backcountry banff

Sharpen your avalanche safety skills. (Photo: Getty Images)

Tips + Trends

New Skills as Souvenirs? Check Out 8 One-of-a-Kind Classes on Your Canada Travels

As the surge in people looking to “upskill” continues to gain traction, it’s no surprise the trend for learning a useful new skill is far from over. In fact, it’s coming on the road with us.

Gaining expertise while traveling gives us a deeper connection to the place we’re visiting. And is there a better souvenir to bring home than a new skill? From avalanche awareness courses to perfume-making, these are some of the best upskilling experiences to try your hand at coast to coast in Canada.

As always, check for travel restrictions and closures before planning your trip.

Take a Recreational Avalanche Training Course in Banff

Avalanche Skills Training 1 is a two-day introductory course that provides a foundation for future travel experiences in the winter backcountry — a great way to combine avalanche education with travel.

The course was developed by Avalanche Canada and is offered by operators throughout the Canadian Rockies, including Yamnuska Mountain Adventures in Banff. The two-part course includes spending one day in an in-person or virtual classroom and one field day out on a mountain near where you’ve completed your class.

Learn the Art of Glass Blowing in Montreal

glass blowing
Try the art of glass blowing. (Photo: Getty Images)

The role of glass art in Montreal’s dates back to the 19th century, when glass factories were established throughout the city. In fact, you’ll see the wares from these factories in the colorful stained glass decorating many of the city’s historic churches, such as St.-Pierre-Apôtre.

Espace VERRE, an artisanal center housed in a former fire station, focuses on glass art research and recognition of the craft. Workshops offer visitors sessions in different techniques of glass blowing for all levels of expertise.

Learn to Forage, Fish and Fix Nets in St. John’s, Newfoundland and Labrador

Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada’s easternmost province, has a history of resilience and subsistence. Cod Sounds, a culinary adventure company, is dedicated to preserving the province’s food culture. Founder Lori McCarthy takes visitors into the woods off the rugged coastline in St. John’s to learn how to collect wild edibles before cooking a meal with the forage.

Meanwhile, in Petty Harbour, 16 miles from St. John’s, social enterprise Fishing for Success leads family-focused instructional workshops on Newfoundland’s all-important cod industry. Learn to knit and mend a net, and use a handline to catch cod while hearing stories about the local wharf families who have fished for centuries. Last lesson of the day? Learning to fillet and cook your catch.

Create a Custom Perfume in Winnipeg

perfume bottles
Can you become a master of perfume? (Photo: Getty Images)

Winnipegger Tom Jansen was one of 12 people across the world selected for an intensive perfumer training degree in Grasse, France, “the perfume capital of the world.” Now he’s opened Denatured perfume lab in Winnipeg’s historic Exchange District.

At his open-access lab and workspace, he offers private, 90-minute sessions (book in advance) where you and up to six of your travel BFFs learn to create your own custom scents.

Learn Mi’kmaq Basket Making in New Brunswick

At the Elsipogtog Mi’kmaq Cultural Center, 60 minutes from Moncton, learn the basics of traditional Mi’kmaq basket-making with a master basketmaker and knowledge keeper, a trusted person within an Indigenous community.

Private one-on-one sessions teach about materials and woods used for the different types of baskets, essential to this nomadic tribe. Students leave with the basket they’ve made using dyed ash and sweetgrass, as well as new knowledge of the Mi’kmaq way of life.

Learn Traditional and Medicinal Uses of Native Plants in Kelowna, BC

field of lavender
Lavender is sure to soothe. (Photo: Getty Images)

In Kelowna, walk the paths within the ancestral territory of the Syilx people with an Indigenous knowledge keeper. Moccasin Trails’ Ancestral Path Experience will teach you the traditional and medicinal use of the various native plants while engaging in real conversations about the Syilx culture.

After the walk, enjoy an Indigenous-inspired lunch at Indigenous-owned Kekuli Café, famed for its bannock (fried dough). There is also an option for a wine tasting at Indigenous World Winery.

Learn to Make Paper in Toronto

Kids can discover the art and science of paper-making during a class at Toronto’s first-rate Ontario Science Centre. The workshop, which takes place in the aptly named Rock, Scissors, Paper Hall, includes demonstrations in the ancient craft.

Kids will see paper being made out of pulp and learn the skills to make their own reams from recycled materials at home.

Learn to Be a Standup Comic in Toronto

Humor is one of Canada’s best known exports. The Second City is a Toronto institution that counts some of the biggest names in comedy, such as “Schitt’s Creek” favorite, Eugene Levy, as alums.

Catch a show; then try your own hand at standup or sketch comedy at one of Second City’s drop-in improv classes and live out your fantasy of becoming the next big name in comedy.