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Annual Jimmy Awards for best travel spots in Canada

Yesterday I highlighted my favourite travel spots in the U.S. Today it’s my home country of Canada, with awesome places from Nova Scotia to southern Ontario and up to the Yukon.

Liscombe Lodge is a great spot on Nova Scotia's Eastern Shore. - JIM BYERS PHOTO

Liscombe Lodge is a great spot on Nova Scotia’s Eastern Shore. – JIM BYERS PHOTO

Best Coastal Drive: The eastern shore (okay, northeastern shore) of Nova Scotia has only a smattering of villages and hardly any commerce. The food was fine, but I absolutely loved the restful surroundings and kayaking at Liscombe Lodge near Sherbrooke. I found cool art galleries and hardly any tourists between there and Lawrencetown, just east of Halifax.

Meaford is an increasingly hip town in Grey County, Ontario. - JIM BYERS PHOTO

Meaford is an increasingly hip town in Grey County, Ontario. – JIM BYERS PHOTO

Most Surprising Town: Meaford is a cool spot on Georgian Bay in Grey County, with great food (more on that later) and a pretty waterfront setting. The Meaford Hall Arts and Cultural Centre features great acts, such as Canada’s Joel Plaskett (amazing show). Stay the night at the lovely Millhollow B and B.

Odd name, but I like it. - JIM BYERS PHOTO

Odd name, but I like it. – JIM BYERS PHOTO

Favourite Cemetery: The not-so-aptly named Ha Ha Cemetery in New Brunswick. I can’t help laughing when I think about it.

Judy Lam Maxwell leads wonderful tours of Vancouver's Chinatown. - JIM BYERS PHOTO

Judy Lam Maxwell leads wonderful tours of Vancouver’s Chinatown. – JIM BYERS PHOTO

Favourite City Tour: Judy Lam Maxwell does fantastic Chinatown tours in Vancouver. It’s an area that’s rapidly changing, so take her tour while you still can.

Adi Unterberger was my favourite interview of the year. - JIM BYERS PHOTO

Adi Unterberger was my favourite interview of the year. – JIM BYERS PHOTO

Best accordion/yodel performance of the year: My impromptu chat with Kimberley B.C. shop owner Adi Unterberger, the Yodelling Woodcarver, resulted in this fantastic accordion and yodelling demonstration. I love his commitment and the obvious joy he gets from playing and singing. Click here for a video!

Saint John, New Brunswick has a ton of cool, old-style architecture.  - JIM BYERS PHOTO

Saint John, New Brunswick has a ton of cool, old-style architecture. – JIM BYERS PHOTO

Surprise City: I had no idea Saint John, New Brunswick had such cool, old architecture and such fun, interesting shops. I’d love to spend a day poking around again when I have time.

Some folks have been to Quebec's Winter Carnival for as long as they can remember. - JIM BYERS PHOTO

Some folks have been to Quebec’s Winter Carnival for as long as they can remember. – JIM BYERS PHOTO

Best Winter Trip: Carnival in Quebec. One of the world’s great cities, and such a fun family event. Just don’t drink more than one Caribou, a popular Carnival drink that packs a punch and leaves you feeling like you were run over by Donner and Blitzen.

Shokunin is one of my new favourite restaurants in Canada, with fantastic takes on traditional Japanese dishes. - JIM BYERS PHOTO

Shokunin is one of my new favourite restaurants in Canada, with fantastic takes on traditional Japanese dishes. – JIM BYERS PHOTO

Most Unexpected Restaurant: Shokunin in Calgary does remarkable Japanese food that I simply wouldn’t have thought I’d find. One specialty is roasted “chicken ass.” This is becoming a fabulous food town, where chefs seem to pay far more attention to heirloom carrots than prime rib these days. I also love Ten Foot Henry and Charbar in Calgary.

Sauble Beach is a wonderful beach town in Ontario. - JIM BYERS PHOTO

Sauble Beach is a wonderful beach town in Ontario. – JIM BYERS PHOTO

Favourite Beach Photo: This one at Sauble Beach on Lake Huron.

The Hotel Arts is a great boutique property in Calgary. - JIM BYERS PHOTO

The Hotel Arts is a great boutique property in Calgary. – JIM BYERS PHOTO

Most Artsy Hotel: I love the aptly named Hotel Arts in Calgary. Great rooms and a sleek, inviting lobby.

The Buxton Settlement has a fine museum that outlines black history in southern Ontario. Not to be missed. - JIM BYERS PHOTO

The Buxton Settlement has a fine museum that outlines black history in southern Ontario. Not to be missed. – JIM BYERS PHOTO

Best Historical Stop: The Buxton Settlement near Chatham is a wonderful spot to learn about black history in Ontario.

The Alt Hotel Ottawa is a chic spot in the city centre. - JIM BYERS PHOTO

The Alt Hotel Ottawa is a chic spot in the city centre. – JIM BYERS PHOTO

Coolest Lobby Art: I love the wall at the relatively new Alt Hotel in Ottawa. It’s got a fun, youthful vibe and tons of colour.

