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Canada Travel news and opinion

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    The best girls getaways are the ones that end with you not wanting to "get away" from the girls you just spent a weekend with. Travel is a great way to really get to know someone, but it can also be a great way to find out what the differences are between you and your friends, once you spend 24/7 with them.

    Here are some tips to help you try to ensure your girls getaway is a regenerating and reconnecting retreat, with no regrets.

    1) Plan ahead. Way ahead. Confirm who is going to be going, and if you're taking the lead, send out an email with potential dates and possible locations. Start with a larger list than what you want to end up at, as it can be extremely difficult to get everyone's schedule to come together. Ask for confirmation by a certain date, which should be a minimum of two months prior to travel.

    2) Source flights (if required) and hotels and present as either an option or a final decision, making sure to provide times, pricing, and links to the location so there aren't any surprises.

    3) Choose a central location for all activities so no one has to pay exorbitant taxi fares or travel for hours by public transit...unless they want to.

    4) Once your destination and travel have been confirmed, you're ready to start building your agenda. Along with your own choices, ask for requests and have them provide as much information as possible.

    5) The agenda should include all options, and all agenda items should be optional to attend. Not everyone wants to visit museums, shop, eat at expensive restaurants or fit in a quick marathon.

    6) You're all grown-ups. If somebody wants to sleep in or stay up late or miss their flight...that's their option. Provide support but don't get too bossy. This is their vacation too. The agenda is a guideline.

    7) If you're sharing rooms, try to match up those with similar bedtime and early morning schedules. If you know you snore, mention it to your roommate so she can come prepared with earplugs or change her mind about sharing. Not everyone wants to share a room; don't take it personally.

    8) Don't be afraid to split from the group and "do your own thing." Down time is a big part of getting away from it all and getting some "self-care." You don't owe anyone any explanations about what you're doing or where you're going. (See point number six about being a grown up.)

    9) Buy tickets for shows or attractions in advance. Often you can get better deals online, and it commits those who want to attend, versus a last minute debate and the potential to not be able to get tickets. If someone backs out at the last minute (their prerogative), the cost of their ticket is forfeited by them.

    10) Settle tabs with each other on an ongoing basis, or collect receipts to share and split at the end of the trip. Owed money is easily forgotten and can create unnecessary tension between friends.

    11) Agree in advance if you're going to share your trip and the individuals you are with, on social media. Not everyone wants it known that they are traveling and away from home. Respect their privacy; you can still post about your own adventure.

    ALSO ON HUFFPOST:


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    Canada's birthday is right around the corner and though the holiday falls on a Tuesday, there will be many of us taking advantage of a long weekend getaway either on a staycation or an extended trip to another part of the country. This influx of travelers will mean higher prices and larger crowds in many of our most popular travel destinations, but not everywhere. There are places where you can still find a fantastic deal with great savings and get that relaxing summer getaway you've been wanting.

    As such, I have scoured our database to put together my top five list of local destinations with the biggest price drops over the holiday compared to 2013, along with recommendations for festive ways to celebrate.

    Happy Canada Day to all!

    1. Niagara Falls, Ontario

    Nestled in between Lake Erie and Lake Ontario, Niagara Falls is simply stunning year-round and is known for its natural beauty. This year, there is truly something for everyone to indulge in, including a plethora of kid-friendly happenings, the annual Canada Day parade and a magnificent nighttime fireworks display over the water. Plus, the city is proving to be the most affordable destination in Canada for travellers looking to save big on hotel rooms for the holiday, with price drops of 18 per cent. My tip? Try and find a hotel that overlooks the falls rather than directly in the city so you can enjoy the scenic view instead of the heavy foot traffic.

    2. Charlottetown, PEI

    What better place to spend the holiday than Charlottetown, the city that birthed the Canadian Confederation? Plus, the Prince Edward Island has been ranked as the best island in the Continental USA and Canada by Travel + Leisure. The Charlottetown Event Grounds play host to a fantastic Canada Day celebration on PEI, where you can expect a full day of entertainment that starts with an opening ceremony around noon, and leads into the largest fireworks show in the country. Best of all, hotel prices are down 17 per cent and all festivities are free to the public with a pass that can be reserved or obtained day-of.

    3. Banff, Alberta

    Banff might feel like a secluded mountain getaway, but Canada Day in this national park town offers much more than its natural beauty; in fact, there's a fantastic patriotic parade as well as low hotel prices (down 10 per cent). A ceremonial singing of "O Canada" kicks off the celebration in the downtown area, followed by an artisan market with local food vendors and performances by local musicians throughout the day. Just before midnight, visitors can enjoy a fireworks show high above the stunning natural backdrop of Central Park.

    4. Quebec City, Quebec

    Unlike other destinations on this list, Quebec City hosts the unique La Fête du Canada: a Québec festival and kicks off an 11-day celebration known as Le Festival d'été directly following Canada Day. Visitors can expect a traditional patriotic celebration that starts with a flag raising ceremony, a red and white parade through the main part of town and a fireworks display overlooking the Saint Laurent River. Prices over the holiday weekend are down nine per cent, so you can score a great deal and visit a fantastic city.

    5. Montreal, Quebec

    Montreal is my hometown and somewhere I hold near and dear to my heart. Since prices are down around four per cent over Canada Day weekend, I just might head back to join in on the festivities! We Montréalais host the party at three different locations, offering an endless array of possibilities for families or singles. Activities range from a traditional Canada Day cake tasting, to a gun salute over the water and a craft show representing Canada's different cultures, to a concert and a fireworks show over the Old Port.

    Pierre-Etienne Chartier is the vice president of the Hotwire Group and a Montreal native. Every month he provides Huffington Post Canada readers travel information, tips and advice to help them plan a fun, affordable trip.

    ALSO ON HUFFPOST:


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    If silence is golden then Alberta's Kananaskis Country is a goldmine.

    Located 45 minutes west of Calgary by car, the 4,200-square-kilometre networks of parkland and recreational area is the home to provincial wildlife; the playground for visitors and the office for Becky Webb, a communications officer stationed at the Kananaskis Emergency Services centre.

    On a good day, Kananaskis, or "K-Country" as it's sometimes called, is an escape for anyone looking for peace.

    "Everywhere you look, there's beauty. It's quiet. It's serene. It's a place you can think and it's a place people go to escape the hustle and bustle," says Webb.

    On an off day, the chatter of communications officers, like Webb, coordinating resources whenever there's an issue in K-Country interjects the regions' natural serenity.

    "I call resources for anything from bear [sightings] to backcountry rescues. Anything Kananaskis Country is responsible for is going to come through Kananaskis Emergency Services if it requires the dispatch of any resource."

    But when the 20-year resident of Kananaskis isn't overseeing her region from the centre, she's outside seeing, hearing and breathing all it has to offer.

