Fall is Canada’s most ephemeral season – if you don’t make the most of the next few weekends, when the leaves are changing and the apples are ripe for picking, you’ll have to wait a whole year to recapture the magic. Here are a few under-the-radar seasonal activities to explore across the country before they’re gone:
Reach new heights at the Golden Skybridge and Malahat Skywalk in B.C.
Eager to see the fall colours? In British Columbia, two new viewing platforms elevate guests for sweeping views of the forest canopy. In 2021, the Golden Skybridge opened with the country’s highest suspension bridges at 80 and 130 metres above the Columbia Valley, surrounded by the Rocky and Purcell mountain ranges. There are plenty of other adventuring opportunities here too, such as ziplining, rock climbing and axe throwing. The Golden Skybridge is in Golden, B.C., 90 minutes west of Banff.
Alternatively, head to Vancouver Island for a fully accessible way to look out and over a forest of arbutus trees at the Malahat Du, 45 minutes north of Victoria. The 600-metre spiral platform brings guests 250 metres above sea level. The SkyWalk, which opened in 2021, is fully accessible to strollers, walkers, and wheelchairs, offering better access to panoramic views of Mt. Baker, the Finlayson Arm fjord, the Saanich Peninsula and even into the United States. After journeying up to the top of the platform, adventurous visitors can take a shortcut back to land with a 50-metre-long spiral tube slide to the ground.
Immerse in Indigenous culture in Saskatoon, Sask.
No longer just a draw for international tourists and local school groups, Keith Henry, president and chief executive officer at Indigenous Tourism Association of Canada, has noticed an increase in interest in Indigenous tourism from domestic travellers, too. “Indigenous tourism, in my view, is reconciliation in action,” Mr. Henry explains. “Visit these businesses. Spend some time getting to know their stories. Buy some local Indigenous artwork.”
Mr. Henry says that more Indigenous communities are entering the accommodations sector, like the Dakota Dunes Resort, south of Saskatoon. “The Whitecap Dakota [First Nation] have opened up a beautiful resort with hotel-style accommodations and Indigenous-themed art all throughout. We didn’t have these kinds of businesses five, six, seven years ago,” he explains.
Meanwhile, just north of Saskatoon, the Wanuskewin Heritage Park is completing a $40-million renovation which includes new gallery spaces and exhibits in their interpretive centre, meeting places for elders, and a gift shop with handmade items from First Nation artisans. Visitors can participate in guided walks to learn more about Indigenous bison hunting methods while weekend dance presentations feature regional styles such as fancy shawl, hoop and jingle dress.
Stay at a renovated motel in Ontario
Roadside motels are having a moment in Ontario. The June Motel, in Prince Edward County, opened in 2017 and its owners had purchased their second property, in Sauble Beach, by 2019. Since then, renovated motels have popped up all over the province, from Penny’s Motel in Thornbury to Calabogie’s Somewhere Inn, an hour west of Ottawa.
These properties often boast vintage decor accents and a retro vibe as a throwback to the heyday of roadside motels in the 1960s and 70s. At the Kent Motel, just south of Niagara-on-the-Lake in Queenston, 18 rooms are outfitted with vintage furnishings and art, each with its own look. With the summer rush over, these motels offer a fun getaway before winter begins.
Andrew Duffy is one of the owners of the Sweetwater Group, which includes the Kent Motel, South Landing Inn and the Woodbourne. The pandemic lockdowns allowed him the opportunity to update the Kent Motel property.
“The building looked like it hadn’t been touched since the 1980s,” Mr. Duffy explains. Sourcing new furniture during the pandemic was challenging with supply shortages, so Mr. Duffy turned to vintage stores to outfit the motel’s rooms. “We went to consignment shops and antique shops in Peterborough and Toronto and started making collections by colour and vibe.” Items like a 1970s fibreglass pressed plate, vintage posters and textiles help complete the look in each room.
Family vacations at the new Club Med in Charlevoix, Que.
Canada isn’t a destination traditionally known for its all-inclusive resorts, but a new Club Med in Charlevoix, Que., which opened in December 2021, means families don’t have to travel to the Caribbean for all-in vacations. Located alongside Le Massif mountain, visiting in the fall before ski season offers a variety of family-friendly outdoor activities. Hike through 20 kilometres of trails, some of which overlook the St. Lawrence River, take a mountain bike ride through the forest or hop on a scenic round-trip gondola ride to view fall foliage in style.
All meals are included in a Club Med stay. Childcare services are also free of charge at the kids’ clubs, allowing parents some free time for activities like yoga and meditation classes or spa treatments (at an additional cost).
Renovated viewing platforms at Peggy’s Cove, N.S.
The iconic lighthouse, granite rocks and boulders of Peggy’s Cove have attracted tourists here for decades. But those same rocks pose a safety hazard as rogue waves are known to splash up on shore, causing slippery conditions and even sweeping visitors out into the ocean.
To improve safety conditions at the attraction, an accessible viewing platform was built, opening in the fall of 2021. “It’s an overhanging viewing deck that’s wheelchair accessible,” explains Clare Tidby, vice-president of marketing at Discover Halifax. “Our partners at Develop Nova Scotia worked very closely with the community – they want to share Peggy’s Cove with the world, but they want to do it safely.” Halifax-based architect Omar Gandhi was hired to design the platform which elevates guests above strong ocean waves while also taking rising sea levels into consideration. A fall visit to Peggy’s Cove could offer easier access and better photo opportunities as the summer crowds have dwindled.
Ms. Tidby recommends pairing autumn visits to Peggy’s Cove with a nearby ‘Rails to Trails’ hike for experiencing the region’s fall colours. “They’ve taken the railways and turned them into trails that are good for biking and hiking,” she explains. “They take you from one community to another through the trees as they change.”
The writer was a guest of the Kent Motel, which did not review or approve this article.