Hopewell Rocks, New Brunswick is one of Canada's top attractions. - JIM BYERS PHOTO

Hopewell Rocks, New Brunswick is one of Canada’s top attractions. – JIM BYERS PHOTO

Coolest Walk At Low Tide: Hopewell Rocks in New Brunswick. A natural wonder on the Bay of Fundy.

Emerald Lake is one of those "pinch-me" places that make Canada so popular with tourists. - JIM BYERS PHOTO

Emerald Lake is one of those “pinch-me” places that make Canada so popular with tourists. – JIM BYERS PHOTO

Best Canoe Ride: Emerald Lake B.C. This is part of vastly underrated and wildly beautiful Yoho National Park in the wonderful Kootenay Rockies. It can get a bit crowded, but, oh, that water!

Retro Suites is a super-cool spot in Chatham, Ontario. - JIM BYERS PHOTO

Retro Suites is a super-cool spot in Chatham, Ontario. – JIM BYERS PHOTO

Unexpected Hotel: The rooms at the Retro Suites in Chatham, Ontario have cool themes, such as sports or Paris or the beach. It sounds a tad cheesy but they’ve done a great job.
Very good food, too.

Aloha Taco is a great food truck/dining spot in Dawson City, Yukon. - JIM BYERS PHOTO

Aloha Taco is a great food truck/dining spot in Dawson City, Yukon. – JIM BYERS PHOTO

Most Surprising Fish Tacos: They serve great ones at the Aloha Taco food truck/food shack in Dawson City, Yukon. Great coconut rice, to. Not where you’d expect them, but there you go. Try a dash of the, ahem, Choke Your Chicken hot sauce.

Taking a leap into the water at Lion's Head, Ontario. - JIM BYERS PHOTO

Taking a leap into the water at Lion’s Head, Ontario. – JIM BYERS PHOTO

The Joys of Summer Photo: These boys at the Lion’s Head Harbour on Georgian Bay, Ontario.

Try a luge/sled ride at Le Massif, Quebec for a great way to enjoy winter. - JIM BYERS PHOTO

Try a luge/sled ride at Le Massif, Quebec for a great way to enjoy winter. – JIM BYERS PHOTO

Best Sledding Ride: The 8 km sled/luge run at Le Massif in Quebec is a thrilling ride you can take at your own speed. Mine was not particularly fast, but I loved it.

Take a drive along the Quebec side of the Ottawa River for classic fall foliage shots. - JIM BYERS PHOTO

Take a drive along the Quebec side of the Ottawa River for classic fall foliage shots. – JIM BYERS PHOTO

Best Fall Foliage Photo: Along the Ottawa River south of the Fairmont Chateau Montebello.

Victoria's Butchart Gardens is considered one of the best in the world. - JIM BYERS PHOTO

Victoria’s Butchart Gardens is considered one of the best in the world. – JIM BYERS PHOTO

Best Garden: Okay, it’s a lopsided contest. You can’t help but vote for Butchart Gardens in Victoria, B.C. This was my first trip there since I was nine years old. Needless to say, I got more out of it this time around.

Harrison Park in Owen Sound is a great spot for nature lovers. There's also camping and playgrounds for kids. - JIM BYERS PHOTO

Harrison Park in Owen Sound is a great spot for nature lovers. There’s also camping and playgrounds for kids. – JIM BYERS PHOTO

Tiny Perfect Maple Leaf: Snapped this in Harrison Park in Owen Sound, Ontario.

Canada Day brings out the patriot in many of us. Some more than others, of course. - JIM BYERS PHOTO

Canada Day brings out the patriot in many of us. Some more than others, of course. – JIM BYERS PHOTO

Best Canada Day Costume: Hard to beat this guy on Parliament Hill!

They make fantastic IPA's and other great beers at Waller St. Brewing in Ottawa. - JIM BYERS PHOTO

They make fantastic IPA’s and other great beers at Waller St. Brewing in Ottawa. – JIM BYERS PHOTO

Favourite Craft Brewery: I love the basement set-up at Waller St. Brewing in Ottawa. Great beer, too, of course.

Fredericton has a cool vibe and a beautiful riverfront. - JIM BYERS PHOTO

Fredericton has a cool vibe and a beautiful riverfront. – JIM BYERS PHOTO

Surprise Food Destination: I had a great meal on the patio at 540 Kitchen and Bar in surprising Fredericton, New Brunswick. It’s a fun city with a lovely riverfront park and also is home to the Beaverbrook Art Gallery, one of Canada’s lesser-known artistic gems.

I'll take a cup of the fancy stuff, please. - JIM BYERS PHOTO

I’ll take a cup of the fancy stuff, please. – JIM BYERS PHOTO

Funniest Shop Sign: This one at a coffee shop in Vancouver’s Chinatown.

Sleeping Giant Provincial Park, near Thunder Bay, Ontario, is a wonderful hiking spot. - JIM BYERS PHOTO

Sleeping Giant Provincial Park, near Thunder Bay, Ontario, is a wonderful hiking spot. – JIM BYERS PHOTO

Best Ontario Park I’d Never Explored: Sleeping Giant Park near Thunder Bay is one of the best places in Canada for hiking. There are tons of fantastic trails and lovely Lake Superior views.

