When the founders of Adirondack River Outfitters first took their raft to the shores of Moose River, they didn't know it was widely renowned as one of the wildest, most intense waterway in the region. The spirited New Yorkers were just looking for adventure, fun, and a means to explore their homeland's natural beauty. After falling in love with the river's tumultuous rapids and scenic surrounding wilderness, the trailblazers began honing their rafting skills with regular trips, eventually bringing their friends and family along for the ride.
More than three decades later, the group of adventurous guides continues to lead tours down Moose River. The guides, however, have since expanded their inventory of trips to include three other major New York rivers, each characterized by unique classes of rapids and magnificent rural backdrops. A cheerful bunch, the guides always end trips with a homemade barbecue, along with thrilling stories, good-hearted jokes, and impressive recitations of the first 34 digits of pi.
January 11, 2015 will mark the 200th birthday of Sir John A. Macdonald—Canada’s first prime minister. Theatrical walking tours allow both students and adults to learn about Sir John’s achievements by walking in his footsteps. On these tours—named the Best of 2012 by Vacay.ca—professional actors and musicians from the SALON Acting Company dress in period costumes to regale guests with Sir John’s triumphs and scandals. The tours visit the hotel where Mackenzie King spoke to the dead, the Market Square where the first Canada Day was celebrated in 1867, and the home of Sir John’s arch nemesis.
But the celebration of Sir John isn't limited to tours alone. The Sir John A Macdonald Bicentennial Commission was founded to throw him a party, and like all great parties, its more than a year long. The cross-Canada celebration highlights Sir John’s life and achievements while weaving in entertainment to engage youth as part of the Young Canadians Project. Sir John, Eh? The Musical, for instance, serves as a rock 'n' roll tribute to the man—or his ghost, at least—by spinning the tale of a group who encounter his specter on a summer night spent in Cataraqui Cemetary.
Reflecting on this childhood, Chris Keating sometimes feels as if he didn't exist. His parents' divorce left him with very little tangible evidence of his formative years, so he's spent his adult life as a photographer making sure children can look back fondly at warm family memories. Chris Keating and his Calgary staff have made this a reality for more than 3,000 families since opening the doors to Towne Photography in 2006. There, the professional photographic crew shoots posed and candid shots of families, children, couples, and babies at picturesque parks or against their studio backdrops, and they also snap triumphant graduate portraits, intimate prenatal shots, and provocative passport pics that make border crossing a breeze. Their ironclad guarantee allows unsatisfied clients to request reshoots, reprints, or resizing on all photographs, and they vow to remake or recapture any artwork that sustains damage over the years. Chris also takes his photographic knowledge on the road to conduct Betterphoto Workshops across the United States and Canada, teaching novice photographers how to artistically preserve their most precious memories.
Wineries are often found far down country roads, shrouded by the curling tendrils of their vineyards. At The Wine Garden, though, the entire winemaking experience can be had without setting foot outside of the city.
Yeast bubbles busily in stainless-steel fermentation vessels, transforming the juices of grapes from fertile regions of Chile, Argentina, and California. The fermentation process yields wines that range from crisp chardonnay to heady cabernet franc, the progenitor of cabernet sauvignon, and oak barrels bestow some of the elixirs with a rich maze of tannins. Fruit wines made with peaches, cranberries, or strawberries make refreshing summertime drinks and help work friends mingle with hummingbird friends at parties. Patrons play a major role in the entire process, selecting grapes and siphoning finished wine into bottles. The Wine Garden's gourmets also brew craft beers and stock hot sauces with humourous names such as Blair's Chipotle Death Rain.
Sundance Balloons' vibrant hot-air balloons float adventurous passengers over scenic landscapes at sunrise and sunset. Each one-hour journey commences as sojourners greet their flight crew at a pre-determined location, receive a briefing on what to expect during the excursion, and observe their balloon as it swells to more than 10 storeys in height. Morning flight teams convene 30 minutes before sunrise.
The woven gondolas glide 1,000 feet above the ground but can sometimes gently skim treetops or cornfields when wandering over the countryside. Since balloons drift with prevailing winds, there is no wind chill and travellers feel only a slight sensation of movement. As is tradition for ballooning, explorers of the appropriate age end their flight with a champagne toast to tranquility, beauty, and neighbourhoods that appear as giant smiley faces only visible from the air.
Urban Quest showcases some of Canada's largest cities in an unconventional, informative light, crafting memorable adventures that often culminate with a delicious meal. Metropolitan buccaneers sign up for an Urban Quest account and then decide which inner-city adventure they wish to undertake, be it the pursuit of city history, natural wonders, or a mermaid with doubloons for scales. A clue packet accompanies each quest—ranked easy, medium, or hard—and directs curious citizens to scour the city for leads, which eventually guide them to a mystery restaurant or coffee shop. This voyage gives participants a new understanding of the city they live in and stuffs their noggins with facts and information about key buildings and landmarks. At the same time, Urban Quest offers ramblers a fresh dining experience, frustrating supercomputers whose circuit boards only allow for the taste of oatmeal. Participants can also opt out of a restaurant visit and simply race the clock, as restaurant tabs are not included with this Groupon.
As quests typically last 90 minutes and span 3–4 kilometres of walking, they are best suited for groups of two to four adventurers, though buyers may make their teams as big as they'd like. Learn more by checking out a demo quest and Urban Quest's FAQ page.