Article

Travel at the Edge

Adventure Canada CEO Cedar Swan seeks out connection with people, place, and nature when she travels. In this personal essay, Cedar describes some of her most memorable travels, the joy of watching her young daughters undergo their own transformative travel experiences, and the duty of travellers to leave a place better than they found it.
Cedar in labrador

© Dennis Minty

I have been blessed with the opportunity to travel widely and often in my life. In my world, work and play have always been closely intertwined. Whether sharing the Arctic with Adventure Canada’s guests or snorkeling Molokini with my family, my happiest moments are those when I’m experiencing nature, meeting new people, and simply enjoying a change of pace. I’ve never been one for large crowds, which is reflected in the destinations that I choose to visit. I am drawn to places where I feel a sense of serenity.

Molokini snorkeling cedar and islay

Many of my most treasured moments are in Torngat Mountains National Park. In the Inuit homeland of Nunatsiavut, this is a land of deep fjords with towering mountains that tumble to the Atlantic Ocean. It was here, in the Torngat Mountains, that I first felt like I was at the edge of the world. It was humbling and exhilarating at the same time.

Cedar looks out plane window

© Larry Frank

An equally powerful place is Orkney, a windswept island archipelago in Scotland. While the natural beauty of rugged shorelines, lochs, and sandstone hills are a haven for nature lovers, to me Orkney is about people. Stone circles, deserted villages, brochs, and chambered cairns are what connect me here. The mysteries of the past lead the imagination to run wild. When I’m beneath a towering standing stone, marveling at its existence, I feel cloaked in our shared human story.

Cedar and islay ring of brodgar orkney

© Dennis Minty

It is hard to imagine that a place like Ilulissat exists. Above the Arctic Circle, on the world’s largest non-continent island, is a place where the immensity of nature and human ingenuity mesh as if one. On Greenland’s west coast is a community dominated by the Sermeq Kujalleq glacier, at one of the very few places that the Greenlandic ice sheet reaches the sea. I am always awestruck by the magnitude of the ice sheet and the parade of icebergs alongside the vibrant community nestled into the rock. The beauty of the colourful community, replete with scrumptious cafés and artisan workshops, are a perfect complement to nature’s great canvas.

Ilulissat family photo

© Dennis Minty

Sable Island is ever-changing. A thin sandbar 160 kilometres out to sea, it has captured the fascination of Canadians for centuries. It is just close enough that tales of sailors, shipwrecks, lonely lighthouse keepers, and wild horses are part of our collective imagination. The first time that I stepped out of a Zodiac and set foot onto Sable Island, it was otherworldly. The sound of the surf was my constant companion, while the rising mist revealed a beach which receded into patches of marram grass and grazing wild horses. Atop Bald Dune, the highest point on the island, I could take in the full expanse and appreciate complete isolation—my own grin mirroring this smile of sand in the waters of the Atlantic Ocean.

Cedar Jason and Charlotte at Sable Island

© Matthew Swan

On family trips with my husband, Jason, and our daughters, Charlotte and Islay, it has been one of my greatest pleasures to rediscover the world through the eyes of our children. I can see that they, too, are in awe of the grandeur of the Torngat Mountains and Ilulissat’s icefjord. They are a reminder that the human spirit’s need to connect with the natural world and with each other exists within all of us from a young age.

Charlotte wonderstrand beach

© Dennis Minty

Today, I sit in my home in southern Ontario and dream of these places that have shaped me. And now that I see, too, how these spectacular places are shaping Charlotte and Islay, I am thinking more and more about how to ensure that they not only exist well into the future—but how to make certain that they are thriving and flourishing. Regenerative travel is the way of the future, and as a company and as a family, it is the path we are taking.

Dundas Harbour Cedar Charlotte Islay

© Amanda Petrie

About the Author

Cedar Swan

Cedar Swan

CEO and Host

An adventurer and passionate outdoor enthusiast, Cedar believes in the importance of connections to nature in one’s daily life. The CEO of Adventure Canada—as well as an expedition planner, leader, and guide—Cedar’s work engages, entertains, and educates by connecting people to each other and the land through innovative travel experiences.

Cedar believes that fostering connections to people and land is critical to the longevity of conservation work, and is dedicated to cultivating meaningful relationships that strengthen our ties to nature and each other. Above all, Cedar is fiercely committed to the regions and communities to which Adventure Canada travels, and works tirelessly to promote and advocate for their needs.