101 Therapeutic Glimpses of Canada
by Skip Kaltenheuser
If lucky to enjoy more than your fair share of travel, eventually you’ll be asked your favorite place. It’s a tough one, most places have their fascinations. One doesn’t choose to go somewhere without first determining it worth one’s time. So top picks usually include the latest experience. And folks in America, with its embarrassment of travel riches, are already a bit spoiled if they get around at all. But this traveler never feels he’s giving a bum steer answering to look northward. Canada’s diverse menu of experiences rivals any in the world. Foreign but user-friendly, familiar but with enough difference to be thought-provoking, wild and remote but accessible, the country offers a cornucopia of exploration treats. Culture is offered up with contagious exuberance.
How best to convey what awaits? I picked 101 snaps, aiming for a kaleidoscope of imagery, could easily have picked hundreds more while enjoying the memories they triggered but the webmaster would go on strike. Most are glimpses of Alberta and Quebec provinces, with some Bugaboos heli-hiking overlap in British Columbia. Images include happenings like Montreal’s Just for Laughs comedy festival, Quebec City’s Winter Carnival and Calgary’s Stampede rodeo extravaganza. Countryside views include the Bugaboos, the Banff region and Alberta’s Badlands, the latter including dinosaurs in abundance.
Here and there a familiar face appears, a couple kids I’m often privileged to enjoy as travel sidekicks. Canada is terrific for family sojourns. It’s a particular treat for me when I also see places through young eyes, recollecting similar scenes when I was young, on family road trips. Seeing confidence build on a young face after a struggle up a cliff, sharing a gleeful fright as one conquer’s trepidation to leap off a cliff into a chilly river, or watching one’s kids encourage others who feel jammed up are among the purest of pleasures.
One term I like for Canada is therapeutic. I ventured twice to the comedy festival. Both times life had conspired to leave me in need of a laugh. Both times the mid-July English/French festival delivered more than I imagined might be done. From artful street festival surprises to late night clubs with very blue comedy that overcomes resistance and leaves you with guilty tears of laughter, it’s a treat of an escape that I’d like to be challenged by in times of normalcy. Montreal is the place to examine the great philosophical questions of our time – what’s funny and why? Quebec’s 17 day winter carnival, starting Jan. 30, is a joyful cry against the elements – dress like an astronaut – that you can supplement with great skiing near town. You can lose yourself in urban pleasures and culture, or for reflective time retreat to the wide open spaces always in close proximity. Or for one on one moments with a kid, with ample stimulation to push back at the cursed screens that occupy too much of modern time. Explorations of the cultures of indigenous peoples, or of early settlers, help one imagine other lives and histories yet consider similarities with one’s own.
Take a glimpse.
Toward a fortunate year,
If You Go
Festivals in Montreal
Just for Laughs (English) Just for Laughs (French)
Quebec City environs
Carnaval de Quebec
Skiing in Quebec and Skiing in Alberta
Royal Tyrrell Museum (Dinosaurs!)
Passport requirements (Canada) Passport Requirements (US)