Quebec is filled with great country roads, like this one between Montebello and Tremblant. - JIM BYERS PHOTO

Quebec is filled with great country roads, like this one between Montebello and Tremblant. – JIM BYERS PHOTO

Best Quebec Drive: The scenery is sensational between the Fairmont Chateau Montebello and Mont Tremblant, with a series of beautiful lakes and small villages to explore.

Jerry Deveau and friends play at the Glenora Distillery Pub on Cape Breton Island. - JIM BYERS PHOTO

Jerry Deveau and friends play at the Glenora Distillery Pub on Cape Breton Island. – JIM BYERS PHOTO

Best Spoons Player: I loved watching and listening to 83-year-old (at the time) Jerry Deveau at the pub at the fine Glenora Distillery Hotel on Cape Breton. There’s always great music to be found on Cape Breton.

There's  a fine patio at the Big Tub Harbour Resort in Tobermory, Ontario. - JIM BYERS PHOTO

There’s a fine patio at the Big Tub Harbour Resort in Tobermory, Ontario. – JIM BYERS PHOTO

Best Outdoor Patio: The Big Tub Harbour Resort in Tobermory, Ontario. Fabulous water views and pretty good food.

The Lucky Ron show at Chateau Lafayette is one of the great, lesser-known treats of Ottawa. - JIM BYERS PHOTO

The Lucky Ron show at Chateau Lafayette is one of the great, lesser-known treats of Ottawa. – JIM BYERS PHOTO

Best Continuing Show: Lucky Ron has been playing Saturday afternoons at Ottawa’s Chateau Lafayette for 30 years! He’s like Johnny Cash meets Stompin’ Tom Connors, with a loud and loyal following that shouts out lyrics and likes to interact with him. A truly wonderful Canadian experience.

Kingsbrae Garden is a tranquil, colourful spot in St. Andrews, New Brunswick. - JIM BYERS PHOTO

Kingsbrae Garden is a tranquil, colourful spot in St. Andrews, New Brunswick. – JIM BYERS PHOTO

Most Surprising Garden: I hadn’t heard of Kingsbrae Garden in St. Andrews, New Brunswick. But it’s a lovely spot with cool sculpture and lovely floral displays, not to mention llamas and other critters.

Most Emotional Moment On The Road: Watching the live CBC performance of the Tragically Hip’s final show while sitting at a desk at a small hotel in Summerside, PEI. I had shivers down my spine more times than I can count, and felt proud to be a citizen of a country that supports such a strange, compelling musical group.

The BAPS Shri Swaminarayan  Mandir in northwest Toronto has a truly inspiring interior. - JIM BYERS PHOTO

The BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir in northwest Toronto has a truly inspiring interior. – JIM BYERS PHOTO

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Best Toronto Attraction I Didn’t Know: The BAPS Shri Swaminarayn Mandir Complex in northwest Toronto is stunning from the outside. The interior is one of the most magical spaces I’ve ever encountered anywhere in the world; a vivid interplay of light and stone that has to be seen to be believed.

I love the testaments to Acadian colours on the drive from Moncton to Miramichi, New Brunswick. - JIM BYERS PHOTO

I love the testaments to Acadian colours on the drive from Moncton to Miramichi, New Brunswick. – JIM BYERS PHOTO

Most Surprising Coastline Drive: I didn’t realize how lovely the coast is on the eastern shore of New Brunswick. The beaches are great, and I love the sense of pride of the local people, with their Acadian flags and boats decorated in blue, white and red with the Acadian star. Just wonderful.

Otto Muehlbach grows organic vegetables outside Dawson City, Yukon. A very interesting guy. - JIM BYERS PHOTO

Otto Muehlbach grows organic vegetables outside Dawson City, Yukon. A very interesting guy. – JIM BYERS PHOTO

Most Passionate Gardener: I had a brief chat with organic farmer Otto Muehlbach during a visit to the farmers’ market in Dawson City in July. He sliced off a bit of fresh kohlrabi and chatted about the challenges of growing food – and living – in The Yukon. Interesting guy, for sure.

Mom's Cafe uses 50-something apples in each slice of jaw-bending pie. - JIM BYERS PHOTO

Mom’s Cafe uses 50-something apples in each slice of jaw-bending pie. – JIM BYERS PHOTO

Biggest Apple Pie: Mom’s Cafe in wonderful Sooke B.C. uses 50-something apples in each pie, making them roughly the size of a basketball. The lemon meringue and chocolate pies are equally large, and just as tasty.

The Citadel in Halifax and other national parks sites in Canada will be free in 2017, Canada's 150th birthday. - JIM BYERS PHOTO

The Citadel in Halifax and other national parks sites in Canada will be free in 2017, Canada’s 150th birthday. – JIM BYERS PHOTO

Best Historical Costumes: The guards (male and female) at The Citadel in Halifax; one of the great Parks Canada locations in the country. Don’t forget, all Parks Canada sites are free next year if you sign up.

