One sunny morning while visiting Toronto, I decided to pop into the offices of my publisher, Dundurn Press. I don’t get sucked into the vortex of the CN Tower too often, so I like popping my head in the door to see how the troops are faring in the hard-fought publishing battle. No sooner had I done so, then a fire alarm began clanging, forcing an orderly evacuation to Church Street for the purposes of a drill. When in Rome, one must wear a toga, and when there’s a fire drill with your publisher, one should start talking about the possibility of new book editions. The Great Canadian Bucket List was first published in November 2013, an impressive investigation into the wonders of Canada. Of course, no sooner had I filed the manuscript than I began to discover many more wonders – adventures and destinations that had either remained beyond my reach or escaped my telescope. Many did eventually find a home in five regional focused books, but the possibility of compiling them together with many additional experiences into one voluminous volume…well that got my own fire bell clanging.
Over a year later, the second edition of The Great Canadian Bucket List hit the shelves across Canada, just in time for Canada Day in a particularly exciting year for this young country, the 150th anniversary of Confederation. I was working in my office when my author copies arrived, and much like I’d love to experience what it feels like to score a winning goal at the FIFA World Cup, I wish everyone could know what it feels to be an author holding your book for the first time. I had opened my first edition with my daughter Raquel, and this time her brother Galileo would share the moment with me. There’s a picture of my two kids in the Introduction, and this edition – the mic drop on Canada’s best experiences – is dedicated to them. Their parents might be immigrants, but our first generation Canadians are going to be inspired, proud, and with a book like this, particularly knowledgeable about their country.
I returned to Toronto to speak at Chapters-Indigo and sign some books at MEC. In Canada, book events are like awkward teenage first dates, but it’s always fun to share my stories with anyone who wants to listen. I did an interview with the friendly folks from Kobo atop the CN Tower Edgewalk as well, which does get a lot less hairy the second time – both interviews and walking on the outer lip of a 233m communications tower. I also spotted ads for my book in the Toronto Subway, packed into a car of people ashen with urban life. I wished my book could come alive and whisk them away to eye-popping adventures around the country. Some of them must have got inspired, for the new edition spent a couple weeks in the Non-Fiction bestseller charts. While my Canadian Bucket List has long been one the top-selling travel books in the country, it’s inspiring to see it leap off the Travel charts and into Non-Fiction in general, reaching a far wider audience.
A few media interviews here and there (everyone wants to know the highlights, but that all depends on what you’re into!) capping off the launch back in Vancouver with the ever-dapper grey fox Riaz Meghji on Breakfast TV. While it would have been fun to watch the celebrations on Parliament Hill in Ottawa – bucket list worthy for sure – I spent the day with family and friends in a nearby park, picnicking by the playground in the embrace of a warm summer sun. A local celebration was taking place but with two kids under 4, nobody would be staying up for the fireworks. And that’s OK. A bucket list is personal and unique, and sharing proud red and white moments in a park is as festively a Canadian activity as one can do. Scrubbing off temporary Canada Flag tattoos off the skin of toddlers in the bath is another.
The new edition has over 80 new chapters (although it says 70 on the cover, because it had a nice ring to it). It is 560 pages long and more than an inch thick – a brick of colour and inspiration and fun and ideas. It all goes back to a column I wrote for Canada Day in 2011, which inspired six years of travel to every province and territory, meeting so many wonderful people and living so many incredible stories. Something for everyone – from school kids to retirees, young families to immigrants eager to learn about their new home. I’ve always said a bucket list is like whack-a-mole. Tick one off the top and three more ideas pop up at the bottom. While I’m sure new Canadian Bucket List stories will manifest (check this blog!) the new edition is substantial enough to carry us all for many fruitful years to come. You know that thing you’ve always wanted to do? Well, what are you waiting for?