The (Off The Clock) Ontario Travel Blog
Has it really been 10 months since I wrote a post for my own blog? Yikes! Well, I can assure you that it’s not due to a lack of anything to write about. Quite the contrary. You see, last June I inadvertently, and through a bit of good luck; became a tourism & adventure blogger in Southeastern Ontario.
In the time since; I have traveled throughout Ontario both discovering and rediscovering this incredible place that I am proud to call home. The experience so far has been both experiential and personally life-changing.
How it all started, and more importantly: where it’s going, is rapidly becoming the greatest story I’ve ever written. Or rather, that I continue to write.
Bruce Peninsula Adventure
The spring of 2016 was an interesting time for me. I had just wrapped up an 8-month contract with the City of Kingston and was once again unleashed upon the wild so to speak.
It was an opportune time to re-evaluate where I was headed career-wise. I knew that I wanted to re-focus on my true passion: which is writing content. It became clear that it was time to take another swing at freelance work.
Before any of that, however, I had a fortuitous opportunity to make time for a much-needed vacation with my wife Heidi. Perhaps a bit of travel and adventure would do us some good. We wanted to go somewhere local, but also extraordinary at the same time.
We decided to go on a staycation of sorts and chose the Bruce Peninsula area here in Ontario. We started in Tobermory and worked our way South along the Georgian Bay to Collingwood and Wasaga Beach before making our way home to Kingston.
We stopped at several provincial parks and breathtaking locations along the way; including Lion’s Head, and Inglis Falls. The trip involved exploring the more novice portions of the Bruce Trail, staying in immaculate B&B’s and sampling some amazing local food.
We also visited some epic craft breweries along the way including Side Launch, Northwinds Brewery, The Collingwood Brewery, Kilannan Brewing Company, Creemore Springs and Barnstormer Brewing & Distilling in Barrie.
It was a visually arresting exploration of the Niagara Escarpment in all of its natural glory. From the tour boats that we boarded in Tobermory, we were presented with a captivating landscape of emerald foliage and rough-cut rock faces; forged by glacial ice and time’s awesome power.
The beautiful and natural splendour of the sprawling Bruce Peninsula shoreline was merely the tip of a venerable and ancient mountain range that now lays under the cool waters of the Georgian Bay. The seemingly endless trails and vexing vistas were enough to make us forget the tribulations of urban life. It was like traveling to another world, right here in Ontario.
While we were making our way through this amazing journey, Heidi was taking a multitude of pictures and recording video clips, several of which we posted on social media.
I always knew Heidi was a very talented photographer – but this trip really drew my attention to her affinity for planning an experiential trip of this magnitude, and capturing the incredible memories in vivid detail. You might know her on Twitter as @OrganicRoadMap.
Little did I know, but this was the dawn of an entirely new partnership between Heidi and me.
The Great Waterway
During the Bruce Peninsula trip, our social media posts caught the attention of local tourism partners in the surrounding areas. They were also noticed by Jamie Vinkle; a good friend and colleague of mine who is a Digital Strategist with 1dea Design & Media in Kingston Ontario.
One of their clients is The Great Waterway, a robust and ambitious tourism website that encompasses Southeastern Ontario (RTO-9) which spans from Cornwall & the Counties, through the 1000 Islands region and Rideau Heritage Route as well as the majestic Land O Lakes area, the Bay of Quinte and Prince Edward County.
We decided to do a “test-pilot” blog which ended up turning into my debut article: Off the Beaten Path: 16 Must See Hidden Gems in The Great Waterway. It was a really fun piece – which highlighted some lesser known yet amazing locations to explore in each respective region of the Great Waterway.
The post had a great response, and before I knew it I was brought in for several more assignments over the summer. The best part was that I was asked to come up with and pitch my own story ideas. As a result, I get to enjoy a very direct and collaborative approach with the creative directors at 1dea.
I would have to say that my favourite experience (so far), was being at the Tragically Hip celebration in Kingston’s Springer Market Square. My heart nearly skipped a beat when I was given my media pass.
I wasn’t just attending the event. I was there to cover the event and write a story about it. This was the real deal. It had to be the biggest outdoor gathering I’ve seen in that square in my life.
From all corners of Canada, people flocked to Kingston Ontario to honour and celebrate an iconic and elemental force in Canadian music. It was beautiful. Surreal, to be completely honest.
“Not all those who wander, are lost.” – JRR Tolkein
The famous poem from the pages of The Fellowship of The Ring feels appropriate. In traveling this vast and awe-inspiring region it would seem that I have not only found an exciting new career path to explore – but a line of work where I can see the impact of what I am doing.
I absolutely love going on these adventures with my wife, traveling to each new location and meeting all the amazing people that together breathe life into their communities in so many fantastic ways. This is what truly drives me.
I strive to write experiential stories that inspire readers to go beyond simply reading a blog. Each time someone engages with my stories, whether they’re sharing it, clicking ‘like’ – or commenting on a social media post and tagging their friends, I can see the positive impact it makes.
My goal is to infuse a personalized edge with my content and bring out the human element that compels action from readers. In order to write effective tourism stories, you must get on the level and be a tourist yourself – even if it’s in your own back yard. By the end of the story, I want the reader to be thinking: I want to do this.
The Road Ahead
To date, I have published 10 amazing stories with The Great Waterway and it’s a working relationship that I am truly privileged to take part in. I’ll keep writing for them as long as they’ll let me. I absolutely love creating stories about Southeastern Ontario – and finding out what the next adventure will bring.
I have truly found a calling in writing travel content, and look forward to expanding my writing to experiment with new ideas, formats, types of content and methods of storytelling. The act of traveling, whether it’s a local staycation or a trek across the globe is a personally enriching experience that breeds lifelong memories.
I want to branch out and travel to other areas as well, and the world itself someday, so that I can share my experiences and in turn inspire others to step outside and explore and feel the same excitement I do when I write these stories.
With a steady growth forecast for Ontario tourism, (between now and 2019) the need for authentic and compelling content has never been higher.
Contact me today so we can discuss how I can contribute engaging stories for your audience that will inspire and motivate them to come and see all that Ontario has to offer.