Travel Survey

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Debra Weinryb, Editor-in-Chief of Ecotour Magazine, is conducting a primary research survey to better understand customers’ preferences, behaviors, and needs, when it comes to travel in Canada.

Seeking Survey Participants

We want to communicate with travel alumni association participants, & members of outdoor clubs in our research survey: https://goo.gl/forms/mkqnfjs0CxS4FAzm1

Alternatively, you may wish to schedule a time to speak with Debra on the phone to complete the research survey: https://calendly.com/ecotour/

Why Participate (Organizations)

Debra will be preparing a comprehensive analysis, which may be at a small cost, but a summary will be provided free of charge to organizations that wish to partner with Ecotour Magazine by sharing our survey in your website or email newsletter.

Why Participate (Members)

You’ll be contributing to your organization’s better knowledge of what features you would love to see in your future alumni/meetup travel itineraries. Feedback is always for the better, to ensure that your future trips keep improving with the changes you want to see.

If you have any questions, email team@ecotourmag.com

Take a Walk in the Clouds at this Treetop Tour | Haliburton Region

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Are you ready to experience one of the world’s longest treetop tours, with over half a kilometre long of winding boardwalk between giant White Pines, 10 to 20 meters above the forest floor?

Haliburton Forest Treetop Canopy Tour
Our group on tour (Photo: Justin Arjune)

Here’s an overview of our team’s 4-hour round trip tour, to let you know what to expect:

1. Our Guided Van Ride

We met our guides, Cameron and Ines, at Basecamp, Haliburton Forest’s meeting headquarters, where they greeted us, as we hopped into the company van to go on our treetop tour.

Haliburton Forest Treetop Canopy Tour
Van ride (Photo: Justin Arjune)

From there, our guides took us on a scenic ride through the forest pathway, introducing us to their hiking-friendly trails, winding lakes, and flowing rivers. Cameron told us the Haliburton Forest narrative, of how the forest came into the hands of the current Owner, Peter Schleifenbaum. He said that Peter’s father, a German businessman, initially bought the land because he saw an opportunity to convert a depleted forest into a healthy one.

Haliburton Forest Treetop Canopy Tour
(Photo: Justin Arjune)
Haliburton Forest Treetop Canopy Tour
Haliburton Forest (Photo: Justin Arjune)

Peter’s father implemented a 100-year management plan to carry out low-grade logging, taking out the poorest quality trees to ensure that only the healthiest would remain. Currently, Peter manages the multi-use managed forest, where recreational sites are balanced with sustainable logging practices to maintain the forest’s 100, 000 acres of private land, 350 lease campsites, 60 lakes, and multiple wetlands.

Haliburton Forest Treetop Canopy Tour
Canopy Tour Paddle (Photo: Justin Arjune)

2. Short Walk and our Voyageur-Canoe Ride

We walked along the shoreline of Pelaw River to our voyageur-canoe ride on Upper Pelaw Lake. People at the front of the canoe set the pace, and everyone else followed their lead.

Halburton Forest Treetop Canopy Tour
Canoe Paddling (Photo: Justin Arjune)

During our canoe-ride, we learned about the surrounding wildlife, which included the white tailed deer, moose, bear and wolf.

Cameron reminded us that the Haliburton Forest is not a safari park, so seeing wildlife is considered a bonus. However, if you want to guarantee yourself some animal visits, I’d recommend taking a walk to see the forest’s resident animals after the tour at Basecamp, where we visited Hershe, the resident moose.

A little Bit about Hershe, the resident moose
Haliburton Forest
Hershe, the Moose (Photo: Ben Lindo)

Hershe is an orphan. In early June of 2011, his mother was killed in a vehicle accident near Pembroke, resulting in the orphaning of Hershe and his sibling calf at just 3-weeks old, at which point they were transferred to the Haliburton Forest.

Unfortunately, the other calf passed away, but Hershe defied all odds, and developed into a full-grown, and healthy moose who eats over 50 lbs of fresh leaves and twigs daily, and who loves company, whether it be from people, horses, or dogs.

(Photo: Ben Lindo)

Cameron told us the miracle story of Hershe, and the confusion of the calf arriving as a female, and then he turned out to be a young bull. With this confusion, the staff would ask whether the calf was a “she”, a “he”, a “him”, or “her”, and thus, the name “Hershe” came about.

3. The Treetop Canopy Walk

We listened carefully as our guides introduced us to our safety standard equipment. Each person received a comfortable harness, and practiced hooking and unhooking their gear on the forest floor’s practice course, before stepping out onto the boardwalk for our treetop tour.

Safety hooks (Photo: Justin Arjune)
Haliburton Forest Treetop Canopy Tour
(Photo: Justin Arjune)

During our treetop tour, we learned about the boardwalk’s sustainable design in how it was built. Our guides told us that the wooden planks were attached in a way, so that they could be taken down from treetops if needed, without causing any damage to the trees.

Haliburton Forest Treetop Canopy Tour
Walking along (Photo: Justin Arjune)

Along the way, Cameron engaged our group in lively discussions about the trees that we encountered on our walk, such as Beach trees that make up about 50% of the forest, Hemlock trees that are popular among woodpeckers looking for insects, and White Pine, the iconic trees of Canada famously seen in images of logs floating across the St. Lawrence and Ottawa River.

Haliburton Forest Treetop Canopy Tour
Forest trees (Photo: Justin Arjune)
Haliburton Forest Treetop Canopy Tour
(Photo: Justin Arjune)

4. Break, Snacks & Back to Home Base

About halfway along our treetop tour, our group gathered on a large tree platform to reflect on the nature around us. Normally, this is when groups have a snack, but since we knew a storm was coming in the late afternoon, we saved our snack for the end, just to be safe.

