The Maid of the Mist is one of the activities added to the Signature Experiences Collection this week. (Julia Pelish/

Canada’s 115 Signature Experiences named

Maid of the Mist Niagara Falls

The Maid of the Mist is one of the activities added to the Signature Experiences Collection this week. (Julia Pelish/


There’s one less thing for Ottawa folks to complain about today.

The folks at the Canada Tourism Commission announced this week that they’ve expanded the “Signature Experiences” program to a fulsome 115 activities to entice visitors from abroad. And, yes, five of them are in Ottawa.

This past summer, Ottawa politicians were aghast that the nation’s capital wasn’t included in the first round of the Signature Experiences program. They were, of course, all abluster about how wonderful their city was and that it was the Paris of Canada or the Miami of Canada or the Rio of Canada, when, in fact, it’s more like the Philadelphia of Canada or the Brasilia of Canada.

Anyway, it’s nice and fitting that there are five activities in the Ottawa area part of the new program, so we can at least put this round of sniping behind us. For the record, here are the five:

A press release describes the Signature Experiences Collection are listing activities that are “authentic, that represent Canada’s nature, people and/or culture and that are immersive and engage a variety of senses. The Collection is used by the CTC to promote travel to Canada from its key foreign markets, including the United Kingdom, France, Germany, Australia, Japan, South Korea, China, the United States, Mexico, Brazil and India. The next round of applications will begin November 15 and end December 15, 2011.”

Also on the newly expanded list are the Maid of The Mist boat ride in Niagara Falls (highly recommended if you’ve never been). Canadian Press reports another of the 67 newcomers is something called “Rails, Trails & Ales,” offered by Northern Edge Algonquin. It combines mountain biking in Algonquin Provincial Park with a beer-tasting visit to the Highlander micro-brewery in South River, Ont. There’s also “an evening of brews” in a century-old log cabin. Participants can come by train to the South River station.

Also added to the collection is a six-hour sidecar ride along the Columbia Icefields Parkway offered by Jasper Motorcycle Tours. “Be amazed by unobstructed views of towering mountains, powerful waterfalls, raging rivers, hidden lakes, mammoth glaciers and wildlife,” the company says on its website.

Other additions include hut-to-hut trekking in the Rockies, fossil prospecting in the Alberta Badlands, a historical and culinary walking tour in Quebec City, New Brunswick’s Kings Landing Historical Settlement, the Celtic Colours International Festival in Cape Breton, N.S., and an iceberg tour off Newfoundland.”

I got to see a small iceberg in Newfoundland a few years ago when I was visiting Twillingate, one of my favourite trips of all time. Locals said my iceberg was just a runt, but I thought it was pretty cool…

Certainly something you don’t see in Brazil or China, so it’s probably an excellent choice for the Signature Experiences program.


Vicky is the worldly publisher of Having graduated from McGill University in Montreal, she has set about building a talented team of travel experts to deliver to you words and images of the very best places to see and experience in Canada. Based in Yorkville in Toronto, Vicky regularly jet sets around Canada — be sure to catch up with her when she's in your part of the country.

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