Real Man Travels Presents: 150 of Our Favourite Canadian Things

Follow along as we list off our favourite 150 Canadian things over 150 days to celebrate Canada Day!

Sunday, 28 May 2017


The Muskoka-region of Ontario feels iconically Canadian. This has a lot to do with the Group of Seven capturing the area so vividly in their paintings, which hang on the walls of the last several generations of Canadians. It has also come to be so iconic as generations, even before the Group of Seven, have found themselves drawn to the natural, rugged beauty of the area. Whether travelling to a campground, going backcountry, or traveling to a million-dollar cottage, Ontario's cottage country has much to discover.

Home to 1600 lakes, the region has changed significantly in the last 50 years. Lakes such as Rosseau, Joseph and Muskoka host the cottages of the rich and famous while single lane roads have turned into multi-lane highways cutting through the rocky landscape. That said, there is still plenty of untouched wilderness and quiet areas into which to escape.

The Real Man Travels gang loves to fade into the Muskoka wilds whenever we get a chance.    

What is 150 of our favourite Canadian things? Read about it here

Saturday, 27 May 2017

Hudson's Bay Company

Hudson’s Bay Company (HBC) has a rich history of exploration, adventure, control, trading and more that spans over 340 years. There is way too much history to write about in this blurb (to learn more you can visit HBC's history website) but I would like to share a neat fact that most Canadians overlook.

The last trading post ever built by Hudson Bay Company

HBC has long been thought to be an iconic Canadian company. However it was originally formed in England in 1670 to maintain and profit from fur trading in the new land (eventually Canada). It wasn’t until 1970 (the company’s 300th anniversary) that HBC was granted a new charter and moved its head offices from England to Winnipeg. Later they would move the office to downtown Toronto where it still sits today. However the company was bought out by a private US company fronted by Jerry Zucker in 2006 and after his death in 2008 was scooped up by National Realty and Development Corporation (NRDC) Equity Partners, who also own Saks 5th Avenue and Lord & Taylor.

While officially only a Canadian company for 38 years, we still love the iconic 4 colour stripe products they have been creating for centuries (mostly the blankets though).

What is 150 of our favourite Canadian things? Read about it here

Friday, 26 May 2017

The Northern Lights

Otherwise known as the Aurora Borealis, the Northern Lights have been been dancing across the world's sky for centuries, and while they may not be unique to Canada, we proudly have the Northern Lights Centre in the Yukon territory. I was fortunate enough to see it with my own eyes on a summer road trip last year. To say it was the highlight of the highway drive between Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan and Portage la Prairie, Manitoba, would be an understatement. That statement doesn't do enough to explain how boring that drive is, or how impressive the lights were to watch.

If you've had the privilege of watching this scientific light show you know just how lucky you were. If you haven't, come on up to some the remote parts of Canada, get a double-double at the Tim Horton's, put your phone away, and just watch the show, because it's a different one every time.

What is 150 of our favourite Canadian things? Read about it here

Thursday, 25 May 2017

Ottawa River

Rope swing in to the water at Wilderness Tours

We were given the chance to see the full majesty of the Ottawa River on our trip through Ontario’s Highlands. We also had the pleasure to meet Joe from Wilderness Tours, a man who has spent his life trying to preserve one of the greatest rafting destinations on earth. Read more about that.

If you’ve never gotten the chance to raft the Ottawa River, do it, now, or when you are done reading this post. It is an amazing experience and the folks from Wilderness Tours know how to do it right.

The river itself defines the border between Quebec and Ontario. Canada’s parliament building are situated on its shores. The river is revered by the Algonquin people who called it Kichisipi, the “Great River.” It played a key role in Canada’s development, as a critical logging corridor. That history can still be seen in the tea-coloured water of the river, that has been dyed by a thick bed of bark and wood scraps that make up the river bottom.

Power, passion, adventure, fun, legacy. The river is truly Canadian.    

Or you can bungee jump into the Ottawa River, if you'd like

What is 150 of our favourite Canadian things? Read about it here

Wednesday, 24 May 2017

Degrassi: Old and New

“Whatever it takes, I know I can make it through.” These are the famous opening lines to Degrassi: The Next Generation, but they really speak volumes to the entire franchise. 

