CANADA’S 1 5 TOP TREATS

Fif­teen top treats in a year of cel­e­bra­tions

The Weekend Australian - Travel - - TRAVEL & INDULGENCE - Jen­nifer En­nion

1. TACKLE THE GREAT TRAIL

Canada will soon be home to The Great Trail, the world’s long­est recre­ational route, which will stretch a mam­moth 24,000km through all 13 prov­inces and ter­ri­to­ries when com­pleted this year. The epic track, al­ready 93 per cent con­nected, can be tack­led by bi­cy­cle, cross-coun­try skis, snow­mo­bile, kayak, via horse­back, or on foot. Open year-round, the trail links new scenic path­ways with more than 400 ex­ist­ing net­works. One of the best stretches is Fundy Trail Park­way in New Brunswick. It’s a chal­leng­ing 10km route that hugs cliffs and crosses gorges. Dreamt up in 1992, The Great Trail will be cel­e­brated on Au­gust 26 at Ma­jor’s Hill Park, Ot­tawa, and there are more than 200 other fes­tiv­i­ties be­ing held around the coun­try to mark the trail’s open­ing dur­ing Canada’s 150th birth­day cel­e­bra­tions. ALSO TRY: Check the Van­cou­ver Trails site for myr­iad walks and cy­cling op­tions on marked trails graded by level of dif­fi­culty, time, dis­tance and sea­son. More: the­great­trail.ca; van­cou­ver­trails.com.

2. MAKE A BEE-LINE

With bee­keep­ing one of the buzzi­est new ur­ban pas­times, Van­cou­ver’s Fair­mont Wa­ter­front ho­tel is adding its own so­phis­ti­cated twist to the trend. The ho­tel has a “bee but­ler” who ed­u­cates guests on the im­por­tance of honey bees and pol­li­na­tors dur­ing daily hive and gar­den tours at its api­ary. It’s all part of Fair­mont’s Bee Sus­tain­able pro­gram, rolled out at var­i­ous prop­er­ties in the Fair­mont port­fo­lio. There’s also a Bee Green pack­age, which in­cludes a pri­vate tour of the api­ary, a gue­stroom that opens into the gar­den, and a three-course “pol­li­na­tor” din­ner, fea­tur­ing 13 foods that re­quire pol­li­na­tion. ALSO TRY: Fair­mont Chateau Whistler’s bee-in­spired cock­tails are made with del­i­cate wild­flower honey har­vested from the ho­tel’s four hives. More: fair­mont.com.

3. GET OUT AND ABOUT

With heli-ski­ing, alpine hik­ing, cy­cling, ice fish­ing and snow­mo­bil­ing all pop­u­lar pas­times, Canada re­ally is the coun­try to visit for out­door fun. One of the best towns to ex­pe­ri­ence it all is Golden, Bri­tish Columbia. Founded on the rail in­dus­try, this town has such a lum­ber­jack vibe that many city vis­i­tors dream of pack­ing up house and mov­ing to the Rock­ies. In win­ter, ski the chal­leng­ing ter­rain at Kick­ing Horse Moun­tain Re­sort or head into the back-coun­try on a snow­mo­bile. In sum­mer, go river raft­ing, swim­ming or tan­dem paraglid­ing. ALSO TRY: Make Can­more, Al­berta, an­other of Canada’s top out­door recre­ation hubs, your base. It’s where in-the-know-trav­ellers go to steer clear of the hol­i­day hordes in nearby Banff. More: touris­m­golden.com; can­mo­re­al­berta.com.

