First off, even though we’re well into February, we want to wish you and yours a safe, peaceful and prosperous 2021.
If there’s one phrase that captures the year we’ve left behind, it’s “we’re all in this together” — which is why we’ve chosen to share the above image by Canadian artist Timothy Wilson Hoey.
“The pandemic has created a shared hardship,” Hoey says. “And much like a bunch of folks in a canoe, we have to work together if we hope to reach our destination.”
With a healthier planet in mind for all, we want to bring you a snapshot of Toque & Canoe’s 2020 — a year few of us will ever forget — before looking ahead.
We were out the gates last January with a naively enthusiastic post entitled Happy 2020 Canada! Shooting for the stars in a bright new decade. The future looked promising, and why wouldn’t it be?
We followed our new year address with a wonderful piece about Indigenous canoe experiences on offer to travellers throughout the country. After that, we took readers heli-hiking in B.C.’s Bugaboos with our Romancing the high alpine post. Up next was a collaboration with the Nature Conservancy of Canada, where we explored publicly accessible urban wilderness sanctuaries in Alberta, Quebec and Nova Scotia.
Then, the Covid-19 pandemic hit and we, like citizens of Earth everywhere, were grounded.
Given the immediate impact on the travel community at home and abroad, we paused our publishing schedule on our website and began sharing news coverage in relation to our industry on Toque & Canoe’s social media feeds, as well as on our regular CBC radio travel chats here in Alberta.
As Canadians became weary of pandemic coverage, we responded by re-sharing our more timeless stories for inspiration (we could at least dream of future travels, right?)
We shared posts that included Sweet Swell: A tugboat adventure to remember, Wild and beautiful Muskox Way, Living the life in rural Quebec, Gobsmacked in Newfoundland & Labrador, Touching down in Tofino, B.C., We are the land, the land is us, A journey back in time, Wild, wild horses, Out of the Dark, Into the Light, A celebration of circumpolar Indigenous art and The Gnarly North Coast Trail.
We even shared occasional international posts that we thought would make people feel better, including video of the now-famous young Italian brothers in lockdown fiddling Coldplay’s Viva la Vida for the world (we still love this so much!) and a clip of actor Steve Martin strumming a sweet banjo solo on Twitter.
We also accelerated exposure for a diverse selection of Canadian artists and photographers on our Instagram, Facebook and Twitter feeds because if ever there was a time we collectively needed art and beauty in our lives, it was last year.
Speaking of art, after a four-month pause in our publishing schedule, we stepped back in the ring with The Ocean Painter: Nova Scotia artist captures the healing power of water.
And if art was a balm for our beleaguered Canadian souls, so, too, was nature.
With this in mind, we collaborated with Tourism Jasper on Jasper the Wild: An adventure into the arms of nature and with The Trans Canada Trail on Backyard Bliss: Five reasons to step out on Canada’s greatest trail.
We then published a story from our travelling poet Lorna Crozier called What the garden holds — a personal reflection on the meaning of Crozier’s own garden, but also our nod to Canadians everywhere who were gardening like never before.
Supporting grassroots businesses that feature Indigenous artists living in Canada was also a priority in 2020. We created Shop Indigenous: Extraordinary gifts for the holiday season with the Indigenous Tourism Association of British Columbia. (Cheers to Andy Everson for the amazing Orca art that leads this story.)
Then, given how much time Canadians are spending in their homes these days, we partnered on a post about one of life’s simple pleasures called The threads that bind us: Wendy Brownie salutes the universal tea towel.
The year 2020, we read recently, turned out to be the year where people didn’t necessarily “get what they wanted,” but they sure learned to appreciate what they do have.
Which brings us back to our community at Toque & Canoe.
These days especially, we’re feeling grateful for our followers, for the creative people we work with countrywide and for our thoughtfully curated partners who appreciate our approach to storytelling and keep us paddling forward.
As vaccines start to roll out and we adapt to this new way of living, we’re working hard behind the scenes on a publishing schedule that will continue featuring stories worthy of our audience.
We stand firmly behind the belief that travel enriches people’s lives — even if travel, for now, has to be in our own (not-to-be-underestimated) backyards.
As we head to our 10th birthday on Canada Day 2021, we’ve realized that while our mandate has been to write travel stories, travel has been quietly writing our story, too.
Travel has shaped us into who we are today. It’s deepened our sense of country and opened up friendships and worlds that we didn’t know existed.
From our earliest beginnings, we’ve been celebrating the exceptional side of Canadian travel culture — often inspiring readers to visit places they’d never heard of before. We plan to stay the course.
On this note, we were pleased to recently have a couple reach out asking where to go for an upcoming anniversary.
Their trip to Japan had been cancelled due to Covid, so they have to remain in Canada.
“We’re so glad you asked,” we replied. “Let’s talk…”
— Toque & Canoe