Before we start I would like to clarify that our experience in Canada is limited to a small area, where we live and where we travel , British Columbia and Yukon , mainly. This is not even half of the country, but it was almost a year and a half in these land . Secondly, I would like to introduce how was our lifestyle , so you can get an idea of what allows us to say that we had a good Canadian experience, for those who have not read the blog , which has detailed these experiences . Our first Canadian reality slap in the face was in beautiful and overpopulated Asian colony of Vancouver. Like any big city , Vancouver has good and bad things , more than I know larger cities more they look alike each other. Once we escape this chaos , we got to Whistler , one of the most touristic places in BC, thus by super expensive , super cool. In summer is the most popular bike downhill park in Canada and Winter top Ski center of North America. Whistler is beautiful and the whole area around it , Garibaldi Provincial Park, Pemberton and stunning Mount Currie
After the summer we work isolated on the mountain in a beautiful location near Whistler called Callaghan Valley. Snowmobiling , shoveling heavy snow , chopping wood and beer, was a typical day in winter. After our work season , we begin our journey : We crossed BC and Yukon to Alaska and back . We met different kind of people, Chileans residents , and many Canadians. We were victims of the great hospitality provided by these folks , we enjoyed local food as deer, elk , buffalo , caribou, and salmon, tried all … We met all kinds of people , professionals, rednecks North (something like a Chilean huaso ) , immigrants , visitors, Chilean , Latin, and worldwide . Ate and prepare all kinds of Chilean dishes (Canadian version) as corn pie and pullmay . Had BBQ take lots of beer most of the time by the house … Travel through these lands can be quite expensive … However has several advantages when you cross it in a camper. For example , it is very easy to find accommodation. In BC the ” Recreational Sites ” are places where you can stay free and strangely are wonderful places, with tables and a fire ring, far away from your neighbor … We found ,in this areas, a place a thousand times better than paid RV park … that are strangely beside each other and with prices ranging from 40 to 70 dollars per site and more, which basically is due to being “connected” to electricity and sewerage. If you are not lucky enough to find a recreational site in your way, you can opt for a paid area on a provincial or national park site, these range from $ 12 to $ 20 a night . Yukon also includes all the wood you can burn during your stay, or in our case , all you can take with you !
And if you want to pay, you always have options like Walmart in larger cities or just anywhere off the road that says no camping. The Rest Area, is another option. Most of these sites have dumpsters and bathrooms are across the road. Most of these say that it is forbidden to spend the night , but the law says Canadian driving if you are tired , you should stop and rest in the rest area , so who understands ! To find and plan your visit to the Canadian West Coast, the best guide to find the mile by mile details is the ” Milepost Guide” . Highly recommended, especially if you want to make the section of the Alaska Highway .
Our favorite places.
Dempster Highway. Our favorite highway so far. It runs from Dawson City to Inuvik, 750 kms one way. Dirt and mud past the Arctic Circle, up through the Northwest Territories . One fuel pump , extreme northern lights , nature at its best . We only did 500 kms past the line of Yukon and the Northwest Territories , as the ferry was not running to Inuvik . It was very good to have our Torklift tie down system, due to the roads and hitting on some pretty steep areas, the camper didn’t move an inch.
Garibaldi Provincial Park: This beautiful park located between Squamish and Whistler is all you can expect from Canada on a postcard : turquoise colored lakes , forests , glaciers and amazing views. Many walks in the area and excellent information of the park and its surroundings.
Pemberton : Our home for almost 1 year . It is a wonderful town with an amazing view of Mount Currie. A quiet place where the potato is an agricultural heritage and where we had an excellent experience with the locals. Many places worth visiting near Pemberton as Mosquito Lake and the wonderful Sloquet hot springs.
Muncho Lake : Giant and turquoise and if you do not like the weather, wait 15 minutes. Along the Alaska Highway after Fort Nelson is this wonderful lake, a must to relax the muscles , a dip into the lake and follow the route.
Liard Hot Springs. Near Watson Lake. These beautifully constructed baths reach a temperature of 60 ° C in the hottest pool. It is forbidden to drink alcohol, but if you put your beer in a mug of coffee, no one says anything . We had some rain which made the experience even more amazing . Additional we met a group of Canadians working in the Lodge in front of the springs who invited us some beers , and donated waste cooking oil for the trip.
Kluane National Park: Bear country and beautiful walks . A wonderful place with few people , ideal for those who like to camp in the middle of nowhere and feel the power of nature . The most amazing visitor center we’ve seen (Haines Junction) , in contrast to the quality of the trails and road signs in the hike path .
