Letters from the Dorm: Sometimes, the best vacation spots may be in your home country

Talise Tsai

After exploring the Maritime provinces in Canada, one university student learns that some great adventures start close to home

Talise Tsai |

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Talise took a trip from Toronto to the Maritimes this summer.

I’ve always loved my host country, Canada – but this summer I gained an even greater appreciation for its natural beauty after taking a road trip from Toronto to the Maritimes, the country’s eastern provinces of Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island.

It’s funny; when you have lived somewhere for a while, you start to take it for granted. Holiday plans almost always involve going abroad because that seems so more exotic and exciting. I knew the Maritimes existed, but I never would have imagined that they would have so much to offer!

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Canada really is a nature lover’s paradise; there is so much geographical variation. While Ontario is all about quaint cottages that line the region’s huge freshwater lakes, Prince Edward Island’s claim to fame are its red sandstone cliffs and the white sandy beaches that edge the ocean. New Brunswick and Nova Scotia brave the waves on a whole other level: they curve around the Bay of Fundy, which gets some of the world’s highest tides (160 billion tonnes of water move in and out of the bay twice a day)! When the tide is low, it reveals caves and huge rock structures sculpted by the sea – also known as “flowerpot rocks” – and the bare ocean floor. If you’re lucky, you might even find a sand dollar or a 300-million-year-old fossil.

Canada has lovely natural sights and views.
Photo: Talise Tsai

Although no such luck befell me on my own solo fossil hunt, I remember the bay as being one of the most eerily beautiful places I’ve ever been. I was standing on the ocean floor, looking up at exposed cliffs that were teeming with Triassic life, watching the sun glisten off the golden algae-covered rocks. The whole time I felt like I was in Atlantis, or Journey to the Centre of the Earth, or some other fantasy movie where the landscapes are too beautiful to be real. It was so peaceful and perfect that it was almost unnerving, as if there had to be something wrong. That feeling was probably partly triggered by the many “Danger: tides deadly, do not stray” and “Danger: E-Coli warning” signs I spotted around the bay.

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Nevertheless, it was an experience I would definitely recommend. If traversing a potentially deadly coastline by yourself doesn’t appeal to you, then there are plenty of guided fossil walks and other hiking trails to try and, of course, lots of lovely lighthouses to explore.

There are so many other natural wonders I’d love to gush about, but I’ll save those for another day. I hope you’ll be inspired to rediscover your own country, too.

Edited by Charlotte Ames-Ettridge