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And if you want to see the Vancouver Whitecaps ; www. Markets Chinatown Night Market Map; ; www. These sites include BC Place, which will host the opening and closing ceremonies as well as nightly medal presentations; Pacific Coliseum in Hastings Park, which will host figure skating, short-track and speed-skating; the UBC Winter Sports Centre, which will host hockey and Paralympic sledge hockey; Hillcrest Curling Centre, which will host curling and wheelchair curling; GM Place, which will host ice hockey; Cypress Mountain, which will host freestyle skiing and snowboard; and the Richmond Speed Skating Oval, which will be the home of long-track speed-skating.
Other events will take place in and around Whistler. Highlights can include crunchy apples, lush peaches and juicy blueberries; home-baked cakes and treats are frequent accompaniments. Vancouver Flea Market Map; ; www.
Its barnlike venue near the Main St SkyTrain station houses dozens of semiprofessional and amateur hawkers, giving it the feel of a sprawling indoor garage sale. Dream Designs Map; ; Commercial Dr; 10am-6pm Mon-Sat, am-5pm Sun Visiting greenies will enjoy dipping into this small organic home store that sells everything from yoga knick knacks to linen pajamas and hemp bed-sheets.
Check out the local pottery selection and enjoy a calming chat with the staff about your favorite natural spa treatments.
Check out the narrow aisles of international condiments, then start building your ideal picnic from the impressive bread, cheese and cold-cuts selection. Next stop: years of addiction therapy. Intra-Canada flights include regular Westjet ; www. Linked to the main airport by shuttle bus, the South Terminal receives BC-only flights from smaller airlines and floatplane operators. These include frequent Harbour Air Seaplanes , ; www. Boat BC Ferries , ; www. Services also arrive here from the Southern Gulf Islands.
Greyhound Canada ; www. Perimeter Tours , ; www. Quick Coach Lines , ; www. If you want to go downtown, turn left onto Hastings and follow it into the city center, or continue on along the North Shore toward Whistler. All the recognized car rental chains Click here have Vancouver branches.
VIA Rail ; www. Amtrak ; www. Note that only the first service of the day from Seattle is by train, with buses used for the remaining four services.
Alternatively, the Vancouver Airporter , ; www. Bicycle With routes running across town, Vancouver is a relatively good cycling city. Cyclists can take their bikes for free on SkyTrains, SeaBuses and rack-fitted transit buses.
Bike rentals: Reckless Bike Stores Map; ; www. Spokes Bicycle Rental Map; ; www. Its cutthroat rival is False Creek Ferries Map; ; www. Try the alternative Second Narrows Bridge. Parking is at a premium downtown: there are few free spots available on residential side streets and traffic wardens are predictably predatory. Underground parking at either Pacific Centre shopping mall or the Central Library will have you in the heart of the city.
Public Transportation The website for TransLink ; www. A ticket bought on any of the three services is valid for 90 minutes of travel on the entire network, depending on the zone you intend to travel in.
The three zones become progressively more expensive the further you journey. Many buses have bike racks and are wheelchair accessible. Exact change or more is required since all buses use fare machines and change is not given.
These buses have their own limited arrival and departure points and do not use regular bus stops. There is also a route night bus system that runs every 30 minutes between am and 4am across the Lower Mainland.
The last bus leaves downtown Vancouver at am. Look for the night-bus signs at designated stops. The original minute Expo Line takes passengers to and from downtown Vancouver and Surrey, via stops throughout Burnaby and New Westminster.
The newer Millennium Line alights near shopping malls and suburban residential districts in Coquitlam and Burnaby. Trains depart every two to eight minutes between 5am and am Monday to Friday 6am to am Saturday, 7am to pm Sun. All SkyTrain services are wheelchair accessible. Services depart from Waterfront Station between am and am Monday to Saturday am to pm Sunday.
Vessels are wheelchair accessible and bike-friendly. For green travelers, Yellow Cab has a large fleet of low-emission vehicles. A drive or transit trek over the soaring Lions Gate Bridge will deliver you to the forest-fringed doorstep of North Vancouver and West Vancouver, complete with their outdoors attractions and waterfront views, while a short-hop ferry from Horseshoe Bay takes you over to Bowen Island for a rustic day excursion.
For information on what to do here, check out the municipal website www. The grounds also include rainforest walks, totem poles and a swinging network of smaller cable bridges strung between the trees. In summer, Skyride gondola passengers can access mountain restaurants, lumberjack shows, alpine hiking trails and a grizzly-bear refuge. You can also harden your calf muscles on the Grouse Grind, a steep 2. There are also plenty of excellent hiking trails and some great picnic spots.
Like Grouse, the area transforms in winter, when Mt Seymour Resorts ; www. It has a playground, outdoor pool and free continental breakfast. Lonsdale Quay Hotel Map; ; www. Interiors will be familiar to the business-traveler crowd but there are also two colorful family rooms with bunk beds and bath toys.
