Talking Tourism Monthly Column in the Cook County News Herald.
Originally published: May 2018
Talking Tourism: Talking Tourism, Eh? | by Anna Klobuchar
The world’s second largest country is a hop, skip, and a jump away, and contains our good neighbours to the north. (Don’t hit your spellcheck! We have temporarily adopted the Canadian spelling of ‘neighbour’ for the next couple of weeks). Canada’s southern border with the US is the world’s largest bi-national land border, and our Canadian visitors regularly travel to Cook County and Minnesota. In the community, they let us know how they enjoy all we have to offer, whether for the just the day or for extended vacation. We love our good neighbours to the north, and they love to visit us!
Yes, Canada is a federal parliamentary democracy, and still a constitutional monarchy, with Queen Elizabeth II being head of state. And until just recently, with Elizabeth now on the throne for almost 65 years, the second longest reigning monarch was Queen Victoria, who held the crown for 63 years. Hence, Victoria Day, and the 3 day weekend the Canadians celebrate on the weekend before the U.S. Memorial Day. Queen Victoria’s birthday actually fell on May 24, 1819, and has been celebrated in Canada on the third Monday in May since 1845! It is also their unofficial kick off to the summer season, and their weekend is packed with activities to celebrate the return of the warm sun and longer days.
For this year’s Victoria Day Weekend, May 19 – 21, 2018, the Canadian maple leaf flags will be a-flying throughout Grand Marais. The Grand Marais Downtown Business Coalition, in conjunction with Visit Cook County, created the “Welcome Neighbour” campaign, and is encouraging businesses to festoon their buildings with maple leaf flags, posters, and banners, all to ensure our northern visitors feel welcome.
Many area lodging properties are offering room rates on par with the Canadian dollar. From vintage Triumph auto club members who are driving their classic models around Lake Superior and hail from Toronto, Montreal, Quebec, and Ottawa, to newlyweds from Thunder Bay who wish to hike the Pincushion trails for the afternoon, our Canadian patrons report that they feel embraced by the people and businesses in this area. They describe how they enjoy our picturesque harbor, or, should I say, harbour, and tell us about their visits to the Grand Portage casino, our area restaurants, shops, galleries, and hiking trails. As we are close, Cook County is popular with the year round day trippers, and even in the winters, they come to Lutsen Mountains to ski for the day. Those who stay overnight come for casino gaming, our area theater, concerts or to take classes at the Art Colony or North House Folk School. Lastly, on their extended trips to Duluth or the Mall of America, we are a friendly, popular respite location.
We are about to start our high tourism season, and the economic impact from all our visitors is a major source of income and of vital importance to our area. Victoria Day Weekend is the soft launch into the about-to-become busy season, make sure you say hello to our polite neighbours from the Great White North.
Bon Jour and Good Day Canada!