In October 2017 we drove westwards across Canada from the eastern edge of Ontario to Vancouver in British Columbia. Thank you to all of the people we visited for your hospitality and for taking time off to see us.
We drove 6241 kms in 16 days. Most of this journey follows the Trans Canada Highway and the only times we left this road was to stop and visit people.
We landed at Toronto airport to find that the Jeep Cherokee we had ordered was not available, so we had to choose between a Chevy 300 or a Volvo V60 T5. We chose the Volvo which proved to be an excellent car.
We started our drive out of Toronto and it's such a busy city that it took 2 hours to go 40km! We honestly thought we would never get out of Toronto. We finally made it to Lakefield, where we stayed 3 days with Jo's Dad and his wife Taryn. Tim and Taryn were in the middle of packing, as they were moving to the far east coast of Canada a week after we were leaving them. While we were there a friend of Dad's planned a retirement leaving party at Dad's local bar. We knew about this before arriving in Canada and our job was to try and keep Tim away from the bar until they were ready for him. This proved to be quite difficult as Tim wanted to go to the bar and have a few beers on his first day of official retirement. We popped into the bar for a quick drink and while we were there his friends arrived to start setting up for the party. David had to persuade Tim to take him shopping (at Walmart) for some warm clothes which worked out well as when we returned to the bar his friends were ready to surprise him. It was an emotional day for Tim and Taryn with lots of laughter and a few tears, but we were very proud to be apart of this special occasion.
We had a lovely visit with Tim and Taryn (and also Wilson and Baxter. their family pups) We wanted to go out for a nice dinner with them and Dad took us to the restaurant where they got married. We found out later it was "Date night" and that made David laugh as it was like going back in time being chaperoned on your first date. We also went for a drive to Burleigh Falls and just enjoyed some time out. It was a great visit and one that won't take 11 years to do again.
Tim's final instruction to us was NOT to drive at night as there are so many Moose on the roads we could end up in an accident. Fact: Moose eyes do not reflect light and you can not see them in the middle of the road.
We left after lunch with Tim and Taryn to head to Oshawa to pick up Aunt Sharlene at the train station.
We then drove to Cornwall to visit with Jo's Grandma and Karm whom Jo hasn't seen for 17 years. While we there Aunt Shirley and Uncle Ralph came to say hi and then Uncle Kevin came to say hello on the next night. It was great seeing everyone and even though it has a been a long time in seeing everyone no one has really changed. Oh except Grandma I'm sure she is getting younger.
Aunt Sharlene thought it would be fun to go for lunch where she and Uncle Bill used to go when they were courting. It's true you should not always go back to places you knew as often they have not changed for the better. Lunch was ok but I'll leave it at that hahaha. Aunt Sharlene had just made contact with a lady she used to go to school with, so after lunch we took a ride to visit her. As it was Thanksgiving weekend she was making lunch for her family and had made some cheesecake for dessert (that she had told Aunt Sharlene about on the phone) But even though we had a nice long look at it, we didn't get any and everyone knows how much Jo loves cheesecake.
On our way back to Cornwall we stopped at Mom's memorial which overlooks a lovely lake and is very peaceful.
Aunt Sharlene took us shopping in a mall in Ottawa where Sarah works. Jo bought some posh soaps to show her support for Sarah's store. We also went to a toy store where we could get presents for the 8 newphews and cousins born since we last visited. David and Aunt Sharlene got carried away spending over an hour picking out toys they felt suitable for each child. Jo is not a big shopper and started getting irritated so she went and sat on the naughty chair until they were finished.
Our next destination was to see Jo's cousin Sarah and her family, Shawn, Denver and Sydney. As they are very busy we didn't get a lot of time with them but we had a lot of laughs and it was lovely to meet Shawn who married Sarah since our last visit to Canada and their children. Shawn rustled up Jo's favourite dinner of chicken and chips! YUM
The journey from Ottawa to Red Lake is a 2 day drive. Just after dawn on the 2nd day Jo saw a moose at the side of the road and woke David up to go take photos. He only managed to snap one photo before the moose took off into the trees. On the way we stopped to buy beer for the men (the children got toys, men get Beer, women got our company) David was stunned at the prices, 48 beers costing over $90 at home this would cost €18.
