Look up for Northern Lights and Winter Nights in Churchill, Manitoba

Photo credit: Travel Manitoba

The northern sky dims, but doesn’t stay dark for long. Bright stars start to wink from the cloudless expanse above. Then the sky awakens. Through the skylight of Frontiers North’s Thanadelthur Lounge, the northern lights dash, painting the dark scene with colour and light. Silence falls over your fellow travellers as amazement sets in.

Photo credit: Travel Manitoba

Churchill, Manitoba sits directly beneath the auroral oval, making it one of the best places on Earth to see the northern lights. The end of February and beginning of March offer the best conditions for northern lights viewing. Frontiers North’s Northern Lights and Winter Nights tour takes full advantage of the time of year and remote location to create an awe-inspiring viewing experience.

Photo credit: Travel Manitoba

The Tundra Buggy® leaves the town of Churchill, crossing the frozen Churchill River, to get to Thanadelthur Lounge. Away from the light of the town the northern lights shine more brightly. Through the panoramic windows of the lounge, the natural display is dazzling but up on the outdoor observation deck, the beauty of the northern lights is breathtaking.

Photo credit: Mike Gere

The guide shows the group some tricks for photographing the northern lights. You capture an exceptional photo, but know you won’t be able to capture the incredible feeling of standing under Mother Nature’s light show. You wish you could stay all night, but as the Tundra Buggy® brings you back to town, you’re already looking forward to tomorrow evening – dinner and a show.

Photo credit: Mike Gere

Dan’s Diner is similar to Thanadelthur Lodge, away from the lights of the town, with wooden beams along the walls separated by large windows, but as the name suggests it also offers an exquisite dining experience. The smell of searing scallops fills the space. Anticipation for the meal buzzes in the room.

Photo credit: Travel Manitoba

The courses are mainly regional foods – elk, local pickerel and roasted parsnips and beets served with wine. The food is nearly too delicious and almost distracts from the beauty above, but as dessert is served, the northern lights catch your eye again, twisting and turning as you savour the last bites.

Photo credit: Abby Matheson

 

Culture and adventure fill the days between these exceptional evening experiences. Churchill is home to a plane crash site, a shipwreck and a former rocket research range. A sightseeing tour takes visitors past points of interest around the town of Churchill and to the Polar Bear Holding Facility, an important part of keeping the balance that exists between the polar bears and the people of Churchill.

Before the culinary experience at Dan’s Diner, there is an opportunity to go dog sledding through the boreal forest.

Photo credit: Travel Manitoba

The dogs are eager to start running and after you get to know them each by name, they take off through the snow. The crisp air on your cheeks cools you as your heart pumps with excitement. You zip past spruce and fir trees on the mile-long ride.

On the second-last day in Churchill there’s an opportunity to get even closer to the natural beauty of the boreal forest on a snowshoeing trek. A naturalist from the area shares insight into the eco-systems of the boreal forest, Precambrian rock region and the shore of the Hudson Bay.

Photo credit: Travel Manitoba

The final day on the tour is spent at the Parks Canada Visitor Centre learning about Churchill’s history and at the Itsanitaq Museum, which houses almost 1000 pieces of Inuit art.

The eight-day trip is packed to the brim – four nights of northern lights viewing, a culinary experience like no other, a dog sledding adventure, a snowshoe hike, a tour of Churchill’s highlights and a full day in Winnipeg are all included in Frontiers North’s Northern Lights and Winter Nights Adventure. Join the tour and experience nights in the north like never before.

This Incredible Polar Bear Safari Will Change Your Life

Photo by: Michael Poliza, courtesy Churchill Wild

If you travel to where northern Manitoba’s boreal forest, the Canadian Arctic tundra, and the tidal flats of the southern Hudson Bay meet, you’ll find the town of Churchill. To call this community a remote outpost would be an understatement — it can only be accessed by train or plane — but surely that’s how it has kept its rugged, untouched beauty preserved for so long. This isn’t a bustling metropolis, but a town that lives in harmony with nature.

Many who make the journey to Churchill do so to catch a glimpse of polar bears roaming around their natural habitat. But for some, a glimpse simply isn’t enough.

If you’re one of these adventurous spirits, consider going on an Arctic safari that brings you right into the heart of polar bear country. Board an eight-person prop plane from Churchill to the even more remote ecolodges of Churchill Wild. This family-run tour operator owns three wilderness lodges on the rugged Hudson Bay coast. Flanked by freshwater lakes and the Seal River, these lodges are perfectly positioned for up-close-and-personal wildlife encounters.

In addition to National Geographic-approved accommodations, Churchill Wild offers a suite of on-the-ground polar bear tours between July and November. These tours are a truly unique and exclusive experience that capture a kind of magic you can’t find outside of Canada’s Arctic. Consider the search for your next life-changing travel destination over.

Float alongside beluga whales in Hudson Bay or along the Churchill River. Photo courtesy Churchill Wild

Birds, Bears, and Belugas

On one of Churchill Wild’s summer tours, Birds, Bears, and Belugas, you’ll move into the Seal River Heritage Lodge and venture out on guided daily excursions to walk alongside very real polar bears. This particular spot off Hudson Bay is nicknamed the “polar bear waiting room” because it’s where the bears wait for the sea ice to return, so you’ll have ample opportunity to get close to these white giants as they laze about in the dazzling fireweed that blankets the tundra this time of year.

Another magnificent sight you can only see in Churchill in the summer is the thousands of beluga whales that flood the Hudson Bay and Churchill river to mate and birth their young. These roly-poly creatures are incredibly intelligent, friendly, and vocal, often surfacing to interact with (and chirp at) travellers in boats or on shore. Back on land, you may also spot red and Arctic foxes, charcoal-coloured wolves, moose, and over 100 species of bird, including Ptarmigan, Smith’s Longspur, and the rare Ross’s Gull.

This tour is suitable for adventurers of all ages, making it an excellent choice for families seeking a break from the ordinary. It’s also worth noting that this tour (along with all of Churchill Wild’s tours) is incredibly intimate and exclusive, only accepting groups of up to 16 people — meaning you won’t have to throw elbows to get that perfect shot.

Walk where the polar bears roam. Photo courtesy Travel Manitoba

Vacation Among the Polar Bears

If you’re seeking a safari that places you even deeper in Manitoba’s untamed wilderness, look no further than the Arctic Discovery.

This journey takes place in early August and starts in the nearby city of Winnipeg, where you’ll learn more about the region’s history at the Manitoba Museum’s carefully curated Arctic Gallery. From here, you’ll move on to Churchill, where you’ll spend two days exploring the waters of the Churchill River. Belugas also make an appearance on this tour, but this time you have a chance to kayak with these swimming goliaths and hear their gleeful whistling and chirping.

This incredible experience is capped off with a four-night stay at Nanuk Polar Bear Lodge, which has unparalleled access to polar bears and their coastal habitat, and is rich in other wildlife such as wolves, moose and black bears. Once you’re settled at Nanuk, you’ll be taken on daily treks and ATV excursions across the rugged landscape.

One of the most stunning aspects of each of Churchill Wild’s ecolodges is their construction, which offers wrap-around views and picture windows in every room — ideally suited for spotting wildlife while getting cozy by the wood-burning fire. Curious polar bears often wander right up to the glass to say “hi,” and outside around the lodges there are large-gap wire fences that let you stand within mere metres of these 1,000-pound looky-loos. It’s a true thrill, set against the beautiful backdrop of one of the world’s last untamed lands.

The Northern Lights can be viewed 300 days of the year in Churchill. Photo courtesy of Churchill Wild and Columbia Sportswear

Be Part of an Exclusive Adventure

The Great Ice Bear Adventure might be the motherlode of all polar bear safaris. It takes place during high polar bear season (October-November), when Churchill’s population doubles with explorers from far and wide. But at the remote Dymond Lake Ecolodge, the polar bears and their natural habitat are still completely undisturbed.

