Interior Alberta

Having a tuning fork vibrating on your chest as you lie awash in yellow light, as Sandra Kathnelson is currently experiencing, may not intuitively sound like a way to reconnect to nature. But it’s all about good vibrations.

As the sun comes up over Hamilton House, just east of Cold Lake in the Bonnyville region, Alexa Prodaniuk and Trevor Makaruk are tucking into a hearty breakfast of scrambled eggs, sausage, fruit and steaming hot scones, courtesy of Debbie Hamilton. Along with her husband Brian, she hosts their guests at Hamilton House Bed and Breakfast (although as Brian says, “she’s the boss.”)

Climbing behind the “wheel” of a Sherp is a surreal experience, beginning with the lack of wheel itself. This large, near-indestructible, amphibious tank of a vehicle has a manual transmission and two large levers to pivot and turn left and right. Its wheels are as tall as the average adult, and the squat body of the thing hunches over them, keeping a low profile (if that is possible for such a wild contraption).

A historic rock cairn, rimed and grey, looks out over Lake Athabasca. With her gloved hand, Hanna Bishop brushes the hoar shards from the bronze plaque, revealing the historic majesty of the Canadian north. Where we are standing is the spot on which stood the North West Company’s most important trading post, Fort Chipewyan, founded in 1788.

Archer is ready to go skiing. He’s so excited his body is shaking. As he moves from one to the other of our group, he nudges us, looking at us imploringly, as if to say, “Are you ready now? Are you ready now?”

A nervous grin spreads across Ginger Dumais’ face as she picks up speed, reaching the edge of control coming down a steeper pitch on the run Will-o-way at Nitehawk Adventure Park, outside Grande Prairie. Her expression is part thrill, part fear. In the split seconds of her descent, it’s hard to tell which will win out, and whether she’ll manage to stay upright.

Over the span of a few hours at Wapiti Nordic Ski Club in Grande Prairie, Breanna Gordon has managed to get snow down her back, up her front and all over her friends Lori Brough and Gillian Lockhart.

Immigrating to Canada isn’t easy, especially if you’re making the move from a completely different climate. Discovering that winter may mean a foot of snow and -30 C weather is jarring at best. And learning to ski or snowboard probably isn’t on the top of the list of “things to learn about Alberta” when people first immigrate – but perhaps it should be.

As the chairlift swung around the top of the hill at Snow Valley Ski Club in Edmonton, Amber Grant was nervous. She had snowboarded before but this was only her second time on skis in recent memory, and chairlifts intimidated her.

Slide your way into the holidays and uncover the true feeling of the spirit of the season. You can warm your way into winter with a cup of hot chocolate, tasty treats and some outdoor winter adventures in Grande Prairie – one of Canada’s biggest northern cities. It is so easy to slip into holiday mode here.