    "It's an easy place to think. It's an easy place to breathe. The air tastes delicious and certainly it's a place I'm able to think and sort things out in my own life and come out with inspiring ideas as well. It's a place of inspiration."

    And if clarity or inspiration isn't on your to-do list, there's still a lot to love about the area. But no one knows that better than Webb. After two years working at the camp grounds, Webb met her husband, Dwayne, and after one summer, she knew he was the guy for her.

    "It was a short courtship but at the end of the summer, I knew I was interested in this fellow and within a few years I knew this was the man I wanted to be with."

    Now married, the two have made Kananaskis their permanent home.

    "As far as living, I've found the place for me and here I am and here I'll stay as long as they'll have me."

    The Huffington Post Canada explored the Kananaskis region with Webb and found out what awaits travellers willing to make the trek to K-Country. Watch the video above for a preview.

    This series is part of the Great Canadian Road Trip. Road transportation made possible thanks to Nissan Canada.

    Brian Trinh is the Huffington Post Canada's travel/ video editor. He's currently on a cross-Canada road trip with freelance journalist Talia Ricci. You can follow their adventures here or check out their Twitter and Instagram pages below.

    Follow Brian @ProjectBLT and @TalRicci on Twitter or on Instagram here and here



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    People magazine reports that ex-"Survivor: Blood vs. Water" contestant Caleb Bankston died on June 24 following a railway accident.

    The 26-year-old was working on a train at the Alabama Warrior Railway in Birmingham as a locomotive engineer/conductor when the train derailed, killing him. As of this writing, it's still unclear as to what caused the train to derail, but the U.S. Federal Railroad Administration has been contacted, reports TMZ.com.

    While not a "stand-out" player, Bankston was well-liked and seemed genuinely sincere during his time on 2013's "Survivor: Blood vs. Water." He was the fiancé of co-contestant Colton Cumbie, who ruffled the feathers of "Survivor" fans and players alike. Bankston finished in ninth place.

    Bankston isn't the first former "Survivor" contestant to die since the show premiered in 2000. BB Anderson, who appeared on the show's inaugural season, died at 77 of brain cancer in 2013, and "Survivor: Palau" contestant Jenn Lyon died in 2010 after a battle with breast cancer.

    According to People magazine, Bankston's death has sent shockwaves through the "Survivor" community.


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    Toronto has its fair share of stellar chefs that are increasingly of celebrity status, and now they can add one more to the list.

    Jamie Oliver announced on Wednesday that he'll be opening a restaurant in Toronto with The King Street Food Company, which owns top-rated spots Buca, Bar Buca and Jacobs & Co Steakhouse.

    This will be Oliver's first North American restaurant, and the intention is to follow up with many more.

    As the British chef wrote on a newly formed Facebook page:





    &nbsp

    Oliver is known for his emphasis on healthy eating and food education, which he spread though his "Jamie's Food Revolution" TV series. Though his background is entirely British, he's become known for his Italian food, making this pairing with some of Toronto's best Italian restaurants make complete sense.

    The restaurant is scheduled to open in spring 2015 at Yorkdale, a shopping mall in the city's north end that's not necessarily known for its fine dining options, but has been moving towards an increasingly upscale offering.

    According to a press release, the restaurant will "feature pasta and pizza made fresh daily on-site, an antipasti station with cured meats and an open kitchen, bringing the Italian family-style of dining to life."

    Oliver has previously partnered with Canadian grocery store Sobey's on a line of products called Jamie Oliver Discovers Canada, which included burgers, condiments, and even desserts.

    There are currently 44 Jamie's Italian restaurants around the world, primarily in the U.K., but also with locations in Dubai, Singapore, Sweden and Turkey, among others.

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    Alexis Nazeravich usually starts her mornings driving from her house in Boissevain, Man., to the International Peace Gardens.

    Once she passes through the towering metal-framed gates, the garden's horticultural staffer might spend her day pruning or maintaining the grounds in anticipation of the summer bloom.

    But once she steps inside the garden's café to get a coffee, Nazeravich's technically no longer in Canada: she's now inside North Dakota. And depending on where she's standing in the garden, she could also be inside two countries at the same time.

    How is this possible? Well, it's one of the International Peace Garden's quirks.

    The garden functions as a port of entry in and out of Canada and the United States. Canadians coming in from Manitoba can enter to visit a 2,339 acre mixture of shrubs, herbaceous plants and trees, but once they pass a certain point, they're now in the United States. Leaving means entering back into Canada from the U.S., whether it's intended or not.

    Thankfully, entry back into Canada doesn't require a passport -- just a driver's license if you're coming straight from the garden, according to their website.

    "It's very strange to get used to the security ports but it's a pretty neat thing coming through here and it's almost like you watch the world go by because you have travellers both from Canada and the United States," says Nazeravich .

    The idea for a garden shared between Americans and Canadians started back in 1928 after Doctor Henry J Moore, a member of the National Association of Gardeners, wanted to share the "beauty of a living monument to peace." He proposed his plan to the association in 1929 at the University of Toronto and in 1930; the group gave his idea the green light.

    It wasn't until 1931 that the Manitoba-North Dakota border was selected by Moore, who chose the area over places like Niagara Falls for its ecology, according to the garden.

    "What a sight greeting the eye! Those undulating hills rising out of the limitless Prairies are filled with lakes and streams. On the south of the unrecognizable boundary, wheat everywhere; and on the north, the Manitoba Forest Reserve. What a place for a garden."



    Today, the garden's location still offers visitors something special with its unique location.

    "It's really beautiful to be surrounded by the wildlife. That's a real bonus. Boissevain is the country, then we're in the forest, then the ridge and now we're in a garden so we've got a nice mix," says Nazeravich.

    The Huffington Post Canada Travel made the trip to the International Peace Gardens and toured the area with Alexis for an afternoon. Watch the video above for what to expect once you're inside.

    This series is part of the Great Canadian Road Trip. Road transportation made possible thanks to Nissan Canada.

    Brian Trinh is the Huffington Post Canada's travel/ video editor. He's currently on a cross-Canada road trip with freelance journalist Talia Ricci. You can follow their adventures here or check out their Twitter and Instagram pages below.

    Follow Brian @ProjectBLT and @TalRicci on Twitter or on Instagram here and here




    CORRECTION: An earlier version of this story incorrectly spelled the name of Alexis Nazeravich. The story has since been updated. The Huffington Post Canada regrets the error.

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    In Edmonton for Canada Day and wondering what to do? Look no further.

    The City of Edmonton, communities and groups have come up with an excellent lineup of Canada Day activities that offer something for everyone. From civilized afternoon tea, to the opportunity to rock out to local music, there is an event to meet almost every taste.

    One thing we definitely don't want to miss is the official lighting of the High Level Bridge. More than 55,000 lights will sync to the sounds of the Edmonton Symphony Orchestra, as the bulbs go on for the first time.

    Check out more of our suggestions in the slideshow. A list of locations where you can see fireworks in and around Edmonton begins below.



