When we last left off, we’d just finished Side A of the Great Canadian Road Trip, cruising through the Rockies one song at a time. It’s time to flip the tape and point the roadster onwards down the lonesome road. Buckle up it’s time for the West Coast – more great Canadian music and one of the best drives on the planet!
Big Wreck – The Oaf. Start in Vancouver, the logical place to kick off any trip on the West Coast. Vancouver is the cosmopolitan unofficial capital of the west. It played host to the 2010 Winter Olympics and did Canada proud. The Oaf is a Canadian classic from a band that all but evaporated in the 90′s only to return recently. The tremolo filled jangly guitar riff is the perfect thing to turn the keys of the car and when the kick drum starts it off time to pull out and start this trip.
Before you leave Vancouver be sure to head to Granville Island market and eat at one of the many food vendors, with their intoxicating and enchanting smells.
54-40 – She La. These favourite sons of Vancouver have been rocking hard since the 80′s and show no sign of slowing down. This is the perfect track to leave the lights of the city behind and start your journey up the Sea To Sky Highway. After you break from the clutches of civilization drive to through Squamish, the once sleeping logging town is seen a boom lately thanks to the Olympics. On your way through stop in at The Chief and go for a hike or a rock climb (if you know the ropes) It’s one of North Americas top climbing destinations.
Spirit of the West – Home for a Rest. Whistler is the next stop and after a night on the town here this song will take on a whole new meaning. “You’ll have to excuse me, I’m not at my best / I’ve been gone for a month, I’ve been drunk since I left / These so-called vacations will soon be my death / I’m so sick from the drink I need home for a rest.” This classic drinking jig has ended, started and restarted more Canuck parties than any other song combined.
While in Whistler be sure to grab a meal at Sushi Village, one of the all time classic places to eat in town – it’s been around as long as this song and serves up some of the best rolls in the west.
Joel Plaskett – A Million Dollars. ‘Lets wrestle this city to the ground’ – so goes the refrain before the chorus and that’s just what you should do. Take to your skis or snowboard or mountain bike and go for a play on Whistler Mountain and Blackcomb. The mountains here are a playground for the adventurous and the opportunity to go rip it up shouldn’t be skipped.
Barenaked Ladies – Lovers in a Dangerous Time. As you exit Whistler and head back towards the coast dial into his one. A Canadian cover of a Canadian classic. In the 80′s Bruce Cockburn wailed out this one and in the early 90′s a young fresh faced Toronto pop/comedy act called Barenaked Ladies laid down a cover that trumps the original. Slip back down The Sea to Sky and take the ferry over to Vancouver Island. At Horseshoe Bay, load up and sail to Nanaimo.
Dan Mangen – Post War Blues. Once you hit Vancouver Island take the road towards Tofino and let the open road be the star to guide you. The hills and stands of old growth forest line the road, the trees stretch to the sky and this track makes you feel like you’re soaring with them.
Elliot Brood – Oh, Alberta. Classic Canadian road trip track – name checking nearly every province in the nation, save BC. That’s ok, the rambling proto-hippy/country feel perfectly meshes in with the bohemian feel of this neck of the big woods. Slide into Tofino and head directly to Long Beach. Wait, make one stop along the way, head to Live to Surf and grab a surfboard.
Surfing in Canada? You bet – it might be cold and the palms are swapped for pines, but you’re surfing! The pebbled beach brake is beginner friendly and the atmosphere is almost spiritual. After a few waves warm up at a beach fire before taking a walk into the woods. The cathedral of old growth cedars is like nothing you’ve ever seen before, even if you’ve been everywhere else.
Wintersleep – Weighty Ghosts. Time to hit the road and head back south towards the provincial capital and the largest city on Vancouver Island – Victoria. This track by East Coast band Wintersleep will keep your foot tamping as you punch through the longest drive of the trip. Some of the scenery will be a repeat, but no matter, it’s all good.
Mathew Good – Last Parade. Matt Good is a proud Vancouver boy and like every member of the family he’s most critical of his own. His political and opinionated lyrics shed another point of view on commercialism, the development of his home town and the flip side to The Olympics. If that’s all too heady just ignore the lyrics and just groove to a good tune. Victoria may be the little brother to Vancouver, but it does have a whole lot going for it.
This compact city is awash with arts, culture, cafe’s an some fabulous architecture. Head to the centre of town and high tea at the Empress Hotel, just because you can and snap some photos of the Parliament Buildings because you should. Grab lunch at Bean Around The World and enjoy some street performers in the inner harbour.
Victoria’s the end of the road for this trip. Lots of miles on the odometer and enough music to fill an iPod. Hope you enjoyed the trip, be sure to head to Spotify and have a listen and let us know what you think. See you out there on the road.