Happy 2016 Toque & Canoe’rs

Photos by Toque & Canoe contributors / Graphic by Helen Eady Creative

Given that it’s January, and that we celebrate our fifth anniversary next Canada Day, we thought we should slow down, take our pulse and reflect on the year behind us.

But before we give you the breakdown, we want to thank everyone—in the field and behind-the-scenes—who keeps us moving forward.

From our contributors to our partners in travel to our growing base of followers who, by all indications, don’t mind when we ask them silly questions like “Where were you, the last time you heard a loon call?”

So here you go, a recap of just a few highlights from 2015—a year jam-packed with stand-out Canadian travel stories:

We launched with Great Bear Wild, a photo essay showcasing the extraordinary work of Canadian conservation photographer Ian McAllister. His images speak for themselves so if you missed this post, please check it out!

Shortly after, we collaborated with Banff Lake Louise Tourism to bring legendary snowshoe artist Simon Beck to Alberta. We found Beck on Facebook and next thing we knew he was jetting across the Atlantic for his inaugural visit to North America.

Our story, a telling photo essay with text by George Webber about a man who has found his place in the world by “speaking snowshoe,” ran a second time in The Globe and Mail. Also worth noting was Banff’s outstanding and eventually award-winning time-lapse video on the artist.

Up next? We sent our senior editor and writer Valerie Berenyi to Winnipeg, Manitoba on assignment. She returned home with Cold Land, Warm Heart—a look at why Winnipeg’s “fierce embrace of the freezin’ season makes it pretty hot stuff” and one of our strongest posts to date.

Tasting Turtle Island followed—documenting countrywide efforts in indigenous kitchens to “de-colonize” and evolve First Nations cuisine—and was shortlisted for a national culinary journalism award.

And Ecosummer Expedition’s Orca Camp would turn out to be an adventure that now joins the ranks of Canadian trips we’ve marked as unforgettable, even transformative, experiences-of-a-lifetime.

Turning our attention to home, we produced Chasing the light in Calgary, Alberta—a love letter to the natural light in this part of the world—and From juke joint to jazz club, in which our writer dives into the gritty underbelly of the city’s music scene.

East Coast contributor Sandra Phinney delivered big time with her Living Large in Labrador post, even if describing Labrador with words, according to Phinney, “was like trying to grab the moon or a moose with bare hands.”

Meanwhile, we explored The Joys of Eating In(n) in our post about high-end hotels in North America ramping up their food game. We renewed our crush on autumn with our Falling in Love with the Rockies story. And we wrapped up a series on one of our favourite mountain towns with local author Angie Abdou’s Apres Ski Season in Fernie, B.C.

John Lehmann, the same guy who photographed our popular post on Fogo Island, Newfoundland, travelled to Manitoba and returned with Eye to Eye with Ursus Maritimus. His images from this unique northern adventure would also land a two-page spread in the print edition of The Globe and Mail.

Speaking of prominent Canadian photographers, Leah Hennel produced one heck of a photo essay for us with Pow Wow Power: The Colours of Kamloopa after her visit to Western Canada’s largest powwow. Hennel’s coverage of this event produced so many publishable photos, we had a hard time editing them down.

Finally, in other news, our travelling poet Lorna Crozier has had quite a year.

Her piece on Saskatchewan’s Grasslands National Park—Exploring Light’s Birthplace—was shortlisted for an excellence in travel journalism award, a nomination that also named Lori Andrews for her photography accompanying the story.

Plus, Crozier’s provocative feature A Poet in the Great Bear Rainforest morphed into the best-selling book The Wild in You.

To be sure, our pint-sized newsroom is bustling with other stories in production from the year—pieces from British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Ontario, Quebec, New Brunswick and Newfoundland, to name a few.

And we’re about to unleash a handful of folks from coast to coast to coast on a variety of new and exciting Toque & Canoe-worthy assignments.

Stand by for more fresh hits of Canadian travel culture in 2016.

Thanks again for tagging along!

—Toque & Canoe

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