Something quite unexpected happened to us after leaving home to travel for an extended period of time.
We realized we were terrible tourists in our own country.
We lived next to the gorgeous Rocky Mountains for a good part of our lives. We were just over an hour from Banff – the most popular tourist destination in Alberta, a place foreigners flock to by the millions – yet we visited only once or twice a year.
And worse yet, within mere hours were even more alluring destinations that would rival any of the places we’ve traveled to in the world – and we didn’t ever bother going.
Absolutely shameful, really. How can we justifiably go traipsing off to all corners of the globe when we’ve never explored our own backyard?
With this trip home, we wanted to change that.
First up, a day trip to Waterton, a large national park in the southwest corner of the province that spills over into the US. Still can’t believe we’d never been there, especially because you know what suckers we are for mountain landscapes.
And Waterton is simply stunning.
Another complete failure as Canadian citizens? We had never been in a canoe.
We paddled out onto Cameron Lakes to remedy that atrocity, tout de suite!
Bonus ‘Canadian’ points for getting my Mom out there as well – she’s terrified of water.
In one day we earned a couple of checkmarks in the “Good Canadian” handbook. We’ve got a few more to go though…
Gorgeous photos! I often feel like a bad Canadian too – especially when I travel and meet people from other countries who have been to parts of Canada that I haven’t been to myself!
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Beautiful pics! We are headed to Waterton in October. It will be my first time and I have lived in Calgary for almost 30 years. I guess when it is in your back yard you are less likely to see it as a destination.
I think that is it Misty, whenever we thought of traveling, we thought of getting OUT to see other places. Now, I wish we had done more while we lived here.
Waterton Lakes is definitely our favourite Canadian national park. We were last there with our motorhome in November of 2007…
Have you been to the Frank slide yet?
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Oh yes, we’ve been to the Crowsnest Pass many times – it has to be one of our favorite spots in all of Alberta!
I know exactly what you mean! I’ve lived on Vancouver Island my whole life and this summer I went to Strathcona Park where I have only been once before in my life and it was stunning! Last year I went to the maritimes for the first time and I highly recommend it for you.
We’ve both spent time in Nova Scotia and Newfoundland, but would love to get back and see more!
I live 4 hours away from Algonquin and I have never even been. I always feel ashamed when people from far away tell me how beautiful it is….awkward much.
Guess you’re just going to have to make the trip there then! 🙂
Although I now live in the UK, and there are lots of places I haven’t been to here yet, I come from Newfoundland, and only managed to see and live in the areas around Toronto.
In fact there are lots of places in Newfoundland I haven’t seen!
So I guess that makes me a bad Canadian.
ps I love the photos. I get homesick when I see them.
Welcome to the club Alice! 🙂 We have both managed to make it out to Newfoundland (to see family) and really loved it there. I haven’t been to Quebec at all yet, and am quite ashamed by that!
Now that I’ve been home for 3 weeks I’ve been catching up on all the hikes in North Western Ontario that I just never got around to before. Its great to explore your home and realize it is stunning. But I won’t lie – I would love to be out in the world again. Hopefully soon!
Yep, we’re getting anxious to go travel again as well, but at the same time, we’re really enjoying our time here!
I looove waterton, and the Banff/Jasper area! I think it’s going to be one of the parts of home I miss the most when we travel! Sorry that we missed you on your visit home, it would have been great to go and have a coffee with you, next time 🙂
Yes, it really is too bad we missed you! Next time for sure…ENJOY your travels!
It looks so pretttyyyyy!
I think it’s a pretty common thing to be a terrible tourist in your home country. We just don’t usually think about “home” as a place to explore or discover. But, of course, when you come from a country as huge and diverse as the U.S. or Canada, there’s TONS to explore!
I’m trying to make sure I travel a little bit within the States each year, along with traveling abroad. Even though I’ve lived here nearly 26 years, I haven’t even been to half of the states yet!
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I’d love to just rent an RV and drive across the continent one day. But damn, that is an expensive venture, which is part of what makes it hard to explore at home as well, it’s just SO much more pricey!
Wow! Absolutely stunning photography.
If it makes you feel at all better, I’m a terrible Canadian as well – I have barely touched anything north of Muskoka (in terms of Ontario), have only been to smalltown NS, Montreal, and Regina. And yet despite living in Toronto for most of my life, I’ve never been to Ottawa. The only time I’ve made it out to the west coast, was twice when I’ve had layovers in Vancouver. Yet I’ve explored most of Australia and New Zealand!
One day, I’ll take the time to see my own country… one day.