4. OLD GOLD

One of the quirki­est places imag­in­able is Daw­son City, Yukon. The for­mer First Na­tions camp was the epi­cen­tre of the 19th-cen­tury Klondike gold rush, and there is still a tan­gi­ble fron­tier vibe. Old tim­ber homes and stores hunch on age­ing foun­da­tions that have fallen vic­tim to the per­mafrost. Al­though the prospec­tors are long gone, plenty of hardy types still live here, even when tem­per­a­tures drop to a bit­ing mi­nus 30C and the his­toric Klon- dike Spirit pad­dle-wheeler is trapped in the frozen Yukon River. Visit in Fe­bru­ary and you’ll see the town come alive with wild-at-heart mush­ers (and their bark­ing sled dogs) as they take well-de­served breaks dur­ing the Yukon Quest. Call into Down­town Ho­tel to join the Sour­toe Cock­tail Club (a touristy but fun tra­di­tion of con­sum­ing a shot of al­co­hol with a real pre­served hu­man toe in the glass). ALSO TRY: Visit The Daw­son City Mu­seum to learn more about the gold rush and the city’s pi­o­neers. More: daw­soncity.ca.

5. TRIP THE WHITE FAN­TAS­TIC

This year marks the 75th birth­day of North Amer­ica’s sto­ried Alaska High­way. The 2232km route be­gins in Daw­son Creek, Bri­tish Columbia, and trav­els through Yukon on its way to Delta Junc­tion, Alaska. The Yukon sec­tion is one of Canada’s most pic­turesque drives, edged with emer­ald lakes, soar­ing moun­tains and fields of pink fire­weed. You’ll travel through eight Yukon com­mu­ni­ties, in­clud­ing White­horse, learn about the ter­ri­tory’s gold and sil­ver min­ing his­tory, and view amaz­ing wilder­ness. The best time to travel is sum­mer; hire a car, RV or cam­per trailer near White­horse In­ter­na­tional Air­port. ALSO TRY: Yukon’s other famed tour­ing route, the 740km Dempster High­way, con­tin­ues into North­west Ter­ri­to­ries and crosses frozen rivers in win­ter. More: trave­lyukon.com.

6. RIDE THE RAILS

The Rocky Moun­taineer is the most fa­mous Canadian rail jour­ney but if you pre­fer to mix with lo­cals you’ll want to hop aboard one of VIA Rail’s lo­co­mo­tives. The pret­ti­est route is from Van­cou­ver to the moun­tain town of Jasper aboard what is af­fec­tion­ately known as the “snow train”. Book a sleeper cabin in win­ter and view white-blan­keted for­est and frozen water­falls from the glass­domed lounge car. ALSO TRY: A longer cross-coun­try jour­ney passes through the yel­low farm­land and prairies of Al­berta and Saskatchewan. More: viarail.ca.

7. BACK TO NA­TURE

To cel­e­brate Canada’s 150th, Parks Canada is of­fer­ing free ad­mis­sion to all its na­tional parks. Move be­yond the most pop­u­lar, such as Banff and Jasper, and seek lesser­known but equally beau­ti­ful des­ti­na­tions. Wood Buf­falo Na­tional Park, in Al­berta-North­west Ter­ri­to­ries, is Canada’s largest and the per­fect place to see bi­son, wolves and black bears. If that sounds too re­mote, head to stun­ning Yoho Na­tional Park, in Bri­tish Columbia, for top hik­ing and sight­see­ing. ALSO TRY: Visit at least one of the na­tional his­toric sites that also have free en­try with the Parks Canada Dis­cov­ery Pass. A fas­ci­nat­ing choice is Grand-Pre Na­tional His­toric Site, where vis­i­tors can learn about Nova Sco­tia’s Aca­dian cul­ture. More: pc.gc.ca.

8. BEARS OUT THERE

Get up close to the world’s largest land preda­tor, the po­lar bear, in Man­i­toba’s north­ern reaches. Ad­ven­tur­ers and na­ture lovers will be in their el­e­ment on Churchill Wild’s new sum­mer and au­tumn dual-lodge sa­faris. Visit the fron­tier town of Churchill be­fore fly­ing to Seal River Her­itage Lodge, on the shores of Hud­son Bay, to spend days walk­ing among po­lar bears. On day six, you’ll head to sis­ter wilder­ness prop­erty Nanuk Po­lar Bear Lodge for the chance to see wolves, moose and Arc­tic fox in their nat­u­ral habi­tats. Don’t for­get to keep your cam­era at hand in case the Aurora Bo­re­alis lights up the sky.

