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In Vancouver, such fare is marked with an Ocean Wise www. Responsible Travel Organizations Provincial groups that do a great job of promoting sustainable travel include: Green Tourism Association www. Saskatchewan Nature and Ecotourism Association www. Many attractions also offer a family admission price, which can save dough for two adults and their brood. Somehow, she makes the bruising business of mushing sound attractive in Mad Dogs and an Englishwoman, filling her pages with mischievous huskies, glistening hoar frost and northern lights that weave red and green across the sky.

Victoria Jason is another plucky female with a chilly Far North tale. Walter Stewart first zipped across the Trans-Canada Hwy in Thirty-five years later he did it again, and this time he wrote a book about what he saw. Environment Canada www. Snowing in Whistler? Foggy in Halifax? Check here for the forecast. Government of Canada www. Lonely Planet www.

Podcast Alley www. Sierra Club of Canada www. For a list of more events, Click here. For food fests, Click here. More scenic drives are highlighted throughout the regional chapters. For more on local music, Click here. Day-trip to pounding Niagara Falls, then begin your eastward haul. From there, the misty, mansion-covered Thousand Islands dot the St Lawrence River; Gananoque makes a good break in their midst. Had your fill? Swing over to the Laurentians to hike, cycle or ski yourself back into shape.

The charismatic old town, walled and dramatically poised on a bluff, will leave an impression long after you return home. Allow at least three weeks for the route, which circles around via boat, car and train. Hop on a ferry to Victoria, fill up with tea and crumpets, then rent a car and head up-island. Northern Vancouver Island delivers raw, remote BC in all its glory.

The national parks of Jasper and Banff form the dramatic core of the Canadian Rockies. Finally, work your way back to Vancouver via the lake-studded Okanagan Valley, famous for its fruit orchards and wineries. But it also provides plenty of opportunities to pull over and get the blood flowing with hikes, kayak trips and art studio visits. When you reach Pleasant Bay, you can watch whales or chant with monks at the local Tibetan monastery.

Alight and drive north to Gros Morne National Park, rich with mountain hikes, sea kayak tours, fjords and weird rock formations. Leif Eriksson and his Viking pals homesteaded the place years ago, and it probably looked much the same then as it does now.

After coming all this way, you too will feel like an Atlantic explorer. The Trans-Canada Hwy will be your main road, slicing through lake-pocked Ontario and prairie-coated Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Alberta. To the east lie the odd sand dunes and lizards of Spruce Woods Provincial Park.

If you need a tree fix, head into Cypress Hills Interprovincial Park before cruising over the border to Alberta. If time permits, you can head into the Rockies from here and hook up with our Best of the West tour Click here. Vancouver calls its chow West Coast cuisine, meaning seafood-based with local produce cradling it; sushi is also much-adored. The Niagara Peninsula pours reds, whites and very fine ice wines. The Okanagan Valley is on par with all manner of wines, plus cherry, peach and apricot orchards.

The Cowichan Valley on Vancouver Island also joined the party recently, thanks to its small wineries and cheese-, cider- and brandy-makers. Foodies around the globe salivate over giant scallops from Digby; moist, briny oysters from Malpeque Bay, and squirty lobsters from towns such as North Rustico on crustacean-crawling Prince Edward Island.

Winter or summer, Canada is a land of action, with certain towns exceptionally well-geared year-round. In the west, Whistler reigns supreme. Tofino amazes with its surfing, kayaking, whale spotting and storm-watching. In Ontario, Blue Mountain offers a batch of activities similar to western cousin Whistler, along with caving and kayaking. Outfitters at Algonquin Provincial Park suit up visitors to canoe, moose-watch, even dogsled.

Further east, in the Atlantic provinces, Cape Breton Highlands National Park is ground zero for coastal hiking and bad-ass meant literally cycling. In Newfoundland, Gros Morne adrenalizes in summer hiking and sea kayaking , while Marble Mountain takes over in winter skiing and snow-kiting. Kayak with belugas, dogsled over the tundra and, of course, commune carefully!

Historic sites mark the spots. Batoche National Historic Site tells the dark story. Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Jump, a precipice where bison herds leapt to their death, is another classic site. In , gold was found in the Klondike River. Those shiny, happy times are remembered in Dawson City, Yukon.

Even the Yukon is getting in on the action, with the Yukon Conservation Society offering free nature hikes to help visitors appreciate the local environment.

Toronto has reclaimed a clutch of former industrial sites and turned them into parks and greenhouses. And Vancouver is lauded for local, sustainable eating habits. Many of its top restaurants, such as C Restaurant and Raincity Grill, source ingredients so they leave as small an eco-footprint as possible.

As the earth warmed and the glaciers retreated, these immigrants began to trickle all across the Americas. About years ago, a second major wave of migration from Siberia brought the ancestors of the Inuit to Canada. The new arrivals took one look at the North, sized it up as a tasty icebox filled with fish-and-seal dinners, and decided to hang around.

These early Inuit were members of the Dorset Culture, named after Cape Dorset on Baffin Island, where its remains were first unearthed. Around AD a separate Inuit culture, the whale-hunting Thule of northern Alaska, began making its way east through the Canadian Arctic. As these people spread, they overtook the Dorset Culture.

The Thule are the direct ancestors of the modern Inuit. On the mild Pacific coast, the Haida, Nootka and other tribes lived in independent villages where they built cedar-plank houses and carved elaborate totem poles and canoes. Primarily buffalo hunters, they cunningly killed their prey by driving them over cliffs, such as at Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Jump in southern Alberta.

The buffalo provided sustenance and the hides were used for tipis and clothes. Although often at war with each other, they were a sophisticated lot who lived in large farming communities, built sturdy longhouses and traded with other tribes. In the chilly boreal forest stretching across northern Canada, the Northeast Woodlands peoples endured a much harsher life.

The extinct Beothuk of Newfoundland also belonged to this group. Living in small nomadic bands, the various tribes hunted caribou, moose, hare and other animals, which they caught using snares and traps. Survival was even more of a challenge for arctic tribes such as the Inuit and Dene.

They migrated seasonally, hunting whales and big-game, and traveling by canoe or dogsled. They spent winters in igloos or simple wooden structures, and basically just tried to stay warm. In fact, he and his tribe of Scandinavian seafarers were the first Europeans in all of North America.

There would be no more visits from the outside for another to years. In , backed by the Spanish crown, Christopher Columbus went searching for a western sea route to Asia and instead stumbled upon some small islands in the Bahamas. In short order, hundreds of boats were shuttling between Europe and the fertile new fishing grounds. Basques whalers from northern Spain soon followed. Several were based at Red Bay in Labrador, which became the biggest whaling port in the world during the 16th century.

By this time, the hunt was on not only for the Northwest Passage but also for gold, given the findings by Spanish conquistadors among the Aztec and Inca civilizations. Here he got wind of a land called Saguenay that was full of gold and silver. But his interest perked back up a few decades later when felt hats became all the rage. Everyone who was anyone was wearing a furry hat and, as the fashion mavens knew, there was no finer chapeau than one made from beaver pelts.

With beavers pretty much extinct in the Old World, the demand for a fresh supply was strong. And so the race for control of the fur trade was officially on.

The economic value of this enterprise and, by extension, its role in shaping Canadian history, cannot be underestimated.

All because of a silly hat! In order to gain control of the distant lands, the first order of business was to put European bodies on the ground.

Exposed and difficult to defend, neither site made a good base for controlling the inland fur trade. The Acadian Genealogy Homepage www. They caught a lucky break when a pair of disillusioned French explorers, Radisson and Des Groseilliers, confided that the best fur country actually lay to the north and west of Lake Superior, which was easily accessible via Hudson Bay.

The English infuriated the French with such moves, and so the French kept right on galling the English by settling further inland. Both countries had claims to the land, but each wanted regional dominance. They skirmished back and forth in hostilities that mirrored those in Europe, where wars raged throughout the first half of the 18th century.

First, they had to quell uprisings by the Aboriginal tribes, such as the attack on Detroit by Ottawa Chief Pontiac. So the British government issued the Royal Proclamation of , which prevented colonists from settling west of the Appalachian Mountains and regulated purchases of aboriginal land.

Though well-intentioned, the proclamation was largely ignored. The French Canadians caused the next headache. Tensions rose when the new rulers imposed British law that heavily restricted the rights of Roman Catholics the religion of the French , including the rights to vote and hold office. The British hoped their discriminatory policy would launch a mass exodus and make it easier to anglicize the remaining settlers.

Called United Empire Loyalists due to their presumed allegiance to Britain, many settlers were motivated more by cheap land than by actual love of king and crown. The majority ended up in Nova Scotia and New Brunswick, while a smaller group settled along the northern shore of Lake Ontario and in the Ottawa River Valley forming the nucleus of what became Ontario.

Lower Canada retained French civil laws, but both provinces were governed by the British criminal code. The British crown installed a governor to direct each colony. The legislative branch consisted of an appointed Legislative Council and an elected Assembly, which ostensibly represented the interests of the colonists. In reality, though, the Assembly held very little power, since the governor could veto its decisions.

Not surprisingly, this was a recipe for friction and resentment. This was especially the case in Lower Canada, where an English governor and an English-dominated Council held sway over a French-dominated Assembly. Members of the conservative British merchant elite dominated the Executive and Legislative Councils and showed little interest in French-Canadian matters.

These ideas were adopted into the Union Act of Upper and Lower Canada soon merged into the Province of Canada and became governed by a single legislature, the new Parliament of Canada. While most British Canadians welcomed the new system, the French were less than thrilled.

Thus the united province was built on slippery ground. The decade or so following unification was marked by political instability as one government replaced another in fairly rapid succession. Meanwhile, the USA had grown into a self-confident economic powerhouse, while British North America was still a loose patchwork of independent colonies.

It became clear that only a less volatile political system would stave off these challenges, and the movement toward federal union gained momentum. And so began the modern, self-governing state of Canada, originally known as the Dominion of Canada. He sent the Ottawa-appointed governor packing and, in November , seized control of Upper Fort Garry, thereby forcing Ottawa to the negotiating table.

However, with his delegation already en route, Riel impulsively and for no good reason executed a Canadian prisoner he was holding at the fort. As a result, the then-pint-sized province of Manitoba was carved out of the NWT and entered the dominion in July Macdonald sent troops after Riel but he narrowly managed to escape to the USA. He was formally exiled for five years in Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau declared a state of emergency and called in the army to protect government officials.

The murder discredited the FLQ in the eyes of many erstwhile supporters and the movement quickly faded away. The issue was put on the back burner for much of the s. To take effect, the so-called Meech Lake Accord needed to be ratified by all 10 provinces and both houses of parliament by Mulroney and Bourassa drafted a new, expanded accord, but the separatists picked it apart and it too was trounced. The rejection sealed the fate of Mulroney, who resigned the following year, and of Bourassa, who left political life a broken man.

Relations between Anglos and Francophones hit new lows, and support for independence was rekindled. Only one year after returning to power in , the PQ, under Premier Lucien Bouchard, launched a second referendum.

The discovery of gold along the Fraser River in and in the Cariboo region in had brought an enormous influx of settlers to such goldmine boomtowns as Williams Lake and Barkerville. Once the gold mines petered out, though, BC was plunged into poverty. In it joined the dominion in exchange for the Canadian government assuming all its debt and promising to link it with the east within 10 years via a transcontinental railroad.

Macdonald rightly regarded the railroad as crucial in unifying the country, spurring immigration and stimulating business and manufacturing. It was a costly proposition, made even more challenging by the rough and rugged terrain the tracks had to traverse.

To entice investors, the government offered major benefits, including vast land grants in western Canada. Workers drove the final spike into the track at Craigellachie, BC, on November 7, As in Manitoba, they quickly clashed with government surveyors over land issues. In , after their repeated appeals to Ottawa had been ignored, they coaxed Louis Riel out of exile to represent their cause. Riel had the backing of the Cree, but times had changed: with the railroad nearly complete, government troops arrived within days.

Riel surrendered in May and was hanged for treason later that year. In addition, the new railroad opened the floodgates to immigration. Between and about 4. This included large groups of Americans and Eastern Europeans, especially Ukrainians, who went to work cultivating the prairies.

I think we can claim that it is Canada that shall fill the 20th century. The issue took on even greater urgency when WWI broke out in But today, a growing number of Canadians see him as a hero who defended the rights of the oppressed against an unjust government.

Statues of Riel now stand on Parliament Hill in Ottawa and outside the Manitoba Legislature in Winnipeg, where his boyhood home Click here and grave have become places of pilgrimage. The University of Saskatchewan in Saskatoon has named its campus theater, student center and pub after Riel. As the war dragged on and thousands of soldiers returned in coffins, recruitment ground to a halt.

The government, intent on replenishing its depleted forces, introduced the draft in It proved to be a very unpopular move, to say the least, especially among French Canadians. The conscription issue fanned the flames of nationalism even more. A U-boat launched a torpedo at an offshore freighter; it missed and struck inland at Bell Island. Under the government of William Lyon Mackenzie King, an eccentric fellow who communicated with spirits and worshipped his dead mother, Canada began asserting its independence.

Mackenzie King made it clear that Britain could no longer automatically draw upon the Canadian military, started signing treaties without British approval, and sent a Canadian ambassador to Washington.

This forcefulness led to the Statute of Westminster, passed by the British Parliament in Oddly, that right remained on the books for another half century. Today, Canada is a constitutional monarchy with a parliament consisting of an appointed upper house, or Senate, and an elected lower house, the House of Commons.

Newfoundland finally joined Canada in Joey Smallwood, the politician who persuaded the island to sign up, claimed it would bring economic prosperity. The conflict was sparked by a land claim: the town of Oka was planning to expand a golf course onto land that the Mohawk considered sacred. A day clash ensued, and one policeman died of gunshot wounds. The event shook Canada, and focused national attention on Aboriginal human rights violations and outstanding land claims.

In the aftermath of Oka, a Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples issued a report recommending a complete overhaul of relations between the government and indigenous peoples. Slow to respond at first, in the Ministry of Indian and Northern Affairs issued an official Statement of Reconciliation that accepted responsibility for past injustices toward Aboriginal peoples. It specifically apologized for the policy of removing children from their families and educating them in underfunded government schools in the name of assimilation.

Most importantly, though, it pledged to give indigenous peoples greater control over their land, resources, government and economy. You can read the entire Statement of Reconciliation at www. To learn more about this and other land claims, Click here; for information on Aboriginal-owned businesses, Click here.

For a quarter century, it remained in the grip of ultra-conservative Maurice Duplessis and his Union Nationale party, with support from the Catholic Church and various business interests. Advances included expanding the public sector, investing in public education and nationalizing the provincial hydroelectric companies. In , Canada became the first country in the world to pass a national multicultural act and establish a federal department of multiculturalism.

The new millennium has been kind to Canada. The loonie took off around , thanks to the oil, diamonds and other natural resources fueling the economy. Tolerance marches onward, with medical marijuana and gay marriage both legalized recently. Expect the country to continue getting all glammed up before the world spotlight shines on it for the Winter Olympics in Vancouver.

Circa 25, BC Hot on the hoofs of juicy caribou and bison, the first humans arrive in Canada by crossing over the land bridge that once connected Siberia to North America. It belongs to no nation; rather it serves fishing fleets from all over Europe. By the British claim it as the first colony of their Empire. He searches for gold and precious metals, but gets only chilled rocks. Still, he plunks down the tricolore to claim the land for France.

Soon he commands 40 ships and men. He eventually retires to France and becomes the Marquis of Savoy. Years later, the company morphs into The Bay department store chain. Some 14, men, women and children are forced onto ships during the Great Expulsion; many head to Louisiana in the USA. It lasts less than an hour and kills both commanding generals. France takes it on the chin. Prospectors discover gold along the Fraser River in BC, spurring thousands of get-rich-quick dreamers to move north and start panning.

Most remain poor. Queen Victoria celebrates with Canadian bacon for breakfast. However, she retains the right to keep her mug on the money and appoint a governor general.

The ban was supposed to be lifted within a few years, but depleted cod stocks never rebounded. Modern day warriors, indeed.

Patients can buy ready-to-use buds, or seeds to grow their own. Nice, but with no sense of humor. Our differences with Americans may be subtle, but they are significant. We are tolerant towards foreign cultures and celebrate their differences by encouraging multiculturalism. After all, we coined the term in and have it enshrined in our Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

And we are open-minded when it comes to alternative lifestyles like same-sex marriage and lighting up a joint. According to almost every international institution, Canada rates in the top echelon in everything from public transit to freedom of the press to world business competitiveness. It is a compassionate and very pleasant country to live in, even if you are old, poor, ill or different. Yet listen to us! We fret that multiculturalism might be leading to a splintered society with pockets of solitudes.

And we are indignant about having to honor treaties we signed long ago with Aboriginals who refuse to simply fade into the sunset. We are more a nation of debaters than people of action. Canadians are like one small family living in a very big house in the suburbs. If something really irks, we can always retreat to another room until our anger dissipates.

Peace at any cost is an integral part of our heritage and psyche, and we are lucky to have never experienced war on our home turf.

Despite the reality that Canadians have fought in overseas conflicts for the better part of a century, we see ourselves as a nation of peacekeepers; it was former prime minister Lester B Pearson who received a Nobel Peace Prize in for settling the Suez Crisis, an action that led to his being lauded as the father of peacekeeping. A favorite quip is that the only thing unifying Canada is a universal hatred of successful, corporate, American-leaning Toronto, although a recent documentary on the subject revealed that no-one could say exactly why.

Perhaps just to unite us. We may not have the sense of history of the UK, or the bravado and self-assuredness of the Aussies, but we do have our own quiet style that is the key to the miracle that has kept this complex, open society from falling apart or crashing into warring tribal factions. We have learned that flexibility, compromise, tolerance, dialogue, a sense of humor and being nice just might be the glue that keeps this unlikely country together. While the present is rosy, Canadians are nervous about a graying future; one in every seven Canadians is a senior over 65 , and the number of children under 14 years is at an all-time low.

By there will no longer be enough new workers to replace retiring baby boomers, the fastest-growing demographic. At the same time, many provinces have abolished mandatory retirement at What does a typical Canadian family look like? Mum and dad are raising 1. The gap between rich and poor in Canada is increasing and income growth for the working classes has slowed.

Canadians are borrowing more, especially to buy homes that have reached record prices in British Columbia, Alberta and Ontario. Kids will attend postsecondary education in numbers unrivaled in any other country with female students vastly outnumbering males , creating the most highly educated population per capita in the world.

Inside an average Canadian home all the latest electronic gadgets are present along with a car or two in the garage. One in 50 Quebecers is a Tremblay. Nationally, twice as many Canadians live in common-law relationships as Americans. In Canada became the fourth country in the world to legalize same-sex marriage; so far same-sex divorce has not yet been sanctioned. Same-sex couples comprise only 0. But a federal bill to legalize possession of marijuana for personal use remains stalled.

Leisure-loving Canadians work about three weeks fewer per year than Americans, and fewer than Australians, too. During the July and August school break, many kids spend a week or two in camp learning outdoor skills, languages and sports.

Canadians are known for winter sports like skiing and especially hockey, the national pastime, which is played by 1. But Canadians are much more likely to watch hockey than to play it.

Crime remains higher in western Canada than in the east. Since the mids the government has steadily paid down the federal debt and now regularly posts budgetary surpluses. The Canadian dollar is at a year high against the US buck, and unemployment rates are at a year low. While the economy is dominated by the service industry, Canada is unusual among developed nations in the importance of natural resources such as logging, mining, wheat and oil.

