Lonely Planet's top 10 Canadian adventures
Polar bears in Churchill
Churchill is on the bears' migration route between winters spent hunting on the frozen bay and summers spent on land, and through October they pass by this Manitoba town. You can take day tours in purpose-built buggies, or you can stay in transportable "tundra lodges". Where you hope not to see a polar bear is in town itself. Local authorities maintain a 24-hour vigil from September to November, with gunshots fired at night to shoo away any town-bound bears. Nuisance makers and repeat offenders are taken to cinderblock cells of an old military base, aka "Polar Bear Jail", until winter.
Red-sided garter snakes
At the Narcisse Snake Dens the ground will be covered with thousands of snakes, awakened from hibernation by the warming air. The males emerge all together from deep cracks in the bedrock, where they have been sleeping in wriggling masses safely hidden from Canada's frosty winter fingers. Once peak numbers are on the surface in early May, females emerge one by one over the course of several weeks, triggering frantic "mating balls" where 100 males at a time furiously weave around any receptive female they find.
Wired for fun in Whistler
Stepping out into thin air 70m above the forest floor might seem like a normal activity for a cartoon character, but ziplining turns out to be one of the best ways to encounter the Whistler wilderness. Attached via a body harness to the cable you are about to slide down, you soon overcome your fear of flying solo. By the end of your time in the trees you will be turning midair summersaults and whooping like a banshee. The 10-line course is strung between Whistler and Blackcomb mountains and operates in both winter and summer seasons. Another course runs a gentle web of walkways and suspension bridges for those who prefer to keep their feet on something a little more solid.
Toronto's pillow fighting league
With a stable of female fighters and a rising profile it will not be long before more people hear the cries of Boozy Suzy, Olivia Neutron Bomb, Carmen Monoxide and Eiffel Power. There are 22 registered fighters and these everyday ladies come from all walks of life to don costumes, masks and new personas before tearing each other apart with pillows in the ring. Home to the Pillow Fight League, Toronto walks the line between American cultural osmosis and staunch northern independence. Torontonians embrace both worlds with verve and open-mindedness: enlightened, multicultural and uniquely Canadian.