Hip city sites on the edge of wilder­ness

Canada’s cul­tural epi­cen­tre melds a di­verse food scene with an edgy art scape, all within range of North America’s most-famed falls

Sunday Mail - Travel/Escape - - STAMPEDE CALGARY -

WHENit comes to cul­ture, cui­sine and so­phis­ti­ca­tion, On­tario – Canada’s most pop­u­lous prov­ince – is on top of its game. You can’t help but feel a con­nec­tion with the rest of the planet. For­get ice fish­ing, conifers and bears for a minute – this is global Canada, big-city, sexy, pro­gres­sive, ur­bane Canada.

Toronto, Canada’s largest city, is a blaz­ing me­trop­o­lis over­flow­ing with mul­ti­cul­tural arts, en­ter­tain­ment and eat­ing op­por­tu­ni­ties. Ottawa, Canada’s cap­i­tal, is no longer a stead­fast po­lit­i­cal fil­ing cabi­net: con­tem­po­rary Ottawa is as hip as you want it to be.

Not far from the madding crowds, low-key agri­cul­tural towns and his­toric set­tle­ments de­fine On­tario’s coun­try ci­vil­ity. And if you’re into wildlife, ex­cel­lent na­tional parks abound. From north to south you’ll find more than enough forests, un­du­lat­ing hills and vine­yards to keep you feel­ing green.

Toronto, Ni­a­gara Falls and On­tario’s high­lights

sea­son, the Falls never fail to awe (14 mil­lion vis­i­tors an­nu­ally can’t be wrong). Even in win­ter, when the flow is par­tially hid­den and the edges freeze solid, the wa­tery ex­trav­a­ganza is undi­min­ished. Very oc­ca­sion­ally the Falls stop al­to­gether. This was first recorded on Easter Sun­day morn­ing in 1848, when ice com­pletely jammed the flow. Pi­ous lo­cals feared the end of the world was nigh.

Piety, how­ever, isn’t some­thing Ni­a­gara Falls strives for these days. It’s been a saucy hon­ey­moon desti­na­tion ever since Napoleon’s ´ brother brought his bride here – tags such as ‘‘ For new­ly­weds and nearly deads’’ and ‘‘ Vi­a­gra Falls’’ are apt. More re­cently, a crass morass of casi­nos, fast-food joints, sleazy mo­tels, cheesy tourist at­trac­tions and sex shops has bloomed par­a­sit­i­cally around the Falls in the Clifton Hill area – a Lit­tle Las Ve­gas.

The Ni­a­gara re­gion also struts its pretty stuff with leafy trails and slow­poke back roads to cy­cle, wooded gorges and na­ture-re­serve paths to hike, and a lush, vine­yard-striped land­scape to ex­plore.

About 9am. Jump queues and save money with the Great Gorge Ad­ven­ture Pass (ni­a­gara­parks.com; adult/child $C40/$28) (Ph: 819 776 7000; civ­i­liza­tion.ca; 100 Rue Lau­rier; adult/child/se­nior $C12/$8/$10; hours: 9am-6pm Sat-Wed, to 8pmThu-Fri) In one stop, this must-see mu­seum doc­u­ments the his­tory of Canada through a spec­tac­u­lar range of ex­hibits. Learn about ev­ery­thing from First Na­tion cre­ation sto­ries to civil rights, Basque whal­ing ships to Jackrab­bit Jo­hannsen, a trail­blaz­ing skier.

De­signed by Dou­glas Car­di­nal, the stone ex­te­rior has been sculpted into smooth rip­ples – like the un­du­lat­ing wave of a cur­rent. Note that you won’t find any cor­ners at the mu­seum, as it is be­lieved in in­dige­nous lore that the evil spir­its live in these an­gled nooks. Al­low at least an en­tire af­ter­noon to ex­plore the mu­seum and to take in the stun­ning, all-en­com­pass­ing views of the na­tion’s cap­i­tal and Par­lia­ment across the river. The Grand Hall, with its sim­u­lated for­est and seashore, il­lu­mi­nates the north­west coastal na­tive cul­tures with tow­er­ing colour­ful totem poles.

Kids get a pass­port when they en­ter the Cana­dian Chil­dren’s Mu­seum, a vast ed­u­ca­tional and hands-on space of­fer­ing glimpses into dif­fer­ent cul­tures from around the world. Even adults may find that this is their favourite part of the mu­seum. Nu­mer­ous tem­po­rary ex­hibits sup­ple­ment the al­ready in­cred­i­ble col­lec­tion, and Cine­plus adds an ad­di­tional di­men­sion, show­ing IMAX and Om­n­i­max films. It has more mu­se­ums right out the front door. In Que­bec, across the river.

Avail­able for iPhone and Black­berry users.

4-8pm Thurs­days.

IN SEA­SON: (Clock­wise from top) Skaters watch the an­nual Win­terCity Fes­ti­val in Toronto; Ni­a­gara Falls; and over­look­ing the St Lawrence River and part of the Thou­sand Is­lands. Pic­tures: Lonely Planet Im­ages

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Australia

© PressReader. All rights reserved.