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Camping season is nearly upon us and we are eager to spend days and nights outside with family and friends in the wilderness that surrounds Prince George. Below are five camping tips that we encourage all travellers to keep in mind. Read to the end to learn about three of our favourite campfire foods!
1. Plan ahead: We strongly recommend making campsite reservations whenever you'll be arriving at a new campground on a weekend. Most locals take advantage of the weekend and set up camp Friday afternoon and come home Sunday afternoon. If you're travelling during the weekend, call ahead or visit Discover Camping to make reservations at Provincial Parks. If you can't make reservations, try to arrive at your campground of choice in the early afternoon on a weekend to better your chances of getting a spot.
2. Check DriveBC.ca: DriveBC.ca is a website maintained by the Department of Transportation and Infrastructure. Their interactive web map will tell you about accidents, road closures, road conditions (especially important for winter travel) and construction. Even if delays are unavoidable, it's best to be aware of them.
3. Prepare for weather: Summer days in the Prince George area average around 22°C (72°F), but evening and morning can be quite cool. Pack an extra sweatshirt or jacket for those early morning walks or evenings around the campfire.
4. Set up camp: Set up your camp with your tent/trailer a safe distance away from where your fire will be. BC Parks recommends a minimum of 15 feet (4.5m) between the fire and any tent walls, hanging branches or surrounding bush. If you are tenting, make sure you store any food or fragrant items (toothpaste, deodorant, etc) in your vehicle, a bear cache, or bear hang.
5. Pack delicious food: For a leisurely camping trip, meals around the campfire can be the highlight of the day. We have three things we love cooking over the fire: bacon, bannock, and tinfoil dinner. Gather your friends or family around the campfire in the morning, and cook bacon in a cast iron pan. As it finishes, drain excess grease, put it on a plate, and pass it around the fire. It may take a while, but it is an incredible way to wake up and spend the morning outside.
Bannock is a basic dough that can be baked, fried, or roasted over the fire. We prefer our recipe to include flour, baking powder, milk and vegetable oil. Bannock can be prepared a few days in advance and refrigerated until you need it. To cook, wrap it around a thick stick and roast over the fire, hot dog-style. You’ll know it’s done when the outside is golden brown and you can easily pull it off the stick. We recommend slathering the inside with butter and cinnamon sugar, jam, or hotdog fixings (with a cooked hotdog put inside). If you don’t feel like making bannock from scratch, you can buy pre-made biscuit or bread dough.
Tinfoil dinner is the casserole of campfire cooking. Each person takes diced potatoes, ground beef, frozen or raw vegetables, seasonings and type of sauce or liquid (ketchup, worcestershire sauce, or beef broth) and mixes it all together into a sheet of tinfoil. Carefully fold the tinfoil into a roll and add a second layer of tinfoil to prevent burning. We recommend putting in more liquid then you think you need so that your food steams and doesn’t burn. Put the tinfoil packages near the coals of the fire to let it cook. After 10 minutes or so, carefully flip your package over using sticks or long tongs (be careful not to puncture the tinfoil), and let it cook for another 10ish minutes.
If you have any other questions about camping in northern British Columbia, feel free to contact the Prince George Visitor Centre (250-562-3700 or email email@example.com). Or visit the BC Parks website to learn more about all of BC's provincial parks: http://www.env.gov.bc.ca/bcparks/.
Many people tell us that their favourite thing about living in Prince George is the easy and fast access to parks, trails, and outdoor recreation activities. To help people explore more of the parks in the Prince George area, we thought we would highlight three regional parks.
Kristian Winther Regional Park This 70 acre park is located on the southern shores of Salmon River (30km north of PG). Travel through a portion of the park on a 700m loop trail. Bring food for a picnic or marshmallows to roast over the fire. The park has a 2 acre lawn that is great for kicking a soccer ball around or playing catch. There are picnic tables, fire pits and toilets to make your stay enjoyable.
McMillan Creek Regional Park Located off Hofferkamp Road within city limits, this park provides visitors with a scenic view of Prince George from the cutbanks. To reach the viewpoint from the parking lot walk either along the direct 1km trail or take the scenic 2.5km trail weaving through a variety of plant species. This is a great place to take out-of-town guests to give them an over-view of the city. This park has interpretive signs, picnic tables and toilets.