    Fireworks locations for Edmonton and area

    Mill Woods: For the past 20 years the community of Mill Woods has been boasting about their fantastic Canada Day party that features games, music, food and more. They also claim their fireworks are so good that the City of Edmonton began using the same shooters. These fireworks start at 11 p.m.

    River Valley: Enjoy the magnificent fireworks display over Edmonton’s river valley parks and the North Saskatchewan River. The best viewing locations include the Alberta Legislature Grounds, Victoria Park, Ezio Faraone Park, Dantzer’s Hill, and Government House Park. These fireworks begin at 11 p.m.

    Sherwood Park: A spectacular display choreographed to Canadian music completes the Canada Day celebration. Best place to take in the fireworks is from Broadmoor Lake Park. Fireworks start at 11 p.m.

    Leduc: This small town boast one of the top three Canada Day fireworks displays in Alberta. Enjoy an evening watching 54-40 and Glass Tiger starting at 4pm at Wm. F. Lede Park followed by a Canada Day fireworks show beginning at 11 p.m.

    Beaumont: Time: Celebrate Canada’s birthday with free birthday cake, refreshments, singing of national anthem, and fireworks. Festivities begin at 6 p.m. in Four Seasons Park and fireworks get underway at 11 p.m.

    St. Albert: After a fun filled afternoon in St. Albert's busiest park join the community for fireworks at Seven Hills at 11:00 p.m.

    Spruce Grove: The city of Spruce Grove has organized an entire day of family fun, followed by music from Harlequin and a fantastic fireworks show at 11 p.m. in Jubilee Park.

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    TORONTO - Though the first season of "Amazing Race Canada" was such a ratings success that CTV rushed to renew as if sprinting to the mat, host Jon Montgomery can't help but see one area in which the show needs to improve as it heads into its sophomore year.

    The host, he says, needs to be better.

    "Obviously I need lots of work to continue to find my voice and my pace and my rhythm and my feel for the show," Montgomery told The Canadian Press just before the teams were to begin racing.

    "Just becoming, I guess, more aware of what my role in this production is all about. As I become more familiar with what people are wanting of me, and how I can breathe in more of my personality to it, I'll maybe feel better about the job that's been done in the future, as we go along.

    "I'm definitely trying to grow with the show. And to think I've got it dialled and I'm Mr. Host With the Most would be — oh my God, a gross overstatement.

    "I think," he added, "that's when you get complacent in life and you don't continue to grow."

    Heading into the show's first season, the flame-haired 35-year-old was best-known to Canadians as the skeleton racer who celebrated his gold medal victory at the 2010 Vancouver Games by marching down the street, bellowing "O Canada" and swigging beer straight from a pitcher.

    As host, Montgomery's supersonic vocal delivery — he was an auctioneer, after all — and chipper demeanour set him in stark contrast from Phil Keoghan's coolly stoic approach to hosting the popular American version of the show.

    As far as what he specifically wants to work on, Montgomery feels he might be capable of drawing more out of the "mat chats," otherwise known as the brief, sometimes emotionally charged interactions between the host and the teams finally reaching their goal in each episode.

    "Having a better idea of my role and what's expected of me, I hope to be able to have some honest, legitimate conversations with the racers and find out what's making them tick," he said.

    Montgomery was speaking before the second "Amazing Race Canada" — which premieres July 8 on CTV — had actually begun, but he felt he could make certain declarations about the upcoming season with certainty.

    For one thing, he promised a "gnarlier" slate of challenges — a threat that qualifies as almost sadistic for those who remember watching agonized teams dig through truckloads of lentils to locate tiny stuffed moose.

    And for those who felt somewhat cheated by the first season's outcome — the Winnipeg pair of Tim Hague Sr. and Jr. triumphing despite having finished last in two separate legs — he was hopeful the show's second instalment would follow a different story arc.

    "The Tims from last year, I don't think, were an imminent threat," he said candidly. "I think Tim and Tim, they got lucky. They were almost eliminated twice. They got saved by non-elimination legs. And the only leg they ultimately won was the last one. It's the only one you need to win but in that breath, I don't think Tim and Tim were the strongest team (even though) they were the ultimate winners.

    "I think this season you're going to see the strongest team win," he added. "I'll put money on that right now."

    Going into the first season, Montgomery was still harbouring Olympic ambition and planned to tailor his training regimen to the show's demanding travel schedule.

    That's no longer a concern, given that Montgomery decided to retire from skeleton racing after failing to qualify for the 2014 Sochi Olympics.

    Though he really prefers not to use the word "retire."

    "I'm 35 — I don't really consider myself retired. I consider myself an athlete that quit doing athletics or at least competitive sports."

    Well, even "quit" is a strong word, given Montgomery's fondness for pondering his next athletic move.

    "I've always mused about how awesome it would be to train for a sport where you can sit down and fire at targets. ... Maybe pistol shooting is in my future?" he said with a smile. "Maybe if they bring mixed curling into the Olympics, myself and my wife can become avid curlers.

    "But I can't just let the competitive spirit die."

    Originally from Russell, Man., Montgomery and his wife Darla — also a skeleton racer — recently moved from Calgary to Victoria.

    And touring about his new home again got Montgomery's imagination percolating.

    "I saw a lawn bowling green. I was like, lawn bowling? I'd love to go lawn bowling. So it's going to be me and the blue-haired ladies and the white-haired gentlemen in white pants, white shirts.

    "I'm going to be out there lawn bowling with the 80-year-olds in Victoria this (year). I can't wait. I'm looking forward to it. That's going to be my real retirement. A blue leisure suit."

    — Follow @CP_Patch on Twitter.




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    Hang out with Falcon Migwans and you'll find spending time with him is a lot like "show and tell" for the soul.

    If you take him up on his offer for a spruce and mint tea, be ready to forage for fresh leaves from nearby trees while he readies the kettle.

    Need to light a fire? Better start tearing off strips of birch bark for kindle while he chops up hardwood.

    And if you want to build a torch, you can bet it'll be your hands handling the sticky spruce sap while he forages for birch bark shavings.

    But that's all par for the course if you're taking an eco-tour in the M'Chigeeng First Nations community on Manitoulin Island.

    The group is one of eight First Nations communities that form the Great Spirit Circle Trails. It's here that Migwans works as a cultural coordinator and lead guide, focusing on soft adventure eco-tourism to teach travellers about First Nations' culture and spirituality.

    "The thing I like about being First Nations is that our people were just ingenious with finding different uses of how to live in the wilderness."

    The hands-on approach harkens back to how Canadian Aboriginals would share their skills and knowledge orally and by practical experience since a formal written language wouldn't be invented until much later. According to Migwans, getting guests involved in everything is part of a traditional manner of doing things.

    "The more you engage your senses the more it engages your spirit, your soul and the more you'll get out of it so you'll be able to grow with it."