Oil in particular is a major factor in the current economic climate. Balmy weather in lower British Columbia attracts winter-weary Canadians from further east. In recent years the oil boom in northern Alberta has drawn workers from across the country, particularly Atlantic Canada, where it is almost a tradition for young people to leave their unemployment-plagued home provinces to find work in other parts of Canada see boxed text. After all, it was the first country in the world to establish a federal department of multiculturalism.

Chinese immigrants were brought to the west to build the transcontinental railway in the s, and by the time of the most recent census , the country had become home to different ethnic groups speaking languages. Canada has one of the highest rates of immigration per capita in the world and accepts large numbers of refugees. With a growth rate of only 1. These 1. Among the Aboriginal population the average age is As in other nations such as Australia, the Aboriginal suicide rate, which is six times higher than for the rest of the population, is an alarming indicator of social crisis.

But the colonists saw treaties as a trade of land for compensation. More than 50 treaties were signed, first with the British and then the Canadian governments. Among those who did, many did not receive the land, money, food, medicine or housing they were promised. Since the s Aboriginal people have made land claims against the federal and provincial governments, an issue that gained urgency as plans were made to develop northern resources.

Where no treaties were signed, land claims now involve roughly half the total area of Canada. Resolution of land claims is complicated, as two levels of government are involved with all the ensuing debates surrounding land ownership and how treaties should be interpreted.

Some cases remain unresolved after half a century and frustration has mounted. A blockade by the Haida of British Columbia against logging an old-growth forest finally resolved a year land claims battle.

There have been armed standoffs between Aboriginals and police like that at an Ontario reserve called Camp Ipperwash in , where police shot and killed Chippewa protestor Anthony Dudley George.

It was the first modern-day land-claim settlement. Settling land claims is an important step for Aboriginals to become stewards of their own future. Since the creation of Nunavut there has been widespread mineral exploration that gives a territory the potential for much-needed revenue. Aboriginal land claims continue to capture the front page of Canadian newspapers.

For the latest in aboriginal news, visit www. Dotted throughout are the remaining areas of Allophones, representing languages from Icelandic to Urdu. Immigration patterns vary in different regions of the country. BC has a long history of welcoming Japanese, Chinese and South Asian immigrants, and more recently large numbers of people from Eastern Europe and Iran.

Living conditions on reserves are often far below the rest of the country. In March Statistics Canada projected that the number of visible minorities in Canada will double by , and that by the majority of the populations of Toronto and Vancouver would be comprised of visible minorities.

Equally important, the cultural revival and sense of pride that an outside interest in aboriginal culture has generated gives young people a purpose to learn about their heritage. The further north in Canada you head, the more your travel dollars benefit Aboriginals.

Increasingly, Aboriginals are opening their lives to visitors. Dine on maktaaq, smoked whitefish and caribou stew in the Tuktoyaktuk home of a traditional hunter or try a homestay with an Iqaluit family.

Many Canadians feel the system is too lenient on visitors who arrive in Canada and declare themselves refugees, which grants them a government-subsidized existence while they await a hearing on their status, which can take months or sometimes even years. Some refugees disappear into the system or illegally skip to the USA. International people-smuggling rackets often target Canada because the coastline is vast and penalties are less severe than in the USA. The racketeers coach their human cargo on how to declare refugee status, but often their ultimate destination is the USA, a quick but illegal trip over the border.

Return to beginning of chapter MEDIA Although often overshadowed by US airwaves and publications, Canada has a healthy media sector, with television and radio stations in both English and French. There is a free press with very little censorship of editorial content apart from that which might discourage advertising or attract libel suits, both simmering issues.

Most Canadian newspapers are owned by large chains, which have been known to gobble up city-based alternative weeklies that might threaten competition. In Canada, two-thirds of Muslims actively practice their faith, while only one-fifth of Christians regularly attend religious services.

Teeth are optional. Until very recently lacrosse was in danger of disappearing from the public consciousness, but the sport seems to be experiencing a renaissance with a new pro league. As such, the city is digging up every second road and making plans to hustle its street people off to Seattle when the world visits in February of that year.

Tickets are distributed by lottery, and then you have to take whatever event they give you. Holy biathlon, Batman! Unless you know someone. With so many different cultures settling in Canada in the past generation, these sports are quickly emerging as alternatives to hockey for new communities.

The origins of so many players on Canadian national and Olympic teams give a picture of the diversity and the challenges facing the country as it searches for its identity in the 21st century. Finally, lest we forget curling, that unique brand of frozen shuffleboard that captivates large segments of the Canadian population each winter.

A Canadian sport that actually eschews fighting, curling requires players to slide polished granite stones to a painted target at the other end of a long sheet of ice.

Closest to the center wins a point in this sport that originated in Scotland. Players use a broom to affect how much curl a stone will get. Today, literature is the creative endeavor by which Canada has most effectively defined and distinguished itself, and revealed its multicultural diversity of voices. And Canadian readers are darn proud of them.

The festival website www. Translation is considered an art in Canada. The finest French-Canadian literature can be read in English. Corner Gas and Little Mosque on the Prairie, the top two Canadian sitcoms, are both set in small-town Saskatchewan although only the former is filmed there.

Music Canadian fans are as loyal and adventurous as they come. Major galleries exhibit the strengths of their permanent collections and host traveling exhibitions from home and abroad. Travelers taking the back roads will discover plenty of local creativity, too. In the midth century, Paul Kane and Cornelius Krieghoff both painted aboriginal subjects; works by them can be seen at the Royal Ontario Museum and the National Gallery.

Since the midth century there has been strong appreciation of and a market for aboriginal art, in particular Inuit sculpture. Check out www. By the s, professional theaters existed in most cities, but Canadian talent remained under-utilized. The increasingly adventurous Canadian Opera Company moved to new Toronto digs in Traditions brought to Canada by early settlers Scots, French etc and dance styles of more recent immigrant groups eg Ukrainian, Afro-Caribbean and Indian , are represented by amateur and professional ensembles, many of whom perform during cultural festivals.

Landscape-altering architecture for the Winter Olympics in Vancouver created much local controversy, including protests about the environmental footprint and the loss of low-income housing downtown. But in recent years, the country that used to treat food as a way of fueling up for a hard winter of polar bear wrestling has undergone a two-course culinary renaissance.

For travelers, this means that eating and drinking in Canada can now be a highlight of a visit here, rather than a disappointing pit-stop necessity.

With the Irish bringing potatoes to the table, the Germans rolling in with smoked sausages and the Chinese dropping by with dim sums, Canada has always been a finger-licking smorgasbord of food styles, making it the original home of fusion cooking. This approach is still the cornerstone of dining here today: contemporary restaurants often add a dash of Japanese influence to their French cuisine or a pinch of East Indian Flair to their west coast seafood menu.

But while tweaking traditional recipes is common in Canada, some dishes continue to define specific regions. These provincial soul foods directly reflect available local ingredients and the diverse influences of their cooks. Next door, Nova Scotia visitors should save their appetites for butter-soft Digby scallops and rustic Lunenberg sausage, while the favored food of nearby Newfoundland and Labrador is cod: cod cheeks, cod tongues and cod-and-potato-blended fishcakes.

Head next door to Saskatchewan for dessert, though. Backcountry foraging is also a big tradition in Canada: BC is a popular spot for mushroom pickers, New Brunswick is ideal for fiddleheads and almost everywhere else offers some kind of wild-growing seasonal fruit, including blackberries or blueberries.

Here you should hunt around for the dark, chocolaty or downright earthy tastes of beer from local producers such as Storm, Phillips, Dead Frog or Russell Brewing. If you time your visit well, you might catch a regional wine festival, enabling you to sample a few unfamiliar tipples as you rub shoulders with bleary-eyed local imbibers. Wine lovers are spoilt for choice when it comes to festivals. There are also many family-oriented, midpriced eateries for those traveling with kids, and bars are usually just as interested in serving food as they are beer.

While there are many variations, breakfast spots often open from 8am to 11am, lunch is usually offered between am and pm on weekdays and dinner is frequently on the menu from 5pm to pm daily. Midrange and family restaurants usually stay open all day. Closing times vary greatly and often depend on how busy the restaurant is on the day: hours are especially liquid in larger, tourist-friendly towns. Service is generally excellent at Canadian restaurants and bars. Solo travelers are welcomed at most eateries, although family-oriented restaurants may baulk at sacrificing a large table to a lone nosher.

See opposite for information on tipping. Expect similar responses in the Maritimes and on the prairies, where the carnivorous approach is a way of life.

Not surprisingly, vegans can expect an even rougher ride. The handy VegeDining website www. Check locations in BC www. Kids menus often rely heavily on breaded chicken and brightly colored mini pizzas. As an alternative, ask for a half-order of something more nutritious from the adult menu. Servers often work extra hard to keep kids happy, so consider adding a few dollars to your tip to reward exemplary service in the face of adversity.

On weekends, many restaurants serve brunch from as early as 8am, sometimes until as late as 4pm. BC and Ontario are the main regional producers. Table service is common in most pubs, although you can still order at the bar. A small number of areas still allow separate smoking rooms and patio smoking but this is also being slowly stubbed out. Twinkle-eyed Bernard leads gumbooted groups across the muddy beach at Whiffen Spit, extolling enthusiastically on the culinary properties of the many seaweed varieties growing in the ocean garden around her.

Running for a couple of hours, the Outer Coast Seaweeds tours , ; www. Call ahead for reservations. Get behind the cuisine of French Canada by getting to know the language.

For pronunciation guidelines, Click here. Diamonds, oil, gold and timber? Later generations, moving westward, found fertile soil in the prairies and gold in the Klondike. Much of this water fills the dips and dents of the massive Canadian Shield, a vast horseshoe-shaped region of Precambrian rock chiseled and gouged by glaciers and erosion over hundreds of millions of years.

In addition to Aboriginals, many of those living here are miners and loggers who exploit the enormous wealth of natural treasures, including nickel, copper, silver, gold and diamonds.

Ottawa is the second-chilliest national capital, after Ulan Bator, Mongolia. In the Pacific region, coastal British Columbia has the most temperate climate, but is often drenched by rains. Along with Alberta, the Yukon is part of the Cordillera region, which is also defined by other mountain ranges, most famously the Canadian Rockies.

Dinosaur Provincial Park Alberta, ; Click here A fossil site with bones from 35 species of dinosaurs, some 75 million years old. Gros Morne National Park Newfoundland, ; Click here Superb mosaic of coastal lowland, alpine plateau, fjords, glacial valleys, sheer cliffs, waterfalls and pristine lakes. Waterton Lakes National Park Alberta, ; Click here An exceptional variety of plants and mammals in prairies and forests, and alpine and glacial features.

That baby measured 7. Scientists say every to years the region gets hit by a major quake, ie one measuring 8. The last one occurred in , which means Canada is due for another spanking, oh, any day now? Whales, polar bear and the goofy, twig-eating moose are wildlife-watching favorites. They live in forests throughout the country and are most active between dusk and dawn.

If you see the legendary fur-ball, submit a report to the Sasquatch Research Initiative www. This curious, slow-moving animal is covered in up to 30, quills, which form a formidable defense mechanism. When under threat, the porcupine vigorously lashes its tail, thereby dislodging loose quills as if throwing them.

It feeds mainly on bark and tree buds, and used to be a staple of the Aboriginal diet. The quills are sometimes used in aboriginal decorative work. Its bigger relative, the caribou, is unusual in that both males and females sport enormous antlers. Barren-ground caribou, which feed on lichen and spend most of the year on the tundra from Baffin Island to Alaska, are the most common.

Still more humungous is the moose, whose skinny, ballerina-like legs support a hulking body with a distinctive shovel-like snout. Males grow a spectacular rack of antlers every summer, only to discard it in November. Newfoundland has grown a huge moose population since they were first introduced there in the early s Click here.

Neither moose nor elk are generally aggressive, and they will often generously pose for photographs. During mating season September , the males can become belligerent, so stay in your car. The huge, heavy-shouldered, shaggy bison buffalo that once roamed the prairies in vast herds now exists only in parks. It is said that there were once as many as 70 million bison in North America.

Their herds would often take days to pass by a single point. Keep your distance, though; for more, see the boxed text below. About half a million of these furry critters patrol the forests and bushland just about everywhere except Prince Edward Island, southern Alberta and southern Saskatchewan. But it never hurts to be prepared, as the old boy scout saying goes.

The endangered grizzly bear and the smaller black bear both hang out in Canada, mostly in the Canadian Rockies. Just to confuse you, black bear are sometimes brown and some grizzlies are almost black.

The way to tell them apart is to look for certain distinguishing characteristics: the grizzly has a dish-shaped face, small and rounded ears and a prominent shoulder hump. Both grizzlies and black bear are intelligent opportunists who quickly learn that humans come equipped with tasty packages of food. Never feed these majestic animals. Always use bear-proof bins provided at campgrounds to store your food properly, and keep your campground tidy by picking up all scraps.

Bear basically only attack if their cubs are around or if they feel surprised or threatened. Your best defenses against surprising a bear are to remain alert, avoid hiking at night when bear feed and be careful traveling in places where visibility is obscured. If the bear sees you, slowly back out of its path, avoid eye contact, speak softly and wave your hands above your head slowly.

Never turn your back to the bear and never kneel down. If a bear charges, do not run or scream which may frighten the bear and make it more aggressive , because the bear may only be charging as a bluff. Drop to the ground, crouch face down in a ball and play dead, covering the back of your neck with your hands and your chest and stomach with your knees.

As we said before, bear attacks are really quite rare. Give the bear, and other animals, the respect they deserve and the space they need. If you see one on the side of the road, consider not stopping. If you do decide to pull over, move on after a few minutes. If simple steps are taken to minimize human encounters, it will help ensure future generations of visitors have the chance to see wildlife that is still truly wild.

It stands up to a fearsome 3m tall and has a distinctive hump between its shoulders. Grizzlies are solitary animals with no natural enemies except humans. Although they enjoy an occasional snack of elk, moose or caribou, they usually fill their bellies with berries and other vegetation. Pretty much the only place to observe them is from late September to early November in Churchill, Manitoba, one of their major maternity denning grounds.

For more information about these fascinating creatures, Click here. Another formidable predator is the wolf, which can be every bit as fierce and cunning as is portrayed in fairy tales, although it rarely attack humans. Belugas are the smallest, typically measuring no more than 4.

They are chatty fellows who squeak, groan and peep while traveling in closely knit family pods. Each one chows down about 40 tons of krill per day. Minkes can grow to 10m and are likely to approach boats, delighting passengers with acrobatics as they, too, hurl themselves out of the water a bit more easily than the lumbering humpback. Everyone loves these cute little guys, a sort of waddling penguin-meets-parrot cross, with black-and-white feathers and an orange beak.

They hang out in the Atlantic provinces, especially Newfoundland. The true ruler of the sky, though, is the bald eagle, whose wingspan can reach more than 2m. It was Canadian banker Charles Broley who first connected the dots between DDT and the plummeting population of these regal birds. That was in the late s, and things have been looking way up since then. Trees cover nearly half of the country, providing living space to roughly two-thirds of the estimated , species of plants, animals and micro-organisms living in Canada.

Stretching from coast to coast and from the US border to the Arctic tree line, they are highly diversified and have adapted to the soil, climate and weather conditions. Further south, tundra transitions to taiga, better known as boreal forest, named after Boreas, the Greek god of the north wind. Cold-tolerant conifers such as pine, fir and spruce thrive in this harsh climate of long winters and short but warm summers.

Ontario hosts the parkland zone, which marks the transition between the eastern forests and the prairies. Trembling aspen is the dominant tree. Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Alberta are best known for their flat prairie grasslands, now mostly covered in cultivated grains. Short, mixed and tall grasses once blanketed this region but, except for a few protected pockets, these are a thing of the past.

BC has the most diverse vegetation in the country. The Rocky Mountain forests consist of sub-alpine species such as Engelmann spruce, alpine fir and larches, with lodgepole pine and aspen at higher elevations.

In the rainforest-like climate of the Pacific coast, the trees soar skyward. There are ancient, gigantic western red cedar, Douglas fir, western hemlock and Sitka spruce species. Some are more than years old, making them veritable Methuselahs of the tree world. Actually, the pitcher plant chows down mostly on insects, captured via its water-filled trap.

Keep an eye out next time you walk through a bog. Flip to it for the lowdown on activities, itineraries, costs and history. Each province also runs its own system of parks and reserves. There are literally hundreds of them, mostly used for recreation but also, to a certain extent, to protect wildlife and historic sites.

Many are just as spectacular as the national parks. The best-organized provincial parks offer similar infrastructure to their national cousins, including interpretive centers, equipment rental and campgrounds. Parks in the territories tend to be small, simple and inexpensive to visit; they are often used for overnight camping, although facilities may be basic.

It birthed Greenpeace, for crissake! The group launched from a Vancouver living room in Vancouver is also the home of environmental pioneer David Suzuki, a retired professor from the University of British Columbia UBC who has been writing about sustainable ecology for more than 30 years. The Green Party www.

Alberta and British Columbia offered the strongest support, Manitoba the least. Apparently not. Meanwhile, the clock ticks. The average annual temperature has increased by 0. Take the Yukon. Shorter winters have dissolved their ice-based seal-hunting habitat, and all of a sudden, nearby humans are starting to look like juicy T-bones Click here for more. Climate change also has bizarre economic ramifications. And the Olympics are headed to Vancouver in , but will there be enough snow for the slopes and bobsleigh runs?

Take as much as you want! In the early s, Atlantic Canada faced the horrifying fact that the cod were fished out. The greatest fishery in the world, in business for more than years, was now kaput. Cod were even listed as endangered in For additional information, Click here. Polar Bear, meet Walrus. They used to be strangers, until global warming brought their habitats together. Most hiking and camping advice is common sense. First, know what you are getting into.

Get trail maps and take a few minutes to talk to a ranger about trail conditions, dangers and closures. Rangers can also confirm if your abilities and equipment match the needs of your trip. Once in the wild, do everything possible to minimize your impact. Stick to established trails and campgrounds. Use a gas stove for cooking or make fires in established fire pits only.

When you leave, take out everything you brought in and remove every trace of your visit. Try to learn about local conservation, environmental and cultural issues before your trip and during your visit. Ask questions and listen to what locals have to say. And finally, support tourism companies and environmental groups that promote conservation initiatives and long-term management plans.

Along the same lines, companies strip huge areas of forest and soil cover to access coal, iron, nickel and other mineral resources. These ore deposits are developed all the time, particularly in seldom-visited northern regions such as Labrador and the Northwest Territories, where there is little public scrutiny or attention.

Recently there has been a spate of oil and natural gas development in the Atlantic provinces, much of it on the ocean floor, with untold consequences for marine life for an example of such actions, Click here. In northern Alberta, oil is coaxed from oil sands, a messy process that requires huge amounts of energy and poisons the atmosphere with greenhouse gases Click here for more.

Nearby, plans are underway for a controversial km-long pipeline, the Mackenzie Gas Project, to be tunneled beneath the wilderness of the Northwest Territories. Their website www. Is that good enough? Stay tuned. Not even close. And I can explain it all in two simple words: endless and staggering.

No matter what your ability, no matter what your taste, there is something here for you. Adventures for the rank beginner or the seasoned veteran are all over the place, even just on the edge of, and sometimes within, city limits. Whatever outdoor activity you can imagine, it exists in the highest of quality, right here in Canada. But, for nearly half the year, much of Canada really is snow-covered, and hockey and beer-drinking really are favorite pastimes. But there is so much more here than that oversimplified pictorial and those stereotypical flannels.

