Final Seven Wonders of Canada announced

CBC announced the final seven wonders of Canada today. The wonders are:

  1. The canoe – representing aboriginal mode of transport and our waterways
  2. Igloo – representing the north
  3. Niagara falls – a meeting place for native peoples ans settlers, and still the biggest attraction in eastern Canada
  4. Pier 21 – representing the promise of Canada, and immigration
  5. Prairie skies – representing the west, and also as a great place to see the northern lights
  6. Old Quebec city – representing French culture
  7. Rockies – representing the splendour of the west

The list was meant to represent icons across the country; I think the judges did a pretty good job. Niagara falls is probably the weakest of all, as there are bigger and/or taller waterfalls elsewhere in the world, or in Canada for that matter (like Virginia Falls in Nahanni). But despite the commercialization, it is still a great icon.

Earlier, the judges had created a shortlist of fifteen icons. The eight that had to be dropped were:

  1. Haida Gwaii
  2. Nahanni
  3. Cabot Trail
  4. Gros Morne
  5. Sleeping Giant
  6. The Bay of Fundy
  7. Cathedral Grove
  8. Northern Lights

The CBC has created a website with a lot of additional features, includinc

West Coast Trail tops adventures in Canada’s National Parks

The fame of the West Coast Trail as Canada’s greatest trail has been strengthened in a recent “Best of…” article in Explore Magazine. Pacific Rim National Park received a first place in the adventure section of the article, because of the trail. The authors call the trail the “crème de la hiking crème” of Canada’s trails, and refer to it as one of the world’s great adventures. They describe the treachery of the trail when it rains, combined with the 200-rung stairs, the cable cars and suspension bridges as … Perfect. Couldn’t agree more. But when it’s sunny, it is pure bliss!

Best National parks in Canada

Yet another best-of list. This time in Explore, June 2007, an opinionated list of the best national parks in the country. The authors created five categories, adventure, scenery, wildlife, natural science, and history. In each of the categories, they listed the top ten parks. Some parks scored high in many of the categories, so I decided to I rank the results and see which were the top parks in Canada. I gave first place got 10 points, second place 9 points, etc. Maximum number of points would be 50 (first place in all five categories).

And the winners are….

  1. Gwaii Haanas 29 points. Top rankings: First place in history, fourth in adventure and scenery. Also got sixth in natural science.
  2. Quttinirpaaq 27. Top rankings: First in wildlife, sixth in scenery, eighth in natural science, and second in history.
  3. Yoho 21. First in Scenery and natural science, tenth in history.
  4. Banff 18. Got rankings in four of five categories.
  5. Gros Morne 16.
  6. Grasslands 14.
  7. Wood Buffalo 11.
  8. Kluane 10.
  9. Jasper 10.
  10. Pacific Rim 10. First in Adventure (because of the West Coast Trail).
  11. Nahanni 9.
  12. Fundy 9.
  13. Torngat Mountains 8.
  14. Auyuittuq 8.
  15. Point Pelee 8.
  16. Kejimkujik 8.
  17. Prince Albert 7.
  18. Aulavik 6.
  19. Fathom Five 6.
  20. Pukaskwa 6.
  21. Bruce Peninsula 6.
  22. Ivvavik 5.
  23. Prince Edward Island 4.
  24. Wapusk 4.
  25. Mingan archipelago 3.
  26. Kootenay 2.
  27. Cape Breton Highlands 2.
  28. Saguenay 2.
  29. Forillon 2.
  30. Kouchibougac 1.

No park got ranked in all five categories, but the winners are clear: Gwaii Haanas (Queen Charlotte Islands, BC) and Quttinirpaaq (northern Ellismere Island) blow the competition out of the water. Both had rankings in four out of five categories. Others don’t even come close. And no wonder, they are supposedly amazing. So they have promptly moved to the top of my places to go in Canada, even beating out the Torngat mountains. Check out this trip by Black Feather into Quttinirpaaq park – where do I sign up?

Great to see that two newer and lesser-known parks came out on top. I suspect that 95% of Canadians has never heard of either of them.

Banff is still close to the top, but again is beaten by its lesser-known neighbour, Yoho. I agree that Yoho has some stunning scenery, and of course the world-famous Burgess shale. At least all provinces are represented in the list, but four are in each BC and Alberta (Wood Buffalo is in Alberta/NWT, but they mention the Athabasca delta, which is in Alberta) – goes to show these provinces have some stunning scenery!

