Where are we now?

Where are we now?

Welcome back to Ontario!

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Did you know that Ontario:

  • Has a population of 13.6 million people
  • That Basketball was invented by Ontario born and bred Dr. James Naismith starting with a soccer ball and 2 peach baskets nailed to the wall.
  • Ontario is larger than Spain and France combined. Over a million square kilometres.
  • There are over 250,000 lakes in Ontario and they account for about 1/3 of the Earth’s fresh water.
  • There are 119.8 kms of paved roads in Ontario!! Please recruit more riders because Ontario is BIG.

Ontario Travelogue

Welcome to north western Ontario starting with some cycling in Kenora where cyclists always get a big welcome.

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One of the best ways to explore the City of Kenora, is by bike! A beautiful tour along the Lake of the Woods waterfront awaits you. Or take advantage of the green and natural areas throughout their neighbourhoods.

A lake tour should be on your list of things to do while visiting Kenora. Whether you hop aboard the MS Kenora or book a guided lake tour with one of the local outfitters, don’t miss an opportunity to see the natural beauty of Lake of the Woods.

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POLAR BEAR PROVINCIAL PARK

The Polar Bear Provincial Park is located on Hudson’s Bay north of James Bay. Sorry, but although there are 119,800 kms of paved roads in Ontario, none of them go anywhere near this park. In fact you won’t find a dirt road going there either.  You can only get there by plane or boat.

There are no visitors’ facilities. Landing permits must be obtained in advance for each of the park’s four airstrips. The only evidence of human habitation in the park is an abandoned radar station, part of a former military defence line. It consists of squat metal buildings, oil tanks, radio towers, and a few radar dishes and a landing airstrip. Visitors to Polar Bear should be prepared for any eventuality. They should bring at least one week’s extra supplies in case their departure is delayed due to bad weather. Tents should not rise any higher than necessary, due to the possibility of strong winds.

So why go there? Maybe you don’t need to go. Maybe it is good enough to know that Ontario has protected this land from human activity.

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Aerial view of Polar Bear Provincial Park

Next stop – Algoma

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One of the most popular train tours in Northern America is the famous Agawa Canyon Tour Train that departs from Algoma’s largest municipality, Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario. This one day rail excursion transports riders along 114 miles through the magnificent wilderness of Algoma. The train travels over the towering trestle at Montreal River, alongside remote northern lakes and rivers and through granite rock formations to the Agawa Canyon.

Moving on to Sudbury – Home of the Bike Nickel and something much more interesting… Science North

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Science North is Northern Ontario’s most popular tourist attraction and an educational resource for children and adults across the province. Science North maintains the second- and eighth-largest science centres in Canada:
Science North, featuring an IMAX® theatre, digital Planetarium, butterfly gallery and Special Exhibits

Manitoulin Island is the largest fresh water lsland in the world.

On Manitoulin Island, you’ll discover Aboriginal Spirit Walks, breathtaking waterfalls like Bridal Veil Falls and scenic trails.

Hiking is spectacular along the cliffs that are an extension of the Niagara Escarpment.

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View from the Cup and Saucer Trail on Manitoulin Island

Take the ferry Chi- Cheemaun from Manitoulin to Tobermory and start your trip down the Bruce Peninsula to Grey  and Bruce Counties where there are beaches and beach communities all along the shore of Georgian Bay and Lake Huron

The Beaches of Bruce County – Unbelievable!

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Pelee Island

Heading along Lake Erie take another ferry over to Pelee Island.

For bird watchers, Pelee Island is the best!  Spotting 100 species in one day is the norm. Pelee Island is located in the western half of Lake Erie and provides an important resting location for migrating birds. It is also the southernmost populated land in Canada.

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Prothonotary Warbler

Niagara Falls

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12 Million tourists  visit Niagara Falls every year to experience the power and wonder of all that water crashing down to the rocks below. It is a lovely place to ride your bike too.  The multi-use path along the Niagara Gorge is spectacular.

