In 2021 we packed up our home in Ottawa, Ontario, and headed west to Victoria, British Columbia with our RV trailer. We had previously driven from Ottawa to Sydney, Nova Scotia (and back) for a holiday, so this was our opportunity to complete the rest of the Trans Canada Highway (excluding the section in Newfoundland and Labrador).
The Official Trans-Canada Highway Route
The Trans Canada Highway is a system of roads starting in St John's in Newfoundland and Labrador on Canada's eastern Atlantic coast, and ending in Victoria in British Columbia on the western Pacific coast. The whole route is just under 7,500km (4,650miles) and is one of the longest routes of it's kind in the world.
As a system of Provincial highways there are a number of parallel routes and off shoots (including routes to Prince Edward Island which we did in 2018 and up to Haida Gwaii some of which we did in 2022). The main route is generally considered to consist of Highway 1 in British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba; Highways 17 and 417 in Ontario; Autoroutes 40, 20 and 85 in Quebec; Highway 2 in New Brunswick; Highways 104 and 105 in Nova Scotia; and Highway 1 in Newfoundland.
Our Trans-Canada Route
Our Trans-Canada Equipment
We imported the Land Rover Defender from the UK and bought the RV during the COVID lockdown. COVID had made travel between the provinces extremely variable, and booking accommodation was almost impossible, however as we were moving as a military family we had a special exemption for inter-provincial travel. We decided that taking the RV would give us the most flexibility and allow us to pretty much self-isolate along the way, so it seemed like the perfect solution. As it turned out, our timing was great as we seemed to hit a low point of COVID infections in most of the country and in general travel restrictions continued to ease as we travelled west.
As we didn't want to sell in Ottawa and buy another vehicle in Victoria we also decided to take the Dodge with us. This meant driving in convoy the whole way, with Sarah driving the Dodge and Ridley driving the Landy. The advantage of this was that we could take a boy each and they couldn't fight!
Our Rocky Talkie radios proved invaluable along the way for keeping in touch, arranging fuel and rest breaks, pointing out interesting scenery or wildlife, and for directions when backing up the trailer.
We also took our Stand Up Paddleboards (SUPs) on the roof of the Land Rover, and used them on a number of lakes and rivers on the way. (Use the code ERRINGTONADVENTURES at Canadian Board Co for a discount!)
How Long Does the Trans Canada Highway Take?
If you ask Google how long it takes to drive from Ottawa to Victoria, it will tell you somewhere around 49 hours of driving. Depending on how many hours you want to drive in a day, and how many drivers you have per vehicle, you could in theory do it in 2-3 days. For our trip we took 17 days, we felt this gave us a good balance of short and long driving days, allowed us to stay 2 nights in a few places, and gave us 3 nights in Banff.
The Ottawa to Sydney section is another 17 hours or so. When we did this section in 2018, we did there and back in 14 days, but this included 3 days of work in Halifax. (We'll cover this section in a different post.)
Day 1 - Ottawa to Petawawa
Day 2 - Petawawa to Sault Sainte Marie
Our second day was around 7 hours of driving and took us along the northern shore of Lake Huron, with some lovely views. We stopped for lunch in Sudbury at the MIC Canadian Eatery and Whisky Pub. Short for Made in Canada, they pride themselves on Canadian ingredients, only sell Canadian beer, and play Canadian music, as well as stocking over 80 Canadian whiskies!
We don't often stay at KOA campsites, but Sault Sainte Marie (known as 'the Soo'), was about the right distance for our second day, and we couldn't source a provincial park in the area. The campsite was better than we expected, with reasonable separation between pitches and lots of trees. The boys loved the outdoor pool, crazy golf, and the go-karts!