The bears are more active this time of year, sparring in anticipation for mating season and readying themselves for their migration out onto the ice. Tread carefully as there is a reason these majestic animals made our list of the most dangerous animals in the world and for the most part, you’ll be roaming around on foot — just like the bears. But this tour also includes a one-day tundra buggy tour where a protective open-top vehicle takes you safely onto the coastal flats to get even closer to the bears. In addition to spotting polar bears and other wildlife, keep an eye on the sky for the Aurora Borealis (or Northern Lights), which can be viewed 300 days of the year in the Churchill area.

The main attraction of Churchill Wild’s tours is undoubtedly the ability to get up-close-and-personal with the furry, feathery, and flippered creatures that call the area home. But after a long day of channeling your inner David Attenborough, it’s also extremely satisfying to sit down and enjoy a meal of tundra-inspired gourmet comfort food, step outside with a glass of wine for a late show of the dancing Northern Lights, or just let your head hit the pillow in the bedroom of your private, coastal lodge.

If you’re looking for a life-changing adventure that gives you access to both the best of the Canadian Arctic and all the comforts of home, look no further than Churchill Wild.

7 Wild Wonders You Need to See in Churchill This Summer

Photo by: Lazy Bear Expeditions

When many people picture a summer getaway, it probably includes palm trees, flip flops and drinks with tiny umbrellas. But for those of us with adventure in our veins, summer promises ample opportunities to get outside and see a whole other side of nature.

Given that it’s known as the polar bear capital of the world, it’s easy to think of Churchill, Manitoba, as a prime winter destination. Don’t get us wrong: Churchill is gorgeous during the colder months, when the snow-swept plains reflect the rainbow lights of the aurora borealis. But all of the things traditionally associated with this Manitoba town’s winters are still available in the summer — plus many more warm weather-specific wonders that you have to see to believe. Here are seven of the most spectacular sights and experiences Churchill offers to summer adventurers.

Thousands of beluga whales flood Hudson Bay in the summer months. Photo by: Lazy Bear Expeditions

1. Migrating Belugas

Not just a haven for polar bears, Churchill is also a summer home to as many as 60,000 migrating beluga whales. The area offers a rare opportunity to see these beautiful, talkative sea mammals in their natural habitat. Of course, it’s important to respect that habitat, which is why we’d recommend an experience like Lazy Bear Expeditions’ Beluga Whale Dream Tour. Rendezvous with these “sea canaries” via jet boat as they feed on schools of fish. If you want to be even closer to the action, consider paddling alongside them in a kayak or AquaGlider. Since an AquaGlider is essentially just a large surfboard, this option is only recommended for those who wouldn’t balk at having whales poke their heads out of the water to take a peek at them.

2. Polar Bears Among the Wildflowers

When they say Churchill is the polar bear capital of the world, they mean it. With an estimated 1,000 bears roaming around, the odds that you’ll see one are actually pretty good. But remember that polar bears are, well, bears, and that approaching them on your own isn’t the safest idea.

For this reason, embarking on a Lazy Bear Expeditions safari is the best way to safely guarantee that you’ll be able to get up-close-and-personal with polar bears. Their Ultimate Arctic Summer Adventure is probably the best opportunity you’ll have to get close to these majestic creatures, who can be spotted swimming in Hudson Bay and lounging in wildflower-filled fields in the summer months. Lazy Bear guides will take you to a remote viewing area on the west side of the Bay. Depending on the wildlife and weather conditions, you might even be able to disembark from the boat and walk where polar bears roam.

The windswept shores of Hudson Bay. Photo by: Renato Granieri, Courtesy Lazy Bear Expeditions

3. An Untamed Part of the World

Accessible only by air and rail, Churchill is remote in the truest sense of the word. Though it’s tucked away on the northeastern edge of Manitoba on the shores of Hudson Bay, don’t mistake its solitude for a lack of excitement. Churchill’s remoteness gives it a sense of wonder that you can’t get from a big city, as well as a different level of access to nature. If you’re not sure where to start, the Lazy Bear Lodge offers a range of expeditions for all ages and interests.

4. A Jail for Polar Bears

On paper, “polar bear jail” sounds like a recycled joke from an old Hanna-Barbera cartoon, but the unique Churchill landmark is actually a key component of the town’s commitment to keeping the bear population safe. A conservation effort in the truest sense, the jail was opened in a converted (and closed) aircraft hangar that’s since been retrofitted with almost 30 cells. It was created in an effort to prevent hungry bears from venturing into town, for the protection of both humans and the bears themselves.

The cozy Lazy Bear Café. Photo by: Travel Manitoba

5. Early Canada’s Unique History

Churchill is bursting with history. We recommend going ashore for a walking tour of the historic Prince of Wales Fort. The ruins of what was once a bustling Hudson’s Bay Company fur trade fortress, this beautiful location isn’t just a way to reflect on the past, but also a great site to see passing beluga whales.

6. Summer’s Spectacular Wildlife Migration

If you can believe it, belugas and bears are far from the only beautiful species you can see in Churchill. The town is a haven for bird-watching, with hundreds of species passing through when migrating and countless others calling the tundra their home year-round. From falcons and snow owls to the ultra-rare Ross’s Gull, Churchill should be on the bucket list of every amateur ornithologist (of course, professionals are more than welcome, too). If birds aren’t your thing, that’s okay: Churchill is also a habitat for Arctic Sik Siks, foxes, hares and seals.

The shimmering northern lights above Lazy Bear Lodge. Photo by: Lazy Bear Expeditions

7. Northern Lights in Summer

We think of the northern lights as a winter tradition, and for the most part, that’s true. But Churchill’s aforementioned remoteness and resulting lack of light pollution throws that notion to the wind. The aurora borealis is actually visible here up to 300 days a year. Churchill sits directly beneath the aurora oval, so when conditions are right, you can see the lights dance.

Arctic tourism is on the rise, and Churchill is one of the best places in Northern Canada to see why. More than just a novelty, the town’s rich history, culture and wildlife uniquely position it to be a once-in-a-lifetime visit. With the right guide, a trip to Churchill is a sustainable and breathtaking experience you won’t soon forget.

8 Historic Canadian Forts That Still Exist Today

Canadian forts offer a glimpse into the past, built over the last two centuries to defend the young country. Nowadays they stand as a testament to the history of Canada and offer visitors a chance to go back in time. Many of these historic forts have been rebuilt time and time again, in order to give visitors access to them. Beautiful views, fun activities and a great lesson in Canadian history await visitors to these eight historic Canadian forts.

8. Fort Rodd Hill National Historic Site, Victoria, British Columbia

This coastal artillery fort was built in the 1890’s, intended to defend Victoria and the Esquimalt Naval Base. The site is adjacent to Fisgard Lighthouse, the first lighthouse on the west coast of Canada. Visitors here have the chance to tour secret bunkers, military command posts, and original 19th-century buildings.

Hear personal stories of soldiers and their families, explore the nearby tide pools and bring a picnic and spend the whole day here. Known for its breathtaking views, the fort overlooks the beautiful coastline and out into the mountains. Open every day except Christmas, most visitors choose to visit the fort and the lighthouse in the same visit.

7. The Citadel National Historic Park, Halifax, Nova Scotia

Fort George is the fortified summit of Citadel Hill, first fortified in 1749, the year when Halifax was founded. A series of four different defensive fortifications have occupied the summit of Citadel Hill. While it was never attacked, the Citadel played an important part in the defense of the Halifax Harbor and its Royal Navy Dockyard. The star-shaped structure offers an incredible view of the city and the harbor.

Visitors should plan on taking a guided tour to learn more about the fort’s history from 1749 through WWII. Make sure to visit the Army Museum while you are here to view over 70,000 artifacts chronicling Atlantic Canada’s military history. Visit in July and be a part of the Great Canadian Backyard Campout where you can set up camp inside the walls of the citadel.