Regardless, our time on the platform was a wonderful experience, with panoramic views of the pristine forest floor.

Debra & Ben on Treetop Platform (Photo: Justin Arjune)

 

We were on the southwest of what is called the Algonquin Dome, an elevated piece of the Canadian Shield, which forms Algonquin and the Haliburton Highlands. From our birds-eye view above, we saw many of the Algonquin Dome’s broad leaf species of tree, interspersed with White Pine. Looking around, we could see many of the forest’s crystal-blue lakes and vast wetlands.

Haliburton Forest
Forest view (Photo: Justin Arjune)
Haliburton Forest
(Photo: Justin Arjune)

Reflections

This tour was very interactive and conversational, so if you are the type who likes open discussions and learning, then this tour is for you. I was impressed with the environmental initiatives we learned about, from Peter’s sustainable canopy tour design, to the excellent nature interpretive guides who taught us about the forest’s history, nature, and wildlife.

What to Know Before Your Visit

On-Site Accommodations Available

There are housekeeping units and log cabins on-site. We stayed at the Bear Den, which provided us with a comfortable living space, propane fireplace, full kitchen, dining area, television with satellite channels & DVD player, and a 3-piece bathroom, starting at $75 per adult and $37.50 per youth + HST.

Lodging Accommodations (Photo: Ben Lindo)
(Photo: Ben Lindo)

Included Wolf Centre Admission with Ticket Purchase

There is included admission to the Wolf Centre, where you can observe wolves roaming freely in a 15-acre enclosure, with your Canopy Tour ticket purchase, at $95 per adult, or $70 for youth over 10 + HST. Group rates are also available. There’s also other farm animals to visit on property, free of charge.

Wolf Centre (Photo: Ben Lindo)
Pig friends (Photo: Ben Lindo)

Dress Appropriately and Check the Weather

It’s important to read the weather forecast before your tour and dress appropriately, as this tour runs from summer into the cooler months of fall. Also, be sure to wear closed toed shoes because sandals aren’t allowed for safety reasons.

Haliburton Forest Treetop Canopy Tour
Treetop view (Photo: Justin Arjune)
Haliburton Forest Treetop Canopy Tour
(Photo: Justin Arjune)

About the Haliburton Forest & Wildlife Reserve

Haliburton Forest and Wild Life Reserve Ltd., or simply Haliburton Forest, is a unique, privately owned forest located on 70,000 acres of rolling hardwood forests, beautiful lakes, meandering rivers and extensive wetlands in the Haliburton Highlands.

You can read more about the Haliburton Forest & Wildlife Reserve here.


About Ecotour Magazine

Ecotour Magazine promotes the emerging Canadian Ecotourism industry to a global audience by highlighting uniquely Canadian destinations, products, and services.

Remember that sharing is caring, and each article shared helps support our cause to raise awareness of eco-minded travel opportunities in Canada.

Join our conversation on FacebookInstagram, and Twitter for the latest updates.

 

You Can Paddle to Niagara’s Abandoned Ship | Niagara Region

(Photo: Lindo Photography)

You may have seen the abandoned ship before, driving by on the Queen Elizabeth Highway towards Niagara Fall’s main attractions. If you want to see it up close, like as close as you can get, be sure to paddle in the Jordan Harbour Conservation Area.

In this post, we share our experience of the Jordan Harbour, just a short drive from the roaring Niagara Falls and other popular attractions. Based in the Twenty Valley watershed, we visited Jordan, a small but quaint town where Greg Parker founded his business, Niagara Rowing School.

An Early Retirement Project

At the young age of 53, Greg told us, he fell in love with rowing, bought his first single rowing shell, and brought it down to the Jordan Harbour where there was a school.

niagara rowing school
Greg, Niagara Rowing School’s Owner, showing us around, with Yegana and Ben (Photo: Lindo Photography)

Four years later, and after purchasing a few more boats, Greg retired from his regular day job, where he managed a food processing company, and bought over the former school. He now manages Niagara Rowing School from mid-May into the mid-October.

Eco Adventure Travel
Yegana by the canoe (Photo: Lindo Photography)

Catering to all ages, he runs a rowing school for adults, and a youth learn to row program from May to August, with 21 rowing shells, 13 kayaks, and 3 canoes available for rent.

Eco Adventure Travel
Canoe stash (Photo: Lindo Photography)

The Jordan Harbour

“The harbour itself”, Greg explained to our team, “is 2,000 meters long just to the closest train bridge, as much as 700 meters wide and is fairly well protected. It’s an irregular shore, and it’s quite picturesque with trees and logs that are many years old.”

“When the sun is out, there are black turtles sunbathing on the logs. People have seen as many as 100 while on their kayaking expedition. We often see geese swimming with their gosling, and swans with their cygnets that come out every year.”

Learning to Paddle

Greg helped Ben, Yegana, and I step into our kayaks, which he assured us were sturdy and unlikely to flip. Rest assured, they didn’t feel wobbly at all in the fairly still water.

Eco Adventure Travel
Yegana in her kayak (Photo: Lindo Photography)
Eco Adventure Travel
Debra in kayak (Photo: Lindo Photography)

Greg then told us how to do basic paddling maneuvers: how to do a forward stroke, how to do a backward stroke, how to turn, and how to stop. It was all very easy to learn.

Once settled, he gave us two possible routes: The first was to head east towards an abandoned ship under the Queen Elizabeth Highway connecting to Lake Ontario, and the second was west to paddle towards the Owl Foundation with 50 cages built on the side of the harbour’s hill.

Under the Train Bridge

This time around, we decided to head west towards the bridge.

