All posts by Sherel Purcell

Explore Canada’s Rideau Waterway on Le Boat

Explore Canada’s scenic and historically significant Rideau Waterway with Le Boat,  the largest operator of self-drive boating holidays in Europe. As the captain of your own boat, you  cruise in your own time and stop at your leisure. 

Le Boat docked at twilight
Le Boat docked at twilight photo credit: Sherel Purcell

Depending upon the model, Le Boat accommodates between two and 12 passengers. All regular berths come with ensuite baths making Le Boat the perfect economic option for families and small groups traveling together.

Le Boat Interior cabin
Le Boat Interior cabin photo credit: Sherel Purcell

These custom contemporary styled craft offer a natural, light-filled kitchen/dining area and a spacious top deck for maximum cruising and viewing pleasure.

From Canada’s capital, Ottawa to her former capital, Kingston, the 125-mile (202 kilometers) route traverses forests, wetlands, the rocky Canadian Shield and the famous locks system – a technology dating from the 1830s earning the waterway a UNESCO World Heritage Site designation.

The cities and towns abutting the Rideau Waterway where boaters dock at marinas and lock sites are well worth a visit. Ottawa, the largest city on the watery route, offers docking near the downtown area. Highlights include the National Gallery of Canada, the Ottawa Art Gallery, the Museum of Nature, the parliament buildings and the selfie – worthy Ottawa sign-sculpture on the edge of the Byward Market.

Smith Falls Golf and Country Club
Smith Falls Golf and Country Club photo credit: Sherel Purcell

Heading west on the Rideau, the happening town of Smith Falls is served by Via Rail and is home to Canadian golf sensation, Brooke Henderson and her sister-caddy, Brittany. Their home course, The Smith Falls Golf and Country Club allows visitors to play at reasonable rates for a pretty course in excellent condition.

Tweed, a new cannabis operation occupying 1,000,000 square feet offers tours of this highly scientific venture focusing on recreational and medicinal products that seeks to provide beverages to rival the alcohol market with a new emphasis on flavor. In homage to the former Hershey factory’s roots they’ve started producing chocolate and post tour samples are available as is their excellent coffee.

Eastern Canada’s only railway museum and a heritage museum that focuses on the old and the new are worth a visit. A good dining option, the Axe and Arrow offers tasty fish, seafood and local specials along with products from the excellent Perth Brewery.

A few hours sail away – Le Boat caps the speed at 10 kilometers an hour (6 miles) – sits the town of Perth, famous for its sizeable collection of limestone buildings and a main street built over the waterway. Quality local goods, new restaurants, cafes, a cheese shop and an English garden complete the pretty picture. The Rocky River cafe offers high-end pub food and healthier options in an attractive indoor/outdoor setting with excellent local brews.

Town of Westport Ontario
Town of Westport Ontario photo credit: Sherel Purcell

Another worthwhile stop, Westport, is home to the Scheuermann Winery whose folks will transport boaters to the scenic, six-acre vineyard and cafe above the water amidst rolling hills. Oven-fired pizza, inventive salads and tasty varietals top off a perfect day of boating.

The Westport Brewing Company occupies an intimate, contemporary-styled pub with a patio overlooking the waterway and serves tasting flights of their pale and darker brews.

Chaffey’s Lock, along with the usual waterside picnic and barbeque sites and friendly, helpful Parks Canada Lockmasters, offers good access to the 104-kilometer Cataraqui recreational trail – perfect for the folding bikes that can be rented from Le Boat to accompany your trip.The Lockmaster’s House Museum, an art gallery and the excellent cuisine of the Opinicon Resort all warrant a visit.

Previously published on USA Today 10Best.com

Vacation in Canada – Where Should You Travel Now?

There’s plenty of opportunity to enjoy leisurely outdoor fun throughout Canada, from the east coast to the west coast, on these great vacation options for the Great White North.

Fox Harb’r Golf Resort and Spa | Nova Scotia

Fox Harb'r Golf Course fairway
Fox Harb’r Golf Course fairway Photo Credit: Sherel Purcell

Fox Harb’r, Nova Scotia’s only five-star property and gated community, once hosted Tiger Woods. While you could arrive in style via the private airstrip or marina, the drive is a scenic two hours from the Halifax International Airport. Owner Ron Joyce, of Tim Hortons coffee fame, provides his highly addictive substance in all the suites and the otherwise high-end dining room.

The back nine holes hugging the Atlantic Ocean offer true links-style golf while the front nine feature super fast greens on odd-shaped holes carved out of the forest. A nine-hole par 3 course – perfect for the kids – is free with all reservations.

