Home RVingCrossing Canada The Best of Canada from 36 Days on the Road

The Best of Canada from 36 Days on the Road

by Adam Doolittle
best-canada

If you packed up the car right now, hit the road and started to travel across Canada where would you want to go? What would you want to see? What would you like to eat throughout your travels?

These were the types of thoughts that consumed us leading up to our September 12th departure from Borden-Carleton, PEI. In the end, as we left PEI, we didn’t really have any set plans of things to do or places to eat. We had an itinerary of our daily destinations we were travelling to but that was it.  Our 36 days exploring Canada was a blank canvas waiting to be painted with a variety of unexpected adventures.

It was these adventures that led to discovering some beautiful parts of Canada that often go unnoticed. In our 36 days, we saw a lot, we learned a lot, & we most certainly ate a lot. One night a couple of weeks ago, Kate & I were discussing some of our favourite moments from our 36 days on the road. Reminiscing on the trip brought a smile to our face. It also made us realize that we should share a variety of the best things we enjoyed on the road. So, here we go…

The Best of Canada from 36 Days on the Road
The Best: City

Kate: Vancouver

Vancouver is one of the most picturesque metro areas I have visited not just in Canada but the world. You are never far from the ocean and the city has done a great job at making the city easily accessible for walkers. There are sculptures, artwork, birds, history, and scenic views around every corner. What I loved most is how safe I felt. Not once did we turn down a street where I felt like I would have to clutch my purse a little closer to my body. I’m not much of a city person, but if I had to choose a city to live in, I’d pack my bags and head to Vancouver.

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The totems of Stanley Park in Vancouver.

Adam: Quebec City

Until we reached Vancouver, Quebec City was far and away my favourite city that we visited throughout the trip. Vancouver closed the gap a little bit for every reason that Kate mentioned. Still, Quebec City was my favourite city stop on this trip. Old Quebec quickly became one of my favourite spots. The history along with the European feel of Old Quebec is incredible. Walking around through the cobblestone streets was a true pleasure. After leaving the city, I felt that Kate & I should brush up on our French because I could absolutely see us living in the heart of Old Quebec.

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The famous Chateau Frontenac in Quebec City.

The Best: Food

Kate: Everything in Montreal

The night before visiting Montreal, we had to figure out what to do for the day. Because of the size of Montreal, it was hard to focus on one area. Eventually, after some looking around, we decided to do a food tour of Old Montreal. We chose this because we knew that we wanted to visit Old Montreal but also because, well…we love food. What a perfect combo. The day ended up being perfect and we enjoyed fantastic fish & chips, apple flavoured ice cream, & the delicious dessert – pouding chomeur. So many great foods in a great city. It doesn’t get much better than that.

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Brit & Chips – the first stop on our food tour.

Adam: Poutine 

It’s been more than two months now, but I still cannot stop thinking about the poutine that we had at Frite du St. Mathieu in Beloeil. Yes – it was that good. Frite du St. Mathieu is a small burger & fries place, but their servings were enormous. We each ordered medium poutine only to be shocked when we were handed our order. A medium order of poutine probably weighed two pounds. On the surface, it didn’t look like the best poutine but it was superb. The cheese curds were nice and squeaky like they should be and there was an impressive mountain of them covered in gravy. It was so friggin good. This poutine was addictive. I’ve found myself trying to scheme up different ways I can have another poutine from Frite du St. Mathieu. While I’ve enjoyed other poutine since it’s just not the same. I will be back to Beloeil someday for one. Heck, I may just move there all in the name of poutine.

poutine-beloeil-canada-montreal

The massive and delicious poutine enjoyed in Beloeil

The Best: Ice Cream

Kate: MacKay’s Ice Cream

MacKay’s licorice ice cream in Cochrane, Alberta is by far the best ice cream I experienced on our trip. It’s creamy, rich in flavor, and it was black licorice! When I was a little kid, my parents would take me to Shaw’s Ice Creamery located just outside of St. Thomas, Ontario. I would always get black licorice ice cream. I haven’t seen black licorice ice cream since. So, imagine my delight when I found black licorice ice cream at MacKay’s and got to remember that part of my childhood.

