Whether you are planning on visiting Canada, travelling within Canada or even those staying close to home this year, the Government of Canada has a free gift for you. The gift is a Parks Canada Discovery Pass which entitles you and your whole family to join Canada to help celebrate our sesquicentennial anniversary. You can join the party with free admission to ALL of Canada’s national parks, national historic sites and national marine conservation areas.
There are 148 different locations across the country that this pass will slide you into for free. My pass arrived last week as promised, about six weeks after I applied online. The process was super easy and took less than five minutes.
Now the fun begins, and with 148 options, the challenge will be where to head first.
Here are three places that we plan to visit with our Discovery Pass, where will the pass take you?
Fathom Five National Marine Park
About 300 kilometres due north from my hometown of Burlington, ON is Tobermory, a beautiful harbour village on the Bruce Peninsula. Right on Georgian Bay, the area is on our list to see this summer. Our pass will get us into Fathom Five Marine Park, which is home to the Flowerpot Island sea stacks, 19th-century lighthouses and multiple shipwreck dive sites. It is a cocktail of beautiful scenery, mystery, ecology and history.
We are not campers, so instead we will use Best Western Inn on the Bay as our home base for a few days. It’s about an hour south of Tobermory but will also allow us to hit Sauble and Kelso Beach if the weather agrees.
Banff National Park
The oldest of Canada’s national parks is Banff, which was established in 1885. Not only is it the oldest, but it is likely the most beautiful and awe-inspiring. I am set to be in Calgary in May and will make the trek an hour north and west to Banff for at least a night. My sister was married in Banff, and I would love another crack at the Banff Springs golf course -a more scenic round would be hard to find.
A night in Banff means a night at Best Western Siding 29 Lodge. A family favourite, the hotel is right in downtown Banff with a great indoor pool and hot tub looking out onto the world’s best scenery!
HMCS Haida National Historic Site
A great day trip for us will be to check out the HMCS HAIDA. I was surprised to learn the warship is one of Canada’s most decorated and is docked less than 15 minutes from my house in Hamilton. HMCS HAIDA is the last survivor of the 27 Tribal-class destroyers, 13 of which, including HMCS ATHABASKAN, were lost during the World War II. It sank more enemy surface tonnage than any other Canadian ship.
These three historic sites only scratch the surface of what is possible. The Parks Canada Discovery Pass is a must-have for every traveller this year. Don’t delay! It’s already March and the pass will expire December 31. It’s your free ticket to history, culture and lots of fun.