Whether you're looking for an adventure in your own backyard or a tasty addition to a cross country trip, Canada has a bountiful array of foodie attractions for every taste. Each region of Canada has a wealth of seasonal specialties just waiting to be celebrated, and they're often ushered in with events that centre around these fantastic foods. From sea to sea and all the vastness in between, there's nothing quite so Canadian as the diverse nature of our edible offerings and the communities that unify us as a nation.
Spot prawns - Victoria, B.C.
Late spring means only one thing for seafood fanatics on the West coast: the arrival of spot prawn season. Beginning in early May and continuing for the next 6-8 weeks, giddy fans of these sweet and buttery prawns can be spotted wandering through public markets and marinas gripping clear plastic bags full of live prawns. The Victoria Public Market hosts a Spot Prawn Festival in late May each year, showcasing not only spot prawns, but local wines and produce as well. Seasonal B.C. spot prawns are an Ocean Wise and sustainable choice and upon arrival in the spring become the main focus of markets and restaurants across Vancouver Island and the rest of the B.C. coastline. Spot prawns can be prepared in a variety of different ways although devotees will insist that the heads, eaten fresh from the ocean and completely raw, are the ultimate treat during the season.
Cherries - Kelowna, B.C.
The Okanagan Valley is well known for incredible seasonal produce. Its dry climate and sunny weather are a boon for fruit farms and vineyards alike. April marks the kickoff for Kelowna's outdoor farmer's markets and in mid-June the cherries arrive in huge quantities. The cherry harvest includes varieties such as Rainier, Bing, Sweetheart and Staccato; all of them sweet, sun kissed and ready for eating. Most sellers will allow sampling, so make sure to try before you buy. The Okanagan Valley is also internationally recognized for its grape and wine industry; the infamously difficult to grow Pinot Noir grape is a regional specialty, so make sure to take a bottle or two home to remember your trip.
Honey - Falher, Alta.
It's a comforting thought to know that in the midst of the world's diminishing bee crisis there's a tiny community in Alberta that still recognizes the value of bees and beekeeping. Falher is considered the honey capital of Canada and deservedly so, at peak production, bees from 48,000 hives produce up to 10 million pounds of clover honey, there's even a giant honey bee statue to commemorate the industry's importance in Falher. The annual Honey Festival occurs in mid-June, with plenty of honey and bee related products for sale, family activities and for those brave enough, a bee beard competition.
Peaches - Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ont.
Ontario's scenic Niagara-on-the-Lake region is practically bursting with peaches beginning in late July. Responsible for 98 per cent of all peaches grown in Ontario, Niagara farmers grow popular varieties such as Baby Golds and Garnet Beauties, culminating in the Niagara-on-the-Lake Peach Festival held annually each August. If you're in search of delicious treats beyond peaches fresh from the tree, local vendors also sell baked goods and preserves full of these gorgeous stone fruits. Make sure to explore the vineyards and tasting rooms of Niagara-on-the-Lake; the region is famed for its ice wine, a dessert wine that is notoriously labourious and costly to produce.
Blueberries - St. George, N.B.
Fresh wild blueberries are smaller and more intensely flavoured than domestic blueberries, and New Brunswick is set to become the world's largest producer after the provincial government recently allocated additional land specifically for growing purposes. St. George hosts the official Wild Blueberry Festival each year in August and there are wild blueberry themed events for everyone. Attendees can participate in a wild blueberry eating contest, a wild blueberry pancake breakfast, hang out on the wild blueberry smoothie deck or even sample some locally made wild blueberry wine.
Shellfish - Charlottetown, P.E.I.
Prince Edward Island mussels are world renowned for their clean and briny taste and are sought after internationally by chefs and foodies alike. The PEI Shellfish Festival at the beginning of September is a perfect way to experience the best of this year's mussel harvest, as well as colourful local restaurant and food talent. Have them shucked upon purchase, or head to the beach for an authentic seafood boil; the festival will keep you well equipped with all the shellfish you could possibly eat including mussels, lobster, oysters, and clams. When the sun goes down the entertainment begins, there's plenty of live music and entertainment to bring the Maritime experience home.