ALSO TRY: Meet or­phaned po­lar bear cubs at Assini­boine Park Zoo, Win­nipeg, and watch them swim and splash in The Jour­ney to Churchill ex­hibit. More: churchill­wild.com; assini­boinepark.ca.

9. HUB AND HAP­PEN­ING

Ot­tawa, On­tario, is the hub this year for all things to do with Canada 150, and one of the most in­ter­est­ing events this year is La Ma­chine, from July 27-30. Think ur­ban street theatre with an­i­ma­tron­ics, in­clud­ing a 12m-high combo of dragon and horse and a gi­ant spi­der, all mak­ing their way through the streets of down­town Ot­tawa.

ALSO TRY: Time your visit to the cap­i­tal to see the il­lu­mi­na­tion of cen­trally lo­cated Chaudiere Falls. The light and mu­sic dis­play is a trib­ute to Canada’s indigenous peo­ples and will run from late Septem­ber to early Novem­ber. More: ot­tawa2017.ca.

10. FLY OR FLOAT

There is much more to On­tario than Par­lia­ment Hill and Justin Trudeau and one of the best ex­pe­ri­ences is fly­ing high above the 1000 Is­lands, in the prov­ince’s south­east, with 1000 Is­lands He­li­copter Tours. De­spite the name, the archipelago con­sists of 1864 is­lands but if a chop­per ride doesn’t ap­peal, ex­plore the re­gion aboard a tripledecker ves­sel with Gananoque Boat Line, a com­pany that used to ferry pas­sen­gers across the St Lawrence River as part of its is­land mail run in the mid-1900s. There are cruises of one, two or five hours, in­clud­ing the ship­wreck-themed Lost Ships.

ALSO TRY: Con­sider a guided half or full-day kayak­ing tour of the Ad­mi­ralty Group of Is­lands, with 1000 Is­lands Kayak­ing Com­pany. More: fly­1000is­lands.ca; gan­boat­line.com; 1000is­land­skayak­ing.com.

11. PARTY IN MON­TREAL

Cob­ble­stoned laneways, the ex­quis­ite Notre-Dame Basil­ica, great cof­fee shops and colour­ful pro­duce mar­kets make Mon­treal, Que­bec, a top choice for an east-coast stopover. Ooz­ing French ar­chi­tec­tural and cul­tural V1 - AUSE01Z10TR Grand-Pre Na­tional His­toric Site, Nova Sco­tia, top; Old Mon­treal, top right; Peggy’s Cove, Novia Sco­tia, cen­tre; ex­plor­ing the North­west Pas­sage by Zo­diac, cen­tre right; Fogo Is­land Inn, New­found­land, above left; po­lar bears in Man­i­toba, above; Aurora Bo­re­alis, above right charm, there are lovely streets to wan­der, in­ter­na­tional cui­sine and fash­ion­able bou­tiques. As well as cel­e­brat­ing Canada 150, there’s a host of events in recog­ni­tion of Mon­treal’s 375th birth­day and the 50th an­niver­sary of the host­ing of Expo 67. One of the big­gest par­ties will be on Au­gust 19, when three city or­ches­tras will per­form at Mon­treal Sym­phonique, a free con­cert at Mount Royal Park un­der the di­rec­tion of Si­mon Le­clerc.

ALSO TRY: Co­in­cide your visit with Canada Pride Mon­treal, Au­gust 10-20, cel­e­brat­ing the na­tional LGBTQ move­ment. More: mtl.org; fierte­mon­tre­al­pride.com/en; 375mtl.com.

