1. touko, 2018

Ice and Snow - a Taste of the Canadian Spring

We are welcomed in to Canada by lashing sleet and rain and a red and white maple leaf flag flapping in the wind. There are still a few patches of slushy snow on the ground, so we get changed in to our waterproof gear before heading out to check out our surroundings as the day turns to dusk. For our first night in Canada we’ve parked up by Skylon Tower in Ontario, 200m away from the Niagara Falls and the powerful roar of gushing water is constantly audible in the background.

We walk past a mini golf course, and it’s sizeable dinosaur figures look scarily aggressive in the dark, grinning menacingly in the cold rain. It’s not tourist season yet, so the ferris wheel carts of the fairground hang empty for the most part, and the neon lights from different gift shops and stalls create a sci-fi-esque atmosphere to the deserted park.

We pop inside a shop to warm up a bit and to have a skeet at their large selection of souvenirs. Nature and Native American culture seem to sell pretty well; dream catchers, black-bear teddies, beaver plushies, Indian dolls and stone jewellery await the herds of shoppers that will inevitably arrive in a few months time. It’s quiet today though, so the friendly staff have time to chat and we get some great tips from them about some of the best sights on our route.

We stand and admire the falls, lit up in different colours, and store this beautiful sight in our memories. It’s too dark for photos though, so unfortunately we won’t be able to share this view with our friends. Back in the car, mugs of hot chocolate are just what we need to warm us up.

By the morning, the rain has ceased and we hop on a “yellow bug elevator” for a ride-to-the-top, a 158m long ride up to the observation deck of the Skylon Tower. The wintery falls are actually pretty spectacular. In the absence of colour, shapes and contours take centre stage. Against the stripped back surroundings, the sheer power of the falls becomes more apparent and the atmosphere is a lot more earthy now that we get to really focus on the gush of the water, the blocks of ice framing the falls and the shapes and imprints carved into them by the water. In the summertime, the huge crowds buzzing around the falls and the helicopters and balloons above it inevitably distract some of the attention away from the actual attraction itself.

We spend the next couple of days walking around Toronto. We end up spending several hours at the Ice-Hockey Hall of Fame and museum, where we’re happy to discover a few Finnish names amongst the stars. We spot portraits of both Jari Kurri and Teemu Selänne on the official hall of fame. There’s a room where natural light gets filtered in through a gorgeous, round, glass mosaic window on the ceiling, and in a glass cabinet directly beneath it stands the humongous, silvery, Stanley Cup.

Canada is a large and vast country and it’s northern regions are arctic, inhabited mainly by Inuits, who are still very much holding on to their culture and traditional ways of life. Our schedule won’t allow us to experience their culture live, but we get a little taster of the incredibly fascinating life of the Inuits in Toronto’s Museum of Inuit Art. The exhibition includes stone sculptures depicting seal hunting, sleigh dogs and polar bears.

Our journey continues toward North. Our tickets across the Atlantic have arrived in our inbox and although we’re excited about the boat journey across the sea, we’re already dreaming about summer on the other side of the Atlantic.