Norman Zeledon is a culinary whiz based in Summerside, PEI. - JIM BYERS PHOTO

Norman Zeledon is a culinary whiz based in Summerside, PEI. – JIM BYERS PHOTO

Best Food Truck: With apologies to Aloha Taco in Dawson City, Norman Zeledon makes hugely inventive soups, salads and sandwiches at his “The Galley” truck in Summerside, Prince Edward Island. For dessert, try the ice cream at Holman’s.

Morning moon over Montreal. - JIM BYERS PHOTO

Morning moon over Montreal. – JIM BYERS PHOTO

Coolest Montreal Photo: I shot this early one morning in October with the dome of the Mary, Queen of the World Cathedral and a reasonably full moon.

Sooke Potholes Provincial Park in B.C. has a lousy name. But it's a wondrous place. - JIM BYERS PHOTO

Sooke Potholes Provincial Park in B.C. has a lousy name. But it’s a wondrous place. – JIM BYERS PHOTO

Best Natural Attraction With The Most Underwhelming Name: It sounds like a bad stretch of road, but Sooke Potholes Provincial Park is actually a stunning series of natural pools (hence “potholes”) and waterfalls that tumble through a narrow canyon. Great hiking all around.

If Canadians are so normal, how do you explain houses made of bottles in Prince Edward Island? - JIM BYERS PHOTO

If Canadians are so normal, how do you explain houses made of bottles in Prince Edward Island? – JIM BYERS PHOTO

Best Bottle Houses: I toured a great collection of houses/buildings made of old bottles near Cap-Egmont Prince Edward Island. I’d heard of those. A couple days later I found another collection that even the province’s tourism board didn’t know about; these ones a smaller but still compelling group near Point Prim.

Point Prim serves up lovely chowder in a beautiful PEI setting. - JIM BYERS PHOTO

Point Prim serves up lovely chowder in a beautiful PEI setting. – JIM BYERS PHOTO

Best Seafood Chowder: Point Prim Chowder House. A lovely broth with super-tender clams and spicy chorizo, washed down with a PEI beer while sitting on a Muskoka Chair (NOT an Adirondack Chair) overlooking the ocean. One of my most memorable moments of 2016.

Cabot Cliffs in Nova Scotia is brand new but is considered one of the world's best golf courses. - JIM BYERS PHOTO

Cabot Cliffs in Nova Scotia is brand new but is considered one of the world’s best golf courses. – JIM BYERS PHOTO

Best Golf Course I Didn’t Get To Play: I came up sick the morning I was to play Cabot Cliffs, the new, drop-dead beautiful layout in Cape Breton that’s already ranked in the top 20 in the world. Next time I’ll take more Pepto-Bismol with me. Or just tough it out.

Strangest Cocktail: I earned myself another “Sour Toe” certificate after downing a glass of Canadian whisky (naturally) and allowing a preserved human toe inside the glass to touch my lips. It’s a goofy tradition at the Downtown Hotel in Dawson City, Yukon. And you thought Canadians were normal.

Sooke Harbour House has great, great food and a lovely setting. - JIM BYERS PHOTO

Sooke Harbour House has great, great food and a lovely setting. – JIM BYERS PHOTO

Finest Meal: A bunch of lucky travel journalists, including me, got to dine at the Sooke Harbour House in B.C., a lovely waterfront spot that was doing farm-to-table meals decades before the rest of the world caught on. Exquisitely prepared foods and a killer wine list.

Ottawa's Navarra is my favourite restaurant in the country. - JIM BYERS PHOTO

Ottawa’s Navarra is my favourite restaurant in the country. – JIM BYERS PHOTO

Most Inventive Menu and Favourite Overall Canadian Restaurant: Navarra, located in the Byward Market area of Ottawa, serves up awesome tapas-style dishes with a variety of unusual ingredients, including chimichurri mushrooms with crumbled cheese and pickled sunchokes.

Classic Breakfast Spot: Still hard to go wrong with legendary Hoito in Thunder Bay.

Mystic Beach is a magical spot on Vancouver Island. - JIM BYERS PHOTO

Mystic Beach is a magical spot on Vancouver Island. – JIM BYERS PHOTO

Best Beach Hike: On the west coast of Vancouver Island between Sooke and Port Renfrew is stunning Mystic Beach, reached by an hour-long (I think) walk through the rain forest. Pack for wet weather and enjoy the ancient forests and awesome beach views.

Kayaking is a great way to explore St. Andrews, New Brunswick. - JIM BYERS PHOTO

Kayaking is a great way to explore St. Andrews, New Brunswick. – JIM BYERS PHOTO

Best Kayaking Trip: Going for three hours was more than I had bargained for, but my ride around Navy Island in Passamaquody Bay in St. Andrews, New Brunswick was a lovely and tranquil experience.

The Halliburton is a wonderful boutique hotel in Halifax. - JIM BYERS PHOTO

The Halliburton is a wonderful boutique hotel in Halifax. – JIM BYERS PHOTO

Best Historical Hotel Find: I loved The Halliburton in Halifax, fashioned out of several old townhomes in the city’s downtown. Part of the school used to house the Dalhousie University Law School. Lovely breakfast and comfortable, interesting rooms.