Wilkins Regional Park Drive along Otway Road for a while and you will reach Wilkins Park on the shores of the Nechako River. This 57 hectare park has a handful of trails that weave between cottonwood trees and beside the river. This park has a stretch of lawn beside the river and a boat launch. Other facilities include a picnic shelter, wood stove, toilets, picnic tables, and firepits.
To learn more about parks in the Regional District of Fraser-Fort George, visit their website at rdffg.bc.ca/services/environment/regional-parks.
Cover photo credit: Kelly Bergman
Golden Raven cultural attraction itineraries:
Prince George to Fort St. James:
Leave Prince George and head west on Highway 16 for an hour before reaching Vanderhoof, the geographical center of the province of BC. Vanderhoof is also home to Nechako River Migratory Bird Sanctuary, which attracts very large numbers of spring-migrating Canada Geese.
While in town, visit the Vanderhoof Museum http://www.vanderhoofmuseum.com/, then grab a quick bite to eat at Ok Café (only open seasonally).
Continue on to Fort St. James (turn north on Highway 27) and take in the Fort St. James National Historic Site of Canada.
http://www.pc.gc.ca/eng/lhn-nhs/bc/stjames/index.aspx. Travel back in time to 1896 when wealth was measured in fur pelts and salmon. Tour Canada’s largest collection of wooden buildings that have been restored to reflect the fur trade era. You can spend the night in the historic Murray house warmed by a wood stove and live like the traders did more than a century ago. There are often events taking place at the Historic Site, and if you’re lucky enough you might get to watch some world famous chicken racing!
If you’re feeling adventurous, hike Mount Pope, a 6.5 km hiking trail to the peak provides a panoramic view of Stuart Lake and the mountains to the north.
Have lunch at the café on site at the Fort overlooking Stuart Lake before returning to Prince George (1:45).
Prince George to Mackenzie:
Heading north on Hwy 97, stop at Huble Homestead Historic Site (40km north of Prince George) http://www.hublehomestead.ca/. Enjoy lunch after touring the historic buildings, First Nations fish camp and purchasing unique gifts in the historic General Store.
Continue on Highway 97 north until you reach the Mackenzie junction and turn left on Highway 39. Located on the south end of Williston Lake (largest man-made lake in BC, and 7th largest reservoir in the world), Mackenzie is home to the world’s largest tree crusher. The Mackenzie Museum http://www.mackenziemuseum.ca/ has rich cultural, social, and natural history component that show how the development of Mackenzie in the 1960s happened as an ‘Instant Town’ in the Canadian wilderness.
If you have the chance to explore Morfee Lake, there are two great beaches, one with a boat launch for motorized use and one for swimming.
Return to Prince George (approx. 2hrs, 15mins)
Prince George to Barkerville:
Take Highway 97 South towards Quesnel, BC before turning left on Highway 26 to Wells and Barkerville (2 hrs 15 min from PG),
On route, visit Cottonwood House Historic Site, a store, museum and heritage property located on the right bank of the Cottonwood River, which was formerly the "capital" of the Cariboo Gold Rush route. Continue to Barkerville Historic Town http://www.barkerville.ca/, established in the 1860’s by Billy Barker as a gold mining settlement. Wander through the restored buildings, general store, church, Chee Kung Tong Building, which was designated a National Historic Sites of Canada in 2008.
Have lunch at one of several restaurants in Barkerville and spend the night in the King House, Kelly House or St George’s Hotel.
The next morning, stop at the Wells Museum, check out some local galleries and shops and take a lunch break at one of the many restaurant options on your way back to Prince George. (Approximately 2hrs).
Prince George to Valemount via McBride:
Driving on Highway 16 east, stop at Purden Lake Provincial Park, where you have the option of spending the night at a campsite, go for a swim, fish, or have a picnic. There are various difficulties of hiking trails dotted along Highway 16 east, pick up a hiking guide at the Prince George Visitor Centre before you leave town.
A must see is the Ancient Forest (113km east of Prince George) Provincial Park, which is fully accessible and an easy walk along boardwalks through 2ooo year old giants.
Stop at the McBride Train Station and the Whistle Stop (Consignment Art) Gallery http://www.whistlestopgallery.org/ which showcases the work of 96 Robson Valley artists and artisans.