Eco Adventure Travel
View from kayak (Photo: Lindo Photography)

“It’s a magnificent bridge,” Greg exclaimed. “The train bridge was the main train route in 1902. It’s still used as the main train line coming in from the United States into Canada. Just past the bridge are the stone monuments that held the original train bridge in 1867, now commonly used for rock climbing.”

Eco Adventure Travel
Under bridge (Photo: Lindo Photography)

Journey to the Abandoned Ship

Last but not least, Greg showed us a recognizable landmark along the Niagara Queen Elizabeth Way (QEW) from Toronto – La Grande Hermine – a 140 foot abandoned ship is a replica of the largest of three ships that French Explorer Jacques Cartier used to sail the St. Lawrence River.

On the way, we passed a picturesque teal and white lighthouse.

View from boat on way (Photo: Lindo Photography)
Eco Adventure Travel
Lighthouse (Photo: Lindo Photography)

As we pulled closer towards the highway, we could see the ship’s rust orange crisp structure, the result of a 2003 arson fire attack on this once-used cargo ship, that was built in 1914. The abandoned ship tilted strongly to one side as it partially floated, and partially sat under the water’s surface, only just a few metres of the shoreline off the Jordan Harbour.

Taking an even closer look, we could see shrubbery growing all across inside the ship, though it was unclear if this was a natural occurrence or not. The ship with its rustic nature and greenery as well created a very unique setting for photos to complete our day.

eco adventure travel
Abandoned ship (Photo: Lindo Photography)
eco adventure travel
(Photo: Lindo Photography)

About Niagara Rowing School

Niagara Rowing School offers leisurely 2-hour kayak or canoe paddling across the picturesque shoreline of Jordan Harbour, around the reed islands, and home of swans, geese, ducks, sunbathing turtles, and many more wonderful animals.

For more information, visit http://www.niagararowingschool.com 


About Ecotour Magazine

Ecotour Magazine promotes the emerging Canadian Ecotourism industry to a global audience by highlighting uniquely Canadian destinations, products, and services.

Remember that sharing is caring, and each article shared helps support our cause to raise awareness of eco adventure travel opportunities in Canada.

Join our conversation on FacebookInstagram, and Twitter for the latest updates.

Start your Bruce Trail Adventure at Bonnybank Bed & Breakfast | Niagara Region

We visited Bonnybank BnB, a Tudor Revival home that dates back as far as 1919, with dynamited pink stone arches and Grimsby sandstone, reclaimed from the nearby Grand Trunk Railway piers, with a prime location, just a 25 minute drive from Niagara Falls.

EcotourMag team with Cedar (Photo: Lindo Photography)

Carla Carlson, Owner, acquired this house from the previous owner, Dr. Gibson, father of Kay McKeever, The Founder of the Owl Foundation sanctuary, with whom she shares her secluded 18 acres of Carolinian woodland on the edge of Twenty Mile Creek ANSI (area of natural scientific interest).

Bonnybank BnB Vineland
Owner, Carla, and dog, Cedar (Photo: Lindo Photography)

Carla has degrees from Guelph University in Agriculture/Horticulture, and Brock University in Environmental Science and Biology, and has over 14 years of work experience at Agriculture Canada. Based on her background, it’s no surprise Carla chose a property surrounded by nature to open her first Bed and Breakfast.

Bonnybank BnB Vineland
Cedar, Carla’s dog (Photo: Lindo Photography)

After being greeted by Cedar, Carla’s sweet and friendly Golden Retriever, we settled in our bedrooms.

Bedrooms

The Red Squirrel

The Red Squirrel holds a Queen size bed with a shared bathroom, Internet access and central AC, with a fantastic view of an 80-year old pine tree just outside the window.

The Red Squirrel Room (Photo: Lindo Photography)

It was a cozy stay with dim lampshade lighting, wooden table sets, set comforters and pillows, decorated with a bunny stuffed animal set on top to remind us of the wonderful night inhabitants just outside our windows.

The Red Squirrel Room (Photo: Lindo Photography)
The Red Squirrel Room (Photo: Lindo Photography)

The Night Owl

The Night Owl had a similar appearance to The Red Squirrel, but was instead set up with two twin beds, but it can also be set up with a King size bed as well.

Bonnybank BnB Vineland
The Night Owl Room (Photo: Lindo Photography)
The Night Owl Room (Photo: Lindo Photography)

This room had a fantastic view of the trees outside, and we could see the night stars just from looking out the window.

Bonnybank BnB Vineland
Outside View (Photo: Lindo Photography)

Amenities

There was one shared bathroom with a shower with running hot water. Carla reminded us to be mindful of the amount of water that we used, to reduce unnecessary consumption. Basic toiletries were provided for our stay as well.

We enjoyed the shared dining room area, filled fun outdoor-themed décor, nick-knacks, and re-used antique furniture, giving it a homely feel.

Bonnybank BnB Vineland
Nick-Knacks (Photo: Lindo Photography)
Bonnybank BnB Vineland
Close-up of decor (Photo: Lindo Photography)

It’s a warm and friendly atmosphere for eating your meals, and we had access to Carla’s full kitchen as well to use for our food preparation.

Garden

After a long afternoon of sightseeing, we winded down by exploring the terrace and the surrounding yards. Carla has an organic vegetable garden, a perennial, and a shrub and herb garden. Her property is also home to a wide variety of garden flowers to explore, and a number of wildlife viewings to be seen like squirrels, chipmunks, bunnies, owls, frogs, and marsh birds who call Bonnybank their home.