The Niagara River, as is the entire Great Lakes Basin of which the river is an integral part, is a legacy of the last Ice Age. 18,000 years ago southern Ontario was covered by ice sheets 2-3 kilometers thick. As they advanced southward the ice sheets gouged out the basins of the Great Lakes. Then as they melted northward for the last time they released vast quantities of meltwater into these basins. Our water is “fossil water”; less than one percent of it is renewable on an annual basis, the rest leftover from the ice sheets.

Peterborough and the Kawarthas

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Peterborough is well known as a great cycling destination. You can find trails and country roads that lead you along the historic Trent Severn Waterway. A series of locks allows you to boat from Lake Ontario to Lake Huron.

Peterborough is also home to the Canadian Canoe Museum which is well worth the visit.

Ottawa

Welcome to the nation’s Capital! There couldn’t be a better year to make the trip to Ottawa. There is so much planned this year as we celebrate Canada 150.

How about La Machine!

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Catch the videos of the drama here http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/ottawa/la-machine-day-1-2-3-4-finale-pictures-video-cbc-live-1.4228012

Cycling in Ottawa is Great!

Ottawa has a broad range of cycling experiences for the recreational rider to the serious racer. The recreational pathway network has more than 170 km of pathways people can ride on free of traffic and along some of the most interesting attractions in the capital and the loop of Gatineau Park is a more challenging route for experienced cyclists.

On Sunday mornings they close the parkways to cars and the citizenry jumps on their bikes and enjoys the spectacular Ottawa River and Rideau Canal with no worries about cars and safety.

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Yoga at Noon on Parliament Hill

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Time to chill out. At noon on any work day people stream out of the surrounding office buildings and relax in this massive yoga class. What a great way to shed some tension with the biggest class you are likely to join.


 

Manitoba Travelogue – Did you Know?

Welcome to Manitoba – Where Canada’s Heart Beats

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Did you know that:

  • Manitoba has more curling clubs than Ontario and Quebec Combined?
  • Wapusk National Parkin northern Manitoba is the world’s largest denning site for polar bears.
  • Winnipeg boasts one of the longest skating trailsin the world. The rink leads skaters down the Red and Assiniboine Rivers over a length of between 6 and 9 km.
  • There are 1.3 million people living in Manitoba
  • The word “Manitoba” means where the spirit lives (in languages of the Aboriginal people who first lived in the region). It could also have been derived from “manitou bou” which is Cree for strait of the Great Spirit.
  • Based on the 2011 census, the top languages spoken in Manitoba are: English, German, French, Tagalog (Filipino), Cree, Ukrainian, Chinese, Punjabi, Spanish and Ojibway.
  • You can go beluga whale watching at Churchill Manitoba.
  • Louis Riel, leader of the Metis and the Red River Rebellion is considered to be the Father of Manitoba.

Wapusk National Park

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Let this expansive wilderness fill you with awe as you visit the remote subarctic that is Wapusk National Park. This 11,475 square kilometre park protects one of the largest polar bear maternity denning areas in the world which numbers approximately 1000 bears. Nature lovers watch for arctic foxes, arctic hares, wolves, caribou and wolverine as well as more than 200 bird species.

Icelandic Settlement

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The largest Icelandic settlement outside of Iceland is found in Gimli Manitoba. Each year Icelandic culture is celebrated at the Islendingadagurinn Festival https://www.icelandicfestival.com/

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Gimli Harbour looks pleasant too!

Royal Canadian Mint

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The Royal Canadian Mint produces all of Canada’s circulation coins and currency for 60 governments around the globe. There is a Royal Canadian Mint in Ottawa, Vancouver and Winnipeg.  The Mint in Winnipeg produces all the Canadian currency.  You can tour the Mint while you are in Winnipeg or check out their website here. www.mint.ca

Winnipeg Folk Festival

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When the Bike Challenge passes through Winnipeg in July we will definitely stop at the Winnipeg Folk Festival. It all started in 1974 and has never looked back. Every year it wins awards and in 2016 it placed #7 on BizBash Top 100 Events in Canada list.

