In case you hadn’t heard, Canada reached a milestone this year and on July 1st the country erupted in celebrations as it turned 150 years young! As one TV pundit said – you can tell a country is young when they still celebrate the half century!
Here’s a selection of the festivities we enjoyed in Banff:
To celebrate, over the rest of the coming year I will be posting 150 things that I love about this wonderful country I have called home for the last 8 years.
From the quintessentially Canadian, like Maple Syrup and Ice Hockey, to the more obscure and unique hidden gems, join me on this journey exploring what I think is the best of Canada!
1 – SUMMER!
Not normally something associated with Canada with it’s 8 months of winter, July 1st, 2017 – Canada Day – fell in the middle of one of the hottest, driest, and most magnificent summers I have had the pleasure to experience in Banff. Staying consistently in the high 20’s (80’s for our friends South of the border) with clear blue sunny skies and sunlight from 4:30am – 10:30pm, the energy around has been high and contagious!
After 2 weeks of this weather I am absolutely exhausted! I’ve been biking, hiking, canoeing, kayaking, swimming and camping, and squeezing in mini adventures after work.
2 – Environmental Conscientiousness
OK, so not everything in Canada is environmentally friendly (see: Oilsands), and even living in a National Park I see things every day that can be improved upon. BUT there are lots of initiatives that take steps towards improvement. From the Town of Banff’s Photovoltaic Incentive programme to this Banff Lake Louise Tourism reuseable water bottle programme, more and more establishments are doing their part. Community clean ups occur in lots of different towns and villages throughout Canada, and I’m always shocked at the level of litter I see when I’m travelling elsewhere. Canada is lucky to have 20% of the world’s supply of fresh water, so it’s down to us to keep it clean and available.
I went to my friend’s citizenship swearing in ceremony 2 years ago and the judge performing the ceremony made a speech that stuck in my mind. In addressing the new Canadians, of which more and more are added each year, he made the point that volunteering is in the heart of any community. Getting out and giving one’s time to a cause or event not only feels good, but helps you get to know your neighbours and feel more connected to the area in which you live. I volunteered at the pancake breakfast on Canada Day, flipping pancakes for a solid couple of hours. We served over 1,500 people and raised over $3,000 for the Banff Food Alliance! And it was lots of fun!
4. Lake Swimming
Whilst the glacier fed lakes of the Banff area are not often pleasant to swim in (they stay around 4 degrees all year round!) a short drive West takes you to Invermere and wonderful lakes for swimming in. This Canada Day long weekend I went down to spend some time there with good friends, and swim in some lakes. Beautiful!
They keep the bugs away, they provide a focal point to sit around, they are mesmerising… what more is there to love? Some of my most treasured memories involve sitting, telling and listening to good stories, singing songs and playing guitar, all round a campfire. It’s not quintessentially Canadian, but it’s definitely something I equate to summers in Canada.
6. Mountain Biking
From flowy single track to technical uphill to nerve wracking downhill, there’s something for everyone in Canada. I’ve only explored the Banff – Kananaskis – Golden – Invermere trails but I know there is so much more out there and can’t wait to try it out! Banff has heaps of accessible trails, and I love that I can go out for a quick spin after work in these long summer evenings.