Coast to Coast
Permenter & John Bigley
Which Canadian province should
the two of you choose for your next romantic getaway? Here's a quick rundown
of the places that make each destination special:
Major Cities: Vancouver, Victoria, Whistler
Recommended for: museums, botanical gardens, mountain scenery, outdoor
Highlights: British Columbia or just "BC" offers some of the
best city and natural attractions in Canada. Start with a tour of Vancouver,
a picturesque city tucked between the mountains and the sea. Boasting
a temperate climate, the waterfront city of Vancouver is home to Stanley
Park, the Vancouver Aquarium, and the city's beautiful Queen Elizabeth
Park, with its towering evergreens and multi-climate Bloedel Conservatory.
This sophisticated city is infused with an international air, thanks partly
to the strong business with the Pacific Rim. Shop for fine art in Granville
Island, enjoy a panoramic view of the city with a skyride up Grouse Mountain,
or meditate at Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Garden in bustling Chinatown.
From Vancouver, it's a quick high-speed ferry ride to Victoria, a classically
British city located on Vancouver Island. Stroll Government Street and
shop for native crafts, learn more about totem poles at Thunderbird Park,
and enjoy high tea at the elegant Empress Hotel.
Major Cities: Calgary, Edmonton
Recommended for: ecotourists, campers, shoppers, anglers
Highlights: Dedicated shoppers can put their skills to the test at the
West Edmonton Mall, the world's largest shopping and entertainment complex
with over 800 shops, the World Waterpark and the Galaxyland Amusement,
and the Ice Palace skating rink. Activities range from a submarine ride
to miniature golf to Atlantic bottlenose dolphin shows.
Man-made fun is just a small
part of Alberta's summer offerings, however. With its soaring Rocky Mountains,
Western Canada boasts some of the nation's most breathtaking scenery.
Alberta is the home of Calgary, a western town that recalls its heritage
with an annual rodeo.
The province is best known
for its national parks: Banff, Jasper, and Waterton Lakes, each tucked
gloriously in the Rocky Mountains. Sports enthusiasts will find a full
menu of offerings ranging from mountain biking to canoeing to golf on
championship courses shared with elk and moose. Elk are stars of the show
at Elk Island National Park, also a favorite with birders.
Major Cities: Yellowknife, Inuvik
Recommended for: ecotouristm, Northern Lights, wildlife viewing
Highlights: The northernmost reaches of Canada, where the land mass breaks
up as it approaches the Arctic, are the Northwest Territories. This area,
continuously carved by ice and water, is under political change as well.
On April 1, 1999, the Northwest Territories was divided into two sections:
the Northwest Territories on the western region and Nunavut, the Inuit
lands on the eastern side.
The capital city of the Northwest Territories is Yellowknife, which can
be reached by road from Alberta and British Columbia or by air from Calgary
and Vancouver, connecting from the US.
The Northwest Territories
attract summer vacationers in search of the Aurora Borealis, the hauntingly
beautiful Northern Lights. During the lengthy days, travelers can take
part in canoeing, rafting, fishing for great northern pike, and wildlife
viewing for a chance to see caribou, Dall sheep, Arctic foxes, polar bears,
and beluga whales.
Major Cities: Iqaluit, Pangnirtung
Recommended for: fishing, hunting, adventure travel, Northern Lights
Highlights: OK, got the "been there, done that" attitude? Then
perhaps Nunavut is the answer. Pronounced "none-of-it," this
remote destination is for those seeking Arctic adventure in the form of
hiking, kayaking, Inuit culture, and incredible wildlife viewing. This
territory is the home of the Inuit, tucked high in the Arctic near Hudson
and James Bay Islands and the eastern Northwest Territories. The region
can only be reached by plane (there are no roads).
Nunavut officially becomes
a separate territory next year but already offers plenty of visitor attractions
for those looking to get off the beaten path. Activities here include
Floe Edge tours led by Inuit guides for a peek at whales and polar bears,
visits with local craftspeople, fly-in visits to remote lodges, and a
look at fjords, glaciers, and Arctic scenery.
