Canada is more than saying “please” and “thank you” to everyone you meet, spotting moose, and drizzling maple syrup onto anything and everything. There are some delightfully weird things to see in Canada, if you just know where to look. The following are some of the strangest and most unusual things to add to your itinerary the next time you head to into the dark corners of the Great White North:
E-Reptile Dysfunction in Winnipeg
As the capital city of Manitoba, Winnipeg is best known for its scenery, rivers, and beautiful architecture. For something a little stranger and out of the ordinary, head about an hour north of Winnipeg to the Narcisse Snake Dens. Every April and May, almost 100,000 snakes slither out into the sun. The snakes are primarily red-sided garter snakes, which are harmless, but the creepy-crawly clique is a serious spectacle. Thankfully, there are platforms set up above the snakes so that you can see them up close without worrying about stepping on them. Just don’t get hiss-terical about the serpents!
Open for Probing
In most of the world, UFOs are an unproven phenomenon that the government explains away with theories about light refraction and military aircrafts. In Canada (or at least Alberta), aliens are embraced and invited to land. In 1967, the world’s very first UFO landing pad was constructed in St. Paul, Alberta. This isn’t just some crazy notion built by a space-loving individual, either. The town donated the land, local businesses gave labour for the construction, and the Minister of National Defence flew in by helicopter for the opening ceremony. You can visit the landing pad yourself, but don’t expect any green men to be hanging around. The only aliens are foreign nationals on holiday.
Sucking on Toes
After a day of sightseeing, one of the best ways to relax and unwind is with a tasty cocktail or two. At the Downtown Hotel in Dawson City, Yukon, your cocktail may come with an unexpected surprise: a severed human toe. Yes, you read that right. Severed toes from frostbite, amputation, or other reasons have been donated to the bar throughout the years. Simply order a Sourtoe Cocktail, which uses a dehydrated and preserved toe for garnish, and drink up. Some toes have been accidentally swallowed, though the main rule is to have the toes touch your lips as you drink to be considered a real “sourtoer.” If you do decide to partake in this appendage-heavy cocktail, you’ll be able to join the exclusive Sourtoe Cocktail Club, which already has a surprising 60,000 members. You don’t have to chug the whole thing if you’re not ready. You can always dip your toes in the water with a little sip to see if you want the toe-tal drink to yourself!
Keep Your Clothes on in the Tub
Taking a bath might seem like a solitary event, but that’s not the case in Vancouver Island. Each summer since 1967, the Nanaimo Marine Festival includes a bathtub race as well as a bathtub parade, and everyone is invited. Keep your clothes on for these events, because they are a far cry from your ordinary morning wash. Called performance tubbers, these bathtubs have been modified to race at tremendous speeds in the open water. Robbers must love these high-speed tubs since they are perfect for making a clean getaway!
On a Budget? Sleep in Jail
While visiting Ottawa, you could take your hunt for accommodations a step further and spend the night in one of the creepiest spots ever: prison. The Carleton County Gaol was one of the most brutal prisons in the country, and it was eventually shut down. Since the 1970s, however, the prison has been a youth hostel for travellers on a budget. Don’t expect four-star treatment, but do expect the jail to “cell-out” of rooms due to high demand!
Clearly, there are some odd and unusual destinations and attractions in the Great White North. Whether you are getting worked into a lather at a bathtub race on Vancouver Island or getting digits at a toe-sucking bar in the Yukon, there is no question that Canada is home to some seriously weird places, perfect for an unexpected adventure.
What are your favourite unusual Canadian sites and attractions?