6. Fort Chambly National Historic Site, Chambly, Quebec

This imposing stone structure has been guarding part of one of the largest navigable waterways in North America for more than two centuries. It was first constructed in 1711 to defend the colony and three wooden forts preceded the stone fortification. For many years this fort was the main footing of the defensive chain of fortifications along the Richelieu River, which was the easiest route into New France.

The fort was lost to the British in 1760 in The Conquest of New France, captured by American forces in 1775 and finally restored in 1882 by a citizen of Chambly. Today visitors can see a fully reconstructed version of the fort where they can learn more about New France history and culture.

5. Fort St. James National Historic Site, Fort St. James, British Columbia

It was one of the first permanent fur trading posts in the West, built in 1805-1806 and has been rebuilt a total of four times. Visitors here will get a good look at life in 1896 that includes a fur warehouse, storage facility, trade store, and gardens. It displays the largest group of original wooden buildings representing the fur trade in Canada and the story here revolves around the relationships and interactions between the fur traders and Native Peoples of the region.

Its location on Stuart Lake offers fun for outdoor enthusiasts including hiking, sailing, fishing and mountain biking. Special event days happen throughout the year including Salmon Day with its ‘iron chef’ cook-off and Harvest Day.

Via Salmon Trails | Northwest BC Culture

4. Lower Fort Garry National Historic Site, St. Andrews, Manitoba

The original Fort Garry was destroyed in 1826 by a devastating flood, leading the Hudson’s Bay Company to search for a higher ground to build the next fort. Thus Lower Fort Garry was built, 32km north of the original in 1830. What makes this fort so significant is the fact that Treaty 1 was signed here.

Visit here from May to September when costumed interpreters recreate like at Lower Fort Garry in the early 1850’s. Original buildings and walls, hands-on activities and original-to-era furnishings are all a part of the experiment. Around Halloween, candlelight tours are offered through the fort, along with hot chocolate around a campfire.

Via National Post

3. Fort Malden National Historic Site of Canada, Amherstburg, Ontario

It was formally known as Fort Amherstburg, built in 1795 by Britain in order to ensure the security of British North America against any potential threat of American Invasion. It here where Sir Isaac Brock and Tecumseh met during the War of 1812 to plan the siege of Detroit. Unfortunately, this border fortification was torn down after the War of 1812. The fort was rebuilt and it’s the second structure that survives today.

Ideally located along the Detroit River, visitors here are privy to some true Canadian flora and fauna including sugar maples, swans, and geese. Throughout the year there are special events such as the haunted fort tours during October and Christmas celebrations that show visitors how soldiers over two hundred years ago celebrated the holiday.

Via Ontario’s Southwest

2. Fortress Louisburg, Louisburg, Nova Scotia

The original settlement was made in 1713 by the French and developed over several decades into a thriving center for fishing and trade. Fortified against the threat of British Invasion during the time of empire building, Louisburg was besieged twice before finally being destroyed in the 1760’s. Luckily for visitors, archeologists have reconstructed the fortress as it was in the 18th century.

Today the site features more than a dozen buildings to explore as well as daily demonstrations recreating life at the fort that includes cooking, dancing, music and military drills. This is more than just a fort to explore, with its three 18th-century restaurants as well as a delicious bakery to explore. One of best things about visiting this fortress is the help you are giving the local economy, which has struggled economically with the decline of the North Atlantic fishery.

1. Old Fort Erie, Niagara Falls, Ontario

It is known as Canada’s bloodiest field of battle, due to more than 3,000 troops who lost their lives during the Siege of Fort Erie from August 3rd to September 21st in 1814. The original fort was built in 1764 and was the first British fort to be constructed as part of a network developed after the Treaty of Paris concluded the Seven Years’ War. The fort was first a supply base for British troops, before the War of 1812, a base for troops during the American Revolution and later an important crossing point for the Underground Railroad.

The annual Siege of Fort Erie takes place on the second week of August each year and is most definitely the favorite time to check out this historical fort. It is then that re-enactors from all over North America descend on the fort to re-create the historic battles, complete with plenty of firepower.

7 Best Things to See and Do in Manitoba

Manitoba is often overlooked as a tourist destination, although no one can quite say why, and frankly it shouldn’t be. This province is absolutely loaded with awesome things to see and do, including one of the top places to view the incredible Northern Lights. Along with outdoor adventures such as polar bear viewing and hiking through national parks, Manitoba offers its fair share of festivals, museums, markets and more. Discover the best 7 things to see and do in this highly underrated province.

7. Play at Whiteshell Provincial Park

Just an hour or so away from Winnipeg is the Whiteshell Provincial Park, loaded with hills, lakes, valleys, forests, and rivers. Inhabitants of the park include deer, moose and black bears with much of the wilderness here being undisturbed. In the summertime go swimming at one the beaches, scuba dive in the clear waters, or hike along one of the scenic trails, ranging from 3km-60km.

Wintertime brings ice-fishing, snowmobiling, snowshoeing and skiing. There are 200 lakes here, a range of accommodations, a golf course, museums and even a goose sanctuary. Soak up the scenery here, doing whatever activity you desire, just make sure to take plenty of pictures.

Via Flickr.com

6. Attend the Icelandic Festival

The Icelandic Festival of Manitoba is also known as Islendingadagurinn and takes place in the small town of Gimli. It is the largest Icelandic gathering outside of Iceland itself and the second oldest continuous ethnic festival in North America. The province itself has strong historical connections to Iceland and spends a weekend each summer celebrating the culture.

Over the weekend numerous events take place such as beach volleyball, pancake breakfast, music and poetry, midways rides and games and more. Daily demonstrations of Viking age warfare, tactics, skills, entertainment, and fashion take place, sure to enthrall people of all ages. Eat Icelandic food, join in on traditions, introduce the kids to culture and spend the weekend in one surreal Canadian landscape.

Via Icelandic Festival

5. Visit the Forks

The Forks is Winnipeg’s meeting place, nestled in the heart of downtown and is one of the most beloved places in the city. For over 6,000 years The Forks has been a meeting place, from the time when Aboriginal peoples traded here to buffalo hunters to tens of thousands of immigrants. Today it is home to more than 4 million visitors annually, who come to discover the wide range of shopping, dining, entertainment, and attractions.

Many visitors flock to the Canadian Museum for Human Rights which is an awesome addition to the city of Winnipeg. The Forks is also home to the Manitoba’s Children Museum, Arctic Glacier Winter Park which features skating trails and toboggan runs, and the Boardwalk Promenade. Don’t miss out on The Forks Market with its impressive six storey tower with a viewing platform.

Via Winnipeg Free Press

4. See the Polar Bears

Churchill is one of the few human settlements where polar bears can be observed in the wild and if you have ever dreamed of seeing these magnificent creatures in their homes, Manitoba is the perfect province to do so. October and November are the prime viewing times when the bears begin their move from their summer habitat on the tundra back to the ice that forms every winter over Hudson Bay. There are a few different ways to view the bears, and it is highly recommended joining a reputable tour guide, as they adhere to strict guidelines in order to protect the bears.

Tundra vehicles can take visitors over the snow and ice and protect visitors from curious bears or guided walks are available to areas where bears frequently stop by. Staying at a wilderness lodge along the bear’s migration route provides an exciting experience for visitors to watch for bears right from the lodge. The spectacular animals can reach up to 1,320lbs and have no natural enemies, making them both fearless and impressive.

Via World Wildlife Fund

3. Visit Riding Mountain National Park

This scenic park can be visited all year round and proves to be the perfect combination of recreation area, and nature reserve. The landscape is a combination of forest, prairie and super clear lakes and rivers. The park is home to a number of species of wildlife including moose, elk, wolves, bison and hundreds of bird species. Hikers will delight in the 400km of hiking trails throughout the park, ranging from easy patrol roads to grassy trails to steep cliffs.