    Migwans says the teachings of Canada's First Nations communities may be old but that doesn't mean they haven't lost their relevance.

    "We hold onto those traditional teachings of the past and we carry on to the future. As much as the world and human kind evolves, we take those traditional teachings and carry them in a good way, the best way we can and that's what we like to share with our guests."

    Experiences might include making bannock and berries, horseback riding or spear fishing at night but all aim to touch on the body's five senses. But the experiences are also designed to do more than serve as sensory stimulation. They're meant to educate and break down the stereotypes associated with First Nations people.

    "A lot of the time when people come here and they say 'where are the teepees?' or 'how come you're not walking around in your leather bridge-clothes?' and that sort of stuff, it's like 'hey, we don't live that way,' says Migwans. "We did live that way at some point in time but it's 2014 now and you know, I had McDonald's for lunch the other day just like a lot of other Canadians."

    The Huffington Post Canada Travel journeyed to the M'Chigeeng First Nations community on Manitoulin Island, Ont., to speak with Falcon about spirituality, culture and stereotypes. Watch the video above for more.

    This series is part of the Great Canadian Road Trip. Road transportation made possible thanks to Nissan Canada.

    Brian Trinh is the Huffington Post Canada's travel/ video editor. He's currently on a cross-Canada road trip with freelance journalist Talia Ricci. You can follow their adventures here or check out their Twitter and Instagram pages below.

    Follow Brian @ProjectBLT and @TalRicci on Twitter or on Instagram here and here



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    Tourist season is upon us! In a few short days we will witness the largest mass exodus of city-dwellers, suburbanites and country folk to well...the country, the city and anywhere but suburbia! As we finalize last minute bookings and packing lists there is one thing we need to make sure we keep in check -- and that's our manners. Any worldly traveler knows how to mix and mingle with the locals while taking in the sights, sounds and tasty fare. My cousin is traveling to Europe with her husband for the first time and a flood of memories and recent experiences prompted me to recall our own learnings over the years.

    Whether you're traveling near or far, there are some regional tips and general etiquette that all tourists should keep in mind. As a Canadian, I'm calling out my fellow Canucks for our sometimes judgemental attitude towards those less Great-White-North-knowing. Yes, we too exhibit our own lack of knowledge and understanding when we leave the land of the maple leaf at times. And dear American friends, what can I say, please consider reviewing these rules as you wait in customs and fumble through our colour-coded money -- why yes, we did colour code it to make it easier for you to read Canadian (why yes, that was sarcasm -- it's a Canadian currency of its own).

    The Top 10 Rules for being a worldly traveler:

    1. If it ain't yours don't take it! -- First rule we were taught as kids, don't take someone else's toys. This applies to rocks, shells, signs, indigenous plants and flowers, and someone else's boyfriend. Despite your latest read at book club, he or she hasn't been waiting for you to complete them. And believe us long distance relationships are really for the birds!

    2. Check the serving size before ordering. -- We too are just as guilty as anyone who's traveled to the U.S. and ordered a small 'soda' at the local Wendy's only to be handed a trough, and exclaimed out loud "Oh My God! Who could ever consume that much liquid in one day?" and "who on earth would actually order the extra large?" Take it from me, they can and they do! Its hawt down south and you have to keep yourself hydrated. Sidenote: This applies to food as well. Just follow the 2:1 rule -- 2 can eat 1 meal in the U.S. and 1 needs 2 servings in the rest of the world.

    3. Mind the tip -- Many a European traveler has balked at the idea of leaving a tip because across many parts of Europe servers are paid decently and don't expect a tip. A token dollar or two would be considered a kind gesture there, but may speak to poor service or displeasure when visiting North America. There is so much information online about local culture and customs but honestly just observe those around you and do as the Romans do.

    2014-06-26-navonarestaurant.jpg



    4. When in Rome -- Speaking of Romans, different strokes for different folks, and some might say different expectations. When we traveled across Europe we hastily realized that toilet paper and hot water were commodities. Those thick, fluffy rolls are not generally or readily available. Our vocal displeasure at some of the paid loo's was met with indignation at our aloof and spoiled attitudes. This also applies to how people do business or offer services. We witnessed one cowboy yell at a local antique vendor because she wouldn't haggle with him on her set price. Not everyone is working at a straw market and if bartering is your sport, find a country that plays it.

    2014-06-26-placetertre.jpg



    5. Don't stare -- The instantaneous ease of capturing a cool picture or rare sighting may seem normal to you but in lots of places and cultures, it's still not acceptable. As tempting as it is to capture a shirtless Jethro getting out of his El Camino to fill'er up in bare feet while wearing a rope to hold up his pants (true story), it's not worth the beating. On a more serious note this would extend to those, like the Amish, who don their traditional cultural or religious dress. Unless he's the 'Naked Cowboy', get permission to snap away. Same goes for staring and pointing -- locals are not on display for you and your interest may just invite an unwanted new friend looking for a sponsor in your home country.

    6. Watch your step -- One of the first things I warned my cousin about was to watch where she walked in Paris. The Parisans love their dogs, the smaller the better, and don't take umbrage with fifi's little peepees, and not so little poupons - on the sidewalk. Strut your stuff like a local and practice your side steps and tiptoe walks. Otherwise, opt for some Crocs.

    7. Keeping it real -- Don't try to talk to a local in their local accent. Especially if that accent is their attempt at English! Closer to home, having an American ask a Canadian "how's aboot that bout, eh" is just as annoying as telling a New Yorker to "fuggetaboutid" and a southerner "now ya'll take care, ya hear." It's only cute when you're five. And back to the French for a second. I remember being informed that while they appreciated the effort, they didn't have the time to decode our Franglais in a busy touristy area. Just speak clearly in English or whatever major language you know and figure it out together.

    8. Don't leave a Mark -- Lots of people are tempted to leave a piece of themselves to commemorate their presence at a location. This can happen in a number of ways -- knowingly and unknowingly. From inscribing your initials on a tree or a monument to touching anything on display at a museum or heritage building. After a terse scolding on the irreparable damage and wear the oils on our fingertips had inflicted on some artifacts and frames we 'touched', we committed to using our eyes and not our hands to 'see' things...just as Mrs. Liptack had taught us in Kindergarten.

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    9. Bring your own condiments -- Not everyone eats the way we do. Ketchup on fries is popular in North America while mayonnaise is the preferred choice in Europe, and vinegar, well, that's for cleaning windows in the U.S....(I jest...but really they rarely eat fries that way). When eating out expect that you are going to try the local 'taste' for that food. In Italy we learned that Pizza has a very thin, crispy crust that's been fire-baked and is topped with fragrant olive oils. When one of us (me) asked for "real pizza" the exasperated waiter exclaimed "stupid Americanos." We smugly laughed at how Canadians can get away with just about anything.

