Canada Travel Guide


Canada Adventure Travel Guide: Ideas and Inspiration

PureTravel Says: “The second largest country in the world by area, Canada offers a huge array of things to do on your holidays in the far north of the North American continent. You can go to the West and see the Pacific Ocean, look northward and find the Arctic and to the East, the Atlantic. And to travel these lands is to discover all the adventures you could wish for as Canada is about the most thrilling anywhere, with a wide choice of activities and discoveries. From the rugged coast of the Pacific and Vancouver Island to the lovely, friendly city of Montreal in the east, your adventures will take you to Yoho National Park and the beaches in Toronto. Take some time to decide your route and then go, being sure to include the gorgeous scenery of British Columbia and even perhaps the Northwest Territories.”

Holiday Highlights

Culture & History – With British, French and an Aboriginal influence, Canada’s culture is a fascinating mix. In fact, Vancouver often tops the most-liveable cities in the world lists. With the parks and museums in Vancouver, such as the Roedde House Museum, you can take advantage of the opportunity to view some of this fabulous city’s culture. In Toronto you can see some of the most famous landmarks, with much historic significance, by seeing St. Michael’s Cathedral or the Queen’s Park Legislative Building. In fact, Toronto is considered as the cultural center of the country. In Calgary you can experience the wild-west past of this city by visiting a cattle ranch with many of its original buildings still standing from the 1880s. In Montreal there are a number of great museums to see, including the McCord Museum of Canadian History.

Walking & Trekking – The vast wilderness of Canada and its natural beauty provides a wonderful opportunity to sample many outdoors activities, among them walking and trekking the backcountry to really enjoy an adventure experience. There are about 41 National Parks in Canada and all of them offer some exciting adventures in walking and trekking through the forested hills and valleys. The trails in these parks are well maintained and marked for ease of movement. You can hike the trails in the Alberta Rockies, find trails along creeks and with scenic overlooks in British Columbia, or really explore true wilderness in the Northwest Territories and Nova Scotia.

Cycling – There is some incredible scenery to take in while cycling here. On a cycling trail through Alberta’s Elbow Valley Trails or within the Inglewood Bird Sanctuary, you will find nature at its best. Touring clubs are one way to go, with routes mapped out so you get the ideal trip. South Cariboo Trails or the Brilliant Overlook Trail in Castlegar with British Columbia could become one of your favourite cycling adventures. You’ll find trails in every province, from Ontario to Quebec.

Fishing – The backcountry of Canada holds excitement for the outdoor enthusiast and there’s no better place to enjoy a fishing holiday. The Athabaska River in Alberta is a great place to throw in a line or you can do some lake fishing at Lake Minnewanka, Lake McGregor or Lake Newell. If you are flying over British Columbia, you will see numerous fresh water lakes, rivers and streams. Any of these could hold your next trophy catch. Fishing is best in spring and autumn at Bulkley and Morice Rivers in this province.

Wildlife – There is a fascinating abundance of wildlife to see across all corners of Canada, from the far reaches of the Northwest Territories to Quebec. In Alberta, you can see wildlife in the Botanical Gardens and Zoos and you can also see them in the wild in plenty of locations. Gooseberry Lake Provincial Park and Sheep River Wildlife Sanctuary are places to see various species in their natural habitat. In the north of British Columbia, you can visit the Muskwa-Kechika Management Area to get some unusual sightings.

Water Sports – From whitewater rafting to peaceful raft tours, from canoeing to kayaking, there are a number of varied water sports to engage in. The Canadian Rocky Mountains will provide you with your share of adventure going down the Elbow River or tackling the more challenging routes in the Northwest Territories or the northern part of British Columbia.

Skiing & Winter Sports – With numerous resorts throughout the country, you won’t have a difficult time finding some great downhill and cross-country skiing in this country. For a skiing trip, you’ll find Canada less expensive than Europe, with superb facilities to boot. In Alberta, Lake Louise and Banff are rated at the top and you will also have a pick of many more. Besides skiing, you can try snowboarding for some excitement or dog sledding. You will find these sports anywhere where there is snow.

When To Go

The ideal times to visit are both the spring and summer seasons, with autumn a close third. Of course, if you are having your holiday to enjoy some fabulous skiing, you will have to come in winter or the early spring. If you choose to go camping in the far north, opt for July and August.

Top Tips

- Close friends will greet each other with kisses on the cheeks, especially in the French areas, but the general method of greeting is a handshake.
- Most public places have bans on smoking, but if they do permit it, they will have ‘no smoking’ areas.
- Canada uses 110-volt electrical systems like the USA.
- If you are planning on doing a lot of walking, bring sturdy shoes.
- If you will visit the Rockies in the winter, ensure you have warm and wind/water repellent clothing.

Holidays In Focus

Culture and History

Across the broad expanse that is Canada, awaits many experiences for you to absorb all of the culture that this great country has to offer. Starting in the western part of Canada, in Vancouver, you can visit museums such as the Roedde House Museum. With its restored late Victorian splendour, you will discover the landscaped gardens reflect the period when the home was built. At the Vancouver Museum you will experience Vancouver’s heritage and history as you browse the Orientation Gallery. The Sport Fishing Museum on Granville Island has one of the world’s biggest collections of sport fishing history as well as a collection of rare art, salmon fishing history and old reels. If you want to get hands-on, visit the BC Sports Hall of Fame and Museum. You can participate in sports like climbing, sprinting and rowing.

When in Toronto, the capital of Ontario, stop by the cathedrals and other landmark sights. In Stanley Park you can visit the aquarium and enjoy the views from Prospect Point. If you are afraid of heights, avoid the Capilano Suspension Bridge, but otherwise don’t miss this view of the Capilano River Canyon. Remember, with Toronto being considered the cultural center of Canada, it’s an area you certainly shouldn’t miss.