Welcome to the most abundant, most breathtaking, least busy playground on the planet. Welcome to half the world. Hills in the flatlands, like Saskatchewan and southern Ontario, are built on available or creatively used geography river hills or garbage dumps. Damn cold. But instead of complaining about it, Canadians are apt to do something in it. Find a snow-covered hill not too big and slide uncontrollably downhill. Combine this motorized activity with backcountry skiing to access tons of powder.

Canadians have a chronic fishing problem. Fish from inside an ice shack, drill into the ice, turn on the space heater and drop your line. Snowpack ranges from 2m to 6m-plus, depending on how close the resort is to the Pacific Ocean.

Medicine Hat, Alberta, with days sans rain. Cross-Country Nordic Skiing Instead of swishing through the snow, go straight on a set of Nordic skis.

Most ski resorts in Canada offer a groomed network of cross-country ski trails which are much cheaper than a downhill lift ticket. Compare lung capacity with Canadian national team members at the Olympic site in Canmore, Alberta.

Ski Touring Ski touring, downhill skiing with a backpack instead of a lift, is the cheapest way to tap into the deep and dry snow that is world-renowned in BC. Rogers Pass in Glacier National Park has the most beautiful glacier tours and tree skiing within a single-day tour. Or fly into a backcountry lodge like Blanket Glacier Chalet www. BC towns like Revelstoke, Nelson and Golden are touring hubs and have a number of shops that can provide gear, maps and information on snow conditions, where to park etc.

That said, Canada has revolutionized mountain biking and provides an expansive landscape for two-wheeled exploration. The entire 18,km trail some of it river routes will link communities from coast to coast to coast and provide for multi-use access to cyclists, snowmobilers, horseback riders and hikers. Check www. Most popular ski areas like Panorama www. Or you could choose shorter regional rides.

The east coast, with more small towns and less emptiness, is a fantastic place to pedal, either as a single-day road ride or a multi-day trip. The latter has a popular picnic area, and the two misty chutes are linked by a short section of the long-distance Voyageur Trail. Naturally Superior Adventures , ; www. Its lodge quietly sits along Lake Superior between a craggy expanse of stone and smooth sandy beach. A day on the grounds is itself a memorable experience as cool mists roll through in the afternoon and the evening sun gently melts into the lake.

These trips are suitable for total beginners. The three basic rooms are spotless, comfortable, and offer views of the lake.

Parkway Motel , ; www. The comfortable motel is 5km south of Wawa along the highway. Wawa Motor Inn , ; www. Log-cabin-like rooms out back are the perfect place to unleash your inner lumberjack. Food from Trinidad, mon! Add some spice to your trip and try the baked pork or the stewed catfish. For information, check out www. Several outfitters operate at various points along the river including Missinaibi Headwaters Outfitters ; www.

The park ext ; www. Pukaskwa offers many of the same topographical features as Lake Superior Provincial Park and includes a small herd of elusive caribou. There are two ways to explore this majestic hinterland. For many years, White River was known as the coldest place in Ontario. A large kitschy thermometer was erected in town displaying the ungodly temperatures. It all started in when a trapper brought a baby black cub to White River after an extended hunting trip.

Since Disney owns the rights to the furry bear, the giant statue in White River had to be slightly altered to avoid copyright infringement. The Visitor Centre 9am-4pm Jul-Aug offers a wealth of information about local wildlife and the boreal forest.

On most summer evenings starting around 7pm there are guided hikes and activities departing from the center. Three short trails depart from the campground area, offering glimpses of the pristine setting. The popular Southern Headland Trail 2.

The track also acquaints hikers with bonsai-esque trees, severely stunted by harsh winds blowing off the lake. The Halfway Lake Trail 2. Informative signs, dotted along the path, annotate the trek by offering an informed perspective on the inner workings of the ecosystem.

A third route, the Beach Trail 1. Hattie Cove and Halfway Lake offer tranquil day-long paddling options as well. Many fit hikers opt to traverse the first 7. The trek is arduous, even wet, and you must return the way you came making it a 15km total , but few will complain about the stunning surroundings. McCuaig Marine Services ; mccuaigk onlink. Rocky Neys Provincial Park , , just west of Marathon, has craggy beaches, furry caribou, and sunsets that make for a perfect Kodak moment.

Drop by the town of Terrace Bay and catch a boat to the Slate Islands, home to the largest herd of woodland caribou in the world. The Rossport Inn ; www. Even the wallpaper peels in the most charming of ways. Up the road, the neon-green Serendipity Guest House ; www. Ouimet wee-met canyon, just 12km off the highway, is a treacherous crevasse scoured out by ice and wind during the last Ice Age.

A microclimate has formed at the bottom, m below, which supports a small collection of rare arctic-alpine plants. A 1km loop hugs the jagged bluffs offering views that will make your knees tremble. Camping is prohibited. Pleasant campgrounds and a m ice wall keep this place busy year-round.

Both canyons are 45km west of Nipigon and 73km northeast of Thunder Bay. The park is rugged enough to offer backcountry camping, while compact enough for a fulfilling day trip. The three-day Kabeyun Trail follows the dramatic west coast of the peninsula. Shorter hikes will also allow you to mingle with white-tailed deer, moose and porcupines. For camping reservations, contact Ontario Parks ; www.

After hours of driving between an ethereal coastline and majestic forests, the concrete collection of industrial relics feels quite out of place. The two distinct downtown cores act like polar magnets repelling attempts at gentrification.

However, below the gritty surface, expansive Thunder Bay has a warm small-town vibe. The Ojibwe have inhabited the region for centuries, even millennia.

Soon after, a rival settlement popped up 5km up the road. Port Arthur was more mining-centric, until it became a shipping center for prairie grain.

The metallic granaries continue to line the seaboard. The gigantic wasteland of tarred parking lots in between is known as Intercity. Consider renting a car from one of the many dealerships in the stretch of commercial zoning known as Intercity. The memorial honors the young Terry Fox, a native of British Columbia, who lost his leg and eventually his life to cancer.

Before passing on, he left a powerful legacy by attempting to walk across Canada with an artificial leg to raise money for cancer research. On September 1, he arrived in Thunder Bay after traveling km, but was forced to stop as his illness worsened. The spectacular 40m waterfall is the source of many local legends.

The moody chute is at its best after the thaw in early spring and it gushes year-round after heavy rains. Today, the large heritage center offers 42 historic buildings stuffed with entertaining and antiquated props like muskets, pelts and birch-bark canoes. The use of natural imagery, haunting masks and scorching primary colors will leave lasting impressions on visitors.

The lookout is part of the Fort William First Nation ; www. A walking trail leads from the viewing area to the top of the mountain. The same folks also run Wabakimi Canoe Outfitters ; www. Expeditions focus on the thick stretch of dense boreal forest known as Wabakimi Provincial Park Superiorfinn Juhannus Arts Festival ; mid-Jun A long day of celebrating the summer solstice and Finnish heritage here in the land of the almost-midnight sun. Festa Italiana ; www. Anishnawbe Keeshigun ; www.

Sleeping As a common layover during trans-Canadian treks, Thunder Bay boasts a wide variety of lodging options. A large selection of chain motels gathers around the intersection of Hwys and Thunder Bay International Hostel ; www. The charismatic owners, Lloyd and Willa Jones, champion the backpacking lifestyle; in fact two of their children run hostels as well.

A night here is in itself an experience to be remembered. The hostel is 25km east of town. Sleeping Giant Guesthouse , ; hostelscanada yahoo.

She might even take you to the local dump to check out the bear that clomp around looking for food. Rooms are stocked with wooden bunk beds and pastel linoleum floors. Free bikes provide an extra bonus for those who want to explore the waterfront nearby. Thunder Bay Inn , ; www. This is your place. McVicar Manor ; www. Chocolate and roses abound, wine flows in the evening, sunflowers cheer the kitchen, and the perfect homemade breakfast greets you in the stately, uncluttered dining room.

Prince Arthur Waterfront Hotel , ; www. The waterfront property has gone through its fair share of renovations, but the cherry-brick exterior and rickety elevator retain the old-school charm. Splurge for a room with placid views of Sleeping Giant across the bay. Eating Hoito Restaurant ; www. Hefty carnivorous portions are dished out amid ranch-like curios. The infamous prime rib will give your arteries a workout.

Bistro One ; www. The facade positively reeks of franchise banality, however, the inside is filled with one-of-a-kind touches like white-clothed tables and designer stemware. Magnus Theatre ; www. Entry to the theater is off Waverley St. The airport is about 3km southwest of the city, at the junction of Hwy 17 and Hwy The Greyhound bus depot ; Fort William Rd lies between the two downtown areas near the Intercity Mall. Getting Around Car-rental chains are well represented at the airport and in the commercial zoning area known as Intercity, located between the two downtown regions.

The major hotels, including the Prince Arthur Waterfront Hotel, offer airport shuttles for their guests. Thunder Bay Transit ; www. Traffic thins out after Kakabeka Falls as highway vistas become noticeably dull.

Then, at Shabaqua Corners, the highway forks: the northern route along Hwy 17 plows straight toward Winnipeg, Manitoba, while the southern route Hwy 11 and Hwy 71 takes about two extra hours as it ambles through scenic landscapes.

Both routes will shuttle you through prime fishing country; service stations might try to lure you by offering free minnows with your tank of gas. Signs mark the beginning of a new time zone you save an hour going west. The aptly named Canoe Frontier Expeditions ; www. Northern Route Ignace and Dryden have plenty of motels and basic restaurants but no compelling reason to stop.

If you happen to be passing through Dryden at the beginning of July, a stop at the annual Moose Fest is a must. The biggest and best place to pause is Kenora, a pulp-and-paper town and the unofficial capital of the striking Lake of the Woods region.

This local hub services the local tourist activity, which mainly consists of summer vacation cottages and fishing trips. Accommodations options are plentiful as the usual army of franchise motels is stacked along the highway. The visitor center , ; www. Main St and Front St, along the water, host most of the action. Canadian Native Cultural Tours ; www.

The Lake of the Woods Museum ; www. Southern Route Those who choose the longer route between Ontario and Manitoba will be rewarded with spectacular distractions. Atikokan is the first major stop on the southern trail after the highways diverge. The endless waterlogged preserve has but one small campground, and over km of canoe routes stretching beyond the horizon into unexplored backcountry.

Canoe Canada Outfitters ; www. The Fort Frances Museum ; www. Travelers who wish to continue along the Trans-Canada Hwy must follow Hwy 71 north after passing tiny Emo, since Hwy 11 veers south across the border.

Before linking back up with Hwy 17, consider making two more scenic pit stops on the eastern realm of Lake of the Woods. Nestor Falls and Sioux Narrows are serene resort towns, offering a glut of rentable cottages and houseboats. The km of desolate highway offers little more than a shortcut or a less-long-cut from Thunder Bay to Cochrane.

Sans stops, the eight-hour car ride will give you plenty of time to ponder the following: how can there be so much roadkill and yet not another car on the road?

Evidence of harsh, long winters is conspicuous in this windswept town, but despite the inhospitable winters, the largely Francophone population is warm and accommodating. The assortment of passengers is a sight in and of itself: locals, trappers, biologists, geologists, tourists, anglers and hard-core paddlers all ride the shuttle one car is specially outfitted to transport canoes. From September to June, the train is commonly known as the Little Bear.

All three were brought into captivity as cubs after poachers sadly shot their mothers. Visitors can meet the friendly bears at daily feedings, or swim with the creatures in a pool divided by a thick sheet of glass. An on-site mock colonial village, stocked with costumed staff, is also included in the price of admission. Micro-fridges and a lake out back are an extra bonus. Station Inn , ; www. Stop by the gym and whirlpool to get the blood flowing before a lengthy trip to Moosonee.

The gorge-worthy ribs are so tasty, they might convince you to plan a second trip to Cochrane. All services arrive at and depart from the Cochrane Train Station Expeditions further north will undoubtedly involve floatplanes, canoes, snowmobiles, dogsleds or snowshoes. Moose Factory Tourism Association A useful telephone information service. The best way to experience the region is through a tour with the local Moose Cree.

In Moose Factory, the Cree Cultural Interpretive Centre Jul-Aug features indoor and outdoor exhibits of artifacts, including bone tools, traditional toys, reusable diapers and dwellings from the pre-contact era. It is best to explore the center with a guide, as they can relay fascinating details and personal anecdotes about the interesting displays.

The goal of the center, 70km east of Moosonee, is to recreate several villages each at different points in history. One camp has bark-construction dwellings typical of the pre-contact era, and another will feature contact-era canvas tipis. Guests travel between the main base and the villages by canoe, and activities in the area might include demonstrations of trapping and fishing.

Practical details and prices had not been established at the time of research, so check the website for the latest information. These highly recommended trips offer a unique opportunity to experience something beyond what many train passengers see. They share many stories of living off the land and fostering the traditional ways of life of their parents and grandparents.

The importance of the family unit and the respect for the elders is paramount. The local community is incredibly friendly and welcoming. Moose Factory is a great place for people to learn about Cree culture.

There are a couple of lodging options in Moosonee, although we strongly suggest staying on the island of Moose Factory. The three rooms are appointed with modern furnishings.

Cree Village Ecolodge , ; www. This fascinating place to stay was designed and furnished to reflect traditional Cree values. The environmentally-conscious design extends to the organic wool and cotton used in the carpets, blankets and bed linen, organic soaps in every room, and some composting toilets.

The lodge is also home to the first public library in Moose Factory. Breakfast, lunch and dinner are available to guests and nonguests alike, and are served in the Shabotowan Great Hall. For information on the trains from Cochrane, Click here. In winter the river becomes an ice bridge stable enough for cars and trucks. Return to beginning of chapter TIMMINS pop 43, At one time, Timmins was the most productive gold-mining area in the western hemisphere, and today the city still heavily revolves around its lucrative silver and zinc industry, with a network of over km of subterranean tunnels.

The shockingly large complex showcases her life and music through memorabilia, concert footage and an extensive collection of personal effects. Experienced miners dress visitors up in full digging apparel and take them through the Hollinger mine, 50m underground.

The journey includes a rail ride, liquid gold pouring, and a simulated dynamite blast. Flat shoes and warm clothing are a must. Timmins has the usual crew of chain motels dotted along Algonquin Blvd Hwy Cedar Meadows Wilderness Park , ; www.

While the god-fearing pharaohs were commissioning wondrous pyramids, this region of majestic pines and hushed lakes was a thriving network of trading routes. There are no facilities, and campsites can only be reached by canoe. Nowadays Doug, a semiprofessional photographer, is busiest guiding trips for clients who want to shoot pictures, not animals. The comfortable motel-style rooms, with full kitchen facilities, make the perfect base for any type of adventure in Temagami.

The woodsy lodge is within walking distance of the train station, and Buddy the resident dog will greet you with a friendly lick upon arrival.

Regular courses and retreats are offered on a variety of themes including culinary foraging adventures, painting and photography sessions, yoga, and guided paddle-hikes. On-site accommodations are in a timber structure stocked with shaggy quilts and twig furnishings. The guided dogsledding trips offered by Wolf Within Adventures ; www. Embark on an exhilarating and educational adventure through snow-drenched forests and frozen lakes.

Custom-designed adventures are available as well. All bookings at Wolf Within should be made two months in advance. With an abundance of roadside oddities to lure you off the road, it can be hard to choose where to stretch your legs. The tiny town of Cobalt is your best bet.

At the beginning of the s, this deserted ghost town was a thriving silver mine. For 30 profitable years, the site exploded with a seemingly endless supply of precious metals, attracting over 20, temporary residents. The lucrative lode at Cobalt was rumored to have pulled Canada through the Great Depression and was single-handedly responsible for starting the Toronto Stock Exchange.

The highways link up again near Thunder Bay, km away Click here. The rectangular downtown core is between Cassells and Fisher Sts. North Bay Chamber of Commerce ; www. In fact, the area was rather unremarkable until five little girls briefly turned the city into the most visited destination in Ontario after Niagara Falls.

Born during the Great Depression, they were exploited as a tourist attraction by the provincial government. Their fame became so widespread that they even starred in four Hollywood films. A walk along scenic Lake Nipissing reveals several enjoyable activities including antique carousel rides ; www. In fall, Ontario Northland operates a day-trip train package called the Dream Catcher Express ext ; www.

Evenings can be spent chatting with the affable owner over homemade desserts, or you can snuggle up with a handmade quilt and watch the snow fall in winter. Sunset Inn , ; www.

Spice up your lovelife and get a suite with a retro heart-shaped Jacuzzi. Enjoy tasty fare from the broad menu while staring out over the serene Trout Lake. The bar keeps the gregarious locals around until 1am or 2am. Cool misty gusts roll over the southern seaboard, and further inland the sweeping expanses of dappled branches offer juicy autumn fruits. For a dose of colonial history, eastern Ontario is tops. Further east, several smaller towns, like Gananoque, Brockville and Prescott, have fostered a genteel Victorian vibe with an abundance of stately inns and estates.

Even tiny Merrickville, a former Loyalist stronghold, has barely changed since the American Revolution. These horse-and-buggy townships straddle the stunning Thousand Islands region; a foggy archipelago of lonely isles peppered along the deep St Lawrence Seaway. Surprisingly, there is still no major highway running directly between Toronto and Ottawa. The speediest option is to take Hwy from Toronto to Prescott, and use Hwy to complete the L-shaped journey. The rural, two-lane Hwy 7 is a pleasant but slower alternative.

An easily accessible outdoor gem, this rugged expanse is a must-see for canoeists and hikers. Orientation The one major road through the park, Hwy 60, runs across a small portion near the southern edge.

Outfitters and accommodations often use the mile-markers when giving directions. The vast, wooded interior of Algonquin is accessible via km of charted canoe routes and intense hiking trails.

Several woodsy communities orbit the provincial park in all directions. Information Algonquin Provincial Park is accessible year-round. The Hwy 60 corridor has limited cell-phone coverage for several kilometers on each side of the park, as well as a couple of payphones.

Algonquin Visitor Centre ; www. The center also has a bookstore, cafeteria and a lookout with spectacular views. Information Centres ; www. Other spot-able creatures include deer, beaver, otter, mink and many bird species. There are two small museums in the park, in addition to the rotating gallery at the visitor center. The excellent Algonquin Logging Museum ; km The displays are spread along a 1.

Exhibits at the Algonquin Art Centre ; www. Outfitters offer many opportunities for novice paddlers as well as advanced wilderness adventures for the experienced outdoors person. Self-guided paddling trips are a popular option as well. A quota system governs the number of tourists on each canoe route, so plan ahead. Canoe Lake or Opeongo Lake are popular starting points for beginners, although the launching docks are frequently crowded.

Water taxis can plow through rougher waters, whisking you up to wilder regions beyond Opeongo Lake make reservations through Algonquin Outfitters, below. Scenic horseback riding is also very popular in and around the park. Contact Highland Wilderness Tours , ; www. Algonquin Outfitters , ; www. Great tours are also on offer. Algonquin Portage ; www. On-site rustic accommodations, shuttle service, food and gas available.

Canoe Algonquin , ; www. Opeongo Outfitters ; www. Portage Store , ; www. Bike rentals can be organized at the Lake of Two Rivers Store.

Guided tours also available. Tours A seemingly infinite number of guided tours is available to all types of adventurers. A list of specialized tour operators is included below, and it should be noted that several outfitters offer tour packages as well. All have their own lodge base and offer exciting dogsledding programs in the winter.

Call of the Wild , ; www. Northern Edge Algonquin ; www. Voyageur Quest , ; www. Scores of accommodations are available just beyond the protected lands, including resorts, motels and hostels check www. Day-trippers can save some cash and crash in Huntsville or Bracebridge, 43km and 73km from the West Gate, respectively.

