The natural attractions of Canada are often a combination of wildlife and stunning landscape, a fact particularly prevalent in Churchill, where polar bears can be seen on their autumn migration during August and September. These colossal carnivores make their way on the snowy tundra, lit up at night by the Northern Lights of Canada. The combination of this natural phenomena and one of the last big wild carnivores exemplifies the unique and uncultivated natural wilderness Canada boasts.
On more steady ground in the Dinosaur Provincial Park the locals get out into the ancient UNESCO World Heritage Site for camping trips.
Often when visiting Canada you can’t help thinking that the sky looks bigger than in Europe, as if the horizon stretches further out into the unknown. And this feeling is certainly exaggerated at the Dinosaur Park, where massive dinosaurs used to roam the open, otherworldly landscape millions of years ago. Hundreds of fossils have been found here and you can see many of them at the Royal Tyrrell Museum.
In the Banff National Park, Lake Louise offers a more action packed experience, with white water rafting, horseback riding and even music festivals all on the list of activities.
No matter how fit you are the scenery itself with take your breath away, particularly the deep green clarity of the water. Hiking around the area is also hugely popular and there are hundreds of different tracks to follow around the lake and into the forests.
The cities in Canada aren’t too shabby either, particularly Saskatoon in Saskatchewan, which is surrounded by interlocking rivers and also has a great name. Conveniently, Prince Albert National Park, with its moose, wolves, beavers and bison is just down the road.
Just a quick 1,200 km east of Saskatoon is Kelowna, British Columbia, where the people of Okanagan Valley make wine, tan on beaches and walk in the countryside. This part of Canada has long been compared to the valleys in California, and more and more tourists are heading north from the U.S.A to take a look.
Also often compared to its southern neighbours is Toronto, Canada’s largest city and home to the annual international film festival.
And, although this is probably Canada’s most traditional cityscape, the locals still allow people to experience a bit of adventure, such as climbing on the outside of Toronto’s CN Tower. The Edgewalk lets people hang over the side at 1,168ft above the ground, strapped to the famous building in a safety harness.
If you prefer a slightly more relaxed time then check out the Distillery district and its art galleries, shops and restaurants. There’s also a lot to learn about this historic pocket of downtown Toronto, while one company offers Segway tours of the area to visitors brave enough to look fairly ridiculous. Did I mention there are plenty of bars as well?
It turns out that a lot of the American actors that star in comedy films are actually Canadian, including Seth Rogen, the man that wrote Superbad and starred in Pineapple Express.
Rogen is not alone, with one half of the Blues Brothers, Dan Aykroyd, also hailing from Canada. Those two men are joined, amongst others, by the baby-faced star of Arrested Development, Michael Cera.
To celebrate all of this talent Montreal hosts the ‘Just for Laughs’ International Comedy Festival every year from the 12th to 22nd of July.
More than two million people visit the festival to watch the finest comedic talent come together in what is recognized as one of the most important events in the comedy calendar year.
Past performers include John Cleese, Jerry Seinfeld, Dave Chapelle and Canada’s very own Jim Carrey.
This year Jimmy Carr, Aziz Ansari and TJ Miller will all be up on stage, with Noel Fielding joining in to host an all British night right there in Montreal.
Canada’s Bi-lingual Culture
Its pretty common knowledge that Canada has a French quarter and that many of the residents up there consider themselves truly separate from their English-speaking compatriots.
What people sometimes forget, though, is just how brilliant that makes visiting Canada. While you can take in typical North American cities all over the country, in Quebec City you will find a French speaking majority and more than 400 years of history.
The old town, in fact, is a UNESCO World Heritage site, where 17th and 18th century buildings are planted along cobbled streets.
For around $100 a night you can stay in the famous Château Frontenac, calling one of its 600 glorious rooms your home for the eve.
This famous building is perhaps the most iconic structure in Quebec City and is a great stopover before heading back out into the Canadian wilderness. You can, after all, go whale watching up the road in St. Lawrence.
SO GO !
There you have it.
Canada is smart, sophisticated and surprisingly gifted in a number of areas. The roads here are straight and long so, if you don’t mind a road trip, and they can be unbelievably visual in Canada, hiring a car might just be the way to get around. Domestic Flights can be expensive and the public transport outside of big cites leaves a lot to be desired. Canada is so big it would be pretty much impossible to have a comprehensive bus service.
Whatever you decide to do in Canada just remember that there are bears here that will eat you unless you stand completely still, or maybe run away. Either way just try an avoid annoying the bears.