Favourite Childhood Vacations
Carol reminisces about her favourite childhood vacations. These included trips to Toronto, Niagara Falls, Disneyland, Montreal and other tourist spots.
Summer time and our thoughts turn to vacations, maybe time at the lake, or just finding things to occupy kids who are out of school. It’s a great time to do a trip down memory lane or maybe a time of wishful thinking about what we would love to do for a family vacation or one by ourselves.
The puzzle pieces of life include things we enjoy, whether we love to stay at home for a staycation, travel the world, or maybe just our little corner of it. A couple years ago, I was asked what my favourite childhood vacation was. I honestly had a difficult time choosing. Here is my response.
Family Vacation Priority
My parents worked hard and never had much money when I was growing up. But my dad felt going on a family vacation each year should be something they made a priority and budgeted accordingly. There were years the vacation meant a trip to visit relatives in North Dakota, British Columbia, Alberta or Ontario. Other years we went camping in places like Jasper, Banff or at a Northern Saskatchewan Lake. The old canvas tent leaked if we touched it when it rained and likely took up a lot of room compared to newer models but we spent the time together. Mom made the picnic lunches we enjoyed during any travel time and they were always scrumptious. Lunch time meant an escape from the car to run, play, explore and have fun. A few times during my growing up years we actually went on a vacation to see new parts of Canada or the United States which thrilled me and made my Dad happy because he loved to explore new places as well.
Our family of four (mom, dad, my younger brother and me) often squeezed several other people into the car on our family vacations. My mom’s two unmarried sisters accompanied us on a number of our adventures, sometime one at a time and sometimes both of them. My grandparents came on one vacation when I was quite young, but I mostly only remember stories about that trip instead of my own recollections.
Reminiscing About Vacations
In reminiscing to choose a favourite one, I relived those times of adventure. I loved each one and the summer of any particular vacation was always the best one yet. Looking back it is difficult to actually choose a favourite so I might as well concede and give some highlights that remain with me all these years later.
One of the first longer vacations, which I remember, involved a two week car trip to Ontario. My mom had and aunt and uncle who lived in the St. Catharines area of Ontario and my dad had cousins who lived in several areas of the greater Toronto area. I had heard of these relatives and now would get to meet them and see a new part of Canada too. My Dad, a truck driver by profession, did all the driving and had plans for how many hours a day we needed to ride in that car each way. However, he also planned in rest stops or would pull over at a tourist attraction so we could enjoy the journey. Noon hours involved a picnic lunch at a rest stop to stretch our legs.
Uncle Pete’s excitement over our visit permeated every part of our stay in the St. Catharines area. He took us to see Niagara Falls at a time before so many tourist attractions and huge hotels crowded close to the natural wonder of the falls themselves. I remember we could park right along the railing and walk its length taking in the spectacular view and feeling the mist spray our faces. His next stop, as our tour guide, involved watching big ships go through the locks of the Welland Canal. As a child they seemed so huge and I wondered how the locks could possibly work like that.
We headed into Toronto to visit my Dad’s cousins. I remember a visit to Casa Loma and driving from one place to another in this huge city as well as hearing family stories about Dad’s side of the family. My memories of this trip involve the scenery, eating in restaurants, the tourist sites like the falls and the castle as well as family visits.
Two Big Teenage Trips
As a teenager, our family took two big trips. Each year I studied maps of our projected routes. I explored via the World Book Encyclopedia to learn about the various parts of the country we would travel through and stay in. On the trips themselves I picked up brochures and postcards at every tourist information booth I could convince my dad to stop at. The planning and research made the trip even more memorable for me. Oh the fun I would have had if Google had been available to me back then!
In 1967 we avoided Expo 67 in Canada and headed to Disneyland and other tourist destinations in California before heading back north along the coast until we took a long ferry ride across from Seattle area to Victoria B.C. to spend time with my mom’s brother and his family. My mom’s one sister joined us on the excursion. It also involved camping along the way with our fold down tent trailer—definitely a step up from the old tent. Disneyland had been the main destination but I enjoyed every part of that trip including the majestic mountains, gigantic redwood forest to the beauty of the ocean as well as all the touristy things we did.
In 1968 our vacation adventure to Montreal involved only our family of four. We missed the crowds of Expo 67 but still took in the pavilions. It felt, to me, like a trip to faraway places in the world. We took a bus tour of the city of Montreal, saw our nation’s capital and toured the Parliament buildings in Ottawa. I remember the very tiny camper trailer which was our home for three weeks. In Montreal we camped on an island between the St. Lawrence River and the Seaway. The one night a major thunderstorm, which I hated, moved in. The lightning flashed and the water reflected it back again. It was an amazing and terrifying light show that night and once again I loved not being in a tent.
Thoughts of childhood family vacations fill my mind with beautiful memories of places we visited, family I got to know and the love of learning about new people and places that lasts to this day.
What childhood vacation memories can you share with someone else?
Carol Harrison B.Ed is a speaker and published author with one book, Amee’s Story and stories in twelve anthologies. She is passionate about helping people of all ages and ability levels find their voice and reach their fullest potential.
She knows, through personal experience that some of life’s experiences are tougher than others. She encourages people that even in the twists and turns of life God’s amazing grace provides hope. She lives in Saskatoon, SK with her husband Brian. They have four adult children and a dozen grandchildren.