Jeff Bartlett


Western Canada is blessed with the kind of places that outdoors lovers will never tire of. The Rockies will leave you feeling at once small amid the epic landscape, but also stronger when you challenge yourself to hike that mountain, ski that new run or paddle those glacier-fed lakes. In B.C's Okanagan, you'll be tempted to stand-up paddle board on lakes, fish in mountain streams or pedal your way along an old rail track called the Kettle Valley Trail.  The province's north is a place in equal measure peaceful and wild with its backcountry parks where you paddle glassy lakes amid towering snow-capped peaks, bald eagles soaring overhead. And when you hit the serenity and edge of the world feeling along the west coast you'll know you've arrived in a special place. The mystical First Nations lands draw you in to its ancient stories and a landscape where in one day you could easily spy a black bear and her cubs searchig for salmon along a shore, or an orca's spray creating a rainbow of mist under a sunny sky. Best view yet is from a kayak, of course. It all adds up to experiences that will make you look at Canada in a whole new light. 

“I think we can get a bit closer,” Jamie says, and we paddle as silently as we can towards a huge American pelican. Soon, we are just metres away from the giant bird, and he looks at us curiously wondering what we’re up to.

The pike’s tail thrashes, splashing the sides of the boat. It’s a strong 10-pounder and it’s putting up a fight. This is the eighth fish on our lines in less than an hour but it’s my first. Not just my first today; it’s my first ever.

As we cross the causeway to Sir Winston Churchill Provincial Park’s Big Island, we stop to admire the view. Sunshine glints off the water and fishing boats, while cyclists cross the causeway. On the island road, the truck in front of us pulls over and waves us on.

There is something about paddling any distance in a canoe or a kayak. The sound of the water kissing the sides of the boat, the call of the birds that ripple with the waves and the scenery that changes with every paddle stroke. Its therapeutic, calming and some things challenging.

Epic peaks, endless shorelines, tree-clad valleys, thundering waterfalls or silent and secluded alpine lakes. That’s what much of Canada is.

If you’re comfortable with being in tight spaces, then take a tour beneath the surface of the Earth for what is one of the coolest experiences you’ll ever have.

“It feels like candy in my pocket,” Deanna Brett said with childlike enthusiasm as she tucked away another piece of turquoise sea glass from the tumbling surf at our feet.

Growing up on the St. Lawrence River, gave Liz Fleming the opportunity to dip the paddle into the river on many occasions. “My dad and I would silently slip the kayaks into the marshes and weeds to sneak up on the wildlife.

From icing a cake to walking on ice, Sheri Landry of Edmonton is up to the challenge. As the creator of the popular This Bird’s Day web page featuring advice, antidotes and recipes Sheri keeps pretty busy. 

Can there be harmony between a writer and a photographer while out on an assignment? What if the writer wants a photo of one scene but the photographer is adamant that the photo should be of something else?