Major City: Dawson City
Recommended for: historic attractions, ecotourism, Northern Lights, adventure
Highlights: Just the name "Yukon" stirs up pictures of rugged
mountains, adventurous explorers, and gold rush fever. This year marks
the 100th anniversary of the Klondike Gold Rush. Today travelers can still
try their hand at panning for gold or look for activity in the form of
whitewater river rafting, kayaking, or soaking in the Takhini Hot Springs.
Wildlife spotters will have plenty of opportunities to spot some of the
province's many residents: Dall sheep, moose, Arctic swans, and black
bears. Summer visitors can also check out some of the Yukon's special
events such as the Yukon Gold Panning Championships in Dawson City and
the Yukon International Storytelling Festival in Whitehorse.
Major Cities: Saskatoon, Regina
Recommended for: bicycling, fishing
Highlights: Perched on the vast plains, Saskatchewan is home to the Prince
Albert National Park, a favorite for spotting bear, moose, and many species
of birds. Saskatchewan, with miles of roads stretching to the horizon,
is excellent for bicycling as well.
Major City: Winnipeg
Recommended for: historic sites, multicultural experiences
Highlights: Manitoba offers both outdoor and city activities. In the fall
months, the region's city of Churchill is best known as the "Polar
Bear Capital of the World." Travelers will find opportunities for
summer activities including swimming, scuba diving in area lakes, windsurfing,
wildlife spotting, and more.
Manitoba is also home to one
of Canada's largest summer festivals, Folklorama, held in August. The
world's largest multicultural festival, this Winnipeg event features over
3,000 performers and more than half a million visitors.
Live entertainment fills the
pavilions with song and dance. Fire breathers light up the night at the
Caribbean Pavilion, Highland dancers energize the Scottish Pavilion, and
crowds sing along to Sicilian tunes at the Italian area. You might even
find yourself called up on stage to learn the Zorba the Greek dance at
the Greek Islands Pavilion.
Exhibits at each area display
the artistic and historic pride of each nation. Hungarian embroidery and
antique costumes, traditional Korean dress, and Mayan paintings are just
a few of the special displays that bring the artistic culture of these
lands to visitors. Folklorama dining is as varied as the countries themselves:
Belgian waffles, Bavarian wurst, Jamaican jerk pork, Australian shearers
stew, Chilean corn pie, and Hungarian cabbage rolls.
Major Cities: Toronto, Ottawa
Recommended for: theater, museums, Niagara Falls, wine region, theatrical
Highlights: Ontario is home to Toronto, the largest city in Canada, and
a diversity of attractions to suit any interest. With half a million lakes
(including several great lakes) within its borders, Ontario summer fun
includes scuba diving among historic shipwrecks, fly fishing, the largest
number of canoe routes in the world, and, of course, marveling at the
beauty of Niagara Falls.
In Toronto, vacationers can
spend a day at attractions such as the world's tallest building, the CN
Tower (walk out on the glass floor to test your vertigo!), the Ontario
Science Centre, the Hockey Hall of Fame, and the Royal Ontario Museum
then relax that evening with a world-class theatrical performance, opera,
Theater buffs will also want
to mark their calendars for the Shaw Festival, held through October at
Niagara-on-the-Lake on Lake Ontario. This special event showcases the
works of George Bernard Shaw and his contemporaries. Shakespeare fans
can enjoy the bard's works at the Stratford Festival, a six-month even
that runs through November.
Families can experience Wonderland,
Canada's largest amuseument park, with 180 attractions ranging from Hanna-Barbera
cartoon characters to live shows and thrill rides. Toronto's three Novotel
Hotels (800-NOVOTEL) offer special hotel and Wonderland packages during
the summer months.
Major Cities: Montréal, Québec City
Recommended for: Francophiles, gourmands, history buffs
Highlights: Looking for a European vacation but don't have the time or
money? Then look no further than the province of Quebec. this French-speaking
land bustles with a Gallic atmosphere that includes romantic chateaus
in the Laurentian Mountains, sidewalk cafes, fine French dining, and more.