Bonnybank BnB Vineland
Carla’s Garden (Photo: Lindo Photography)
Bonnybank BnB Vineland
Carla’s Garden (Photo: Lindo Photography)
Bonnybank BnB Vineland
Carla’s Garden (Photo: Lindo Photography)
Bonnybank BnB Vineland
Carla’s Garden (Photo: Lindo Photography)
Bonnybank BnB Vineland
Carla’s Garden (Photo: Lindo Photography)
Bonnybank BnB Vineland
Carla’s Garden (Photo: Lindo Photography)

Just ask Carla if you need help identifying any of the flora or herbs, and she will gladly help you out. Being a naturalist, environmentalist and past president of the Peninsula Field Naturalist Club, Carla told us about her strong interest and knowledge of plants.

Activities

 During the year, Carla offers cross-country skiing, skating, ponds, organic gardens, kayaks, and a campfire site. In 1996, Carla founded Niagara Nature Tours, based on the guidelines and principles of Ecotourism. Themes of her tours include nature, wine, garden, history and agriculture, and these tour types can be customly arranged to fit around your interests. Check out EcotourMag’s ‘Off-the-Beaten-Path’ tour here.

Reflections

Carla clearly conveys her knowledge of conservation, wildlife and local eating with to her guests. She reminded us to conserve energy by turning off lights and to save water and by not using more resources than we needed. She also shared fresh eggs in the morning with us and pointed out they were from her neighbour’s chicken farm so she could support a local neighbour’s business.

Bonnybank BnB Vineland
Fresh eggs (Photo: Lindo Photography)

About Bonnybank Bed & Breakfast

Bonnybank Bed and Breakfast is in a 1919 American Tudor Revival home made of red Grimsby sandstone, reclaimed from the nearby Grand Trunk Railway piers. It’s just 3 minutes away from Jordan Village and 20 minutes away from Niagara Falls.

You can read more about Bonnybank B&B here.


About Ecotour Magazine

Ecotour Magazine promotes the emerging Canadian Ecotourism industry to a global audience by highlighting uniquely Canadian destinations, products, and services.

Remember that sharing is caring, and each article shared helps support our cause to raise awareness of eco-minded travel opportunities in Canada.

Join our conversation on FacebookInstagram, and Twitter for the latest updates.

5 Reasons to Hike the Niagara Glen This Fall | Niagara Region

Want to fit in one more hike this fall? Look no further than visiting the Niagara Glen Nature Reserve, Ontario, where we enjoyed winding stairways that led to 4 kilometres of paths, winding through pristine pockets of Carolinian Forest. Want to know more?

Read on to learn about #EcotourMag Team’s top 5 reasons for hiking the Niagara Glen!

Niagara Glen Hike
Debra & Yegana at hike entrance (Photo: Lindo Photography)

Reason 1: See the Niagara River Rapids

Niagara Glen Hike
Niagara River (Photo: Lindo Photography)

To add onto the breadth of incredible snapshots Ben took in our Niagara View by Bike experience, the Niagara Glen Nature Reserve Hiking path offered our team even more opportunities to capture the incredible mystique of the Niagara River.

Niagara Glen Hike
Niagara Glen map (Photo: Lindo Photography)

The river stretches across your hike, along the ‘River Path’, as you can see in the above map, and until you reach this path, there are several lookouts that allow you to view the rushing flow of aqua-blue water from heights above ground level.

Reason 2: Hike Along Challenging Trails

First things first, if you’re hiking through the Niagara Glen, know that there are elevation changes of over 60-metres, and this hike is definitely not wheel-chair friendly, but more appropriate for the moderately skilled adventurer.

Niagara Glen Hike
Ben hiking the Glen (Photo: Lindo Photography)

Ben, Yegana, and I held a helping hand for each other to get across steep and rugged terrain. We experienced a load of laughter and fun, as we hiked over large rocks, small pebbles, and avoided rugged branches that reached upwards towards our feet.

Niagara Glen Hike
Climbing help (Photo: Lindo Photography)

Reason 3: Witness the Awe-Inspiring Boulders

For over 30-years, the Niagara Glen has become a popular bouldering area among enthusiasts, though you should know, a permit is required from the Butterfly Conservatory to participate in this popular outdoor sport.

Niagara Glen Hike
Yegana & boulder (Photo: Lindo Photography)

Since we were on a self-guided tour, without a permit, we didn’t boulder, but we did meander around the grandiose world of larger-than-life stone formations, which provided us with countless amusing photo opportunities.

Niagara Glen Bouldering
Debra & Boulders (Photo: Lindo Photography)

Reason 4: Discover Native Species to Niagara

Niagara Glen Hike
Debra & Yegana (Photo: Lindo Photography)

As we hiked further into the Glen, we saw the Niagara River upclose, which is surrounded by native species found south of the Great Lakes, like Red Mulberry, Beach-Oak Sugar Maple, Spicebush, Sassafras, Sycamore, and Black Walnut, to name a few of them.

Yegana and I found a large rock where Ben snapped our picture, overlooking the clay soil of the Niagara River corridor, a legacy as old as the Ice Age. Over 18, 000 years ago, it is hard to imagine that the same ground was covered by ice 2-3 kilometres thick, before it melted to create the basins of the Great Lakes.

Niagara River Hike
Niagara River up-close (Photo: Lindo Photography)

Reason 5: Experience Independent Outdoor Learning

If you’re looking for an educative outdoor experience, The Niagara Glen Nature Centre offers exhibits and programming to help visitors learn about the biological and physical components of the Niagara Glen environment.

Niagara Glen Hike
Rock formations (Photo: Lindo Photography)

For example, The Niagara Glen Nature Exchange exhibit awards visitors points based on the rarity, quality, and condition of ‘nature items’ they find on the trail, whether it’s a pinecone or a 200 million-year old fossil! As a result, the Nature Exchange encourages independent research and learning for visitors of all ages.

Niagara Glen Hike
Yegana hiking the Glen (Photo: Lindo Photography)

About the Niagara Glen

The Niagara Glen is located in the Niagara Gorge, with pathways winding through the Carolinian Forest, past geological formations, wild flora, and fauna.

