13 REA­SONS WHY CANADA ROCKS

2017 Travel Guide to Canada - - Table Of Contents - BY SU­SAN MACCAL­LUM-WHIT­COMB

1

WHALE TALES: BRI­TISH CO­LUM­BIA

In some places, red-breasted robins an­nounce the ar­rival of spring. On the west­ern shore of Van­cou­ver Is­land, it’s the re­turn of the grey whales—some 20,000 of which swim by as they make the 8,000-km (4,970-mi.) trip from the balmy breed­ing la­goons of Mex­ico to feed­ing grounds up north. Whale-watch­ing boats de­part from towns like Ucluelet and Tofino. But since the mas­sive mam­mals fol­low the coast closely, you can also ob­serve them with­out leav­ing land. The peak view­ing time in Pa­cific Rim Na­tional Park Re­serve is from March through May (www.parkscanada.gc. ca/paci­fi­crim).

2

PAN­CAKE PAN­DE­MO­NIUM: AL­BERTA

Hun­gry at­ten­dees will be happy to hear that pan­cake flip­ping is as much a part of the Cal­gary Stam­pede as bull rid­ing and bar­rel rac­ing. In fact, an es­ti­mated 200,000 pan­cakes—topped with 454 kg (1,000 lb.) of but­ter and 1,728 l (380 gal.) of syrup—are served at free break­fasts hosted city-wide each July dur­ing the 10-day event. Many also come with a side or­der of en­ter­tain­ment. The tra­di­tion started in 1923, when chuck­wagon driver Jack Mor­ton be­gan invit­ing ran­dom folks to share his morn­ing meal; now it serves as ed­i­ble ev­i­dence of that leg­endary West­ern hos­pi­tal­ity (www.stam­pede­break­fast.ca).

3

REEL LIFE: SASKATCHEWAN

For many peo­ple, Saskatchewan calls to mind wav­ing fields of prairie grain, yet this land­locked spot has real waves as well. In

fact, 100,000 or so lakes and rivers cover about a tenth of the prov­ince, pro­vid­ing some of the best fresh­wa­ter fish­ing any­where. Lo­cal wa­ters, fur­ther­more, have yielded many tro­phy catches over the years. Con­sider the wall­eye, Saskatchewan’s of­fi­cial provin­cial fish and its most pop­u­lar game species. An av­er­age wall­eye weighs less than 1.5 kg (3.3 lb.): the world-record holder caught here by an ice fish­er­man was an as­tound­ing 8.33 kg (18.36 lb.) (www.tourism­saskatchewan.com/thingsto-do/fish­ing).

4

BEAR ES­SEN­TIALS: MAN­I­TOBA

You can see a po­lar bear just by pick­ing up a “toonie”—the two-dol­lar coin. But if you want an up-close look at the planet’s largest land preda­tors, make tracks for Churchill. This tiny com­mu­nity on the west­ern shore of Hud­son Bay is one of the only hu­man set­tle­ments where they can be seen in the wild. Be­cause it sits on a po­lar bear mi­gra­tion route, hun­dreds pass through as they travel to the ice floes in Oc­to­ber and Novem­ber. Cool Tundra Bug­gies—com­plete with over­sized wheels and an out­side view­ing plat­form—take guests to ob­serve them on un­for­get­table day tours (www. ev­ery­thingchurchill.com).

5

THE PLAY’S THE THING: ON­TARIO

Shake­speare said “All the world’s a stage,” and Strat­ford—a small city in south­west­ern On­tario named for the Bard’s birth­place— ac­tu­ally feels like one dur­ing its sig­na­ture event. Each year, from April through Oc­to­ber, the Strat­ford Fes­ti­val draws nearly half a mil­lion the­atre­go­ers to four sep­a­rate venues. Founded in 1953, it had hum­ble be­gin­nings: plays were orig­i­nally per­formed in a tent. From the start, how­ever, the fes­ti­val at­tracted lu­mi­nar­ies from the theatre world. Sir Ty­rone Guthrie was its first artis­tic di­rec­tor and Sir Alec Guin­ness starred in its in­au­gu­ral pro­duc­tion of Richard III (www.strat­ford­fes­ti­val.ca).

6

COOL AC­COM­MO­DA­TIONS: QUÉBEC

What beats walk­ing in a win­ter won­der­land? How about sleep­ing in one? At the Hô­tel de Glace, ev­ery­thing—in­clud­ing the glit­ter­ing guest room fur­ni­ture—is made en­tirely of ice and snow: 30,500,000 kg (30,500 tons) of it to be ex­act. Its thick walls act like a ther­mos, so you can chill with­out get­ting too chilly; and the ice-block beds, topped with spe­cial­ly­de­signed mat­tresses, thick woolen blan­kets and Arc­tic-rated sleep­ing bags, are très cosy. Built anew each year, the Hô­tel de Glace is in Val­cartier Va­ca­tion Vil­lage and open from Jan­uary to late March (www.hoteldeglace­canada.com).

7

AL­LUR­ING LOB­STERS: NEW BRUNSWICK

Shediac, a cute Aca­dian fish­ing com­mu­nity, bills it­self as the “Lob­ster Cap­i­tal of the World.” Whether or not that’s tech­ni­cally true, this town ob­vi­ously loves the King of Crus­taceans. One is proudly dis­played on its coat of arms; an­other—a 55,000-kg (55-ton) whop­per, al­beit made from metal—is its main at­trac­tion. More­over, since 1949, it has hon­oured the catch du jour each July dur­ing the five-day Shediac Lob­ster Fes­ti­val. The high­light of the event is a nightly con­test dur­ing which re­cruits at­tempt to crack and con­sume three lob­sters as quickly as pos­si­ble (www. she­di­a­clob­ster­fes­ti­val.ca).