Both Muskoka towns have a variety of restaurants and grocery stores. Within the park itself, there are three options: stay at one of the 11 car-accessible grounds either in a tent or a yurt , sleep in the backcountry accessible only by hiking or canoeing , or rest in the lap of luxury at one of the three high-end resorts.

You must contact the centralized reservation service for Ontario Parks , ; www. There are a couple of first-come first-served sites, but reservations are strongly recommended. Algonquin Backpackers Hostel , ; www. Tom, the knowledgeable owner, is a maven, offering invaluable advice for your Algonquin adventure. Magnificent Hill ; www. Wolf Den , ; www. Guests stay in shimmering log cabins scattered around the grounds, and a large central lodge offers a huge kitchen and stunning 2nd-floor lounge.

Dorms are only available during summer. Hikes depart from various mileposts actually kilometer-posts along Hwy 60 between the West Gate km 0 and the East Gate km Dwight Village Motel ; www. Spotless rooms offer all the creature comforts and the friendly owners assure a comfortable stay. Algonquin Inn , ; www. The complex is 11km west of the park.

Each option includes breakfast and dinner in the pricing scheme. Dining rooms are open to nonguests as well. Bartlett Lodge ; www. Bartlett Lodge is accessed by boat provided for you from a point 23km inside the west gate. Arowhon Pines ; www. The vast wooden dining room with stone pillars has a very good reputation for its food.

Killarney Lodge ; www. Bus service is only available Sunday, Wednesday and Friday. Tourists can reach Huntsville on an Ontario Northland bus.

Over 60, acres of the densely forested region is part of the Haliburton Forest ; www. The privately owned woodland, 30km north of Haliburton town, can be accessed through its main office on Kenneisis Lake. A visit to the Wolf Centre is included; here visitors can glimpse a pack of wolves at a safe distance, of course as they meander through their acre enclosure.

The small town of Bancroft www. During the yearly event, geologists lead tours around nearby abandoned mines to scout out stones. The tourist office ; www. Before leaving the green university town for more secluded recesses, have a wander around the quaint city center. Iron railroads scar the urban landscape as they plow their way through, and the impressive hydraulic lift lock is another conspicuous relic of a bygone era. Although the outside looks like a warehouse, the refurbished interior is pure Zen, with dim lighting and the calming sound of a trickling waterfall.

A phenomenal collection of over canoes and kayaks details the lengthy history of water navigation in the region. Serpent Mounds Park ; www. The Whetung Ojibwa Centre ; www.

Visit some of the smaller towns in the region, including Lindsay and Fenelon Falls, via km of scenic recreational trails, called the Central Ontario Loop Trail www. The granite formation sharply juts out of Mazinaw Lake and features the largest visible collection of aboriginal pictographs in all of Canada. The glyphs are best seen from a canoe. For camping reservations and information, contact Ontario Parks , ; www. The entrance and the information center are at Otter Lake, off Rte 19 north of Sydenham.

From here, hikers and canoeists venture deep within the park, using the km of trails to spot copious beaver, black bear, coyote and osprey. Overnight camping is only allowed from the end of April to the beginning of October. Both islands also have an intriguing colonial history. The route runs unbroken for 94km from Trenton to Kingston, save the free five-minute ferry ride connecting the island back to the mainland at Adolphustown.

This unvisited, undeveloped section at the end of the beach is unlike anywhere else in Ontario. The Taste Trail ; www. Two particularly stellar wineries are found on the east side of the island. The white-gabled Waupoos Winery ; www. There are 13 other wineries in Prince Edward County; most congregate near Wellington.

Traffic is light on most roads, making the island an excellent cycling destination. In June, visitors can ride around picking luscious strawberries from the vine at numerous farms. A hundred years ago, this km-long aboriginal canoe route bustled with commercial vessels, and today the system is purely recreational. The other side of the road offers picturesque views over Lake Ontario, hundreds of meters below.

The restored Regent Theatre ; www. Camping at Sandbanks Provincial Park is both scenic and stress-free. Sites along the sandy dunes get booked months in advance during summer. Both chalets feature several bedrooms, a working fireplace, satellite TV and a full kitchen. For all reservations, contact Ontario Parks , ; www. The attractive city continues to maintain its charm with a noticeable lack of modern architectural eyesores.

The city has the largest holding of convicts in the country. Princess St, the main drag, cuts diagonally through the city center connecting the downtown district to Hwy , several kilometers away. The walkable downtown district has a predictable checkerboard design with Ontario St running along the harbor. Indigo ; Princess St; 9ampm Mon-Sat, 10am-6pm Sun Wide-ranging bookstore with an extensive travel section.

Kingston Tourism , ; www. Post Office ; www. The postcard-perfect structure is brought to life by colorfully uniformed guards trained in military drills, artillery exercises and the fife-and-drum music of the s. Friendly red-vested volunteers conduct free tours, revealing colorful stained glass, dozens of portraits, dusty jail cells and an ornate council chamber.

Exhibits offer a detailed history of the fascinating vessels constructed at the yard. Today, the warehouse features a variety of steam-powered items, including several engines and model miniatures. It seems the architect was also a drunk, as the Italianate mansion is wholly asymmetrical, a pompous use of bright color abounds, and balconies twist off in various directions.

The enigmatic property also houses a large collection of antiques and has a sun-drenched garden, adding further charm and intrigue to the old manor.

Today, the structure houses local and military historical artifacts. The museum, across from the actual penitentiary, has a fascinating collection of weapons and tools confiscated from inmates during attempted escapes. Tours Confederation Tour Trolley ; www. Haunted Walk ; www. Check out the website, or stop by the Kingston Tourism office in Confederation Park. Throughout the summer there are two or three trips a day. Kingston Buskers Rendezvous www. Limestone City Blues Festival ; www.

Sleeping Accommodations in Kingston are top heavy, with a larger confluence of pricier stays than budget options. Motels are strung along Princess St and along Hwy 2 on each side of town. The knowledgeable staff at the tourism office in Confederation Park can help track down additional options, including on Wolfe Island. The moored vessel pretty much looks the same as it did when it was used to crack the frozen waters of the upper Great Lakes. Awaken from a restful slumber with a colorful breakfast as Jean dotes over her famous blueberry pancakes.

However, the unbeatable downtown location makes this place a worthy option. Green Acres Inn , ; www. Green Acres is the place to be. Three dapper bedrooms, with charming exposed brick, hide behind the navy-blue shutters.

Secret Garden , ; www. Hochelaga Inn , ; www. And speaking of ghouls, it is said that the ghost of a young crying boy haunts the old nursery, which has since been converted into a cheery day spa.

But who really cares about atmosphere when the homemade dishes burst with fresh ingredients and come at unbeatable prices? Sleepless Goat ; www. A self-proclaimed co-op, the restaurant is run by a clan of savvy cooks who churn out the tastiest veggie options in town. Tango ; www. Weekends are dominated by the loosened ties and popped collars of local financiers after a long week at the office.

Quieter weekdays have discounted tapas and martini options. Light and savory lunches fuse unlikely ingredients into palate-pleasing entrees. Gusto ; www. While waiting for your meal, take a moment to read the resto manifesto, promising that each dish is lavished with a generous portion of TLC.

The pasta and fish selections are always a big hit, and the bread is freshly baked down the street at Pan Chancho. Reservations are strongly recommended on weekends. Chien Noir ; www. The menu, featuring a broad assortment of steaks and seafood, will surely leave customers plagued with indecision.

The tantalizing brunch menu is a real nail-biter too. Grad Club ; www. Ale House ; www. Frequent live music draws in swarms of students too. Tir nan Og ; Ontario St Set inside one of the oldest and most charming buildings along the waterfront, this Irish oasis serves up live music and overflowing pints. At the time of our visit, the theater was under extensive renovations with an unclear finish date. There are lovely aromas and a curious assortment of goods and shoppers, including local professors drinking the fresh coffee at the back of the store.

Buses also stop at various towns including Cornwall and Brockville. Check out www. For car rental, try Enterprise ; Princess St , which offers complimentary pickup and drop-off. Extra trains run during the summer. Getting Around For information on getting around by bus, call Kingston Transit To get to town from the bus terminal, there is a city bus stop across the street; buses depart 15 minutes before and after the hour. From the train station, bus 1 stops on the corner of Princess and John Counter Blvd, just a short walk from the bus station.

Buses do not run on Sundays. Cyclists will be happy to note that the Kingston area is generally flat, and both Hwys 2 and 5 have paved shoulders. Rentals are available at Ahoy Rentals ; www. The minute trip affords views of the city, the fort and a few of the Thousand Islands. Pick up a bike route map at the information center in Kingston for an alternate way to explore the terrain.

The year-old General Wolfe Hotel ; ; www. The dining room serves award-winning cuisine. On the Kingston side, the ferry terminal is at the intersection of Ontario and Barrack Sts. The ferry runs continuously every hour or so from am to am daily, taking about 50 vehicles at a time.

The dainty Victorian town, deep in the heart of the Thousand Islands region, teems with cruise-hungry tourists during summer and early fall. Like most other towns in the Thousand Islands region, Gananoque is home to several river cruise operators. The Gananoque Boat Line ; ; www. The castle is technically in the USA, so make sure all your papers are in order if you are planning to visit.

The Thousand Islands Playhouse ; ; www. Sleeping Gananoque sports an abundance of memorable accommodations options, including several upmarket and architecturally eye-catching inns.

Misty Isles Lodge ; www. Victoria Rose Inn , ; www. Gananoque Inn , ; www. The old carriage-works inn opened its doors in , and has retained much of its charm while surreptitiously adding modern amenities like a luxurious day spa. Half-priced rooms are available in the off-season. Houseboat Holidays ; www. The main office, just 3km eat of Gananoque along Hwy 2, will set you up with your very own floating hotel and provides a brief instructional course for nautical newbies.

The lush archipelago offers loose tufts of fog, showers of trillium petals, quaking tide-pools, and opulent 19th-century summer mansions, whose turrets pierce the prevailing mist.

The narrow, slow-paced Thousand Islands Parkway dips south of Hwy between Gananoque and Elizabethtown, running along the river for 35km before rejoining the highway. The scenic journey winds along the pastoral strip of shoreline offering picture-perfect vistas and dreamy picnic areas. The Bikeway bicycle path extends the full length of the Parkway. Rockport, the largest village along the Thousand Islands Pkwy, lies just beyond a cluster of stone churches.

There are two large cruise lines that operate out of Rockport, both offering optional stopovers at the gorgeous, rambling Boldt Castle, an unfinished gothic palace of dark spires and stone facades. Rockport Boat Line , ; www. The autumn cruises with multicolored leaves as a backdrop are justly popular as well. A walking trail and interpretive center allow visitors to learn more about the lush terrain and resident wildfire.

Over a dozen of the freckle-sized islands support backcountry camping between mid-May and early September and they are accessible only by boat BYO boat. Rows of gothic spires twisting skyward make it easy to imagine that the clip-clop of carriage horses once rang through the streets. Brockville Museum ; www. Nearby Prescott below has some intriguing accommodations options, or check out The Green Door ; www.

Crisp sunlight dances through the ample common space during the day and evenings are spent by the piano, or snuggled up in an antique bed. The original fort was built during the War of and was used again as a strategic locale in when an American invasion seemed imminent.

During summer, costumed locals supplement the interpretive displays and offer guided tours on Wednesdays and Saturdays at 1pm. Prescott offers some of the most original accommodations options along the St Lawrence. Scuba dives in the backyard revealed sunken bottles of old brew.

The home has retained a nautical theme with schools of taxidermic fish and models of wooden frigates. Hearty English breakfasts, fit for a sailor, will keep you chugging along until dinnertime. Had the wee burg become a stop on the line, it would have no doubt swapped its stone structures for industrial eyesores. Fortunately today, visits can still be a step back in time, to when the area was a Loyalist stronghold ready to defend the Crown against those rebellious Americans.

In fact, Merrickville was such a desirable locale that Colonel By, the master planner of the Rideau Canal, built his summer home here, and Benedict Arnold was given a tract in town as a reward for betraying the Americans. Costume-clad interpreters animate this re-created town by emulating life in the s.

Hwy 2 along the river is slow but provides a more scenic trip than Hwy Over bird species can be glimpsed. Inquire at the park office about the dozen camping options.

The Long Sault Parkway connects a series of parks and beaches along the river. Return to beginning of chapter OTTAWA pop , Descriptions of Ottawa read like an appealing personal ad: young, vibrant, clean, bilingual, likes kids, long walks on the river. The attractive capital continues to impress in person. The postcard-perfect Parliament regally anchors the downtown core at the confluence of three gushing rivers.

An inspiring jumble of pulsing districts, each with their own flavor, lies beyond the sleek government offices. In the distance, the rolling Gatineau hills tenderly hug the cloudless valley. From the smooth undulating walls of the ubermodern Museum of Civilization just across the river in Gatineau , to the haunting gothic arches of the Museum of Nature, each attraction is an inspired architectural gesture with an intriguing exhibition space.

Chinatown and Little Italy have been local mainstays for quite some time, but recent years have witnessed an influx of dynamic flavors from Africa, France, the Caribbean, Eastern Europe and Southeast Asia, not to mention a variety of aboriginal choices. The Rideau Canal turns into the largest skating rink in the world, and the Winterlude festival gets everyone outdoors with a gargantuan village made entirely of ice. When the thick blanket of snow melts away, auspicious tulips cheer the downtown as spring clicks to summer.

Vibrant autumn leaves round out the year, as the streets are set ablaze with eye-popping reds and yellows. Canadians were initially baffled by her decision; Ottawa was far away from the main colonial strongholds. The master planner gave the city a distinctive European feel, transforming the area into the stunning cityscape of ample common and recreational spaces we see today.

The compact downtown nucleus is bisected by the snaking Rideau Canal, dividing the area into unofficial east and west sections. The western area is a dense financial district with glass-skinned office towers that huddle near the extravagant Parliament.

Sparks St, a block south of the government buildings, is a friendly pedestrian mall. Much of the downtown pedestrian action clutters between the clunky Rideau Centre, an indoor shopping mall, and Confederation Sq, a junction of several concrete thoroughfares with the National War Memorial in its center.

Four bridges connect the capital to its sister city across the river Gatineau, aka Hull. The Portage Bridge off Wellington St links both urban centers. Several banks and currency exchange outlets cluster along the Sparks St mall. Capital Infocentre , , TTY ; www.

Located across from the Parliament Buildings. Chapters ; 47 Rideau St; ampm Mon-Sat, ampm Sun, hours subject to change Extensive general bookstore with a Starbucks. The friendly ByWard Market can get a bit of an edge in the late evening, with minor drug and prostitution traffic. Most of these attractions are within walking distance of one another, including the Museum of Civilization in Gatineau Hull.

A couple of quick things to remember: many museums are closed on Mondays in the winter, and several attractions will let you in for free if you arrive less than an hour before closing. Parliament Hill Vast yawning archways dominate this stunning complex of copper-topped towers. Venture inside to peruse the hand-carved limestone and make a stop at the gorgeous library with its wood and wrought iron.

Question Period in the House of Commons is particularly popular, occurring every afternoon and at 11am on Fridays. Admission is on a first-come first-served basis. Free minute tours run frequently reservations are required ; be prepared for tight security.

Pick up a free copy of the Walking Tour of Parliament Hill at the information center across the street. At 10am daily in summer, see the colorful changing of the guard on the front lawns. The dialogue between the heavy metallic roof and the floating crystalline steeple is magical even on the dreariest of days.

On the interior, the vaulted galleries display classic and contemporary pieces with an emphasis on Canadian artists. The Inuit Gallery on level 2 fuses ancestral themes with modern media in the fine photography collection. Beyond the slew of Canadian art, galleries of US and European works will please the eye with several recognizable names and masterpieces. Also hidden deep within is the unusual Rideau Street Chapel.

Built in , this stunning wooden chapel was saved from demolition and restored piece-by-piece inside the gallery. The gaping four-story museum houses an impressive collection of fossils, minerals and animals, and an excellent stock of dinosaurs from Alberta.

Buses 5, 6 and 14 transport passengers to McLeod St. Ambient squeaks and boinks fill the air as contented visitors gingerly turn knobs and push buttons. Clever displays are designed to teach visitors about the basic scientific laws that govern our world.

Climb aboard the heavy-duty trains at the back of the museum to learn about the science behind coal and steam engines.

The large display on space technology has an assortment of Canadian space artifacts. The neighboring astronomy section displays mind-blowing films about the universe.

On clear evenings, you can make reservations to take a peek through the large refracting telescope. Canadian War Museum This museum ; www. Many of the exhibits were constructed on a human scale including a haunting life-sized replica of a WWI trench. Canada Aviation Museum With nearly aircraft housed in the steel triangular hangar, the aviation museum ; www.

Stroll through the mammoth warehouse, try the flight simulator, and get up close and personal with colorful planes ranging from the Silver Dart of to the first turbo-powered Viscount passenger jet. Call ahead to check opening hours, as they vary according to attendance levels and time of year.

The museum is about 5km northeast along Rockcliffe Pkwy from downtown, near the Canadian Forces base. Take bus from downtown. Take the stairs down from Wellington St to find the Bytown Museum ; www. Sorry, no free samples. Currency Museum Make sense of cents at this small museum ; www. Supreme Court of Canada This intimidating structure ; www. Visitors can stroll around the scenic grounds, vaulted lobby and dark oak-paneled courtroom.

In summer, law students from the University of Ottawa conduct friendly and insightful tours, which depart every 30 minutes. During the rest of the year, tours must be booked in advance. The cathedral sits across from the glass spires of the National Gallery.

Aboriginal Experiences This intriguing replica of an aboriginal village , ; www. Turtle Island is within walking distance of downtown. Rideau Hall ; 1 Sussex Dr; admission free; 9am-1hr before sunset , home to the governor general, was built in the early 20th century. There are free minute walking tours of the posh residence, with poignant anecdotes about the various goings-on over the years.

Tours are offered throughout the day in summer, or you can stroll the grounds all year. At the main gate, the small changing of the guard ceremony happens on the hour throughout the day from the end of June until the end of August. Both houses are northeast along Sussex Dr. The home is elegantly furnished, displaying treasured mementos and possessions from both politicos.

The public is welcome to watch the dress rehearsals and sundry equestrian displays. Tours of the stables are given from am to 11am and pm to pm every day during the summer season, and the visitor information center is open year-round. Call for practice time details and the sunset ride schedule.

Past displays have included artist retrospectives, surveillance videos, documentary pieces and many other convoluted themes. Call ahead before planning a visit as the museum space is often closed between exhibitions. Behind the tiny checker-like windows lies a vast anthology of records, including paintings, maps, photographs, diaries, letters, posters and 60, cartoons and caricatures collected over the past two centuries. Rotating exhibits are displayed on the ground floor.

Tourists will find a glut of outdoor activities during all seasons. The 7km of groomed ice features numerous rest stops and changing stations, but most importantly, skaters can pause to purchase a scrumptious slab of fried dough called beavertails.

The tourism office on Wellington St has information about skate rentals. Several nearby skiing resorts offer a variety of alpine and cross-country trails. In the Gatineau Hills, about 20km from downtown, over 50 groomed slopes are available between Camp Fortune ; www.

Mount Pakenham, 60km west of Ottawa, offers a similar experience, and cross-country skiers will love the trails in Gatineau Park. A necklace of woodlands, known as the Greenbelt , circles the city center about 15km from downtown. This undeveloped network of thickets fosters many nature trails, which wind through dense forest, marshlands and fields. Downtown, there are various walking, jogging and cycling trails that open during summer. The friendly staff at Rent-A-Bike ; www.