Hippest Neighborhood I Didn’t Know About: Ottawa‘s Hintonburg area has awesome bakeries and food spots, as well as funky shops and craft beer spots.

Try a Halifax waterfront Segway ride for something different. - JIM BYERS PHOTO

Try a Halifax waterfront Segway ride for something different. – JIM BYERS PHOTO

Best Segway Ride: A Segway tour of the Halifax waterfront with Segway Nova Scotia is a great way to see this port city.

You can't beat the coffee and muffins at Shirley Delicious on Vancouver Island. - JIM BYERS PHOTO

You can’t beat the coffee and muffins at Shirley Delicious on Vancouver Island. – JIM BYERS PHOTO

Coolest Coffee Shop Western Canada: Shirley Delicious, a small spot between Sooke and Port Renfrew on Vancouver Island. Great coffee and a strong community feel. Try the gluten-free muffins with espresso, orange, raspberry and banana.

Revel is a marvellous coffee spot in Stratford, Ontario. - JIM BYERS PHOTO

Revel is a marvellous coffee spot in Stratford, Ontario. – JIM BYERS PHOTO

Coolest Coffee Shop Eastern Canada: In Stratford, Revel features exposed brick walls and super-cool photos. A very urban vibe in an increasingly fun town.

That's me checking out a massive tree in the Avatar Forest of B.C. - PHOTO BY RICK GRAHAM FOR BRITISH COLUMBIA TOURISM

That’s me checking out a massive tree in the Avatar Forest of B.C. – PHOTO BY RICK GRAHAM FOR BRITISH COLUMBIA TOURISM

Most Impressive Forest: The so-called Avatar Forest is only a few minutes outside the village of Port Renfrew. You’ll find jaw-dropping, awe-inspiring old-growth forests and gnarly tree trunks. Truly one of the most breathtaking places in Canada.

Love the cattle at Birds Eye Cove Farm. - JIM BYERS PHOTO

Love the cattle at Birds Eye Cove Farm. – JIM BYERS PHOTO

Favourite New Town, Ontario: Gananoque. The upper part of the town feels like many other Ontario towns. But down near the St. Lawrence River you’ll find funky clothing shops and a great coffee spot called The Socialist Pig.

The food is excllent at Nevados in Fernie, B.C., a super cool town in the Kootenay Rockies. - JIM BYERS PHOTO

The food is excllent at Nevados in Fernie, B.C., a super cool town in the Kootenay Rockies. – JIM BYERS PHOTO

Favourite New Town, Western Canada: Fernie, British Columbia. A handsome main street and good restaurants, including Nevados. Try a night at the Island Lake Lodge, perched on a beautiful lake with stunning mountains in the background.

What, you need a caption to explain a giant lobster at the side of the road in New Brunswick? - JIM BYERS PHOTO

What, you need a caption to explain a giant lobster at the side of the road in New Brunswick? – JIM BYERS PHOTO

Best Roadside Statue: The giant lobster in Shediac, New Brunswick. I love this sort of thing.

Naughty but nice t-shirts at Milk Shop in Ottawa's trendy Byward Market area. - JIM BYERS PHOTO

Naughty but nice t-shirts at Milk Shop in Ottawa’s trendy Byward Market area. – JIM BYERS PHOTO

Most Obscene But Still Purchase Worthy T-Shirts: The ones at Milk Shop in Ottawa’s Byward Market that read “Canadian as F–k.”

St. Martins is a cool spot on the coast of New Brunswick. - JIM BYERS PHOTO

St. Martins is a cool spot on the coast of New Brunswick. – JIM BYERS PHOTO

Prettiest Village: I loved St. Martin’s on the coast of New Brunswick. There’s a cute lighthouse you can climb up inside of and two covered bridges. Not to mention galleries, shops and a fine stretch of beach with good chowder shops.

This PEI sunset looks more like Hawaii than it does Canada. - JIM BYERS PHOTO

This PEI sunset looks more like Hawaii than it does Canada. – JIM BYERS PHOTO

Best Sunset: From my room at the West Point Lighthouse Inn in Prince Edward Island. Fun hotel and a great beach.

Coolest Bookstore: Bacchus Books and Cafe in Golden, B.C. Great books and a fun, vibrant atmosphere.

I like mine with sour cream and bacon, thanks. - JIM BYERS PHOTO

I like mine with sour cream and bacon, thanks. – JIM BYERS PHOTO

Funkiest Museum: The Canadian Potato Museum in O’Leary, Prince Edward Island. A testament to the glorious spud in all its forms and permutations. They crown a local Miss Potato Blossom Festival champion every year. And did you know European royalty used to wear potato blossoms in their hair?

Favourite Pub: The Olde Angel Inn in Niagara-on-the-Lake. Feels like the sort of place locals go, not just tourists. When I was there in summer a good cover band was playing a dead-perfect rendition of Amie, by Pure Prairie League.

