Eagar brothers visit Calgary during national tour
Between the two of them, brothers Jeff and Chris Eagar have traveled to more countries than most could dream of in a lifetime.
Better known from the travel series "Which Way To...," a Gemini-nominated series that ran on the Outdoor Life Network from 2009 to 2010, the brothers, both in their 40's, have traveled the world several times over, documenting their experiences.
But it's their latest adventure, close to home, that has them really buzzing.
It was Jeff's idea to do a Canadian travel series— and thus the Great Canadian Adventure Tour was born. The series, while not televised, is being publicized through a social media campaign that is promoting Canadian tourism and showcasing some of what this incredible country has to offer.
The crew, consisting of Jeff, Chris, their cinematographer and a Quebec host, kicked off the nationwide trip on Sept. 5 in Halifax, Nova Scotia.
The group knew driving 6,000 km across the county would be a pricey endeavor. They sought help from various sources — Chrysler provided their van, Travelodge their shelter and various tourism departments set up meet-and-greets at venues across the country.
"We think that sometimes people don't understand how interesting the experiences you can have in Canada (are)," Jeff said.
"People tend to think you have to go away to have an amazing experience — and we're trying to show them by going to a cowboy ranch in Alberta or going out on a lobster fishing excursion on the east coast or kayaking with the whales in Newfoundland, that there are amazing experiences in Canada and exotic, you don't have to go away to get the exotic."
That's saying a lot, coming from a guy who will have traveled to more than 80 countries before he turns 50.
Mud fights in Newfoundland to local brews in Vancouver
Born in Newfoundland, the brothers have worked in conjunction with federal, provincial and local tourism offices, highlighting several unique experiences in each province.
Here in Alberta, that included things like visiting Canada's Sports Hall of Fame at Canada Olympic Park, eating prairie oysters at Buzzard's restaurant, watching a Bee Kingdom glass blower create beer steins and riding a mechanical bull at Ranchman's before heading further west to Kananaskis and Banff.
While western was certainly a predominant feature during their only stop in Alberta, Chris said Calgary has more to offer than just the cowboy image.
"I think it's a very young, vibrant city as well — those are very much draws for people like me to come here," he explained. Chris currently lives in Sydney, Australia, but one of his other brothers calls Calgary home.
"It's quite a healthy city — great in the winter and even though I haven't spent so much time here in the summer, there's lots of stuff outdoors ... So, really I think it has a lot to offer."
In each place they visit, the brothers participate and document several activities and personalities, then post about the experience to the Adventure Tour site. In doing so, Jeff and Chris hope to foster a sense of adventure that will encourage Canadians to spend their tourism dollars close to home.
The social media aspect also allows people to recommend their favorite local spots as well, sharing their home base's hidden gems.
While most of the itinerary has been planned out by tourism departments, Chris said in stops left open to them they pick attractions and places that interest them to feature — like artists, vineyards and restaurants, among others.
"Really, we're trying to get a big snapshot of Canada — it's people, some of the arts, the sports, the food and really showcase Canada and some of what it has to offer," explained Chris.
"I think we found the little hidden secrets — Cypress Hills in Saskatchewan, for example — it's finding little things like this that this trip is allowing us to do and share them."
Passion for home
The wide variety of places and activities the brothers have visited on their whirlwind trip has rekindled a fascination for their country.
The prairies were the biggest surprise for Prince Edward Island resident Jeff — originally perceived as "flat and boring," the diversity of the region has made him reconsider his assumption.
"Yeah, I've been to 80 countries but I've reordered my favorite countries in the world — before it was Japan and India and Peru, but now Canada is right back up there at number one so it's my favorite country in the world again. I had to travel around the world to readjust that."
"For me, because I've been out of Canada for 16 years, I forget just how incredible it is," Chris said. "This trip has just reopened my eyes and reminded me that Canada is one of the best — if not the best — countries in the world."
"Some people say, 'I can't afford to travel,' the excuses are endless, but if you live in Canada you can stay in Canada and still have the most incredible experiences, even in your own province."
The Canadian Tourism Commission released its Signature Experiences Collection — which includes polar bear excursions in Manitoba and the Ice Palace in Quebec — over the summer; which list experiences and activities here in Canada that Jeff believes stack right up against other international attractions.
On Oct. 15, the crew will reach their final destination in Vancouver, where the adventure will come to an end. According to Jeff, it will have been a marathon of an event, but totally worth the exhaustion.
"We're pretty tired, we've worked hard but we wouldn't be happy with our effort if it were otherwise."
- By Tessa Clayton