The cold deep lakes here provide excellent fishing lakes and among the most popular are Clear Lake, Deep Lake, and Katherine Lake. Other activities include canoeing, camping, boating, swimming, scuba diving and snowshoeing, snowmobiling and skiing in the wintertime. The park is most easily accessed by Highway 10 which passes through the park and the south entrance is at the townsite of Wasagaming.

Via AD Virdi Photography

2. Explore the Mennonite Heritage Village

The Mennonite Heritage Village in Steinbach recreates Mennonite life from the 16th century to present day and features more than 20 furnished buildings spread over 40 acres. Wander through the street village, dine at the Livery Barn Restaurant where the traditional Mennonite fare is served, explore a classic Mennonite housebarn and visit the fully operational Dutch windmill during the summer season.

The galleries house historic and heirloom treasures from Poland to Russia to Canada and visitors can find souvenirs at the Visitors Centre which is open all year round. The site is full of volunteers who are descendants of early blacksmiths, millers, and shopkeepers, who love to chat with visitors and answer any questions about the site.

Via Flickr.com

1. See the Northern Lights

To travel to Manitoba and not catch a glimpse of the awe-inspiring, ever-changing phenomenon of the Northern Lights would be a travesty. This province is home to some of the world’s most luminous locales for gazing at the shimmering curtains of multi-colored lights that dance across the night sky. The best viewing times are from January to March and Churchill is one of the top three spots on the planet to witness them.

One of the best ways to see them is to book an overnight adventure that offers sky-gazing access from the deck of a heated tundra vehicle. Or head further south and stay in a lakeside lodge in Flin Fon where it is said they can be seen all year round. Grab your camera and ready for yourself for an absolutely mind-blowing visual experience.

Via Frontiers North Adventures

The Best Urban Parks in Canada

Canada is known for some of its incredible National Parks but often what gets overlooked in this great nation are the incredible urban parks that have popped up from coast to coast. What makes one urban park better than another? Great access to activities, varied landscapes, incredible scenery and plenty of things to see and do, are what sets these eight urban parks above the rest. From the famous Stanley Park in Vancouver to the largest urban park in Canada to lesser known parks in the east coast; here are the best urban parks in Canada.

8. Assiniboine Park, Winnipeg

This park is considered to be one of Winnipeg’s crown jewels and offers over 113 hectares of woodland and plains along the River’s south side. Attractions here include the park zoo whose star attraction is the Polar Bears and the comprehensive exhibit that they are housed in. Known to be one of the most comprehensive zoological exhibits of its kind in the world, visitors have the chance to watch the playful bears in a stimulating environments inspired by their natural habitat. The park boasts more than just the zoo though, including gardens, playgrounds, restaurants, nature trails, a steam train and more. The park conservatory boasts over 8,000 flowers, trees and plants while the Gallery Museum features local artists and a permanent Winnie the Pooh artifact collection.

Assiniboine Park, Winnipeg

7. Beacon Hill Park, Victoria

Located on Victoria’s southern shores, Beacon Hill Park is an oasis of both landscaped and natural beauty, offering spectacular views during every season. The outer rim of the park is where nature lovers flock to, to Oceanside bluffs where paragliders and kite enthusiasts often can be seen. The inner park is where visitors will find most of the activities though. Wander through the manicured gardens and over bridged streams while music drifts out of the Cameron Bandshell. Or take the kids the the miniature golfing or petting zoo. Wildlife is abundant throughout the park with over a hundred species of birds, river otters, painted turtles and more. This park also happens to have the important status of being the western terminus, the Mile “0” of the 8,000km Trans-Canada highway and so happens to be a very popular tourist photo opp.

Mile 0

6. Pippy Park, St. John’s Newfoundland

At the northern boundary of St. John’s lays one of Canada’s greatest urban parks, Pippy Park, abundant in scenery and breathtaking views. The 27-hole golf course features some of the spectacular views of both the oldest city in North America and miles of rugged coastline, chances are you might even see an iceberg or whale while walking this course. If visitors want to spend more than just a day exploring this awesome park, the campground offers 216 sites on private treed lots that are steps away from playgrounds and the Botanical Gardens. There is a plethora of scenic trails that allow visitors to explore a variety of landscapes including wetlands, rivers, parklands and more. The rare Leopard march orchid can also be spotted here in the Botanical Gardens and offers visitors a once in a lifetime opportunity to see it up close and in person.

whale

5. Fish Creek Provincial Park, Calgary

It is the largest urban park in all of Canada, and just so happens to be one of the best, located in the southern part of Calgary and over three times the size of Vancouver’s famous Stanley Park. Fish Creek flows the entire length of the park and joins the Bow River at the east side, offering visitors a plethora of wildlife viewing opportunities. Visitors here will be privy to 200 bird species, deer, owls, beavers and coyotes which all call this park home. One of the most popular features of the park is Sikome Lake, a man-made lake where thousands of people flock to each summer to swim. A variety of unpaved walking, hiking and bicycle trails are also prevalent throughout Fish Creek Park. Two restaurants are located here, one which offers fine-dining and the other a bakery and café and an Artisan Garden is located in the east end. There are a ton of things to see and do here and if you happen to be a resident of Calgary, consider yourself lucky that you get to enjoy this park anytime at your leisure.

deer

4. Rockwood Park, St. John New Brunswick

This park offers an abundance of activities to enjoy in an unspoiled setting where unusual topography and geography are prevalent. The billion years of history here can be seen in unique rock formations, caves and waterfalls and this park often refers to itself as an all-season natural amusement park. Sports enthusiasts will enjoy the opportunity for hiking, fishing. Boating, climbing, camping, golfing and mountain biking while those looking for something a little more low key can visit the Cherry Brook Zoo, located in the north section of the park. Other awesome amenities include beaches, gardens, stables, campgrounds and picnic sites, along with 890 hectares of forest and the beautiful Lily Lake.

rockwood park NB

3. High Park, Toronto

It is Toronto’s largest public park and in recent years the city has invested a lot of time, energy and money into making it one of the greatest urban parks in Canada. High Park is home to a greenhouse, zoo, restaurants, off-leash dog park and more. The signature Sakura cheery blossom trees in Hillside Gardens are the star attraction during April and May when they are in full bloom. Grenadier Pond is the place to head for fishing off the south rim while visitors who want to swim or skate can head to the designated pool and rink. From wandering through the nature trails to playing on one of many playgrounds to taking in a sport at one of the great facilities, there is certainly no shortage of things to do here.

high park

2. Mt. Royal Park, Montreal

It is the best urban park in all of Montreal and so happens to be one of the best in all of Canada, laying in the midst of Montreal island and including 200 hectares and the highest spot in the city. The park is home to over 180 species of birds and 20 mammals and enough hiking and biking paths to keep any active visitor busy. In the winter time enjoy the 20km of cross country trails, horse drawn carriage rides and an awesome tubing and tobogganing run. Other features of this impressive park include Beaver Lake, a sculpture garden, Smith House – an interpretative center, and two belvederes. Designed by famous architect Frederick Law Olmsted, who designed New York City’s Central Park, visitors can assure that there is no shortage of spectacular views of the city below and varied landscapes to explore.

mt royal

1. Stanley Park, Vancouver

It is known for being one the best parks around the world, and recently held the title of “best park in the world” by Trip Advisor, therefore no trip to Vancouver should be complete without visiting Stanley Park. This lush green space covers over 400 hectares of parkland and west coast rainforest. Things to do at this park include visiting the indoor/outdoor aquarium, walking the 8.8km stretch of seawall and discovering the Brockton Point’s First Nations totem poles. The park is also absolutely loaded with gardens, beaches, landmarks, sculptures and lookout points, along with a golf course and a Lost Lagoon. Whether you spend an hour, a day or three days exploring this park, one thing is for sure – it is easy to understand why this is truly the best urban park in Canada.

totem

 

Canada’s 8 Coolest Museums

Canada is fortunate enough to be loaded with awesome museums, whether you are interested in learning about the dinosaurs that once ruled the badlands of Alberta or the first people that set foot in British Columbia. Perhaps you are interested in weapons and counterfeit money, or what happened during the Holocaust-don’t fear, Canada has you covered. From coast to coast impressive museums continue to amaze visitors and while some may be suited for adults, there is plenty of fun for the kids too! Check out the 8 coolest museums in Canada, and why you should drop everything and visit them today.