The Kids of Degrassi Street was where it all began. It was the first iteration of the franchise and was composed of four episodes varying in length that aired consecutively between 1979 and 1982 on the CBC. Most of the cast would move on to the full time series Degrassi Junior High and Degrassi High with different names, families and story lines.

Degrassi Junior High had its run from 1987 through 1989 while Degrassi High ran from 1989-1991. These were the original two series and they had a very organic feel to them as the cast were mostly non-professional actors and the budgets were pretty low. The two series touched on a lot of controversial topics that were not in the mainstream media such as homosexuality, teen pregnancy, child abuse, racism, homophobia and much more. The show always approached these topics with a high level of tact and responsibility. This run of the franchise also created some much loved generational characters such as Joey Jeremiah, Snake, Spike, The Farell twins, Wheels, BLT and many more.

The franchise received a revival in 2001 with Degrassi: The Next Generation. This modern version of the Degrassi world did exactly what the original run intended to do. Speak to its audience about issues that pre-teens and teens face. With a 20 year gap, the show was able to develop and create episodes geared to even more controversial and issues that were brought about by technological advances that didnt exist during the original run such as cyber bullying, online predators, sex, suicide, self-injury, abortion, domestic violence, date rape, murder, school shootings and much more.

Degrassi is a real street in Toronto's East End

 The modern run of Degrassi also brought back some familiar faces from the original series who portrayed parents, teachers and other adult figures of the new cast. The Next Generation received acclaim worldwide rather quickly and went on to have a 14 season run ending in 2015. From the show a few cast members went on to become quite famous such as Nina Dobrev (The Vampire Diaries), Devon Bostick (Diary of a Wimpy Kid), Shenae Grimes (90210) and of course Drake.

The franchise continues on now with Degrassi: Next Class thanks to Netflix and Family Channel. This version is set in the world of Degrassi but is not a continuation of The Next Generation. It is currently 3 seasons long and has been green lit for a 4th.

How long will the Degrassi franchise survive? On television? Who really knows. In the hearts of multi generations of Canadians? Forever.

What is 150 of our favourite Canadian things? Read about it here

Tuesday, 23 May 2017

Tim Hortons

What can you say about a country where one of their most iconic symbols is a coffee shop, and where a phrase synonymous with that coffee shop, "Double-Double" (meaning a coffee with two cream and two sugar) has been enshrined as an official word in the dictionary. Well, all you can really say is that Canada is awesome, because anything less would be simply untrue.

Canadians buy more coffee from food service than any other country in the world, and eight of every 10 of those cups are bought at Tim Hortons. Indeed, almost one in five Canadians goes to Tim Hortons daily (that is insane, but in an awesome way). This equates to the chain serving over two billion cups of coffee every year.

It is not rare to see Facebook or Instagram posts of ex-pats or even those who have simply been outside of Canada for vacation post a picture of their favourite cup upon their return to native soil with the caption, "oh, how I have missed thee."

Tim Hortons' success can be chalked up to nothing short of a cultural phenomenon. The coffee has consistently received poor reviews by experts, the food is nothing more than soups, sandwiches and donuts (that are on the small side), the popularity means there is always a wait to get your cup, and the chain isn't even Canadian-owned anymore. Nonetheless, Canadians flock to Tims by the millions every day, which is likely why they need one location for every 9000 Canadians!

Maybe its the 18% cream, but I prefer to think it is another way that Canadians enjoy simple pleasures. Tims is a meeting place, a constant in a crazy world; it is home, in the same way your favourite thread-bare easy chair is home, consistent, comfortable and rich with memories. That's why there is no better way to show a Canadian love than by bringing them a steaming hot cup of Timmies.

What is 150 of our favourite Canadian things? Read about it here

Monday, 22 May 2017

Blackberry (Research in Motion)

Blackberry (formerly Research In Motion – RIM) was once the technological prowess of Canada. The company itself was founded in 1984 in by Mike Lazaridis and Douglas Fregin. RIM was the first North American company to develop for wireless data technology. While the company dabbled with modems and pagers early on, things really kicked into high gear in 1999 when they released the Blackberry 850, a device that could handle email. The Blackberry 850 was a catalyst that forever changed the mobile world.

