At long last, it’s here. We made it through that ceaseless, long winter and can now enjoy our few months of summer holiday bliss. Whether you’re heading out to the cottage, beach, or packing up for an epic cross-country road trip, be sure to enjoy some of these most Canadian things to do while you’re basking in the summer sun.
Ring in Canada’s 150th
This does have to be number one, of course! From coast to coast to coast, Canadians are ready to party on July 1st in honour of our country’s official birthday. The biggest bash will be in our nation’s capital, Ottawa. It will include a massive fireworks show and musical performances by Canadian performers old and new, including Cirque du soleil, Alessia Cara and Gordon Lightfoot. Get your red and white face-paint ready!
Surf in Tofino, Vancouver Island
Never tried cold water surfing? There’s always a first time, and Tofino is the place to do it. Top tip: Get a wet suit. The Pacific Ocean is cold all year long, so squeeze yourself into the neoprene and be grateful for its warmth, while you and the family chase waves in Canada’s surf capital. Several Tofino-based surf schools can kit you out with boards and suits, and lessons. Don’t forget the lessons. Or you’ll be regularly kissing the beach. Hard.
Chill at the Cottage
Sure, the commute to get out of dodge may be hellish. But once you and the family are unpacked and sipping lemonade or Frose on the deck, nothing else will matter but cottage life. Canadians love their cottages, whether they be mansions or clapboard shacks, sitting by lakes, rivers or oceans. Wait, I can hear a loon calling me now.
Celebrate Montreal’s 375th Anniversary
This year is certainly shaping up to be the year of celebrations. Always ready to party, Montreal is pulling out all the stops for the 375th anniversary of its founding. From music festivals, a travelling circus, art and light shows, the Cite Memoire self-guided tour, every corner of the city will be alive with celebrations and fêtes. Raise a celebratory bagel or poutine in honor of Montreal 375!
Learn to Lobster Boil in Cape Breton
Duck season? Nope, it’s lobster season! There’s nothing more east coast than enjoying a fresh caught crustacean at the beach. Cook, crack and enjoy a lobster fresh from the sea, as you watch the sunset over the Gulf of St. Lawrence. Pair this with a scenic, curvy drive along the Cabot Trail to get a sense of the epic beauty of Cape Breton.
Spend the Day at Canada’s Wonderland
Still the King of Canadian Theme Parks, Canada’s Wonderland remains the best reason to visit Vaughan, north of Toronto. The great rides, shows, water park, and young tots area offer hours, if not days, of family entertainment. Their Celebration Canada 150 runs July 1-31st, bringing the nation’s birthday party fun to the amusement park.
First Nations Immersion in Whitehorse, Yukon
While Canada the nation may be 150 years old, the land and its First Nations go back thousands of years. The Adaka Cultural Festival in Whitehorse showcases arts, crafts, and performers from 14 First Nations and around the world. This is a superb chance to immerse the family in Aboriginal culture, over the course of a week in early July.
Festival d’Ete, Quebec City
For lovers of crowds and loud music, this one’s for you. The Festival d’Ete in early July is the largest outdoor music festival in Canada. There are over 300 music and street art shows, featuring all manner of music for every possible taste. This year’s line-up includes blasts-from-the-past Metallica, The Who and Backstreet Boys, and newer acts like Kendrick Lamar, Muse, and Lady Antebellum. Rock on!
Eat Butter Tarts
While Ontario’s Butter Tart Festival in Midland has already crowned a winner, you can enjoy butter tarts across the nation at any time. With or without nuts, the debate is a delicious one. Capping a backyard BBQ with a flaky tart is a perfectly sweet way to end a summer’s night. If butter tarts aren’t your cup of tea (or plate of dessert), substitute Nanaimo bars for a sweet, buttery win.
Learn about Entomology
Sorry, school’s NOT out for summer! It’s time to learn all about the insect world. Much of the back country wilderness and cottage country is alive and teeming with all manner of insect life in the summer months. From pesky mosquitos to painful black flies, invisible no-see-ums (sandflies) and dangerous ticks, prepare to be amazed, and horrified, at the wonder of the natural world. The upside – beautiful dragonflies and fireflies to delight you as you absentmindedly scratch your bites.