8. Canadian Museum of History – Gatineau, Quebec

It is Canada’s national museum of human history, and its purpose includes collecting, studying, preserving and presenting material objects that illuminate the human history of Canada. One of the most impressive parts of the museum is the Grand Hall where a beautiful wall of windows gives way to a picturesque view of the Ottawa River and Parliament Hill. The museum attracts over a million visitors a year to gaze at the collection of huge totem poles, First Nation artifacts, streetscape galleries and life-size replicas recreations such as an airport lounge circa 1970. In addition, this awesome museum to home to the Canadian Children’s and Postal Museum, along with an IMAX theatre making this attraction super family friendly.

mikecphoto / Shutterstock.com
mikecphoto / Shutterstock.com

7. Canada Science and Technology Museum – Ottawa, Ontario

It is the largest of its kind and located in the capital city of Canada, Ottawa. This museum displays all sorts of cool exhibits, focusing on the past, present and future of science and technological developments in Canada. What makes this museum so cool is the fact that much of it is hands-on, climb-on and walk through exhibits. Currently the museum is closed and undergoing a major renovation, expected to open in 2017 and is thought to be bigger and better than ever. Visitors should expect five main galleries including a Children’s Gallery, Artifact Alley and Crazy Kitchen. From trains, planes, automobiles, rockets and space travel simulation; this museum will offer a plethora of excitement.

Science and Tech Museum, ottawa

6. Royal Tyrell Museum – Drumheller, Alberta

This popular Canadian tourist attraction is both a museum and a centre of paleontological research. Hosting more than 130,000 fossils, this museum is located in the middle of the Late Cretaceous Horseshoe Canyon Formation. Visitors will love wandering through the ten signature galleries devoted to paleontology that include 40 dinosaur skeletons, including one huge T. Rex. There are plenty of hands on experiences to be had here including strength tests where you will discover how strong these fascinating creatures really were. Visitors can also watch actual technicians prepare fossils for research and display, fossils that happened to be found right in Alberta. As well, visitors can join the Dinosite program which allows you to search for real fossils, see real dinosaur remains still in the ground and learn about ancient Alberta during the 90-minute hike through the badlands.

Ronnie Chua / Shutterstock.com
Ronnie Chua / Shutterstock.com

5. Royal Ontario Museum (ROM) – Toronto, Ontario

It is considered by many to be one of the best museums in Canada and also happens to be one of the coolest. Located in Toronto, this museum is dedicated to art, world culture and natural history and attracts over a million visitors a year. Visitors will want to spend an entire day discovering the 40 some odd galleries that feature over 6 million items including a notable collection of dinosaurs, minerals and meteorites. The CIBC Discovery Gallery is where you can get “hands-on” at the ROM and although geared towards children, adults will also enjoy the interactive activities including digging for dinosaur bones and touching different specimens and artifacts. Expect awesome interesting exhibits that are constantly changing, slumber parties for adults and plenty of tours and workshops to keep everyone interested.

Andres Garcia Martin / Shutterstock.com
Andres Garcia Martin / Shutterstock.com

4. Human Rights Museum – Winnipeg, Manitoba

This impressive museum is the newest on this list, opening in September of 2014, dedicated to exploring the subject of human rights with a special emphasis on Canada. Offering a journey from darkness to light, visitors start off on the ground level and gradually make their way up seven floors that reveal more and more daylight. With a total of six levels of exhibits and 11 galleries and one Tower of Hope that offers panoramic views of Winnipeg, expect to spend at least a day here. Galleries include “Examining the Holocaust”, “Rights Today” and “Canadian Journeys”, just to name a few. Interactive presentations, multimedia technology and world-class design make this an amazing encounter with human rights.

winnipeg

3. Royal British Columbia Museum – Victoria, British Columbia

It is known as one of the world’s top regional museums, one of Canada’s most visited and located on the picturesque Inner Harbor in Victoria. Three permanent galleries trace the natural and human history of British Columbia and include life-sized mammoths, live tidal pools and replica streets and shops. The First Peoples Gallery is especially impressive with its ceremonial masks, totem poles and full-sized log house recreation. Visitors here can even watch as native carvers work on new totem poles in a long house located just behind the museum. Featuring the largest IMAX in BC, numerous family events throughout the year, interactive exhibits and more; it’s an easy choice calling this one of the coolest museums in Canada.

Doug Schnurr / Shutterstock.com
Doug Schnurr / Shutterstock.com

2. Vancouver Police Museum, Vancouver, British Columbia

It is North America’s oldest police museum and houses over 20,00 artifacts, photos and documents. Located in a heritage building that was once the Coroner’s Court, the morgue, autopsy facility and crime laboratory; this museum brings in visitors of all ages. A self-guided tour will take visitors through the history or crime and law enforcement in Vancouver. Exhibits include an extensive gallery of confiscated weapons, gambling devices, prohibited drugs and counterfeit money, a true crime gallery with real evidence and photos, and an intact and authentic autopsy suite. Kids will love playing dress up with the real police uniforms where as adults can take in one of the “movies in the morgue” features.

Photo by: Kim Werker via www.vancouverisawesome.com
Photo by: Kim Werker via www.vancouverisawesome.com

1. Biosphere Environment Museum – Montreal, Quebec

It is the only environment museum in North America and both kids and adults go crazy for this unique attraction that is both indoors and out. This architectural masterpieces and symbol of Expo 67 invites visitors to learn more about meteorology, climate, water and air quality and other environmental issues in a fun way. An outdoor Artic photo exhibit celebrates the regions biodiversity and beauty while educating visitors on the environmental changes that are happening there. The immersive show “Design the Future” on the other hand invites visitors to reconnect with the natural environment around us to grasp the importance of climate change and how we will adapt to that. An abundance of games, hands-on activities and galleries await visitors to this unique museum in Montreal.

meunierd / Shutterstock.com
meunierd / Shutterstock.com

10 Historical Landmarks Every Canadian Should Visit

Canada is a relatively new country in the grand scheme of things and isn’t usually considered as a historical tourist destination. Most people who visit Canada come for the expansive, diverse and stunning landscape, and for good reason; Canada has some of the most impressive natural wonders in the world. But Canada does have an important and rich history, and you would be remiss to explore Canada without a visit to one of the nearly 1000 national historic sites and landmarks found across the country.

10. L.M. Montgomery’s Home -Cavendish, Prince Edward Island

Readers of the Anne of Green Gables series, one of Canada’s most well-known literary works, will be familiar with the National Historic Site. Located in rural Prince Edward Island, near Cavendish, is this quaint landmark; included in the historic site are the Green Gables house, the Cavendish home and the surrounding landscapes, including several lovely hiking trails ideal for a relaxing stroll. Even those who are not familiar with the books or the author will appreciate this beautiful home and the scenery typical of Prince Edward Island; plan for the day and bring a picnic to enjoy on the grounds!

Anne of Green Gables House

9.  Rideau Canal -Ottawa, Ontario

A UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Rideau Canal in Canada’s capital city of Ottawa is an impressive feat of engineering and architecture, and is a favorite destination among both tourists and locals. Officially connecting Kingston to Ottawa, this 202 kilometers of canals is a beautiful chain of lakes, rivers and canals perfect for a day out canoeing or sight-seeing. The exact location of the UNESCO site is in Ottawa; originally built for military purposes in the 1800’s, the series of lock stations and fortifications are architecturally impressive and still completely operational- many still hand crank operated!  It is a favorite for locals too; during the winter months you can strap on some skates and travel nearly the entire canal- make sure you grab a beaver tail and some hot chocolate at one of the many kiosks set up along the way!