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    10. Learn about the locals -- A friend of mine shared this great story about how his aunt in PEI was overseeing some Texan teenagers who were working on 'the gentle island' over the summer. In complete astonishment one of them asked "how did ya'll get Wendy on your license plates." It took her a minute to realize they were talking about the image of Anne of Green Gables on some of the customized plates. It's called Google people, look it up.

    The best way to earn your worldly traveler card is to do some research, immerse yourself in the local culture, forgo your personal expectations and constraints, be respectful and appreciate the entire experience for what it is -- an adventure! And just to be safe, sew on a Canadian flag patch! Happy Travels Jessica and Jacques!

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    Ask anyone for a list of Canadian cuisine and poutine will surely land somewhere near the top.

    Sure, the iconic dish -- that unholy trinity of French fries, cheese curds and gravy -- might look like a heart attack served with a fork, but trace its origins and you'll find yourself in the town of Drummondville, le cœur du Québec, the "heart of Quebec."

    Drummondville is home to Le Roy Jucep, one of as many as four locations claiming to be the birth place of poutine, according to Charles Lambert, owner of the restaurant.

    "There are some people who think poutine is from Victoriaville or Warwick, which is nearby. We'll never know for sure but the word 'poutine' comes from Jucep for sure."

    Depending on who you ask, the name came about sometime between 1964 and 1967. The restaurant's website says it originates from the word "putin" as a short form to order the dish. Others say it's a riff on "Ti-Pout," the nickname for a one of the restaurant's cooks who would make the dish. Either way, the name's stuck ever since, according to Lambert.

    Le Roy Jucep even went as far as to trade mark themselves as the "inventor of poutine." The plaque from the Canadian Intellectual Property Office hangs nearby the restaurant's front doors, a source of pride for Lambert.

    "This is an institution, the Jucep, it is known everywhere. If you google 'poutine,' you see the Jucep right away... it all started here."

    Another source of pride for Lambert is how Le Jucep makes poutine. The restaurant goes through about 75 pounds of cheddar cheese curds from Fromagerie St-Guillaume, a dairy co-op 30 km east of the town, while the potatoes come from Patates Baril, a local farm.

    As for the gravy, there isn't any. Instead, the restaurant uses a "secret sauce" for their poutine, a recipe Lambert keeps closely guarded after inheriting it from the previous owner's mother.

    He makes the secret blend of spices and seasonings himself twice a year, once before the summer and once before the winter, storing it in translucent plastic drink cups filled to the brim with the mixture. One cup-sized container is enough to produce 45 gallons of the sauce.

    The recipe hasn't changed much but the presentation did undergo one major change, much to the frustration of Le Roy Jucep's original owner, Jean Paul Roy.

    At first, Roy would bury the cheese beneath the fries so the cheese would melt faster. As the poutine popularity caught on, other restaurants were looking to make their poutine stand out, with most adding the curds to the top, then smothering the dish with gravy.

    Soon guests began complaining to Roy that his poutine was skimping on the cheese since it was less visible in his presentation. This left Roy, well, a little cheesed. But rather than argue, he adopted the cheese on top method.

    Today, you can still order poutine at Le Jucep with the cheese on top or at the bottom, but either way, Lambert says the dish is still Canadian.

    "It's a cultural thing. Food brings people together and it's always fun to eat."

    The Huffington Post Canada Travel made a stop at Le Roy Jucep to speak with Lambert and sample some historical poutine. Check out the video above to see how it all went down.

    This series is part of the Great Canadian Road Trip. Road transportation made possible thanks to Nissan Canada.

    Brian Trinh is the Huffington Post Canada's travel/ video editor. He's currently on a cross-Canada road trip with freelance journalist Talia Ricci. You can follow their adventures here or check out their Twitter and Instagram pages below.

    Follow Brian @ProjectBLT and @TalRicci on Twitter or on Instagram here and here



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    This week I went on a little best friend road trip to Tennessee with my roomie and wyfe 4 lyfe, Emily. Why would two young women go to Nashville, you ask? She was fueled by a love of Appalachian Folk Music, I was fueled by the promise of amazing BBQ, and we both have an unhealthy obsession with ABC's Drama of the same name (that Connie Britton doe? Am I right?). So Sunday morning we packed up my dad's Volvo and headed South. Fourteen hours, two orders of Cracker Barrel's Chicken 'N' Dumplin's, and nine heartfelt renditions of "Love is an Open Door" from Disney's Frozen later, and we hit Music City, USA. Home of the Grand Ole Opry, GooGoo Cluster Candies and Jack Daniels.

    We had what Emily refers to as a "soft timeline," no real concrete plans, no real schedule, just painting the town with our "Red Lips and White Lies" (200 points to anyone who gets that reference). We did have one goal however and that was to make a new friend at every place we went to. Dudes! This worked out so much better than we could have imagined! Nashville was great and all but the strange and wonderful friends we made while there trumps any tour, pulled pork sandwich or shot of Jack! Here's my top five list of my personal favourite new Tennessee Friends.

    5. The Helpful homeless man: Sure, every major city has homeless people but my helpful homeless friend really went above and beyond. On our last night in Nashville I pulled in to a parking lot and as I got out to pay I was greeted by a low drawl from the edge of the lot "honey, you park here they'll charge ya 25 dollas, there's a car leaving a spot on the street, don't worry I'll save it for ya," the man then bolted on to the street and stood in the newly open spot, waited for me to pull up, and then helped direct me to parallel parking. Canadians are often stereotyped as being overly kind and generous but this dude blew any Torontonian homeless man out of the order. He never asked for money, he was just helping a girl out! I did give him some dollars to which he responded "Aw, honey this is just exactly what I need right now, Y'all have yourselves an excellent night!" Now that is some southern hospitality!

    4. Ginine of the Vertigo: Imagine if Roseanne Barr was quiter, a little buzzed on Jack Daniels, and always just about to fall down. Do you have a clear picture of that? Then you've just imagined Ginine the 60-something, ex-marine tour guide at the Jack Daniel's distillery in Lynchburg, Tennessee. I mean we had some "eclectic" tour guides over the course of our trip, for example, Michigan-born Dan who faked a southern accent just to give the people what they wanted, Gay Alex who knew no facts about the Grand Ole Opry but still managed to work five references to Kellie Pickler in, or the over-sharing and creepily personal Leslie at the Ryman auditorium. But no one came close to Ginine! (Yes, that is Janine with a G and an I) Her perfectly timed and well-rehearsed jokes, her pregnant pauses to give each step of distilling a dramatic effect, her lumbering stroll that made us consistently afraid for her own safety. She didn't just give us a tour, she gave us her lifestyle.