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MacKay’s Ice Cream located in Cochrane

Adam: Sargent Sundae

While visiting every city on our trip, we’d take to Google to find out about the local ice cream shops where we could grab a scoop or two at. In Winnipeg, there were A LOT of options. It was kind of overwhelming just to find a place to get ice cream. In the end, we found the perfect spot. I had read that Sargent Sundae just released their pumpkin pie soft serve for the fall season which needed to be enjoyed. However, when we got there, I became conflicted. The ice cream menu at Sargent Sundae was filled with too many good options. No matter what I was going to be pleased but part of me also felt that I couldn’t be pleased unless I had one of everything. I ended up getting a waffle cone filled with pumpkin pie soft serve that was made with real pumpkin. It was very good ice cream. Kate decided to support me by ordering a peanut butter sundae which was incredible as well. Kate & I exchanged each other’s ice cream so we could enjoy the best of both worlds.

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Delicious pumpkin pie soft serve from Sargent Sundae.

The Best: Hike

Kate: Horseshoe Canyon

We had some great hikes on this trip. Sleeping Giant Provincial Park near Thunder Bay gave us staggering dramatic views of Lake Superior. Then there were the beautiful hikes in Jasper National Park. But the hike that stands out most in my mind, was a place that we stumbled upon in Alberta.

While travelling back from the Hoodoos in Drumheller, we noticed a sign for a canyon. We veered off the highway towards Horseshoe Canyon. We had no idea what to expect and we didn’t know how long we would be out walking. This canyon is located 17 km SW of Drumheller, and it is in a horseshoe shape. It gives you an unbelievable view of the Badlands. Unlike a lot of canyons around the world, this one allows you to climb the stairs down into it. There wasn’t anyone there so Bella, Adam, and I took off on an adventure. It felt like we were out in the desert which is kind of hard to image for Alberta. During peak season there is a little fossil shop that operates in the parking lot. They have gemstones, petrified wood, and dinosaur fossils.

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Horseshoe Canyon near Drumeheller

Adam: Maligne Canyon

When we went to Maligne Canyon in Jasper National Park, I had no idea that it actually was a hike. I had thought that it was just a quick walk to a lookout. It turned out to be a decent hike with stunning scenery everywhere. It seemed like every 2-minutes we would have to stop so I could take pictures. Light snow was falling when we were walking through the canyon which dusted the surrounding coniferous trees. This hike was a delightful surprise and one you have to do when you visit Jasper National Park.

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Maligne Canyon

The Best: Drive

Kate: Kamloops to Surrey

I have a bit of a daredevil streak in me, so driving in B.C. over the Coquihalla Pass was a bit of a thrill for me. I had had a lot of people question and wonder about my driving ability towing  a 5th wheel. Apparently, it is quite rare for women to drive when towing a 5th wheel. I felt proud of myself for driving that stretch of road. While the scenery was beautiful, the drive is one of the tougher in Canada when towing. We had Matt Mays cranked during that part of the drive and the feeling of exhilaration as we got further into British Columbia was something I will never forget.

Adam: Hinton to Kamloops

Leaving Jasper was the craziest day we endured during the trip. We woke up ready to leave Hinton only to see that it had snowed between 5-10cm overnight covering our RV. It also made our route out of the park a bit dicey. Thanks to the great folks at Jasper Gates RV Park, we made it out. The drive made up for the less than ideal start to the day. Because the snow had fallen throughout the night, the landscape we drove through was stunning. The Rocky Mountains and the trees were all dusted in fresh powder. It couldn’t have been a more beautiful drive. Once we left Jasper National Park, we entered British Columbia and Mount Robson Provincial Park which was just as beautiful. As the day wore on the snow disappeared as we dropped in elevation. Nearing Kamloops I was also able to pick up the Jays game on the radio. I was great to listen to Jerry Howarth (wishing Jerry a speedy recovery) call a Jays victory over the hated Texas Rangers as the drive concluded.

