Driving to BC with Dogs, Lake Superior to the Prairies

Days 3-4 of travelling to British Columbia with dogs. My partner Graham, our 2 chihuahuas, Becca and Delgado and I take a 30 day road trip from Toronto to Pacific Rim National Park, on Vancouver Island, BC and back again. We will be camping, staying at pet friendly hotels and participating in whatever activities will allow us to bring our furry family along.

How not to take a great photo of your dogs: Sit them in front of a loud, crashing waterfall on a cold, rainy day. Sometimes, you just aren't going to get the shot, no matter what you do.
How not to take a great photo of your dogs: Sit them in front of a loud, crashing waterfall on a cold, rainy day. Sometimes, you just aren't going to get the shot, no matter what you do.

The Plan: we had planned on spending the first night in Lake Superior Provincial Park and then making it to Quetico for the second and third nights. Seemed feasible to someone who last drove this route when she was almost 20 years younger...

The Reality: Turns out, now I can't sit in the car for so long and the dogs need walks and we keep stopping to take photos and to pick up odds and ends. Quetico was extremely optimistic, we didn't even make it to Thunder Bay by the second night. Also, summer is not here yet this June, at least not in northern Ontario. it was cold...REALLY very cold.

We wound up in a little place in Nipigon, called the Birchville Motel.  The room was small, but clean and not at all shabby. It had a nice, big TV and even had USB plugs to recharge devices - I don't think I've ever seen that before.  We were worried because, having driven around Nipigon, all the motels we saw looked super creepy and/or gross and then, driving out of town there was one that looked BEAUTIFUL, like a log cabin motel...and of course, it had a "no vacancy" sign. I knew from google maps that there was one more motel to go and thankfully it was small and neat looking and I didn't feel like we would be axe-murdered there AND they allowed dogs, so...SOLD!  (In fairness to Nipigon, all small towns look to me like a place I may be axe murdered in, when I'm pulling in late in the evening, and it's starting to rain and I still don't have a place to stay...but if I roll into that same small town on a sunny afternoon, with nothing but time on my hands, I'll probably decide that I want to live there.)

Day three, we carried on towards Thunder Bay. We stopped to shed a tear at the Terry Fox Memorial and to ponder the difference one remarkable human being can make in the world. The skies were becoming ominous and our conversation a was a bit glum.

Terry Fox ended his run across Canada to raise money for cancer research, just outside of Thunder Bay, when it was discovered that his cancer had spread to his lungs. He passed away 9 months later, but over $600,000,000 has been raised in his name.
Terry Fox ended his run across Canada to raise money for cancer research, just outside of Thunder Bay, when it was discovered that his cancer had spread to his lungs. He passed away 9 months later, but over $600,000,000 has been raised in his name.

We made it to Kakabeka Falls just in time to snap a few photos and then the intermittent drizzle turned into serious rain. This was the day that we learned the real difference between weather resistant and waterproof. It turns our that the rooftop bag we bought for the car AND my backpack which was inside it are just weather resistant...and not very. Night 3 was spent in yet another hotel, the Super 8 in Kenora. It was ok, but not as nice and modern as the one in the Sault. Also, the room may have looked shabbier than it really was, because my clothes were hanging from every surface, trying to dry out.

I guess there is the occasional scene that doesn't look better with a dog in front of it.
I guess there is the occasional scene that doesn't look better with a dog in front of it.

With regard to travelling with the dogs, however, I must say the rooftop bag has been extremely helpful and now we know enough to pack everything inside garbage bags! We drive a Toyota Echo hatchback and space is at a premium. On previous road trips, the passenger has had some combination of the two dogs on their lap and at their feet. Not a big deal for an hour, but not being able to move your feet for hours on end becomes problematic on longer trips, especially when you have passed a certain age. Now that we have a lot of our stuff on the roof, we can have a crate accessible in the back seat for the dogs to climb into and it makes a big difference. They seem to really like it, too and half the time when they jump up on the passenger's lap now, it's to climb over us and into the crate! (Our dogs sleep in crates most nights, so they love their little dens). We had originally wanted to purchase a hard shell rooftop carrier, which obviously would have been preferable, but just couldn't find one to fit our tiny car. Fortunately, our dogs are quite happy to sleep a number hours every day that would make an overweight, geriatric house cat feel ashamed. They sleep all day in the car and then just conk right out in the hotel room as soon as we're settled in. They enjoy long walks and stuff, but they don't seem to REQUIRE any exercise at all, which makes them perfect travel companions for us! This trip would be very different with, say a 2 year old Border Collie!

Day 4, we made it across Manitoba and into Saskatchewan, where we actually had 1 night of nice weather and were finally able to camp.  (Coming up next ;)

This is the only photo I took in Manitoba. This is the only photo TO take in Manitoba. If you can picture this (+/- the blue sky and white fluffy clouds) for 6 hours or so, then there is no need for you to ever drive across Manitoba. You're welcome.
This is the only photo I took in Manitoba. This is the only photo TO take in Manitoba. If you can picture this (+/- the blue sky and white fluffy clouds) for 6 hours or so, then there is no need for you to ever drive across Manitoba. You're welcome.

Tracy Munson

Tracy Munson Photography, Humberside Ave, Toronto, ON, M6P, Canada