When people think of must-see natural attractions in Canada, they tend to think of the Rockies and Niagara Falls. However, this vast country spans 10 provinces and three territories, and each one delivers breath-taking views worth a stopover.
B.C.: the Sea-to-Sky Highway
Alberta: Banff National Park
Saskatchewan: St. Victor Petroglyphs Provincial Park
Manitoba: Fort Whyte Alive
Ontario: Niagara Falls
Quebec: Canyon Sainte-Anne
New Brunswick: the Bay of Fundy
Nova Scotia: Balancing Rock Trail
Prince Edward Island: the lighthouses
Newfoundland and Labrador: Signal Hill
Yukon: Bonanza Creek
Northwest Territories: Aurora Borealis
Nunavut: Grise Fiord
This section of Highway 99 from Horseshoe Bay to Pemberton has to be driven on to be believed. Cruising beside Howe Sound one minute and up near the mountains of Whistler Blackcomb the next, this aptly name stretch of road underwent a major renovation a few years back to get it ready for the Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympics.
Banff National Park, located just an hour west of Calgary, is one of Canada’s most popular tourist destinations. And with its view of the surrounding mountains, hot springs and plethora of outdoor recreation opportunities, it’s easy to see why.
Who needs the Egyptian pyramids when the petroglyphs at St. Victor are right in our backyard? In southern Saskatchewan, atop a large section of sandstone formed after the Ice Age, lie mysterious carvings of animal tracks, human faces, footprints and other undecipherable shapes. To this day, no one knows how they got there.
Yes, you can go on a wildlife safari right here in Canada at Fort Whyte. Visitors can hop aboard a van to get an up-close-and-personal look at the magnificent herds of bison roaming the 640-acre park. There are also opportunities to view other wildlife, plus countless other family-friendly activities.
Even if you’ve seen the Falls in a different dozen movies and TV shows, nothing compares to experiencing it firsthand, with the sound of the rushing water in your ears and the gentle spray sprinkling across your face. Belonging to both the province of Ontario and the state of New York, it is actually made up of three waterfalls: Horseshoe, American and Bridal Veil.
Part of the Canadian Shield, this canyon is a steep-sided gorge 30 minutes east of Quebec City. A series of suspension bridges overlook giant cascades, the Saint-Anne-du-Nord River, and the river’s drop over its own 74-metre high waterfall. The canyon’s rocky cliffs were first formed 1.2 billion years ago.
Possessing some of the highest tides in the world, the famous Bay of Fundy is a 270-kilometre long ocean bay between New Brunswick and Nova Scotia. Kayak along the coastline, cliffs and islands and you might even spot one of eight different species of whales that frequent the area. Every day, 160 billion tonnes of seawater flows in and out of the bay.
A single vertical column of basalt (volcanic rock) is perched ever so precariously on its tip on Long Island, part of the Digby Neck peninsula. A 2.5-kilometre trail below features a 235-step staircase that leads to a platform with a great view of St. Mary’s Bay and the balancing rock.
While not exactly a naturally occurring phenomenon, the lighthouses that dot P.E.I.’s coast are as much a part of the island’s history as the sea that surrounds it. Those built before 1873 are considered “first-generation” and are octagon-shaped. “Second-generation” lighthouses have a square tapered form.
Signal Hill, which overlooks St. John’s harbour, is the site from which the world’s first wireless telegraph was sent, but it’s also, over the past few hundred years, seen many a battle because of its strategic military location. There are still cannons embedded atop the ridge to remind passersby of its history.
Gold was first discovered at Bonanza Creek in the late nineteenth century, sparking the great Klondike Gold Rush. By 1904, the Klondike was the largest gold-producing field in Canada. The Klondike Visitors Association now maintains the creek and allows visitors to see firsthand what it is like to pan for the precious metal.
Although viewable from a few spots in Northern Canada, the spectacular Aurora Borealis natural light display is arguably best seen from the Northwest Territories. The capital, Yellowknife, is in a particularly advantageous spot because it’s situated near the Earth’s magnetic pole.
Visit Nunavut’s most northern community in the early summer and experience what it’s like to live in perpetual light. In June, the sun shines for 24 hours. Conversely, in December, the small Inuit hamlet is bathed in total darkness the entire day.