Meanwhile In Canada…Awaken The Six Senses

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Some experiences are so memorable that they stay with us forever. Experiences that awaken at least one of the senses are truly unforgettable and transport us back to the moment in time when we first experienced them. Meanwhile in Canada, the aroma of hot taffy, the sound of waves crashing against a rocky shoreline, the spectacle of the Northern Lights or the sight of a polar bear in the wild are some experiences that evoke powerful emotions connecting us to particular places and specific moments in time. 

The five senses: sight, sound, taste, smell and touch are heightened when you visit a new place. And when you travel, the sixth sense often kicks in. The vestibular sense involves movement and balance, where your body is in relation to the space around you. Travel experiences can ignite those senses anywhere at any time. Meanwhile in Canada, you’ll easily find an occasion to flick the ‘on’ switch to awaken the senses. 

Meanwhile in Canada: Awaken The Six Senses 

1- Meanwhile in Canada, The Northern Lights Are A Feast For The Eyes

The Sense of Sight

meanwhile in canada yukon northern lights
Meanwhile in Canada….be amazed at the Northern Lights.

Being woken shortly after midnight is one of the thrills of visiting the Yukon. Groaning and stumbling, I pull on layers of clothing and step outdoors on a cold winter morning. The stillness of a Yukon darkness is deafening and I instantly feel the cold air bite at my face. It makes me shiver, and every breath feels like a tiny miracle as small clouds hang in the air with every breath I take.

My first instinct is to run back into the warm room and cosy bed in my lodge but I’m thankful I don’t succumb because the reward far outweighs the comfort of a warm bed. The landscape of the Yukon is a scene from another planet with ice-covered mountains, and long stretches of open country interrupted only by dots of trees. Then, suddenly, above the landscape of ice and darkness, the northern lights appear in the sky.

Bright purple, green, yellow and blue ribbons shape-shift and intertwine in a mesmerising cosmic ballet. My eyes are transfixed on an arabesque of swirling colours, dancing like rainbow spirits from another galaxy: teasing, reaching, swaying and beckoning. A green curtain shimmers as it falls from the sky, a feast for the eyes.

Where To See The Northern Lights In Canada:
meanwhile in canada northern lights
  • The Northern Lights can be seen for 240 nights a year in the Northwest Territories.
  • The aurora appears in the Yukon between mid-August and mid-April. However, it’s unpredictable, and the best time to view the Yukon Northern lights in early winter.
  • Late winter (in February and March) is the high season to see the Aurora in Churchill, Manitoba, while autumn (September to November) is the next best time in this province.
    Early autumn and winter are the best times to see them in Nunavut.

2- Meanwhile in Canada, Dance To The Music Of The Trees

The Sense of Sound

meanwhile in canada forest in british columbia
Meanwhile in Canada….forest bathing is the latest trend.

Trees surround you, and the fresh, earthy smell of leaves in the fall fills your lungs as the light dances through the branches. At first, it seems impossible to block out the noise of your thoughts. Then gradually, the chirping birds and the rustling of squirrels among the leaves is a duet that lulls you into a relaxed state. The forest wraps around you and embraces you with its gentle touch. The duet becomes a symphony as you tune into the music of the forest.

You close your eyes and let the sounds of nature wash over you: the gurgling of water gushing over moss-covered rocks, the swishing of the leaves being blown by the wind and the creaking of old branches, a sweet reminder that this forest has been here for centuries.

As you travel deeper into the woods, your footsteps play a melody on the dirt path. The rhythm of your footsteps, the snapping of twigs and the crunching of tiny pebbles with each step you take is a concerto of nature. The trees tower over you, and the leaves sing a lullaby high above your head.

Forest bathing is a practice that can be traced back to Japan, known as Shinrin-yoku. It’s all about taking things slow and enjoying nature.

In Canada, forest bathing has an extra special significance. The First Nations people believe that plants, animals and humans all have a form of intelligence and a spirit.

Where to go forest bathing in Canada:
meanwhile in canada forest bath
  • Go on a guided forest therapy walk in British Columbia’s Sunshine Coast or Vancouver Island. 
  • Parks Canada has several national parks where you can go forest bathing, such as Kejimkujik National Park in Nova Scotia, Gros Morne National Park in Newfoundland and Labrador and Forillon National Park in Quebec. 