Takakkaw Falls is worth a handstand. At least this little girl thought so. - JIM BYERS PHOTO

Takakkaw Falls is worth a handstand. At least this little girl thought so. – JIM BYERS PHOTO

Best Handstand: This little girl at Takakkaw Falls in Yoho National Park, B.C.

Most Unusual Food Combination: Andrew’s Roots in Meaford. When I was there I had a great mushroom dish covered with panko crumbs and crushed salt and vinegar potato chips for a perfect tang and crunch.

What can I say? - PHOTO COURTESY OF A TOURIST WHOSE NAME I FORGOT TO ASK

What can I say? – PHOTO COURTESY OF A TOURIST WHOSE NAME I FORGOT TO ASK

Favorite Sign For A Travel Writer Like Me: “Nitwit Corner” kinda says it all, don’t you think?

Kicking Horse Mountain in B.C. has glorious views. PHOTO COURTESY KICKING HORSE MOUNTAIN

Kicking Horse Mountain in B.C. has glorious views. PHOTO COURTESY KICKING HORSE MOUNTAIN

Best Gondola Ride: Up the side of Kicking Horse Mountain in Golden, B.C. The views are stunning, even when there’s a bit of cloud. Adventurous souls head out for long hikes or head down the hill on a mountain bike.

Thunder Bay has a lovely waterfront, with fine parks and restaurants. - JIM BYERS PHOTO

Thunder Bay has a lovely waterfront, with fine parks and restaurants. – JIM BYERS PHOTO

Favourite Lake Photo: This one on Lake Superior at the much-improved Thunder Bay waterfront.

But, folks, I've got a Canadian passport and citizenship! - JIM BYERS PHOTO

But, folks, I’ve got a Canadian passport and citizenship! – JIM BYERS PHOTO

Most Alarming Photo: These guys at Fort Amherstburg, Ontario found out I was born and raised in the U.S.

Spectacular Takakkaw Falls in Yoho National Park, B.C. - JIM BYERS PHOTO

Spectacular Takakkaw Falls in Yoho National Park, B.C. – JIM BYERS PHOTO

Prettiest Waterfall I Had Never Heard Of (Western Canada): Takakkaw Falls in Yoho National Park, B.C. A stunning sight.

Sensational Inglis Falls in Owen Sound, Ontario. - JIM BYERS PHOTO

Sensational Inglis Falls in Owen Sound, Ontario. – JIM BYERS PHOTO

Prettiest Waterfall I Had Never Heard of (Eastern Canada): Lovely Inglis Falls is a stunning spot on the Bruce Trail, just a few short minutes from downtown Owen Sound, Ontario.

Inverhuron Beach is a lovely spot for an outdoor wedding. - JIM BYERS PHOTO

Inverhuron Beach is a lovely spot for an outdoor wedding. – JIM BYERS PHOTO

Favourite Beach: Inverhuron, on Lake Huron in Ontario. Because my son got married there in June!

Pull up a chair and watch the sun fade into the sky at Cathedral Mountain Lodge in B.C. - JIM BYERS PHOTO

Pull up a chair and watch the sun fade into the sky at Cathedral Mountain Lodge in B.C. – JIM BYERS PHOTO

Best Mountain Lodging: Cathedral Mountain Lodge, Field, B.C. Lovely, old-style cabins that look like something out of a Hudson’s Bay advertisement and a first-rate restaurant. The surrounding countryside is glorious, and then some.

I love the lobby at the Fairmont Chateau Montebello in Quebec. - JIM BYERS PHOTO

I love the lobby at the Fairmont Chateau Montebello in Quebec. – JIM BYERS PHOTO

Coolest Hotel Lobby: The woodsy, geometrically shaped affair at the Fairmont Chateau Montebello in Quebec. Awesome.

Canadian Prime MInister Justin Trudeau on Parliament HIll on Canada Day, watching the Canadian Snowbird jets in action. - JIM BYERS PHOTO

Canadian Prime MInister Justin Trudeau on Parliament HIll on Canada Day, watching the Canadian Snowbird jets in action. – JIM BYERS PHOTO

Closest Proximity to a World Leader: I was pretty near to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau (aka, world’s hunkiest political leader) during the Canada Day festivities at Parliament Hill. No, he didn’t stop to say hello.

No points for style, but I didn't fall after getting a ski lesson at Whistler-Blackcomb.

No points for style, but I didn’t fall after getting a ski lesson at Whistler-Blackcomb.

Best Ski Lesson: The young woman who gave me a lesson at Whistler-Blackcomb learned to ski on her driveway in Scotland. But she was amazing and patient and oh-so-helpful to a guy who hadn’t been on skis in six or eight years. I managed not to fall once during three runs. No, not on the bunny hill.

The Ritz Calrton Toronto is one of Canada's best hotels. - JIM BYERS PHOTO

The Ritz Calrton Toronto is one of Canada’s best hotels. – JIM BYERS PHOTO

Most Elegant Hotel: The Ritz Carlton Toronto not only has great rooms and a lovely spa, but their TOCA restaurant makes some of the best ravioli you’ll find anywhere. Be sure to try something unusual from their cheese cave, too.