    3. The God's Country Georgia Boys: Emily and I are both actors and we are both assholes so we spent a large majority of our trip putting on terrible fake southern accents and mocking the southern lifestyle. Until we met the Georgia boys. While waiting for sweet, sweet Ginine to start her tour we were sitting on rocking chairs on the porch drinking sweet tea (It was like To Kill a Mockingbird, Scout!) and four middle aged dudes on a boys trip from Georgia sat down beside us. "Y'all are down here from Canada? Now what brings Y'all down to God's Country?" the ringleader says. I answer him back in my apparently impossibly thick Canadian hoser accent which was greeted with shouts of laughter. All four men broke in to Bob and Doug MacKenzie style "Oh yeah eh? Whatcha talkin' a-boot!" They literally could not recover from how fucking dumb I sounded, way to give me a taste of my own medicine fellas! We all unleashed all the weird stereotypes we knew about each other, nothing they said about me was true, nothing I thought about them was true, it was a good lesson learned!

    2. Stephen The MVP: Hands down my personal favourite friend we made over the whole trip was my boy Stephan! A server at this delicious southern fine dining restaurant "Husk," all locally grown food prepared in insane ways, with a new menu every single day. This was the Anthony Bourdain section of our road trip, because obviously. Stephen was one part Kenneth from 30 Rock, one part Will Forte in that one Mumford & Sons video, and one part Rumpelstiltskin's weird cousin who grew up in the deep south or something but trust me he was all parts perfection! It wasn't his lengthy beard, or ill fitting thick rim glasses, or hilarious plaid shirt and apron combo that endeared me to him. It was his honest and earnest delivery of some of the most southern sentences I've ever heard.

    He had the most delightful and whimsical way about him! After ordering drinks "Ladies, may I please see your beverage documentation?" After ordering apps "Ladies, if I may suggest ordering our mains now, it would give your proteins a little extra time to relax to room temperature! After finishing our mains "Y'all have done some exemplary work here tonight, don't you let anyone tell y'all any different!" And ordering dessert "I will be right back with your dessert tools, Ladies!" He was stunning. It was the closest I've ever been to living in an actual sketch from Portlandia and I loved every minute of it! Not only was he stunning he also gave me a meal that made me shout "Fuck off!" at the plate after my first bite because it was so yummy and gave me a recommendation for a BBQ place that made me feel closer to God. He may have been an angel, I cannot confirm nor deny it!

    1. The Spirit of Santa: Our first friend in Nashville, a server named Matt, sat down with us during our meal and told us all the cool local bars we had to go to if we wanted a truly local experience. "If you really want a Nashville experience you have to go to Santa's" he said and then explained to us a seven-day/week Karaoke bar inside a triple wide trailer run by a man known only as Santa because of his long white beard and giant beer belly. The next night, after not making it in to our top choice bar, we type Santa's in to our GPS. "Destination is on your left." Um, no this can't be a real thing! A trailer in a dirt parking lot, in a run down residential neighbourhood, covered with christmas lights and a neon sign that says "Cash Only! Beer Only! No Douche Bags!" At this point I started recounting the plot of the movie The Accused which I swear was shot there.

    We walk in and it's like being at the other high school's party, about 20 people who all know each other, just hanging out in this dudes trailer. The bar has a paper sign above it listing all the beers, each with a reasonable $2 price tag. We order two PBR's and the bartender goes to the trailers kitchen fridge,opens a 2-4, and hands us our beers. So, that can't be legal, but it was amazing! After watching some impossibly drunk ladies sing the hits of Gretchen Wilson and Lou Reed we decide we have to leave before shit gets too weird. As we exit the screen door of the trailer we hear "Bye ladies, Y'all have a safe night naw, make good choices!" from a completely wasted man in a lawn chair. Though we never actually formally Met the man known as "Santa" his thrifty little business was absolutely stellar. I can only imagine if all the hipsters here in Toronto heard about that place! Oi Vey!

    Nashville is an amazing city that has been steeped in Southern tradition, music, culture, BBQ sauce and whiskey. These are all things that I can get behind! Thank you to all of our amazing new friends, all of their amazing recommendations, and all of the awesome experiences they created for us! All Y'all are true gems!

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    So you’ve been living in Alberta for a while now — maybe even your whole life.

    There's no doubt you love it...how could you not? The big skies and bigger mountains, the friendly attitudes of city and country folk alike, the warm dry winds that bring in epic summer thunderstorms.

    But, just like anywhere else, too much of a good thing can eventually turn bad. Living in a prairie province does have its restriction. Sometimes you need to get away, whether it's a weekend trip to a nearby province or a two week vacation off the continent.

    We asked our readers to share with us when they know they've been in Alberta too long, and their answers are hilarious. Check out what they had to say:



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    Alma, New Brunswick may be a small town but it is close to one of the world's biggest natural feats.

    Located by the Bay of Fundy, the town's 150 permanent residents see tides as large as 16 metres -- the highest in the world -- on a regular basis.

    Travellers might come to Alma for the Bay of Fundy but stay a while and they'll notice a sense of community and family capable of eclipsing the village's mighty tides.

    And if they're still not convinced, they should talk to Elizabeth MacDonald, manager of Thankful Too Family Fisheries. Every day, the 21-year-old comes in and keeps the family business running as smooth of as the melted butter served on the side with their lobster suppers.

    "Whether the boats come in at one in the morning or one in the afternoon, you have to make a schedule to have everything lined up so the fishermen aren't waiting -- they're your babies and you have to keep them happy," says MacDonald.

    While Thankful Too Family Fisheries started off as a wholesale fishing company, it's since expanded with the Alma Lobster Shop -- an eat-in/take-out lobster joint and souvenir shop -- and an onsite rental cottage property.

    What hasn't changed are its owners.

    The business has been in the MacDonalds' hands, starting off their grandfather, Reg Collins, who fished under the business for 55 years. When Reg first started, a fishing licence costed 25 cents.

    MacDonald's father, Rodney, followed suite, pitching in at the age of 14 and eventually owning his own ship when he turned 20. His licence ran for $20,000 when he joined.

    Today, Rodney's three sons each now run their own fishing boats, each with a license worth $1.3 million.

    "We've kept it a family business; my brothers and I have always been involved with my parents. My uncles and cousins are all fishermen. My grandfather -- he's 77 -- and he's fishing. We keep it family oriented," says MacDonald.

    And in turn, family is what keeps Elizabeth in Alma.

    "When I was in grade 11 or 12, I was thinking about nursing. I didn't know if I wanted to this my whole life. I did it during my whole teenage years, I suppose," says MacDonald. While she thought about a job outside of Thankful Too, MacDonald ultimately decided to stay in Alma, earning a diploma in accounting to help with the family business.

    "Work is my life and it's that way because it's a family business. I see that I'm doing well. I like this, I'm living on my own with my own house, my own truck -- it's worked out. I see what my brothers have because they're older and that's what I want to go towards."

    The Huffington Post Canada Travel made the trip to and toured the Thankful Too Family Fisheries in Alma, N.B.

    This series is part of the Great Canadian Road Trip. Road transportation made possible thanks to Nissan Canada.

