Category: Northern British Columbia

8 Resolutions for 2017 (and How to Make Them Happen in BC)

With 2016 behind us, it’s time to make plans for the year ahead.  Here are my eight New Year’s resolutions that will take me to all corners of the province.

Spend quality time with friends.

Wine tasting at Skimmerhorn Winery in Creston, BC.

Girls’ Weekend at Skimmerhorn Winery. Photo: @Justinecelina via instagram

Remember when you’d spend all day, every day, with your friends, laughing until your face hurt? I resolve to do more than a quick coffee catch-up with friends, and there’s nothing better than an extended weekend wine-touring trip to re-connect.

Do something that scares me.

In 2017, I’ll face my fear of heights in a big way on the Sea to Sky Gondola’s Via Ferrata. The view from the top is a motivational bonus. Who knows, I might be inspired to take it a step further on Mt. Nimbus, North America’s longest Via Ferrata.   

Break a world record.

Snow angels on a sightseeing tour with Compass Heli.

Not quite a snow angel world record. This sightseeing tour with Compass Heli Tours found the perfect untouched snow for two angels. Photo: Nicolas Drader

I’ve attempted to break a few records (no luck so far). This year, I pledge to join others at Panorama Mountain Resort in an effort to shatter the Guinness Book of World Records’ cross-Canada simultaneous snow angels record. The winged action will take place Feb. 6th, in celebration of Canadian Ski Patrol Day.

Try something new.

Tyee Fishing in Campbell River.

Traditional Tyee fishing in wooden rowboats. Photo: Derek Ford.

In 2016, I caught my first fish, and snorkeled for the first time in the Campbell River among salmon. I’m hooked. These new fishing experiences are on my “try” list: fly fishingice fishing, and maybe joining the Tyee Club of BC by catching a 30-pound or larger salmon in a rowboat.

Go outside–be in nature.

Tin Hat Cabin on the Sunshine Coast Trail.

Tin Hat Cabin on the Sunshine Coast Trail. Photo: @Billharding via instagram

A quick reconnect in nature is never far from reach when you live in Vancouver.  This year, I plan to take a longer break, and the Sunshine Coast Trail is ideal. The 180-kilometre (112-mile) route stretches through old-growth forests, towering mountaintops, and coastal shorelines. The trail also has 13 huts, making it the longest hut-to-hut hiking experience in Canada.

Take the ultimate road trip.

Liard River Hot Springs Provincial Park in Northern BC, Alaska Highway.

Liard Valley on the Alaska Highway. Photo: Emanuel Smedbol

The Alaska Highway celebrates its 75th anniversary next year, and that means one thing: road trip. The diversity of wildlife, the scenery, and Liard River Hot Springs make this on-the-road adventure a “must” 2017 resolution. 

Meditate more.

This year, I resolve to attend a meditation retreat. A weekend of solitude in the mountains of southeastern BC at Yasodhara Ashram offers both the meditation and yoga needed to rejuvenate and prepare for 2017. 

Run a marathon.

This is the resolution I’m least likely to accomplish, but the Nakusp half-marathon has the added incentive of being near Nakusp Hot Springs for a soothing mineral soak post-run. If I fall short on my training, there’s also a 5K or a 10K option.

What’s on your 2017 resolution list?

Featured Image: Heli-hiking Mt. Nimbus Via Ferrata in Glacier National Park. Photo: Ryan Creary.

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Top 5 Filming Locations in BC

BC’s diverse topography of cities, deserts, rainforests, mountains, and beaches makes it a popular place for movie-makers to call “Action!” Numerous TV series and films have been shot in the province. Here are some of the most popular film backdrops—and best locations for star-spotting.

Vancouver

Vancouver's Marine Building, a.k.a. Smallville's Daily Planet headquarters.

The entrance to the Marine Building, a.k.a. Smallville’s Daily Planet headquarters. Photo credit: Jeff Hitchcock via Flickr

“Hollywood North” is a star attraction for filmmakers looking for a North American cityscape: Vancouverites regularly see “snow” in summer, a NYC taxi cruising around Gastown, or supernatural beings fighting crime.

Vancouver morphed into Metropolis in Smallville to tell the story of Clark Kent’s early life. Hit shows such as The 100, Supernatural, Arrow—and its spin-off The Flash—have been filmed at atmospheric locations, such as the disused Riverview Hospital in Coquitlam. Many of the alien encounters in The X-Files (up to series five and the 2016 reboot) were filmed in the forests around Vancouver. Aldergrove in Langley is home to the set of the infamous Bates Motel, where the TV show (a prequel to Hitchcock’s Psycho) is filmed.