3- Meanwhile in Canada, Let Winter Linger On Your Tongue

The Sense of Taste

meanwhile in canada hot chocolate
Meanwhile in Canada…hot chocolate tastes better in winter.

The first snow falls, and you’re surrounded by a winter wonderland of a Canadian winter. You rush outside and tilt your head back, savouring the taste of winter on your tongue. Canada in winter tastes like steaming hot chocolate, gingerbread and soft marshmallows that melt in your mouth.

Winter tastes of happiness and the time of year when you spend time with family. Winter in Canada also reminds you of Christmas when you feel like you’re a kid again, entranced by the glitter of tinsel as Christmas trees are everywhere, in malls, hotels and public buildings. And there’s nowhere in Canada as memorable as “The Castle at Christmas”, at Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel, where winter is straight out of a fairytale.

From the enormous gingerbread house in the lobby to the Fairmont’s traditional afternoon tea, the tastes of winter will linger on your tongue. Savour flaky scones slathered with sweet house-made preserves, fluffy pastries and finger sandwiches presented on a delightful tiered tea service.

Dine on hot chestnuts, roast goose and drink Shiraz, then explore Banff’s Hot Chocolate Trail, where the varieties of hot chocolate will entertain your tastebuds. From hot chocolate with a dash of orange syrup and whipped cream to hot chocolate with chilli vodka, cinnamon and whipped cream. Bakeries are warm with scented clouds of sugar and ginger, while cakes are slathered with frosting, chocolate and whipped cream.

Where to enjoy the tastes of Christmas in Canada:
meanwhile in canada banff springs hotel
Meanwhile in Canada…treat yourself to a stay at the Fairmont Banff Springs.
  • Banff is a Christmas wonderland of stalls, craft beer, hot chocolate, gluhwein, and a true Christmas feeling.
  • There are several ski resorts in Canada where you can enjoy a taste of Christmas. One of my favourites is Whistler, which is straight out of a postcard and is a magical winter wonderland of snow-covered trees, cosy restaurants and thousands of lights adorning the trees.
  • The snow and Christmas decorations transform Quebec City into a Christmas village straight out of ‘A Christmas Carol’.

4- Meanwhile in Canada, Inhale The Heady Perfume Of Autumn

The Sense of Smell

meanwhile in canada autumn
Meanwhile in Canada…autumn is amazing. Photo: Cape Breton Tourism. 

When autumn comes around, the leaves change colour, the air becomes crisp, and the scent of autumn fills the air. So breath deeply and let the musky scent of brown and russet leaves fill your lungs, grounding you to the earth. Autumn in Canada is a season that arrives with fanfare and one that reminds me of pumpkin-spiced lattes, the scent of warm apple pie and oatcakes baking in an oven or the aroma of homemade stew cooking on a stove.

The scent of autumn reminds me of the freedom of kicking through piles of brown leaves drying on the ground as the palette of birch, oak, maple, and poplars is a magical reflection in a glassy lake.

Canada in the fall is perfect weather for hiking through stunning mountain trails then returning to a lodge or log cabin to a delicious meal and a bottle of wine. The smell of pumpkin spice is everywhere, wafting out of shops, markets, bakeries, cafes, restaurants and bars. It’s added to lattes, cocktails and gluhwein, a heartwarming smell that beckons me to return.

Where to experience autumn in Canada:

meanwhile in canada autumn fall
Meanwhile in Canada…autumn is the season to taste craft beer on The Ultimate Canadian Craft Beer Experience. Photo: Destination Canada/Kevin Arnold.
  • Cape Breton is a stunning location to discover autumn along Nova Scotia’s Cabot Trail in all its glory. The region’s lakes amplify the symphony of colour.
  • Anywhere in Quebec for stunning fall colours, hiking, visiting markets, farms and sugar shacks
  • Ontario is another province where autumn is spectacular for fall colours, road trips, wine tasting and craft beer.

5- Meanwhile in Canada, Hold The Legacy Of The Vikings In Your Hands

The Sense of Touch

Meanwhile in Canada Viking hut
Meanwhile in Canada…discover the world of the Vikings.

Place your hands on a lump of clay and feel its texture as you mould it into a cup or a pot. Then, learn to spin wool with the flick of your finger, guiding the spindle so that loose fibres twist into strong strands while you feel the strange texture of Viking yarn as you learn to knit. Viking knitting is called nalbinding, where wool loops are knitted with a knitting needle chipped from walrus bone.