Also in summer, there are canoe and rowboat rentals for trips along the canal at Dows Lake Pavilion at Dows Lake. The lake, a bulge in the Rideau Canal, is southwest of the downtown core between Preston and Bronson Sts.

Hot-air ballooning has long been a popular leisure activity in the capital region. Sundance Balloons ; www.

 
 

exuper: Canada (part-1).

 
It’s also the closest full-fledged beach resort to Toronto, attracting thousands of visitors every summer. Most of the 14km-long expanse.

 

– Canada day vancouver island’s devine distillery nearest

 

For a quarter century, it remained in the grip of ultra-conservative Maurice Duplessis and his Union Nationale party, with support from the Catholic Church and various business interests. Advances included expanding the public sector, investing in public education and nationalizing the provincial hydroelectric companies.

In , Canada became the first country in the world to pass a national multicultural act and establish a federal department of multiculturalism. The new millennium has been kind to Canada. The loonie took off around , thanks to the oil, diamonds and other natural resources fueling the economy. Tolerance marches onward, with medical marijuana and gay marriage both legalized recently. Expect the country to continue getting all glammed up before the world spotlight shines on it for the Winter Olympics in Vancouver.

Circa 25, BC Hot on the hoofs of juicy caribou and bison, the first humans arrive in Canada by crossing over the land bridge that once connected Siberia to North America. It belongs to no nation; rather it serves fishing fleets from all over Europe. By the British claim it as the first colony of their Empire.

He searches for gold and precious metals, but gets only chilled rocks. Still, he plunks down the tricolore to claim the land for France. Soon he commands 40 ships and men. He eventually retires to France and becomes the Marquis of Savoy. Years later, the company morphs into The Bay department store chain.

Some 14, men, women and children are forced onto ships during the Great Expulsion; many head to Louisiana in the USA. It lasts less than an hour and kills both commanding generals. France takes it on the chin. Prospectors discover gold along the Fraser River in BC, spurring thousands of get-rich-quick dreamers to move north and start panning. Most remain poor. Queen Victoria celebrates with Canadian bacon for breakfast. However, she retains the right to keep her mug on the money and appoint a governor general.

The ban was supposed to be lifted within a few years, but depleted cod stocks never rebounded. Modern day warriors, indeed. Patients can buy ready-to-use buds, or seeds to grow their own. Nice, but with no sense of humor. Our differences with Americans may be subtle, but they are significant. We are tolerant towards foreign cultures and celebrate their differences by encouraging multiculturalism.

After all, we coined the term in and have it enshrined in our Charter of Rights and Freedoms. And we are open-minded when it comes to alternative lifestyles like same-sex marriage and lighting up a joint. According to almost every international institution, Canada rates in the top echelon in everything from public transit to freedom of the press to world business competitiveness. It is a compassionate and very pleasant country to live in, even if you are old, poor, ill or different.

Yet listen to us! We fret that multiculturalism might be leading to a splintered society with pockets of solitudes. And we are indignant about having to honor treaties we signed long ago with Aboriginals who refuse to simply fade into the sunset. We are more a nation of debaters than people of action. Canadians are like one small family living in a very big house in the suburbs.

If something really irks, we can always retreat to another room until our anger dissipates. Peace at any cost is an integral part of our heritage and psyche, and we are lucky to have never experienced war on our home turf. Despite the reality that Canadians have fought in overseas conflicts for the better part of a century, we see ourselves as a nation of peacekeepers; it was former prime minister Lester B Pearson who received a Nobel Peace Prize in for settling the Suez Crisis, an action that led to his being lauded as the father of peacekeeping.

A favorite quip is that the only thing unifying Canada is a universal hatred of successful, corporate, American-leaning Toronto, although a recent documentary on the subject revealed that no-one could say exactly why. Perhaps just to unite us. We may not have the sense of history of the UK, or the bravado and self-assuredness of the Aussies, but we do have our own quiet style that is the key to the miracle that has kept this complex, open society from falling apart or crashing into warring tribal factions.

We have learned that flexibility, compromise, tolerance, dialogue, a sense of humor and being nice just might be the glue that keeps this unlikely country together. While the present is rosy, Canadians are nervous about a graying future; one in every seven Canadians is a senior over 65 , and the number of children under 14 years is at an all-time low.

By there will no longer be enough new workers to replace retiring baby boomers, the fastest-growing demographic. At the same time, many provinces have abolished mandatory retirement at What does a typical Canadian family look like? Mum and dad are raising 1. The gap between rich and poor in Canada is increasing and income growth for the working classes has slowed.

Canadians are borrowing more, especially to buy homes that have reached record prices in British Columbia, Alberta and Ontario. Kids will attend postsecondary education in numbers unrivaled in any other country with female students vastly outnumbering males , creating the most highly educated population per capita in the world.

Inside an average Canadian home all the latest electronic gadgets are present along with a car or two in the garage. One in 50 Quebecers is a Tremblay. Nationally, twice as many Canadians live in common-law relationships as Americans. In Canada became the fourth country in the world to legalize same-sex marriage; so far same-sex divorce has not yet been sanctioned. Same-sex couples comprise only 0. But a federal bill to legalize possession of marijuana for personal use remains stalled.

Leisure-loving Canadians work about three weeks fewer per year than Americans, and fewer than Australians, too. During the July and August school break, many kids spend a week or two in camp learning outdoor skills, languages and sports.

Canadians are known for winter sports like skiing and especially hockey, the national pastime, which is played by 1. But Canadians are much more likely to watch hockey than to play it. Crime remains higher in western Canada than in the east. Since the mids the government has steadily paid down the federal debt and now regularly posts budgetary surpluses.

The Canadian dollar is at a year high against the US buck, and unemployment rates are at a year low. While the economy is dominated by the service industry, Canada is unusual among developed nations in the importance of natural resources such as logging, mining, wheat and oil. Oil in particular is a major factor in the current economic climate. Balmy weather in lower British Columbia attracts winter-weary Canadians from further east.

In recent years the oil boom in northern Alberta has drawn workers from across the country, particularly Atlantic Canada, where it is almost a tradition for young people to leave their unemployment-plagued home provinces to find work in other parts of Canada see boxed text. After all, it was the first country in the world to establish a federal department of multiculturalism. Chinese immigrants were brought to the west to build the transcontinental railway in the s, and by the time of the most recent census , the country had become home to different ethnic groups speaking languages.

Canada has one of the highest rates of immigration per capita in the world and accepts large numbers of refugees. With a growth rate of only 1. These 1. Among the Aboriginal population the average age is As in other nations such as Australia, the Aboriginal suicide rate, which is six times higher than for the rest of the population, is an alarming indicator of social crisis.

But the colonists saw treaties as a trade of land for compensation. More than 50 treaties were signed, first with the British and then the Canadian governments. Among those who did, many did not receive the land, money, food, medicine or housing they were promised. Since the s Aboriginal people have made land claims against the federal and provincial governments, an issue that gained urgency as plans were made to develop northern resources.

Where no treaties were signed, land claims now involve roughly half the total area of Canada. Resolution of land claims is complicated, as two levels of government are involved with all the ensuing debates surrounding land ownership and how treaties should be interpreted. Some cases remain unresolved after half a century and frustration has mounted. A blockade by the Haida of British Columbia against logging an old-growth forest finally resolved a year land claims battle.

There have been armed standoffs between Aboriginals and police like that at an Ontario reserve called Camp Ipperwash in , where police shot and killed Chippewa protestor Anthony Dudley George. It was the first modern-day land-claim settlement. Settling land claims is an important step for Aboriginals to become stewards of their own future. Since the creation of Nunavut there has been widespread mineral exploration that gives a territory the potential for much-needed revenue.

Aboriginal land claims continue to capture the front page of Canadian newspapers. For the latest in aboriginal news, visit www. Dotted throughout are the remaining areas of Allophones, representing languages from Icelandic to Urdu. Immigration patterns vary in different regions of the country. BC has a long history of welcoming Japanese, Chinese and South Asian immigrants, and more recently large numbers of people from Eastern Europe and Iran. Living conditions on reserves are often far below the rest of the country.

In March Statistics Canada projected that the number of visible minorities in Canada will double by , and that by the majority of the populations of Toronto and Vancouver would be comprised of visible minorities. Equally important, the cultural revival and sense of pride that an outside interest in aboriginal culture has generated gives young people a purpose to learn about their heritage. The further north in Canada you head, the more your travel dollars benefit Aboriginals. Increasingly, Aboriginals are opening their lives to visitors.

Dine on maktaaq, smoked whitefish and caribou stew in the Tuktoyaktuk home of a traditional hunter or try a homestay with an Iqaluit family. Many Canadians feel the system is too lenient on visitors who arrive in Canada and declare themselves refugees, which grants them a government-subsidized existence while they await a hearing on their status, which can take months or sometimes even years.

Some refugees disappear into the system or illegally skip to the USA. International people-smuggling rackets often target Canada because the coastline is vast and penalties are less severe than in the USA. The racketeers coach their human cargo on how to declare refugee status, but often their ultimate destination is the USA, a quick but illegal trip over the border.

Return to beginning of chapter MEDIA Although often overshadowed by US airwaves and publications, Canada has a healthy media sector, with television and radio stations in both English and French.

There is a free press with very little censorship of editorial content apart from that which might discourage advertising or attract libel suits, both simmering issues. Most Canadian newspapers are owned by large chains, which have been known to gobble up city-based alternative weeklies that might threaten competition. In Canada, two-thirds of Muslims actively practice their faith, while only one-fifth of Christians regularly attend religious services.

Teeth are optional. Until very recently lacrosse was in danger of disappearing from the public consciousness, but the sport seems to be experiencing a renaissance with a new pro league. As such, the city is digging up every second road and making plans to hustle its street people off to Seattle when the world visits in February of that year. Tickets are distributed by lottery, and then you have to take whatever event they give you. Holy biathlon, Batman! Unless you know someone. With so many different cultures settling in Canada in the past generation, these sports are quickly emerging as alternatives to hockey for new communities.

The origins of so many players on Canadian national and Olympic teams give a picture of the diversity and the challenges facing the country as it searches for its identity in the 21st century.

Finally, lest we forget curling, that unique brand of frozen shuffleboard that captivates large segments of the Canadian population each winter. A Canadian sport that actually eschews fighting, curling requires players to slide polished granite stones to a painted target at the other end of a long sheet of ice. Closest to the center wins a point in this sport that originated in Scotland. Players use a broom to affect how much curl a stone will get. Today, literature is the creative endeavor by which Canada has most effectively defined and distinguished itself, and revealed its multicultural diversity of voices.

And Canadian readers are darn proud of them. The festival website www. Translation is considered an art in Canada. The finest French-Canadian literature can be read in English. Corner Gas and Little Mosque on the Prairie, the top two Canadian sitcoms, are both set in small-town Saskatchewan although only the former is filmed there.

Music Canadian fans are as loyal and adventurous as they come. Major galleries exhibit the strengths of their permanent collections and host traveling exhibitions from home and abroad. Travelers taking the back roads will discover plenty of local creativity, too.

In the midth century, Paul Kane and Cornelius Krieghoff both painted aboriginal subjects; works by them can be seen at the Royal Ontario Museum and the National Gallery. Since the midth century there has been strong appreciation of and a market for aboriginal art, in particular Inuit sculpture. Check out www.

By the s, professional theaters existed in most cities, but Canadian talent remained under-utilized. The increasingly adventurous Canadian Opera Company moved to new Toronto digs in Traditions brought to Canada by early settlers Scots, French etc and dance styles of more recent immigrant groups eg Ukrainian, Afro-Caribbean and Indian , are represented by amateur and professional ensembles, many of whom perform during cultural festivals.

Landscape-altering architecture for the Winter Olympics in Vancouver created much local controversy, including protests about the environmental footprint and the loss of low-income housing downtown. But in recent years, the country that used to treat food as a way of fueling up for a hard winter of polar bear wrestling has undergone a two-course culinary renaissance.

For travelers, this means that eating and drinking in Canada can now be a highlight of a visit here, rather than a disappointing pit-stop necessity. With the Irish bringing potatoes to the table, the Germans rolling in with smoked sausages and the Chinese dropping by with dim sums, Canada has always been a finger-licking smorgasbord of food styles, making it the original home of fusion cooking. This approach is still the cornerstone of dining here today: contemporary restaurants often add a dash of Japanese influence to their French cuisine or a pinch of East Indian Flair to their west coast seafood menu.

But while tweaking traditional recipes is common in Canada, some dishes continue to define specific regions. These provincial soul foods directly reflect available local ingredients and the diverse influences of their cooks. Next door, Nova Scotia visitors should save their appetites for butter-soft Digby scallops and rustic Lunenberg sausage, while the favored food of nearby Newfoundland and Labrador is cod: cod cheeks, cod tongues and cod-and-potato-blended fishcakes.

Head next door to Saskatchewan for dessert, though. Backcountry foraging is also a big tradition in Canada: BC is a popular spot for mushroom pickers, New Brunswick is ideal for fiddleheads and almost everywhere else offers some kind of wild-growing seasonal fruit, including blackberries or blueberries.

Here you should hunt around for the dark, chocolaty or downright earthy tastes of beer from local producers such as Storm, Phillips, Dead Frog or Russell Brewing. If you time your visit well, you might catch a regional wine festival, enabling you to sample a few unfamiliar tipples as you rub shoulders with bleary-eyed local imbibers. Wine lovers are spoilt for choice when it comes to festivals. There are also many family-oriented, midpriced eateries for those traveling with kids, and bars are usually just as interested in serving food as they are beer.

While there are many variations, breakfast spots often open from 8am to 11am, lunch is usually offered between am and pm on weekdays and dinner is frequently on the menu from 5pm to pm daily.

Midrange and family restaurants usually stay open all day. Closing times vary greatly and often depend on how busy the restaurant is on the day: hours are especially liquid in larger, tourist-friendly towns. Service is generally excellent at Canadian restaurants and bars.

Solo travelers are welcomed at most eateries, although family-oriented restaurants may baulk at sacrificing a large table to a lone nosher. See opposite for information on tipping. Expect similar responses in the Maritimes and on the prairies, where the carnivorous approach is a way of life. Not surprisingly, vegans can expect an even rougher ride.

The handy VegeDining website www. Check locations in BC www. Kids menus often rely heavily on breaded chicken and brightly colored mini pizzas. As an alternative, ask for a half-order of something more nutritious from the adult menu. Servers often work extra hard to keep kids happy, so consider adding a few dollars to your tip to reward exemplary service in the face of adversity.

On weekends, many restaurants serve brunch from as early as 8am, sometimes until as late as 4pm. BC and Ontario are the main regional producers.

Table service is common in most pubs, although you can still order at the bar. A small number of areas still allow separate smoking rooms and patio smoking but this is also being slowly stubbed out. Twinkle-eyed Bernard leads gumbooted groups across the muddy beach at Whiffen Spit, extolling enthusiastically on the culinary properties of the many seaweed varieties growing in the ocean garden around her. Running for a couple of hours, the Outer Coast Seaweeds tours , ; www.

Call ahead for reservations. Get behind the cuisine of French Canada by getting to know the language. For pronunciation guidelines, Click here. Diamonds, oil, gold and timber? Later generations, moving westward, found fertile soil in the prairies and gold in the Klondike.

Much of this water fills the dips and dents of the massive Canadian Shield, a vast horseshoe-shaped region of Precambrian rock chiseled and gouged by glaciers and erosion over hundreds of millions of years. In addition to Aboriginals, many of those living here are miners and loggers who exploit the enormous wealth of natural treasures, including nickel, copper, silver, gold and diamonds.

Ottawa is the second-chilliest national capital, after Ulan Bator, Mongolia. In the Pacific region, coastal British Columbia has the most temperate climate, but is often drenched by rains.

Along with Alberta, the Yukon is part of the Cordillera region, which is also defined by other mountain ranges, most famously the Canadian Rockies. Dinosaur Provincial Park Alberta, ; Click here A fossil site with bones from 35 species of dinosaurs, some 75 million years old.

Gros Morne National Park Newfoundland, ; Click here Superb mosaic of coastal lowland, alpine plateau, fjords, glacial valleys, sheer cliffs, waterfalls and pristine lakes. Waterton Lakes National Park Alberta, ; Click here An exceptional variety of plants and mammals in prairies and forests, and alpine and glacial features.

That baby measured 7. Scientists say every to years the region gets hit by a major quake, ie one measuring 8. The last one occurred in , which means Canada is due for another spanking, oh, any day now? Whales, polar bear and the goofy, twig-eating moose are wildlife-watching favorites.

They live in forests throughout the country and are most active between dusk and dawn. If you see the legendary fur-ball, submit a report to the Sasquatch Research Initiative www. This curious, slow-moving animal is covered in up to 30, quills, which form a formidable defense mechanism.

When under threat, the porcupine vigorously lashes its tail, thereby dislodging loose quills as if throwing them. It feeds mainly on bark and tree buds, and used to be a staple of the Aboriginal diet. The quills are sometimes used in aboriginal decorative work. Its bigger relative, the caribou, is unusual in that both males and females sport enormous antlers.

Barren-ground caribou, which feed on lichen and spend most of the year on the tundra from Baffin Island to Alaska, are the most common. Still more humungous is the moose, whose skinny, ballerina-like legs support a hulking body with a distinctive shovel-like snout.

Males grow a spectacular rack of antlers every summer, only to discard it in November. Newfoundland has grown a huge moose population since they were first introduced there in the early s Click here. Neither moose nor elk are generally aggressive, and they will often generously pose for photographs.

During mating season September , the males can become belligerent, so stay in your car. The huge, heavy-shouldered, shaggy bison buffalo that once roamed the prairies in vast herds now exists only in parks. It is said that there were once as many as 70 million bison in North America. Their herds would often take days to pass by a single point. Keep your distance, though; for more, see the boxed text below. About half a million of these furry critters patrol the forests and bushland just about everywhere except Prince Edward Island, southern Alberta and southern Saskatchewan.

But it never hurts to be prepared, as the old boy scout saying goes. The endangered grizzly bear and the smaller black bear both hang out in Canada, mostly in the Canadian Rockies. Just to confuse you, black bear are sometimes brown and some grizzlies are almost black. The way to tell them apart is to look for certain distinguishing characteristics: the grizzly has a dish-shaped face, small and rounded ears and a prominent shoulder hump.

Both grizzlies and black bear are intelligent opportunists who quickly learn that humans come equipped with tasty packages of food. Never feed these majestic animals.

Always use bear-proof bins provided at campgrounds to store your food properly, and keep your campground tidy by picking up all scraps. Bear basically only attack if their cubs are around or if they feel surprised or threatened. Your best defenses against surprising a bear are to remain alert, avoid hiking at night when bear feed and be careful traveling in places where visibility is obscured.

If the bear sees you, slowly back out of its path, avoid eye contact, speak softly and wave your hands above your head slowly. Never turn your back to the bear and never kneel down. If a bear charges, do not run or scream which may frighten the bear and make it more aggressive , because the bear may only be charging as a bluff.

Drop to the ground, crouch face down in a ball and play dead, covering the back of your neck with your hands and your chest and stomach with your knees.

As we said before, bear attacks are really quite rare. Give the bear, and other animals, the respect they deserve and the space they need. If you see one on the side of the road, consider not stopping. If you do decide to pull over, move on after a few minutes. If simple steps are taken to minimize human encounters, it will help ensure future generations of visitors have the chance to see wildlife that is still truly wild.

