In Cochrane Ontario you can swim with Polar Bears

Summer, 2012 - The Polar Bear Habitat & Heritage Village has a new polar bear named Ganuk for the 2012 season.

Cochrane, Ontario - Now, here's an experience that will astound your friends back home. At the Polar Bear Habitat and Heritage Village in Cochrane Ontario it has been possible for visitors to ' swim with their polar bears.' I recorded this video with Nanook, a 30 year-old polar bear, who unfortunately has since passed away. The new addition to the Habitat that's in residence this summer is a young 750 lb bear named Ganuk and the swim opportunity is once again available. More details about him are available at their website. There's a wading pool beside the polar bear pool and while you are in it you are separated from the great white giants by a thick protective glass divider. Both children and adults can try it.The Habitat is open year-round, but the 'polar bear swim' is only available in the summer. Cochrane is also the birthplace of Tim Horton the hockey player who launched Canada's incredibly popular coffee / doughnut chain. The town is the departure point for the 300-kilometre (186-mile) Polar Bear Express rail journey, to Moosenee - at the edge of the arctic, near James Bay. Ontario Northland Services

Where: Cochrane is a 7 hour drive north of Toronto. It's located about 100 km (62 miles) north of Timmins onPolar Bear Swim in Cochrane Ontario Hwy 11. This is part of Yonge St, which at more than 1800 km is known as the longest street in the world (this is also part of the Trans-Canada Hwy.) You can reach the town by plane and bus. Fishing, canoe tours, houseboating, ATV tours, rail tours, snowmobiling and trail riding are popular visitor activities. From Cochrane you can take the Polar Bear Express, a summer service that takes you 186 miles north to Moosonee, on James Bay, the edge of the Arctic. You can make that a day trip or join a two or three night package tour. Photo courtesy of Ontario Tourism Marketing Partnership Corp.

In the News: After being found as cubs Aurora and Nikita spent eight years growing up at Cochrane's Polar Bear Habitat Heritage Village. On July 4, 2009 they moved to the Toronto Zoo's new $10 million 10-acre Tundra Trek.


Lucy Izon

Canada Cool is produced by award-winning Canadian travel writer & speaker Lucy Izon. Her travel stories & reports have appeared in numerous leading North American publications including the Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune, Toronto Star, Globe and Mail, and Chicken Soup for the Traveler's Soul. Bio page

Canada’s Coolest:

Welcome to a new feature on Canada Cool. I'll be presenting different 'Coolest' lists with my favorites and I encourage you to nominate suggestions from your own experiences. You can Twitter @CanadaCool or email Let me know what makes your suggestion exceptionally cool. Remember, by contributing your comments you are giving Canada Cool permission to quote you. Only a selection of submissions will be included, but all comments and submissions are greatly appreciated!

The first feature is: Canada's Coolest Single Day Scenic Drives

Here are some of my favorites...

Icefields Parkway - the world's most accessible glacier

The Icefields Parkway, Jasper National Park, Alberta - This 229 km (142 mi) Rocky Mountain route from Banff/Lake Louise to Jasper passes 100 frozen rivers and nudges the base of the Athabasca Glacier - the most accessible glacier in the world. You can stop and explore it. It spills down from the Columbia Icefield, an area of ice so massive that you could fit the entire population of North America on it with each person getting at least a square metre of space.

Algonquin Moose Viewing

The Corridor, Algonquin Park, Ontario – this 56-km stretch of Hwy 60 cuts through the southwest section of Algonquin Park. Less than three hours north of Toronto the park is a nature-lover's paradise with 7,725 km of lakes, rivers, forest, trails, camping, comfortable lodges and 2000 km of canoe routes. Offers hiking trails to stop and enjoy, but what makes it really cool is that it’s one of the best places in North America to spot moose (especially in May and June). And, on Thursday nights in August up to 600 cars will gather to listen to wolves howl.

Cape Breton Cabot Trail drive

The Cabot Trail, Cape Breton, Nova Scotia – Driving this 303 km (187 mile) route is like riding a roller-coaster: the road snakes around hairpin turns, rises to heights over 365 metres (1200 ft), weaves around headlands revealing spectacular coastal scenery, and plunges down to sea level taking you into the heart of small fishing communities. The most dramatic scenery is between the Cape Breton Highlands National Park entrance near Cheticamp and Pleasant Bay, so go slow. And, plan some flexibility into your schedule, so you can drive it on a clear day.

And here are some of your nominations for 'Canada's Coolest Single Day Scenic Drives'...


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'Canada's Coolest' topics we'll be publishing in the future:

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  • Haunted Hotels
  • Hotel Special Services

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