The grounds are oh-so-lovely at the Fairmont Chateau Montebello. - JIM BYERS PHOTO

The grounds are oh-so-lovely at the Fairmont Chateau Montebello. – JIM BYERS PHOTO

Prettiest Riverside Walk: Again, the Fairmont Chateau Montebello in Quebec. Great with the mist rising off the Ottawa River.

Try your hand - and eye - at the biathlon shooting range at Whistler Olympic Park. - JIM BYERS PHOTO

Try your hand – and eye – at the biathlon shooting range at Whistler Olympic Park. – JIM BYERS PHOTO

Best Biathlon Shooting Experience: You can go cross-country skiing and fire a real biathlon rifle at Whistler Olympic Park, just like they do at the Winter Games. It’s very cool. And the setting is a stunner.

Best Mai Tai: A simple but perfect offering at Rhum Corner on Dundas Ave. West in Toronto.

The Scandinave Spa in Whistler is a gorgeous winter spot. - JIM BYERS PHOTO

The Scandinave Spa in Whistler is a gorgeous winter spot. – JIM BYERS PHOTO

Top Spa Experiences: I managed not one but two Scandinave Spa experiences, one in winter in Whistler (so peaceful with heaps of snow all around the pools) and another in summer up near Collingwood, Ontario. A lovely way to spend a day.

Coolest Restaurant Concept: At Boralia in Toronto, they’ve fashioned some of their menu items from recipes that date back hundreds of years. I enjoyed mussels cooked in smoking pine needles, apparently something once jotted down by French explorer Samuel Champlain, the Gordon Ramsay of his time.

Christine's is an excellent restaurant on Blackcomb Mountain in Whistler, B.C. - JIM BYERS PHOTO

Christine’s is an excellent restaurant on Blackcomb Mountain in Whistler, B.C. – JIM BYERS PHOTO

Best Food In A Surprising Setting: Mountainside ski spots aren’t known for much more than burgers and maybe a good vegetarian chili. But Christine’s, located on Blackcomb Mountain in Whistler, serves up awesome scallops and other great dishes.

Canada’s Best Vodka: As far as I’m concerned, it’s still Eau Claire Distillery in Turner Valley, Alberta. Smooth as a gold medal ski run at Lake Louise.

Try a Toronto Heli Tours trip for a bird's eye view of Canada's biggest city. - JIM BYERS PHOTO

Try a Toronto Heli Tours trip for a bird’s eye view of Canada’s biggest city. – JIM BYERS PHOTO

Sweetest Chopper Ride: A helicopter tour over Canada’s biggest city with Toronto Heli Tours. Short, but very sweet.

Best Afternoon Tea: The Fairmont Chateau Laurier does a fantastic Champagne Tea with tons of great nibblies in a large, sunny room. A great way to spend an afternoon.

The Fairmont Empress has been given a glorious makeover. - PHOTO COURTESY FAIRMONT HOTELS

The Fairmont Empress has been given a glorious makeover. – PHOTO COURTESY FAIRMONT HOTELS

Best Canadian hotel re-do: They did a marvellous job with the Fairmont Empress in Victoria, giving the old girl a modern, stylish look and boosting the food options, too. A classic.

Best Acting Performance: The fellow who played the lead character in Master Harold and The Boys at the Shaw Festival, Andre Sills, was out-of-this-world good. It’s a tremendously powerful and often disturbing production that literally left me shaking.

Red Rabbit is a remarkably good restaurant in Stratford, Ontario. - JIM BYERS PHOTO

Red Rabbit is a remarkably good restaurant in Stratford, Ontario. – JIM BYERS PHOTO

Best Restaurant Southwest Ontario: Red Rabbit in Stratford is one of those rare places that can do just about any type of cuisine with flair and taste. A great food town, for sure.

Best Musical: Matilda at the Ed Mirvish Theatre in Toronto. A marvellous, toe-tapping ride from start to finish. Wonderful actors, too.

Port Hood is a lovely community in Cape Breton, Nova Scotia. - JIM BYERS PHOTO

Port Hood is a lovely community in Cape Breton, Nova Scotia. – JIM BYERS PHOTO

Cool Boardwalk Discovery: There’s a lovely one at the Port Hood Day Park on Cape Breton, leading to lovely dunes and long, lonely beaches.

Best Diner: The Flying Spatula in Flesherton, Ontario. Love the meatball sandwich and the sassy waitress I had.

Webster's Falls is a gorgeous waterfall in Hamilton, Ontario. - JIM BYERS PHOTO

Webster’s Falls is a gorgeous waterfall in Hamilton, Ontario. – JIM BYERS PHOTO

Biggest Natural Surprise: I live less than an hour from Hamilton, Ontario. But I had no idea the city was home to so many magical waterfalls and such great parkland. What a goof.

Love the cattle at Birds Eye Cove Farm. - JIM BYERS PHOTO

Love the cattle at Birds Eye Cove Farm. – JIM BYERS PHOTO

Best Highland Cattle Photo: This guy, at Birds Eye Cove Farm in Duncan B.C. Note the Donald Trump combover.

