This is My Canada (and it’s a quirky one)

Posted by - February 8, 2013 | Category: Canada, Escapes, North America

Cape Spear lighthouse, Newfoundland

“You’re from Canada? Toronto? Montreal? Vancouver?”

“No, Newfoundland.”

Shakes his head.

“It’s an island off the east coast.”

Shakes his head.

“Ummm…do you know where the Titanic went down? Pretty close to there.”

“Ahhhhh…TITANIC!!! Celine Dion!! My Heart Will Go On!!”

This is what Canadians are up against – a falafel vendor in Syria whose concept of Canada involves three big cities, an aging diva, and a sunken ship. Is that what people think of us? The truth is, Canada is so much more — we’ve got Justin Bieber now too. Smile

Although that exchange happened years ago, it instantly popped into my noggin the moment Pamela MacNaughtan from Spunky Girl Monologues suggested a This is My Canada series for Canadian bloggers to write about sites we believe visitors to Canada should see. And while the three big cities are great in their own right, there’s a heckuva lot more.

And since my tastes lean towards the quirky, of course I’m going to suggest those…

This is My Canada

A Corner of the Flat Earth

Fogo Island, Newfoundland

A video from Newfoundland and Labrador Tourism says that according to the Flat Earth Society, Fogo Island is one of the Four Corners of the Flat Earth—the others are Hydra in Greece, the Bermuda Triangle, and Papua, New Guinea. The Flat Earth Society of course says no such thing (you can read that story here in a post I called The World is Flat and You Can be too.) In any case, it’s still a sweet spot to spend some time, and probably the easiest of the Big Four to visit.

Flat Earth Sign, Fogo Island, Newfoundland

The Most Easterly Point in North America

Most Easterly Point in North America Sign this is my canada

With no living soul between you and Europe (unless you count boat people) there’s something magical about Cape Spear, Newfoundland. It just puts you in a good mood. If the wind doesn’t blow the head off you that is. You can get your hike on in the surrounding trails, or if you’re up for a real trek, a short distance away is the beginning of the East Coast Trail. Ahhhh…life on the edge. 

The World’s Largest Indoor Wave Pool

West Edmonton Mall waterpark, Edmonton, Alberta CANADA 2It’s always summer in Edmonton – a chlorinated, dome-covered one in the form of the World Waterpark at the West Edmonton Mall. One time holder of The Largest Mall in the World title (that honour goes to the Dubai Mall now), WEM as it’s affectionately known is still a grand experience, especially when the mercury takes a dip.West Edmonton Mall waterpark, Edmonton, Alberta CANADA

West Edmonton Mall Waterpark facts

The World Famous Gopher Hole Museum & Gift Shop

This is my Canada — a redneck’s dollhouse. Forty-four of ’em to be exact.

I lived in Calgary for 20 years, but it was only last year I heard about this piece of insanity just over an hour’s drive away. Torrington, Alberta’s World Famous Gopher Hole Museum & Gift Shop may not be for everyone, but if you happen to be along the highway from Calgary to Edmonton, it’s well worth the detour, and the two dollar admission. I mean, it’s a bunch of dead gophers – stuffed, clothed, and lovingly staged in a variety of poses. What’s not to love? And you’ll never forget classics such as…

Yard Sale

Gopher flea market at Gopher Hole Museum, Torrington Alberta

and Old Tyme Music Jamboree

Old Tyme Music Jamboree stuffed gophers at Gopher Hole Museum, Torrington Alberta

…plus 42 other delightfully macabre dioramas to titillate your senses.

Bata Shoe Museum

Because Canada is so big, there’s plenty I haven’t yet seen. One of those things on my radar is the Toronto’s Bata Shoe Museum. Not because I have a shoe fetish (I’m more of plain old foot guy), but because it’s just one of those quirky must-do experiences. Besides, where else are you going to see shoes like this…

Homage to Picasso Shoe, Bata Shoe Museum, Toronto

Or this…

19th century chestnut crushing clog, Bata Shoe Museum, Toronto

There’s even a pair of used ones from good old Celine herself on display.

As part of the This is My Canada series, I need to tag three other Canadian travel bloggers. So Matt Bailey from A World of Inspiration, Lisa Goodmurphy from Gone With The Family and Mariellen Ward from BreatheDreamGo, make us all proud…eh?

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47 comments - add one
  1. Of all your quirky Canadian spots, I have only been to one – Cape Spear. We visited last summer and the wind was definitely blowing – so hard, in fact, that my teenager couldn’t be bothered getting out of the car! 🙂

    One of our favourite quirky spots is Stewiacke, Nova Scotia – there’s a rest stop called Mastodon Ridge with a sign claiming that Stewiacke is exactly halfway between the equator and the north pole. We have passed through three times and my kids insist that we have to stop and take a picture with the sign.

  2. I love Cape Spear. It’s such a magical place. I was there last July. If you are looking for another quirky place: I found another one in Newfoundland – ever heard of a wine named “Funky Puffin” oder “Crooked Cod”? There is a place that produces them in Twillingate.

  3. Awesome post. Half my family is also from Newfoundland so it’s always nice to hear more about it. Beautiful place in the summer 😛

    I’m 3 hours away from the world largest indoor waterpark but dont make it often enough. 2 new slides now so I gotta go back!