Grab a coffee and snack at the Beanery Café before checking out the McBride Valley Museum (by donation) http://www.valleymuseum.ca/index.html to learn about local history and view regional artworks.
About 35km east of McBride, take a small detour to the community of Dunster, nestled in the Robson Valley and famous for it’s annual ice cream social. Continue on through to Tete Jaune Lodge, a Hudson’s Bay Log Cabin right on the Fraser River, and if you’re feeling adventurous book a white water rafting excursion. See the salmon spawn in season in the river (usually late August), before making a detour to Mount Robson, the highest peak in the Canadian Rocky Mountains to hike the famous Berg Lake Trail.
Make your way to Valemount, located at the northern reach of the Rocky Mountain Trench in BC’sThompson-Okanagan Region, just 120 km (75 mi) from the entrance of Jasper National Park, and 322 km (200 mi) north of Kamloops.
Visit the Valemount Museum http://valemountmuseum.ca/, which offers exhibits throughout its three floors including the recently added Ishbel Cochrane exhibit, featuring the Hargreaves brothers outfitting company and the Mount Robson ranch. The Museum also has a restored caboose and numerous artifacts from the Robson Valley’s early years of logging and agriculture sectors. Explore the Railroad Room, which has a model train running through the displays, artifacts and, yes, even through the bathroom. Pick up a tasty treat from the Swiss Bakery before heading over to Three Ranges brewery to kick back and relax.
In Prince George:
Starting at the Cameron Street Bridge in Prince George BC, walk along the Nechako River on River Rd towards Cottonwood Island Park (about 2.7km). The Central BC Railway & Forestry Museum http://www.pgrfm.bc.ca/ is located adjacent to Cottonwood Island Park and is home to logging machinery, tractors and heavy equipment, a beehive burner, rolling stock and a mini railway. Take a souvenir with you before continuing your walk through Cottonwood Island Park, where you can spot carved faces in the trees. The path leads you to Lheidli T’enneh Memorial Park (between 17th and 20th avenues), along the banks of the Fraser River. On a hot summer day take in the gardens, or the Rotary Spray Park. Also located in the Park is the Exploration Place and Science Museum http://www.theexplorationplace.com/. This interactive museum features local history, a dinosaur discovery exhibit, a living biome, First Nations gallery, Prince George Hall of Fame and more. As well, take a ride on the Little Prince Steam Engine, the only operational narrow gauge steam engine in Canada. Don’t forget to grab a scoop of your favourite craft made ice cream from Frozen Paddle after your train ride.
We're happy that St Patty's Day is on a Friday this year, so we an truly get into the festive spirit!
Here are five restaurants/pubs that are doing something special to honour St. Patrick:
Thirsty Moose Pub: This event is sponsored by Cariboo Brewing and organized by NUGSS and the UNBC Men's Soccer team, so you know it's going to be a phenomenal night! DJ Jimi Smyth will be spinning some great tunes to keep the party lively.
Tickets are $10 to start and will go up to $20 just before Friday, get your tickets at the UNBC Wintergarden, Thirsty Moose Pub and NUGSS office.
The Westwood Pub: Green beer, specials on Guinness and Jameson, fantastic food, mega SWAG prizes, giveaways (including a Guinness beer fridge), live DJ, dancing, and all the other shenanigans you would hope for on St Patty's Day.
Nancy O's: Looking for elevated Irish food with an incredible beer selection for St Patrick's Day? Look no further than Nancy O's, they'll be serving up Kilkenny Battered Fish n' Chips and Duck and Wild Boar Guinness Pot Pie, among other special features.
Copper Pig BBQ House: These folks are doing something a little different by hosting a St Patrick's Day Communal Lunch. Buy a ticket, pull up a seat at their Social Table and enjoy various platters, boards, and bowls of local lamb stew, in-house cured corned beef and local beef ribs. This will also be your opportunity to taste a special casking of CrossRoad's Willamette Stout! Tickets are $18 each, buy yours fast because there are only 16 seats at the Social Table!
Fore Bistro & Patio: Do you have the luck of the Irish? Head over to Fore Bistro for your chance to win a staycation valued at $500. The staycation includes one night in the Jr Suite at Prestige Treasure Cove Hotel, $50 free play for the casino, 2 tickets to a comedy show at the Treasure Cove and a $50 GC to Fore. You can also buy 50/50 tickets with proceeds going to the BCSPCA. Rick Stavely will be performing live and 2Crazi will be handing out giveaways throughout the night. $5 cover.