Cougar Mountain. This beautiful area is only 10 kms north of Whistler . Operated by The Adventure Group, one of our sponsors, was our summer and winter work place , which allowed us to know fully and therefore say that is a wonderful place for activities near Whistler.
Callaghan Valley. Another beautiful place 30 km south of Whistler. In between beautiful mountains and in absolute solitude. This Lodge has everything you need to live comfortably in the middle of nowhere .
The final verdict
So after all this intense year, here are our conclusions.
1. Canadians . They are wonderfully good and hospitable people . Intelligent , cultured and educated . Politically correct , too much. And say sorry for everything. It is a country that has had to carry on their backs the burden of being so good, and like any good person in this world , to be abused by this. In my opinion this has led to boredom on certain issues , mainly immigartion , but being too polite, they don’t expose these issues, keep them or talk among themselves . A Canadian will never say hi with a kiss or hug, but we said goodbye to all our friends like this. These are people who do not give you everything at the begining, but once they you know a little more, they are amazing. They are proud of what they have built as a country . They work not too much and earn a lot … basically really value what they do.
2. Nature and Tourism: Canada is beautiful, has awesome and majestic landscapes . It is a huge country and you can feel it when you cross from north to south … there are sections that there is nothing and no one but a giant mountain or lake you can drive for miles. Our trip did it a little bit similar in landscape, no desert , tropical or jungle areas. It is forest, mountain, lake, but at its best . There is plenty of wildlife , but we would have liked to see a little more, we saw bears , moose , deer , caribou , reindeer , goats , foxes , eagles and many birds in general. The Raven was our closest follower . Tourism is very developed. Each park or protected enclosure or tourist area is exquisitely constructed , defined , regulated , clean and tidy . Overall its a very good level and areas of national parks, provincial park, national forest, etc. , are giants. The tourist information centers are amazing with lots of information , maps , internet and excellent staff.
3. Cultural identity. This is the lowest point of all . I really struggle to think of what culturally defined Canada. No dances, music, food and other typical elements that are strong enough to identify them as a country, which makes it a little bit warm. I missed this cultural ingredient I lacked the typical food. And beyond sit with a beer to watch the hockey game , I’m just talking about something that is perceived in the air and never perceived and missed here . I miss history, miss that spark that each country has , that spice or flavor that makes it distinctive and unique … well that and maybe it’s just that … and it just doesnt was enough for me …
4. Laws, police , drugs and alcohol. In general it is highly regulated and highly taxed . People do not make stupid things because the fines are very high and as the police have nothing better to do , as there is little crime , surely they will come and get you . Alcohol is expensive but has tax incentives for recycling glass and cans which is great . Canadians drinks beer and wine, not a lot of strong drinks, something called “Fireball ” horrible and Crown Royal , a Canadian whiskey, which is good. About drugs, while further north, most consumed and stronger . The winters are so hardcore that leave little room for creativity and party hard is the only available option . Marijuana is the most commonly used , even the national day of Canada sells and smokes legal in some parts in downtown Vancouver.
5. First Nations . The natives of this area suffer from a problem, who suffer many native communities that have faced an aggressive colonization and that has left them close to a cultural extinction . After many years, the government has tried to remedy the harm caused to the people who originally lived in these lands , granting privileges that are above the ordinary Canadian citizen. Basically these privileges is to give them everything without working for it. Like a spoiled child have fallen into alcoholism and laziness , as many do not work and only wait for the check that always arrives at the end of the month . Once I read that to cancel a person , you must give it all and this is exactly what happens here. They gave them all to “compensate” cultural slaughter and now must face a community that doesn’t do anything and hardly will get over that situation. Very sad.
Finding waste cooking oil
To find waste vegetable oil for our truck in Canada was pretty easy . We went through all kinds of qualities , and as we were learning we made many mistakes . However these helped us identify and select the best oil , and sometimes say no. In Canada most of the restaurants have to pay to get rid of the oil, so they were very happy that a couple of Chileans took it and use it as fuel. The best story was that we live in Teslin where we have to ask for oil for the first time . A chef with 3 teeth, gave us 2 buckets of 15 liters each. Happy to receive it , we hugged each other cause was our first oil. So imagine our surprise when we open the first bucket and see that the “oil” had consistency, odor and texture of vomit , sausage and bacon pieces floating … well, disgusting! Until today we did not find as bad oil like the one we found in Teslin, but the experience of not checking what they gave us , we never repeat it .
As you see Canada is a great place to work , live and visit. The kindness of Canadians, the greatness of nature and the Northern Lights are the highlights of this country. Again, it is expensive, but in the end , it is worth living it.