When it was time to plan an epic 10-city speaking tour from Toronto to Halifax, I made two calls: first I asked Ford of Canada if they had any vehicles made for Canadian highways (which is kind of like asking Sidney Crosby if he has any sticks made for ice hockey). Then I asked my recently retired Mom if she’d come along as my roadie. We’ve never travelled just by ourselves before, and I know my Mom can strip down a projector screen with the speed of a Formula One pit stop.  I’ve always believed any journey is only as special as the people you share it with. We arrived to find a Deep Impact Blue Ford Mustang waiting for us at the Toronto Airport. Now I believe a journey is also as special as the vehicle in which you choose to drive it.

I’ve never been in a muscle car before, and it feels…strong. Despite the powerful 310 horsepower engine under the hood, we’re in a 2.3L EcoBoost that delivers fantastic mileage. My Mom nicknames her Mustang Sally. She has bucket seats, a 6-speed transmission that glides into gear, and a dashboard that lights up like the bridge of the USS Enterprise. With Sally’s vintage fastback and jet-black rims, we’re turning heads in a city where heads don’t swivel unless there’s good reason. My Mom tells me to slow down, as Moms do.  “I’m only going 60!” I tell her.  In a Mustang, it’s the rest of the world that feels slow.

We investigate Bucket List sites like Toronto’s Casa Loma castle, and then hit the highway to Lindsay for a talk at a local college.  Mustang Sally eats up the curvaceous rural roads, zapping back on the highway for a quick visit to the Diefenbunker, one of the quirkier items on the national bucket list.  Words fail the weirdness of being in an enormous bunker built to relocate the cabinet in the event of a full-blown thermonuclear war.

There should also be a word to describe the feeling of arriving at a fancy hotel in a car that impresses the valet attendant. When I hand the Mustang’s keyless fob to the valet at the Westin in Ottawa, his face lights up. Up front is an Italian sports car, but Mustang Sally is getting all the attention.

Onwards to Montreal, where I try my best to surf the standing wave on St Lawrence, we swap out Sally for cherry-red Focus ST. It’s a perky drive with a roomy interior, allowing my Mom to partake in her favourite road trip pastime: falling asleep in the passenger seat. I swear she could sleep through a heavy metal concert.


Robin Esrock with Focus ST

Robin Esrock takes a road-side photo op with his Focus ST


“The Nova Scotian Tourism Board should give an award to the New Brunswick Highway Corporation,” a guy tells me outside of Saint John.  He’s referring to the double-lane blacktop bliss of New Brunswick’s roads, allowing me to enjoy the ample power of the 2.0L EcoBoost Focus.  Given her propensity for naps, my Mom is ironically worried I’ll doze off at the wheel. To reassure her, I arrange a polar bear dip in the Bay of Fundy at Spa Chance Harbour, which provides plenty of fuel injection for the soul. Moncton’s Magnetic Hill is closed because of the snow still remaining from the region’s worst-ever winter, so we beeline for the engineering marvel of the Confederation Bridge. I host a trivia night at my favourite pub in Atlantic Canada, and take my Mom on a “Best of Prince Edward Island” drive, visiting the Prince Edward Island National Park, the Gulfshore Parkway, Cavendish and North Rustico. We hit a patch of snow but the disc anti-lock brake system kicks in ensuring we’re in complete control throughout. We pull up to extraordinarily views of sandstone cliffs, dunes, and inlets still cracking with sea-ice. It’s my Mom’s first visit to Atlantic Canada. Days like these assure me it won’t be her last.

Back across the bridge, we Bluetooth SYNC® one of my favourite podcasts on the final stretch to Halifax. My Mom takes over driving duties, adjusting the cabin temperature to her preference, and admittedly, the Focus fits her more than the muscular Mustang. That being said, the stylish front-grille and trimmings make this anything but a Mom car. After an event in stunning Peggy’s Cove, I take my mom along the coastal drive to the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Lunenburg, stopping off at Mahone Bay to admire the view of the Three Sisters.  It never occurred to me how many Atlantic Canada Bucket List items can be ticked off on a short road trip.  Or how much fun one can have with their Mom – even if she keeps reminding you to stand up straight, and slow down

Renowned adventurer Robin Esrock is the author of The Great Canadian Bucket List, and host of the OLN/CityTV series Word Travels.

Visit The Great Canadian Bucket List online, follow the Facebook page, or watch videos on Youtube.

The Great Canadian Bucket List, along with Western Canada, Central Canada and Atlantic Canada editions, are available on bookshelves nationwide.

Leave us a comment below, on Facebook or Tweet us @FordCanada.