It stands up to a fearsome 3m tall and has a distinctive hump between its shoulders. Grizzlies are solitary animals with no natural enemies except humans. Although they enjoy an occasional snack of elk, moose or caribou, they usually fill their bellies with berries and other vegetation. Pretty much the only place to observe them is from late September to early November in Churchill, Manitoba, one of their major maternity denning grounds.

For more information about these fascinating creatures, Click here. Another formidable predator is the wolf, which can be every bit as fierce and cunning as is portrayed in fairy tales, although it rarely attack humans. Belugas are the smallest, typically measuring no more than 4. They are chatty fellows who squeak, groan and peep while traveling in closely knit family pods. Each one chows down about 40 tons of krill per day. Minkes can grow to 10m and are likely to approach boats, delighting passengers with acrobatics as they, too, hurl themselves out of the water a bit more easily than the lumbering humpback.

Everyone loves these cute little guys, a sort of waddling penguin-meets-parrot cross, with black-and-white feathers and an orange beak. They hang out in the Atlantic provinces, especially Newfoundland.

The true ruler of the sky, though, is the bald eagle, whose wingspan can reach more than 2m. It was Canadian banker Charles Broley who first connected the dots between DDT and the plummeting population of these regal birds.

That was in the late s, and things have been looking way up since then. Trees cover nearly half of the country, providing living space to roughly two-thirds of the estimated , species of plants, animals and micro-organisms living in Canada. Stretching from coast to coast and from the US border to the Arctic tree line, they are highly diversified and have adapted to the soil, climate and weather conditions.

Further south, tundra transitions to taiga, better known as boreal forest, named after Boreas, the Greek god of the north wind. Cold-tolerant conifers such as pine, fir and spruce thrive in this harsh climate of long winters and short but warm summers. Ontario hosts the parkland zone, which marks the transition between the eastern forests and the prairies.

Trembling aspen is the dominant tree. Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Alberta are best known for their flat prairie grasslands, now mostly covered in cultivated grains. Short, mixed and tall grasses once blanketed this region but, except for a few protected pockets, these are a thing of the past. BC has the most diverse vegetation in the country. The Rocky Mountain forests consist of sub-alpine species such as Engelmann spruce, alpine fir and larches, with lodgepole pine and aspen at higher elevations.

In the rainforest-like climate of the Pacific coast, the trees soar skyward. There are ancient, gigantic western red cedar, Douglas fir, western hemlock and Sitka spruce species. Some are more than years old, making them veritable Methuselahs of the tree world. Actually, the pitcher plant chows down mostly on insects, captured via its water-filled trap.

Keep an eye out next time you walk through a bog. Flip to it for the lowdown on activities, itineraries, costs and history. Each province also runs its own system of parks and reserves. There are literally hundreds of them, mostly used for recreation but also, to a certain extent, to protect wildlife and historic sites.

Many are just as spectacular as the national parks. The best-organized provincial parks offer similar infrastructure to their national cousins, including interpretive centers, equipment rental and campgrounds. Parks in the territories tend to be small, simple and inexpensive to visit; they are often used for overnight camping, although facilities may be basic. It birthed Greenpeace, for crissake! The group launched from a Vancouver living room in Vancouver is also the home of environmental pioneer David Suzuki, a retired professor from the University of British Columbia UBC who has been writing about sustainable ecology for more than 30 years.

The Green Party www. Alberta and British Columbia offered the strongest support, Manitoba the least. Apparently not. Meanwhile, the clock ticks. The average annual temperature has increased by 0. Take the Yukon. Shorter winters have dissolved their ice-based seal-hunting habitat, and all of a sudden, nearby humans are starting to look like juicy T-bones Click here for more.

Climate change also has bizarre economic ramifications. And the Olympics are headed to Vancouver in , but will there be enough snow for the slopes and bobsleigh runs? Take as much as you want! In the early s, Atlantic Canada faced the horrifying fact that the cod were fished out. The greatest fishery in the world, in business for more than years, was now kaput.

Cod were even listed as endangered in For additional information, Click here. Polar Bear, meet Walrus. They used to be strangers, until global warming brought their habitats together. Most hiking and camping advice is common sense.

First, know what you are getting into. Get trail maps and take a few minutes to talk to a ranger about trail conditions, dangers and closures. Rangers can also confirm if your abilities and equipment match the needs of your trip.

Once in the wild, do everything possible to minimize your impact. Stick to established trails and campgrounds. Use a gas stove for cooking or make fires in established fire pits only. When you leave, take out everything you brought in and remove every trace of your visit. Try to learn about local conservation, environmental and cultural issues before your trip and during your visit.

Ask questions and listen to what locals have to say. And finally, support tourism companies and environmental groups that promote conservation initiatives and long-term management plans. Along the same lines, companies strip huge areas of forest and soil cover to access coal, iron, nickel and other mineral resources. These ore deposits are developed all the time, particularly in seldom-visited northern regions such as Labrador and the Northwest Territories, where there is little public scrutiny or attention.

Recently there has been a spate of oil and natural gas development in the Atlantic provinces, much of it on the ocean floor, with untold consequences for marine life for an example of such actions, Click here. In northern Alberta, oil is coaxed from oil sands, a messy process that requires huge amounts of energy and poisons the atmosphere with greenhouse gases Click here for more.

Nearby, plans are underway for a controversial km-long pipeline, the Mackenzie Gas Project, to be tunneled beneath the wilderness of the Northwest Territories.

Their website www. Is that good enough? Stay tuned. Not even close. And I can explain it all in two simple words: endless and staggering. No matter what your ability, no matter what your taste, there is something here for you. Adventures for the rank beginner or the seasoned veteran are all over the place, even just on the edge of, and sometimes within, city limits.

Whatever outdoor activity you can imagine, it exists in the highest of quality, right here in Canada. But, for nearly half the year, much of Canada really is snow-covered, and hockey and beer-drinking really are favorite pastimes. But there is so much more here than that oversimplified pictorial and those stereotypical flannels. Welcome to the most abundant, most breathtaking, least busy playground on the planet.

Welcome to half the world. Hills in the flatlands, like Saskatchewan and southern Ontario, are built on available or creatively used geography river hills or garbage dumps. Damn cold. But instead of complaining about it, Canadians are apt to do something in it. Find a snow-covered hill not too big and slide uncontrollably downhill. Combine this motorized activity with backcountry skiing to access tons of powder.

Canadians have a chronic fishing problem. Fish from inside an ice shack, drill into the ice, turn on the space heater and drop your line. Snowpack ranges from 2m to 6m-plus, depending on how close the resort is to the Pacific Ocean. Medicine Hat, Alberta, with days sans rain. Cross-Country Nordic Skiing Instead of swishing through the snow, go straight on a set of Nordic skis. Most ski resorts in Canada offer a groomed network of cross-country ski trails which are much cheaper than a downhill lift ticket.

Compare lung capacity with Canadian national team members at the Olympic site in Canmore, Alberta. Ski Touring Ski touring, downhill skiing with a backpack instead of a lift, is the cheapest way to tap into the deep and dry snow that is world-renowned in BC. Rogers Pass in Glacier National Park has the most beautiful glacier tours and tree skiing within a single-day tour.

Or fly into a backcountry lodge like Blanket Glacier Chalet www. BC towns like Revelstoke, Nelson and Golden are touring hubs and have a number of shops that can provide gear, maps and information on snow conditions, where to park etc. That said, Canada has revolutionized mountain biking and provides an expansive landscape for two-wheeled exploration. The entire 18,km trail some of it river routes will link communities from coast to coast to coast and provide for multi-use access to cyclists, snowmobilers, horseback riders and hikers.

Check www. Most popular ski areas like Panorama www. Or you could choose shorter regional rides. The east coast, with more small towns and less emptiness, is a fantastic place to pedal, either as a single-day road ride or a multi-day trip. Sure, we use plastic and fiberglass today, but boat design and techniques have hardly changed. No longer used for hunting, this double-bladed, covered-deck paddlesport is still the most efficient human-powered way to move across lakes and along coastlines.

Make sure you have a solid Eskimo Roll for righting yourself when you flip. Luckily www. As old as kayaking, and equally Canadian, is the canoe. Travel a thousand miles by train and you are a brute; pedal five hundred on a bicycle and you remain basically a bourgeois; paddle a hundred in a canoe and you are already a child of nature.

Here are some of our favorites, to help you decide which way to turn your toes. Also, k. Also visit the Parks Canada site www. Watch wild animals, cross unbridged rivers and see not a soul. Access is via Whitehorse. Take a compass and GPS; the alpine plateau is crisscrossed by a web of caribou trails. An offshoot will head northwards from Calgary through the Yukon to Tuktoyaktuk in the Northwest Territories, with a branch extending east through Nunavut to Chesterfield Inlet on Hudson Bay.

The TCT will be the longest such trail in the world, linking millions of travelers, hundreds of communities and dozens of landscapes. Its entire length will take about days to cycle, days to ride on horseback or days to walk. The now-disbanded organization in charge of the celebrations wanted to leave a lasting legacy, and provided enough seed money to launch the project in This entitles them to have their name inscribed on one of dozens of Trail Pavilions along the route.

So far approximately , people have immortalized themselves in this fashion. The TCT is knitted together from existing and new trails. Much of it, including all of the Newfoundland and Prince Edward Island sections, will run along former railway tracks. For now, the TCT remains a work in progress.

More than half of it is currently unstable; it is scheduled for completion in the fall of From here you can march through dense spruce and pine forests that burst into a stunning bright-yellow canopy in the fall.

Then ascend into alpine meadows that are carpeted with wildflowers and surrounded by crumbling glaciers and azure lakes. This trail network weaves together pristine lakes with some of the largest peaks in the Rockies. And the BC Parks system www. There are sizable mountains out east, too. For the serious backpacker looking for the least beaten path and the biggest mountains east of the Canadian Rockies, plan on visiting Torngat Mountain National Park in Labrador.

Though portions are near cities like Hamilton and Toronto, it is surprisingly serene. Backroad Mapbooks will show you the way. Outdoor recreation and camping overviews accompany each book, but make sure you cross-reference with the locals.

Canmore, just outside Banff, is the ideal place for beginners and beyond. Climbing shops, a climbing school www.

All levels of climbers bask in the spring sun while climbing the plus gneiss and nice, too! It features hundreds of tours, from day trips to summit missions to epic traverses. While Canadians are practically born on skates, it might take you a couple of hours to get the hang of it. Skating has spawned many a Canadian pastime and takes regional forms.

Grassroots hockey, aka pond hockey, takes place in communities across Canada every night on a frozen surface. All you need is a puck, a hockey stick and a few friends to live the hockey dream. Winnipeg, Manitoba, notorious for chilly winters, has 3km of cleared ice on the Assiniboine and Red rivers. In Alberta, you can race in the Sylvan Lake 50km Marathon on a 10km track, the longest in the world.

They just don a pair of warm mitts, a down jacket, crampons and an ice axe, and are pretty well ready to take on the most abundant and consistent ice climbing in the world. Banff, Kootenay, Yoho and Jasper national parks remain frozen for six months a year, and by early November notorious routes like Polar Circus and Curtain Call are in full form.

As in summer, Canmore is the place to get started and take a lesson. With www. Great for climbers, hikers and sightseers. Give yourself a couple of weeks to work your way up ft or m this ice-riddled Kluane National Park massif. For better odds all around, watch out for the more common and visible Canadian critters. The Arctic has tusked narwhals and belugas, while Nova Scotia has humpbacks, minkes and the rare North Atlantic right whale.

Polar bear can be spotted in Churchill, Manitoba on the shores of Hudson Bay. Operators will tour you around the Polar Bear Capital of the World in elevated tundra buggies. At one time 60 million bison roamed the North American plains. Over 50 grizzlies live on this 45,hectare refuge. A few eco-tour operators have permits for viewing this at-risk species.

The mountain national parks Banff, Jasper, Kooteany, Yoho also offer a chance to see these rare omnivores. But driving, hiking or cycling in Algonquin Provincial Park is a golden opportunity to see each and every one. Return to beginning of chapter FISHING It should probably come as no surprise that some of the best fishing in the world can be found in a country that harbors more freshwater than any other.

Elaborate native societies based their entire nutritional structure around fish, and fishing has since become a sacred recreation. Calgary Stampede www. Logger Sports www.

See pros carve chairs, hand-saw at lightning speeds and cut trees with pinpoint precision in this heritage event held in Squamish, BC, in the first week of August. Yukon Quest www.

Survivor Kananaskis www. Last one standing wins. Held the last weekend in May on the Kananaskis River, one hour west of Calgary. Less controversial than a hockey scrum, fights at the end of a fishing line are equally exciting. The fiercer, the longer and the more unpredictable the fish fight, the better. And on just about any Canadian freshwater lake, you could get yourself into a serious brouhaha.

Northern Saskatchewan contains some of the most productive lakes, and many are serviced by fishing lodges. Check local, provincial and federal fishing regulations wherever you are; most hardware or fishing shops can tell you everything there is to know.

Scuba divers can become one with one of the most abundant and diverse marine areas on earth from the perfectly-placed ocean cities of Vancouver and Victoria. Ocean life here also benefits from the cold, nutrient-rich water. June and September are best for mere mortals, but if you want to test some of the fiercest storms the Pacific can dish out, try surfing in winter.

First-timers will enjoy the challenge with many great surf schools both east and west. Tofino, outside Pacific Rim National Park Reserve, has a superb choice of surf schools and offers the most variety for learning. Squamish, BC Click here, benefits greatly from a wind-funneling venturi effect, which gets wild in Howe Sound. No trees hold back the wind; only power-generating wind farms compete for a chunk of the gust.

Sheltered lagoons offer safe learning locations for testing kiteboards or seeking shelter during heavy days. Today, horses help all kinds of people, from couch potatoes to the uberactive, get out to enjoy the landscape.

Be ready to get down and dirty. Most Ontarians live in the south within a few hundred kilometers of the US border, where winters are bearable and steamy summers lure folks outside. No longer a steadfast political filing cabinet, contemporary Ottawa is as hip as you want it to be. Year-round, Ontario celebrates its diversity with a cavalcade of festivals. And if you must seek out wildlife, there are some excellent national parks here too. The first Europeans on the scene were 17th-century French fur traders, who established basic forts to facilitate trade links with the Mississippi River.

With the arrival of the British Loyalists around , large-scale settlement began. The northern continental climate sees bitterly cold winters and mild summers. This creates steady precipitation throughout the year, heavy summer humidity and much milder winters than in the north.

That said, the entire province is blanketed with heavy snowfalls during winter. In the south, where most of the population lives, winter snow melts rapidly in spring. As summer draws closer, the strip of land bordering the USA gets increasingly hot and sticky, particularly the Niagara Peninsula.

There are also provincial parks here, offering hiking and camping facilities. Make reservations with Ontario Parks ; www. Charismatic megafauna has largely been evicted from southern Ontario due to development and agriculture, but the further north you travel, the more likely you are to spot hairy roadside individuals no, not lumberjacks.

Two Weeks Feel like a road trip? Heading northwest, take a paddle through the expansive Algonquin Provincial Park, visit Manitoulin Island for a dose of aboriginal culture, and try Sudbury and Sault Ste Marie for a history lesson on shipping and mining in northern Ontario. Continue westward and base yourself in Wawa for a few days. Greater expanses of unexplored nature lie ahead as you roll on toward Thunder Bay and beyond.

Air Canada www. CanJet www. First Air www. BUS Greyhound Canada www. Booking bus tickets at least seven days in advance can sometimes halve the fare. The big car-hire companies have offices in larger towns. Click here for key highways. Ontario Northland www. Its Northlander service connects Toronto with Cochrane, from where buses go to Hearst and Kapuskasing.

Dramatic shifts in weather elicit almost schizophrenic behavior from the locals. Humidity clogs the avenues and the streetlife hum approaches a roar.

Spanked across the face by bitter February, locals head underground into the PATH network of subterranean walkways. And of course, winter is hockey season! Overlayed by typically laconic Canadian attitude, Toronto is as unpretentious and tolerant as it is complex.

Tommy Thompson Park, an artificial wildlife oasis, juts abstractly into Lake Ontario; the Toronto Islands rustle their leafy boughs at the city skyline. In the British took over and John Simcoe, lieutenant governor of the new Upper Canada, chose the site as the capital formerly at Niagara-on-the-Lake and founded the town of York. The Americans looted and razed York, but held sway for only six days before Canadian troops booted them out and hounded them back to Washington.

Like many big cities, Toronto had a great fire; in about five hectares of the inner city burned, leveling buildings. Amazingly, no one was killed.

Well over one million immigrants have arrived since: Italian, Portuguese, Chilean, Greek, Southeast Asian, Chinese and West Indian immigrants have rolled into the city in waves. Just offshore are the Toronto Islands. The Church-Wellesley Village is a gay parallel universe a few blocks to the east.

Lester B Pearson International Airport is 27km west of downtown. MapArt www. Shuffle over to St Lawrence Market for lunch then head up to Bloor-Yorkville to splash some cash in the shops. Compensate with a thrifty dinner in Chinatown.

Afterwards, ride the ferry to the Toronto Islands; hire a bike and wheel away the afternoon. Back on the mainland, nibble on late-night mezes Greek tapas and drinks in Greektown. A trashy night club-hopping through the Entertainment District is a mandatory T. TheatreBooks Map; ; www.

Metro www. Now Toronto www. Toronto Life www. Toronto Star www. Toronto Sun www. Where Toronto www. CIUT Edge Hospital for Sick Children Map; ; www. Money American Express , ; www. Instead, tackle the banks, or try Money Mart Map; ; www. Thomas Cook www. Tourism Toronto Map; , ; www. Most homeless people are more likely to be assaulted or harassed than to do so to you.

The Toronto Islands are where locals retreat for a bit of peace and quiet. North from the lake, modernity and history collide at Dundas Sq: shopping centers, office blocks, museums and majestic theatres all stake their claim. Suburban East Toronto and The Beaches are less edgy but are still interesting to explore. Car-parking in Toronto is expensive and traffic congestion is an issue; public transportation is usually the best option.

Ferries for the Toronto Islands dock here. Its primary function is as a radio and TV communications tower, but relieving tourists of as much cash as possible seems to be the second order of business. Tours include a brain-scrambling video wall screening footage of past sporting glories, concerts and events, a sprint through a box suite, a locker-room detour sans athletes and a memorabilia museum.

In between times the facility hosts everything from wedding expos to Wiggles concerts. Rooms overlooking the field can also be rented at the Renaissance Toronto. Performances sometimes take place on the covered outdoor concert stage by the lake.

Today, a handful of the original log, stone and brick buildings have been restored. In summer, men decked out in 19th-century British military uniforms carry out preposterous marches and drills, firing musket volleys into the sky.

Tours run hourly from May to September. When lakeside fishers noticed that northern pike were spawning here each spring, the city took it upon itself to create this new habitat. Aside from the pike, look for monarch butterflies, mallard ducks, goldfinches, dragonflies and red-winged blackbirds.

Contact the Harbourfront Centre box office left for performance schedules and guided tour details. Additional attractions like the human-sized MegaMaze and House of Blues concerts at the Molson Amphitheatre ; www. Discounted passes may be available after 5pm and for grounds-only admission.

On rainy days, many of the rides, activities and restaurants close. The shuttle runs daily from June to August, and on weekends in May and September, departing every half-hour between 9am and 7pm. Other events held at Exhibition Place throughout the year include the Grand Prix of Toronto and a slew of spectator sports and indie design shows.

