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Resourceful student marks Canada 150 on a rail tour curated by fellow Canucks

Michelle Pijanowski blogs her way across Canada using coveted Via Rail youth pass

For a month this summer, communications co-op student Michelle Pijanowski will blog her way across Canada using her exclusive Via Rail Canada 150 youth pass. Riley Brandt

By Sean Myers

Michelle Pijanowski is planning a cross-country trip from sea to sea, with her destinations curated by Canadians through social media.

So far, she’s received recommendations for the best lobster rolls in Prince Edward Island, the best fish and chips on both coasts, and the tastiest pizzas in several cities — this, along with must-do hikes, bike trips and sightseeing locations.

“I really haven’t seen that much of Canada,” says Pijanowski. “I’m so excited to explore and see my country. I already have recommendations for places to eat and see in every spot I’m going. I didn’t just want to use Trip Advisor, I wanted people who know the cities to tell me the best places to go directly.”

While it all sounds like a nice vacation, Pijanowski says it won’t all be fun and games.

Her nationwide excursion is a work trip. Sort of.

When Pijanowski managed to secure one of the highly sought-after Via Rail Canada 150 youth passes earlier this spring, she was excited but then remembered, she didn’t have any holiday time left at work to use it. The youth pass allows the user unlimited travel during the month of July in celebration of Canada’s 150th birthday.

“I had to think up a way to incorporate work into my trip,” says Pijanowski. “I was nervous about asking my boss, but she loved the idea.”

Pijanowski works for Press + Post, a Calgary public relations and marketing firm, through the University of Calgary’s co-op program. She’s in her final year for her Bachelor of Communications degree.

She approached her boss at Press + Post with the idea that she could spend July travelling across Canada writing blog posts for firm’s newly launched publication, Vern Magazine, and publishing photos of her adventure on Instagram.

The team at Press + Post loved the idea and Pijanowski started plotting her route with the help of recommendations streaming in from her Instagram account @intern150.

“I still have to do my work,” she says. “I write content for clients, which I can do from anywhere.”

Pijanowski will fly to Halifax where she’ll begin her adventure on July 9. She’ll stop in Moncton, Charlottetown, Quebec City, Montreal, Ottawa, Toronto, Niagara, Winnipeg, Jasper and Vancouver. She plans to take a ferry across to Victoria, although that’s obviously not part of the Via Rail excursion. The whole adventure will wrap up on Aug. 6.

The University of Calgary is proud to be part of Canada 150. Learn more about our Canada 150 activities.