I’m a city girl at heart. I live in downtown Toronto, close to St. Lawrence Market, within walking distance of anything and everything I could ever need like Union Station, the Distillery District and Cherry Beach. I wouldn’t have it any other way!
Yet despite my love for city life, I often crave an escape from the city. I want to spend time under the sun, out in nature and breathing in fresh air.
Lucky for us Greater Toronto Area (GTA) residents, such a weekend experience is possible and it’s right within our own backyard. Travel just over an hour to reach Burlington, Ontario, where you’ll base yourself as you explore the surrounding Hamilton-Halton-Brant region.
Voyage into Paradise
Voyage Into Paradise offers an easy weekend getaway. It includes a stay at a luxurious hotel, gourmet meals, First Nation storytelling and guided Voyageur canoe tours.
Canoeing Along the Grand River
Your first canoe journey begins in the cute town of Paris, Ontario with Grand Experiences. Headed by owner Jamie Kent, his company offers canoeing, kayaking, hiking and cycling adventures in the area.
The first day of your Voyage Into Paradise experience will have you jumping into one of these Voyageur canoes, where you and a small group will be transported 15 kms down the beautiful Grand River. Before heading out, you’ll be given a life jacket and brief instructions about how to handle yourself on the boat.
Expect your arms to get a workout as you spend the morning and afternoon paddling along the gentle flow of the river. I’ll be honest, I did not do as much paddling as others on my boat. I got to play the “photographer card” and spent my day snapping photos for this blog post.
Like me, you’ll be thankful that Jamie and his friendly staff are manning the boats, expertly steering us through the shallow and rocky water, shouting out instructions, and from time to time even having to use brute strength to pull us back into the deeper parts. Not only that, they tell you all about the history of the area as you traverse the river.
Being back out in nature felt fantastic. The pretty southwestern Ontario landscape, where I grew up, tugged at my heartstrings. Since moving home to Toronto, I’ve been back to Europe three times already taking in more exotic destinations like Iceland or Italy. It was nice to explore my “home and native” land for once. It was relaxing, peaceful and most of all fun!
We passed by others who were spending the day kayaking, doing self-guided tours with family and friends (which can easily be booked through Grand Experiences).
By early afternoon, we’d worked up quite the appetite. We stopped at the Brant Conservation Area where we had an aboriginal-themed lunch of salmon, bison, vegetables, wild rice and crepes in this extremely lovely setting. The bison was cooked to perfection; it called for a second helping!
Afterwards, we made our way back to the Brant Conservation Area where our canoeing experience ended for the day. On Sunday, we made our way to the Royal Botanical Gardens to canoe through the marshes at Cootes Paradise. Read more about day 2 here.
Good to Know
1) Visit Voyage Into Paradise to secure a booking now.
2) Accommodation, meals and transportation are included in the cost, which is $449 Canadian per person (at time of publication).
3) You’ll stay at the Waterfront Hotel in downtown Burlington. Breakfast is included each day.
4) On Friday night, I ate dinner at the Beaver & Bulldog located within the hotel itself. Once the restaurant closes, it turns into a happening hot spot for locals. Seemed to cater towards a mature crowd.
5) On Saturday, we had dinner at the Water Street Cooker.
6) Wear a hat and apply sunscreen to any exposed skin. Reapply frequently.
7) Stay hydrated and bring along a bottle of water.
8) Read another blog posts about this experience over at Late Night Plays.
* Disclosure – My Voyage Into Paradise experience was complimentary. Any opinions expressed about my love of canoeing through the Canadian wilderness are entirely my own.