Montreal is the largest city
in the province and offers a 19-mile underground city of entertainment
including theaters, restaurants, and nightlife and the elegant Montreal
Casino on Parc des Iles. Quebec City, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, holds
the title as the only fortified city north of Mexico, with a romantic
atmosphere that invites lovers to stroll its cobblestone streets.
Summer travelers will find
plenty of special events in Quebec. Montreal moves to a jazz beat for
11 days during the Montreal International Jazz Festival with performers
from around the globe. Montreal's Just for Laughs Festival brings in comedians
for over 1,000 shows. In Quebec City, the Summer Festival celebrates with
singers and dancers from around the world.
NEWFOUNDLAND AND LABRADOR
Major Cities: St. John's, Labrador City
Recommended for: ecotourists, birders, history lovers
Highlights: The easternmost point in North America (and already making
plans to be the first such sight to spot the dawn of the new millennium),
Newfoundland and Laborador are excellent destinations for travelers looking
for spring-like temperatures and excellent ecotourism attractions. Bring
along your binoculars and a light sweater to enjoy whale watching, birding,
and iceberg spotting. Home to a 1,000-year-old Viking settlement, at L'Anse
aux Meadows, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, this region was also where
European discoverer John Cabot arrived 500 years later. Summertime also
means the Shakespeare by the Sea festival, a special event held July and
August, when the rugged coastlines become a backdrop for outdoor dramas.
PRINCE EDWARD ISLAND
Major City: Charlottetown
Recommended for: beach walks, lobster dinners, Anne of Green Gables fans,
Highlights: Anne of Green Gables readers will know Prince Edward Island.
Today Prince Edward Island National Park is home to Green Gables and through
mid-September the town of Charlottetown hosts the musical version, now
in its 34th year.
A bridge completed in 1997
now connects this small province with the mainland. Once on the island,
you'll find a relaxed summertime atmosphere that invites long beach walks,
quiet horse and buggy rides through the countryside, horseback riding,
and just taking it easy. Bird lovers will be challenged by over 300 species
Major City: Fredericton, Saint John, St. Andrews-By-the-Sea
Recommended for: whale watching, Bay of Fundy, Acadian heritage, birding
Highlights: Land and sea meet at this province that's home to the Bay
of Fundy where the highest tides in the world are found. Another record:
more kinds of whales are spotted here than any other place on earth. Adventure
travelers can do some sea kayaking with friendly marine life, and birders
can travel to St. Mary's Point in August for a chance to view thousands
of semi-palmated sandpipers.
If you've experienced Louisiana's
Cajun region, then don't miss the Acadian Historical Village. Here the
culture of those early settlers is remembered along with the history of
Evangeline and the long journey of the Acadians.
New Brunswick is also home
to many resorts and lodges. The best known is one of its oldest, the Algonquin
Hotel Resort (800- 441-1414) dating back to 1889. In those days, travelers
paid just $3 (including meals) and sought relief for whatever ailed them
in salt water baths at this resort. Termed "the Watering Place of
the Dominion," the hilltop resort has long been an Eastern favorite.
Major City: Halifax
Recommended for: historic sites, museums, scuba diving, culture, adventure
Highlights: This rugged province is a maritime dream, a place to wander
along a quaint waterfront and contemplate the early seafarers. Titanic
buffs will learn that rescue boats went out from Halifax when word first
reached shore that the ship had hit an iceberg off Newfoundland. Today
many artifacts are still on display in that area, many at the Maritime
Museum of the Atlantic with a new permanent exhibit on the ship, including
the only intact deck chair from the vessel.
Wildlife draws many travelers
to this region as well. Wild Icelandic miniature ponies are found on some
of the uninhabited islands while whales can be spotted on many guided
tours. Birders can spot bald eagles or sail out to an island preserve
to add species such as guillemots and razorbills to their life lists.
For more information including contact information for Canadian destinations see the official Canadian Tourism site.