Eastern Townships | Quebec

Saint-Benoît-du-Lac Abbey, Eastern Townships, Quebec
Saint-Benoît-du-Lac Abbey photo credit: Sherel Purcell

Just north of Vermont and an hour south of Montreal, Quebec’s Eastern Townships offer a good selection of top quality inns, resorts, hotels and spas for all budgets. Scenic cycling and hiking trails, mountains and lakes and championship golf courses all provide ample opportunity to work off the extra calories of this popular foodie destination and add to your vacation enjoyment.

If you time it right, you can listen to monks performing Gregorian chants at the Saint-Benoît-du-Lac Abbey before stopping into their boutique for top-quality chocolate and cheese – all made on-site.

Mont-Tremblant | Quebec

Le Maitre 18th green
Le Maitre 18th green photo credit: John Cameron

Mont-Tremblant is a 1.5-hour drive from Montreal, serving as a playground for those who want to get out of the city. During winter, it’s a prime ski destination. The rest of the year finds the mountains and forests transformed into excellent golf tracks.

Thanks to the topography of the Canadian Shield, golfers can enjoy championship golf experiences with dramatic elevation changes.

CTMA Cruises | Montreal

Montreal from the deck of CTMA Vacancier
Montreal from the deck of CTMA Vacancier photo credit: Sherel Purcell

CTMA Cruises depart from the Bickerdike Basin Pier near the Old Port of Montreal and provide visitors a glimpse of the city and life along the St. Lawrence River, views that others rarely see. This departure point is a favorite of filmmakers for its unparalleled views of Montreal en route down the St. Lawrence River, all the way to the Magdalen Islands where another ferry continues on to Prince Edward Island.

Canada’s capital city | Ottawa

Diefenbunker, Canada's Cold War Museum, Ottawa
Diefenbunker photo credit: John Cameron

Ottawa’s favorite festival, Winterlude, encourages participants to traverse the frozen canals of this capital city on skates. In the other three seasons, visitors can hike the Gatineau Park trails and cycle the Rideau Canal.

Head underground to the Diefenbunker Museum for a look into Canada’s secret cold war past. Be sure to tour the Parliament buildings and grounds, as well as the sculpture garden of the National Art Gallery nearby.

Kingston, Ont.

St. James Anglican Church, Kingston, Ontario, Canada
St. James Anglican Church photo credit: John Cameron

Kingston, named the first capital of Canada in 1841, sits at the junction of Lake Ontario, Rideau Canal and St. Lawrence River.  You’ll find ample award-winning museums to explore and excellent dining to satisfy any foodie’s desires in this pretty limestone city.

It’s easy to get out of town, via Highway 15, for an afternoon stopover at the Jones Falls Lock station on the Rideau Canal. You can learn all about water management systems that accommodate boats, and paddlers can camp here with the option of using the locks or portaging their vessels.

Deerhurst Highlands Golf Course | Huntsville, Ont.

Deerhurst Highlands Golf Course
Deerhurst Highlands Photo credit: John Cameron

“A great golf course starts with a great piece of land,” says Thomas McBroom, co-designer of Deerhurst Highlands Golf Course in Ontario’s cottage country.

Utilizing Muskoka’s granite rock faces, tree-topped hills, lakes and ponds, McBroom and his mentor, Bob Cupp, created a beautiful – and playable – course. Watch out for deer crossing the cart path as it meanders through maple, white birch and pine trees. Across a narrow wooden bridge, spanning two pink and grey granite cliffs, sits an undulating practice green.

Canmore, Alberta

Sunrise over the Rockies in Canmore Alberta
Canmore Alberta photo credit: John Cameron

With endless ways to enjoy the outdoors, any winter getaway to the Canadian Rockies and Banff National Park should begin in Canmore. The countless peaks and vast wilderness offer snow enthusiasts ample opportunities for leisurely cross-country and downhill skiing, dog sledding, backcountry hiking and snowshoeing.

Dude ranch experience | British Columbia

Dude Ranch riders
Dude Ranch riders photo credit: John Cameron

If you’re heading to British Columbia, your Canadian outdoor adventure should include a visit to a dude or guest ranch. Similar to their U.S. counterparts, these week-long vacations receive high marks for the value of the leisure dollar. Excellent food, top-notch horseback riding instruction, beautiful trails to suit all abilities, a convivial social atmosphere and a range of outdoor activities keep the dudes coming back year after year.

Previously Published on USA Today 10Best.com