After a year of blogging I stared at my nearly full passport. A compilation of stamps and visas, stories, and memories, defeated fears, defied odds, thousands of air miles, restless nights on bad pillows, and few regrets. Yet, even with this track record of beautiful trips and voyages across seas, I had yet to venture locally to uncover those stories and those interesting spots. Sad isn’t it? Now, I know that there are probably thousands of Canadians who have yet to explore their own country, but for me, it presented disappointment. I had become what so many of us travellers become – backyard deficient. What does this mean you ask? Well it is when travel experiences abroad outnumber the beauty and glory of a hometown, a home country, a traveller’s own backyard. And in my case, it was Ontario Travel.

Super Moon over Midland Ontario
Super Moon over Midland Ontario

Yep, You heard it. Backyard deficient.

When asked about my own country, and even worse, my own Province, or CITY, usually I end up saying I have yet to explore it thoroughly. What adds salt to the wound? When visitors arrive raving about all the sites surrounding me that they enjoyed that I have not seen. It has become such a blunder in my travelling career and not to mention, personal embarrassment. I am seriously tired of shamefully uttering this same sentence over and over again- “you have seen more of my city [country] than I have!”

Awkward and sad silence.

Bathtub Island! Truly Paradise

With my deficiency now up front and in the open, I can now elaborate on how this is going to change and how my newest and most exciting venture and celebration will do just that. Fill My Passport took this lack of local knowledge seriously and in a big way. The determination to learn more about home not only was a personal choice, but it also means much more. We are not only going from corner to corner of our home base to see and eat everything possible, but we are also exploring the little cities and towns that make it a place of joy and wonder. We are venturing to some of the most remote places and to popular tourist hubs ( I mean did you know that there are more than 250,000 LAKES in Ontario alone?), ticking off a very special bucket list. You could call it a golden bucket list, or better still, a platinum bucket list. It is Granddad’s inspirational bucket list.

The Hornblower and Maid of the Mist come Head to Head
Niagara Falls Ontario

Granddad. A man in my life who shared so many memories with our family. A man who was of few words, but when those few were spoken, were as powerful as can be. You could not be confused on which way he rolled, how he felt, what he meant. And some of his memorable words I will always remember:

“Why Venture Away from Home before Exploring your Own Backyard?”

 

Grandpa
Grandpa

 

Grandma and Grandpa
Grandma and Grandpa

Victor Nicholas Best was a man of high values. A man who put family first. A man who took care of his wife and children, expanding the adoration and support to his seven grandchildren and one great- grandson through the years. He endured the depression, the crash of ’29, WWII,  recessions, and everything you can jam-pack into an extra long life.

My Granddad was an historian. He was a poet, a crossword genius, euchre master, pumpkin pie lover, and was very patriotic. Canada was his home and native land. He believed in its culture and heritage and that it had natural beauty and gifts unlike anywhere else in the world. He dreamed of seeing more of his homeland and set off to see quite a bit of it during his lifetime. He got out east to the Maritimes, he took the Polar Express up to Moosonnee, He gazed at Georgian Bay, he breathed in the mist of Niagara Falls, enjoyed his 60th anniversary celebration at the top of CN Tower, and grew tomatoes in his back yard in the heart of Toronto. But there was so much more he wanted to see…

*Step in granddaughter.

The Horseshoe Falls
The Horseshoe Falls

May 24, 2017 marked Granddad’s 99th birthday and the beginning of his 100th year. If he were alive today, he would be celebrating a century of life on May 24, 2018. Well, he almost made it and I hope and intend to honour his legacy through my travels in his most heavenly centenary.

To do this, I will be embarking on a purely local and national adventure, ticking off as many items on Gramp’s inspired Ontario bucket list as possible, while rekindling my relationship with my home sweet home. Now, although the bucket list includes one item at the end involving more than Ontario, first and foremost Grandpa always said that our own backyards are special and need to be explored before venturing elsewhere. Ontario is my backyard. Ontario is where my Grandpa lived his whole life and that is where the journey will begin. The last item was his ultimate dream which he never got to do – the Rocky Mountaineer Rail Trip. I plan on fulfilling that wish as best I can through his memory, his vision, his belief, and his 100 years of wisdom. I plan on becoming backyard efficient with Grandpa angelically by my side.

