Toronto never seemed to me like a place to travel to, until I started travelling to other countries. People from all over the world want to know what to do and see within Canada’s biggest (but not capital!) city. I can see the attraction of the city: it’s large, there are lots of things to do, it’s by Lake Ontario, it’s multicultural.
The following story on Dianne Whelan and her hike across the Trans-Canada Trail was originally written for the Wellington Advertiser. It has been edited for clarity and web reading ease. To view the original article click here.
On July 1, 2015, Dianne Whelan left St. John’s, Newfoundland on a pilgrimage across Canada on the Trans-Canada Trail.
On Sept. 29 of this year, she crossed over into Wellington County.
Over a year into her journey, Whelan is not even half way, but that does not bother her. Nor does the fact that she is still at least two years from her goal of Victoria, BC.
Whelan is a filmmaker and author who decided to set off on a journey to make her next film, 500 Days in the Wild, after her marriage fell apart and her dog of 18 years died.
There are dozens of hotels – and a couple of hostels – within the fortifications of Old Quebec City. Based on your level of comfort, these can be pricey, especially if you are travelling alone. During my four-day trip to Quebec, I leapt out of the box to stay at Le Monastere des Augustines, a hotel that was converted from an old monastery.
The hotel didn’t pop up on my first search for cheap hotels to stay in when I planned the trip. In fact, I was searching airline prices when I found a flight and hotel combo on Expedia. I had not heard of the place before, but I am so glad I found it.
The one thing I could not shut up about in Quebec City was the food. I don’t know what restaurant was my favourite because holy guacamole, they were all wonderful.
In truth, I did some research before I left for the historic city. I wanted to get an idea of where to eat in Quebec City. It’s what I do, I plan. But I ended up changing quite a few items on my itinerary, even the restaurants.
The great thing about travelling solo was I could eat wherever – I’m not picky – and eat when I wanted. Not hungry? Cool.
Everybody likes to joke about Saskatchewan – “You can watch your dog run away for three days!”- and most like to fly from eastern Canada to western Canada to avoid the long straight, flat prairies in between.
But if you step off the beaten path – aka The Trans Canada Highway – you discover a place far more complex than the reputation suggests.
From the gorgeous boreal forests that make up the northern half of the province to the roving grasslands of the south, Saskatchewan is full of surprises.
Whether you take the Yellowhead Highway, Red Coat Trail, or the Trans Canada Highway, there’s a lot to see and do in “the Land of Living Skies.”
My feet hit the cobblestone street, a little sore from the day’s walk. I wasn’t really paying attention to where I was going, my eyes moving back and forth from the beautiful doors to the flower boxes hanging from windows to the gorgeous roofs of the historic buildings. I looked around and realized I made it to my destination, Place Royale, the embodiment of Old Quebec City.
Within its fortifications, Quebec City allows you to be immersed in the rich culture that still thrives over 400 years later. Je Me Souviens (I remember), the motto for the province and for the only Francophone military regiment in Canada, is a motto that is embraced by the residents of Quebec.
They remember their French heritage as well as the struggle and sacrifices made throughout the years.
Founded in 1608 by Samuel de Champlain, Vieux-Quebec (Old Quebec) is the only fortified city in North America north of Mexico whose walls still exist. It was named as a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1985. In Quebec City, you’ll stumble upon history that shaped Canada to the country it is today.
Recently, Travel+Leisure named Quebec City the best tourist destination in Canada. It is easy to see how the city, with its European feel and historical charm, beat out other top cities like Toronto and Vancouver.
In the part one, I talked about the ‘Ice’ portion of Fire and Ice: A Canadian Road Trip. Once we left the mountains, the weather changed, and we delved into the ‘Fire’ part of our journey. From Ice and snow to sand and badlands, this truly was a fire and ice road trip.
No, this won’t be a five-part (so far) novel by George R.R. Martin, but Fire and Ice is the best title to describe our Canadian road trip. One day we were in four feet of snow, the other we were standing atop of a dune. One day we were walking through grasslands, the other we were standing ashore counting icebergs.
The Christkindl Market in Kitchener is the largest of it’s kind outside of Germany. This is the 18th Annual Christkindl Market in Kitchener, while the Christmas Market itself dates back to 1310!
There was skating, German food, Crafts, and Vendors, where you could by the famous Christmas Pickle. There was a candlelight procession to the tree lighting ceremony where Christkindl himself and the Angels spoke in German to open the Market. They opened the ceremony with the Prologue, a poem spoken in Germans between the Angels. The tree was then lit, and the Market declared open.
It is so amazing going to events like this, even they are so close to home. It makes this part of the year, my favourite part, so special.
I found a translated poem, which I have included below:
You men and women, who once yourselves were children,
You little ones, life’s journey just beginning,
Each and all, who troubled tomorrow, are full of cheer today,
Pray listen to what Christkind has come to say!
Every year, four weeks before the time,
To decorate the Christmas tree, to celebrate the season,
Appears upon this square, your forebears knew it too,
What you here see, called Christkindlesmarkt by you,
This little town within the town, of wood and cloth made,
Whose short-lived splendor so fleeting seems to be,
And yet it is eternal. My market shall forever young remain.
As long as Nuremberg stands, and the memory of that market’s fame.
For Nuremberg is both old and young at once,
The many features of its countenance beyond all count.
Here this noble square. But now adjoining it,
The tall buildings of today, the factories of the modern world
The new city of so much green. And yet, you men and women true
It will remain forever the Nuremberg that is you.
Now as the old year ends there comes the day,
When wishes can be made and presents given,
When the market shines forth far and wide,
With decorations, and crystal balls, and blessed Christmastime
This you may not forget, you men and women, heed my word,
He who has all needs nothing more,
There are the children of this world and poor,
Who know the best what giving’s for.
You men and women, who once yourselves were children,
Be them again today, happy as children be,
And now the Christkind to its market calls,
And all who come are truly welcome.