Shows such as iZombie and the US remake of The Killing show downtown Vancouver as “Seattle.” The city has also appeared as our American neighbour in romantic movies such as the Fifty Shades trilogy movies, which shot key scenes at the Bentall Tower, Fairmont Hotel Vancouver, UBC, and Gastown.

Vancouver’s infrastructure also stars in films—from the stunt sequences of Deadpool, filmed on the Georgia Street viaduct, to the collapse of the Lion’s Gate Bridge in Final Destination 5’s opening credits.

Richmond

Since 2011, seaside Steveston has transformed yearly into Storybrooke, Maine, for ABC’s Once Upon a Time. Steveston’s Moncton Street receives a mythical makeover for filming, but Romania Country Bread keeps its Storybrooke Country Bread sign up year round. Moncton Street was also a location for the new Power Rangers film in which Elizabeth Banks stars as villain Rita Repulsa (due out in 2017). It’s not just superheroes that visit Richmond—the Riverport area was home to a giant ape prison for the recent filming of War of The Planet of the Apes.

Secrets of Storybrooke: check out the 5:22 mark to learn how Steveston transforms into Storybrooke.

BC Interior

The Cache Creek area for Ben Stiller's Night at the Museum.

The Cache Creek area is transformed into “Egypt” for Ben Stiller’s Night at the Museum. Photo: Thompson-Nicola Film Commission

Desert landscapes make BC’s Interior a popular place for TV and filmmakers to shoot far-flung and otherworldly destinations. Walhachin, near Kamloops, stood in for the US desert in The X-Files and The Andromeda Strain, and the arid Elephant Hills landscape near Ashcroft morphed into Texas in the Twilight saga Eclipse, the Mexican desert in The A-Team, and Mexico’s Baja Peninsula in The Sisterhood of the Travelling Pants. Ben Stiller’s Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb transformed the Cache Creek area into Egypt, and Aladdin soared above in Once Upon a Time. The TV show Battlestar Galactica used Kamloops’ desert as “Planet Algae.” Back on Earth, Merritt become small-town Kansas for Superman’s Smallville, and the heritage gold-rush town of Fort Steele had a starring role in Bridget Fonda’s Snow Queen.

Kootenay Rockies

The Kootenay Rockies city of Nelson's many heritage buildings for the Steve Martin classic Roxanne.

Nelson’s many heritage buildings set the scene for the Steve Martin classic Roxanne. Photo: Phil Best Photography

BC’s Kootenay Rockies enjoys the limelight, too. Nelson’s heritage buildings set the scene for the Steve Martin classic Roxanne; Nelson, Greenwood, and the surrounding Slocan Valley, were featured in Snow Falling on Cedars. The mountain town of Fernie provided the ultimate ski backdrop for Hot Tub Time Machine. On the horizon, The Mountain Between Us, a new drama starring Kate Winslet, is set to start filming near Invermere in early 2017.

Northern BC

Northern BC's snowy landscape is a natural stand-in for Alaska.

Northern BC’s snowy landscape is a natural stand-in for Alaska. Photo: Northern BC Tourism

Mountains, glaciers, and remote landscapes make Northern BC an ideal stand-in for Alaska. The 2002 US remake of Insomnia, a critically acclaimed version of the 1997 Norwegian film, brought Al Pacino, Robin Williams, and Hilary Swank to Stewart and Bear Glacier. And the wintry north of Liam Neeson’s plane-crash drama The Grey was filmed at Smithers and Hudson Bay Mountain.

For more information about filming in BC, check out these movie maps and filming news sites:

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10 Exciting BC Moments From 2016

As the new year approaches, it’s time to look back at significant moments from 2016. From #1 spots on “Top 10” lists, to a Royal visit, it’s been a memorable year in BC.

10. The BC Government reached a historic deal with First Nations, environmentalists, and logging companies, and announced that 85% of the 6.4-million-hectare (15.8-million-acre) Great Bear Rainforest will be permanently protected from logging.

Grizzly crossing a river in the Great Bear Rainforest.

Grizzly crossing a river in the Great Bear Rainforest. Photo: Pete Ryan

9. Local businessman and philanthropist Michael Audain opened the hotly anticipated Audain Art Museum in Whistler. His personal collection includes one of the world’s finest collections of First Nations masks, and pieces by renowned BC artist Emily Carr.

Entrance to the Audain Art Museum in Whistler.

Entrance to the Audain Art Museum. Photo: Caley Vanular

8. Chinatown’s Kissa Tanto, a delightful marriage of Japanese and Italian cuisine, was named Canada’s Best New Restaurant in Air Canada enRoute magazine’s annual best-of list.