Torngat Mountains National Park

Canadian Geographic of May/June 2007 has a great arcticle by the first visitors to Torngat Mountains National park in Labrador, Canada’s newest national park. The article includes an online in-depth backgrounder. This is definitely a must-visit park, if one can manage the polar bears, who seem to be as thick as rabbits in the park.

I see Labrador as one of Canada’s hottest new destinations – I’ll have to find a way to get there. There is much more to do there.

Town goes wild over a sleeping giant

CBC just aired a special on Canada’s Seven Wonders, and featured the Sleeping Giant in Thunder Bay. With twice as many votes as its nearest competitor, and considering it’s an island hardly anyone has ever heard about, one wonders what happened. Well, the nomination seems to have woken up all of Thunder Bay. The entire town got behind the nomination, and everyone voted, and voted, and voted.

Everyone feels that if the giant makes it to the final seven, it will be a real boon for the area’s tourism industry. Which it can use, as its economy has been sagging as of late. Which is what I suspected already.

Canada’s seven wonders

The CBC has been running a contest around Canada’s seven wonders. First people got to submit their favourite entries. From the 18,000 (!) entries, they created a shortlist of 52 favourites. The public then got a change to vote for their favourite seven wonders from this list. A panel will now choose the top seven, based on the votes and other (unspecified) criteria. The CBC is featuring the wonders on a regular basis on the National, so is getting a lot of traction from them.

The votes for the top seven are in, and the following made the top of the list:

  1. Sleeping giant, Northern Ontario 177,305 (I suspect someone went wild on entries here)
  2. Niagara Falls 64,920.
  3. Bay of Fundy, 67,670.
  4. Nahanni, 64,920.
  5. Northern Lights 61,417.
  6. Rockies, 55,630.
  7. Cabot Trail 44,073.
  8. Gros Morne, 41,034.
  9. Drumheller, 31,828.
  10. Confederation Bridge 27,791.
  11. The CN tower 26,740.
  12. Manitoulin Island (northn Ontario) 25,775.
  13. Quebec city, 20,880.
  14. Stanley Cup, 19,581.
  15. The Canoe, 17,470.

Also near the top: Museum of Civilisation, 15,015, Prairie skies, 14,836, Trans-Canada highway, 14,753, Haida Gwaii 14,501, Iceroads, 14,650, The igloo 11,082.
This list shows that the Canadian icons (Niagara, Bay of Fundy, CN tower, and the Rockies) are still favourites, but it is refreshing to see that a lesser-known park like Nahanni (Virginia falls is twice the height of Niagara!) made the list too. It’s great to see true Canadian icons like the northern lights, the canoe, igloos and the Stanley cup near the top too. It’s too bad Snow didn’t make it to the top 52 (it was one of the original entries). It, (with the canoe, the snowshoe, and the beaver) is certainly played a huge part in shaping Canada, and is one of our primary differentiating factors in tourism.

The final top seven will be announced June 7. If the sleeping giant makes it into the top, it could be a huge boon for tourism around Thunder Bay. I do hope Quebec city makes it too the list, as it is an amazing city, unequalled in north America. And let’s hope the canoe creeps up as well.

25 best new adventure trips

Back in November 2006, National Geographic Adventure Magazine did a feature on the 25 best new adventure trips worldwide. Of course they had to stay ahead of Outside’s list.

Highlights:

Bhutan: they list a trip to Merak and Sakten. They are totally correct that this would be a great trip.  The people of Sakten are traditional, nomadic yak herders. The women of Sakten are polyandrous (women marrying more than one man, often brothers). They wear unique yak-hair hats, with spouts designed to keep the rain off their faces.

BC: Paddling around Great bear rainforest and cycling the Okanagan Valley. Both great trips.

NWT: A 14-day trip on the Hornaday River in Tuktut Nogait National Park, run by Black Feather. The trip featues a chance to see a herd of 80,000  caribou that moves through the park each summer. Where do I sign up??

It’s fantastic that out of 25 best new adventure trip, three are in Canada. Goes to show that we are still a major player in the adventure travel category. Indonesia, PNG, and Mongolia or any of the central Asian countries were not mentioned.