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7 Activities I Tried For The First Time After Moving To Canada & NGL Some Of These Are Hard

Visiting a cottage? Easy. Backpacking? Not so much.

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Janice Rodrigues tulip picking. Right: Trying her first backpacking experience.

Janice Rodrigues tulip picking. Right: Trying her first backpacking experience.

The opinions expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect the views of Narcity Media.

When I moved to Canada for the first time earlier this year, there were plenty of ultra-Canadian things I wanted to check off my bucket list ASAP.

As a newcomer from Dubai, the changing seasons and lush greenery certainly took me by surprise and I took it upon myself to soak it all in with some quintessential Canadian activities.

Here's a look at what I've tried so far. And, I'll be honest, some of these are harder than they look!

Renting a cottage — easy

A cottage in Ontario with water views.

A cottage in Ontario with water views.

Janice Rodrigues | Narcity

I didn't know what a big deal cottage culture was before I moved to Toronto.

But before long, it seemed like every time a holiday or long weekend rolled around, everyone was packing their bags to head to one.

So, I actually tried it with a bunch of friends and honestly, I'm sold.

It turned out to be just the break I needed from the hustle of the city, with gorgeous water views to boot. Since it was slightly chilly when we visited, we ended up holing up inside reading books, playing board games, cooking meals, having barbecues and enjoying warm cups of coffee with baked treats.

Long story short, cottage life in Canada is one tradition I'd happily get behind anytime!

Backpacking — not so easy

Janice Rodrigues on her first backpacking trip.

Janice Rodrigues on her first backpacking trip.

Janice Rodrigues | Narcity

If renting a cottage in Canada is laid-back and tranquil, then in many ways backpacking can be the opposite.

That's because the process requires you to carry everything you need to survive in the wilderness in your backpack.

As I quickly learned, there's only so much you can pack, with weight being of utmost importance. Possibly why my question of "can't we just take a pizza for food?" was laughed at so much.

Not only that, there are some components of trekking with that backpack. Considering that I hadn't hit the gym in a while, I was out of breath very fast.

But luckily, I had experienced friends who showed me the ropes, and I ended up having a great time learning all sorts of new skills (like how to filter water for drinking and how to collect wood for a fire).

Renting out an RV — moderately easy, if you like the outdoors

Kayaks next to a river.

Kayaks next to a river.

Janice Rodrigues | Narcity

Not exactly a quintessentially Canadian activity, but also one I never dreamed I would try before moving to the country.

For one of the long weekends, some friends and I ended up renting an RV, which is a trailer with basically most of the amenities, right by a river.

I had my suspicions about the space but it was… surprisingly cozy. Also, the fact that the living quarters were on the smaller side makes it much more appealing to spend time outside and only use the RV to get some sleep.

From barbecues to kayaking along the river to walking up to the nearest store for ice cream, this is definitely an experience worth having for a night.

Not going to lie, the washroom situation does leave a lot to be desired though — and watch out for mosquitos during summer!

Spotting cherry blossom trees — easy

Cherry blossom trees at High Park, Toronto.

Cherry blossom trees at High Park, Toronto.

Janice Rodrigues | Narcity

​When I found out that Canada had a cherry blossom season (something I foolishly thought happened only in Japan) I simply had to check it out.

I was ridiculously excited about researching the best places to spot cherry blossoms and even viewed some of the live cameras beforehand.

When I did finally visit them, they did look lovely (and very Instagram-friendly). It was more crowded than I anticipated though, and possibly not something I would do more than once a year.​

Tulip picking — easy

Janice Rodrigues at TASC Tulip Farm.

Janice Rodrigues at TASC Tulip Farm.

Janice Rodrigues | Narcity

Picking your own fruits or flowers seems to be another quintessential Canadian thing that I was very much intrigued by.

Over in the UAE, where I came from, there are no dearth of places to get these items – but the idea of trying to pick them yourself might just be deciphered as more work!

So, when the tulips were in bloom earlier this year, I decided to check out Tasc Tulip Farm.

I wasn't really sure what to expect, but the rows and rows of colour-coordinated flowers were a sight for sore eyes.

And there really is something about scanning the flowers, customizing a bouquet and taking home a sweet-smelling souvenir.

I'm all behind this trend. Up next is apple and strawberry picking on my wish list!

Street food festivals — easy

Janice Rodrigues at the The Taste Of Little Italy street food festival.

Janice Rodrigues at the The Taste Of Little Italy street food festival.

Janice Rodrigues | Narcity

Sure, almost every country has food festivals of some kind.

But I can honestly say that the street food festivals in Toronto took me by surprise. Mostly because I had anticipated a large food hall or exhibition venue but actually found, true to its name, the entire street had been closed off for the festival.

And there's just something about eating and drinking on the street, while surrounded by people, games and buskers that's incomparable.

Speaking of incomparable, spicy kebabs, hot corn on the cob, blooming onions, cheesecake on a stick and signature cocktails are now among my favourite things.

Pottery — not so easy

Janice Rodrigues poses with her creation after a pottery class in Toronto.

Janice Rodrigues poses with her creation after a pottery class in Toronto.

Janice Rodrigues | Narcity

This isn't a Canadian activity per se, but it is one that I've always wanted to try and I love that Toronto had so many cool pottery workshops and studios.

So, I decided to enroll in one… and I'm going to be honest here, it's not as easy as it looks.

I've always thought of pottery as a serene activity where people disengage as they shape clay on a spinning wheel. But when I actually had to create a pot from scratch, I looked more like a DJ gone wrong.

It's hard work, and creating one item takes weeks as you have to give the clay time to be "fired up" (or baked) which takes about a week or two before you can come back and paint it.

But I stuck to my guns and now have a series of strangely-shaped little bowls that I love, despite (or because of) their imperfections!

Love ya, Canada!

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