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Secret’s Outs: Some Of Canada’s Most Protected Hidden Travel Gems

My friends are going to hate me. I’ve been skateboarding for more of my life than not. Like many subcultures, there is an unwritten code of conduct in the culture, some of which is warranted, and some of which is not. But a primary rule spanning across many subcultures, including skateboarding, is: “Don’t blow the spot.” Which is to say; don’t tell anyone about a good thing. When you think about it, it makes a lot of sense. Surfers don’t want a crowded wave, skateboarders don’t want security’s attention and saturated video footage of particular locations, skiers and snowboarders don’t want tracked landings, hikers don’t want the best campsites to be occupied, and bands and music enthusiasts don’t want a curfew or police attention on secret venues. To be fair, it seems justified; good people are putting in a lot of time to find special places, build unique things, establish strong communities, and stay out of legal trouble. I get it, you get it. With that being said, we’re going to throw all of that to the wayside, because territorialism is for dogs and drug dealers. Without further ado, here is a list of some of Canada’s unknown gems. Friends reading this; I’m sorry. I’m so sorry.

Sky Hammock, Clayoquot Sound, British Columbia.

Neverland.

A photo posted by Jake Fine (@mrjakefine) on

The closest thing to Neverland, this massive series of treetop hammocks provide a panoramic view of the ocean and treetops. The climb up is a little janky, but apparently a diving and exploration team built this thing using dive materials in a manner that doesn’t provide tension on the tree. This is good news as it seems the nets are strong enough for large groups to hang out on them. This is a good one. If you find it, respect it.

Lower Bay Station, Toronto, Ontario.

P2 of Lower Bay.

A photo posted by Riley Snelling (@smileyrelling) on

Constructed in 1966 and only used for six months, Lower Bay Station is directly below Bay Station on the Yonge-University subway line. It is only accessible via an unmarked exit door, of which I can’t share details…but if you seek, you shall find. Alternatively, this station is occasionally used as a venue during Nuit Blanche, so there’s an annual opportunity to legally view it. I suggest you go with the later option.

Dead Lakes, Killarney Provincial Park, Ontario.

Killarney is a secret gem of Canada in its own right. White exposed “mountains“, bobcats, amazing camping and portaging, and a  secret cabin… All only a few hours north of Toronto. Because of it’s proximity to Sudbury’s nickel mines and smelters, the park experienced extensive acid rain fall between 1940 and 1970. As a result, some of the quartzite bottom lakes were completely acidified. While upsetting, the visual the effect is incredible; crystal clear waters void of algae and visible bacteria allow you to see the shadow of your passing canoe and small species of recovering fish 30 or 40 feet below.

River Surfing, Kananaskis River, Alberta.

A group called ‘Surf Anywhere’ built this wave out of boulder for about 25,000 dollars and countless hours of donated time. The wave, which is only an hour or so outside of Calgary, is free to ride and surrounded by an incredible backdrop.

Whistler Train Wreck, Whistler, British Columbia.

Exploring #whistler #whistlertrainwreck

A photo posted by Mitch Clarke (@mitchclarke89) on

In 1956 a speeding train derailed some cars while crossing the Cheakamus. A couple of cars flung off the tracks, but a proper clean-up proved too costly. Instead, the railway company hauled the railcars deeper into the woods. Hey, it was 1956; we’ve come a long way. The site is now a bike park and favourite location for graffiti artists. If you make the trek, be careful around train tracks and don’t trespass on private property.

Crooked Bush, Hafford, Saskatchewan.

The Crooked Bush is a stand of warped and twisted aspen trees near Hafford in the Redberry Lake Biosphere. Botanists aren’t quite sure why the three acres forest looks the way it does, but it adds to the mystique and magic of the area and fuels the legends of curses, radiation, and poisoned water.

Old Prison, Trois-Rivières, Quebec.

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A photo posted by M i s h t a  T a t u r (@mishta_05) on

Designed by architect, François Baillairgé, and opening in 1822, this prison operated for 160 years until 1986. The prison was notorious for overcrowding as well as awful conditions. Today, you can pay to spend the night in the jail while being treated like a historic inmate: cleaning, eating, and sleeping under the supervision of a warden. Sound fun? I’m not so sure.

Blue Hawk Mine, Kelowna, British Columbia.

Okay. This one is dangerous. The Blue Hawk mine is located in the woods near Kelowna and has yet to be sealed or turned into a tourist site. The mine operation began in 1934, but only operated for a year and has been abandoned ever since. The mine shaft only measures back 300 feet or so, but it is completely dark and has numerous passages once inside. So maybe enjoy this one via a Google search.

World’s Largest Dinosaur, Drumheller, Alberta.

Alberta’s badlands have been some of the most productive sites for dinosaur excavations in the world, and Drumheller is rightfully proud of it. At four times the size of the real thing, this giant T-Rex statue is wonderfully absurd. Those who make a pilgrimage to this landmark can climb over 100 steps to enter the mouth of the beast for a unique view of surrounding Drumheller.

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