12. SITE FOR SORE EYES

Hire a car in Hal­i­fax and fol­low Nova Sco­tia’s tree-lined high­ways and by­ways to the pre­served fish­ing vil­lage of Lunen­burg, a UNESCO World Her­itage Site and win­ner of the Com­mu­ni­ties in Bloom most beau­ti­ful small town in Canada. It’s home to the fa­mous rac­ing schooner Bluenose II and your first port of call, as it were, should be the harbourfront and the Fish­eries Mu­seum of the At­lantic. Stroll the pic­turesque streets, brows­ing home­wares stores and galleries, be­fore pop­ping into The Savvy Sailor Cafe for had­dock chow­der; be sure to grab a bal­cony ta­ble if the sun’s out. In the evening, head to The Old Fish Fac­tory (open May-Oc­to­ber) for steamed lob­ster or lob­ster tacos, ac­com­pa­nied by a lo­cal rum or blue­berry liqueur.

ALSO TRY: On a be­hind-the-scenes tour of Iron­works Dis­tillery, sam­ple lo­cal vodka made from An­napo­lis Val­ley ap­ples. More: ex­plore­lunen­burg.ca; iron­works­dis­tillery.com.

13. PRETTY AS A PIC­TURE

A photographer’s favourite, Peggy’s Cove, Nova Sco­tia, is quaint mar­itime Canada at its best. Pic­ture tim­ber shin- gle homes, stores sell­ing nau­ti­cal mem­o­ra­bilia and a squat light­house stand­ing on the edge of gran­ite boul­ders worn by eons of wild weather. The red-capped Peggy’s Point Light­house (also re­ferred to as Peggy’s Cove Light­house) was built in 1915 and, rain or shine, doesn’t dis­ap­point the flocks of tourists who visit ev­ery year.

ALSO TRY: Tour along Nova Sco­tia’s so-called Light­house Route, which starts at Peggy’s Cove, takes in Louis­bourg Light­house in north­ern Cape Breton, and ends at Port Bick­er­ton Light­house. More: no­vas­co­tia.com.

14. THE INN THING

Fogo Is­land Inn, off the re­mote north­ern coast of New­found­land, is one of Canada’s most re­mark­able ho­tels, with an en­vi­able rep­u­ta­tion for style, beauty and its rare lo­ca­tion on the “edge of the Earth”. The ho­tel, with just 29 suites, sits partly on stilts on a rocky out­crop bat­tered by the North At­lantic Ocean. Its en­vi­ron­men­tal im­print is light and well-con­sid­ered; only sus­tain­able and lo­cally sourced ma­te­ri­als were used in the con­struc­tion and there’s a fo­cus on re­gional, or­ganic food.

ALSO TRY: Try cod pot­ting on a work­ing ves­sel off Fogo Is­land and learn how New­found­lan­ders have turned to sus­tain­able fish­ing; tours run in sum­mer. More: fo­go­is­landinn.ca; na­tion­al­geo­graph­i­clodges.com.

15. AHOY THERE

For Arc­tic im­mer­sion, con­sider an ex­pe­di­tion cruise that ven­tures to the near-myth­i­cal Ellesmere Is­land, as well as mul­ti­ple Royal Canadian Mounted Po­lice out­posts. Next year, One Ocean Ex­pe­di­tions will op­er­ate a 10-day High Arc­tic Ex­plorer & Ellesmere Is­land itin­er­ary with fan­tas­tic wildlife-spot­ting op­por­tu­ni­ties for the likes of po­lar bears, cari­bou, musk ox, ringed seals, and seabirds. The itin­er­ary also in­cludes a shore ex­cur­sion to Beechey Is­land to see the graves of the crew of HMS Ere­bus.

ALSO TRY: One Ocean’s East Coast Fins & Fid­dles cruise, de­part­ing Louis­bourg, Nova Sco­tia, in­cludes fa­bled Sable Is­land, with its wild horses and ship­wreck his­tory. More: oneo­cean­ex­pe­di­tions.com.

Buf­falo graze along the Alaska High­way, Yukon Ter­ri­tory, main; Three Sis­ters moun­tains in Can­more, above; La Ma­chine fes­ti­val, Ot­tawa, be­low

ALAMY

ALAMY

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