Canadian Road Trip

Tomorrow, July 1st in Canada Day. This has always been my favourite holiday. No gifts to buy, no cards, the stores are all closed and the weather is typically wonderful and warm wherever we may be.

We have all been staying home for the last three months or so, and the pandemic is not over, but within our area and across Canada the cases of Covid 19 are most definitely decreasing. Our oldest and youngest are working locally in Ontario, our daughter is planting trees in British Columbia, and our young athlete is ready to head back to Alberta to join his training group.

asphalt road in between trees
Photo by Gerbiamas Ponas Stonys on

We are concerned that the airlines have now eliminated spacing between seats on the aircraft (Westjet and Air Canada eliminated seat spacing effective July 1) – and so that’s just plain dangerous for now. Today, Air Canada also announced that it is cancelling many cross Canada routes and flights.

So we will drive our boy west, respecting the measures for physical disancing and quarantine in each province and drive home again. We also need to move some large items (including a bicycle, and some sporting equipment).

We cannot go through the United States, as the borders are still closed – and I think that cases are climbing there, so that’s OK with me for now. It is 34-36 hours of driving through Northern Ontario, Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Alberta – but what could be more fun?

It’s not that we have lots of kids to entertain on a road trip like in previous years. We should be able to see what needs to be seen from the TransCanada Highway, our only need to stop being for a healthy socially distant walk or two, some gloved up gas and drive through food, and a few stays at hotels with enhanced cleaning protocols (we hope.)

blur dusk evening gas station
Photo by Jonathan Petersson on

Canadians and our American neighbours are chomping at the bit to get moving, but carefully. In Canada, our tourism industry is suffering with the lack of American and International travelers, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t tourists. Canadians have been renting RVs, and cottages in a flurry! We could not find a small RV to rent for the week (or so).

Thinking that there would be loads of rental cars available for our spontaneous trek – I was just plain wrong. We called so many rent-a-car companies and locations looking for a van, large or premium SUV = and found that they were all sold out of large vehicles – as Canadians were leaving early for the Canada Day long weekend and staying longer. Canada Day falls on July 1, and there may not be any gatherings, but Canadians are going driving, camping and cottaging.

vehicles on the road
Photo by Gabriel Hohol on

We were frustrated with the online reservation system at Enterprise. It let us reserve several large vehicles at local outlets, but guess what? – they didn’t have any cars. We called all of the franchises within a 50km radius – and couldn’t find an SUV, van or pickup. I’m not sure how the central reservation service could book vehicles if they don’t exist?

We eventually called the Toronto Pearson Airport Enterprise location. No problem – they had every car that you could ever need. Normally we would stay away from this location because it’s a very busy airport. It’s not at all busy these days!

We were happy to rent a brand new Premium SUV with unlimited mileage for 10 days.

We set out with no extensive planning, but a car loaded with belongings, the three of us, a package of masks, a couple of bottles of hand sanitizer, gloves and good intentions. Our plan was to drive the TransCanada Highway – respecting social distancing – with minimal stops – from Southern Ontario up and around Lake Huron and Lake Superior, through Northwestern Ontario – stopping in Thunder Bay, travelling straight through Manitoba (respecting that province’s isolation requirement), then Saskatchewan with a stop in Regina, and finally arriving in Calgary Alberta – and then heading back a similar route.


For our Canada Day adventure we are driving the TransCanada highway for 3500km each way – hopefully seeing some beautiful scenery, spotting some wildlife, and stopping at some roadside attractions for cheesy photo ops – without engaging with the locals.


The Trans-Canada Highway is Canada’s longest national road. It extends east-west across Canada between Victoria, British Columbia and St. John’s, Newfoundland and Labrador, passing through all ten Canadian provinces and linking Canada’s major cities. Car ferries link both Newfoundland and Vancouver Island to the mainland.
Oh Canada!

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20 thoughts on “Canadian Road Trip

  1. Happy and safe travels, Lillie. Driving across Canada is certainly an appropriate way of celebrating Canada Day. You will REALLY be able to appreciate its size and geographic variety! 😏🇨🇦

    1. Thank you Jane, we had a great trip, even though we were just driving west and back, we did really enjoy the variety of scenery and wildlife!

  2. Happy Canada Day! I can’t wait to see photos of your trip, which is one of my “dream” excursions! Your country is so beautiful–we miss being there and look forward to future excursions. I’m imagining you’re passing through some of those very small towns we’ve seen on “Still Standing.”

    1. Thank you Angela. We had a lovely trip. I can’t wait for when we can cross the border to visit some small towns in the United States again. I do feel like we visited some “Still Standing” types of town, but we tried to keep away from people, so not quite the same!

  3. I hope you have a safe and uneventful trip. Our daughter has been with us for months now and has been trying to get back home to St. John’s. Unfortunately Covid-19 has made that very difficult. We cannot drive there due to health reasons (hubby is on dialysis).

    I am glad you were able to find a rental vehicle. I would have assumed there’s be lots available. Who knew? It is wonderful that people are traveling within this great country. There is so much beauty here and so much to see. Happy travels and Happy Canada Day from Northern Alberta.

    1. Hi Carol, thanks for the good wishes. It was nice to have our kids home with us for much of the summer too. I am hoping your daughter was eventually able to get home to St. John’s!

      1. Yes, she is back at home safe and sound – though it turned out there was an individual who tested positive for Covid on her flight – thankfully her test came back negative.

      2. Oh no! My daughter flew recently as well, then we checked the list that is published of domestic flights with Covid, everyday for 2 weeks. She was fine, but it’s very stressful.

  4. I hope you have a safe and enjoyable voyage. If you have time, on your return trip through Saskatchewan get off the TransCanada and go south to either Hwy 13 or Hwy 18. You’ll get a very different view of the province, i.e., it’s not all flat!

    1. Hi Margaret! We did enjoy Saskatchewan – but on the way home we did get off the TransCanada, but we came down from Rocky Mountain House through Saskatoon. It was a nice change, but I’m wondering what we would have seen if we went on the southern route! I guess we will have to do it again.

  5. I made that drive many years ago and will always remember driving the north of Superior route! My young one is heading back to Ontario soon (air travel). It turned into a 4-month stay!

    1. It was nice having the kids home for their long stays – really a different time. If it hadn’t been for the border closure, I might never have visited the north of Superior area. I didn’t realize how beautiful it is.

  6. Hello Lillie, Just wanted to leave a message to let you know that I loved your blog. It is informative, lively and has so of much good variety. Also, there is something about the pictures in this post that there seem to be peace in them.😊🥰

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