The photos within this post are some of the adventures we have already accomplished on this most special and heavenly bucket list. We are blessed to have already ticked off a few boxes and cannot wait to experience the rest.

Bridal Veil Falls
Bridal Veil Falls – Agawa Canyon

For such a knowledgeable man, there were so many truths and statements he said that made total sense. Through local exploration you just never know what you will uncover- what you will discover- what gifts you will give yourself.

Celebrate Granddad’s heavenly centenary with us by following our journey from every angle. Read about our adventures, engage with our stories, savour the flavours, and marvel at the scenery we capture. Come along with us on the bucket list of home love rejuvenation and let us guide you to a province whose tagline is in fact “yours to discover.” See what gifts Ontario offers travellers that are frequently overlooked by our other nine provinces and three territories.

You can celebrate our journey for Granddad in the following ways:

  • Download Grandpa’s heavenly centenary inspired Sites and Food Bucket Lists, ticking experiences off as you visit yourself or virtually following along with us
  • Tag your Ontario photos and tweets with our special hashtag #heavencentenary for a chance to get featured.
  • Display your Heavenly Centenary Swag from our Shop.
SWAG Magnet
SWAG Magnet

Pen - heavenly centenary

  • Enter our incredible giveaways (details coming soon!)
  • Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram to get the latest information and updates on our journey.
  • Pin the spots on our Pinterest Ontario Board that inspire you
  • Share our updates on your social channels so more and more people follow on this heavenly centenary journey and honour this celebration.
  • Subscribe to our Mailing List for Ontario tidbits and discoveries and other goodies coming soon
  • Support us when we visit your Ontario town or city with suggestions and must-dos to get us discovering everything that Grandpa would have enjoyed.
  • Be a part of the journey by supporting us should your business be included on either bucket list
  • Send us a Cuppa Jo and we will write you a postcard from the corner of Ontario we last visited.

 Sites Bucket List Item #100

My Granddad’s ultimate dream was to take the Rocky Mountaineer Scenic Rail to marvel at some of the most gorgeous places in the country. We hope to make him proud by completing this wish and that his ultimate travel dreams were accomplished by his family on his most precious and most heavenly 100th birthday. Therefore this item, though outside Ontario, makes item #100 on the sites bucket list.

Train in Banff

Some adventures to get you started in discovering what Ontario has to offer you can find in our Ontario section here.  Items we have already achieved on our adventure are located in Prince Edward County, Ottawa our nation’s capital, Midland – the Gateway to the 30,000 Islands, and my favourite uncovered secret – Bathtub Island to name a few.

Grandpa would be proud and in awe of this quest, this journey, this celebration of his life and belief. He modestly would say “Oh Janine Helen Hayse, (my nickname!)” and try to talk me out of it. But you know what? He always wanted to put his feet in James Bay and when he had the chance, sadly didn’t take it. I am going to do this for him and proudly proclaim to his angel that this cold endeavour was for him. It will definitely remove the backyard deficient curse in more ways that one!

Dancing at my cousin's Wedding!
Dancing at my cousin’s Wedding!

We look forward to you sharing our journey with us, following along, engaging with our progress and updates, and supporting our celebration. It isn’t everyday that you can commemorate such a milestone, and I do believe he is here and guiding me all the way. I love and miss you Granddad. See you at the finish line with crossword puzzles, Blue Jay pennants, and a gazillion photographs in hand.

Toronto Blue Jays Doughnut I ate for Grandpa

 

Toronto
Toronto

                      

200 Instagrammable Sites and Foods in Ontario, Canada
200 Instagrammable Sites and Foods in Ontario, Canada

 

Celebrate a 100th birthday with 200 Instagrammable Sites and Foods in Ontario, Canada
Celebrate a 100th birthday with 200 Instagrammable Sites and Foods in Ontario, Canada

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Follow along on our Heavenly Centenary Journey and get our incredible Free Romantic Getaway Journal on the sidebar here.

Want to Shout us a Cuppa Jo? We Cannot Thank you enough and will send you a postcard from our Ontario Travels. Click here  for details!

Check out our incredible Heavenly Centenary Swag in our shop!

Travelling to Canada? Don’t be a ninny and go without insurance! 

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Disclaimers:

Thank you in advance to our partners and supporters who are making this initiative possible through sponsorship, in-kind, and social promotion.

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