6 unusual things to do in Canada
Canada is more than just its great mountains, wild moose-spotting road trips and craggy-coast good looks. Its endless variety of landscapes might keep you busy the first few days but what would a traveller look for beyond the great outdoors? Its captivating culture will engulf you; from west to east, a foodie’s paradise your palates would be thoroughly refreshed and thriving cities with their own artistic flair will surprise you. But if you’re looking to weave stories out of adventures for years to come here are a few places that you must check out.
- Venture into the woods
If snuggled in a sphere suspended atop the forest canopy of Vancouver Island in the middle of nowhere is what excites you then a visit to the Free Spirit Spheres is a must. It’s part Middle Earth fantasy and part childhood dream, you’ll find large wooden orbs suspended from the trees. Take the spiral staircase and short suspension bridge leading up to them and enter into the sphere to experience nature from a different perspective.
Designed to look vaguely like enormous nuts or seeds, the cedar and spruce spheres borrow from and collaborate with the surrounding environment. The spheres are made of fibreglass and wood, and borrow heavily from sailboat construction methods. Inside the curving walls complete with portholes for windows, space is maximised with fold-out tables and mirrors, curved loft beds and benches, and tiny appliances. Touted as ‘the ultimate tree-house experience,’ these Free Spirit Spheres can be rented overnight.
- Brace yourself
Mazes and labyrinths reached its zenith as a form in Renaissance England, more as a device for
entertainment than serious purpose. Today VanDusen Garden in Vancouver is one of only six in North America.
It carries on the tradition of Elizabethan hedge mazes in North America. The maze is made of 3,000 pyramidal cedars — Thuja occidentalis ‘Fastigiata’ to be specific was planted in the autumn of 1981 and slowly grown into the form of the maze one finds today.
Named after local lumber magnate and philanthropist Whitford Julian VanDusen, this garden is open to the public every day of the year except Christmas. In addition to the maze, the gardens cover 55 acres and displays plants from around the world. There is an observation terrace from which the less adventuresome visitor can view the maze and the struggles of its confused occupants.
- Jewel in the crown
As their contribution to Montreal’s 1967 World’s Fair Exposition the United States government
commissioned architect, scientist, and well-known genius Buckminster Fuller to design a pavilion for the Canadian exhibition.
Fuller, who popularised, perfected, and named the Geodesic Dome, designed a 20-storey-tall dome in the fashion of his hallmark design to represent the USA. Done in a full two-thirds sphere, rather than the typical half dome, the massive steel structure was seen and admired by over 5.6 million visitors who went into the dome to see exhibits from actual spaceships from the Apollo missions to American works of art. The dome’s steel skeleton was fitted with a clear acrylic covering, making the structure look like a massive, glittering jewel.
When the fair ended, the pavilion remained, securing the dome’s place in Montreal’s landscape. This relic of the 67 Expo survived fire and ice; it was reopened and was re-purposed as a museum devoted to environmental action. Today the Biosphere of Montreal remains, a sturdy and beautiful example of ‘Bucky’s’ geodesic architecture.
- Work of art
Comprised of 15,000 tonnes of snow and 500,000 tonnes of ice, the Hôtel de Glace is a massive undertaking, a stunning yet ephemeral work of art and architecture entirely built of snow and ice. Every winter, this unique hotel is completely redesigned and rebuilt, offering an unforgettable experience in the only hotel of its kind in North America.
Whether for a guided tour, a Nordic overnight stay, a wedding or a private function, the Hôtel de Glace is sure to dazzle visitors with its unique style and spellbinding décor. Guests can choose to enjoy a cocktail served in a glass made of ice or spend the night in one of the 44 theme rooms and suites and relax in the outdoor hot tubs and sauna.
Every inch of the hotel is created out of ice, including the furniture. To make the rooms more liveable, beds are covered with furs, blankets and sleeping bags tested to arctic temperatures. Although you might not get four-star service, the attraction has seduced over a million people around the world since its opening in 2001. Only 4-km from the north end of Québec City
a visit might just add to your Canada experience. – Compiled