From there the company went on to create the most secure handheld devices that were utilized by corporations, governments and consumers. Some notable models were the Blackberry Pearl, Blackberry Bold 9000, Blackberry Torch, Blackberry Z10/Z30 and the more recent Blackberry Passport and Blackberry Priv (the first blackberry to use Android as its operating system). During the company’s peak in 2013 they had 85 million subscribers worldwide. Recently those numbers have dwindled significantly; so much so that the company has moved on from creating their own hardware and have outsourced that to partners.

 I can remember when I was in college and everyone had a Blackberry and used their messaging service (BBM) on the regular. Funny thing is, us guys at Real Man Travels still use BBM as our main messaging service. We have a group chat set up on it and I will legitimately be sad if Blackberry ever shuts their service down.

What is 150 of our favourite Canadian things? Read about it here

Sunday, 21 May 2017


Our favourite Canadian things list is full of Canadian innovation, but no item on the list has the strong personal connection to the Real Man Travels crew than insulin. This is because Real Man Travels finds its roots in Alliston, Ontario, where insulin co-founder Dr. Frederick Banting was born. He remains Alliston's proudest son, with his birthplace enshrined as a historic monument on the outskirts of town.

Insulin is a life-saving treatment for diabetes, a condition that causes high blood sugar due to either the inability of the body to naturally produce insulin or the body not responding properly to insulin that is produced.

Dr. Banting, working with Drs. Charles Best, J.J.R McLeod and James Collip, developed the method of isolating insulin from dogs, and later calves and pigs, for use in humans. The resulting product was called a miracle in its time, effectively treating a disease that before was a death sentence.  The good doctors are credited with giving all rights to their patented product to the University of Toronto so that income generated could be used for research.

Insulin is now procured from genetically-engineered bacteria but the treatment remain relatively unchanged.

Banting received the Nobel Prize in Medicine and remains the youngest person to have ever received the honor. He was also knighted by King George V.

What is 150 of our favourite Canadian things? Read about it here

Saturday, 20 May 2017

Montreal International Jazz Festival

Summer in Montreal. There is nothing like it, especially when the Montreal International Jazz Festival is in town. The city comes to life as they close Rue St.Catherine and the rest of the Montreal's core for 10 days. Thankfully Montreal has a solid transit system to help when it is too far to walk.

The festival in Montreal is the worlds largest jazz festival. If you don't believe me just check out your copy of the 2004 Guinness Book of World Records. Every year more than 3,000 artists put on just over 650 concerts, with 450 of those concerts being free and open to the public. The one day I attended in 2015, I saw a variety of street performers, large bands, rock bands and even a theatre production all in one epic day. The entertainment doesn't stop there as Montreal has more to offer the 2.5 million visitors that attend the jazz festival every year. In 2017, Montreal is celebrating the city's 375th anniversary of it's founding, mix that in with a half of a dozen other festivals going on throughout the city and you will have no shortage of things to do.

This year the Montreal International Jazz Festival runs June 28,2017 to July 8,2017 it should be the best one yet.

I experienced the jazz fest first hand with my blogger buddy Kashyap Bhattacharya from the Budget Traveller. He documented our experience in the film below.

What is 150 of our favourite Canadian things? Read about it here

Friday, 19 May 2017

Screeching In

Getting screeched in on George Street is a time-honoured tradition/joke Newfoundlanders love to do with “mainlanders.” The history is always a little different, but it usually involves a trade by long-ago Newfies and pirates for some strange liquor, thereafter known as Screech.

I won’t give it away, as it’s something that needs to be experienced, be sufficed to say it involves a cod, some questionable deli meat, poetry and said strange liquor.

When you find yourself in St. John’s, let the city’s natural slope funnel you to George Street and get the real screech in experience, and stay to enjoy the street with the most bars and pubs per square foot of any in North America. It is an incredible spot, and a truly Canadian experience.

What is 150 of our favourite Canadian things? Read about it here