On the Road Again: Traveling Through Canada’s Western Provinces

We have now completed our 4,900++ kilometer road trip from Parksville, British Columbia to Winnipeg, Manitoba and back. The primary purpose of our trip was to visit my niece and attend the interior design exhibition that was part of her master’s program. The time spent with my niece, as well as the exhibition, were both totally amazing.

Also during our travels, we were able to watch our eldest son join 42,000 others in the 10K Vancouver Sun Run, catch up with Richard’s best friend from 7th grade, in Cranbrook, BC, and visit relatives both in Edmonton, Alberta and Kelowna, British Columbia.   This trip has helped me to check off all Canadian provinces and territories, except for Nunavut, from my ‘been there’ list. I feel bad about Nunavut, but somehow Richard wasn’t game for us to add an extra 2,382 kilometers to our trip  just to complete my punctilious checklist…harsh, I know!

An unexpected takeaway from our travels was an even deeper appreciation for the sheer breadth and beauty of Canada than my husband and I already had. When planning this trip, we were constantly met by choruses of “Why Winnipeg?” and “Prepare for the most boring drive of your life!”  To the contrary, we were never once bored on our drive. Rather, we were greeted by scenic views of rolling farmlands, statuesque granaries, quaint towns, cool cities and brilliant flocks of Snow Geese en route to nest on the Arctic tundra. We passed two people wearing large signs saying that they were walking across Canada (one of whom was carrying a canoe on his back). We visited Canadian places with funky names that I was totally jealous of when I was in Primary School (Thus, we now have photo ops from Medicine Hat, Moose Jaw, Indian Head and Cut Knife…to name only a few.) We frequently diverged from our main path, whether it was to drive through the curious arches of Russell, Manitoba or to explore a bit of Lloydminster which sprawls across both Saskatchewan and Alberta. Llyodminister is Canada’s only border city incorporated by two provinces that share a single municipal administration (very cool!). And in Winnipeg, The Canadian Museum for Human Rights, along with its current exhibit by blind photographers, was simply incredible…. definitely do not visit Winnipeg without stopping by!

The other bonus of these travels was that we were able to refine our road trip skills even further. During our last long car trip, we struggled to include everything that we would need, and eliminate all that was unnecessary. This time, we more successfully refined our packing, while still preparing all of our own meals (except for when eating with family, or during included motel breakfasts). And before you start imaging horror dinners of Fritos and granola bars…we ate very well with most fare including chicken/turkey, rice, dairy, veggies, bread/pita and fruit/nuts for dessert. These road trip meals were definitely healthier for us, with less time spent trying to find appropriate restaurants or waiting for our orders at the end of a long day, and it was a huge cost saving for our three weeks away.

Our next planned road trip is a much shorter one from Parksville, BC to Seattle, Washington this coming June. Our youngest son will be traveling with us to compete in the Rock N Roll full marathon. As our dog will also be in tow, we will need to reduce and refine our road trip skills even further. All creative car-packing suggestions will be greatly appreciated!

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10 Replies to “On the Road Again: Traveling Through Canada’s Western Provinces”

    1. Hi John – You are correct, Nunavut is only accessible by plane or boat. It is a massive, scarcely populated territory of Northern Canada. Iqaluit, officially called Frobisher Bay until 1987, is the territory’s largest city and capital. Nunavut is a fascinating place with a very interesting history. It definitely remains on my bucket list of places to experience.

  1. Where do I find your road trip packing plans?! One of my bucket list items is to drive the old Rt 66 across the US. I also need to learn how to slow down for that trip….I am a get to the destination kind of traveler usually. Taking detours to see cool sights will be a personal challenge!

    Congrats on visiting all of Canada’s provinces! I know how excited I was a few years back to accomplish all 50 states in the US. I’m contemplating either the 7 continents or all 57 National Parks as a possible new bucket list goal, but not sure either will be as exciting as the 50 states was (or as achievable!)

    1. Thanks, Pat. Other than Google Maps and items to pack listed in a word doc on my computer, we didn’t use any elaborate written plans for this trip. I did frequently browse through Pinterest and check out other peoples’ suggestions for packing checklists and road trip snacks.
      https://uk.pinterest.com/search/pins/?rs=ac&len=2&q=road+trip+packing+list+travel+checklist
      https://uk.pinterest.com/search/pins/?q=food%20for%20road%20trip&rs

      Good luck with your planning for your Route 66 Trip. Janis at RetirementallyChallenged has taken a road trip along Route 66 and will likely have some good suggestions for you. Pinterest also has tons of advice about this route (which I have listed below).
      https://uk.pinterest.com/search/pins/?rs=ac&len=2&q=route+66+road+trip&0=route

      As for slowing down and spontaneously making/enjoying detours along the way, my husband gets all credit for that. He is excellent at detouring! Having a flexible schedule and not needing to be too many places at a specific time really helped us to make unplanned stops to explore cool places.

  2. I love road trips! About this time last year, we drove from San Diego up to South Dakota, then south east to ST Louis, the west along Route 66 back home. It was fabulous! I love all the detours… they make the best memories and pictures! During our next road trip this summer (we’ll fly, then rent a car) we are staying mainly at Airbnbs so hopefully we’ll also cook most of our own meals. Much healthier and less expensive.

    1. Hi, Janis – I look forward to reading about your summer travels and your Airbnb stays. Good luck with your planning!

  3. Enjoyed reading your description of the road back to Winnipeg. Sounds like a fun trip, I admire you for being organized enough to make your own meals! I’ve heard about that new museum in Winnipeg, and it sounds like a definite ‘must-see’. Love your picture of you standing in front of the zoo-moose!

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