Robin Esrock is a world renowned travel writer, international television personality, and global adventurer. He’s travelled to over 100 countries on five continents and has seen some of the most amazing sights that our world has to offer. For his latest adventure, however, Robin has turned his attention closer to home — north of the 49th parallel.
The Great Canadian Bucket List is Robin’s first book and the culmination of an almost two-year journey through each Canadian province and territory.
“The more I travelled around the world, the less I knew, really, about Canada,” Robin explains. “I became a Canadian in 2003 and people would ask me when I travelled, 'what are the most amazing things to do in Canada' and, to be honest, I didn’t know.”
The opportunity to learn more about his new country came in 2011 after Robin published a column in the Globe and Mail on Canada Day called the “Great Canadian Bucket List.” The article caught the attention of a publisher and Robin expanded his “bucket list” to include over 100 Canadian destinations — a list that he hopes will keep on growing as more Canadians explore their great backyard.
The book serves as more than a guidebook, although all that practical information is available online at the companion website. Beyond that, Robin aims to inspire Canadians to travel and to discover all that our country has to offer. He uses his past travels to put his Canadian experiences in context and to demonstrate why they are unique.
“Something like Anthony Island in Haida Gwaii with the totem poles, it gave me that same kind of feeling as Easter Island and Stonehenge,” he describes. “It’s very different but it gives you that feeling of ‘wow you are tapping into the past.’ And the more you can understand what that past might have been like, the more you can appreciate where you are.”
The stories in the book cover many different types of travelling — from extreme adventures to cultural encounters — although history-based travel is in many ways at the heart of what Robin does.
“History really adds context," he explains. "When I travel it puts things in context — it helps me understand how places came to be and why they are the way they are.” Whether it was skating on the Rideau Canal, driving along the Dempster highway, or taking the train from Vancouver to Toronto, Robin was always eager to learn the history of his surroundings.
“For me, it was really this journey to understand what makes Canada Canada, and what makes Canadians Canadians.”
As a new Canadian, Robin provides a unique perspective on our vast country, and reminds us that we live in a pretty remarkable corner of the world.
“As an outsider, stuff that might be quite common knowledge to somebody born here was very fascinating to me,” he remarked. “Canadians are quite modest when it comes to the wonders of their own country.”