My Favorite Canada
It’s a big year in a big country as 2017 marks the 150th anniversary of Canadian Confederation, the moment Canada became a self-governing dominion within the British Empire – a country, in other words. Today, although it plays second fiddle to Russia in terms of size, it’s hard to think of a country more beautiful or more varied – a good reason to visit at any time, let alone a year that promises to be one long, nationwide birthday party.
The big landscapes – the Canadian Rockies – are well known. Less celebrated, perhaps, is the splendour of the scenery elsewhere. Pockets of British Columbia, for example, contain desert (around Osoyoos) and warm-wintered enclaves of vines and olives (the Okanagan). On the west coast the Inside Passage – a labyrinth of fjords and islands – features North America’s finest seascapes. Alberta’s prairies contain eerie badlands (at Drumheller); the autumn colours of New Brunswick’s forests are the equal of anything in New England; and Prince Edward Island contains some of the loveliest pastoral countryside on Earth. And over it all arches the vast, ethereal beauty of the Canadian Arctic, hundreds – thousands – of miles of sublime, windswept nothing.
Big landscapes and big distances, of course, make for big journeys. By road Canada offers, among other great drives, the Icefields Parkway through the heart of the Rockies and the Alaska Highway north towards the Yukon and the old goldfields of the Klondike. By train there’s the epic Trans-Canada route or the shorter but more spectacular trips between Jasper and Prince Rupert or across the tundra from Winnipeg to Churchill on Hudson Bay.
Beyond the landscape are cities worthy of visits in their own right. Vancouver, often rated one of the world’s most liveable cities, and Montreal, a vibrant francophone enclave, are my favourites, but historic Quebec, unsung Victoria and dynamic Toronto are also compelling.
Katarina is a Traveler/Renter and a great contributor of publications on experiences and destinations.