The Best: RV Park

Kate: Bows Rivers Edge Campground

Hands Down my favorite RV Park was in Cochrane, Alberta at Bows Rivers Edge Campground. The Rotary and Lion’s Club co-own/manage this fantastic park. It was the best park for Bella that we experienced in Canada. With a dog park right behind the park, it would be a perfect place to RV for a summer. The lots are spacious, level, and have a little patch of grass. The amenities are good, too. The only thing I didn’t like was the pay showers were short and often cold.

Adam: Jasper Gates RV Park

We were fortunate to find some of the best RV parks in Canada while on this trip. Camping Alouette, Domaine de la Chute, & the KOA’s we enjoyed in Ontario were all fantastic. The Pacific Border RV Park in Surrey was also great, especially since we ended up there for almost a week. While all of these parks were great, Jasper Gates went above and beyond during our stay. Situated just outside of Jasper National Park, it’s an easy choice when visiting Jasper. The park is both rustic and scenic and offers some great amenities to their guest. However, it’s the customer service at Jasper Gates that really impressed us. The whole team pulled together to help get us out of the very snowy RV park by plowing out our site and the route out of the park. Kate and I have discussed the possibility of spending a summer in Jasper and if we do, we’ll be staying at Jasper Gates.

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The family all together enjoying our site at Jasper Gates.

The Best: Day

Kate: Quebec City

Some of the best days of my life have been spent with Adam exploring both Canada and around the world. Our day in Quebec City was beautiful, despite the rainy and chilly conditions. It reminded me of the day we spent in Dublin, Ireland in 2012. We explored Old Quebec, eating lots of great food, riding around on a bus, learning history, and enjoying each other’s company. There really isn’t much more I could ask in life. Plus, we ended the day with ice cream and chocolate. Perfection.

quebec_city-saint-johns-gate-canada

St. John’s Gate

Adam: Wawa

This is a tough one. A lot of our days travelling across Canada easily could be my favourite. That being said, Wawa was a great time. The small village along Highway 17 in Northern Ontario is a popular stop for tourists because of the giant Geese. After arriving in Wawa, we enjoyed visiting the geese & Young’s General Store. We also went on a couple of small hikes which were nice. One of the places we went to was Magpie Falls. It was here that I thought Kate and/or Bella was in danger. They had separated from me while I was snapping some pictures of the waterfalls. It was then that I heard Kate yelling my name but I couldn’t see her or Bella. I feared that they may have slipped into the river near the falls. My heart was pounding & my mind raced through different scenarios. Thankfully, they were just yelling for me to take their picture and nothing was wrong. The combination of the sights and discovering Kate & Bella weren’t dead made Wawa a memorable day during our trip across Canada.

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The original Wawa Goose at Young’s General Store

The Best: Tourist Attraction

Kate: Jasper National Park

Jasper National Park is a jaw-dropping & overwhelmingly beautiful tourist attraction. The mountains, rivers, snow peaks, big horned sheep, elk, clouds, and trails are something that made me tear up. I wouldn’t even really call it a tourist attraction. I would call it an experience that leaves you wanting to return and take it all in again. We will go back to Jasper.

japser-moose-canada

A beautiful female moose feeding while the snow falls.

Adam: Miette Hot Springs

Located near the East gate of Jasper National Park are the Miette Hot Springs. We were lucky to be able to visit the hot springs. The weekend we were in Jasper was the last weekend the hot springs were open for the season. The one morning, with the snow falling, we decided to hit up the hot springs. As we arrived, the hot springs were just opening and the warm pools of water were mostly empty. There we sat for about an hour not just soaking up all the minerals but the snow covered trees of Ashlar Ridge. It made me wish that we had a natural hot spring outside of the RV everywhere we travel in Canada.

Tell us about your experience in Canada….

What’s your favourite:

  • City
  • Tourist Attraction
  • Drive
  • Food

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19 comments

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Benny F November 27, 2016 - 4:38 pm

Must visit someday. Great site btw

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Dee November 27, 2016 - 4:40 pm

Canada looks so beautiful. I have never been but you have inspired me. I have family there….maybe time for a visit. Thanks for a great post.

