Tuesday, June 30, 2020

Favourite Things - O CANADA EDITION!

Welcome to

Favourite Things - O CANADA EDITION!

For the last decade, we've spent about half of each year traveling from coast to coast, bringing our music to every province. (We definitely want to sing in the territories - we just haven't been able to make it happen yet!) 

Our tours are working trips, but we do all we can to explore and enjoy every corner of this beautiful country.

For this month's Favourite Things
I want to share some of the treasures 
we've discovered in our travels!

I'll warn you upfront: this list is by no means exhaustive!!

If you were to ask Gerald, or even ask me tomorrow, there might be a whole new list! I could have done a whole list on food or music or art or tourist destinations. And don't get me started on the jaw dropping beauty of mountains, prairies, hoodoos and oceans! Instead, I'm sharing a few hidden gems that I have particularly fallen in love with over the years.

Here are my
Favourite Things - O CANADA EDITION!

Patridgeberry pancakes!! 

NEWFOUNDLAND - The Treasure Box in Rocky Harbour

Gift emporium, homestyle kitchen, and the best place to find local conversation. I can't tell you how many hours Gerald and I have spent chatting with Boyd while stuffing our guts with Joyce's delectable comfort food (I'm drooling over her partridgeberry pancakes even as I write this...) And I've never left there without boxes and boxes of homemade preserves, hand-painted rock houses, and countless other gifts and souvenirs. 

Halifax Folklore Centre

NOVA SCOTIA - Halifax Folklore Centre
If you love stringed instruments, this is your dream store. Set in a 150-year-old house, this beautiful space will have you swooning over vintage finds while imagining yourself as the next great Celtic fiddler. Whenever we visit, Gerald remembers the time (long before we met) that he played one of his original songs in the store, only to be complimented by the great Garnet Rogers (brother to the legendary Stan Rogers). That'll tell you something of the Folklore Centre's clientele and community.

Swallowtail Lighthouse, Grand Manan
NEW BRUNSWICK - Grand Manan Island
People have only two reactions when I mention Grand Manan. They've either never heard of it, or they're madly in love with it. This tiny island is a world of its own. Every restaurant and B&B is filled with local creativity and character. Lighthouses, whales, and dramatic scenery in every direction. You're about to fall in love, so plan one more day than you think you'll need... trust me, you'll want to stay longer....

Anne of Green Gables Museum
PEI - LM Montgomery's Birthplace
Everyone goes to Green Gables (and you should definitely go there!) but this is a place for the SuperFans (of whom, I am one!) This tiny home gives a sweet history of Lucy Maud and her very humble beginnings. When you're done, drive down the road to the Anne Of Green Gables Museum, a family home where LM gained inspiration for her stories. In both cases, I recommend going when it's quiet and asking lots of questions of the docents. Not only are they knowledgeable of the facts, but if you're lucky, you may end up hearing some family stories!

QUEBEC - Maison Historique James Thompson
Old Quebec is probably one of my very favourite places, and this is our go-to place to stay. Originally built in 1793, this charming B&B features cozy unique rooms with onsite parking. That's all great, but what makes it truly special is your host, Guitta, and her fabulous breakfasts! I don't know what it is, but we've had some of our most interesting B&B breakfasts around that table. Her guests come from all over, and Guitta's genuine interest in each one elevates morning chitchat to intriguing conversation. Oh, and did I mention the  homemade crepes, French toast, and possibly best croissants in town??

ONTARIO - Inukshuks on the side of the road.
Our first Western Canada Tour was the first time we took the ON-17 route through Ontario. We'd driven east lots of times, so we thought, "No big deal." Wow, were we wrong! Northern and Southern ON are like two different provinces. The culture, the landscape, the art, the history - it's all incredible. I love every moment we get to spend in this part of the country. As we drive north, we start to see inukshuks on the side of the road. Just little ones, left by tourists and hikers. Seeing them, I know we're about to enter this completely different side of Ontario, and I just love it...

MANITOBA - Dauphin sunsets.
The first time we traveled west, we realized that we'd be alone for Thanksgiving. A friend on Facebook recommended we visit her friends in Dauphin, NW of Winnipeg. We made great friends that weekend, and it's become one of our must-visit places every tour. I don't even know what to tell you about the sunsets! They literally fill the entire sky. There was one evening when, because of the glorious reflections, it actually looked like the sun was setting in both the east and the west. Amazing...

Just a glimpse of a Dauphin sunset...

SASKATCHEWAN - The St. Therese Institute of Faith and Mission.
Gerald will tell you, without reservation, that this is his favourite concert of the year. We discovered this small Catholic school of faith formation through friends in New Brunswick. Students live out the teachings of St. Therese, which translates into a powerful commitment to communal living, community outreach, and daily prayer and worship. Each year, we teach a songwriting workshop and then offer a concert. And every year, we leave even more inspired by these incredible young people. In their own gentle way (or to quote St. Therese herself, "the little way"), they have the power to change the world.

Gerald teaching the students at St. Therese.

ALBERTA - The Vintage Verandah in Cochrane.
On your way from Calgary to Banff, plan to spend an afternoon in the beautiful small town of Cochrane. And if you're an antiques lover, go prepared with an empty credit card and lots of space in your trunk. I could live in the Vintage Verandah. I'm not even kidding. Lovingly curated collections of antiques, found objects, vintage treasures, painted furniture. local handicrafts... Seriously, I've never walked out of there empty-handed!

Tiger Ramen!! And now, I'm hungry...
BRITISH COLUMBIA - Tiger Ramen in Kamloops.
We've only started to explore BC, and we can't get enough of it! Every turn of the road is more beautiful than the last. But in the theme of "hidden gems", I want to share our favourite noodle house with you! We discovered Tiger Ramen by accident, but we now plan our route intentionally so we can eat here. The food is cheap and the seating is limited, so expect a line up. You won't regret waiting once you're served that overflowing bowl of steamy, spicy, noodley goodness!

We are so blessed to live in such a beautiful, diverse, and glorious country!

Please stay safe in all your celebrations this year!
Physical distance.
Wash your hands.
Wear a mask.

We're all in this together!


What are some of your favourite Canadian things?

Please share in the comments below...