words & photos :: Glen Harris
What is it about being challenged by those who love you, that works so well as a life motivator? My wife Signy laughed at my idea of a three-month national parks tour from Ontario to the East Coast. Then, the next thing we knew, we were off.
Headed down the road I couldn’t help thinking, What have I done? I miss my dog, and friends, house, sailboat… and right now I miss having a bit of space from the people I’m crammed in a car with.
I turned up the music—just be present, right? First Wave satellite radio was playing Bowie’s “Heroes”. The warm wind was blowing through the car, and I settled in as shotgun.
“Dad, can you can change the music to Hits, please?”
My son Leo didn’t like Hits, though; he wanted quiet. Signy wanted quiet as well.
Then, silence. We were speeding away from the lovely Blue Mountains, home. Shrugging off the agita, I rolled the window down a little further.
“Can you put that up, please? I just put the AC on.” It wasn’t a question.
There ended up being many questions that day though:
What’s to eat?
Which way do we go?
Can we pull over?
What’s the point of this?
How much longer? How much longer? How much longer?
Is there anything else to eat?
There were low points that first day, oh there were many. Divider walls of pillows between my daughter and son in the back seat. Suck attacks (mostly by me).
Little did we know all the joy and wonder that we were about to find as the miles piled up.
Little did I know how tight we’d get as a clan on the road. Little did I know that I actually liked top-40 music from time to time. The playground of the East is vast. The parks are all off the hook. And the people are so darn nice it’s unnerving. They just look right at you and make conversation. They slow it down, and generally speaking take it in better. Their mountains are big, beaches long, and parks massive.
Canada’s got it going on, no doubt about it. Take the time to get to know it. Take the time to know your family. Take time in our national parks. And thank you, Siri.
Known for its multi-day hikes and beautiful and remote shoreline, Pukaskwa National Park is located in Ontario on the northeastern shore of Lake Superior.
Forillon National Park is located on the outer tip of the Gaspe Peninsula in Northern Quebec. There are heritage centres, lookouts, biking and hiking trails, and stunner Acadian shoreline view. Nearby is iconic Perce Rock, a GeoPark, zip-lines, and a glass-bottom lookout. All impress big time. There’s the French culture and Acadian Pride that has to be felt to be understood.
Kejimkujik National Park can be summed up in three Canadian words: Rivers, Trails, Lakes. Boasting over 400 square kilometres in total, Nova Scotia’s Keji boasts eight major lakes, four main rivers, and 47 km of trails.
Where else can you walk on the ocean floor, descend on endless singletrack bike trails, catch live music, explore covered bridges and paddle through cascading fog, all in one day—or maybe two? Located just an hour and a half away from Saint John, NB, Fundy National Park provides.
Cape Breton Highlands National Park & PEI National Park
In Newfoundland we visited Gros Morne National Park on the west coast, Terra Nova National Park on the east coast, plus Fisher’s Loft Inn, Port Rexton, north of St. John’s. Our last stop was Fogo Island.