Ecoclub Member Blogs

Carol’s travel writing has been featured in BBC Travel, Roads and Kingdom, Fodor's, Alaska Magazine, Red Deer Advocate and Avenue magazine and she is the author of several books including Sustainable Tourism: Business Development, Operations and Management. You can tag along on Carol’s adventures on her YouTube channel or on Instagram at thecarolpatterson

How a trip to Portland turned me into a dancing grebe stalker

190615-ca Dancing Grebes
I’d never paid much attention to grebes one of our prettiest but elusive waterfowl until I got the chance to see grebes dancing. Then I was all in. I boned up on grebe behavior and watched a David Attenborough video of two grebes – chicken-sized waterfowl - running across a lake on their toes in a perfectly synchronized dance. It looked stunning.  At the YYC airport I waited to board WestJet’s inaugural flight from Calgary to Portland April 29. With free munchies and selfies with the flight crew, the departure lounge had a party vibe. “Why are you going to Portland?” asked a fellow traveler. “I’m going to see dancing grebes,” I replied. Her brows scrunched together in confusion. “Dancing grapes?” she uttered. “No, dancing grebes. They are a type of waterfowl and one of the best places to see their courtship is in Southern Oregon. Portland’s a great place to...
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5 Reasons you will want to visit this Victoria, B.C. neighborhood

5 Reasons you will want to visit this Victoria, B.C. neighborhood
“Don’t think there are no crocodiles because the water is calm” Malay proverb Victoria is often linked with afternoon teas and retirement condos for seniors but as I slipped into Oak Bay, a small community in the Victoria capital region, I discovered an unexpectedly eclectic destination; much of it was hidden in plain sight. Oak Bay has it’s own sea monster Although Oak Bay is only a ten minute drive from downtown Victoria this municipality of 18,000 boasts its own police force, a main street that closes for tea party races, two marinas, and its own sea monster. Popular with British settlers, hence the moniker “behind the tweed curtain”, Oak Bay streets are dotted with Faux Tudor architecture and manicured flowerbeds. I settled into a chair overlooking Haro Strait at the Oak Bay Beach Hotel and sipped a pinot gris as I watched visitors enter The Snug pub. According to the...
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My hotel - the Inn at Laurel Point - had dead people helping manage it

My hotel – the Inn at Laurel Point – had dead people helping manage it. I’d heard Victoria was a great place for the newly wed and nearly dead. But I hadn’t heard read more 
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IMPACT Sustainability Travel & Tourism 2018 sets new tone

Did you know a five-star hotel uses 1,800 liters of water per day per visitor? That’s compared to 350 for a three-star or 326 for your average Canadian family. Does this mean you should stay home if you want to help the environment? Attendees at IMPACT: Sustainability Tourism and Travel 2018 in Victoria, British Columbia January 21 – 24 asked plenty of tough questions. With some of the world’s sustainability experts in attendance there were was plenty of lively discussion. More than a conference this event brought together 170 people from across Canada to discuss how tourism can grow in harmony with host communities and the environment. “We did this event because no one was doing a deep dive into this topic,” explained Paul Nursey, President and CEO of Tourism Victoria. Victoria with more carbon-neutral businesses per capita than any other community in Canada is a great location for a summit...
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Celebrating Geography

Carol Patterson made a Fellow of the Royal Canadian Geographical Society
When people discover I’m a travel writer they often ask for my favorite travel destination. I cringe knowing what’s coming next. I say “Canada” and they look disappointed, like someone with a mass of frequent flyer points should long for a Caribbean island or a distant Himalayan kingdom. But the more I travel, the more I love this country. So it was a special day last month when I was made a Fellow of the Royal Canadian Geographical Society (RCGS), an honor bestowed for my contributions to geography and making Canada better known to Canadians and the world. The RCGS has been around since 1929.   Banting - the inventor of insulin - was one of the first fellows, former Alberta premier Peter Lougheed was a fellow, and Alex Trebek of Jeopardy fame is a fellow (and honorary president). Pat Morrow, the second Canadian to climb Everest and his wife Baiba were...
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Whales by land and by sea

Best place to see whales from the shore.
I associate whale watching with choppy waves, ocean spray on my camera, and seasick compatriots. But on the north shore of Canada’s Saint Laurence River near Tadoussac, Quebec, there is a deep channel near land where you can see even the biggest of whales without donning a lifejacket. “It is the best place in the world to see whales from shore,” extols Patrice Corbeil, GREMM Executive Director (Group for Research and Education for Marine Mammals), adding with a smile that there are secret places where people bring a bottle of wine to sip while watching whales swim by. Intrigued by this this relaxed approach to adventure I decide to try whale watching from shore. I head north to Parks Canada Cap-de-Bon-Désir Interpretation and Observation Centre. A small building holds a room-size model of the different size whales found in the area. Two beluga whales look like salt-and-pepper shakers next to a...
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Getting boaters ready for a new kind of whale?

Getting boaters ready for a new kind of whale?
Humpback whales are making a comeback off British Columbia's west coast. According to the Marine Education and Research Society - MERS - humpback whale numbers have increased by 30% in the last five years. Where once they were a rarity, whale-watching companies on northern Vancouver Island now see humpbacks frequently. Tourists usually make the tri...
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Biodiversity Strategies for Cities?

Biodiversity Strategies for Cities?
My eyebrows reached my hairline when I heard my hometown had a biodiversity strategy. With over a million people, I hadn't thought of Calgary, Alberta as a biodiversity hotspot. True, it has the most extensive urban pathway network in North America and I've enjoyed watching owls and eagles along the Bow River in the city center but isn't a city a bad home for wildlife? Surprisingly, there are more opportunities for critters than you might think. Next to parkland, wasteland, railway yards and industrial areas have high numbers of rare and important species. Perhaps because those areas have open spaces and few people. Some animals don't coexist well with humans like the sharp-tailed grouse eliminated by off-leash dog use on Nose Hill but others adapt. Scientists have observed some urban birds adjusting their calls to be heard over traffic noise. The City of Calgary tabled its biodiversity strategy in March 2015....
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Seeing without Sharing

Philosopher George Berkeley asked, "If a tree falls in the forest, and no one hears it, does it make a sound?" What if you went to a tourist attraction that allowed no photos? Could you still enjoy it without a selfie or photographic proof for your Facebook feed? I faced that dilemma at Petroglyphs Provincial Park, 55 kilometers northeast of Peterborough. Six to 11 centuries ago - an era when the Vikings were first arriving in North America - aboriginal people were carving images for ceremonial or spiritual reasons into white marble rock of the Canadian Shield. These 900 rock carvings are now known as Kinomaage waapkong or 'the rocks that teach' and the largest known single concentration of Aboriginal rock art in Canada. They lay undiscovered until 1954 when three prospectors stumbled onto the carvings of people, snakes, turtles & other creatures, and told a newspaper. By 1967 there were...
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Where's the Bear app: Help or Hindrance?

As I wrote in one of my recent travel stories, people are keen to see bears. Now there's an app for that. Where's the Bear app tells you where bears have been spotted in Yellowstone. Bears are popular sightings with tourists It makes it easier for wildlife watchers to see bears but it can also lead to bear jams and cause habituation of bears to people. This can ultimately lead to bear deaths. I also wonder if such an app could help poachers find wildlife. Currently it is used in a protected area but Parks are facing budget challengs which means there isn't a ranger behind every tree. And what is to stop technology to be used in this way outside of protected areas? Sometimes technology has effects we hadn't counted on. What's your feelings on Where's the Bear app? You can post here or join a discussion on Flickr http://bit.ly/JWuqLz
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