2013, Books, Non-Fiction, Travel

The Great Canadian Bucket List (2013) by Robin Esrock

I’m of two minds about this book, which was a gift to me who knows when. (And, weirdly, many years after I drove across Canada.) On the one hand, it feels like a bit of a affiliate marketing gimmick, and some of the places and things on the list appear to be here to make the book long enough. On the other hand, there are more than a few experiences and places I’d like to check out – or would check out if I was rich – and I kind of want to keep it around for that reason.

So I guess let’s deal with the positives first: there is plenty here that you might want to do or outright should do. I can speak to that because I’ve driven across Canada. I’ve been to every single province in this country and been to all of them twice at least, except Newfoundland ad Labrador, which I’ve only been to the once (but for a couple of weeks). So when I tell you there are some good things in here, I feel like you can take me seriously. I’ve done some of these things – driven the TransLabrador Highway, for example – and can vouch for them as “musts”. On the whole, it’s a decent list with attention paid to every province and territory and a wide variety of activities. Some of the things in here I haven’t done, I really want to do now. (Though more than a couple of them I will never be able to afford, which would be a criticism if this book made some kind of claim to universal accessibility.)

But the book is pretty clearly an affiliate marketing vehicle for Esrock. He has a website for it – though I don’t know how up-to-date it is, given that it doesn’t have a valid SSL certificate – and that website links to the providers he mentions in his book. He may have gotten discounts, which is fine, but he’s also continuing to promote these people, also fine if he’s doing so because he liked the experience. There’s just a little bit of back-scratching, it seems, which could lead you to question whether is a list of experiences or a list of experience/tour providers with the odd restaurant, gallery and museum thrown in.

The bigger issue, for me, is the inclusion of things in just about each province which are very clearly inessential. These may have been included due to an affiliate marketing plan but, while reading the book, it feels like they are included to pad the length of chapter. The art gallery in Fredericton might be my #1 choice for this, where you just cannot imagine someone driving from anywhere outside of the Maritimes just to see it. There’s one of these questionable inclusions in basically every province, and two of the territories, and sometimes there’s more than one. It undercuts the concept of a “Things to do before you die” list.

I was really thinking of putting this book in a free library after I finished with it but I will say that I think there’s enough in here I haven’t done but want to do that I may just keep it after all.

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