Still wondering how you’re going to keep your kids active during Spring Break? We’ve rounded up five special events happening in Prince George that are guaranteed to keep your children active and entertained while learning in a fun environment!
Spring Break Kids Camp at Otway (March 13-17): Your child (ages 6-12) can spend time outside snowshoeing, cross country skiing, learning about nature, playing games and more at Otway. Half Day Camps (9:30am-12:00pm) are $20 (plus rentals and trail passes) and Full Day Camps (9:30am–3:30pm) are $40 (plus rentals and trail passes). Call or email Otway to register (250-564-3809 or firstname.lastname@example.org).
Spring Break at the Pool (March 11-26): Dive into the world of water while playing fun games at the Prince George Aquatic Centre and Four Seasons Leisure Pool. Games run daily from 1:30pm-4:00pm.
Spring Break Creativity Camps at Two Rivers Gallery (March 13-17, 20-24): Create with the Masters (March 13-17) and spend the week learning about artists and their masterpieces. Also spend time creating your own inspired works of art! The second week will have participants drawing, painting, sculpting and more as they play and experiment with colour in Colour Play (March 20-24).
Both camps are aimed at children in grades 1-7 and run from 9am-4:30pm. Register online at TwoRiversGallery.ca. Cost: $194.
Spring Break with Camp Kanannaq (March 15, 17, 20): Spend the day outside with your favourite Camp Kanannaq staff hiking, building a fire, roasting s’mores and much more. Activities will include a hike to Raven Lake (March 15, ages 13-15), exploring Forests for the World (March 17, ages 7-12), and a trip to the Ancient Forest (March 20, ages 7-12). Cost is $40. Learn more by calling 250-562-9341 or visit nbcy.org.
Spring Break Cultural Crafts at Prince George Native Friendship Centre (March 24): Join the Prince George Native Friendship Centre for free cultural crafts for the entire family between 10am-2pm. No registration required, call 250-564-3568.
Recently the Continuing Studies department at the University of Northern British Columbia held a contest and gave away a free seat in their Outdoor Adventure Writing and Blogging Workshop, which was held in February. Participants in the contest submitted a photo and a short (100 word) paragraph to describe an outdoor recreational experience.
Below is Jennifer Côté's winning submission which she has expanded to provide a better overview of her mushroom picking experience.
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“Look up”. “Don’t forget to look up once and awhile” I mutter to myself. I am foraging for puffball mushrooms. The forest floor around Prince George offers so many potential goodies. Problem is, while looking down so much, you don’t see what is front of you; possible bears, branches, etc. As I bust my way through the underbrush I come to a painful halt. A thorn from the hawthorn bush jammed itself into my forehead just above my eye. Wow, I’m lucky that it’s my forehead and not my eye. My glasses saved that one inch thorn from impaling my right eye. I hardly ever wear my glasses. I’m so happy I did today. I rather like my gift of sight. Close call! Ouch! I curse and mutter again...”look up will ya!” It’s merely a flesh wound and I continue on looking down at the forest floor.
A few steps ahead, I see what I came here for: Pear Shaped Puffballs. They are all jutting out of an old rotting birch log. I kneel down and examine them; they are firm and white on the inside. Perfect! As I collect them off the log, I remember to look up and examine my surroundings. No bears. Good. However, I do see something else a few meters in front of me. My mind whispers to me “Could it be?” I crawl over to the large mushroom and take a closer look. The cap is reddish brown and measures around seven inches in diameter. The stem is thick and club shaped. I pick the cap off its stem and look at the underside. There are no gills; rather, small white pores are present. I break the cap apart and see if the flesh ‘stains or bruises’. I observe none. This means that I have a Boletus Edulis Mushroom. In layman's terms, a Porcini mushroom or the King Bolete. These are extremely meaty mushrooms as the flesh is thick and dense.
