New Classics: 5 Winter Activities

Fill your winter calendar this year — right across Canada, new and exciting winter adventures await, from walking with wolves to skiing with dogs and more:

Credit: Kanatha-aki

Fill your winter calendar this year — right across Canada, new and exciting winter adventures await:

Walk With Wolves, BC

The grey wolf is Canada’s most beautiful wild animal; we can debate second place, but wolves take the blue ribbon. In Golden, BC, Northern Lights Wildlife Wolf Centre offers you a chance to walk alongside canis lupus on their Blackwolf Photography tour. NLWWC cares for wolves that were born and bred in captivity and cannot fare for themselves in the wild; adopted animals live out their lives in comfort on-site. Daily, wolves are taken for off-leash exercise walks through the scenic Columbia and Rocky Mountains and you’re invited to join with your camera in-hand. Wander the wilderness with a 60-kg wolf (or two), snapping breathtaking images of the animal as you learn about wolf biology and conservation. Tours run year-round — but snowy environs, along with the animals’ thick winter coats, make for particularly fabulous images. Price, $295 for one or two people.

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Experience Fire & Ice, BC

Located a 12-hour drive north of Prince George, BC, and a couple of hours even further from Edmonton, AB, it’s safe to say Liard River Hot Springs Provincial Park isn’t exactly a wintertime tourism hub. But it is a hot spot. With reduced winter services, what is off-track for everyone but the Yukon/Alaska-bound in summer is downright apocalyptic in January. It’s well worth it to make this wily trek to the BC-Yukon border, however, to experience the Zen-like tranquility of soaking in a 42- to 52-degree Celsius all-natural hot springs, surrounded by ice-caked aspen trees while the Northern Lights streak overhead. Submerged to your chin, you won’t even mind the December/January average temperature of -20, right? Winter camping is $16 per site/night; no reservations.

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What the Heck is Skijoring? ON

A form of traditional Scandinavian winter travel, Skijoring combines the thrill of dogsledding with the exercise of nordic skiing. Using cross-country skis and harnessed to a 15-kg-plus dog, ski- and pup-power work in tandem to propel the Skijorer through the wild white yonder. While there are self-guided Skijoring trails available, Dogpaddling Adventures, of Richmond Hill, ON, will instruct both you and your willing dog (most medium or large breeds fit the bill) during a full-day Skijor tour (with hot lunch). No experience is necessary — for you or your best friend. While this sport seems a little on the kooky side, it wasn’t always so fringe. In 1928, Skijoring made it all the way to the Winter Olympic Games, appearing as a demonstration sport in St. Moritz, Switzerland. Price, $150 per person/dog, equipment included.

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Kicksleds & Mongolian Yurts, ON

Located about 60 km east of North Bay and dwarfed by the juggernaut of Algonquin Provincial Park to its south, Ontario’s Mattawa Valley is itself a bit off-radar. But within Mattawa, the theme of cultures colliding makes Nature’s Harmony Eco-Lodge’s kicksleds and Mongolian yurts an intriguing winter secret. The eco-lodge was founded by Jen and Tzach Elnekave, two world travellers from Canada and Israel, respectively, who chased one another around the globe for a few years before starting this business in northern Ontario. Visitors can traverse Mattawa’s frozen wonderland via traditional Scandinavian kick-sled, a contraption similar to a street scooter but riding on skis, and then sleep in a handmade yurt imported from Mongolia. In keeping with the founders’ globetrotting vibe, it’s the world at your doorstep. Prices, $85 per night for yurt; $12 per day for kicksled.

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Be a Survivor, QC

Alexander Coser spent 11 years in the French Armed Forces, serving in Russia, French Guyana, Ivory Coast and the French Alps — and he wants to pass his skills on to you. Channel your inner Survivorman by attending a one- or two-day Survival Camp at Kanatha-Aki, Coser’s Val des Lacs, QC-based business. In an all-skill-level excursion, Coser escorts participants into the forest for a daylong or two-day seminar on backwoods survival, covering skills such as shelter building and fire starting. Looking for something wilder? You and Coser can be heli-dropped into the wilderness with virtually no supplies, and, under Coser’s tutelage, tasked to survive for two or three days in mid-winter (tours run year-round). While surely an exciting way to spend the weekend, the skills you learn may also one-day save your life. Prices, $89 to $689.

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