The last leg of the journey was on Highway 105 which is the only road into town. Jo calls this road (all 173kms) Erin's Driveway.
Erin is Jo's oldest sister and she lives with her husband, Derek and her two sons, Hudson and Parker. We arrived to find Erin at home looking after Parker who was not feeling well that day. (I think he just wanted to meet his Aunt that swims with sharks) Hudson was out swimming with his Grandmother. We gave the toys to the boys and the beer to Erin and Derek. Now I strongly believed the Meccano David bought for Parker was for Parker, but David had lots of fun helping Parker put it together. You will see a photo of David working on the Meccano and Parker putting together a puzzle with Jo. You be the judge hahaha
Erin took Jo and I to Mom's memorial which was beautiful and to the museum where she has a plaque on the wall. There is also a sitting area under cover that was built by the Red Lake District Lions club that holds the names of the people that were killed in the crash. It was very special to see.
We went to one of Parker's hockey games in the next village. He's a great little hockey player and takes his game very seriously.
We had our first experience of eating moose as Erin made us some moose hamburger soup before we travelled. It was pretty delicious. David is sure there are very few moose left in Canada as despite driving over 2000kms we have only seen one. He thinks they have all been hunted and eaten by Derek hahaha
After lunch we headed back down Erin's driveway back to Trans Canada Highway. Just after leaving the town boundary we saw a moose and managed to take a few photos as she just stood and looked at us. We are sure that Derek put the moose there so we could see one. This was the only moose that we had a proper look at. We didn't even see any in the distance for the rest of the holiday.
This part of the drive was the most boring, as most of it was across the prairies. For a day and a half we saw more trains and silos then we saw of trees and lakes. Because of the vast of nothingness the driving got more difficult and David and I had to keep switching drivers so we could keep resting our eyes.
We were going to Calgary to visit Jo's cousin Steve and his girlfriend Jess and their children, Miles and Shaye. We also met Jess's sister, Becky. When we arrived Steve showed his love by giving David and big hug first (he said it was because I was driving and not out of the car yet haha) The men started on the beer right away and we drank into the evening. Jo got tired and just left them to it.
The following evening Steve cooked up a BBQ of ribs and chicken. Jess made beans, salad and pineapple cake. We decided to buy a few more desserts as pineapple is not a big favourite of Jo's. After dinner Steve managed to persuade David to get in the hot tub and they still continued to consume more beer. It was a great night with yet more laughs.
As we left Calgary we got our first glimpse of The Rocky Mountains as we came over a hill. Though the mountains looked close we had a long way to go to get into them. Even from so far away they still looked huge.
We stopped at Lake Louise which is a hamlet in Banff National Park in the Canadian Rockies, known for its turquoise, glacier-fed lake ringed by high peaks. We continued through the rockies and we stopped at a rest stop to have a stretch. The rest stop had a memorial for people that were killed in an Avalanche and when the bell is rung it can be heard in the neighbouring town. While we were stopped we noticed the traffic was stopping on the highway, David thought there was an accident, but Jo suddenly started shouting "Bear, Bear". To our surprise a brown bear was just wandering into the rest area. We grabbed our cameras and took some of photos. This bear was not interested in anything but going for a walk. So lovely to see these animals in the wild.
Nelson is where Jo's youngest sister Stephanie lives with her husband, Mike and her 2 children, Henry and Isaac. We had a lovely hotel which overlooked a lake and little did we know the train line ran right outside our window (you could spit on it haha) The first night we were there we just climbed into bed when a train came up the tracks and blew his horn right outside our window (They are extremely loud)
We ate a lot of awesome steaks while we were here, cooked perfectly by Mike on the BBQ. They were served with freshly picked vegetables by Henry from Stephanie's garden. We were able to go into the town with Steph and do some shopping and look around. Nelson is a beautiful town.
On our last afternoon a storm came into town and did a bit of damage, the weather was then bad for the last leg of our journey.
This was the last place on our agenda. We had been told it was a beautiful city, but due to torrential rain we never got to see anything except the road in, the hotel and the airport.