I call my friend over, another avid forager, and show her my find. We scout around and find the area is abundant with the King Boletes. As I start to pick, I notice some of these mushrooms are soft and the pores underneath and starting to turn a yellowish-green. I break a few of the caps open and I get my confirmation, there are maggots infesting these King Boletes. Now if you are a mushroom hunter, you know you will have competition with the maggots that feast on these and other edible mushrooms. I will simply cut the infested parts out and keep the unblemished flesh.
My friend and I gather 20 pounds worth of these mushrooms and go home with our bounty. We are going to eat like Kings tonight! As we start to cut them up we notice that they are too heavily infested. The disappointment sets in; we only have a mere handful of untainted mushrooms out of the baskets we so heavily loaded.
I set the maggot infested mushrooms aside in a bucket. Tomorrow, I will take it the forest and spread them back along the forest floor. The spores of the mushrooms will spread and make more for next mushroom season. Next year, I will come earlier in the season (the mushrooms shouldn’t be so profoundly bug-ridden) and I will bring more bags, buckets and baskets.
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Thanks for reading Jennifer's submission and thanks to UNBC Continuing Studies for hosting this contest and providing a local resident with the opportunity to learn more about travel writing and blogging! Find UNBC Continuing Studies on the web, Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter to learn about all the incredible trips and courses they offer throughout the year.
Family Day 2017 is quickly approaching so we thought we'd put together a list of five special events that are being held throughout the City of Prince George!
Family Day at the Northern Sport Centre
10:00am - 4:00pm
Celebrate Family Day with the Northern Sport Centre with free activities and special guests including the Spruce Kings (2-3pm), our mascot, Fraser the Moose, Super Dog from the SPCA, A&W Root Bear, Chance from the PG Humane Society and Kingston from the Spruce Kings. Activities include: indoor playground (10am-3pm), pickleball (10am-4pm), basketball (10am-4pm), fencing (10am-11am), badminton (10am-1pm), Family Tae Kwon Do (12pm-1:30pm), rugby and wheelchair sports (1pm-3pm), and family yoga (3pm-4pm).
As an added bonus, parking at the NSC lot will be free on Family Day!
Learn more here.
Family Day at Ness Lake Bible Camp
9:00am - 4:30pm
Located on the shores of frozen Ness Lake, explore the camp's property with the whole family for no cost! Tackle the climbing wall, let loose inside the heated gym, play board games, shoot a game of pool, slide down the sledding hill and go ice skating (weather dependent). Enjoy a hot lunch and snack to replenish your energy for all the activities!
This event is free, but the organizers would appreciate an RSVP so they can adequately plan. If you don't RSVP, that's okay, feel free to show up anyways!
Learn more here.
Paint the Ice after a Prince George Cougars Game
The Prince George Cougars are hosting a special feature game on Family Day. The game starts at 2:00pm and after the game fans will have the unique opportunity to paint (decorate) the ice! The next day the Cougars and Chiefs will place on the freshly decorated ice.
While you're at the game, you can buy your tickets for the February 14th game for 50% off!
Learn more here.
Family Day at Otway
10:30am - 3:00pm
Otway is celebrating Family Day with a hot dog lunch (by donation), hot chocolate and marshmallows! They will also be leading a Family Snowshoe Nature Tour and Relay Games for $10 per family (rentals and trail pass not included).
Rentals, lessons, and family trail passes will all be half price! (Call to register for lessons before noon on Sunday, February 12).
Call 250-564-3809 to register for ski lessons and snowshoe games.
Learn more here.
Family Ice Fishing Event
11:00am - 3:00pm
Join the Spruce City Wildlife Association for a free family ice fishing event at Ferguson Lake! Limited rods and tackle will be available for participants (or borrow ice fishing equipment for free from Tourism Prince George - just pick it up before we close at 4:30pm on Friday!).
Please note, anyone over the age of 16 must carry a BC Freshwater Fishing License, available online or from the fishing counter at Northern Hardware.
Learn more here.
We're going to be out and about enjoying all the fantastic family fun and we hope you will participate in these community events!
Recently the University of Northern British Columbia Continuing Studies held a contest and gave away a free seat in their upcoming Outdoor Adventure Writing and Blogging Workshop, being held on February 4.. Participants in the contest submitted a photo and a short (100 word) paragraph describing their outing.
We are thrilled to be sharing the top three submissions here on our blog; below is Kaila Walton's blog entry.
