Pack your thinking cap and maybe a notebook, paintbrush or GPS device on your next trip to Canada. “Learning travel,”—i.e., education vacations—is on the rise. Specialized tour operators, colleges, universities, even scientific research facilities, are sharing knowledge, opening their doors and attracting travellers with more on their minds than a swivel lounger and a hot tub. According to a survey by TripAdvisor.com, art, sports and cooking topped the most popular list for learning vacations in 2008.
Observe ocean ecosystems in action in the geological wonderland of Newfoundland’s Gros Morne National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, pick a tour through Sir Wilfred Grenfell College's Learning Vacations or go clam digging in the nearby town of Cow Head.
Wildland Tours, founded by a field biologist, offers natural history vacations among ancient volcanoes and sparkling semi-precious “Labradorite” mineral formations in Newfoundland and Labrador. Meet a 10-m (33-ft) -long giant squid and assist with the humpback whale census.
The edVentures summer programs at the New Brunswick College of Craft & Design (located in the historic Garrison district of Fredericton, NB) include workshops in digital photography, painting, drawing and textiles.
At Churchill Northern Studies Centre in Churchill, MB, stay in dormitory-style rooms at this active research facility by the edge of the arctic tundra; learn about winter survival and polar bears, botany, the Northern Lights and astronomy.
Three nights at the elegant Falls Inn in Walter's Falls, ON, combines walking tours among the fall leaves along the scenic Bruce Trail with facilitated group study of mythological literature under the heading “Reading Fairy Tales, A Jungian Analysis.”
At April Point Resort & Spa on Quadra Island, BC, Live & Learn packages run the gamut from bridge and belly dancing to snorkelling with salmon and painting with silk.