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12 Amazing Ways to Explore Canada

Discover the unique experiences that await.

MAJESTIC FILMS / SHUTTERSTOCK

01

FALL FOR ONTARIO

Each autumn the rolling hills of Algonquin Provincial Park are ablaze as the trees turn riotous hues of gold, brilliant orange, and deep red. First comes the flame-like tones of the sugar and red maples in mid-September, followed by the yellowing of the poplar and birch trees into October, and then golden finale of the Tamarack needles. Located in South Eastern Ontario, this almost 3,000-square-mile park is abundant with moose, bears, and a variety of flora and fauna. You can drive through or walk the many interpretive trails in the park, or go full backcountry to immerse yourself in the fall splendour. AAlgonquin Provincial Park also offers more than 2,000 canoe routes among its thousands of lakes, ponds, and streams. Its dark skies are perfect for astronomers, and there are thousands of campsites that range from backcountry sites to year-round yurts, and cabins.

PHOTOGRAPH COURTESY DESTINATION ONTARIO

02

WITNESS NEW BRUNSWICK’S DRAMATIC TIDES

In the Bay of Fundy, the ocean rises and falls by 16 metres (50 feet), and the red flowerpot rocks and cliffs of Hopewell Rocks Provincial Park offer one of the most beautiful and unique places to observe this natural phenomenon. At high tide, you can take a kayak tour that gets you in around the rocks, then at low tide you can walk on the ocean floor and explore the rocks and caves around them. Many choose to visit at both high and low tide, hiking trails through the pristine Acadian forest while waiting for the tide to change. This New Brunswick park is open from mid-May to October, but visiting in July and August you’ll see the swooping Bay of Fundy shorebirds as they migrate. This area of incredible beauty is part of the Fundy Biosphere that is recognised by UNESCO for its ecological importance

PHOTOGRAPH COURTESY TOURISM NEW BRUNSWICK

03

LEARN HISTORY AND TRADITION IN OTTAWA

Ottawa’s Parliament Hill is home to Canada’s government, and a focal point for exploring the history and tradition of Canada’s capital. Here you can tour the historic Houses of Parliament and Senate, which date back to 1866, and watch the military pomp and ceremony of the Changing of the Guard each morning through the summer. This traditional ceremony features drills from two regiments, complete with bands and pipers. You’ll also find arts and entertainment on the lawns in front of the Houses of Parliament. Throughout the summer, a sound and light show based on the history of Canada plays on the façade of the buildings every evening. Wednesday lunchtimes during May through to October there’s a free yoga class that attracts hundreds of participants.

PHOTOGRAPH BY SUSAN SEUBERT

04

HIKE THE SKYLINE TRAIL IN NOVA SCOTIA

When you hike the Skyline Trail on Cape Breton Island in Nova Scotia, you’re rewarded with jaw-dropping views out over the rocky headland to the Atlantic Ocean, and there’s a strong possibility you’ll spot moose along the way. This easy gravel and boardwalk trail (you can take a four-mile return or five-mile loop trail) is suitable for all ages, with an elevation of 300 to 450 metres (950 - 1330 feet). The best time to do this hike is from May to October, though it can be busy in the summer so early mornings and evenings are best. Parks Canada offers guided Skyline Sunset Hikes for this very reason. The Skyline Trail is reached via the Cabot Trail, oone of Canada’s prettiest drives, a 185-mile loop that takes you through the gorgeous Cape Breton Highlands National Park.

PHOTOGRAPH COURTESY NOVA SCOTIA TOURISM

05

BE ENCHANTED IN HISTORIC QUÉBEC CITY

Hemmed in by early 17th century ramparts, the narrow cobbled streets of Old Québec, a designated UNESCO World Heritage Site, are filled with stone buildings holding cafés, galleries, and delightful restaurants. Old Québec is enchanting and romantic, especially if you visit in the winter when the city is dusted in snow. This neighbourhood is best explored on foot. Staying at the iconic Fairmont Le Château Frontenac gives views out over the city and St Lawrence River, and puts you in the heart of the Upper Town, which is directly connected to the Lower Town by a funicular railway that has been operating since 1879. Old Québec has a fort that dates to 1673, beautiful churches, convents, and the glorious neoclassical Cathedral-Basilica of Notre-Dame de Québec, as well as modern attractions that tell the story of French Canada.

PHOTOGRAPH BY SHUTTERSTOCK

06

KAYAK IN BRITISH COLUMBIA

British Columbia is a dream destination for paddlers. The turquoise waters of Atlin Lake, in the far north of British Columbia, with its backdrop of mountains and glaciers, is heaven for those who love to be alone in serene nature. Thrill-seekers can sea kayak rapids off Quadra Island; whatever your ideal kayak trip, this province delivers. The protected waters off Vancouver Island are teeming with orcas as currents there create a high concentration of food in a small area. On sea kayaking adventures where you can spot those orcas, also expect to see humpbacks, minke whales, sea lions, porpoises, eagles, and bears. Also, consider finding a campsite on an island beach to round off your west coast adventure on the water.

