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Did You Know … ?

  • More than half the population of Canada’s northern territories is aboriginal.
  • Alberta’s West Edmonton Mall is the world’s largest mall under one roof.
  • Other names considered for Canada were Albertoria, Brittania, Cabotia, Efisga, Laurential, Mesopelagia, Tupona, Ursalia and Vesporia.
  • The world’s largest game preserve is Ontario’s Chapleau Crown Game Preserve (nearly 2 million acres).
  • The largest Icelandic settlement outside of Iceland is Gimli in Manitoba.

Northern grandeur

Canada is the world’s second largest country. The Canadian Tourism Commission divides it into five tourist regions, and even they are larger than most countries.

This grand land doesn’t have a Hawaii, but it has many other climates plus varied terrain. It offers natural wonders on a grand scale, too. Given so much of this extravagant sprawl is north of population centers, the country is particularly appealing as a restorative retreat from the bustle of crowded places.

The tourism commission’s five regions are:

  • The North (Northwest, Nunavut and Yukon territories). This is home to polar bears, caribou, walruses, bowhead whales, white wolves — and vast preserves to protect them and nature in general. It also is the land of the midnight sun — and midsummer fests featuring dancing, fishing, golfing and more. The Yukon preserves memories of the Klondike Gold Rush.
  • Mountains West (Alberta and British Columbia). Alberta is the American West gone north. Other lures include mountain sports in Canada’s Rockies, the Calgary Stampede and the West Edmonton Mall. British Columbia is noted for the variety it offers, reflected in the ski resorts, wine regions, ocean sailing and Victoria’s flowers.
  • The Prairies (Manitoba, Saskatchewan). This is farm country with towns that bespeak the history of settlement, but up north the prairies turn to sand dunes and Arctic tundra — and a place to see polar bears and beluga whales at Hudson Bay. The provinces boast countless lakes for fishing and water sports, plus forests and rivers for camping, canoeing, hiking, rafting.
  • Central Canada (Ontario and Quebec). The provinces aren’t centrally located except in terms of population centers. Although each has huge open spaces and nature preserves — plus Quebec’s ski resorts, they have Toronto and Montreal. Ontario has Canada’s Niagara Falls plus wine regions. Quebec gives Americans a close-to-home taste of France, which is particularly satisfying in Quebec City.
  • The Atlantic coast, aka the Maritimes (New Brunswick, Newfoundland and Labrador, Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island). The area draws its visitors for the gorgeous coastline, parklands, seafood, traditional festivals preserving French and Scottish customs — and sites associated with the fictional Anne of Green Gables.

Things to do for Venturers

  • Stretch your legs, following as much of the Trans Canada Trail as you can manage or want to see. The proposed 11,160-mile recreational corridor is under development, but more than half is complete. The overall plan calls for the trail to reach into every province and territory.
  • Play golf under the midnight sun in Nunavut, Canada’s newest territory, in the far north.
  • Go heli-skiing, or heli-hiking, depending on the season, in the Selkirk Mountains in the eastern part of British Columbia. Heli-skiing is an option in Alberta, too.
  • Participate with researchers as they study the lives of elk or the behavior of gray wolves. These are among the research adventures offered to visitors to the Riding Mountain National Park and Riding Mountain International Biosphere Reserve in Manitoba.
  • Retreat to a cabin or cottage in the far north for a relaxing time amidst Ontario’s natural wonders. Pass your time with swimming, fishing, hiking, boating and the like.
  • Go whale watching on a Zodiac in the Bay of Fundy.

Things to do for Centrics

  • See the broad sweep of Canada: Travel across the country by rail.
  • Plan your itinerary as a photographic expedition. Canada offers countless landscapes with wildlife, dramatic skies, snow-capped mountains, rushing rivers and broad plains, not to mention people, villages and cities with their own charms.
  • Fish in the Yukon Territory for Arctic grayling, lake trout and northern pike. Or, fish in any of scores of other lakes, or the rivers, across Canada.
  • Attend a pro hockey game in Calgary or Edmonton, Alberta — or in any of several other Canadian cities.
  • Go sailing or scuba diving in the broad St. Lawrence River.
  • Go snowmobiling in Quebec where the snowmobile was born. The province boasts more than 20,000 miles of trails designed for this sport.  Also, at Valcourt in Quebec, called the world capital of snowmobiling, see the J. Armand Bombardier Museum, dedicated to the life and work of Bombardier and the evolution of snowmobiles.

Things to do for Authentics

  • Visit Alberta’s Writing-on-Stone Provincial Park to see the largest concentration of rock art on the North American plains. In summer, guided walks and tours are available.
  • At Beyond Wrapture in Kelowna, British Columbia, try a spa experience known as vinotherapy. It relies on grape skins, seeds and stems for the tools of the spa trade.
  • Visit Campobello Island in New Brunswick. The movie “Sunrise at Campobello” was filmed here where the Roosevelt home remains just as it was when President Franklin Roosevelt last visited.
  • Play golf. Numerous pro-designed courses are available across the southern part of the country.
  • Make your first visit to the Maritime provinces by cruise ship from ports in the northeastern U.S.
  • Take a vineyard tour and sample the wines. There are several wineries to choose from, from British Columbia to Nova Scotia.

Additional Resources

For more information, consult the Canadian Tourism Commission at