Rideau Canal Ottawa

8. Batoche, Saskatchewan

Established in 1872, this Métis settlement was the site of the historical Battle of Batoche during the Northwest Rebellion of 1885 and is now a National Historic Site in Canada. Situated in the heart of the prairies on the South Saskatchewan River, it is here that Louis Riel was infamously defeated and a new country was formed. Walking through this historical landmark, you realize what an important moment this was for Canadian history; in fact, you can still see some of the bullet holes from the final battle. Not just for history buffs, take the family and spend the day walking in the shoes of Métis settlers on the shores of the river and learn how the old way of life disappeared and a new one began.

Batoche, Saskatchewan

7. L’Anse Aux Meadows, Newfoundland and Labrador

Visit the L’Anse Aux Meadows National Historic Site on the tip of the island of Newfoundland and you can see evidence of the very first European settlers to set foot on North American soil. Scattered amongst this striking landscape is evidence of an 11th century Viking settlement; the only known location of a Viking settlement in North America, this site holds a tremendous amount of historical importance in terms of migration and discovery. Spend some time looking for the excavated remains of the wood-framed turf buildings (like the ones found in Iceland and Norse Greenland), and wandering around the site. The scenic, yet unrelentingly harsh landscape makes it all the more impressive that an entire culture managed to settle and live here hundreds of years ago.

L’Anse Aux Meadows, Newfoundland

6. Fortifications of Québec -Québec City, Québec

As the only fortified city north of Mexico, this UNESCO World Heritage Site is rich in history and architectural beauty, akin to historical cities scattered all over Europe. Walk the walls around Old Québec, nearly 4.6 kilometers in length to marvel at the views of the city and beyond, and to marvel at the military engineering of the fortifications developed in the early 1600’s. Old Québec is a beautiful city to explore by foot; many pedestrian only streets make it easy to get around, and the slower pace makes it easier to take all your pictures! There are also plenty of delicious cafés and quaint shops (although venture off the main streets for a less touristy experience), and plenty of maple syrup inspired treats to keep you going during the day!

meunierd / Shutterstock.com
meunierd / Shutterstock.com

5. Dawson, Yukon Territory

Way up north, in the harsh, unforgiving, stunningly beautiful landscape of Canada, you will find Dawson, Yukon, the heart of the Klondike Gold Rush and a charming town, well preserved and rich in history. Although small, there is plenty to do here; adventure enthusiasts will enjoy the outdoor landscape made for hiking and rafting, yet those searching for a more relaxing visit will enjoy the traditional pubs and boardwalks through town. Those feeling lucky can try their hand panning for gold in the Klondike Gold Fields and enjoy a tour through some of the still operational gold mines. Dawson is worth the trek up north, but given its remote location, be sure to stay awhile and enjoy the surrounding areas to make the most of your trip!

Pecold / Shutterstock.com
Pecold / Shutterstock.com

4. Fort Garry Hotel -Winnipeg, Manitoba

Those afraid of ghosts may want to skip the Fort Garry Hotel- the infamous Room 202 is said to be haunted by the ghost of a woman, but those brave enough won’t want to skip a visit to this landmark. A National Historic Site located in downtown Winnipeg, this famous hotel is one of Canada’s grand railway hotels, and built in 1913, it was the tallest structure in town upon completion. The architecture is reminiscent to other chateau style hotels in Canada, like the Fairmont Chateau next on the list, and is a unique and beautiful addition to the industrial core of Winnipeg.

Photo by: Fort Garry Hotel
Photo by: Fort Garry Hotel

3. Fairmont Chateau Frontenac -Québec City, Québec

One of the most beautiful and grand buildings in all of Canada, the Fairmont Château Frontenac in Québec is considered as one of the most photographed hotels in the world, in part because of its sheer size and grandiose nature on the Québec skyline. Designated as a National Historic Site in 1980, this hotel was built for the Canadian Pacific Railway company in the late 1800’s to promote luxury travel and tourism; it was a hotspot for wealthy travelers and those searching for a glamorous experience. This is the most prominent building in Québec and surely can’t be missed when exploring the area; spend some time exploring the glitzy, over the top décor inside and the intricate architecture on the outside- bring an extra memory card  for your camera when visiting this landmark!

Chateau Frontenac

2. Terry Fox Memorial -Thunder Bay, Ontario

All Canadians are familiar with Terry Fox; in fact, he is probably one of the most well-known Canadian icons, recognized nationally and around the world. Visiting the Terry Fox Memorial, overlooking Lake Superior, you can’t help but be overwhelmed by this man’s courageous and inspirational quest to make the world a better place. Terry Fox was a humble young man who has inspired generations of Canadian’s to raise money and improve the lives of cancer patients worldwide; because of him, hundreds of millions of dollars has been raised for cancer research. All Canadian’s can find something to relate to in Terry Fox and the life he led; because of this and his relatability, this Terry Fox memorial is possibly one of the most emotional and inspirational in all of Canada.

"Terry Fox" by Richard Keeling - Own work. Licensed under GFDL via Commons.
Terry Fox” by Richard KeelingOwn work. Licensed under GFDL via Commons.

1. Fortress of Louisbourg -Cape Breton Island, Nova Scotia

Located on the Cape Breton Island in Nova Scotia, this National Historic Site is one of the most important sites in defining Canada as it is today. The Fortress of Louisbourg was settled in 1713 and fortified later in the mid-18th century, and was the site of historic Anglo-French battles crucial to our history. Enter the fortified city and feel what it was like living in a fishing, port city during the 1700’s. Take one of the many walking and guided tours available, or spend some time exploring on your own; whatever you choose you will be sure to leave with a better understanding of how the original settlers of Canada lived hundreds of years ago.

LunaseeStudios / Shutterstock.com
LunaseeStudios / Shutterstock.com

The Bucket List’s 13 Canadian Towns You Must Visit

The common old saying, ‘the best things come in small packages’ holds true when it comes to Canadian small towns. Visiting small towns isn’t normally at the top of our bucket list, but we’ve come up with a list of great towns that are perfect just the way they are, which is often quiet and out of the way, typically passed by on highways and main roads, tucked neatly away on the outskirts of a city. This list is a baker’s dozen compiled small towns to love, we’ve covered all our bases including one from each province and territory. What are you waiting for? Get going!

13. Nelson, British Columbia

For a town of under 10,000 people there is a whole lot going on in Nelson. The skiing in the Kootenay Rockies is sensational. When it’s time for water skis, Lake Kootenay offers any activity you want on and under the water. There are thermal and natural baths and less than an hour away, as is the beginning of the province’s fabulous wine country. Nelson is something of an artistic community with a surprising cache of Victorian, Queen Anne and Beaux Arts architecture. The town website claims more restaurants per capita than San Francisco. It also likely has more hippies per capita as the counterculture is bred by American draft dodgers during the Vietnam War and continues on today.

Nelson British Columbia

12. Legal, Alberta

A proud little town whose website says it “puts unity back into community”. It’s close enough to be considered a suburb of Edmonton, but it retains its separate identity with its old rural charm intact. Still bilingual, it was founded as a French-speaking settlement in 1894, before Alberta was a province and less than a decade after French Canada’s champion Louis Riel was hanged for treason. The stop signs still say ‘Arret/Stop’. Legal is renowned for its 28 French murals and its summer Fete Au Village, or Town Festival.

Photo by: Town of Legal
Photo by: Town of Legal

11. Forget, Saskatchewan

This town is nothing like it sounds, rather it’s sure to give you an unforgettable experience. It is a one of those places through the Canadian and American Midwest that serves as a reminder that French explorers were the first Europeans to pass through and that many of the early post-Confederation settlers were from Quebec and their descendants still proudly call themselves Saskinoises, as did Canada’s first woman to serve as Governor General, Jeanne Sauvé. Despite its minuscule size (at last count 104) it has become known as an artists’ colony. The old Rectory built in 1904 is now The Ananda Arthouse.  Its French Catholic roots are evident in the name of a much-praised hangout and kitchen called The Happy Nun. And should you go there, please recall it’s pronounced for-JAY.

