Road hockey, Indigenous Powwows and 5 other distinctly Canadian experiences to try

August 21, 2023

When we think of Canadian tourism, a few obvious things come to mind: Maid of the Mist (aka the Hornblower) boat tours in Niagara Falls, eating poutine in Montreal, having dinner at 360 The Restaurant (at the tippity top of Toronto’s CN Tower), or ordering a double-double and a twenty-pack of Timbits from Tim Hortons.

Sure, these are all iconic Canadian activities of course, but if you’re a lover of more offbeat experiences like I am, you may want to try some authentic Canadian pastimes that often get left out of the conversation. Here, a list of seven underrated things to do while exploring Canada.

1. Start off your day with a Kraft peanut butter sandwich.

The states might have Jif and Skippy, and while I mean no offense, neither can compare to the absolute delicacy that is Kraft Peanut Butter. If you’re feeling fancy add a sliced banana. If you’re feeling extra fat and sassy (The only way to be, really. Live a little.) fry it up until it’s golden brown and the peanut butter is all melty on the inside. You can even add a drizzle of maple syrup for some hoser aesthetic. There is no better peanut butter than Kraft (my go to is the extra creamy kind… just seeing that yellow lid and those adorable teddies gives me a dopamine rush). Enjoy!

2. Get outside for a game of road hockey.

Now that you’re all ready for the day, why not gather some of your most competitive pals for a good ol’ game of road hockey? It’s cheap entertainment, or dare I say, free if you have some old hockey sticks lying around. If you don’t, they can also be found used at a second hand shop or on Facebook marketplace. Nets really up the experience, but recycling bins or whatever you have on hand to use as goal post markers will do. Best part about this? No skating.

3. Go to an Indigenous pow wow.

Celebrate Indigenous culture by attending a traditional pow wow (Akwesasne’s is September 9th and 10th at the A’nowara’ko:wa Arena on Cornwall Island, Ontario). Watch traditional dancers go all out in their stunning regalia (and even join in when the all-nations dance is called), shop at Indigenous craft vendors selling art, jewelry, and be sure to get yourself a delicious lunch of corn soup, an Indian taco, and a cup of strawberry drink. Please remember to be respectful, ask permission before taking photos, be on time for grand entry and the opening prayer, and never bring drugs or alcohol.

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4. Scarf down some good old East Coast potato chips.

If you’re out in eastern Canada, you have to stop at Covered Bridge Potato Chips. Using the finest dark russet potatoes from the Saint John River Valley and cooking ‘em up right at the factory with the skins on (extra flavourful and healthy, right!?) these are hands down the best chips in Canada. Located in Waterville, New Brunswick, you can purchase chips by the case and also take pictures in front of the world’s shortest covered bridge. While you’re there, you might as well drive the seven minutes to the world’s longest covered bridge located in nearby Hartland. Can’t make it out east? You can order Covered Bridge chips online. My personal fave (as a bisexual who never likes to choose one thing) are their storm chips which are a mixture of creamy dill, homestyle ketchup, smokin’ BBQ, and salt & vinegar ALL IN ONE BAG. Thank me later.

5. Crank the Tegan and Sara tunes.

Road trips wouldn’t be road trips without Canada’s best band: Tegan and Sara. Calgary sweethearts and queer icons, Tegan and Sara formed in 1995 and have released 10 albums over their 25-year career If you’re new to the twins, their top 10 songs (IMO) are: Come On, All You Got, Living Room, I Can’t Take It, The Con, The Cure, I Was a Fool, Boyfriend, Hold My Breath Until I Die, Pretty Shitty Time.

6. Get romantic and enjoy Canada’s late sunsets.

Canada is known for its long, long days in summer. Make the most of that by catching a good sunset late in the evening. Peggy’s Cove is a popular daytime excursion but if you’re not a fan of crowds, go later in the day and catch the picturesque views. An even later sunset happens in Thunder Bay (10:02 p.m. on the summer solstice, June 21), the best spot to appreciate it is the Thunder Bay Lookout near Pass Lake in Sleeping Giant Provincial Park. On the West Coast? Tofino’s Tonquin beach is where it’s at. Sunsets here are killer and will make for a memorable evening.

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7. Treat yourself to a glass of ice wine.

You deserve it. Did you know that Canada is the only climate that can ensure a proper harvest year after year? The delicacy is a risky business: not only do you have to have hot summer months, but you also need cold winters with temperatures below -8°C. The frozen grapes are handpicked and must be immediately pressed while still frozen. Grab yourself a bottle of Vidal Icewine or pop over to Île d’Orléans outside of Quebec City to sample ice wines and other delicious, locally made treats.

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