Tag Archives: Eastern Townships

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

Certified Village Cafes of the Eastern Townships

An hour outside of Montreal, visitors to the beautiful four-season vacation area of the Eastern Townships (Cantons-de-l’Est) can join the locals for breakfast, lunch, dinner or just coffee at a new association of local cafes that have been certified for serving quality, healthy meals using local ingredients and products. Strict criteria state the cafes cannot be part of a chain, must be central to community life and often feature the cafe owner behind the counter.

Local village café owners invite visitors to their fine restaurants to enjoy coffee (often organic and sometimes free trade) along with meals prepared using top quality local ingredients as well as locally-produced specialty products for take out, often available frozen for quick make-at-home meals.

This newly created, select group of local cafes is similar to the Cafes de pays found all over rural France.  These cafes also serve as meeting places that are known to be friendly, welcoming and down-to-earth. The owners of these cafés, which are centrally located in the towns and villages of the  Eastern Townships are proud to share their diverse flavours and their beautiful surroundings. The cafes are often located near scenic viewpoints such as alongside lakes and rivers.

Musee-du-Chocolate
Musee-du-Chocolate

An example of a village cafe which produces a specialty product is the one located in the Chocolate Museum in Bromont, founded in 1993. While enjoying such local dishes as salmon pie, chicken crepes or baked beans served with a fresh vegetable salad topped with a home made chocolate and balsamic dressing, visitors can also learn about the history of chocolate and enjoy a wide selection of hand made chocolates and chocolate desserts served with a rich cup of milk or dark hot chocolate.

Cafe de Saveurs
Cafe de Saveurs

Some of these small establishments like Cafe Saveurs et Gourmandises also hold liquor licenses and offer local beers and wines. Sitting on the bank of Lake Massawippi in North Hatley, Saveurs et Gourmandises, specializes in homemade delicacies including a perfectly-sized cake-style chocolate brownie filled with walnuts. For lunch, their hearty French onion soup topped with a generous helping of melted cheese is a great place to start followed by a fillet of salmon sandwich or a warm cheese and ham on a fresh croissant. Their six varieties of pizza are popular too.

Other village cafes in the region specialize in maple syrup products or multiple varieties of homemade bread while still others grew out of central food markets. Some serve as local co-ops and a few feature exhibits by local artists.

Whatever their origins or focus, the village cafes, a prime feature of everyday life in the community, are a great place to experience the Eastern Townships like a local.