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Canada 'a gold mine' of travel experiences

In his exploration of Canada, Vancouver-based travel writer Robin Esrock said he's discovered Canadians are “arrogant with their modesty.
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Robin Esrock visited Chapters in Greater Sudbury Nov. 4 to promote his new book, The Great Canadian Bucket List. Photo by Heidi Ulrichsen.
In his exploration of Canada, Vancouver-based travel writer Robin Esrock said he's discovered Canadians are “arrogant with their modesty.”

“We're sitting on a gold mine of experiences you can't do anywhere else in the world, but when you talk to Canadians, they don't seem to appreciate just what they've got,” he said.

“It's a symptom of living above the U.S. and looking to Europe. We always feel like we need to travel somewhere far to have amazing experiences when we've got them here.”

After visiting more than 100 countries on six continents and documenting his travels for National Geographic and his television show Word Travels, Esrock decided he wanted to find out what was in his own backyard.

The result is his new book, "The Great Canadian Bucket List". The 400-page book features 115 experiences in every province and territory in Canada.

These experiences range from visiting Niagara Falls and the Stratford Festival to swimming with spawning salmon in British Columbia or drinking a “sour toe” cocktail in the Yukon – i.e. liquor served with a severed human toe.

“It's a combination of iconic things and bizarre things,” said Esrock, who visited Chapters in Greater Sudbury on Nov. 4 as part of a book-signing tour of the country. “The idea is to get people really discovering the country.”

While "The Great Canadian Bucket List" doesn't feature any experiences in the Greater Sudbury area, the author said he's thinking about writing a sequel, and definitely wants to explore more of northeastern Ontario.

One experience in the book which is likely familiar to many people in this area is Esrock's motorcycle journey along the shores of Lake Superior, from Thunder Bay to Sault Ste. Marie, Ont.

He said the journey terrified him because he'd only recently earned his motorcycle learner's permit, and didn't really know what he was doing.

“Everyone was telling me about moose jumping up every five seconds,” Esrock said. “I started thinking 'Writer dies researching things to do before he dies.' That's just the perfect headline. I'm going to be one of those ironic stories you read about.”

The author not only survived, but enjoyed his time along Lake Superior.

“The views are great,” Esrock said. “The road, it's almost hypnotizing.”

The Great Canadian Bucket List, which costs $19.99, is available in Greater Sudbury at Chapters and Shoppers Drug Mart. Esrock's website, www.canadianbucketlist.com, also contains additional information about Canadian travel experiences.