7. Mount Revelstoke Resort opened the Pipe Mountain Coaster, an exhilarating ride that lets you control your own speed down a 1.4-kilometre (0.9-mile) track.

Pipe Mountain Coaster at Revelstoke Mountain Resort.

Cruising down the mountain on The Pipe Mountain Coaster. Photo: Ian Houghton

6. The BC Craft Brewers Guild launched the BC Ale Trail, a collection of seven craft beer routes around the province. Cheers!

Persephone Brewing Company in Gibsons on the Sunshine Coast.

Persephone Brewing Company in Gibsons on the Sunshine Coast. Photo: BC Ale Trail

5. A media frenzy descended in September when Will and Kate, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, arrived for a week-long Royal Tour.

The Duke and Duchess sample food and wine in Kelowna.

The Duke and Duchess sampled some of the best food and wine BC has to offer while in Kelowna. Photo: @canadian.heritage

4. BC Parks announced an investment of more than $20 million over the next five years. Plans include 1900 new campsites for locals and visitors alike to spend time in the great outdoors.

Nairn Falls Provincial Park near Pemberton.

Setting up camp at Nairn Falls Provincial Park near Pemberton. Photo: Julian Apse

3. Baldy Mountain Resort, near Oliver in BC’s Okanagan Valley, found new life with new ownership. The resort re-opened this winter—much to the delight of locals.

Baldy Mountain Resort near Oliver.

Glade skiing at Baldy. Photo: @apreswheeler via Instagram

2. The world’s largest Christmas light maze put on a display near Vancouver‘s Olympic Village. Enchant boasts more than 5,000 square metres (55,000 square feet) of illuminated sculptures, as well as a Christmas Market featuring 40+ local vendors and a dozen food trucks.

Enchant Christmas Maze in Vancouver.

Enchanted by Enchant. Photo: @wendy.shep via Instagram

1. In October, Lonely Planet released their annual Best in Travel list for 2017. Number one on their Top Countries list? You guessed it: Canada. Aw, shucks.

Natural Bridge in Yoho National Park.

Natural Bridge in Yoho National Park. Photo: @goldiehawn_ via Instagram

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A Surfer’s Road Trip to Haida Gwaii

The mysical islands of Haida Gwaii are steeped in the ancient culture of the Haida First Nation, filled with old-growth rainforest and surrounded by an incredibly rich marine environment. Follow Vancouver Island based freelance photographer @kylervos as he spends two weeks driving around this magical place.

Van driving from Masset to Rose Spit, on the Toe Hill Road in the Haida Gwaii.

“Driving north from Masset to Rose Spit, the Toe Hill Road changes from cement to gravel, and ends with miles and miles of beach for those willing to test the tides. Here the road narrows and bends through the mossy-covered old growth forest, creating a thick canopy overhead. It was a well-travelled road on this trip, as every morning consisted of coffees and surf checks.”

Surfer catching a wave no North beach, Haida Gwaii.

“Although growing fast, Haida Gwaii has a small surf scene, and with the vast number of beaches, we had many surfs all to ourselves. This point on North Beach was our favourite spot to set up camp.”

Naikoon Point, Haida Gwaii.

“The Tow Hill Hike located at the mouth of the Hiellen River is an easy half hour hike that brings you to a west-facing lookout towards Naikoon Point. On clear days you can see all the way to Alaska when looking north.”

Surf tide, Haida Gwaii.

“The surf in Haida is very tide reliant. With up to 24-foot (7-metre) tides, some spots have tiny windows where the waves will turn on. This river mouth is one of those waves; you can see the white tide line separating the green salt water from the rusty brown river water.”

Fisherman in the rain, Haida Gwaii.

“After an hour of dodging potholes and oncoming logging trucks, the Yakoun River is a short hike through open mossy old growth with deer trails guiding you to pristine fishing holes.”

Surfer competing in the North Beach Expression Session, Haida Gwaii.

“Haida locals are some of friendliest people I have ever met. They will gladly point you in the right direction to any surf spots. We were lucky enough to be in town for an awesome community event called the North Beach Expression Session. The whole community came out to provide lessons for the kids, surf, and cheer one another on. This was a perfect example of the positive surf culture that we experienced on Haida Gwaii.”

Rose spit on Graham Island, Haida Gwaii.

“At the farthest northern point of Graham Island, Rose Spit boasts an entirely different landscape. Our van wasn’t up for the miles of beach travel, so we were lucky to have a friend @escottsportfishing take us out for an adventure through the windblown grasses on the spit.”