Saskatchewan

10. Flin Flon, Manitoba

There are few more quintessentially Canadian towns than Flin Flon.  A sub-Arctic hardworking mining community with a stellar hockey history. Six hundred miles northwest of Winnipeg in the Manitoba Lake District, it boasts a big trout festival and wilderness activities in summer and with the exception of downhill skiing, a full range of winter sports. It is one of Canada’s hockey factories, having sent a number of big stars to the NHL, including Bobby Clarke, Reggie Leach and Blaine Stoughton. And there is of course its iconic name with a minor literary pedigree, the only town named after Josiah Flintabbatey Flonatin, a character in a 1905 science fiction book The Sunless City. The venerable American cartoonist Al Capp was so intrigued by the story, he created the statue of the town’s namesake that still stands.

Flin Flon, Manitoba

9. Port Hope, Ontario

Sixty miles east of Toronto, Port Hope is a pretty little town with a lovely and well preserved 19th century downtown. The Capitol Theatre opened in 1930 and is one of a dwindling collection of ‘atmospheric theatres’, an ornate style movie house that resembles a palace. It has been cited for the province’s Community Leadership award for exemplary “leadership in heritage conservation and promotion”. The antique shopping is renowned as is the fly-fishing in the Ganaraska River. A timeless scene of Victorian Ontario.

Photo by: John Vetterli via Flickr
Photo by: John Vetterli via Flickr

8. Hudson, Quebec

Hudson is a picturesque, historic place set on the Lac des Deux Montagnes that dates back to New France and celebrates its 150th birthday as a town in 2015. Now it’s also known as where the late Jack Layton called home. Forty miles west of Montreal, it has long been known as a wealthy Anglophone enclave with a Yacht Club dating back to 1909 and a polo club from 1901.  It re-established in the 1990’s as the Club Nacional and is was well-known for its star players that included some of the great Montreal Canadiens from the teams that won five Stanley Cups in the 1980’s. Now it has a nice arts scene, great antiques. It’s not a place you would spend a week, but perfect as a weekend destination or day trip. It just might even leave you trying to figure out ways to move there for good.

Photo by: Hudson Yacht Club
Photo by: Hudson Yacht Club

7. Victoria-by-the-Sea, Prince Edward Island

When it comes to flat out, good old fashioned small town charm, it’s very hard to beat the Maritimes. Victoria lies on the island’s south coast just 20 miles from Charlottetown. It was once an affluent, busy trading port and the pretty houses and stores don’t seem to have changed much, except for fresh coats of brightly colored paint. Another charming little (population: 200) place that attracts artists and craftspeople. The Victoria Playhouse has been written up by no less than the New York Times. The mandatory red sand beaches and Lighthouse museum are present and accounted for. Sea kayaking in the Northumberland Strait is the main offshore activity. The town website almost brags that when the Trans Canada Highway passed the town by, so did the malls, fast food joints and tourist traps.

Victoria-by-the-sea, PEI

6. Saint Andrews, New Brunswick

The town was settled by Loyalists from Maine in 1783. Thirteen of the streets are named after the offspring of George lll (aka Mad King George) not to mention King, Queen and Prince of Wales Streets. Like much of the region, its economic apogee passed with The Steam Age. After decades of bad times, the onset of the railway plus, the ocean breezes and natural beauty, brought well-to-do visitors seeking respite from the heat and filth of the industrial northeast. Saint Andrews became the country’s first resort and was rewarded for its economic stagnation with unspoiled downtown and surroundings that became their major industry and engine of growth.  The legendary Algonquin Hotel remains a wonderful example of CPR hotel architecture (or ‘Parkitecture). Kingsbrae Gardens is an award winning masterpiece of horticulture and whale watching has been added to the array of watery attractions.

Photo by: Douglas LeMoine via Flickr
Photo by: Douglas LeMoine via Flickr

5. Mahone Bay, Nova Scotia

Another coastal gem, Mahone Bay was founded in 1754 and was a shipbuilding center for over a century. The shelter of the Bay encourages sailors, kayakers, and fishers to explore the 365 islands that dot the waters of Mahone Bay, including Oak Island, with its legend of buried treasure. It’s a summertime boom town, attracting visitors for its beaches, biking and ski trails, along with a rich history and oceanfront location. Not to mention that fresh, fresh seafood.

Mahone Bay NS

4. Trinity, Newfoundland and Labrador

Fisherman were summering in relative safety in trinity bay since the early 16th century. It is full of heritage buildings of saltbox architecture dating from the 1850’s. All the towns on this list are scenic, but only The Rock combines mint conditioned, brightly colored historic buildings with rugged beauty of the unforgivingly harsh Newfoundland rock face which is a base for hiking and boat tours to see whales and icebergs. Its preserved perfection of houses from the 1850’s attracted the makers of The Shipping News and there are tours of where the famous cast shot scenes and stayed, some of them were so taken by the land and people, they bought houses or cottages nearby!

Photo by: Brian Summers via Flickr
Photo by: Brian Summers via Flickr

3. Dawson, Yukon

You can still pan for gold and have the famous Sour Toe cocktail. For a more satisfying taste – attempt to make it yourself! It was parodied by a Dawson banker named Robert W Service in the “Ice Worm Cocktail” a story of a gullible Englishman who downed one with great trepidation and comic results. The romance of the Gold Rush, even more than a century come and gone remains. Such was the transient wealth, it was called the Paris of the North. Heritage buildings from its 15 minutes of wealth and fame abound. And yes, you can see the can-can girls at Gambling Gerties, but it’s not a one-trick pony. Cruise the Yukon River and/or hike 1700 feet up the Midnight Dome and take in the views of it and the Klondike Valley. Parks Canada has a nice tour from Crocus Bluff to Service’s cabin in the hills, conducted with excerpts from his legendary poetry.

Josef Hanus / Shutterstock.com
Josef Hanus / Shutterstock.com

2. Rankin Inlet, Nunavut

In Inuktitut, it’s called Kangiqtiniq – ᑲᖏᖅᖠᓂᖅ, meaning ‘deep inlet’. It has become the gateway to the territory for civil servants, mining execs, scientists and adventure travel aficionados, hence the cell phone service and golf courses not common to the rest of the region. There is a thriving Inuit art scene, especially in ceramics and carving. For exploring the stunning, pristine Iqalugaarjuup Nunanga (‘the land around the river of little fishes’) Territorial Historic Park has hiking, fishing and fauna that you won’t see south of 90 degrees north. There are also habitations and graveyards from the 13th century. To celebrate spring Pakaluk Time there is a festival which includes music dancing and the famous, unique Inuit sport competitions.

Photo by: Electronker via Flickr
Photo by: Electronker via Flickr

1. Fort Smith, Northwest Territories

Fort Smith deserves a place on the bucket list if for no other reason than it being a place that is a gateway to the remote, spectacular World Heritage Site, Wood Buffalo National Park. The northern boreal plain and forest is home to endangered species like wood bison, whooping cranes and peregrine falcons. Seemingly endless acres of pristine natural beauty that are a paradise for the outdoor enthusiast. Its name in Chipewyan is Thebacha or ‘beside the rapids’, and those rapids on the Slave River are a major attraction for white water buffs today.

Photo by: Ansgar Walk via Wikimedia Commons
Photo by: Ansgar Walk via Wikimedia Commons

The 10 Freshest Farmers Markets in Canada

Summer is officially here and now is the time to take advantage of the wonderful bounty our farmers grow, from coast to coast. Canada is blessed with an abundance of fresh seasonal produce, award-winning local wine and locally raised meats; all available at one of the many farmers markets. From the largest year-round market to the historic market of Halifax, to the market that specializes in potatoes; we have rounded up the 10 freshest farmers markets in Canada. From coast to coast, there is great food to be found at all of these awesome markets.

