- Sour toe cocktail, YK
Sure, you can drink fermented horse milk in Mongolia and rocket-fuel raki in Albania, but only in Canada can you drink a cocktail served with a severed human toe. Over 60,000 people have joined the Sour Toe Cocktail Club in Dawson City’s Downtown Hotel. The toes, donated from around the world, are pickled in salt, and occasionally get swallowed by patrons, despite a hefty fine.
- Snorkel with Salmon BC
The annual salmon run is one of the great natural spectacles of the Pacific West Coast. For a unique view, grab with a wetsuit, snorkel, and let the current carry you down river in Campbell River. You’ll float past tens of thousands of pinks, chum, sock-eye and giant king salmon, migrating upriver to spawn and die.
- The Grouse Grind, BC
There are many places you can hike up a mountain, but only Vancouver could turn a grueling natural Stairmaster into a cultural pastime. Locals brag about “best times” as the huff and puff 2.9km to the top of Grouse Mountain, passing Lululemon-clad fitness freaks and exhausted tourists completely in over the heads.
- Fire a gun in a Mall, AB
The West Edmonton Mall is the largest mall on the continent, containing the world’s largest indoor water park, 800 stores, and attracting 30 million visitors a year. It’s also the only mall in the world where you can fire a .44 Magnum, and other weapons, in a handy Wild West Shooting Centre. Why not do the groceries, pick up some lingerie, and let off a few rounds?
- Narcisse Snake Dens, MB
Snakes alive! 130km north of Winnipeg gather the largest concentration of snakes, or any invertebrate, in the world. Each spring, up to 150,000 red garter snakes slither into their rock dens for their annual mating ritual. Visitors can pick them up so long as they’re gentle. Unlike most Australian snakes, garters are harmless, and being Canadian, wonderfully polite.
- Crooked Bush, SK
Wild aspen forests in the prairies grow straight and tall. Unless you visit this mysterious grove deep in the prairies, which bend, twist, and knot like a Tim Burton movie prop. Blamed on an unexplained genetic mutation, some locals attribute the anomaly to UFO’s. A boardwalk lets you explore the grove, and its unmistakable atmosphere of weirdness.
- Spend a Night in Jail, ON
Ice hotels, dream domes, urban castles – Canada’s hotel options are as vast as the country. Only one hotel is a former prison, haunted by the ghosts of the tortured and condemned. When Ottawa’s Nicholas St Jail was closed in the early 1970’s due to inhumane conditions, it reopened as a backpacker hostel. Today, guests take a ghost tour on the upper floors, before locking themselves into the original cells for the night.
- Ice canoe at the world’s largest winter festival, QC
Each February, Quebec City hosts the world’s largest winter carnival, a frosty equivalent to Rio’s Carnaval or Mardi Gras in New Orleans. Here you can ice-canoe, dance in ice palaces, do Zumba in the snow, and watch paddlers race across the cracked ice-soup of the St Lawrence for the annual ice canoe race. As the temperature plummets, note that most of the activities are outdoors.
- Raft a tidal wave, NS
When the world’s largest tides back into rivers that feed them, it creates a true tidal wave (not to be confused with a tsunami). The leading wave swallows sandbars and marshes in minutes, leaving a turbulent trail of waves and rapids. Hopping on a raft with an onboard motor to slam into this natural waterpark on the Shubenacadie River is distinctly fun, and uniquely Canadian.
- Not Since Moses Race, NS
Not since Moses have we raced against such a powerful natural foe. This annual fun run along Five Islands pits runners of all levels against the world’s highest tides in the Bay of Fundy. Running on the muddy ocean floor, gushing sea water can reach as high as 15 metres, providing an added incentive to reach the finish line.
- Get Screeched, NL
To become an honorary Newfoundlander, visitors are encouraged to partake in a silly custom, usually in the boisterous bars on St John’s George St. Screeching in involves kissing a petrified cod (or toy puffin’s behind), listening to some ribald banter, and shooting back some strong local rum, known as screech. Only the brave pucker up to a real fish, but screech can have that effect on people.
- Fly in a commercial DC-3, NWT
Yellowknife’s Buffalo Airways is the world’s only DC-3 airline, operating a lifeline to remote northern communities, and providing terrific fodder for the smash TV series, Ice Pilots NWT. Aviation enthusiasts visit from around the world to fly on the only scheduled DC-3 passenger flight, across the Great Slave Lake to Hay River. Feel the plane bounce over the lake, listen to daring pilot stories, and relive an era of flying before airline food, seatback entertainment, and three hour delays on the runway.