About @Kylervos:

Kyler Vos is a Vancouver Island-based freelance photographer who resides in Tofino. He spends his time shooting surf, landscapes, and wildlife around Clayoquot Sound and its surrounding coast, while also running his own small photo gallery in Tofino. For the past five years, Kyler has spent a significant amount of time on Haida Gwaii, taking photos for a variety of surf and fishing-related trips. His most recent visit to Haida Gwaii this past November was a little different than the rest. He spent two weeks driving around Graham Island in his Volkswagen van with his wife @jaymeewood and their dog Norman on their winter honeymoon.

Related Links
Haida Gwaii Surfing
Haida Gwaii Fishing
Haida Gwaii

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How to Storm Watch in BC: Enjoying Winter Weather at a Cosy Retreat

The waves  at Tofino's Wickaninnish Inn, Vancouver Island.

The waves are a major draw at Tofino’s Wickaninnish Inn. Image: Sander Jain

The concept of celebrating winter storms, rather than avoiding them, was the brainchild of Charles McDiarmid of Tofino’s oceanfront Wickaninnish Inn. He grew up loving wild weather and figured others, too, would revel in braving the Pacific gales that send giant breakers thundering onto Vancouver Island’s long, west coast beaches.

He was right. That’s why the Wick Inn supplies slickers and gumboots that dehydrate in a special drying space outside their Driftwood Café while guests relax by a crackling wood fire, red-cheeked and cosy, savouring a special in-the-moment bliss that Danish people have a word for—hygge (“heu-gah”).

Coastal storm watching launched in the mid-’90s and has since gone viral. Enthusiasts pack up rain gear, warm blankets, and books, stock up on goodies, and settle into oceanfront B&Bs, lodges, and cabins. Surfers ride winter waves on exposed beaches, from Sombrio on the island’s southern tip all the way north to Haida Gwaii, where winds regularly hit more than 40 kilometres per hour November through January.

Northern BC's Cassiar Cannery.

Northern BC’s Cassiar Cannery. Image: Justine Crawford

Winter tempests in BC come in all sizes, shapes, and forms. The Cassiar Cannery, on the coast 25 minutes from Prince Rupert in Northern BC, is a unique spot to watch cold dry air from the province’s Interior blast 600 kilometres (373 miles) down the Skeena River smack into warm, moist Pacific air. The collision makes for a dramatic display of billowing clouds and fog punctured by shafts of vivid, low-angled sunshine.

When you’re huddled up at the sheltered river mouth in a waterfront guest house—restored from one of the region’s historic, century-old salmon-cannery towns—storm watching is an ethereal and sometimes surreal experience. Seven-metre (24-foot) tides move right up to your house-on-stilts. Peak storm month is November. Tip: Expect rain and extraordinary light, so bring something to keep you and your camera dry.

The Logden Lodge in BC's snowy Kootenay Rockies.

The Logden Lodge in BC’s snowy Kootenay Rockies. Image: Logden Lodge

Inland, there are snow storms to savour. In southeastern BC’s Kootenay Rockies, Logden Lodge is set at the foot of the Selkirk Mountains near Nelson, a stone’s throw from Whitewater Ski Resort. Four secluded cabins on 17 hectares (42 acres) of private wilderness make it easy to disconnect. Gather around a blazing bonfire and watch powder drift from the sky, or enjoy the blizzard from your own private covered verandah, bundled in a blanket sipping hot apple cider or Glühwein—another hygge moment. Then go play in the snow, strapping on snowshoes and hitting the trails outside the door or, if you’re a skier, heading for the mountain.

Not far away, Snowwater Heli Ski is exclusive, all-inclusive mountain chic, with six luxe suites in two alpine guest lodges suited for small-group heli-skiing. End the day with a gourmet meal created by Jeremy Tucker, the stellar summertime chef at CedarCreek Estate Winery. Should a storm ground the choppers, a standby Snowcat tractor means that instead of watching the storm from indoors, you can still make powdery turns on virgin territory. On your last night, the sky explodes with fireworks.

The Eagle's Eye Suites at Kicking Horse Mountain Resort.

The Eagle’s Eye Suites at Kicking Horse Mountain Resort. Image: Resorts of the Canadian Rockies

Finally, an exceptional winter-storm-watching spot awaits at the 2,347-metre (7,700-foot) Kicking Horse Mountain Resort near Golden. Two Eagle’s Eye Suites in the chalet offer luxury lodgings, complete with your own butler and private chef. After the gondola shuts down, the peak lodge is all yours—enjoy the fully stocked bar and grand rock fireplace, and the solitude of being the only people on the mountain. Wrap yourself in a blanket and step out onto the deck to embrace the elements as Mother Nature lays down the powder that will guarantee you a pristine, fresh-tracks first run in the morning.

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