10. St. Lawrence Market -Toronto, Ontario

Although this market is open almost every day of the week, we highly suggest visiting on a Saturday. Saturdays are when both the North and South Market open to the public, as opposed to every other day when just the South Market is open. The North Market stands in a space that has been used as a marketplace since 1803, making this the second most historic market on the list. Ontario produce, eggs, poultry, honey, olives and fresh baked bread are amongst the favorites here. The market starts early; 5 am on Saturdays and by 9 am is packed full so make sure you come early if you want to avoid the crowds. Expect to find exotic cultural food, peameal bacon sandwiches, homemade pasta noodles, camel meat and everything else in between. Make sure to carve out a few hours to walk around this gigantic market and you will soon understand why it’s hailed as being one of the best in the world.

St. Lawrence Market

9. Charlottetown Farmers’ Market -Charlottetown, P.E.I

It wouldn’t take a genius to figure out that potatoes are the main star of this market, but that’s not all you will find here at this overly friendly farmers market. Fresh produce, organic cheeses, handmade chocolates, fresh coffee and baked goods are just a slice of what you will find here. Besides all these amazing products, what really make this market so special are the people you will meet here. From vendors who give you the perfect advice on how to boil the perfect potato to meeting entire families who take part in the growing and harvesting; it is truly the people who make a difference here. Come hungry to this market as there is no shortage of hot and cold food to buy and enjoy in the seated dining area, where you will enjoy Celtic music and a sense of community that you can only find on the island.

Photo by: Martin Cathrae via Wikimedia Commons
Photo by: Martin Cathrae via Wikimedia Commons

8. Jean-Talon -Montreal, Quebec

The flavors and sites here have been attracting visitors since 1933 and Jean-Talon Market remains one of the favorites across the country. Open all year round, Saturdays are the liveliest and perhaps the best time to visit as this day houses the most vendors. This is also the day where you will find the most fresh, seasonal produce in the province. Summer is the favorite time to visit, with brightly colored produce and terrific wine. Visitors will find gourmet meats, cheese, the famous maple syrup, pastries, spices and so much more. Eating your way through this market is highly recommended, from maple glazed salmon bites to slow braised meat tacos to artisanal ice-cream. Hailed as the largest open air market in North America, don’t be surprised to find yourself standing beside famous Montreal chefs, food bloggers and amateur foodies.

Songquan Deng / Shutterstock.com
Songquan Deng / Shutterstock.com

7. St. Jacobs Farmers’ Market -Waterloo, Ontario

Located just an hour outside of Toronto, visitors here will feel as though they have stepped back in time. The nearby countryside is home to an abundance of Mennonite farmers, many of whom can be seen traveling in their horse and buggy. These farmers are who you will find selling products at Canada’s largest year-round market. A fire nearly destroyed this wonderful market a few years back but the market is back up and running in full swing. Expect to shop both indoors and out when you visit in the warmer months, as over 300 vendors congregate here. Many shoppers come here specifically for the fresh produce and hormone-free meats, although you can find just about anything you have ever wanted. Expect entertainment, music, buskers and more when you take a visit to the St. Jacobs Market in Waterloo.

St. Jacobs Farmers Market, Ontario

6. Crossroads Market -Calgary, Alberta

It is Calgary’s largest year-round market and provides a bustling atmosphere with an abundance of vendors and products. It also happens to be just five minutes from downtown with plenty of ample parking. The marker is only open on the weekends so make sure you plan around visiting then. With over 150 vendors here, it is considered part flea market and part food market. The abundance of fresh local products is what really makes this market a winner. Visit in the summer and fall to experience Alberta’s local produce or head over to the cheese shop where over 300 varieties of cheese are sold. The market is a great place to grab some local meat, fresh squeezed juice and a loaf of freshly baked bread.

Photo by: Crossroads Market
Photo by: Crossroads Market

5. Marche du Vieux-Port -Quebec City, Quebec

This year round market entices visitors with its fresh products, locally sourced items and friendly atmosphere. Arguably the best time to visit here is in the summer when the strawberries are at their finest. Locals and visitors also love this market for the specialties you can’t get anywhere else; such as the ciders, maple syrup, pates and preserves. The cranberry wine also happens to be a huge hit with visitors. The market is located on the waterfront and during the summer there is often live music or other entertainment located just outside the building. Even if you just come for the experience, we promise you won’t be leaving this market empty handed. Insider’s tip: head to the spice store at the very end of the building and get lost for hours discovering the worldly spices that you have never even seen before.

Photo by: Le Marche du Vieux-Port
Photo by: Le Marche du Vieux-Port

4. Evergreen Brickworks Farmers’ Market -Toronto, Ontario

In one of the most picturesque settings in Toronto also lies one of the best farmers markets in the country. What was once a former quarry has been transformed into a park and every Saturday morning from May until November between 65 and 85 vendors show up to sell their products. Expect to see fresh produce, organic baked goods, free-range meats, teas, leather products and everything else in between. Some favorites include fresh-made meals from Canadian chef Doug McNish and the abundance of organic options. We recommend you come hungry to this market as the plethora of breakfast and lunch options is unbelievable. From handmade Belgian waffles to organic French fries, we promise you won’t leave here feeling hungry. Take a stroll through the magnificent park afterwards to work off those waffles.

Photo by: Evergreen
Photo by: Evergreen

3. Marché St. Norbert Farmers’ Market -Winnipeg, Manitoba

From May until November, rain or shine you can find Manitoba’s farmers selling the bounty of their fields to visitors at Manitoba’s largest and best-known market. This market originally started back in 1988 with just eight vendors that gathered on the grass to sell their products and support other local producers. The market has grown enormously since then and features about 150 vendors, intent on keeping its local roots. Visitors here can expect to find an abundance of fresh local produce, freshly baked breads, home-style jams and preserves, freshly cut flowers and more. One of the more interesting things to note about this market is their online presence, which was created to help farmers sell their products over the winter. Customers can go online and order their products directly from the producers, who then prepare the order and meet in a designated spot for delivery. This market is big on sticking with their local roots and this is just one awesome way of keeping everyone connected.

Photo by: St. Norbert Farmers' Market
Photo by: St. Norbert Farmers’ Market

2. Halifax Farmers’ Market -Halifax, Nova Scotia

This market has a long history, dating back to 1750 and in 2010 finally relocated to its current location on the south end of the Halifax Waterfront. The new space provides plenty of room for people and the natural light makes this a gorgeous spot to spend the morning. Unbeatable ocean views coupled with a hip vibrant atmosphere are just the beginning of what makes this market so spectacular. You can make your way here year-round and although the market is now open seven days a week, we highly suggest visiting on a Saturday when all of the vendors are present. Some of the favorites at this market are the artisanal crafts, seasonal produce, local wine and of course the freshest seafood found anywhere in the province. This market also runs a really neat program called Lunch and Learn, which features presentations on sustainability, wellness, food demonstrations and workshops.

Photo by: Halifax Seaport Farmers' Market
Photo by: Halifax Seaport Farmers’ Market

1. Trout Lake Farmers’ Market -Vancouver, British Columbia

This market is loved by many and has quite the history to go along with it. The market actually started with 14 farmers who squatted at the Croatian Cultural Centre back in 1995. Today the market has moved to John Hendry Park and is one of the most beloved markets in all of the country. Visitors come from all over the world to pick up the freshest cherries and blueberries, stock up on free-range eggs and organic meats and get the freshest vegetables found anywhere in the city. The market is open on Saturdays from May to October and people are encouraged to use public transit, walk or bike here. Think fresh baked bread, artisan crafts, fresh cut flowers and a community like atmosphere. Make sure you come to this market hungry and grab some lunch from one of the terrific food trucks, the favorite being the crepe stall.

Photo by: Vancouver Farmers Markets
Photo by: Vancouver Farmers Markets