    Brian Trinh is the Huffington Post Canada's travel/ video editor. He's currently on a cross-Canada road trip with freelance journalist Talia Ricci. You can follow their adventures here or check out their Twitter and Instagram pages below.

    Follow Brian @ProjectBLT and @TalRicci on Twitter or on Instagram here and here



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    There are certain parts of the year where there is no life for Don Rice outside of Bear River, Nova Scotia.

    To live in a village in an outlying area with 800 people might seem like a prison sentence for some, but for Rice, one of 50 artisans living in the community, the area is a gift for artists looking to nurture their own gifts.

    "I know why I live here because I chose to do so, along with everyone else," says Rice.

    Rice describes Bear River as "Canada's best secret", thanks to the town's location deep in one of Southwestern Nova Scotia's valleys. The nearby forests often overshadow most of the buildings with only a few roofs barely jutting out from the canopy.

    Underneath that canopy lies Wild Rice Pottery, the studio where Rice has spent the last 25 years working as a professional potter. He made the decision to turn an interest into a profession after he lost his full-time job working at CFB Cornwallis.

    But that's not uncommon in Bear River, where the community's resilience has allowed it to weather difficult times. Rice describes his fellow residents as a community of "professional volunteers", though many come to the area to pursue a life of creativity and often end up taking on other jobs in order to make ends meet.

    Like the nearby river with the same namesake, Bear River's economy ebbs and flows. Rice says the area isn't in trouble but says the 2008 recession has left its mark.

    "I don't know if 'trouble' is the right word but those of us who've been here have dug in pretty well. The downturn is certainly noticeable," says Rice.

    Historically, the area's depended on the river for business with its first two industries based around timber and shipping along the water way. Today, locals are turning to the river as a means of jump-starting tourism in the area.

    The provincial government has pledged 21 million dollars towards the Nova Star, a cruise ferry from the U.S. that would bring as many as 1,200 passengers from Portland, Maine to Yarmouth, N.S., a town located about a 115 km south of Bear River.

    Meanwhile, the community's considering billing itself as a "model eco village", building wood cabins by the river and aims to offers kayaking tours out to shipwrecks located near the river's mouth to attract more travellers.

    But until that happens, the area's main attraction continues to be what draws artisans and what keeps artists like Rice in Bear River: peace and quiet.

    "One person once said, 'it's a great place to come and be healed'. I'm not sure what they meant by that but there is quietness here and people feel that when they come," says Rice.

    "I think artisans like to live among artists and artisans. There aren't a lot of distractions and so you can work and think things through at your pace. That's what it's like being here."

    The Huffington Post Canada travelled to Bear River, N.S. to talk with Don about why he may never leave his hometown and what lies in store for one of Canada's "best kept secrets".

    This series is part of the Great Canadian Road Trip. Road transportation made possible thanks to Nissan Canada. Accommodations in Bear River N.S., made possible by Bob Benson and Bear River Millyard Cottages.


    Brian Trinh is the Huffington Post Canada's travel video editor. He's currently on a cross-Canada road trip with freelance journalist Talia Ricci. You can follow their adventures here or check out their Twitter and Instagram pages below.

    Follow Brian @ProjectBLT and @TalRicci on Twitter or on Instagram here and here


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    This year's Pride festival in Toronto was the biggest ever, with visitors from all over the world in the city for WorldPride 2014. But while the parades, mass wedding, dance parties and speakers will certainly boost the city's profile, Toronto also showed off in several simpler ways.

    First of all, the city was awash in rainbows.





















    Musician k.d. Lang showed off her rainbow trainers.




    Several Toronto politicians were part of the party too. Mayoral candidates Olivia Chow and John Tory both marched in the parade on Sunday, as did a number of Toronto councillors.










    We can't forget those wonderful rainbow crosswalks, which will stay on the streets indefinitely.




    Then, to cap it off, a rainbow appeared in the sky Sunday night after a rainstorm just as the festivities came to an end.




    Happy WorldPride!

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    Oh, Canada. You're turning 147 today but you don't look a day over 27.

    Seriously, we would know. The Huffington Post Canada Travel just spent the last 15 days driving across the Great White North from Vancouver, B.C. to Charlottetown, P.E.I as part of The Great Canadian Road Trip. And after clocking in some 9,000 km on the road, we can confirm that this one good-looking country.

    Timing-wise, there couldn't be a better moment to wrap up a cross-country summer road trip, ending just in time for 2014 Canada Day festivities.

    Sure, fireworks, cake and maple leafs tattooed on faces and emblazoned on flags are obvious symbols for July 1st. But what is it that Canadians love about the Great White North the other 364 days of the year?

    And so we asked 10 people – one for each province – during stops in lesser-known communities to share with us what they loved about being Canadian and their country.

    Check out the video above to find out their answers and be sure to leave a comment about what you love about Canada below.

    This post is part of The Great Canadian Road Trip. Road transportation made possible thanks to Nissan Canada.


    Brian Trinh is the Huffington Post Canada's travel/ video editor. He's currently on a cross-Canada road trip with freelance journalist Talia Ricci. You can follow their adventures here or check out their Twitter and Instagram pages below.

    Follow Brian @ProjectBLT and @TalRicci on Twitter or on Instagram here and here


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    bc outhouse



    In the pristine British Columbia wilderness sit the world's most gorgeous outhouses. The award-winning latrines are such attractions that tourists from Europe will trek hours into the wilderness just to photograph them.

    We stumbled upon the woodsy water closets earlier this year, when we asked prominent British Columbians to share their favourite buildings in the province. It coincided with a contest by the Architecture Foundation of B.C.

    World renowned archaeologist and author Wade Davis emailed us back and said, "There is no doubt whatsoever in my mind that the two most compelling and inspirational buildings in British Columbia are the Crystal Crapper and Totem Turd House. Both are to be found at our lodge on Ealue Lake in the Stikine in Tahltan territory, some seven hours by road north of Smithers."

    How could we not be intrigued?

    Davis and his friend and architect Travis Price filled us in on the fascinating story behind the most interesting toilets we've ever seen.

    "It all began with a simple notion that the one thing one could count on in a turbulent world was the satisfaction of a morning jaunt to the toilet," wrote Davis. "So why [shouldn't] the space of such basic purging be beautiful and inspired?"

    In the early '90s, Price and a dozen of his students from the School of Architecture at Catholic University in Washington, D.C. designed the two outhouses to replace the basic facilities at Davis' lodge. Then they trekked into the remote area and built the structures in nine days with a $1,000 budget.

    The Totem Turd House is modelled after a totem pole, "incorporating a sacred processional for one’s arrival to the mighty throne," Price writes in his book "The Mythic Modern."

    Screened metal mesh allows someone to see out, but not in — "much like the mask of a dancer." Modern amenities that were added included book racks and dual toilet paper holders.

    To allow Davis' then-young daughters to open the heavy plywood door, two giant pulleys were built with hanging rocks and a lever system. The girls simply used a tiny rope handle to lift the 90-pound door.