Lake Winnipeg

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Lake Winnipeg is huge. It is 416 kms long and up to 100 kms wide. Plenty of opportunity for fishing and every water sport you can name.

For more inspiration check out the link below for short video clips that will make you wish you really were in Manitoba.

https://livelearn.ca/article/living-in-manitoba/top-10-manitoba-facts/

 


 

Saskatchewan Travelogue – Did you Know?

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Hello Regina, Moose Jaw, Swift Current and Saskatoon.

Did you know?

  • Saskatchewan has 29,500 kms of paved roads?
  • That Regina is the Capital City
  • That there are only 1.1 million people living in Saskatchewan.
  • It joined Canada in 1905
  • Saskatchewan receives more sunshine than any other province

Saskatchewan is a truly an amazing and surprising province. You would be forgiven for thinking that it is totally flat and has nothing but wheat fields.

In the north, more than 80 million acres of forest open on shimmering lakes, river rapids, canyons and sand cliffs. The middle third is boreal forest and farmland and the great southern plain is where you will find those waving wheat fields.

More than five million acres of national and provincial parks offer perfect places for a family of cyclists.

Cypress Hills Interprovincial Park

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Set in the southwestern corner of the province, Cypress Hills Interprovincial Park is a mix of forests, wetlands and grasslands and is the only interprovincial park in Canada, straddling Saskatchewan and Alberta.

The park is home to the highest point in Saskatchewan – Lookout Point at 1,392 metres above sea level. It has lush forests and lakes. Click on the link to be amazed by the beauty.

Athabasca Sand Dunes

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The Athabasca Sand Dunes, found in the northwest corner of the province near the Northwest Territories, is the most northerly active sand dune formation in the world.

The dunes stretch for approximately 100 kilometres along the south shore of Lake Athabasca. They are the largest active dune fields in Canada, and the largest this far north anywhere in the world.

Mustard for your sandwich?

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Saskatchewan is the king of Mustard. If you are anywhere in the world eating a corn beef on rye sandwich with mustard, chances are the mustard was grown in Saskatchewan.

Although mustard production didn’t start in Saskatchewan until the 1950’s, it has grown to account for about 75 per cent of production in Canada and that is tops in the world.

Lakes

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You might not think of lakes when you think of the prairies but the truth is that Saskatchewan has more than 100,000 lakes. .

Saskatchewan has its own version of the Dead Sea – Manitou Lake southeast of Saskatoon. The briny water of the lake possesses natural therapeutic skin and body care properties only found in a few other places. And it is so buoyant that it impossible to sink.

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The second largest lake – Reindeer Lake – is also the deepest, reaching 710 feet at Deep Bay, which was created by a meteorite some 140 million years ago. Pictured above, it is 230 kms long and is a magnet for fishers from around the world.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Saskatchewan Rough Riders and Rider Nation

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There are simply no better fans than the Saskatchewan Rough Rider fans known as Rider Nation. They were ranked the rowdiest fans of any sports team in Canada by MSN Sports, ranking ahead  of the Canadian men’s national junior hockey team and the Montreal Canadiens. Their attendance at away games is legendary.

The CFL Rough Riders play out of Taylor Field in Regina. The team itself is publicly owned. It was founded in 1910 making it one of the oldest continuous franchises in professional sports in North America.  They last won the Grey Cup in 2013.

Big Muddy Badlands

Be weary! There be outlaws in them hills!

Or at least there were.Rugged buttes, forbidding cliffs, and eroded sandstone caves greet visitors in Saskatchewan’s Big Muddy badlands. Bad because nothing grows out here, and bad because the caves served as hideouts for legendary outlaws like Dutch Henry, Sam Kelly and the Sundance Kid. You can still visit these caves, learning about horse thieven’ and their battles with the Northwest Mounted Police. Discover ancient aboriginal effigies, and hike up the imposing Castle Butte for a great view over the Big Muddy badlands.