There are plenty of shops and restaurants nearby to keep you occupied. Quality pub food in a ski-lodge setting. From the bus terminal at the quay, bus runs to Capilano Suspension Bridge then up to the base of Grouse Mountain. Rocky Mountaineer Vacations runs its popular Whistler Mountaineer , ; www. You can check out all the local information and parochial intrigue at the city council www.
About 13km of hiking trails crisscross the area, including a recommended trek that leads to Point Atkinson Lighthouse and some shimmering views across lovely Burrard Inlet. Each suite has a fridge and DVD player, as well as a decanter of sherry for that essential al fresco evening tipple. You can sober up with a stroll to nearby Point Atkinson Lighthouse.
Proving just how authentic the food is, there are usually a few expat Iranians here, tucking into large platters of Barbary bread with eggplant dip and long-simmered stews. The recommended fish, chicken and beef kabobs dominate the menu. You can also catch a minute ferry ride to Bowen Island from here. For Horseshoe Bay information, check www.
Bowen Island has its own Visitor Centre ; www. West of Horseshoe Bay, Whytecliff Park off Map; ; block Marine Dr attracts scuba divers to its protected waters, hikers to its rocky trails and rock climbers to its granite cliffs.
Hiking trails and picnic grounds similarly abound on Bowen. Scenic kayaking tours are offered by Bowen Island Sea Kayaking , ; www. Carrying 22 million passengers a year, the BC Ferries system has a few unusual stories to tell.
There have been 21 on-board births, several weddings and a missing dog that disappeared from a boat in , only to arrive bedraggled on Bowen Island two days later, following an exhausting doggy paddle.
Pub grub is the main focus here and the fish and chips are recommended. BC Ferries , ; www. In addition, a handful of attractions aim to keep you away from the shops. For information, contact Tourism Burnaby ; www. Offering a peaceful environment minus the hectic energy of downtown, the pathways of Deer Lake Park Map crisscross the meadows and woodlands, circling the lake where fowl and other wildlife hang out.
The adjoining Burnaby Village Museum Map; ; www. To get there, take the Sperling Ave exit off Hwy 1 and follow the museum signs. An ever-expanding homage to materialism, Metropolis at Metrotown Map; ; www. The mall is a minute SkyTrain ride from downtown Vancouver. For information, drop into the Visitor Centre Map; , ; www.
At the time of writing, the market was considering a new location: check its website for location updates before you set off. Kuan Yin Temple Map; ; www. Rooms are tastefully lined with reproduction antiques and landscape paintings. The best feature is the chintzy guest lounge, which opens directly onto a large, secluded swimming pool. Fairmont Vancouver Airport Map; , ; www. A great option for boarding your long-haul flight in trance-like state of calm.
The rooms are elegantly furnished with high-end flourishes including remote-controlled drapes and marble-lined bathrooms. The giant, naturally occurring Buntzen Lake off Map; reservoir is surrounded on three sides by steep, tree-covered mountains and on its fourth side by a gently curving beach, complete with picnic tables, old-growth trees and those ambling, ever-present Canada geese. Take the Ioco exit and follow Ioco Rd to the left.
Turn right on First Ave and continue to Sunnyside Rd. Turn right again and continue to the Buntzen Lake entrance. The journey should take around an hour. It can get crowded here in summer, so arrive early if you want your pick of the picnic tables. Vegetarians are also well served on a menu that stretches to almost 50 dishes.
Drive here from Vancouver via the Steveston Hwy exit off Hwy 99 for an early-evening stroll along the boardwalk. Most of the machinery is still in place and you can learn all about what a horrible job it was working the production line here. Fort Langley is 45 minutes southeast of Vancouver via Hwy 1. Head to the slick new visitor center, named the Squamish Adventure Centre , ; www.
The underground train tour May to October only into the mines is a highlight, especially for kids who like a fright. West Coast Railway Heritage Park ; www. This volunteer-driven outdoor museum has around 90 railcars, including 10 working engines. A few minutes past Squamish, riverside Brackendale village is a fancy-free spot with a major claim to fame. The winter feeding ground for thousands of salmon-scoffing bald eagles, it draws legions of binocular-clad visitors, who flock around Thor Froslev, the eccentric owner of Brackendale Art Gallery ; www.
Activities Home of a sheer, m granite rock face that attracts climbers from across the region, Stawamus Chief Provincial Park www. Call Squamish Rock Guides ; www.
Known for its high wind quotient, Squamish Spit is a popular kiteboarding and windsurfing destination. There are two shower buildings with flush toilets, and campers often indulge in activities like swimming, hiking and biking rentals available. Consider an interpretive ranger tour through the woods July and August only to find out a little more about the region.
Squamish Inn on the Water , ; www. These are among the best producers and their recommended beers : Dead Frog Brewery www. Granville Island Brewing www. Phillips Brewing www. Russell Brewing www. Storm Brewing www. Vancouver Island Brewery www.
The slightly more salubrious Perimeter Squamish Shuttle , ; www. Summer hikers seem magnetic- ally drawn here but the trails also double as cross-country ski routes in winter.