8

ROCK STARS: NOVA SCO­TIA

The Jog­gins Fos­sil Cliffs on Chignecto Bay are more than just an­other pretty rock face. Af­ter all, they pro­vide an un­par­al­leled look at what life was like 300 mil­lion years ago dur­ing the Car­bonif­er­ous Pe­riod. Some

200 species of fos­silized plants and an­i­mals have been dis­cov­ered here, among them Hy­lono­mus lyelli, the ear­li­est known rep­tile and the first known ver­te­brate able to live en­tirely on land. Cited by Charles Dar­win in The Ori­gin of Species, this 15-km-long

(9.3-mi.), tide-washed UNESCO World Her­itage site has been dubbed the “Coal Age Galá­pa­gos” (www.jog­gins­fos­sil­cliffs.net).

9

BRIDG­ING THE GAP: PRINCE ED­WARD IS­LAND

Al­though P.E.I. joined Con­fed­er­a­tion in 1873, the prov­ince wasn’t phys­i­cally con­nected to the rest of Canada un­til the bil­lion-dol­lar Con­fed­er­a­tion Bridge opened be­tween Bor­den-Car­leton and Cape Jouri­main, New Brunswick, 124 years later. Com­prised of al­most 13 km (8 mi.) of cur­va­ceous con­crete, the so-called “fixed link” qual­i­fies as the longest bridge in the world span­ning ice-cov­ered wa­ter. It took a team of more than 5,000 work­ers four years to build this 11-m-wide (36-ft.) en­gi­neer­ing marvel; mo­torists can cross it in a mere 12 min­utes (www.con­fed­er­a­tionbridge.com).

10 10

MIXED SIG­NALS: NEW­FOUND­LAND & LABRADOR

The provin­cial cap­i­tal’s lead­ing landmark, Sig­nal Hill, is crowned by an im­pos­ing stone tower, which was erected to com­mem­o­rate the ar­rival of Gio­vanni Caboto in 1497. The Ge­noese ex­plorer is bet­ter known to an­glo­phones as John Cabot. Coin­ci­dently, all of the mod­ern-day vis­i­tors who tweet about the tower or post cell­phone pics of it

to Face­book and In­sta­gram owe a debt to an­other trail-blaz­ing Ital­ian, Guglielmo Mar­coni. The ra­dio pioneer ush­ered in the era of global com­mu­ni­ca­tions when he re­ceived the first transat­lantic wire­less sig­nal here on De­cem­ber 12, 1901 (www.parkscanada.gc.ca/sig­nal­hill).

11

CRAZY COCK­TAILS: YUKON

More than a cen­tury af­ter the Klondike

Gold Rush ended, Daw­son City is still a place where “strange things are done in the mid­night sun.” If you want proof—about 40 proof to be pre­cise—head to the Sour­dough Sa­loon in the Down­town Ho­tel and or­der a Sour­toe Cock­tail. The off-beat bev­er­age has one key in­gre­di­ent that hip mixol­o­gists tend to over­look—namely a de­hy­drated hu­man toe. To be­come a cer­tifi­cate-car­ry­ing mem­ber of the Cock­tail Club, you can drink your shot fast or you can drink it slow, “but your lips have gotta touch the toe” (www.down­town­ho­tel.ca/sour­toe­cock­tail).

12

LIGHT DE­LIGHTS: NORTH­WEST TER­RI­TO­RIES

Nei­ther words nor pic­tures can truly con­vey the beauty of the aurora bo­re­alis, a nat­u­ral phe­nom­e­non sparked by surges of so­lar and mag­netic en­ergy. You sim­ply have to see the iri­des­cent colours dance across the night sky your­self. An ideal place to do it is the North­west Ter­ri­to­ries, where “The Great­est Light Show on Earth” is vis­i­ble about 240 days a year. The ab­sence of light pol­lu­tion in Wood Buf­falo Na­tional Park— Canada’s largest na­tional park and the world’s largest Dark Sky Pre­serve— cre­ates top view­ing op­por­tu­ni­ties from mid-De­cem­ber to mid-March (www.parkscanada.gc.ca/wood­buf­falo).

13

THAT SINK­ING FEEL­ING: NU­NAVUT

Nu­navut doesn’t make head­lines of­ten, but in 2014 the news went vi­ral: af­ter 168 years, the HMS Ere­bus—one of the ships from the ill-fated Franklin Ex­pe­di­tion—had been dis­cov­ered in its icy wa­ters by Parks Canada ar­chae­ol­o­gists. The feat was re­peated in 2016 when her sis­ter ship, the HMS Ter­ror was lo­cated. Sir John Franklin, his crew and both ves­sels dis­ap­peared in 1846 while try­ing to tra­verse the North­west Pas­sage—and gain a lu­cra­tive trade route be­tween the At­lantic and Pa­cific. Find­ing them helps solve one of the world’s great marine mys­ter­ies (www.parkscanada.gc.ca/ franklin).

FISH­ING • TOURISM SK

ICE HO­TEL, QC • CTC

CHURCHILL, MB • TRAVEL MB

STRAT­FORD FES­TI­VAL • ON TOURISM/J. SPEED

CON­FED­ER­A­TION BRIDGE, PE • SHUTTERSTOCK/DAVID P. LEWIS

SHEDIAC BAY, NB • CTC

WOOD BUF­FALO NA­TIONAL PARK, NT • PARKS CANADA/JOHN D. MCKIN­NON

HMS ERE­BUS, NU • PARKS CANADA

SIG­NAL HILL, ST. JOHN’S NL • SHUTTERSTOCK/CHRIS HOWEY

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