Posted by: Feet Banks
Welcome to Canada, eh?
It’s true, a lot of Canadians do say “eh”. We also love hockey, beer, and have more doughnut shops per capita than any other nation on earth (maybe because our biggest doughnut chain was founded by a hockey player). And even though we live next door to one of the world’s largest pop culture exporters it’s still quite easy to discover a slice of real Canadian culture up here in Whistler, you just have to go outside in the snow.
The Canadian experience is intrinsically tied to our landscape. To be Canadian is to love the outdoors because most of us are totally surrounded by it. Canada’s population density if everyone were spread out evenly across the whole country is only 3.41 people per square kilometre (compared to the USA at 34.2 people per-square-kilometre and England at 407). So being Canadian means having a lot of personal space.
Of course, all that cold wintery personal space can be a challenge to travel across and that is what much of the Canadian experience is all about– traversing our expansively beautiful landscapes. Luckily, us Canucks have a few tricks up our snowsuit sleeves…but first, lets have a drink.
Tomato juice mixed with clam broth sounds pretty horrid but when you add this “Clamato” to vodka, spices and a wide variety of inventive garnishes you end up with a tasty little number called a Caesar, Canada’s favourite cocktail.
With so many incredible bars and restaurants Whistler is a Caesar hotspot and local garnishes for this “hangover cure” or Après classic include bacon, beef jerky, boiled eggs, sausages even mini-slider hamburgers. You haven’t done Canada properly until the day's first spicy-rimmed Caesar hits your lips.
Okay, back to the landscape. Walking in knee-deep snow sucks. It requires almost Herculean effort to go even a few dozen feet and snow usually falls down the front of your boots almost before you start. Luckily, Canada’s Indigenous people solved this problem years ago– the Snowshoe is a lightweight frame that attaches to your boots in order to distribute your weight over a broader area of snow and prevent sinking. If you can walk, you can snowshoe and Whistler has a variety of trail systems and guided tours to get anyone out and into some of that peaceful, scenic Canadian Wilderness that surrounds us all. Some tours even include admission to the Squamish Lil’wat Cultural Centre, Whistler’s much-celebrated museum of local Indigenous culture and history.
Of course, walking in snowshoes is still just walking – some people prefer a bit more speed and excitement in their outdoor experience. Long used by fur traders, natives and northern trappers, zipping across a snowfield in a dog-powered sled is definitely exciting and also a totally unique way to travel through the winter landscape. The dogs are bred for the task and born to run - meeting your excited team of canine horsepower-providers is half the fun of a dogsled tour. The other half is watching the forest and fields zip past as you slide along in the tracks of Canadian history.
The fastest and loudest way to travel on snow also happens to be one of the most fun. In much of the Canadian north, where roads are either snowed under or cease to exist, snowmobiles are the only means of travel. Whistler snowmobile tours allow quick and fun access to our incredible backcountry and the feeling of punching it through a huge open field of powder is truly unmatched. Whistler snowmobile tour operators use the more environmentally friendly 4-stroke machines and some even offset their emissions with carbon credits. Hop on and “roop it up”, you’re in Canada now.
Beavertails and Poutine
The Beaver is Canada’s national animal, prided for its work ethic and industriousness (and valuable waterproof pelt). We don't eat beavers. Instead Beavertails are basically deep fried dough flattened into the shape of our great animal’s tail then smothered in sugar and cinnamon and jam and chocolate and fruit and and whatever else you crave. You can get them at Zogs Dogs right outside Showcase Snowboards. Eat 'em while they're hot.
Much like donuts and Beavertails, Canada’s other “national” foods is also super unhealthy. Poutine is french fries covered in melted cheese curds and gravy. At least, that’s the traditional recipe from Quebec but Whistler poutine innovators will add anything from pulled pork to meatballs to chili and more. It’s messy, gooey awesomeness that’s uniquely Canadian. Because when you’re snowshoeing uphill through a blizzard in subarctic temperatures those 2000 extra calories of donut can burn off pretty quick.
This is the big one. And although Hockey is not even Canada’s official national sport (that would be Lacrosse) the greatest game on ice certainly occupies our national psyche more than anything else and a game of hockey on an outdoor rink is as Canadian as it gets.
Whistler has a free outdoor rink and although it’s not large enough to get a full game of “shinny” going, the rink at the Whistler Olympic Plaza does have a small area with sticks and nets set up where anyone can enjoy the chance to smack a puck around and maybe throw a hip check at their friends.
Meadow Park Sports Centre has a full service ice rink and when the weather is cold enough many locals will enjoy pick-up games on Whistler’s frozen lakes and ponds but to really taste the excitement of hockey it’s best to go check out the professionals and take in an NHL game via a Whistler Hockey Tour. The bus will zip you down to Vancouver to see the much-loved (usually) Vancouver Canucks play three periods of rock-em-sock-em good ol' Canadian entertainment.
Of course, everything listed above is just part of the rich Canadian tapestry. The truth is there is no single activity or deep-fried treat that truly sums up our great nation. Canada is full of diverse people from a wide variety of backgrounds and, if really pressed, most of us would likely say our number one unifying attribute is friendliness. Well, that and clam juice. Welcome to Canada eh?
Check out the Canadian Experience and other awesome winter packages at Whistler.com