The first event was at MEC Toronto. Right after that, I met some lovely Toronto bloggers for a talk at the Toronto Archives, and a visit to Casa Loma to see if it is indeed bucket list-worthy. First time I saw the huge medieval castle, I couldn’t believe it! Dozens of visits to the city and I had no idea it existed. It was built by Henry Pellatt, the city’s richest man back in 1911. 96 rooms, no expense spared, just for him and his wife. Needless to say, the guy ended up in financial ruin. We got a site tour, including the underground tunnels now refashioned with images of Toronto’s dark past (plague! fire!). I also recognized the hallway from the X-Men movies. Geek note: X-Men will also appear later in the blog post as well. Casa Loma is bizarre, unique, fascinating and memorable…definitely a new chapter for Canada’s Bucket List.
From Toronto, I did a talk at the Sandford Fleming College in a small town called Lindsay. A couple years ago I received an email asking me if I could stop by to give a talk to help raise funds for the local segment of the Trans Canada Trail. Glad I could! Fantastic turnout in a lecture hall at the college, lovely people, and a passionate commitment to this Bucket List trail. My Mom and I spent the night on a farm outside of town with the kind of people that make Canada the place it is. Click here to learn more about the Trans-Canada Trail.
I’ve never driven a muscle car before, and as a skinny guy, the muscle felt great. I felt like hunting a Prius on the highway. I had a 6 speed manual transmission, bucket seats, and a dashboard that lit up like the Starship Enterprise. My Mom called the Mustang Sally, of course. A sweet ride. We’re swapping Sally out for a hot red Focus in Ottawa for the rest of the drive.
Before arriving in Ottawa, I returned to the Diefenbunker to meet with some local bloggers and media and introduce them to this quirky, historically bonkers chapter in the book. I appeared on CTV Morning News in Ottawa, gave a quick presentation to some lovely folks at the Ministry of Tourism, stopped off for a book signing at theChapters-Indigo on Rideau, and gave an evening presentation in the offices of World Expeditions (who have created guided and self-guided itineraries for many experiences in my books through their Great Canadian Trails division). Never a dull moment on tour!
Starwood Hotels have been my generous hotel sponsor for the tour. An amazing room overlooking Lake Ontario from the Westin Harbour Castle in Toronto, a bucket list view from my room on the 22nd floor at the Westin Ottawa, and tranquil room in the Le Meridien Versailles overlooking Sherbrooke Avenue in Montreal. With this much racing around, I need more than just a comfortable bed and hot shower at the end of the day. I need an inspired ambiance. Well played Starwood, well played. I signed up for their SPG Program, as should you.
In Montreal, I got to tick off another bucket list item: surfing on the standing wave of the St Lawrence River. There’s only one other major city in the world that has anything remotely like this (Munich) and let’s face it, Munich is not Montreal. After snacking on Schwartz’s and poutine, Ford arranged for me to visit KSF Surf School with some fetching local bloggers to learn how to surf a river wave. As with most things in life, it’s a lot harder than it looks. The river flushed me through the waves, but snug in a 3mm wetsuit, it was awesome just to be in the water, with good company, on a beautiful spring day. A Bucket List is only as special as the people you share it with, and the five of us (led by guides Luka and Hugo) had a memorable Montreal adventure. I also appeared on Breakfast TV Montreal.
After an eight hour drive, we arrived in Fredericton, New Brunswick! The highways of New Brunswick are legendary, and even though I left the Mustang behind in Montreal, the Ford Focus Hatchback ate up the black-top with no problem whatsoever. I have to run to the first of eight events in Atlantic Canada events, so this is where I leave you for now.