Best Named Town: I loved passing through tiny Ecum Secum, Nova Scotia.

The hikes at Lion's Head Provincial Park in Ontario are some of Canada's best. - JIM BYERS PHOTO

The hikes at Lion’s Head Provincial Park in Ontario are some of Canada’s best. – JIM BYERS PHOTO

Best hike: Lion’s Head, on the Tobermory Peninsula, is one of the best hikes in Canada, with views out over the pure, blue waters of Georgian Bay.

A display wall in the lobby at the Montreal Renaissance Hotel. - JIM BYERS PHOTO

A display wall in the lobby at the Montreal Renaissance Hotel. – JIM BYERS PHOTO

Coolest New Hotel: The Montreal Renaissance has a fabulous, artsy lobby and sleek, colourful rooms you might not expect from this brand. Awesome food and drinks at their East Pan Asiatique restaurant, too.

Muscedere is a top-notch winery near Windsor, Ontario. - JIM BYERS PHOTO

Muscedere is a top-notch winery near Windsor, Ontario. – JIM BYERS PHOTO

Most Surprising Winery: Muscedere Winery, down near Windsor, does a fabulous job with red wines, thanks in part to the warm summer sunshine and clay soils in the area. I also found some tasty wine at Georgian Hills, near Thornbury Ontario.

The Fairmont Chateau Laurier in Ottawa is a great spot to catch the Canada Day fireworks. - JIM BYERS PHOTO

The Fairmont Chateau Laurier in Ottawa is a great spot to catch the Canada Day fireworks. – JIM BYERS PHOTO

Best Fireworks: Canada Day at the Fairmont Chateau Laurier. A great spot to see the show.

When warming one's winter gloves over a hot stove, try not to let them actually TOUCH the stove. - PHOTO BY JODY ROBBINS

When warming one’s winter gloves over a hot stove, try not to let them actually TOUCH the stove. – PHOTO BY JODY ROBBINS

Dumbest Attempt To Keep One’s Hands Warm: I tried warming my hands over a hot stove at Quebec’s Winter Carnival. Nobody ever confused me with a rocket scientist.

I love the design features at Hotel Le Germain Charlevoix in Quebec. - JIM BYERS PHOTO

I love the design features at Hotel Le Germain Charlevoix in Quebec. – JIM BYERS PHOTO

Best Designed Hotel: Le Germain Charlevoix. I love the farm-style rooms and the sleek lobby. Great food, too, and a lovely pool/spa.

Best Burger: Motor Burger in Windsor serves up great food, including a burger with sharp dijon, gruyere cheese, spinach and smoked bacon balsamic caramelized onions. Hoo boy!

Sandbanks Provincial Park is a wonderful spot on Lake Ontario, east of Toronto. - JIM BYERS PHOTO

Sandbanks Provincial Park is a wonderful spot on Lake Ontario, east of Toronto. – JIM BYERS PHOTO

Craziest Sand Dunes: Sandbanks Provincial Park, a couple hours east of Toronto, has massive dunes on the edge of Lake Ontario. It feels like the Sahara Desert meets The Great Lakes. Great camping spots, and the wineries and inns of Prince Edward County are just minutes away.

Amherstburg is a cute and lively town on the shores of the Detroit River, south of Windsor. - JIM BYERS PHOTO

Amherstburg is a cute and lively town on the shores of the Detroit River, south of Windsor. – JIM BYERS PHOTO

Best Small Town Discovery: I’d somehow never been to Amherstburg, Ontario until this past summer. It’s a wonderful little town south of Windsor, with a beautiful park along the Detroit River, a fun ice cream shop and a couple of fine bars.

A Thousand Islands Cruise is a great way to enjoy Gananoque, Ontario. - JIM BYERS PHOTO

A Thousand Islands Cruise is a great way to enjoy Gananoque, Ontario. – JIM BYERS PHOTO

Best Boat Ride: A Thousand Islands boat cruise out of Gananoque, Ontario is a great way to see the St. Lawrence River and both the the Canadian and American sides. Boldt Castle is a tour highlight.

Try a dog sled ride in Charlevoix, Quebec. Yeah, the puppies are adorable. - JIM BYERS PHOTO

Try a dog sled ride in Charlevoix, Quebec. Yeah, the puppies are adorable. – JIM BYERS PHOTO

Best Dog Sled Ride: A joyous ride through the forest with the folks from Chenil du Sportif in Charlevoix, Quebec. Nice and warm the day I went, too.

A glorious sunrise on the Ottawa River, taken from the grounds of the Fairmont Chateau Montebello. - JIM BYERS PHOTO

A glorious sunrise on the Ottawa River, taken from the grounds of the Fairmont Chateau Montebello. – JIM BYERS PHOTO

Best Sunrise: At the Fairmont Chateau Montebello in Quebec, with the fog swirling over the Ottawa River.

Wow. No wonder it felt like I was away all year.

Comments: feel free!

Email: jim@jimbyerstravel.com

Twitter: @jimbyerstravel

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