The Niagara Glen overlooks the rapid waters of the Niagara River and the Niagara River Whirlpool. Read more about the Niagara Glen here.


About Ecotour Magazine

Ecotour Magazine promotes the emerging Canadian Ecotourism industry to a global audience by highlighting uniquely Canadian destinations, products, and services.

Remember that sharing is caring, and each article shared helps support our cause to raise awareness of eco-minded travel opportunities in Canada.

Join our conversation on FacebookInstagram, and Twitter for the latest updates.

Whale Watching off the Coast of Newfoundland | Guest Post

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Humpback Whale (Photo: Laurel Stowe)

“It was just fabulous, all of it. Our guide, the scenery, the birds, the whales. Especially the whales.”

That’s Laurel S. who spoke to me recently about her Newfoundland whale watching July 2017 tour of the Avalon Peninsula.

iceberg canada
Laurel with Iceberg (Photo: Laurel Stowe)

The married mother of two from Florida was a first-time visitor to Newfoundland. Wildland Tours of St. John’s provided the nature-themed itinerary. EcoTourLinQ.com and Comfort Hotels International co-sponsored Laurel’s trip following a giveaway promotion. Laurel joined a small group of other newcomers, including a couple from Calgary, two men from the UK, and a woman from far-away Australia.

Bonavista Light Station
Bonavista Light Station (Photo: Laurel Stowe)

The tour-takers were curious about everything they saw – from the wildflowers in open fields – to the red rock coastal cliffs – to the passing icebergs and the ocean water temperatures. They enjoyed walking around Salmonier Nature Park, observing rescued wild creatures such as Snowy owls, mink, caribou, and red and Arctic foxes.

Round Da Bay Inn
Round Da Bay Inn Accommodations (Photo: Laurel Stowe)

But nothing quite compared to Newfoundland whale watching where the group saw Humpback whales around Witless Bay.

“I’ve seen these whales ONLY in pictures before,” Laurel told me.

 “But to see them for myself up close – it’s thrilling!”

“I learned a lot about them, such as you can identify individuals by the markings on their tails. I could sit in the zodiac and watch them all day long, I enjoyed it so much.”

Heading west and north the next day, the group once again opted for off-the-coast Newfoundland whale watching. They set off from King’s Cove and traveled well into the Atlantic Ocean. Then – there was a big surprise.

Sperm whale
Sperm Whale (Photo: Laurel Stowe)

“We got to see sperm whales!” Laurel exclaimed.

Sperm whales are deep divers, and they can hold their breath underwater for 2-hours or more – so to see them is quite unusual” Darrel, Laurel’s guide explained. “The humpbacks are different and can’t stay underwater that long. They have to come up for air a lot more often,” Darrel added.

Tickle Cove
Tickle Cove Clear Water (Photo: Laurel Stowe)

“I couldn’t believe how clear and blue the water was,” Laurel remarked. “You could see how big these Sperm whales were, and see their entire backs along the water’s surface.”

Days in the field were followed by dinners of fried cod’s tongue, fish ‘n chips, a bit of partridge berry jam, and cocktails made with Screech rum. Laurel liked everything she tried. She even bought a bottle of Screech to bring home.

Screech rum
Screech rum (Photo: Laurel Stowe)

I asked her: “Did anyone in your group share a particularly interesting comment or observation when you all sat down to share a meal?”

“A few mentioned they had taken ‘self-guided’ nature tours in the past, but now they would only sign up for ‘guided’ tours,” she replied. “When you have a fantastic local expert like Darrell giving you the finer details and answering all of your questions, it really makes a big difference in your experience.”

Red Slate Cliffs
Guided tour stop: Red Slate Cliffs (Photo: Laurel Stowe)

Would she return some day to Canada to see other parts of Newfoundland and Labrador? Or to visit other provinces?

“Sure! But first I might actually go back to the places on this tour – so that I can visit them again and stay a bit longer.”

“Since Florida is a favorite vacation destination for many Canadians, do you think more Floridians should return the favour and visit Canada?” I teased.

“Oh, absolutely. It’s so very different up there!”


Notes from the Author

For the benefit of ecotourism business owners, I think there are two takeaway lessons here that I would like to add:

1. Knowledgeable guides can make or break a wildlife tour experience for participants, so hire and retain the best possible guides.
2. The value of guides should be clearly emphasized and promoted in all marketing channels (including quotes, photos, and video clips); be sure to add testimonials from past guests.


About Ecotour Magazine

Ecotour Magazine promotes the emerging Canadian Ecotourism industry to a global audience by highlighting uniquely Canadian destinations, products, and services.

Remember that sharing is caring, and each article shared helps support our cause to raise awareness of eco-minded travel opportunities in Canada.

Join our conversation on FacebookInstagram, and Twitter for the latest updates.

McGregor’s Pub & Grill Restaurant Review | Niagara Region

McGregor’s Pub & Grill opened last year, on April 18, 2016, located just 5-minutes away from St. Catherines in Vineland. Our team wanted to find a local restaurant that we could recommend for visitors of Bonnybank Bed & Breakfast, as part of our Niagara Region Tour, and Carla, Bonnybank’s owner, suggested this venue to us based on the premise that it was a newly opened venue to check out, just a few minutes away from her BnB.

Kyle’s Founding Story

We interviewed Kyle, McGregor’s Owner, to find out his backstory in opening McGregor’s. He told us that he had managed hotels for the last 25 years, and after a bad car accident, he decided it was time to buy his own place. So he found a property that was being leased by a high-end fine dining restaurant, and turned it into an affordable and cheerful pub-style atmosphere, something the neighbourhood urged for, but was clearly missing.

