’s second largest French-speaking city after Paris. Here the riders will enjoy the city’s renown joie-de-vivre, its incredible culinary scene, North America’s best cycling culture and the cobble stoned streets of the Vieux Port. Reluctantly, the expedition then heads north-east along the province of Quebec’s incredible cycling paths, known as La Route Verte. These trails will take the riders on a car-free journey through rolling hills, dotted with small towns where they can test out their language skills ordering from the local fromagerie, bistro or charcuterie. This bilingual section draws to a close in Quebec City, founded in 1608 and the heart of French culture and history in North America.
The last section of the Oh, Canada cycling expedition begins in Quebec City, one of the oldest European settlements in North America. The riders will follow the south shore of the mighty St Lawrence River for the next 6 days before reaching the Gulf of St Lawrence, one of the largest estuaries in the world. Along the way the riders will be exposed to the province’s unique rural Quebecois culture. They can perhaps enjoy a delicious poutine at one of the area’s ubiquitous casse-croutes while watching the St Lawrence for one of the many varieties of whale that call the river home.
The coast along the Gaspe Peninsula is rugged and wild but the hospitality and home cooking of the region’s small villages will make the cyclists feel at home, especially during the rest day in the town of Gaspe. Riders can visit Canada’s tallest lighthouse at Cap des Rosiers, enjoy some of the country’s best bird watching at Forillon National Park or visit the town’s ultra-modern wood cathedral. A short pedal the next day takes the cyclists to one of the country’s iconic sights – Perce Rock. If the riders have the time they could also squeeze in a visit to Ile Bonaventure and its incredible bird sanctuary.
The route now leaves la belle province of Quebec and enters New Brunswick, beginning with a rest day in the capital of Acadian culture, Caraquet. In the mid-1700’s, the Acadian people were expelled by the British, some ending up as far away as Louisiana where they became known as Cajuns. On a happier note, Caraquet is also home to some of the world’s best oysters so riders should be prepared for quite a feast. Cyclists then head south towards the engineering marvel that is the Confederation Bridge leading to Prince Edward Island. The possibility of high winds mean it’s impossible to bike the 13 kms across but there is a handy shuttle. Once back on solid ground the riders spin into Charlottetown, known as the birthplace of Canadian Confederation.
A ferry will then deliver the riders back to the mainland where they will encounter one of the expeditions most challenging and most beautiful rides, the Cabot Trail running around the edge of Nova Scotia’s Cape Breton Island. Over the next 300 kms the participants will enjoy stunning ocean views, waterfalls, highland scenery, small fishing villages and river valleys – one of the world’s most highly rated cycling routes. The cyclists can reflect on their achievement while enjoying a rest day at Ingonish Beach before riding to North Sydney where an overnight ferry will take them to Newfoundland. The final two days will be spent spinning across the province fondly known as ‘The Rock’ before the final pedal into colourful St John’s and its quaint harbour, where they will celebrate the completion of this incredible section and an unforgettable ride across Canada.