Calgary has many old-west traditions and you can get the flavour by visiting Bar U Ranch, a cattle ranch in full production. Get the idea of what Calgary was like over 100 years ago.

When touring Montreal, you should see the McCord Museum of Canadian History where the rich history of this great city is told with collections of photographs and displays. Stop by Musée des Soeurs Grises, a 19th century museum in a historic stone building.

Walking and Trekking

Venturing out into the wilderness of Canada on a walking or trekking holiday will be full of discovery for you and your friends or family. One of the parks is bigger than the whole country of Switzerland, Wood Buffalo Park in Alberta and the Northwest Territories. Let your pioneering spirit take you to the Voyageur Trail, which is a long-distance footpath along the northern shores of Lake Superior and Lake Huron.

Another fabulous trail is the Bruce Trail that travels 428 miles from Queenstown on the Niagara River to Tobermory on the Bruce Peninsula. Attempt the Dawn Mountain Nordic Trails in Golden in British Columbia, as well as the Jap Mountain Walk in Salmo. Be sure you are properly equipped as you move into the wilder areas, to ensure your safety. There are many provinces to explore and trekking holiday, from the Yukon, to Newfoundland, from Manitoba to Prince Edward Island, and from Ontario to New Brunswick. The fun never stops.

Cycling

On a cycling holiday you’ll find the ideal trails for your expertise, either easy trails or challenging. Alberta offers some great cycling. You can take the Nose Hill Pilot Trail or the one in North Glenmore Park. There are trails and bicycle tours everywhere you look. Ride the trails in Medicine Hat or cycle through Banff. Beaver Lake Interpretive Trail can be found in British Columbia, as well as the Jumbo Pass in Columbia Valley. The Kokanee Glacier Provincial Park in New Denver also has trails for cyclists.

Fishing

Fishing is a total adventure here. In Alberta you can find some great rivers and full lakes, ready for you to venture near the water with your pole. In the Athabaska River you’ll catch some rainbow trout, a few mountain whitefish or some Arctic grayling. At Bow River, pull in some brown and rainbow trout, and at Smoky River you’ll be sure to find some Arctic grayling and bull trout. Find some walleye and pike at Eagle Lake and some pike, perch and walleye at Pigeon Lake. Go to the Vancouver area, and at Vancouver Island you’ll find cutthroat trout, brown trout, steelhead and bass. Sometimes the summers will be good for steelhead fishing in some of the rivers. Every province offers great fishing, so go absolutely anywhere on your fishing holiday. Find a guide to show you the best spots for salmon fishing or just get out there on your own and catch your fill.

Wildlife

There are various locations to settle in and watch the wildlife. It is a pastime that never fails to thrill. You can explore the 15 million acres in Northern British Columbia at the Muskwa-Kechika Management Area to see grizzlies and black bear, bison and mountain goats. You can catch a glimpse of the moose and caribou so prevalent in this region. All through British Columbia are many parks where you will see animals in their natural habitat, particularly in the West Coast Rainforests. Alberta also has a number of parks including Dillberry Lake Provincial Park, Crimson Lake Provincial Park and Dry Island Buffalo Jump Provincial Park. Don’t pass up Vancouver Island and the Gulf Islands either.

Water Sports

Take your choice of fantastic rafting adventures in the Canadian Rockies or hire someone to take you on a rafting tour. You’ll find the most challenging canoeing in the Northwest Territories while much easier navigation is possible in the rivers and lakes of Ontario. The lakes and rivers throughout the country will accommodate you no matter your preference, from kayaking to boating tours and yachting and sailing.

Skiing and Winter Sports

Skiing is a national pastime time here, thanks to established resorts which have featured in past Winter Olympics and a superb infrastructure. Of course, if you prefer more gentle sports, you can go ice-skating at Ottawa's Rideau Canal, the world’s largest ice-skating rink. But to go to the best skiing areas in the country, you’ll discover that Banff in Alberta is one of the top picks. Banff is a real ski town and you’ll love Sunshine Village for incredible powder. Lake Louise is a short drive down the road where you can take to the slopes in style. Other mountains are Mount Norquay and Kananaskis. Check out the Silver Star Mountain Resort as well as Crystal Mountain Ski Resort for incredible skiing as well as dog sledding and snowboarding. Go to Apex Mountain Resort in Penticton or the Big White Ski Resort in Kelowna; both in British Columbia.

Classic Itineraries

- When in Montreal, visit the Montreal Botanical Gardens (Jardin Botanique de Montreal) to see more than 20,000 plant species in many beautiful gardens, including a wonderful bonsai collection.
- A very obvious attraction in Toronto is the CN Tower, which rises above the city to the incredible height of 1,815 feet (553 meters). It’s considered one of the seven wonders of the modern world.
- Don’t miss Glacier National Park which is part of the Columbia Mountains, and which offers unbelievable views of panoramic vistas.

UNESCO World Heritage Sites

There are 17 UNESCO World Heritage Sites within Canada;

Cultural properties;
- L’Anse aux Meadows National Historic Site
- Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Jump
- SGang Gwaay
- Historic District of Old Québec
- Old Town Lunenburg
- Rideau Canal
- Landscape of Grand Pré
- Red Bay Basque Whaling Station

Natural properties;

- Nahanni National Park
- Dinosaur Provincial Park
- Kluane / Wrangell-St. Elias / Glacier Bay / Tatshenshini-Alsek
- Wood Buffalo National Park
- Canadian Rocky Mountain Parks
- Gros Morne National Park
- Waterton Glacier International Peace Park
- Miguasha National Park
- Joggins Fossil Cliffs

Travel Resources

By Julie Bowman

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