Canada For Children

Jennifer Morton took her 3 year old son Tai to Canada to visit her birth place and meet his Canadian family, Jennifer kindly shares the experience with us.

Tai was three years old when we went to Canada for a month-long holiday. I had spent several years dreaming of taking my Kiwi boys to meet my family so when we boarded the Air Canada flight in Sydney it felt surreal.

We were all impressed with the standards and service of the Air Canada airplane and crew. With so many budget airlines these days giving no food and little service, it was most welcomed to each have our own personal TV screen that had a fantastic selection of movies, TV shows, kid’s shows, music and more; plus we received free drinks and meals. Because of these “luxuries” the 14 hour direct flight to Vancouver flew by, pardon the pun!! We barely slept at all. Even Tai slept for only one or two hours!! The constant entertainment keep us, well, very entertained.

We arrived at seven am and caught a taxi to our downtown Vancouver hotel. Luckily we were allowed an early check-in so we could snuggle down for a few hours. After a couple hours we freshened up and then went straight to Tim Horton’s, a much loved Canadian doughnut and coffee shop. Tim’s (as known by the locals) is a much loved and iconic coffee shop, so much so that the Canadian Military has put in a shop on the base in Afghanistan. With over 2700 shops in Canada alone it is easy to find one and is a must do when visiting. Tai loved the gooey jam filled and icing sugar dusted doughnuts.

The next morning we headed back to the airport for our 50 minute flight to Kelowna. From here we were shuttled the 56km drive up the mountain to Big White Ski Resort. We arrived to a winter wonderland and it was so fun to watch Tai experience snow for the very first time. After setting up in the room for our 7-day stay, we dressed for the weather to explore the village. Everything you could want in a snow resort is there: ski/board rentals and lessons, gear shop, gift shops, café, restaurants, pubs, supermarket, video rental, pizza take-away, ice skating rink, horse drawn sleigh rides, downhill tubing, dog sled tours, snow mobile tours, daycare, hair and beauty salon and more. Tai played at the daycare for three days whilst hubby and I got reacquainted with the sport of snowboarding. It had been six years since I’d been on a board and the first day was nerve wrecking!!While I took it easy, hubby wrapped himself around a tree and hurt his knee. He had to take the rest of the day off to recover. Tai was offered ski lessons but he declined, happy to just play in the snow and do some boot shuffling on the ice. We tried to fill up our days and evenings, wanting the most of the experience. The best times included: tubing, ice shuffling (we didn’t don skates), enjoying steaming hot chocolates by an open fire, playing in the falling snow, snowboarding for hubby and I and the most favorite time of all was the snow mobile tour!! It was a dream come true to share this experience with my husband and son. Tai is five years old now and still talks about it.

After our fun filled, snowy holiday was over the shuttle bus took us back to Kelowna airport. This time we were heading east – all the way East to Halifax, Nova Scotia, my birthplace.

Over the next 10 days we traveled back and forth between the Annapolis Valley and Halifax with a couple days on the south shore visiting my family and friends. It was a relaxed time; just letting Tai & my hubby get to know my family and vice versa. Other Nova Scotia highlights included: making a snowman with Grandma and Pa, going to Shubenacadie Wildlife Park, eating lobster, walking the boardwalk along Halifax’s foggy harbor front, taking happy snaps at picturesque Lunenburg & Mahone Bay, and spending time with good friends.

Another long haul flight took us back to Vancouver. After arriving we hopped straight onto a Greyhound bus and then onto the ferry at Tsawwassen and onward to Swartz Bay (Victoria) where we were picked up by my sister. Victoria is a lovely city with the CBD set around a gorgeous harbor. From there the tourist possibilities are: whale sighting tours, take a seaplane to Vancouver or Tofino, have high tea at the historic Fairmont Empress Hotel, visit a wax museum or the Royal BC museum, take a tour of the waterfront by a horse drawn carriage, photograph the British Columbia Parliament Buildings, take a ferry to Seattle, shop til you drop, visit the museum of miniatures (dollhouses) and so much more. Tai’s favorite adventures in Victoria were feeding the seals at Oak Bay Marina and watching a real live ice hockey game!! To end our time on Vancouver Island and give Tai a real treat, we took the train to Nanaimo. From there we took another BC Ferries boat to Horseshoe Bay on the mainland. From there it was a short city bus ride to downtown Vancouver.

We stayed at the Blue Horizon on Robson Street and it was the perfect place for us. The room was spacious and clean and overlooked the busy, action packed street below.

We spent our last five days exploring this brilliant seaside city. The best parts included: walking the 8km seawall around Stanley Park; roaming through the park in search of black squirrels (which are easy to find) and photographing the totem poles, taking the small ferry across False Creek to Granville Island for a superbly fresh fruit and vegetable experience and the best doughnuts in the world, dinner at Yaletown Brewery, cruising across the harbor by Seabus to North Vancouver’s Lonsdale Quay for stunning views of Vancouver’s skyline and shopping on famous Robson Street.

Before we knew it, it was time to return home. This trip was very memorable and Tai was thrilled with the experience. He now knows his Canadian family and he even asks about returning to Canada someday. It was a big journey for the little guy but he absolutely loved not only the destination, but the journey too.

Jennifer Morton is a freelance writer. You can also read her account of taking Tai to Borneo. We cant wait to hear all about Tai’s next adventure.