  4. Back in university I was a member of the Flat Earth Society and have a silver plated beer mug to prove it – but alas I have never been to Fogo Island. And I’ve passed the turnoff to the Gopher Museum but haven’t checked it out. A fun post to read.

  5. Falling of the edge of the world is a pretty scary idea – I didn’t know you could go and try it in Newfoundland:) I would love to travel Canada extensively on a big fat road trip (probably one that takes 5 years) and run into more quirky stuff. I’d listen to Alanis Morissette and Shania Twain the whole time and drink Tim Horton’s French Vanilla Capuccino – there, more clichés… But consider yourself lucky – the Celine Dion connection is not as traumatic as the David Hasselhoff connection when you’re from Germany. I mean, nobody would even consider putting HIS shoes in a shoe museum, right? And there you have it! 🙂

    1. Don’t forget the Timbits! You’ll need to fill your boots with Timbits! 🙂

      There needs to be a David Hasselfhoff museum — I’d definitely line up to go there. Wait now…I think I just found my next project.

  6. Great post! Love to see my fellow Canadian sharing how amazing Canada is! Loved being out in Newfoundland…Cape Spear park was pretty cool. We laughed at the top of Signal Hill as we took photos with our camera phones, emailed and tweeted them around the world…wonder what Marconi would think!
    Those shoes are crazy at the Bata museum. I will have to go there some day.

  7. I hope those gophers signed a release form! How can something be so adorable and disturbing at the same time?

    Bata Show Museum is pretty odd, but oddly not odd enough. I was expecting quirkier shoes or maybe it just got old after a 5th pair of weird shoes.

  8. For the longest time my entire knowledge of Newfoundland was Great Big Sea. But because of them, it has been on my list to get to forever 🙂

    I would love to attempt to walk off the edge of the earth…

  9. We LOVE Canada, even if it is a little quirky. Never made it out to Newfoundland but drove about 10,000 miles across it so pretty happy with that 😉

  10. I’m from Toronto (four generations, beat that!) but I have never been to the Bata Shoe Museum. I’m saving myself for you, Raymond, next time you’re in town, let’s go together to the greatest shoe in town, okay?

  11. Your introduction reminds me of a time I was asked about my nationality by a Thai store attendance. I said I was from Puerto Rico and she said she loves to watch movies from there. I was like “cool”, trying to be nice but movies are not really filmed in Puerto Rico (almost non existent local production). I am not sure if she misunderstood me. But going back to the general topic of your post, Canada, I have to say it is one of the most underrated countries I have visited. A short visit left a big impression on me and I am glad to see how you guys are sharing good (and funny) things about your country.

  12. Love this quirky edition. The West Ed waterpark is great. It’s nice to know when it’s -30 outside there’s somewhere close by to me that feels tropical. I still haven’t been to the Gopher Hole Museum – it’s definitely on my odd things to see list.

  13. Planning a trip w/hubs to BC, Canada (it will be my first time to Canada!) and so I now HAVE to follow you! Learned much just from this! The Gopher Hole Museum really took the cake… 🙂

  14. I have to admit I don’t know much about Newfoundland. I love the views and that indoor wave pool is awesome. I worked as a lifeguard at a water park in high school and we had a wave pool. But then again, it wasn’t in a remote part of Canada on the most eastern area of North America 🙂

  15. Until a year ago, I never really thought about Canada as something special or a destination high on my list. Oh, I was so wrong. Canada’s biological diversity is amazing, the people are friendly, and the culture varied. We can’t wait to go back!

  16. Loved this quirky canada post. My family hails from Quebec. I agree there is so much to know about Canada. I think the issue is that Canadians are not really portrayed in the movies like many spots in teh U.S. I take that as a good thing though. I live in France now an d people don’t really have any negative ideas about Canadians. yes they know little about Canadians but at least they don’t think that all canadians are blond with big boobs like one person asked me when I told her i used to work and live in California.

  17. I’ve been enjoying this series! You’re right – quirky sums it up. But well done! Looking forward to enjoying some of “your Canada” this summer!

  18. Canada is definitely much more than “only” three big cities and a sunken ship! And it looks like there are lots of quirky places, too! 😉

  19. As someone who comes from Halifax, NS, I can vouch for the beauty of the east coast of Canada! As someone who is also about to leave for a 6 month+ world trip with his wife and his 2 best friends, I can also say I’m going to miss it terribly! If anyone has a chance to visit Newfoundland and the Maritimes, please do, you won’t regret it!

  20. I JUST got back from a road trip in Canada, St. John’s to Toronto, and I can tell you I am so happy that I started in Newfoundland. Even the majority of Canadians I spoke with hadn’t ever been to Nova Scotia or Newfoundland, and damn it was beautiful! And also filled with heaps of quirky places as well. I loved Cape Spear, win of my favorite places I visited. If you want, I have tons of stories from the trip on my blog so check it out 🙂

  21. haha love the Gopher museum visit! That’s brilliant. You need to check out Whistler…STI capital of Canada! Let us know if you’re ever up this way! Cheers Eric


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