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Adam Doolittle November 27, 2016 - 7:12 pm

It’s always nice to visit somewhere with family. Whereabouts are your family?

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Carrie November 27, 2016 - 5:18 pm

Ah love your post! We drove Toronto to Vancouver about 20 years ago and would have to agree with your picks in the west coast. Love Jasper National Park, love driving through the mountains. Have to do it again some time, felt sentimental looking at your pictures!!

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Adam Doolittle November 27, 2016 - 7:11 pm

Glad we could bring back some memories Carrie. Jasper is incredible. We were going to do Banff but the snow kept us away unfortunately, but another time!

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Nicolette November 27, 2016 - 5:56 pm

Loving your blog! I have been looking around for something like this for a long time; a blog celebrating tourism in Canada and some unique places many have not discovered. We have traveled across Canada several times as a family and still have not discovered all that Canada has to offer! Any chance you have any posts on the Shuswap area of British Columbia? I would love to see if you have any hidden gems for travel that we have not discovered yet!

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Adam Doolittle November 27, 2016 - 7:11 pm

Hi Nicolette…thanks for reading and for your kind comments regarding our blog. We love Canada and we want to show it off to the world 🙂 We haven’t been to Shuswap yet. Closest we’ve been (I think) was Kamloops. We’re in Tofino right now having a blast.

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Tina November 27, 2016 - 6:53 pm

Oh my, that poutine though. What an epic adventure you guys are on, I would absolutely love to do this one day. Canada is next on my North America list!

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Adam Doolittle November 27, 2016 - 7:09 pm

I seriously can’t stop thinking about that poutine. It was sooo good! You definitely should make your way to Canada and when you do feel free to reach out for trip ideas or anything else you may need 🙂

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Sarah Harris | Makesmewander.com November 27, 2016 - 10:09 pm

Never even heard of Cochrane but totally curious about the licorice ice cream! Only been to Vancouver and hope to return. I also want to see Niagra Falls in person!

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Adam Doolittle November 29, 2016 - 8:41 pm

Niagra Falls is a cool spot. It’s super touristy (and expensive) now but thats not a bad thing. It’s kinda like the Las Vegas of Canada. It’s a lot of fun.

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Doro November 28, 2016 - 6:56 am

I haven’t been to Canada yet, but I would love to go! I’m especially interest in the nature etc 🙂

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Adam Doolittle November 29, 2016 - 8:41 pm

The nature in Canada is incredible. You’d love it 🙂

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Melanie November 29, 2016 - 5:18 pm

This all looks so great! Your blog has definitely been bumping Canada up on my countries to visit list! Do you have a weekend guide to Quebec City? I’m super intrigued by that place and would love to know the must go to restaurants as well as other attractions.

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Adam Doolittle November 29, 2016 - 8:39 pm

Hi Melanie! Quebec City is so great. You’d love it. The food was spectacular. Here’s a write-up we did about our two days visiting: http://fulltimecanada.ca/crossing-canada-quebec-city/

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cam price December 21, 2016 - 7:46 pm

Totally Awesome! So great to share your travels! Would like to hear from yous. RV life style myself for 16 years and now pmaing plans to see some of the place in your pics

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Adam Doolittle December 22, 2016 - 10:46 pm

Glad to hear you’re planning to see some of the same places Cam. If you have any questions feel free to reach out!

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Dave December 23, 2017 - 10:28 pm

You guys actually MISSED the best ice cream shop in Canada. We are very familiar with McKays, having lived in Calgary for over 20 years, and we enjoyed McKays a few times but my wife, the ice cream connoisseur of our family, says its not even close. The best ice CREAM in western Canada is found in the little town of Sicamous BC at D Dutchmen Dairy. Everyone who travels the transCanada and knows about it stops there. Made right there on the farm, you will NEVER taste a creamier ice cream than this. Try it, you’ll see!

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Adam Doolittle December 27, 2017 - 12:34 pm

Thanks for letting us know that the BEST ice cream is in Sicamous. The way you describe it certainly has our mouths watering and wishing to try it. We’ve never been to Sicamous but definitely now have an excuse to visit. Thanks, Dave!

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