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Castle Butte, Big Muddy Badlands

 

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Bison at Big Muddy Badlands

 

 

The extraordinary Joni Mitchell

 

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Although Joni Mitchell was born in Alberta, she called Saskatoon home and that is where she began her career.
Rolling Stone called Mitchell one of the greatest songwriters ever. And All Music stated, “When the dust settles, Joni Mitchell may stand as the most important and influential female recording artist of the late 20th century.

Songs like ‘Big Yellow Taxi” “Woodstock”, “Help Me”, and “Free Man in Paris” to name a few have become part of the Canadian cultural history. And it all started in Saskatchewan.

 

 

 


 

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Alberta Travelogue – Did you Know?

  • There are 61,700 kms of paved roads in Alberta
  • More than 4 million people live in Alberta.
  • Its landscape encompasses mountains, prairies, desert badlands and vast coniferous forests. It has more than 600 lakes, and rich mineral deposits.
  • In the west, the Canadian Rocky Mountain Parks have glaciers in the Columbia Icefields. The Waterton Glacier International Peace Park is a biosphere reserve that straddles the southern border with the USA.
  • On September 1, 1905, the Canadian government adopted the Saskatchewan Act and the Alberta Act, and two new provinces joined Canada.

The famous Calgary Stampede is the world’s largest outdoor festival

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Millions come to the Stampede every year to celebrate all things ‘cowboy’. The Stampede is in its 104th year.

Calgary – Cleanest City in the World?

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Alberta produces roughly 48% of all Canada’s pollution with the oil sands so Calgary has taken major steps to improve the city to compensate. Calgary created a 31 million dollar composting facility, introduced a $1,000 fine for idling cars and littering and by 2020 will have more than 80% of all garbage diverted away from landfill

The West Edmonton Mall is the Largest Mall In North America

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The West Edmonton Mall is the second largest mall in the world having been beaten out by a mall in Dubai. It still claims the title for the largest mall in North America. Some staggering facts: The mall covers 5.3 million square feet and has a theme park including a wave pool and receives between 90,000 and 200,000 visitors every single day.

Wood Buffalo National Park has the only natural nesting area for the Whooping Crane

Alberta Cool Facts, Coolest Wildlife, Northwest Territories Cool Facts, Parks Canada Cool Facts

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Whooping Cranes

Wood Buffalo National Park, Alberta / Northwest Territories – Wood Buffalo National Park was established to protect the free-roaming bison who wander this region between northern Alberta and the Northwest Territories. It has wound up playing an important role in protecting the most famous endangered bird in North America – the Whooping Crane.

Each April breeding pairs of Whooping Cranes make their way 4000 miles from Texas to nest here, sometimes flying 10 hours non-stop at a time. Only 22 wild Whooping Cranes were believed to exist in 1941. By 1993 150 birds had been born to 16 decedents of that original group.

At 44,807 sq km, this is Canada’s largest, and one of the world’s largest National Parks. It’s actually larger than Switzerland. The park is 508 km from Fort McMurray, Alberta. It straddles the border between Alberta and the Northwest Territories, with the park headquarters  in Fort Smith NT. The actual nesting area is not identified here.

Fort Mac Fires

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Spring of 2016 was a terrible time for residents of Fort McMurray, one of Canada’s largest and most destructive wildfires moved through the city of 80,000 destroying everything in its path. What is more amazing is the fact that an estimated 120,000 people in total were evacuated with wildfire burning all around the roads like the picture above and not a single death was attributed to the fire.

Yes! An aircraft carrier made out of ice!

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Project Habakkuk was carried out in Alberta’s Lake Louise, in true Canadian fashion the super secret project was to build an aircraft carrier our of ice, wood pulp and steel to float in the Atlantic ocean to be used by the Allied forces to combat Germany. The carrier would not need fuel and would self propel, temperatures were right enough to keep the mixture of ice and pulp solid all year. A scale model was built on Lake Louise for testing before the project was scrapped due to the end of WWII. Perhaps someday the great Canadian ice carrier will become a reality.