Caesar salad (Photo: Lindo Photography)
Onion rings (Photo: Lindo Photography)

Family-Inspired Food

We asked Kyle about the reasoning behind the restaurant’s Scottish theme. We liked the décor, as it felt very homey. “The Fish and Chips is my aunt’s recipe. The Cockie Leekie soup is my dad’s recipe,” said Kyle. “We wanted to have that Scottish flavour, so the pictures in the pub are from the Glasgow Gorbals, a poor area that was struck hard from the war, but yet all the kids are playing. We also have family swag and pictures up on the wall.”

Glasgow Gorbals (Photo: Lindo Photography)

Keeping it Local

One main draw for us to visit this restaurant was its local food offerings, building a sense of community support, and shortening the time between farm to table. “We do use local produce from local farmers, and all our wines are from local wineries,” said Greg.” We also have craft brewers and try to keep it local whenever we can. There’s really nothing too complicated here. This is a very proud area near where I grew up in St. Catherines.”

(Photo: Lindo Photography)
Beer on tap (Photo: Lindo Photography)

Ben’s Food Review

“When in the Niagara area and you’re looking for a place to grab a beer, hangout and eat, McGregors Pub is a great local option,” commented Ben.

“I think they’re raising the bar on ‘bar foods’. The prices and portions were good. I like that they use some traditional family recipes and make things from scratch with ingredients from local sources; it gives the food a sense of authenticity.”

(Photo: Lindo Photography)
Grilled cheese (Photo: Lindo Photography)

About McGregor’s Pub & Grill

McGregor’s is an affordable and friendly pub & grill in Vineland, Ontario. They offer a variety of food options, including Scottish themed foods, and a wide selection of craft brews and wines produced by local farmers and craft brewers.

For more information on McGregor’s Pub & Grill, you can check out their Facebook page


About Ecotour Magazine

Ecotour Magazine promotes the emerging Canadian Ecotourism industry to a global audience by highlighting uniquely Canadian destinations, products, and services.

Remember that sharing is caring, and each article shared helps support our cause to raise awareness of eco-minded travel opportunities in Canada.

Join our conversation on FacebookInstagram, and Twitter for the latest updates.

Learning the Importance of Community in Port Dalhousie | Niagara Segway Tour

niagara segway tour

Imagine shifting your body weight from left to right, front to back, and whichever way you decide to lean is the direction in which you’d move. That’s how intuitive it was to learn how to navigate our mighty, big, battery-run machines on our Niagara Segway Tour in Rennie Park in Port Dalhousie.

niagara segway tour

Getting Started

It took just about 10-minutes for our training session and getting fitted with our safety helmets.

niagara segway tour

We then zoomed across a bridge over the Welland Canal to Jaycee Garden Park.

niagara segway tour

Halfway across, Archie, our guide and now retired owner of Niagara Segway (New owner is Guitou Don), stopped our group to show us the waterway and pointed out how the river locks system works. He was very knowledgeable about Port Dalhousie, having grown up in the area with his family.

niagara segway tour

Outdoor Museum

There were monuments spread throughout the park, like an interactive outdoor museum. One memorial that Archie showed us on our Segway tour was for the fallen victims of Paul Bernardo and Karla Homolka, a tragic series of murders that occured in the early 90s in Port Dalhousie.

niagara segway tour

Another sculpture on our Segway tour was dedicated to individuals who had passed in the atomic bombings of Japan in Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

niagara segway tour

Each monument shared a heart-felt historical moment in history and emphasized the importance of community. Even the most tragic times in history brought the Port Dalhousie community together to remember those who were lost.

Park Wildlife

Aside from monuments, another plus to this tour was the ability to see undisturbed park wildlife. Our Segways were so quiet, that we zipped by a family of geese walking across the path’s side with their goslings, and they weren’t bothered or afraid of us at all, making for an easy photo-snapping opportunity.

niagara segway tour

Natural Beauty

Overall, what made this Segway tour special and memorable was the conversations, about the history, culture, and nature of Port Dalhousie. The monuments along the way added a special touch to remember tragedies of the past, but our tour showed us there was a bright, blooming future ahead for Port Dalhousie, in all of its natural beauty.

Park goers were walking their dogs, biking, jogging, and cheerfully enjoying the outdoor summer sunshine, and whenever we passed them, we always heard them shout, “That looks so cool! I want to try a Segway tour!”


 * All expenses for this trip were provided for by the Owner, so please keep this in mind, however, I did tell Archie beforehand I was going to write honestly about our experience.


About Niagara Segway
Niagara Segway offers a variety of affordable, family-friendly Segway tours in the Niagara Region. Tours include the Henry of Pelham Winery and Vineyard Tour, the Welland Canal Tour and the Port Dalhousie Tour.

For more information on Niagara Segway Tours, visit http://www.niagarasegway.ca


About Ecotour Magazine
Ecotour Magazine promotes the emerging Canadian Ecotourism industry to a global audience by highlighting uniquely Canadian destinations, products, and services.

Remember that sharing is caring, and each article shared helps support our cause to raise awareness of eco-minded travel opportunities in Canada!

Join our conversation on FacebookInstagram, and Twitter for the latest updates.

Off the Beaten Path Guided Nature Tour | Niagara Region

Whether you are looking for an elegant wine and culinary party, to a private winery tour, farm or nature adventure, Carla Carlson, Owner of Niagara Nature Tours can help you plan out customized guided tours in the Niagara Region.

Carla is well known to Niagara Region as a local naturalist, environmentalist and past president of the Peninsula Field Naturalist Club.

guided tours niagara
Carla (Photo: Lindo Photography)

She works with a team of specialists including Natives, Wine Aficionados, Naturalists, Horticulturalists, Storytellers and Geologists to offer customized hikes, walks and guiding experiences in the Niagara Region.

