We’re counting down the days until the Outdoor Adventure Show 2017! But until then, let’s recap on last year’s event, when our media team attended the trade show and interviewed several exhibitors who offer authentic Canadian ecotour experiences.
Here’s our list of 7 noteworthy Canadian ecotour exhibitors we met at OAS 2016
1. Aventure Écotourisme Québec, Laval
Aventure Quebec is an association of over 120 outdoor adventure tours in Quebec, Canada, including all season companies such as kayaking, canoeing, dog sledding, skiing, and mountain biking! Founded 25 years ago, the association began as a way of forming norms around quality, safety and environmental standards of ecotourism for the adventure industry. To qualify as an ecotourism company, companies must meet certain standards in their interpretation programs, such as teaching visitors about nature, following waste and recycling practices, hiring local guides, and using sustainable transportation practices ie. kayaking to see whales as opposed to driving a car alongside the waterfront.
“In Quebec, people are more involved in the way to do tourism now and they want to be good for nature, to try something different and to be more sustainable”
“Nature is something unexpected, something you cannot see in the city, and it’s quite magical sometimes. We have moose, beavers, birds, whales, wolves, deer and much more!” Annie added.
2. Elements Luxury Tented Camp & Nature Spa, Ottawa Valley
Elements opened last June, bringing accessible glamorous camping to the Ottawa Valley with 89 acres of land and 16×20 feet tents with king size beds, antique end tables, propane fireplaces in the living room, off-the-grid solar powered energy, and composting toilets. Perks include wilderness butlers who serve vegan celiac First Nation menu items, a full yoga studio, paddleboards, as well as walking, hiking and bicycling activities. Being conscious of nature is important to Elements. They don’t break up leaves, for example, but let them decompose to provide shelter for salamanders and frogs. Guests are reminded to be mindful of the creatures around the tent community.
“We are finding a way for guests to get back to nature who are new to camping by educating them about what’s around them”
“We have moose, wolves and bears. People say they can’t be around bears, but we have them all over Ontario. It’s about knowing how to interact with animals, that they are more scared of us than we are scared of them!” Nicole mentioned.
3. Eco Trailbuilders & Cabin Falls Ecolodge, Temagami, Ontario
Andrea and Hap Wilson Founded Eco Trail Builders and Cabin Falls Ecolodge in 1984. The government wanted to expropriate their would-be Ecolodge that was just a cabin being used as a safety shelter nearby a popular canoe route, but Andrea and Hap fought to save it. Hap was incorporated as an owner, and the couple expanded the original cabin that was built in 1931 in Lady Evelyn-Smoothwater Wilderness Park to fit about 12 people. It’s completely off-the-grid, with much of the structure made of recycled materials. Varied adventure trips are offered, such as planned and guided walks through the Ancient Forest in Temagami, an area famous for its politics in protecting wilderness.
“Our hiking trails take people deeper into the Ancient forest in temagami, so they can experience and appreciate what we have in Ontario”
“If you get off the river, you see a lot of ecology, environment and wildlife,” said Hap.
4. Long Point Eco Adventures, Long Point, Ontario
Long Point Eco Adventures offers educational outdoor adventures. The site is just a two hours drive from the Greater Toronto Area, off the 403 highway. They have glamping (glamorous camping) tents with wilderness suites that offer heated sheets, king size beds, hot outdoor showers, and new wilderness pods. They also have a world-class winery directly across the street, Burning Kiln Winery, a popular spot with guests. This eco adventure company offers ziplining, an observatory to see the stars, mountain bike rentals, fully guided tours, standup paddle boarding, and the list goes on. Located in a world biosphere reserve, which happens to be in a migratory bird area, visitors can see a variety of birds, fish and reptiles in the area.
“We have hiking tours that teach people about local edible plants, showing visitors about the mushrooms, for example, that grow in our area. There’s lots of education”
“We get family groups, school groups and corporate groups coming in to do team building,” Barna commented.
5. Harmony Outdoor Inn, Parry Sound, Ontario
Dympna Hayes and her husband founded Harmony Outdoor Inn just two years ago. Visitors at the couple’s Ontario Sea Kayak Centre wanted to stay overnight. Creating grounds for glamping and prospector tents offered a comfortable compromise for visitors who came to enjoy nature but also wanted to vacation in comfort. The Inn consists of six tents, all on wooden platform decks, each with a composting toilet, and a common area pavilion that includes an outdoor kitchen and outdoor cedar showers. On-site activities include yoga, standup paddling, and kayaking on 16 acres of protected land, with wildlife such as deer, turkey vultures, and herring in the environmentally protected waterfront.
“It’s Quite magical at night, like a fairy land with everything solar lit and LITTLE lights leading up to every tent”
“The outdoor pavilion creates a community with a common space for people to cook meals. Everyone hangs out, shares a glass of wine in the evening, has a campfire, swaps names and becomes friends,” Dympna described.
6. Wild Women Expeditions, Ontario & Newfoundland
Wild Women Expeditions was founded in Northern Ontario in 1991. Now based in Newfoundland, they offer outdoor active adventures for women in Ontario, British Columbia and Newfoundland, as well as all over the world. If you have an outdoor activity you want to do and a destination, Wild Women Expeditions will organize a tour with a knowledgeable local female guide. Kate Ming-Sun is the Ontario Canoe Guide. She had a life changing moment about three years ago when she decided to follow her passions for outdoor travel by going back to school to study the Outdoor Adventure Naturalist Program at Algonquin College. She combined her marketing skills with her canoe skills to help other women experience the magic of an all women’s outdoor canoe adventure.
“We’ve had women make career changes into outdoor adventure and education because of the feelings of power and confidence they experienced on our trips”
“The sense of empowerment, community, love and friendship amongst a group of women is going to be completely different than a mixed group,” Kate told us.
7. Algonquin Outfitters, Algonquin Provincial Park, Ontario
Founded in 1961, Algonquin Outfitters offers customized canoe trips in Algonquin Provincial Park with their large fleet of lightweight canoes. If you show up with literally your credit card, toothbrush and clothes on your back, Algonquin Outfitters can set you up on a 7-day canoe trip, fully provided with gear, food, canoe, backpack and canoe trip planning. Whether you want a self-guided tour or have the outfitter do a custom guided trip for you – Algonquin Outfitters says they will show you how to have a great time. Their services are catered for people who love canoeing, exploring, nature photography, and simply, just getting away from city life.
“We have a great spot for wildlife. We have bears, moose, red fox, white tailed deer and lots of birds”
“I personally like watching the otters play in the snow in the wintertime,” Randy said.
The Outdoor Adventure Show opened our eyes to the variety of nature-filled, environmentally friendly travel options in Canada. We can’t be more thankful for having made all the connections we did last year, and we are very much looking forward to providing media coverage at the Outdoor Adventure Show 2017! See you there!
The list of ecotour exhibitors doesn’t stop here. We met a lot more, and will be featuring many in our article content over the upcoming year. If you want to get the latest updates, join us on Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter to join our social community! Or, if you prefer, we also have a newsletter sign-up on the bottom of our website.
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!