It was a warm spring afternoon when I decided to hike to the summit of Teapot Mountain to photograph the sunset. The mosquitoes were swarming around us, while at the same time the hike was killing my legs due the steep climb. The entire way up I kept telling myself that this hike better be worth it. I was amazed by the stunning views when I arrived at the summit. I watched the sun descend in the sky and then scrambled down the very steep hill in the dark. Teapot mountain is one hike that is worth the effort.
Follow Kaila Walton on Facebook and Instagram:
Thanks to UNBC Continuing Studies for creating this contest and inviting us to join in! We look forward to sharing the other two submissions in the near future.
Top 5 Winter Activities
Prince George is a family-friendly city in each of the four seasons. We invite you to pull on some mittens, don your toque and get outside! Once you embrace winter, Prince George-style, you too will love it when the water starts to freeze on the lakes and flakes start to fall from the beautifully crisp skies.
Here are our top 5 winter activities (in no particular order -it's just too hard to choose!)
Step into a pair of bindings and let gravity assist you as you glide down one of our four hills. Hart Highlands Ski Hill is located in city limits and is where many families bond over skiing or boarding for the first time. Tabor Mountain Ski Resort and Purden Ski Village are both located east of town and are excellent hills to spend the day on without spending hours in the vehicle. Serious powder hounds travel two hours north to Powder King Mountain Resort in the Rocky Mountains. Powder King is home to an annual snowfall of forty-feet each year!
Location: Powder King Mountain Resort
The Prince George Cougars (WHL) and Prince George Spruce Kings (BCHL) are two remarkable teams based in Prince George and create excellent entertainment for the entire family. Cheering these two teams on at the CN Centre and Rolling Mix Concrete Arena has been a long-running Prince George tradition. To make the evening extra special buy your tickets for a feature game night!
Photo Credit: Simon Ratcliffe
Location: CN Centre (Prince George Cougars Hockey Game)
Lace up your skates and learn why sub-freezing temperatures are welcome in Prince George. When winter is in full swing we have an abundance of community rinks (two-dozen to be exact) and numerous frozen lakes so you can truly stretch your legs. Rinks are a great place to meet neighbours and new friends for a game of pick-up hockey.
Photo Credit: Colin Duff
Location: Ness Lake
When snow blankets your favourite trails and you can no longer go for a hike without sinking through the snow we recommend strapping on a pair of snowshoes and marvelling in the magical surroundings. Trails become more serene and peaceful when they’re covered in snow and it’s easier to see animal tracks. Some popular snowshoeing places are Otway Nordic Centre (requires a trail pass), Eskers Provincial Park (30 minutes north of town) and Crooked River Provincial Park (one hour north). The trail to Livingston Springs in Crooked River Provincial Park is rewarding because the springs never freeze over and the water is crystal clear.
Location: Goodsir Nature Park
Grab your sled of choice and slide down one of five sledding hills located in town. This is a great way to get together with friends and enjoy a wintery day or evening – just make sure to warm up with hot chocolate after!
Carney Hill (Massey Dr. and Carney St.)
College Heights Secondary School (6180 Domano Blvd.)
Harry Loder Park (baseball diamonds beside Rainbow Dr.)
Moore’s Meadow (1st Ave. and Zimmaro Ave.)
Rainbow Park (Rainbow Dr. and Liard Dr.)
Location: Rainbow Park
Last year the Prince George Heritage Commission released its centennial project: 100 Iconic Prince George People, Places, and Objects. This list is on a web page devoted to the unique and interesting people, places, and things that define our city.
This site features items of early history such as photographs of Six Mile Mary, the village of Lheidli, and images of sternwheelers, steam engines and the early days of our city.
Visit http://www.theexplorationplace.com/index.php?page=100-prince-george-icons to learn more about Prince George and see unique pictures, including:
-a 2400 year old elk fossil found during excavations for Parkwood Mall
-a dance card from an event that took place at the Ritt-Kifer Hall in 1915
-the first motorcar in Prince George (1912)
-the first airplane (1920)
-the first apartment building completed in 1951.
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The Institute for Canadian Citizens' Cultural Access Pass allows newly sworn-in citizens to visit participating attractions for free, for one year.
Find out how to register for free access to over 1,200 of Canada's best museums, art galleries, discovery centres, historic sites and nature parks - then pick yours up at our visitor centre!