Whether you are looking for a local volunteer group or a national organization with local subgroups, you’ll be able to find an outdoors club that suits you best almost anywhere in Canada:
This is free to join, run by volunteers and open to all Canadians. They organize a variety of activities, from beginner to advanced, and focus most of their events around southern Ontario. The current calendar has listings for skiing, day and evening hiking, backpacking trips and even ultimate Frisbee. Activities change with the season and include social events and sporting activities for kids. Most are low-cost or free, although they do suggest a donation to help cover the cost of organizing the event. (The Edmonton Outdoor Club and Calgary Outdoor Club are similar in nature, both organizing activities around their respective areas.)
This group is a bit more formal and requires that members pay (reasonable) membership fees. Activities include hiking/backpacking, camping, canoeing/kayaking, cycling, skiing and snowshoeing. In addition to these activities, they coordinate with other regional groups to work on trail development, cleanup, and conservation efforts. COC also organizes speaking events, training, gear swaps and the occasional party to meet other members in a purely social setting.
Although it sounds like an oxymoron, ClubTread is an online outdoor community. Members use the forum to organize events, ask questions, post classified ads and share photos. They also receive discounts from local vendors — always a nice perk for outdoorsy folks. Since the activities are suggested and organized by members, the itineraries are loose and you are always welcome to propose your own trip, or simply invite people to join you on your favourite hike.
As the name suggests, this group enjoys activities that take place in the mountains; skiing and ice climbing are the prominent events in the winter, with mountaineering and rock-climbing dominating the summer schedules. Membership fees are reasonable and being part of this club gives you access to technical training workshops, mountaineering adventures, discounted hut rates and even the opportunity to participate in climbing events all over the globe. You can sign up for the section that is near your hometown, or you can choose to remain unaffiliated. Regional sections frequently organize weekend outings and social events that let you meet the rest of the group.
Clearly with an ironic name, this is a group focuses on trail running events. Although they do have a website, most of the online interaction happens on Facebook. There are formally posted events with defined dates and times, but people also post their upcoming runs and put out open invitations. Don’t limit yourself to runners on these treks; if the trail is snowy you may be huffing along with snowshoes. Introduce yourself on the open group page and find some local members or great trails near you.
If you are interested in an exceptionally long walk through Nova Scotia, this is the group for you. It is also your chance to be part of something amazing as the members work on trail-building to achieve a single path that connects Cape George and Cape Chignecto, NS. Each trail segment is maintained by local volunteers, and new trails are continually being added. Hike the trails with other local members or spend the day building a new section of the trail. Formally organized activities are few, but local groups get together often to enjoy a very long walk in the woods.
This Quebec-based group is a university-associated club open to everyone. Membership is inexpensive and the benefits include discounts on gear rentals. MOC has activities for all seasons ranging from camping to climbing to cycling. They organize courses for beginners to learn new skills and can provide instruction in both English and French. Trips are either organized officially by the club, or unofficially by members. If you have your own favorite activities, contact the “execs” and they will help you set up your own events.
This is a very informal meetup group that is run by some very energetic organizers. There are events scheduled every weekend and often during weekdays or evenings as well. Activities can be intense runs, endurance snowshoeing treks, steep hikes up a mountain or even sailing. As the weather warms up, members can look forward to canoeing and backpacking meetups. Non-members can view the upcoming events but you must join the group to get the details.