At other times the grounds are often spookily bereft of visitors. Financial District The area around Union Station is busy night and day with hot-dog vendors, shivering office workers smoking in doorways and fans heading to hockey games at the Air Canada Centre. Even visitors unfamiliar with this super-fast, ultraviolent sport will be impressed with the interactive multimedia exhibits and hockey nostalgia.

A succession of glass cases displays otter, bear, eagles and carved Inuit figures in day-to-day scenes. Old York Historically speaking, the old town of York comprises just 10 square blocks. But today the neighborhood extends east of Yonge St all the way to the Don River, and from Queen St south to the waterfront esplanade.

The restored, high-trussed South Market houses more than 50 specialty food stalls: cheese vendors, fishmongers, butchers, bakers and pasta makers. Inside the old council chambers upstairs, the St Lawrence Market Gallery ; admission free; 10am-4pm Wed-Fri, 9am-4pm Sat, noon-4pm Sun has rotating displays of paintings, photographs, documents and historical relics. A few steps further north, the glorious St Lawrence Hall is topped by a mansard roof and a copper-clad clock tower that can be seen for blocks.

Chemicals, sewage and fertilizer runoff have traditionally fouled the waters, and, although the situation is improving, only the brave and stupid dare to swim at city beaches.

For most citizens, Lake Ontario is simply a big, gray, cold thing that stops the Americans from driving up Yonge St. For the record, Lake Ontario is the 14th largest lake in the world and the smallest and most easterly of the five Great Lakes: km long, 85km wide and m deep. A large kitschy thermometer was erected in town displaying the ungodly temperatures. It all started in when a trapper brought a baby black cub to White River after an extended hunting trip.

Since Disney owns the rights to the furry bear, the giant statue in White River had to be slightly altered to avoid copyright infringement. The Visitor Centre 9am-4pm Jul-Aug offers a wealth of information about local wildlife and the boreal forest. On most summer evenings starting around 7pm there are guided hikes and activities departing from the center.

Three short trails depart from the campground area, offering glimpses of the pristine setting. The popular Southern Headland Trail 2. The track also acquaints hikers with bonsai-esque trees, severely stunted by harsh winds blowing off the lake.

The Halfway Lake Trail 2. Informative signs, dotted along the path, annotate the trek by offering an informed perspective on the inner workings of the ecosystem. A third route, the Beach Trail 1. Hattie Cove and Halfway Lake offer tranquil day-long paddling options as well. Many fit hikers opt to traverse the first 7. The trek is arduous, even wet, and you must return the way you came making it a 15km total , but few will complain about the stunning surroundings.

McCuaig Marine Services ; mccuaigk onlink. Rocky Neys Provincial Park , , just west of Marathon, has craggy beaches, furry caribou, and sunsets that make for a perfect Kodak moment.

Drop by the town of Terrace Bay and catch a boat to the Slate Islands, home to the largest herd of woodland caribou in the world. The Rossport Inn ; www. Even the wallpaper peels in the most charming of ways. Up the road, the neon-green Serendipity Guest House ; www. Ouimet wee-met canyon, just 12km off the highway, is a treacherous crevasse scoured out by ice and wind during the last Ice Age.

A microclimate has formed at the bottom, m below, which supports a small collection of rare arctic-alpine plants. A 1km loop hugs the jagged bluffs offering views that will make your knees tremble. Camping is prohibited. Pleasant campgrounds and a m ice wall keep this place busy year-round. Both canyons are 45km west of Nipigon and 73km northeast of Thunder Bay. The park is rugged enough to offer backcountry camping, while compact enough for a fulfilling day trip.

The three-day Kabeyun Trail follows the dramatic west coast of the peninsula. Shorter hikes will also allow you to mingle with white-tailed deer, moose and porcupines. For camping reservations, contact Ontario Parks ; www.

After hours of driving between an ethereal coastline and majestic forests, the concrete collection of industrial relics feels quite out of place. The two distinct downtown cores act like polar magnets repelling attempts at gentrification. However, below the gritty surface, expansive Thunder Bay has a warm small-town vibe. The Ojibwe have inhabited the region for centuries, even millennia.

Soon after, a rival settlement popped up 5km up the road. Port Arthur was more mining-centric, until it became a shipping center for prairie grain. The metallic granaries continue to line the seaboard.

The gigantic wasteland of tarred parking lots in between is known as Intercity. Consider renting a car from one of the many dealerships in the stretch of commercial zoning known as Intercity. The memorial honors the young Terry Fox, a native of British Columbia, who lost his leg and eventually his life to cancer. Before passing on, he left a powerful legacy by attempting to walk across Canada with an artificial leg to raise money for cancer research.

On September 1, he arrived in Thunder Bay after traveling km, but was forced to stop as his illness worsened. The spectacular 40m waterfall is the source of many local legends.

The moody chute is at its best after the thaw in early spring and it gushes year-round after heavy rains. Today, the large heritage center offers 42 historic buildings stuffed with entertaining and antiquated props like muskets, pelts and birch-bark canoes. The use of natural imagery, haunting masks and scorching primary colors will leave lasting impressions on visitors. The lookout is part of the Fort William First Nation ; www.

A walking trail leads from the viewing area to the top of the mountain. The same folks also run Wabakimi Canoe Outfitters ; www. Expeditions focus on the thick stretch of dense boreal forest known as Wabakimi Provincial Park Superiorfinn Juhannus Arts Festival ; mid-Jun A long day of celebrating the summer solstice and Finnish heritage here in the land of the almost-midnight sun.

Festa Italiana ; www. Anishnawbe Keeshigun ; www. Sleeping As a common layover during trans-Canadian treks, Thunder Bay boasts a wide variety of lodging options.

A large selection of chain motels gathers around the intersection of Hwys and Thunder Bay International Hostel ; www. The charismatic owners, Lloyd and Willa Jones, champion the backpacking lifestyle; in fact two of their children run hostels as well.

A night here is in itself an experience to be remembered. The hostel is 25km east of town. Sleeping Giant Guesthouse , ; hostelscanada yahoo. She might even take you to the local dump to check out the bear that clomp around looking for food. Rooms are stocked with wooden bunk beds and pastel linoleum floors. Free bikes provide an extra bonus for those who want to explore the waterfront nearby.

Thunder Bay Inn , ; www. This is your place. McVicar Manor ; www. Chocolate and roses abound, wine flows in the evening, sunflowers cheer the kitchen, and the perfect homemade breakfast greets you in the stately, uncluttered dining room. Prince Arthur Waterfront Hotel , ; www. The waterfront property has gone through its fair share of renovations, but the cherry-brick exterior and rickety elevator retain the old-school charm.

Splurge for a room with placid views of Sleeping Giant across the bay. Eating Hoito Restaurant ; www. Hefty carnivorous portions are dished out amid ranch-like curios. The infamous prime rib will give your arteries a workout. Bistro One ; www. The facade positively reeks of franchise banality, however, the inside is filled with one-of-a-kind touches like white-clothed tables and designer stemware.

Magnus Theatre ; www. Entry to the theater is off Waverley St. The airport is about 3km southwest of the city, at the junction of Hwy 17 and Hwy The Greyhound bus depot ; Fort William Rd lies between the two downtown areas near the Intercity Mall.

Getting Around Car-rental chains are well represented at the airport and in the commercial zoning area known as Intercity, located between the two downtown regions. The major hotels, including the Prince Arthur Waterfront Hotel, offer airport shuttles for their guests. Thunder Bay Transit ; www. Traffic thins out after Kakabeka Falls as highway vistas become noticeably dull.

Then, at Shabaqua Corners, the highway forks: the northern route along Hwy 17 plows straight toward Winnipeg, Manitoba, while the southern route Hwy 11 and Hwy 71 takes about two extra hours as it ambles through scenic landscapes.

Both routes will shuttle you through prime fishing country; service stations might try to lure you by offering free minnows with your tank of gas.

Signs mark the beginning of a new time zone you save an hour going west. The aptly named Canoe Frontier Expeditions ; www. Northern Route Ignace and Dryden have plenty of motels and basic restaurants but no compelling reason to stop. If you happen to be passing through Dryden at the beginning of July, a stop at the annual Moose Fest is a must.

The biggest and best place to pause is Kenora, a pulp-and-paper town and the unofficial capital of the striking Lake of the Woods region. This local hub services the local tourist activity, which mainly consists of summer vacation cottages and fishing trips. Accommodations options are plentiful as the usual army of franchise motels is stacked along the highway. The visitor center , ; www. Main St and Front St, along the water, host most of the action.

Canadian Native Cultural Tours ; www. The Lake of the Woods Museum ; www. Southern Route Those who choose the longer route between Ontario and Manitoba will be rewarded with spectacular distractions. Atikokan is the first major stop on the southern trail after the highways diverge.

The endless waterlogged preserve has but one small campground, and over km of canoe routes stretching beyond the horizon into unexplored backcountry. Canoe Canada Outfitters ; www. The Fort Frances Museum ; www. Travelers who wish to continue along the Trans-Canada Hwy must follow Hwy 71 north after passing tiny Emo, since Hwy 11 veers south across the border. Before linking back up with Hwy 17, consider making two more scenic pit stops on the eastern realm of Lake of the Woods.

Nestor Falls and Sioux Narrows are serene resort towns, offering a glut of rentable cottages and houseboats. The km of desolate highway offers little more than a shortcut or a less-long-cut from Thunder Bay to Cochrane. Sans stops, the eight-hour car ride will give you plenty of time to ponder the following: how can there be so much roadkill and yet not another car on the road?

Evidence of harsh, long winters is conspicuous in this windswept town, but despite the inhospitable winters, the largely Francophone population is warm and accommodating. The assortment of passengers is a sight in and of itself: locals, trappers, biologists, geologists, tourists, anglers and hard-core paddlers all ride the shuttle one car is specially outfitted to transport canoes.

From September to June, the train is commonly known as the Little Bear. All three were brought into captivity as cubs after poachers sadly shot their mothers. Visitors can meet the friendly bears at daily feedings, or swim with the creatures in a pool divided by a thick sheet of glass. An on-site mock colonial village, stocked with costumed staff, is also included in the price of admission.

Micro-fridges and a lake out back are an extra bonus. Station Inn , ; www. Stop by the gym and whirlpool to get the blood flowing before a lengthy trip to Moosonee. The gorge-worthy ribs are so tasty, they might convince you to plan a second trip to Cochrane.

All services arrive at and depart from the Cochrane Train Station Expeditions further north will undoubtedly involve floatplanes, canoes, snowmobiles, dogsleds or snowshoes. Moose Factory Tourism Association A useful telephone information service. The best way to experience the region is through a tour with the local Moose Cree. In Moose Factory, the Cree Cultural Interpretive Centre Jul-Aug features indoor and outdoor exhibits of artifacts, including bone tools, traditional toys, reusable diapers and dwellings from the pre-contact era.

It is best to explore the center with a guide, as they can relay fascinating details and personal anecdotes about the interesting displays. The goal of the center, 70km east of Moosonee, is to recreate several villages each at different points in history. One camp has bark-construction dwellings typical of the pre-contact era, and another will feature contact-era canvas tipis.

Guests travel between the main base and the villages by canoe, and activities in the area might include demonstrations of trapping and fishing. Practical details and prices had not been established at the time of research, so check the website for the latest information. These highly recommended trips offer a unique opportunity to experience something beyond what many train passengers see.

They share many stories of living off the land and fostering the traditional ways of life of their parents and grandparents. The importance of the family unit and the respect for the elders is paramount. The local community is incredibly friendly and welcoming. Moose Factory is a great place for people to learn about Cree culture. There are a couple of lodging options in Moosonee, although we strongly suggest staying on the island of Moose Factory.

The three rooms are appointed with modern furnishings. Cree Village Ecolodge , ; www. This fascinating place to stay was designed and furnished to reflect traditional Cree values.

The environmentally-conscious design extends to the organic wool and cotton used in the carpets, blankets and bed linen, organic soaps in every room, and some composting toilets. The lodge is also home to the first public library in Moose Factory. Breakfast, lunch and dinner are available to guests and nonguests alike, and are served in the Shabotowan Great Hall. For information on the trains from Cochrane, Click here. In winter the river becomes an ice bridge stable enough for cars and trucks.

Return to beginning of chapter TIMMINS pop 43, At one time, Timmins was the most productive gold-mining area in the western hemisphere, and today the city still heavily revolves around its lucrative silver and zinc industry, with a network of over km of subterranean tunnels. The shockingly large complex showcases her life and music through memorabilia, concert footage and an extensive collection of personal effects.

Experienced miners dress visitors up in full digging apparel and take them through the Hollinger mine, 50m underground. The journey includes a rail ride, liquid gold pouring, and a simulated dynamite blast. Flat shoes and warm clothing are a must. Timmins has the usual crew of chain motels dotted along Algonquin Blvd Hwy Cedar Meadows Wilderness Park , ; www. While the god-fearing pharaohs were commissioning wondrous pyramids, this region of majestic pines and hushed lakes was a thriving network of trading routes.

There are no facilities, and campsites can only be reached by canoe. Nowadays Doug, a semiprofessional photographer, is busiest guiding trips for clients who want to shoot pictures, not animals. The comfortable motel-style rooms, with full kitchen facilities, make the perfect base for any type of adventure in Temagami.

The woodsy lodge is within walking distance of the train station, and Buddy the resident dog will greet you with a friendly lick upon arrival. Regular courses and retreats are offered on a variety of themes including culinary foraging adventures, painting and photography sessions, yoga, and guided paddle-hikes.

On-site accommodations are in a timber structure stocked with shaggy quilts and twig furnishings. The guided dogsledding trips offered by Wolf Within Adventures ; www.

Embark on an exhilarating and educational adventure through snow-drenched forests and frozen lakes. Custom-designed adventures are available as well. All bookings at Wolf Within should be made two months in advance. With an abundance of roadside oddities to lure you off the road, it can be hard to choose where to stretch your legs. The tiny town of Cobalt is your best bet. At the beginning of the s, this deserted ghost town was a thriving silver mine.

For 30 profitable years, the site exploded with a seemingly endless supply of precious metals, attracting over 20, temporary residents. The lucrative lode at Cobalt was rumored to have pulled Canada through the Great Depression and was single-handedly responsible for starting the Toronto Stock Exchange.

The highways link up again near Thunder Bay, km away Click here. The rectangular downtown core is between Cassells and Fisher Sts. North Bay Chamber of Commerce ; www.

In fact, the area was rather unremarkable until five little girls briefly turned the city into the most visited destination in Ontario after Niagara Falls. Born during the Great Depression, they were exploited as a tourist attraction by the provincial government.

Their fame became so widespread that they even starred in four Hollywood films. A walk along scenic Lake Nipissing reveals several enjoyable activities including antique carousel rides ; www. In fall, Ontario Northland operates a day-trip train package called the Dream Catcher Express ext ; www.

Evenings can be spent chatting with the affable owner over homemade desserts, or you can snuggle up with a handmade quilt and watch the snow fall in winter. Sunset Inn , ; www. Spice up your lovelife and get a suite with a retro heart-shaped Jacuzzi. Enjoy tasty fare from the broad menu while staring out over the serene Trout Lake. The bar keeps the gregarious locals around until 1am or 2am.

Cool misty gusts roll over the southern seaboard, and further inland the sweeping expanses of dappled branches offer juicy autumn fruits. For a dose of colonial history, eastern Ontario is tops.

Further east, several smaller towns, like Gananoque, Brockville and Prescott, have fostered a genteel Victorian vibe with an abundance of stately inns and estates.

Even tiny Merrickville, a former Loyalist stronghold, has barely changed since the American Revolution. These horse-and-buggy townships straddle the stunning Thousand Islands region; a foggy archipelago of lonely isles peppered along the deep St Lawrence Seaway. Surprisingly, there is still no major highway running directly between Toronto and Ottawa. The speediest option is to take Hwy from Toronto to Prescott, and use Hwy to complete the L-shaped journey.

The rural, two-lane Hwy 7 is a pleasant but slower alternative. An easily accessible outdoor gem, this rugged expanse is a must-see for canoeists and hikers.

Orientation The one major road through the park, Hwy 60, runs across a small portion near the southern edge. Outfitters and accommodations often use the mile-markers when giving directions. The vast, wooded interior of Algonquin is accessible via km of charted canoe routes and intense hiking trails. Several woodsy communities orbit the provincial park in all directions. Information Algonquin Provincial Park is accessible year-round. The Hwy 60 corridor has limited cell-phone coverage for several kilometers on each side of the park, as well as a couple of payphones.

Algonquin Visitor Centre ; www. The center also has a bookstore, cafeteria and a lookout with spectacular views. Information Centres ; www. Other spot-able creatures include deer, beaver, otter, mink and many bird species. There are two small museums in the park, in addition to the rotating gallery at the visitor center. The excellent Algonquin Logging Museum ; km The displays are spread along a 1.

Exhibits at the Algonquin Art Centre ; www. Outfitters offer many opportunities for novice paddlers as well as advanced wilderness adventures for the experienced outdoors person. Self-guided paddling trips are a popular option as well. A quota system governs the number of tourists on each canoe route, so plan ahead. Canoe Lake or Opeongo Lake are popular starting points for beginners, although the launching docks are frequently crowded.

Water taxis can plow through rougher waters, whisking you up to wilder regions beyond Opeongo Lake make reservations through Algonquin Outfitters, below. Scenic horseback riding is also very popular in and around the park. Contact Highland Wilderness Tours , ; www. Algonquin Outfitters , ; www. Great tours are also on offer. Algonquin Portage ; www. On-site rustic accommodations, shuttle service, food and gas available.

Canoe Algonquin , ; www. Opeongo Outfitters ; www. Portage Store , ; www. Bike rentals can be organized at the Lake of Two Rivers Store. Guided tours also available. Tours A seemingly infinite number of guided tours is available to all types of adventurers.

A list of specialized tour operators is included below, and it should be noted that several outfitters offer tour packages as well. All have their own lodge base and offer exciting dogsledding programs in the winter. Call of the Wild , ; www. Northern Edge Algonquin ; www. Voyageur Quest , ; www. Scores of accommodations are available just beyond the protected lands, including resorts, motels and hostels check www. Day-trippers can save some cash and crash in Huntsville or Bracebridge, 43km and 73km from the West Gate, respectively.

Both Muskoka towns have a variety of restaurants and grocery stores. Within the park itself, there are three options: stay at one of the 11 car-accessible grounds either in a tent or a yurt , sleep in the backcountry accessible only by hiking or canoeing , or rest in the lap of luxury at one of the three high-end resorts. You must contact the centralized reservation service for Ontario Parks , ; www. There are a couple of first-come first-served sites, but reservations are strongly recommended.

Algonquin Backpackers Hostel , ; www. Tom, the knowledgeable owner, is a maven, offering invaluable advice for your Algonquin adventure. Magnificent Hill ; www. Wolf Den , ; www. Guests stay in shimmering log cabins scattered around the grounds, and a large central lodge offers a huge kitchen and stunning 2nd-floor lounge. Dorms are only available during summer. Hikes depart from various mileposts actually kilometer-posts along Hwy 60 between the West Gate km 0 and the East Gate km Dwight Village Motel ; www.

Spotless rooms offer all the creature comforts and the friendly owners assure a comfortable stay. Algonquin Inn , ; www. The complex is 11km west of the park. Each option includes breakfast and dinner in the pricing scheme. Dining rooms are open to nonguests as well. Bartlett Lodge ; www. Bartlett Lodge is accessed by boat provided for you from a point 23km inside the west gate. Arowhon Pines ; www.

