This is not
just a greener, gentler version of USA but a huge, picturesque,
sparsely populated country, with a multicultural identity and an
interesting mix of English and French influences.
Holidays in Canada are particularly enticing for outdoor types, winter sports lovers
in winter and hikers, bikers, kayakers in summer, especially in the magnificent Rocky Mountains of British Columbia and Alberta provinces and the isolated grandeur of the North, though the relaxed urbanity of Vancouver, the sophistication of Toronto and the astonishing Frenchness of gorgeous Old Quebec City
or lively Montreal draw urban spacemen too.
Wildlife is easy to view too, from whales and seals on both coasts to prolific numbers of bears, moose, deer and many more creatures inland and of course
up north in Churchill.
Canada is safe, spacious, spectacular,
serves good, varied cuisine and half of it speaks your
language (the other half mostly speaks it too, but don't want to!).
This mini-guide to Canada vacations is a simple introduction to the country to help you make a quick and correct destination decision. Later you will need a comprehensive guide to take with you.
Skiing in BC's famous 'Powder Triangle', the Monashee Mountains.
- Although extremely cold in many places (-20C is not uncommon),
the short summers can be hot and humid (30C+).
- It's not cheap (then again, nor is it expensive, unless you need to fly long-haul to get there).
Summer outdoors may provide unwelcome wildlife in the form of mosquitoes and other biting critters.
- distances are vast so be prepared for serious time on the road.
Worst: November-March (cold, wet,
or both), unless going for winter sports.
Montreal, c'est la vie a Quebec
Canada's main holiday attractions
cities: Vancouver (British Columbia), Toronto ( Ontario), Quebec City and Montreal (Quebec) province.
wildlife: Churchill (Manitoba), British Columbia, Alberta.
Best winter festival: Ottawa Winterlude, Ontario.
summer festival: Calgary Stampede, Alberta.
beaches: New Brunswick (Atlantic Provinces) and Vancouver (British Columbia).
natural wonders: Banff lakes and mountains (Alberta), Niagara Falls (Ontario).
cuisine: Quebec province.
landscapes: British Columbia, Alberta and North West Territories.
Main vacation destinations in Canada:
This is such a huge country that seeing the lot in one holiday is impractical for the normal tourist so we've split Canada into manageable zones. Follow links to local guides for fuller information and pictures.
West Canada, British Columbia and Alberta
Moraine Lake, Banff National Park, Rocky Mountains, Alberta
- Consistently rated as Canada's best natural attraction, Alberta's Banff National Park in the Rockies is justly famous and crammed with magnificent peaks, astonishing emerald lakes, well organised hiking trails, scenic drives and much, much more.
Get there via Calgary and enjoy a stampede too! Jasper NP is also brilliant; less easy to access but much less touristy.Alberta Travel Guide.
Victoria, Vancouver Island, British Columbia (BC)
- British Columbia (BC) including Vancouver city, little old Victoria and the wild Whistler resort area.
City life is comfortable and stimulating in Vancouver, with parks and stunning Rocky Mountain scenery all
around, pity about the dreary urban architecture. Excellent outdoor activities of all sorts are on tap in BC, including whale
watching. British Columbia Travel Guide.
Niagara Falls, Canadian side, near Toronto
Ottawa is especially attractive during the Winterlude festival, Toronto excellent for lively and diverse big city life as well as easy access to Niagara
Falls. Ontario Travel Guide.
Frontenac Castle, Quebec City, Quebec.
The French speaking province of Quebec offers
great night life and cuisine especially la petite, jolie Quebec City and her big brother Montreal, but there's also plenty of outdoor action though lacking the Rocky Mountain highs. Quebec Travel Guide.
Witless Bay, Newfoundland and Labrador, Atlantic Provinces.
The Atlantic Provinces, east Canada
The Atlantic Provinces encompass Newfoundland and Labrador, Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island, offering tourists
the laid back, rustic charms of little fishing villages and splendid hiking, biking or driving
routes full of rugged coastal views.
There's terrific golfing and fishing, Canada's best beaches (though Vancouver might argue the point) and good seal or whale watching. Atlantic Provinces Guide.
Polar Bears discussing cub education strategies, Churchill, Manitoba.
The primary items of tourist interest in north Canada are bleak arctic landscapes, northern lights (aurora borealis) and wildlife,
especially polar bears, arctic foxes and seals around Churchill, though outdoor activities ranging from
winter sports to summer hikes with big views are popular with local people who like to escape the huddled masses. North Canada Guide. The
January-February, weekends only, La Fete des Neiges (Snow Festival), Montreal
(Qu), dominated by a huge and labyrinthine snow castle.
February, weekends only, Ottawa (Ont) Winterlude festival features parades,
dances, snow races, ice sculptures, sleigh rides and more, but especially
January-February, Quebec City, Carnaval de Québec, a vigorous 10
day celebration of parades, themed parties, ice sculptures and, bien sur, winter sports of every description.
April, World Ski and Snowboard Festival, Whistler (BC), snow and
June - July, Montreal (Qu) International Jazz Festival.
Mid-May, Ottawa (Ont) Tulip Festival, a five day city-wide street
party for all ages surrounded by 100,000's of tulips.
July, Just For Laughs, Montreal (Qu), a world comedy festival.
Summertime sees lunatic 'Fringe' theatre festivals all over Canada,
from Victoria to Montreal.
August, Montreal Pride, a huge performing arts festival, gay, but not
exclusively so. Free concerts, shows, parties conferences and more.
Summer, one week, Toronto (Ont), Caribana West Indian carnival,
complete with parades of calypso bands, parties, ethnic foodstuffs
and dancing in the street.
July, Calgary Stampede , a 10 day world-class rodeo riot.
Early November, Whistler (BC) Winterstart Festival, carnival and events
some more precise dates see: English
USA's far north state of Alaska is also wild, unspoilt and speaks English!