The Vikings arrived in the 11th century and stayed a decade, leaving their legacy in this lush land blessed with abundant moose and salmon. They knitted, smelted iron and traded timber. The archaeological excavations at L’Anse aux Meadows uncovered turf-walled structures that show that the Vikings attempted to create a settlement for families. Although they didn’t stay in Canada for long, they left unique calling cards.

Newfoundland and Labrador in Canada are rich in Viking history, but it’s not the kind of place you’re likely to find yourself charging along a beach with a sword, setting fire to a longship or feasting on an ox.

Meanwhile in Canada L'Anse aux Meadows
L’Anse aux Meadows is a UNESCO World Heritage site and historic Viking settlement.

Norstead is a recreation of a Viking trading town in L’Anse aux Meadows, which is the only authenticated Viking site in North America. Here, staff are dressed in 11th-century garb as they demonstrate the lives of the Vikings who arrived in Canada, herding cows, spinning wool and cooking large pots of stew. The Snorri is a 16 m-long replica Viking ship that sailed from Greenland to Newfoundland set in a grassy meadow by the shallow bay.

On the Great Northern Peninsula, on the western side of Newfoundland, the Viking Trail snakes for 500 km past lighthouses, hillsides dotted with sheep and through the lovely landscape of Gros Morne National Park.

Where To Discover Viking History In Canada:

  • L’Anse aux Meadows in Newfoundland is an archaeological site excavated in the 1960s of a 1000-year-old Norse settlement.

6- Meanwhile in Canada, Be A Daredevil At Niagara Falls

The Vestibular Sense

(contributes to a human being’s ability to maintain balance and body posture)

meanwhile in canada niagara zipline
Meanwhile in Canada….get the adrenalin pumping while zipping past Niagara Falls.

My heart plunges into my stomach as I fly through the air strapped into a safety harness. My vestibular sense kicks in, and I scream as I slide through the air with my arms stretched out on either side like a bird.

Horseshoe Falls grows larger as I pick up speed, and I’m sure I feel the water’s power grow stronger as I get closer to the Falls. Water sprays my face, and the roar of the Falls crescendoes as I speed towards the lower platform. The Zipline to the Falls is a breathtaking 670 m (2,200 feet) ride into the gorge towards the Canadian Horseshoe Falls base.

I think I feel the ground trembling, but not as thunderously as I had experienced earlier while standing at the heart of Niagara after descending 125 ft to explore the 130-year-old tunnels through the bedrock. Journey Behind the Falls tour may not be as challenging as the Zipline to the Falls, but it provides a mesmerising view of one-fifth of the world’s freshwater crashing down in front of me.

Another way to get a sensory experience of the falls is on the Voyage to the Falls boat tour, where you can get up close to Horseshoe Falls and feel the thunderous roar from a boat.

The vestibular sense comes into play nowhere else as much as Niagara Falls, where a long list of daredevils have gone over the falls in barrels or walked across on a tightrope. The most recent was in 2012 when Nik Wallenda walked across a tightrope stretched across the Falls, and the first was Jean François Gravelet-Blondin, who crossed it in 1859. In 1876, 23-year-old Italian Maria Spelterini was the first and only woman to cross the Niagara gorge by tightrope. She had peach baskets strapped to her feet and crossed blindfolded with her ankles and wrists handcuffed.

Niagara Falls straddles the border of New York state in the U.S. and Ontario province in Canada. There are other things to do around Niagara Falls and Niagara on the Lake, such as admiring roses at the Niagara Botanical Gardens, tasting ice wine, visiting the vineyards and wandering around the shops of Niagara on the Park, but there’s none more memorable than experiencing the power of the falls.

How To Experience Niagara Falls:
meanwhile in canada niagara falls
  • Voyage to the Falls is a 20-minute cruise offering views of the Niagara Gorge, American Falls, Bridal Veil Falls, and a close look at Horseshoe Falls.
  • Zipline to the Falls is open all year round and is a 90-minute experience available to children above seven years old.
  • Journey Behind the Falls takes about an hour and is open all year round.

For more about Canada read:

This post was published in partnership with Destination Canada. Travellers who are fully vaccinated against COVID-19 can enter Canada. For more information go here.