PHOTOGRAPH DESIGN PICS / NAT GEO CREATIVE

07

SEE TORONTO FROM ABOVE

As Canada’s biggest city, Toronto is always fun to visit but opportunities to rise above the crowds give a different perspective. Ascending the 575-metre (1885-foot) CN Tower has offered amazing views out over the city skyline and beyond since 1976, and dinner in its revolving 360 The Restaurant is a delicious way to soak it all in. Edgewalk at the CN Tower allows the daring to tiptoe around the edge of the roof suspended only by a cable. For the ultimate view of Toronto from above, Heli Tours offers helicopter tours that give unparalleled views of the CN Tower, inner harbour and Toronto Islands, the Rogers Centre (home of the Toronto Blue Jays), and other major attractions.

SHUTTERSTOCK

08

CELEBRATE WINTER IN ALBERTA

Visiting Alberta’s mountains and parks in the winter is as close as you’ll get to visiting Narnia in real life. Cloaked in snow, this region becomes a winter playground, offering unique and magical experiences in addition to some of the world’s best ski hills. In Jasper National Park, visit the glittering Athabasca Falls, a 25-metre (75-foot) waterfall that becomes a spectacular natural ice sculpture in winter. Tour the deepest canyon in the Rockies - Maligne Canyon - that in winter becomes a maze of ice caves, ice sculptures, and waterfalls that froze as they fell 30-plus metres (98-feet) down the canyon walls. Tour operators in the park offer guided walks through the canyon, and winter safaris for viewing elk, deer, moose, wolves, sheep and coyotes - highly visible against the stark white backdrop of snow and ice.

PHOTOGRAPH BY TIFFANY NGUYEN

09

BEHOLD A MONTREAL LANDMARK ALIVE WITH LIGHT

In 2017, ever innovative and vibrant Montreal gained a major new attraction with the illumination of the iconic Jacques Cartier Bridge. Every night the bridge is animated by changing colours and patterns that reflect the pulse of the city using Montreal’s weather and traffic data, and responding in real time to social posts tagged with #jacquescartierbridge. The illumination can be seen from all along the waterfront and higher elevations in the city. Two of the best places to view the lights are from La Grande Roue de Montreal - an almost 65-metre (200 feet) tall Ferris wheel in the Old Port of Montreal, and the Observatory Ville-Marie where you get 360 degree views of the city from the 44th floor of the Place Ville Marie.

PHOTOGRAPH BY SHUTTERSTOCK

10

EXPLORE QUÉBEC’S GASPÉ PENINSULA

Driving the scenic loop around the Gaspé Peninsula showcases the rugged beauty of Maritime Québec, where pristine forests and mountains play against the coastline. The most impressive stop on the drive is Percé Rock, a massive sheer limestone formation just off the coast that has a 16-metre (49-foot) tall arch (looking like the rock was pierced, which is what the name translates as, 'pierced' rock). This natural monument is best viewed from a 220-metre (660-foot) high glass platform in the Percé UNESCO Global Geopark. Inland is the mountainous Parc national de la Gaspésie, a hiker’s dream with 25 peaks offering breathtaking panoramas. As you hike to the top, you might even spot plant and animal life normally found in the arctic.

PHOTOGRAPH BY MATHIEU DUPUIS

11

VISIT THE POLAR BEAR CAPITAL OF THE WORLD

On the edge of the Arctic, the shores of Hudson Bay in northern Manitoba are home to an estimated 900 polar bears. There’s no better place to observe these huge and majestic animals in their natural habitat than by visiting the town of Churchill, and operators in the area offer a range of excursions that get you thrillingly close to the bears. Choose to stay at luxury lodges so remote you need to fly in, bunk up in the dorms of a research station, go on a walking safari with local guides, or take a tour in a fortified Tundra Buggy – the curious bears often come right up to the windows. Bear season is October and November, when they gather on the tundra in readiness for hunting seals. Though you’ll often spot them in late summer - especially from the air on a float plane ride.

COURTESY TRAVEL MANITOBA

12

DISCOVER AN INDIGENOUS EXPERIENCE

Indigenous outfitters across Canada offer authentic connections to 15,000 years of culture and history. In British Columbia, explore the Great Bear Rainforest, a location so remote you can only access by boat and plane, that’s home to grizzlies, black bears, wolves, and the white spirit bear (a genetic variation on the black bear found only in this part of the world). There you can hike the old-growth forests, kayak, and fish with local guides. Head to the island wilderness of Haida Gwaii to see centuries old totem poles, and explore the rich First Nations culture that thrives there. Up north, watch the aurora borealis dance across the sky in the Northwest Territories, or follow narwhals and polar bears with Inuit guides in Nunavut. In Saskatchewan, , learn to play traditional games, crafts, and dance from Plains Cree interpreters at the Wanuskewin Heritage Park.

PHOTOGRAPH BY IAN MCALLISTER, NAT GEO CREATIVE

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