The vast wooden dining room with stone pillars has a very good reputation for its food. Killarney Lodge ; www. Bus service is only available Sunday, Wednesday and Friday. Tourists can reach Huntsville on an Ontario Northland bus. Over 60, acres of the densely forested region is part of the Haliburton Forest ; www.

The privately owned woodland, 30km north of Haliburton town, can be accessed through its main office on Kenneisis Lake. A visit to the Wolf Centre is included; here visitors can glimpse a pack of wolves at a safe distance, of course as they meander through their acre enclosure. The small town of Bancroft www. During the yearly event, geologists lead tours around nearby abandoned mines to scout out stones.

The tourist office ; www. Before leaving the green university town for more secluded recesses, have a wander around the quaint city center. Iron railroads scar the urban landscape as they plow their way through, and the impressive hydraulic lift lock is another conspicuous relic of a bygone era.

Although the outside looks like a warehouse, the refurbished interior is pure Zen, with dim lighting and the calming sound of a trickling waterfall. A phenomenal collection of over canoes and kayaks details the lengthy history of water navigation in the region. Serpent Mounds Park ; www. The Whetung Ojibwa Centre ; www. Visit some of the smaller towns in the region, including Lindsay and Fenelon Falls, via km of scenic recreational trails, called the Central Ontario Loop Trail www.

The granite formation sharply juts out of Mazinaw Lake and features the largest visible collection of aboriginal pictographs in all of Canada.

The glyphs are best seen from a canoe. For camping reservations and information, contact Ontario Parks , ; www. The entrance and the information center are at Otter Lake, off Rte 19 north of Sydenham. From here, hikers and canoeists venture deep within the park, using the km of trails to spot copious beaver, black bear, coyote and osprey.

Overnight camping is only allowed from the end of April to the beginning of October. Both islands also have an intriguing colonial history. The route runs unbroken for 94km from Trenton to Kingston, save the free five-minute ferry ride connecting the island back to the mainland at Adolphustown.

This unvisited, undeveloped section at the end of the beach is unlike anywhere else in Ontario. The Taste Trail ; www. Two particularly stellar wineries are found on the east side of the island. The white-gabled Waupoos Winery ; www. There are 13 other wineries in Prince Edward County; most congregate near Wellington. Traffic is light on most roads, making the island an excellent cycling destination.

In June, visitors can ride around picking luscious strawberries from the vine at numerous farms. A hundred years ago, this km-long aboriginal canoe route bustled with commercial vessels, and today the system is purely recreational. The other side of the road offers picturesque views over Lake Ontario, hundreds of meters below. The restored Regent Theatre ; www. Camping at Sandbanks Provincial Park is both scenic and stress-free. Sites along the sandy dunes get booked months in advance during summer.

Both chalets feature several bedrooms, a working fireplace, satellite TV and a full kitchen. For all reservations, contact Ontario Parks , ; www. The attractive city continues to maintain its charm with a noticeable lack of modern architectural eyesores.

The city has the largest holding of convicts in the country. Princess St, the main drag, cuts diagonally through the city center connecting the downtown district to Hwy , several kilometers away.

The walkable downtown district has a predictable checkerboard design with Ontario St running along the harbor. Indigo ; Princess St; 9ampm Mon-Sat, 10am-6pm Sun Wide-ranging bookstore with an extensive travel section. Kingston Tourism , ; www. Post Office ; www. The postcard-perfect structure is brought to life by colorfully uniformed guards trained in military drills, artillery exercises and the fife-and-drum music of the s. Friendly red-vested volunteers conduct free tours, revealing colorful stained glass, dozens of portraits, dusty jail cells and an ornate council chamber.

Exhibits offer a detailed history of the fascinating vessels constructed at the yard. Today, the warehouse features a variety of steam-powered items, including several engines and model miniatures.

It seems the architect was also a drunk, as the Italianate mansion is wholly asymmetrical, a pompous use of bright color abounds, and balconies twist off in various directions. The enigmatic property also houses a large collection of antiques and has a sun-drenched garden, adding further charm and intrigue to the old manor. Today, the structure houses local and military historical artifacts. The museum, across from the actual penitentiary, has a fascinating collection of weapons and tools confiscated from inmates during attempted escapes.

Tours Confederation Tour Trolley ; www. Haunted Walk ; www. Check out the website, or stop by the Kingston Tourism office in Confederation Park. Throughout the summer there are two or three trips a day. Kingston Buskers Rendezvous www. Limestone City Blues Festival ; www. Sleeping Accommodations in Kingston are top heavy, with a larger confluence of pricier stays than budget options.

Motels are strung along Princess St and along Hwy 2 on each side of town. The knowledgeable staff at the tourism office in Confederation Park can help track down additional options, including on Wolfe Island. The moored vessel pretty much looks the same as it did when it was used to crack the frozen waters of the upper Great Lakes.

Awaken from a restful slumber with a colorful breakfast as Jean dotes over her famous blueberry pancakes. However, the unbeatable downtown location makes this place a worthy option. Green Acres Inn , ; www. Green Acres is the place to be. Three dapper bedrooms, with charming exposed brick, hide behind the navy-blue shutters. Secret Garden , ; www. Hochelaga Inn , ; www. And speaking of ghouls, it is said that the ghost of a young crying boy haunts the old nursery, which has since been converted into a cheery day spa.

But who really cares about atmosphere when the homemade dishes burst with fresh ingredients and come at unbeatable prices? Sleepless Goat ; www. A self-proclaimed co-op, the restaurant is run by a clan of savvy cooks who churn out the tastiest veggie options in town.

Tango ; www. Weekends are dominated by the loosened ties and popped collars of local financiers after a long week at the office. Quieter weekdays have discounted tapas and martini options. Light and savory lunches fuse unlikely ingredients into palate-pleasing entrees.

Gusto ; www. While waiting for your meal, take a moment to read the resto manifesto, promising that each dish is lavished with a generous portion of TLC. The pasta and fish selections are always a big hit, and the bread is freshly baked down the street at Pan Chancho. Reservations are strongly recommended on weekends. Chien Noir ; www. The menu, featuring a broad assortment of steaks and seafood, will surely leave customers plagued with indecision. The tantalizing brunch menu is a real nail-biter too.

Grad Club ; www. Ale House ; www. Frequent live music draws in swarms of students too. Tir nan Og ; Ontario St Set inside one of the oldest and most charming buildings along the waterfront, this Irish oasis serves up live music and overflowing pints.

At the time of our visit, the theater was under extensive renovations with an unclear finish date. There are lovely aromas and a curious assortment of goods and shoppers, including local professors drinking the fresh coffee at the back of the store.

Buses also stop at various towns including Cornwall and Brockville. Check out www. For car rental, try Enterprise ; Princess St , which offers complimentary pickup and drop-off. Extra trains run during the summer. Getting Around For information on getting around by bus, call Kingston Transit To get to town from the bus terminal, there is a city bus stop across the street; buses depart 15 minutes before and after the hour.

From the train station, bus 1 stops on the corner of Princess and John Counter Blvd, just a short walk from the bus station. Buses do not run on Sundays. Cyclists will be happy to note that the Kingston area is generally flat, and both Hwys 2 and 5 have paved shoulders. Rentals are available at Ahoy Rentals ; www. The minute trip affords views of the city, the fort and a few of the Thousand Islands. Pick up a bike route map at the information center in Kingston for an alternate way to explore the terrain.

The year-old General Wolfe Hotel ; ; www. The dining room serves award-winning cuisine. On the Kingston side, the ferry terminal is at the intersection of Ontario and Barrack Sts. The ferry runs continuously every hour or so from am to am daily, taking about 50 vehicles at a time.

The dainty Victorian town, deep in the heart of the Thousand Islands region, teems with cruise-hungry tourists during summer and early fall. Like most other towns in the Thousand Islands region, Gananoque is home to several river cruise operators. The Gananoque Boat Line ; ; www. The castle is technically in the USA, so make sure all your papers are in order if you are planning to visit.

The Thousand Islands Playhouse ; ; www. Sleeping Gananoque sports an abundance of memorable accommodations options, including several upmarket and architecturally eye-catching inns. Misty Isles Lodge ; www. Victoria Rose Inn , ; www. Gananoque Inn , ; www. The old carriage-works inn opened its doors in , and has retained much of its charm while surreptitiously adding modern amenities like a luxurious day spa. Half-priced rooms are available in the off-season.

Houseboat Holidays ; www. The main office, just 3km eat of Gananoque along Hwy 2, will set you up with your very own floating hotel and provides a brief instructional course for nautical newbies. The lush archipelago offers loose tufts of fog, showers of trillium petals, quaking tide-pools, and opulent 19th-century summer mansions, whose turrets pierce the prevailing mist. The narrow, slow-paced Thousand Islands Parkway dips south of Hwy between Gananoque and Elizabethtown, running along the river for 35km before rejoining the highway.

The scenic journey winds along the pastoral strip of shoreline offering picture-perfect vistas and dreamy picnic areas. The Bikeway bicycle path extends the full length of the Parkway.

Rockport, the largest village along the Thousand Islands Pkwy, lies just beyond a cluster of stone churches. There are two large cruise lines that operate out of Rockport, both offering optional stopovers at the gorgeous, rambling Boldt Castle, an unfinished gothic palace of dark spires and stone facades. Rockport Boat Line , ; www. The autumn cruises with multicolored leaves as a backdrop are justly popular as well.

A walking trail and interpretive center allow visitors to learn more about the lush terrain and resident wildfire.

Over a dozen of the freckle-sized islands support backcountry camping between mid-May and early September and they are accessible only by boat BYO boat. Rows of gothic spires twisting skyward make it easy to imagine that the clip-clop of carriage horses once rang through the streets. Brockville Museum ; www. Nearby Prescott below has some intriguing accommodations options, or check out The Green Door ; www. Crisp sunlight dances through the ample common space during the day and evenings are spent by the piano, or snuggled up in an antique bed.

The original fort was built during the War of and was used again as a strategic locale in when an American invasion seemed imminent. During summer, costumed locals supplement the interpretive displays and offer guided tours on Wednesdays and Saturdays at 1pm. Prescott offers some of the most original accommodations options along the St Lawrence. Scuba dives in the backyard revealed sunken bottles of old brew. The home has retained a nautical theme with schools of taxidermic fish and models of wooden frigates.

Hearty English breakfasts, fit for a sailor, will keep you chugging along until dinnertime. Had the wee burg become a stop on the line, it would have no doubt swapped its stone structures for industrial eyesores. Fortunately today, visits can still be a step back in time, to when the area was a Loyalist stronghold ready to defend the Crown against those rebellious Americans. In fact, Merrickville was such a desirable locale that Colonel By, the master planner of the Rideau Canal, built his summer home here, and Benedict Arnold was given a tract in town as a reward for betraying the Americans.

Costume-clad interpreters animate this re-created town by emulating life in the s. Hwy 2 along the river is slow but provides a more scenic trip than Hwy Over bird species can be glimpsed. Inquire at the park office about the dozen camping options. The Long Sault Parkway connects a series of parks and beaches along the river. Return to beginning of chapter OTTAWA pop , Descriptions of Ottawa read like an appealing personal ad: young, vibrant, clean, bilingual, likes kids, long walks on the river.

The attractive capital continues to impress in person. The postcard-perfect Parliament regally anchors the downtown core at the confluence of three gushing rivers. An inspiring jumble of pulsing districts, each with their own flavor, lies beyond the sleek government offices.

In the distance, the rolling Gatineau hills tenderly hug the cloudless valley. From the smooth undulating walls of the ubermodern Museum of Civilization just across the river in Gatineau , to the haunting gothic arches of the Museum of Nature, each attraction is an inspired architectural gesture with an intriguing exhibition space. Chinatown and Little Italy have been local mainstays for quite some time, but recent years have witnessed an influx of dynamic flavors from Africa, France, the Caribbean, Eastern Europe and Southeast Asia, not to mention a variety of aboriginal choices.

The Rideau Canal turns into the largest skating rink in the world, and the Winterlude festival gets everyone outdoors with a gargantuan village made entirely of ice. When the thick blanket of snow melts away, auspicious tulips cheer the downtown as spring clicks to summer.

Vibrant autumn leaves round out the year, as the streets are set ablaze with eye-popping reds and yellows. Canadians were initially baffled by her decision; Ottawa was far away from the main colonial strongholds.

The master planner gave the city a distinctive European feel, transforming the area into the stunning cityscape of ample common and recreational spaces we see today. The compact downtown nucleus is bisected by the snaking Rideau Canal, dividing the area into unofficial east and west sections. The western area is a dense financial district with glass-skinned office towers that huddle near the extravagant Parliament. Sparks St, a block south of the government buildings, is a friendly pedestrian mall.

Much of the downtown pedestrian action clutters between the clunky Rideau Centre, an indoor shopping mall, and Confederation Sq, a junction of several concrete thoroughfares with the National War Memorial in its center.

Four bridges connect the capital to its sister city across the river Gatineau, aka Hull. The Portage Bridge off Wellington St links both urban centers. Several banks and currency exchange outlets cluster along the Sparks St mall. Capital Infocentre , , TTY ; www. Located across from the Parliament Buildings. Chapters ; 47 Rideau St; ampm Mon-Sat, ampm Sun, hours subject to change Extensive general bookstore with a Starbucks. The friendly ByWard Market can get a bit of an edge in the late evening, with minor drug and prostitution traffic.

Most of these attractions are within walking distance of one another, including the Museum of Civilization in Gatineau Hull. A couple of quick things to remember: many museums are closed on Mondays in the winter, and several attractions will let you in for free if you arrive less than an hour before closing.

Parliament Hill Vast yawning archways dominate this stunning complex of copper-topped towers. Venture inside to peruse the hand-carved limestone and make a stop at the gorgeous library with its wood and wrought iron. Question Period in the House of Commons is particularly popular, occurring every afternoon and at 11am on Fridays. Admission is on a first-come first-served basis. Free minute tours run frequently reservations are required ; be prepared for tight security.

Pick up a free copy of the Walking Tour of Parliament Hill at the information center across the street. At 10am daily in summer, see the colorful changing of the guard on the front lawns. The dialogue between the heavy metallic roof and the floating crystalline steeple is magical even on the dreariest of days. On the interior, the vaulted galleries display classic and contemporary pieces with an emphasis on Canadian artists.

The Inuit Gallery on level 2 fuses ancestral themes with modern media in the fine photography collection. Beyond the slew of Canadian art, galleries of US and European works will please the eye with several recognizable names and masterpieces.

Also hidden deep within is the unusual Rideau Street Chapel. Built in , this stunning wooden chapel was saved from demolition and restored piece-by-piece inside the gallery. The gaping four-story museum houses an impressive collection of fossils, minerals and animals, and an excellent stock of dinosaurs from Alberta. Buses 5, 6 and 14 transport passengers to McLeod St. Ambient squeaks and boinks fill the air as contented visitors gingerly turn knobs and push buttons.

Clever displays are designed to teach visitors about the basic scientific laws that govern our world. Climb aboard the heavy-duty trains at the back of the museum to learn about the science behind coal and steam engines. The large display on space technology has an assortment of Canadian space artifacts. The neighboring astronomy section displays mind-blowing films about the universe. On clear evenings, you can make reservations to take a peek through the large refracting telescope.

Canadian War Museum This museum ; www. Many of the exhibits were constructed on a human scale including a haunting life-sized replica of a WWI trench. Canada Aviation Museum With nearly aircraft housed in the steel triangular hangar, the aviation museum ; www. Stroll through the mammoth warehouse, try the flight simulator, and get up close and personal with colorful planes ranging from the Silver Dart of to the first turbo-powered Viscount passenger jet. Call ahead to check opening hours, as they vary according to attendance levels and time of year.

The museum is about 5km northeast along Rockcliffe Pkwy from downtown, near the Canadian Forces base. Take bus from downtown. Take the stairs down from Wellington St to find the Bytown Museum ; www. Sorry, no free samples.

Currency Museum Make sense of cents at this small museum ; www. Supreme Court of Canada This intimidating structure ; www. Visitors can stroll around the scenic grounds, vaulted lobby and dark oak-paneled courtroom. In summer, law students from the University of Ottawa conduct friendly and insightful tours, which depart every 30 minutes. During the rest of the year, tours must be booked in advance.

The cathedral sits across from the glass spires of the National Gallery. Aboriginal Experiences This intriguing replica of an aboriginal village , ; www. Turtle Island is within walking distance of downtown. Rideau Hall ; 1 Sussex Dr; admission free; 9am-1hr before sunset , home to the governor general, was built in the early 20th century. There are free minute walking tours of the posh residence, with poignant anecdotes about the various goings-on over the years.

Tours are offered throughout the day in summer, or you can stroll the grounds all year. At the main gate, the small changing of the guard ceremony happens on the hour throughout the day from the end of June until the end of August. Both houses are northeast along Sussex Dr. The home is elegantly furnished, displaying treasured mementos and possessions from both politicos.

The public is welcome to watch the dress rehearsals and sundry equestrian displays. Tours of the stables are given from am to 11am and pm to pm every day during the summer season, and the visitor information center is open year-round. Call for practice time details and the sunset ride schedule. Past displays have included artist retrospectives, surveillance videos, documentary pieces and many other convoluted themes. Call ahead before planning a visit as the museum space is often closed between exhibitions.

Behind the tiny checker-like windows lies a vast anthology of records, including paintings, maps, photographs, diaries, letters, posters and 60, cartoons and caricatures collected over the past two centuries. Rotating exhibits are displayed on the ground floor. Tourists will find a glut of outdoor activities during all seasons.

The 7km of groomed ice features numerous rest stops and changing stations, but most importantly, skaters can pause to purchase a scrumptious slab of fried dough called beavertails. The tourism office on Wellington St has information about skate rentals.

Several nearby skiing resorts offer a variety of alpine and cross-country trails. In the Gatineau Hills, about 20km from downtown, over 50 groomed slopes are available between Camp Fortune ; www. Mount Pakenham, 60km west of Ottawa, offers a similar experience, and cross-country skiers will love the trails in Gatineau Park.

A necklace of woodlands, known as the Greenbelt , circles the city center about 15km from downtown. This undeveloped network of thickets fosters many nature trails, which wind through dense forest, marshlands and fields.

Downtown, there are various walking, jogging and cycling trails that open during summer. The friendly staff at Rent-A-Bike ; www. Also in summer, there are canoe and rowboat rentals for trips along the canal at Dows Lake Pavilion at Dows Lake. The lake, a bulge in the Rideau Canal, is southwest of the downtown core between Preston and Bronson Sts. Hot-air ballooning has long been a popular leisure activity in the capital region.

Sundance Balloons ; www. The government-owned property, southwest of downtown, includes about hectares of gardens and ranches. Kids will love the livestock as they hoot and snort around the barn. The affable farmhands will even let the tots help out during feeding time.

Guided tours are also an option, and lead visitors to an observatory, a tropical greenhouse and an arboretum. The rolling farmland is the perfect place for a scenic summer picnic, and in winter the grounds become a prime tobogganing locale. During the Cold War, paranoid government officials commissioned the Diefenbunker ; www. Reservations are essential. A bizarre, little-known quirk worth seeing is the stray-cat sanctuary, with dollhouse-like shelters.

Around About Ottawa ; www. Gray Line , ; www. Hop-on-hop-off service is also available at 12 selected locations throughout the city including the Museum of Civilization and the National Gallery. Tickets can also be purchased at the HI Ottawa Jail hostel opposite. Lady Dive Amphibious ; www. Free hotel pickup available.

Awe-inspiring ice sculptures abound. Canadian Tulip Festival ; www. Festivities include parades, regattas, car rallies, dances, concerts and fireworks. Festival Franco-Ontarien ; www.

 
 

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