In this write-up, I’ll touch upon highlights from Ecotour Magazine’s guided tour stops with Carla: The Mile Creek Side Trail & Gibson House, Beamer Memorial Conservation Area & Lookout Trail, and Forks Road Pottery & the historical Grimsby Train Depot.

Stop # 1 Forty Mile Creek Side Trail & Gibson House

Ben, Yegana, and I started our guided tour in downtown Grimsby, where Carla took us to visit the Forty Mile Creek Side Trail.

guided tours niagara
Forty Mile Creek (Photo: Lindo Photography)

This trail consists of approximately 1.7 km of path, and is a popular place for walkers, joggers and cyclists. It connects to the Beamer Memorial Conservation Area, in as little as a 20-minute walk to Beamer Falls, the Bruce Trail and other side trails. Forty Mile Creek is filled with valleys and ridges of Red Oak and Sugar Maple trees.

guided tours niagara
(Photo: Lindo Photography)

Our first guided tour site visit was the Gibson House, an Ontario Heritage site that was built circa 1862 by Robert Lillie Gibson.

guided tours niagara
Gibson House (Photo: Lindo Photography)

Robert and his men were stonemasons from Scotland, and had contracts with the Great Western Railroad for bridges as far as Sarnia to Rimouski. He helped style many site developments along the Escarpment, and therefore the Gibson House holds significance in defining the pink Grimsby stone architecture of that early era.

guided tours niagara
(Photo: Lindo Photography)
guided tours niagara
(Photo: Lindo Photography)

Stop # 2 Beamer Memorial Conservation Area & Lookout Trail 

Our next guided tour stop was the Beamer Memorial Conservation Area. BMCA is a site that was acquired by the Niagara Peninsula Conservation Authority in 1964, to protect and preserve the Niagara Escarpment and the Forty-Mile Creek valley system.

guided tours niagara
(Photo: Lindo Photography)

Designated as an Internationally Important Bird Area (IBA), it is recognized as the best site in the Peninsula to observe the annual hawk migration with events such as the 20 years strong Raptorfest in May, a family-friendly event that promotes public education about Raptors and other wildlife.

guided tours niagara
(Photo: Lindo Photography)

After discussing the many birding opportunities available at BMCA, we then walked another 25-minutes to reach a Lookout Trail of 920m, where we were about to find a rewarding panoramic view overlooking the Canadian Carolinian forest.

guided tours niagara
(Photo: Lindo Photography)

Along the route, we came across multiple trees that lay sideways, having fallen from old age, rain storms or heavy winds.

guided tours niagara
(Photo: Lindo Photography)

The Carolinian forest is an area of natural and scientific interest, as well as part of the Niagara Escarpment International Biosphere Reserve.

guided tours niagara
(Photo: Lindo Photography)

It’s mutually protected by over a hundred private landowners through voluntary stewardship, in partnership with a wide range of conservation groups and agencies. Talk about the power of numbers and making a change to promote environmental protection!

guided tours niagara
(Photo: Lindo Photography)

Along the route to the lookout, Carla helped us identify ancient-forest flora and fauna, using a handy guidebook she packed for our walk.

guided tours niagara
(Photo: Lindo Photography)

Mission accomplished! We made it to the lookout point that overlooked the forested area surrounding Grimsby. Carla brought along binoculars to look for birds and other wildlife, while the rest of us enjoyed the panoramic views and each other’s company.

guided tours niagara
(Photo: Lindo Photography)
guided tours niagara
Ben, Yegana, Debra (Photo: Lindo Photography)

Stop #3 Forks Road Pottery in the Historical Grimsby Train Depot

As our final guided tour stop, we visited Marsha Cox, Owner and Potter of Forks Road Pottery, with operations based in Grimsby’s Great Western Railway Station.

guided tours niagara
(Photo: Lindo Photography)

Marsha abandoned her professional medical field of radiography to follow her heart in studying ceramics at Sheridan College in Oakville, which led her to move to England to continue her pottery training in 1973. After years of studying and practicing pottery at the West Surrey College of Art, she opened the Forks Road Pottery in 1978.

guided tours niagara
(Photo: Lindo Photography)

Marsha explained that she creates a variety of projects, with a following of customers who keep coming back for her high fired, pure porcelain pottery, that’s also oven-cooking friendly.

guided tours niagara
(Photo: Lindo Photography)

Meandering around the shop, we saw a variety of hand-painted products, inspired by world pottery traditions from France, the Netherlands, England, and Germany. The space was  filled with antiques, from wall-to-wall, from old typewriters, to artsy odds and ends.

guided tours niagara
(Photo: Lindo Photography)
guided tours niagara
(Photo: Lindo Photography)

Reflections                                                                                             

Carla put a lot of thought into providing our team with an overview of Grimsby’s history, nature, and local art. Whether you’re into rocks, plants, wildlife, art, First Nations history, or wine tasting what’s awesome is that Carla can create a nature tour that suits you and your interests! High recommendations.

Stay tuned for our article on Bonnybank Bed & Breakfast, Carla’s Bed & Breakfast, and if you are looking for vegan food near Niagara, check out our article on Rise Above


About Niagara Nature Tours

Niagara Nature Tours offers consulting services, speakers, programming, workshops, slides shows, presentations, step-on guiding services, tours, hikes and walks – from one hour to one week or longer, showcasing Niagara’s natural beauty!

For more information, or to plan your Niagara Nature Tour this summer, visit https://www.niagaranaturetours.ca/


About Ecotour Magazine

Ecotour Magazine promotes the emerging Canadian Ecotourism industry to a global audience by highlighting uniquely Canadian destinations, products, and services.