One friend of ours from Amsterdam always says that she’ll come visit Canada when she’s old because it’s an easy place to visit. I suppose that it is something that can be saved for that exact reason, vs when we backpacked around South America, not sure I want to do that in my old age! 🙂
Amazing pictures. It’s so easy to completely forget about all the things you can do close to home. I think because it’s right there, or just a few hours away, we end up saying,”I’ll go there later after I go *insert name of far away place here*” I’m totally a bad Canadian, and a bad Alberta too. I’m lucky if I make it to the Rockies once a year, and I’ve never been to Waterton either.
That is exactly what happens. But after coming home now I am looking at things differently. I WANT to go and see all the places I haven’t. You just need to go on a long trip Alouise! 🙂
The post reminds me that there is so much to visit for me in and around Mumbai!!!
And the captures are fantastic, you certainly live in a beautiful world 🙂
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Thanks Arti! Canada has a lot to offer, that’s for sure. 🙂
Good work! I am sure you will get yourselves over into the “Good Canadian” column before long!
I suffer from a similar phenomenon to the one you describe – although I have lived in New York City for 26 years, and been coming here since I was a small boy, there are still many wonderful sights to see that I have not seen yet!
For example, I went to the Guggenheim Museum, one of the most beautiful and interesting museums from an architectural standpoint, for the first(!) time just a few weeks ago.
As for Canada, I have lived in the Northeast U.S. all my life, and there is still a lot of Canada I haven’t seen. For example, I am planning to visit Toronto for the first time in October.
Don’t feel bad – it is easy to take for granted what is right next to you. The most important thing is to be continuously seeking new experience. Expanding your horizons, as they say.
Ha, and here I am, SHOCKED that you never went to the Guggenheim! But, it’s the same as me never going in a canoe. Well…almost. 🙂
I certainly haven’t seen enough of the US, but there are lots of places I’d love to see someday. Especially out west, I’ve never been to Yellowstone or Yosemite just to start.
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You had never been in a Canoe?!!? You are bad Canadians!
Pierre Berton defines a Canadian as “somebody who knows how to make love in a canoe.” That checkmark is probably best left off the blog however!
You’re certainly not alone, I am also a fellow member of this club! I grew up on the east coast (in NS) but have yet to see the Cabot Trail, and have only been as far west as London Ontario, with the exception of a 2 day layover in Vancouver on my way to New Zealand (where I’ve explored almost every corner of this country!)
My goal is to roadtrip from Van to my parents place one summer and see ALL that I can on the way!
I’m a very bad Canadian too 🙁 I’ve never been on a canoe, I hate camping AND hiking. But I do love me some poutine, and a good snowfall.
Glad to see you guys embracing your inner Canuck!
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I visited Waterton for the first time over Labour Day and loved the three hikes we did. I cannot believe you hadn’t been in a canoe before. Maybe we should have mandatory canoe school for all Canadians.
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I always wanted to visit Waterton National Park when we were living in Canada but unfortunately never got the time. Looks like a great spot though. I think everyone is bad tourists in their own country as you figure its always going to be there
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I think I’m a lucky person being born in canada and being able to see a large part of alberta and bc due to work but am I bad because I haven’t seen eastern canada,well crikey canada is huge country go north,go west,go east just go.Try to experience it with people from other counties and see it through their eyes.I was fortunate enough years ago to raft the tatsheshini with a group from england and to see their expressions and reactions to something like bald eagles that I get to see everyday made the trip that much more memorable never forget the yelling and pointing when the first black bear was spotted and then the grizzlies the visitors almost died and went to heaven.So I’m not a bad canadian but a damn lucky one and I realize it every single day
I have had this same realization myself! I have only visited 3 of Canada’s provinces (and one of those is the one I’m from!) and have never even been west of Ontario! So many people flock to Canada as tourists and yet it would appear I haven’t taken the time to get to know my own country before running off to other parts of the world! Thanks for reminding me of all the great stuff that’s in my own backyard!
Travel has made me realize I’m a bad North American too!
Gorgeous photos! I really haven’t spent any time in Canada since I was a kid, but I’d like to change that!
Ohhh…there is still SO much that I want to see too!
Your mum looks like she is holding on tight haha
Yes, she wasn’t so pleased that we told her AFTER we got out there that we’d never been in a canoe before! 🙂
You guys have a pretty epic back yard to explore. Awesome photos as always!
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Thanks Laurence! Yes, we sure do, but it was sadly unappreciated by us before.
Great photos! I am due my first trip to lovely Canada early next year and can’t wait to feast my eyes on landscapes like these. It looks truly stunning and I am sure it’s even better when actually there!
You will love it Jules. The country has such a great variety of landscapes.
We feel the same way about being bad Canadians. My parents recently visited Alberta for the first time so we showed them around. It made us realize just how much awesomeness is a few hours away from where we live … but we rarely take advantage of it.