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Happy Birthday! – Canada Celebrates 150 Years

Canada is celebrating 150 years in 2017!

New York Times lauded Canada as one of its “52 Places to Go in 2017,” and our agents agree! The world’s second-largest country has a wealth of national parks and historic sites to explore. And it’s birthday is just another excuse to go check it out! ALL of the country’s more than 200 parks are offering free admission through the year, from wooded Vancouver Island to the glacial peaks of Banff and on to the swelling surf of Nova Scotia.


Justin Trudeau, Canada’s Prime Minister, spoke of his hopes to use the celebrations as a time to really connect with Canadians, to promote festivities, patriotism, as well as “moments of reflection.” Here are just a snapshot of reasons to check out the Great North this year:


The city of Montreal is turning 375, and throwing a party all year. Brave and dance the cold away at Igloofest, a festive electronic music party in the open winter air. Indulge your inner junk-food junkie with La Poutine Week (Feb 1-7). Vote on your favorite combo of fries, curds, gravy, and a special X topping. Don’t miss Canada Day celebrations over at the Old Port in July, a day of cake, hockey and cannons.



Toronto comes alive with a series of art installations and events. Head down over to the central waterfront to Ice Breakers (January), public art made icicle goodness. The Toronto Symphony (January) is bringing to life some of the country’s long-forgotten heritage composers, from French to jazz to indigenous sounds. The score will be composed and broadcast across the nation.


Quebec City

Quebec City harks back to its Catholic heritage with Carnaval de Quebec (Jan 27), featuring more than 200 events over 17 days. Night parade or ice sculptures anyone? The Rendezvous Naval 2017 Tall Ships Regatta (what a mouthful!) is a transatlantic race of a fleet of historic tall ships. The expedition will stop in six different countries, including 30 Canadian ports, and unite for a festive celebration in Quebec City (July 18-23). Departing from the UK in April and spends almost two months in Canada before returning to Europe.



Vancouver goes all out culture-wise with the red carpet event Movie Nights Across Canada (January), an exhibition of Musqueam artist Susan Point at Vancouver Art Gallery (Feb to May) and the theatrical Vancouver Fringe Festival (May to June). Indigenous culture also plays an important role in Canadian history, and the country goes out of its way to honor both Multiculturalism Day and National Aboriginal Day, both in June.

For more events, check out The Star: 150 Ways to Celebrate Canada 150 in 2017.

Been to the Great White North? Tell us about your favorite Canadian adventure in the comments!



Filed under Canada, Europe

The San Juan Islands

photo by jeffgunn, Creative Commons

You may have been wondering why this blog has been dark this past week—well, our blogger has been out of town!

She traveled up to the San Juan Islands, always a lovely destination in the summertime. Just a few hours north of Seattle, the islands are a beautiful escape for travelers within the Pacific Northwest. She definitely recommends visitors charter a boat while they’re there! The San Juans are best enjoyed by sail; unlike a motorboat, sailing allows for a more leisurely enjoyment of the islandscape. Chartering a boat is also the best way to catch sights of some sealife and local birds! A plethora of wildlife awaits you in the San Juans—seals, sea otters, orcas, dolphins, puffins, eagles and many more.

Visitors can also charter a sea plane for some fantastic bird-eye views, go kayaking around the beaches, hiking or bicycling.

Naturally, there is a well-developed ferry system that connects the islands. And don’t forget your passport—beautiful Victoria harbor and Vancouver Island await just across the Strait of Juan de Fuca!

Did you know?

–          The islands have an average of 247 days of sunshine a year.

–          There are no traffic lights anywhere in the islands.

–          San Juan Country has more miles of shoreline than any other in the USA, capping at 375 miles.

–          Roche Harbor’s Hotel de Haro is one of the most famous hotels in the area, with patrons as notable as Theodore Roosevelt and John Wayne.

Call Willamette Intl Travel for great travel connections to the San Juans. We’ve chartered boats, wildlife viewing tours, and rented idyllic cabins for couples and families. Call us at 503-224-0180 or email info@wittravel.com.

photo by jeffgunn, creative commons

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Filed under Cruises, Family Travel, North America, Our Travel Agents, The Pacific Northwest, Travel by Ship, USA