Remember that sharing is caring, and each article shared helps support our cause to raise awareness of eco-minded travel opportunities in Canada.

Join our conversation on FacebookInstagram, and Twitter for the latest updates.

Niagara’s First Vegan Restaurant & Bakery | Rise Above Review

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(Photo: Lindo Photography)

Some people may wonder what a vegan restaurant has to do with ecotourism or helping the environment, but reducing animal product consumption, in my opinion, is actually one of the most effective ways any single person can help.

Rise Above Vegan Restaurant St Catherines
Rise Above sign (Photo: Lindo Photography)

From chatting with Rise Above Restaurant & Bakery’s Owner, Brian Gasbarini, I could tell that protecting the environment and animal welfare were the main reasons he established the restaurant in St Catherines, Ontario:

“For me, the main advantages of a vegan diet for environmental reasons are water usage and land usage,” Brian said.

Rise Above Restaurant St Catherines
Brian Gasbarini, Rise Above Owner (Photo: Lindo Photography)

“Basically, what we are doing is mass breeding animals and creating a much larger population of those animals that naturally exist in the wild. So instead of feeding people directly, we’re feeding animals to feed people, which multiplies the amount of food and water we need by up to 10 to 16 times because we are filtering it through other species of animal. Secondly, livestock produces methane gas, which has a huge impact on global warming, much more significantly than carbon dioxide, so the fact that we are mass-producing animals that release methane is also contributing significantly.” 

The Atmosphere

The restaurant has an independent, downtown café kind of vibe to it.

Rise Above Vegan Restaurant St Catherines
Downtown vibe (Photo: Lindo Photography)

The walls are decorated with canvas paintings by local artists that are available for purchase.

Rise Above Vegan Restaurant St Catherines
Decorative art for sale (Photo: Lindo Photography)

The Mantra, Reduce, Reuse Recycle, comes to mind, as they use glass Mason jars for serving different drinks, and even for holding some of the light bulbs.

Rise Above Vegan Restaurant St Catherines
Mason jar light fixture (Photo: Lindo Photography)

The Food

 After a long hot day exploring the Niagara region, I enjoyed a berry smoothie with avocado, with a variety of antioxidant packed berries in it. It was very fresh and not sweetened like other smoothies I’ve tried.

Rise Above Vegan Restaurant St Catherines
Berry smoothie with avocado (Photo: Lindo Photography)

We also tried their popular meat alternative called seitan, which is actually gluten based instead of soy. I was pleased with the taste and texture of the seitan (all hail seitan!) and their delicious sauces did make it taste similar to chicken wings as they had intended with the dish. The dipping sauce that came with my side dish of veggies was creamy and light.

Rise Above Vegan Restaurant St Catherines
Seitan dish (Photo: Lindo Photography)

I do remember there being some gluten-free meal options and baked goods available as well.

Rise Above Vegan Restaurant St Catherines
Gluten-free baked goods (Photo: Lindo Photography)

We also ordered gnocchi pasta, which was delicious and had a very soft delicate texture. It was covered in a cashew cream rose sauce with hints of zucchini ribbons and fresh basil.

Rise Above Vegan Restaurant St Catherines
Gnocchi pasta (Photo: Lindo Photography)

My bean and sweet potato based burger may have contained some soy but it was definitely not the main ingredient. It came topped with what looked like guacamole and vegan mayonnaise, which was very tasty. Overall it was a great healthy and satisfying vegan burger. It came with fried potato wedges, which seemed a bit out of place to me as it’s not quite so healthy but it is vegan.

Rise Above Restaurant St Catherines
Vegan burger plate (Photo: Lindo Photography)

When chatting with Brian, this encouraged me to ask him about the restaurant’s health initiatives:

“We get a lot of people that come in here for health reasons,” answered Brian. “But honestly, fried seitan is not healthy – it’s deep fried, and desserts with sugar in them are not healthy.”

Salt shakers (Photo: Lindo Photography)

“For us it’s not about the healthy but about the ethics, and the fact we are removing animal products and making food more environmentally friendly, and less harmful to animals.”

“We don’t want to be just be one thing. Especially because we are located in a small city that doesn’t have other vegan restaurants. In a place like Toronto, vegan restaurants tend to specialize in healthy vs. comfort food. For us, we want to have a little bit of everything.”

Dessert

When trying the vegan cheesecake, and chocolate turtle cake, I had briefly forgot there were no dairy products in them. It definitely was the best vegan cheesecake I’ve ever had, and pretty close tasting to the real thing, I didn’t get that weird soy taste I had noticed in another vegan cheesecake brand. We all enjoyed the chocolate turtle cake. I’m a fan of rich dark chocolate desserts.

Rise Above Restaurant St Catherines
Chocolate turtle cake (Photo: Lindo Photography)

As the portions were large, we ended up ordering way too much food and had to take some to go. I noticed that they use cardboard boxes, which are biodegradable or recyclable. Sadly, many other mainstream restaurants still resort to using Styrofoam.

As for customer service, the staff was attentive and friendly, and I don’t recall there being any unacceptable delays at any part of our dining experience.


About Rise Above Restaurant & Bakery

Rise Above is an all vegan restaurant and bakery, located in the heart of downtown St. Catharines, Ontario. They specialize in comfort foods, healthy choices, and fresh baked desserts.

For more information, visit riseaboverestaurant.com, or get the latest Rise Above updates on Facebook and Twitter.


About Ecotour Magazine

Ecotour Magazine promotes the emerging Canadian Ecotourism industry to a global audience by highlighting uniquely Canadian destinations, products, and services.

Remember that sharing is caring, and each article shared helps support our cause to raise awareness of eco-minded travel opportunities in Canada.

Join our conversation on FacebookInstagram, and Twitter for the latest updates.