Drumheller, Alberta boasts a wealth of museums and historic sites where you can relive history. As the Dinosaur Capital of the World, they like to live up to their reputation with rich abundance of dinosaur fossils at the world-renowned Royal Tyrrell Museum of Palaeontology.

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See the World’s Largest Dinosaur

Stand 86 feet high in the mouth of the World’s Largest Dinosaur and see the view from behind her pearly whites (don’t forget your camera). Visit website for more info.

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Check out the Badlands of Drumheller

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Banff National Park was Canada’s first National Park

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Banff Springs History

“Since we can’t export the scenery, we’ll have to import the tourists.” – William Cornelius Van Horne

Fairmont Banff Springs is an internationally recognized symbol of Canadian hospitality. William Cornelius Van Horne, the appointed general manager of the Canadian Pacific Railway (CPR) has been credited with recognizing the tourism potential of the Canadian west and his philosophy reflected this awareness. To enhance traffic on the CPR, Van Horne envisioned a succession of lavish resort hotels along the railway line through the Rocky and Selkirk Mountains.

Now a National Historic Site of Canada and a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Fairmont Banff Springs continues to cater to travelers from all around the world.

Speaking of beautiful Banff – Why not go mountain climbing on iconic Mount Rundle?

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Jasper National Park – Largest Park in the Rocky Mountains

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Maligne Lake in Jasper National Park

This year you can get your free pass to Canada’s National Parks by following this link http://www.parksorders.ca/


 

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Did you know that?

There are 48,200 kms of paved roads in British Columbia!

The last spike of the first transcontinental railway was placed on November 7, 1885 in Craigellachie, BC. For the first time ever, anyone could journey across the new country of Canada by rail. That was the key to opening up the new land and primed our economic engine.  To further understand the enormous difficulties faced by the project leader, read Pierre Berton’s The Last Spike.

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Sasquatch sightings in BC go back over 200 years. Check out this website for more information and where to go to look for sasquatch.

http://blog.travel-british-columbia.com/places-in-british-columbia-where-bigfoot-hangs-out/

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The largest tin soldier in the world is located in New Westminster.

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The great sport of Bathtub Racing was started in Nanaimo, BC.

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Ocean Falls, BC has on average 330 days of rain per year. Check out this weather forecast for Ocean Falls.  https://www.google.ca/#q=ocean+falls+bc+weather&spf=123  It is probably raining right now.

The world’s largest hockey stick resides in Duncan, and measures 205 feet long and 61,000 pounds. The mammoth symbol of hockey was created for Expo 86 and acquired by the city of Duncan afterwards.

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Below is Duncan’s harbour so appartenly there is more than one reason to vsit Duncan, located just north of Victoria on Vancouver Island.

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The world’s strongest current is found in the Nakwakto Rapids at Slingsby Channel, BC. which has been measured at speeds up to 18.4 miles per hour. Check out this website to find it on the map. http://www.geodata.us/canada_names_maps/maps.php?featureid=JBWGE&f=301

Check out this website to find cycling trails along the Transcanada trail. http://bctrail.ca/trips/grandforks/

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British Columbia has a rich indigenous history. The west coast nations produced and still produce stunningly beautiful works of art. Today, there are approximately 200,000 Aboriginal people in British Columbia. They include First Nations, Inuit and Métis. There are 198 distinct First Nations in B.C., each with their own unique traditions and history.

BC has the greatest diversity of Aboriginal cultures in Canada. For example, seven of Canada’s 11 unique language families are located exclusively in BC – more than 60% of the country’s First Nations languages.

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Canada_map_Yukon_in_red Yukon

On April 25th we started our journey in Whitehorse Yukon. There are 2,200 kms of paved roads in Yukon and 900 kms in the North West Territories. The days are getting longer in the land of the midnight sun. It shouldn’t take The Halton Hills Bike Challenge team long to complete this first section of the ride. How long do you think it will take to log 3,100 kms?

Did you know that although Whitehorse is the capitol of the Yukon, it has a population of 30,000 making it smaller than Georgetown which is about 40,000?

Check out Canada Trivia for more fun facts.