Canada ‘thanks’ travel pioneer
Bruce Poon Tip, the founder and now chairman of G Adventures, often says “travel can be a force for good.” The Crown seems to agree. Early in July, he was named an Officer of the Order of Canada and it’s been 34 years since a member of the Canadian travel industry earned the honour. Poon Tip sees that as a recognition of the community based, responsible tourism G Adventures has run since it launched in 1990.
“We have significantly changed the way people look a travel. We’ve changed the way other companies do business in travel,” he said in an interview, “and I don’t think the travel industry is seen as a very giving industry. It’s under a lot of pressure lately.”
He’s most proud of Planeterra, a non-profit he launched 20 years ago that teaches communities in 78 countries how to alleviate poverty with tourism and helps keep tourism dollars in local communities.
Poon Tip also considers the honour more than just a recognition of his work. His family immigrated from Trinidad, and his parents gave up a lot to raise seven children for better opportunities in Canada. “This Order of Canada recognizes those sacrifices,” he said. “We’ve been very thankful that we had the opportunity to move here and build a life with our family. Canada kind of just said ‘thanks’ back.”
Fine dining, fine art
Amongst all the pointy peaked splendour of Whistler, cradled in the back streets of this ski town in the shared, unceded territory of the Squamish Nation and Lil’wat Nation, is a gallery museum dedicated to the art of British Columbia. The Audain Art Museum – easier to find now thanks to the six-metre tall bronze Three Watchmen sculpture outside its front door – features the works of Northwest Coast First Nations, Emily Carr, E.J. Hughes and Jack Shadbolt, and contemporary artists, including Jeff Wall, Dana Claxton and Marianne Nicolson. In August, the Audain continues its popular Artist Dinner Series. For two nights a six-course meal inspired by its current exhibition – Manabu Ikeda: Flowers from the Wreckage – is served amongst the detailed pen and ink drawings with the artist present. Chef Koji Chiba prepares an omakase-style Japanese menu with wine and sake pairings. Tickets include a private tour of the exhibition with the artist. Day visitors to the gallery are also able to meet Manuba Ikeda in August on Thursday, Friday and Saturday afternoons when he sets up his drawing tables in an open studio in the Upper Galleries. Artist Dinner Series tickets start at $199, audainartmuseum.com
Disconnect for the day
Imagine a day spent in nature, without a phone to prove you did. What was once commonplace is now unthinkable – except in Finland. Here the uninhabited island of Ulko-Tammio now requests visitors leave their mobile immobilized for the day. Full of birds and hiking trails, even camp sites and a birdwatching tower, the island is part of the Eastern Gulf of Finland National Park and is a two-hour boat ride from the port town of Kotka. Visitors that set out to explore will also find a cave originally intended as a shelter for the marine crew during the Second World War and two restored cannons. On the ferry over, Parks & Wildlife Finland staff offer blue stickers that say, “Enjoy nature.” Visitors are asked to put it on their hand-held screen as a reminder to disconnect for the day. Kotka is just over an hour’s drive from Helsinki, making it a popular weekend destination.
Everybody wants in on the travel-booking game. Even Pinterest. Eye-popping photos have always grabbed a potential traveller’s attention. A destination “thirst trap” kick starts a deep dive of research to find out where the photo was taken and, more importantly, how can a visitor see the place in person. An overwater bungalow in the Maldives? Snowy peaks in the B.C. backcountry on a bluebird day? And how fantastic does that Trolltunga hike look in Norway? Pinterest – basically a visual search engine – reports that it plays a big part in motivating its 463-million users around the world where to go next. In Canada, the platform reports two out of three users work with it to decide their next trip. Later this summer, Pinterest is turning “Pinners’” mood boards into click-through, bookable to-do lists. Based on images and stories pinned to a personal page, hotel and resort Travel Catalogs will appear nearby with pricing and date options. The Travel Catalogs turn what was once just a gathering of pretty photos and travel tip links to blog posts into new ways to market a destination. For Pinners eager to start travelling, it’s not a bad first step in the nitty gritty, fine-tuning of trip planning but it shouldn’t be the only one. Travel Catalogs launches later this summer.
More retro-MEC pieces just launched. Canada’s outdoorsy store may no longer be a co-op, but its new releases yearn for the days when reliable gear sold at decent prices was a member’s only affair. The Rad pants are back (again) this time with more stretch and the Rad Anorak. One of the most interesting new-old pieces this summer is the Bush Pilot pullover, which is now made from recycled down. The 3/4-zip puffy (with no hood so it’s more sweater than jacket) is as loose fitting and cozy as it was when first released in 1990. It compresses into the smallest of bags, making it a great travel piece for fall getaways and ski trips. But making the Bush Pilot with recycled down is a new twist. Laura Swaffield, MEC’s Environmental Impact Lead, says the filling “comes from post-consumer products like bedding or pillows that would otherwise have gone to the landfill, which means we’re helping to keep perfectly good materials out of the waste stream.” She adds that 37 kilos of textile waste per person end up in Canadian landfills each year. MEC is using California-based down supplier ALLIED Bedding and Down, which cleans and collects the down and feathers throughout Europe, the United States and China, reports MEC. Canadians too can contribute by sending in their old bedding to the company. Bush Pilot Down Sweater, $229.95, mec.ca