By Car, Travel

How Your Kids Can Become Parks Canada Xplorers

Parks Canada _ Xplorers Program

Last summer we spent a lot of time exploring our National Parks both here in Alberta and into British Columbia.  I was worried some of it might get a bit boring for our young children, and was pleasantly surprised at how much fun they had being in the great outdoors and discovering everything the parks had to offer.

Parks Canada _ Xplorers Program

While staying in and touring Banff, one great discovery we made was the Parks Canada Xplorers program.  Geared towards kids, this program is based around completing a number of tasks in a free activity booklet and earning a collectible souvenir for your effort.  The booklets are available from the front gates, campgrounds or information centers and are filled with fun kid based activities such as spot the difference or word searches that relate specifically to tourist sites in the area.

Johnston Canyon Campground Review_Parks Canada Xplorers Activity book and souvenir Continue reading “How Your Kids Can Become Parks Canada Xplorers”

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By Car, Travel

Banff Adventure Day 3: Banff Gondola & Lake Cruise

Banff Adventure Day 3: Banff Gondola & Lake Minnewanka Cruise

Day 3 of our Banff Adventure was a shorter day for driving as we toured things in and around the town of Banff.  As previously mentioned, we took advantage of the Brewster Epic Pass which allowed us access to:

  • Banff Gondola
  • Banff Lake Cruise
  • Glacier Adventure
  • Glacier Skywalk
  • Maligne Lake Cruise

Continue reading “Banff Adventure Day 3: Banff Gondola & Lake Cruise”

By Car, Travel

Our Banff Adventure: Johnston Canyon Campground Review

Our Banff Adventure_Johnston Canyon Campground Review

This summer we have decided to take advantage of the Parks Canada Annual Pass and spend some time exploring our National Parks.  With Canada’s 150th Birthday Celebration coming up next year, Annual Passes bought this year are valid for TWO YEARS.  The year long pass is a great deal as it was, but we were excited when this announcement was made.  And for even more savings, we were able to buy our pass $10 cheaper with our AMA membership.  My husband ended up making a quick trip to AMA the morning before we left for Banff to ensure we bought a July 2016 pass.  This now gives us park access until the end of July 2018 – almost 3 full summer’s worth! Continue reading “Our Banff Adventure: Johnston Canyon Campground Review”

By Car, Travel, Two Legged Fun

Exploring Edmonton’s Ice Castle

Exploring Ice Castle's in Edmonton, Alberta

I admit I am not the best at getting my kids outside during the winter months.  Once the snow hits and the temperatures plummet below zero, I am more then happy to pay admission to the nearest indoor playground and happily sip my coffee in the warmth as the kids play.

This past Saturday the temperatures hovered close enough to the zero mark that we decided to embrace the cold and check out the Edmonton Ice Castle.  This spectacular frozen display is a man-built maze of icy castle walls built up in Hawrelak Park in the Edmonton River Valley. Continue reading “Exploring Edmonton’s Ice Castle”

Everyday Life, Two Legged Fun

A Trip Back in Time: The Ukrainian Cultural Heritage Village

I have driven past the Ukrainian Cultural Heritage Village, just east of Edmonton, several times and have always wanted to check it out.  My mom lives out that direction, so this summer we decided to meet up and spend the day together with the kids seeing the sites.

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It took the kids and I less the an hour to drive out to the village from the Southside of Edmonton and the highway is well marked as you near the Village to make it easy to find.  There is ample parking and the staff all seemed very helpful and informative if you did have questions.

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There were also costumed interpreters throughout the park that did an excellent job of keeping in character.  My mom questioned the young lady in the grocery store about where they found the old packages and bottles and she would not break character, telling her they had just arrived via train.

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The village is fairly widespread which means a lot of walking to get between the different buildings.  Even to get from the main gates into the village is quite the little hike through a treed area and over a small pond.  I brought my wagon along, but was quite tired by the end pulling the kids over the gravel roadways.

There is a horse-drawn wagon that runs throughout the park and is happy to help transport you through the Village.  We hopped aboard it for a small loop just so the kids could enjoy a wagon ride.

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There are two different churches on site and they have done a wonderful job restoring the religious artifacts and artwork inside.  There weren’t as many buildings as I was expecting, but they all seem very well kept and authentic to the time period.

The village seems to be constantly adding buildings and there were quite a few under restoration when we were there so it might be worth going back in several years to see how it has changed.

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The farm animals were, by far, the biggest hit for my kids.  They were excited to see the pigs, horses, sheep and chickens.  After spending the day chasing chickens, my youngest has now happily added “bock bock” to her vocabulary.

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It wasn’t the most exciting of places to take young children, but there was plenty of space for them to run and explore, and we managed to find enough to keep their interest.

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One of my favorite buildings was the old school house.  We toured it just after a summer camp group had gone through and it looked like the teacher was doing a good job leading them through some games in the schoolyard.  Keira was just happy to test out sitting in all the desks!

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Overall it was a nice day and I am glad the kids got to spend some time with Grandma.  After touring the village, we wrapped up our day by enjoying a delicious sausage, cabbage roll and perogy lunch from the food counter on site.

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I was glad to finally see the Ukrainian Cultural Heritage Village, but I don’t think we’ll make plans to go back anytime soon.  As mentioned, it was not the most exciting of places for my young kids and I didn’t like the fact that it was so widespread.  In terms of historic villages, my kids get far more enjoyment out of Fort Edmonton and I think that will continue to be our go-to in the summer.  Watch for our review of that next!