    A set of elk horns is bolted to the very top of the outhouse, a gift from the local tribe, says Davis. At night, the steel bolts look like eerie eyes staring from the top of the totem, glinting in the moonlight.

    The second outhouse, named the Crystal Crapper, has a stunning view of the lake thanks to a full expanse of glass. "You sat on the toilet looking out at the lake in sheer ecstasy, stripped down, deconstructed to simplicity," writes Davis.

    bc outhouse

    bc outhouse

    A classic Renaissance trick of "collapsing perspective" was incorporated to build a bridge of columns leading to the crapper. The roof is made of twirling logs, like a beaver dam.

    The student projects actually won a chapter American Institute of Architects' contest in 1993, competing against multi-million dollar homes and prestigious buildings by professional designers. Their submission was cheekily titled, "Momentous Monuments to Movement."

    Davis — who splits his time between West Vancouver, Ealue Lake and travelling around the world — says his lodge's outhouses have become tourist attractions in the last 20 years.

    "Every so often despite the remoteness of our lode we wake to see Germans and other Europeans lined up to photograph structures that for us as a family are still just outhouses, though elegant ones to be sure," he told HuffPost. "I must say that they do have a star quality impossible to deny."

    Check out more photos of the stunning outhouses:


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    Story by Vacay.ca Staff

    Canada celebrates its 147th birthday on July 1 and Vacay.ca has team members in the nation's four largest metropolitan areas. Here's what's happening on Canada Day in Toronto, Montreal, Calgary and Vancouver.

    ROD CHARLES IN TORONTO

    Canada's largest city has always been a great place to party on Canada Day. One thing that has always made Canada Day in Toronto unique and wonderful is the size of the city itself -- with so many neighbourhoods celebrating in their own way, you're spoiled for choice.

    To name just a few: In the Beach, there will be live music, food and beer at an all-day picnic from noon until 9:30 p.m., with fireworks at 10 p.m. At the Canada Day Festival Park in Scarborough (east end), the Toronto Zoo is hosting info sessions on Canadian animals including polar bears and beavers. From 4 p.m. until 7 p.m., there will be a Canada Day parade starting at the Scarborough Civic Centre.

    Toronto's Harbourfront is planning a Canada Day Extravaganza, with a day of cultural and musical activities on the WestJet Stage. Other spectacular fireworks displays will be celebrated across the GTA, including Canada's Wonderland, Mel Lastman Square in North York, and Toronto Ribfest in Etobicoke, where celebrations will take place at the end of the festival.

    ADRIAN BRIJBASSI IN MONTREAL

    Free activities abound in Montreal's Old Port as the Ministry of Canadian Heritage creates a festive lineup for July 1. The show starts at 11 am with a one-hour performance by a military band followed by a Cannon Salute that runs until 1:30 pm. A large Canada Day Cake is cut at noon and kids activities take place throughout the day. At 8:30 pm, a concert featuring Michael Murphy and other performers leads into the fireworks celebration at 10:15 pm.

    Of course, Montreal is in the midst of its annual festival season and the celebratory mood runs throughout the city, even if it's not focused on Canada Day. Free musical and theatrical performances will entertain you around Place des Arts as the 35th annual Montreal Jazz Festival continues its scintillating string of concerts.

    JODY ROBBINS IN CALGARY

    With the Calgary Stampede a mere three days away, Canada Day is an excellent primer for Calgary's main event. The city loves to show off its western hospitality and free events are found throughout the city on July 1. The main action takes place at Fort Calgary, where a pancake breakfast, pony rides and petting zoo entertain families. For the rest of us, the Strathcona Mounted Troop Musical Ride makes a special appearance along with those tasty YYC food trucks.

    More events are found downtown -- from Chinatown to the East Village, where a street fair entertains pedestrians. Don't worry about driving and parking. A free shuttle service gets you around to all the main events downtown. As for fireworks, situate yourself on the Centre Street Bridge at 10:45 pm for a bombastic performance. But don't worry if you miss it, there'll be nightly displays during the Stampede starting July 4.

    More info: Calgary Canada Day

    To see the full article on Vacay.ca, click here.

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    Drive around Cape St. George in Newfoundland's Port au Port peninsula and you might overlook one of the province's four bread ovens.

    There aren't any neon "open" signs, nor will you find a single TripAdvisor sticker labeled anywhere. And if you're trying to find a Yelp review, well, good luck with that.

    But if roll down your windows and time your drive around noon time then there's absolutely no mistaking that distinct smell of freshly baked bread straight out of a wood oven.

    Chances are it will be of the region's summer students who will be making the bread from scratch, says Catherine Fenwick, executive director of l'Association régionale de la côte oust, a group that safeguards the needs of Francophone and Acadians in the area.

    "The bread is beautiful. It's light and fluffy on the inside; it's nice and crunchy on the outside and has bit of a smoky taste."

    But what you're tasting isn't just free bread; it's a morsel of Port au Port's culture.

    In 2004, while the Atlantic provinces were celebrating 400 years of French culture in the region, Newfoundland and Labrador were celebrating their 500th year of French presence thanks to fishermen from France who came to work on the coast.

    Some of the fishermen eventually settled down in the province, starting their own families, some of who would become the earliest ancestors of the people who now call Port au Port home. To commemorate the fishers' legacies, the province built the wood fire bread ovens, a tradition that ties the past with the present.

    Centuries ago, the area had a bread oven. When French fishermen fished on Red Island, they had fishing cabins and a bread oven where local women would bake them bread, Fenwick explains.

    "Now we've come full circle and we have our own bread oven."

    Today's oven takes three days to properly fire up but even when it's not churning out bread for visitors, it still produces a sense of identity for Port au Port's residents.

    "It's important for us to be doing bread oven firings because of the connection between where we came from and who we are now," says Fenwick.

    "We're descendants of French fishermen, Acadians and Mi'kmaq and just knowing the story of there being a bread oven on Red Island and having a bread oven today connects us to the past and gives us a little push as to not forget where we came from."

    Fenwick describes the ovens as a community builder, not just in the sense that it brings people together but because it educates the area's children about the enclave's blend of multiple influences, giving context as to why the area continues to protect its French language.

    "It's always a struggle because it's a minority language but at the same time it gives you courage that it will be something that'll be here forever. It's not just where we came from; it's what we continue to do."

    The Huffington Post Canada Travel drove to Cape St. George in the Port au Port peninsula to speak with Catherine and watch one of the area's ovens in action. Click the video above to learn more.

    This series is part of the Great Canadian Road Trip. Road transportation made possible thanks to Nissan Canada.


    Brian Trinh is the Huffington Post Canada's travel/ video editor. He's currently on a cross-Canada road trip with freelance journalist Talia Ricci. You can follow their adventures here or check out their Twitter and Instagram pages below.

    Follow Brian @ProjectBLT and @TalRicci on Twitter or on Instagram here and here



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