My Love Affair with Canada – Part I
I was heading home last year for a much-needed dose of the mountains. Passing through Pearson airport to my gate, I stumbled upon the latest issue of Explore Magazine, ‘Canada’s National Parks’. I was immediately intrigued and thought the magazine would help pass the time during take-off and landing, when I would not be able to watch the TV’s on the airplane.
I have seen my fair share of Canada’s wilderness and consider myself at least knowledgeable in the outdoor playground Canada has to offer. But as I flipped fervently through the glossy pages, in a state of information overload, and wanting more and more, I realized that my exploration of Canada had just begun. For a country of this size, it will take my lifetime to explore. And that is perfectly fine with me.
I am fairly certain my love of the outdoors was born at a very young age. After all, my parents took me out on my first camping adventure when I was only a week old. Even the fish my dad caught were bigger than I. Camping, hiking, fly-fishing, and exploring in the Rockies are some of my fondest memories. Any minute I could free up to go hiking was consumed with an undying need to be surrounded by nature. Moving away from the West and getting to experience some of the rest Canada has to offer only increased my fondest and undeniable admiration for Canada’s Wilderness.
I can certainly appreciate Canada’s unassuming beauty in every direction. And every season brings even more spectacular scenery. Canada offers the best-of-the-best in national parks, but also provincial parks, and remote areas just waiting to be explored. Flipping through the magazine, I was captivated by names of parks I had not even heard of: Ukkusiksalik, Vuntut, or Kluane. The descriptions drew me in until I was lost in a plan towards the fastest way I could start an exploration and adventure in these areas. Canada has 36 National Parks alone and 6 National Park Reserves; some more familiar like Banff, Jasper, Cape Breton Highlands, or Gros Morne and others more remote like those in the Yukon or Northwest Territories. These areas are ‘protected for public understanding, appreciation, and enjoyment’ and cover over 3% of land in Canada. Some of these parks attract fewer than 100 visitors per year, likely due to remoteness and ease of access. But that makes for an even more memorable getaway. These parks offer opportunities to camp in the backcountry, hike, canoe, view wildlife, and participate in a multitude of water sports. Suffice to say, our wilderness offers a whole lot to do in a whole lot of space. Canada’s wilderness quite simply is a national treasure just waiting for us to come and play.