The trailhead is 8. The Elfin Lakes trail 11km is a lovely and relatively easy day trek. For overnighters, the trail continues on to the extinct volcano of Opal Cone. The trailhead parking lot is 16km east of Hwy The bright aqua hue of the undisturbed lake contrasts with the dark, jagged peak of Black Tusk rising behind it. A short stroll through the forest leads to a leg-jellying platform overlooking the top of the falls, where water drops suddenly out of the trees like a giant faucet.
A 7km looped trail leads further through the dense forest and ancient lava beds to Cal-Cheak Suspension Bridge. If you fancy staying, there are 15 drive-in campsites ; www. Co-hosting the Winter Olympics www. Once little more than an off-season afterthought, the area has seen summer visitor numbers leaping in recent years, with many people dropping by to try mountain biking, alpine hiking and a full roster of adventurous outdoor activities.
Luckily, there are plenty of street signs and lots of people around to snag directions from. Pick up The Pique or Whistler Question newspapers for further local insights.
Armchair Books ; Village Sq; 9am-9pm Central bookstore with strong travel section. Whistler Activity Centre , ; Whistler Way; 9am-5pm Recommendations and bookings for local activities.
Whistler Visitor Centre , ; www. Whistler was originally called Alta Lake and Whistler Mountain was named London Mountain in the s by some evidently homesick British naval officers. Whatever season you arrive, head to the visitor center or Whistler Activity Centre for tips and recommendations. There are dozens of lifts to transport skiers and snowboarders and a hotly anticipated 4. Snowshoers are also well served at Lost Lake: you can stomp off on your own on 10km of trails or rent equipment and guides.
Outdoor Adventures Whistler ; www. Prices include equipment rentals and the company also offers a wide range of non-snowshoe tours and activities. The cool, line course operated by Ziptrek Ecotours , ; www. Hiking With more than 40km of flower-and-forest alpine trails, most accessed via the Whistler Village Gondola, this region is ideal for those who like nature of the strollable variety. Favorite routes include the High Note Trail 8km , which traverses pristine meadows and has stunning views of the blue-green waters of Cheakumus Lake.
Pick up a route map from the visitor center for other trails. Whistler Alpine Guides Bureau ; www. Rafting Tumbling waterfalls, dense forest and a menagerie of local wildlife are some of the visuals you might catch as you lurch along the Elaho or Squamish rivers on an adrenalin-rushing half- or full-day rafting trip.
Whistler River Adventures , ; www. Kokanee Crankworx www. Cornucopia www. Whistler Film Festival www. The visitor center has a handy accommodation reservation service , ; www. Budget HI-Whistler Hostel ; whistler hihostels. Dorms are predictably institutional, but private rooms are also available. Book ahead year-round.
The on-site restaurant serves great breakfasts have the salmon eggs Benedict. Fireside Lodge ; www. Midrange Blackcomb Lodge , ; www. It offers lofts and studios with full kitchens, and a selection of cheaper but very comfortable standard rooms. Alpine Lodge ; www. Crystal Lodge , ; www. Both share excellent proximity to village restaurants and are less than m from the main ski lift.
Or you can just hop in the hot tub and dream about the large buffet breakfast coming your way in the morning. Edgewater Lodge , ; www. Pinnacle Hotel , ; www. Top end Adara Hotel , ; www. The front desk loans iPods. The region hits the international spotlight when it joins Vancouver to host the Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games in February and March Go to www.
Choose a room overlooking the slopes and you can watch from your balcony as the skiers slide home. Fairmont Chateau Whistler , ; www. The hallways, lobbies and rooms are adorned in rich hues and tastefully furnished with classic west coast elegance. Also recommended: Sundial Boutique Hotel , ; www. Suites have full kitchens, heated bathroom floors and rooftop hot-tub access.
Legends , ; www. Fight your way to the counter and buy as many cookies and muffins as you can eat: smiling while stuffing your face has never been easier.
Try a glass of hot sake on a cold winter day. The loungey, sometimes raucous, bar will keep you occupied here until past midnight when you can stagger back to wherever your hotel might be. Save room for dessert: the cheese menu is small but perfectly formed and the Okanagan apple cheesecake will have you licking the glaze off your plate. You can treat your hangover to a late breakfast the next day by coming in for a good-value fry-up. From its wrought-iron chandeliers to its stone hearth and giant picture windows, you can tell anyone who will listen here all about your daring escapades on the slopes.
They might even believe you. The food, including pasta, pizza and great fish and chips, is superior to standard bar fare. Thursday is the best night of the week, attracting locals with indie and funk tunes, but be prepared to line up for weekend entry when everyone within a 25km radius seems to be trying to get in. MY Place ; www. Motor coach services from Perimeter Tours , ; www. Snowbus , ; www. Alternatively, you can grab a taxi from Resort Cabs ; www. Check the website of the Sunshine Coast Tourism Partnership www.
The Sunshine Coast Transit System ; www. Malaspina Coach Lines ; ; www. This service is also handy for traveling up and down the highway between the Sunshine Coast communities.
West of town, Roberts Creek Provincial Park ; www. Exactly what a great hostel should be, Up the Creek Backpackers , ; www.
Its large upstairs suite, complete with kitchenette, is popular with families but the lovely Renaissance Room is perfect for some romantic canoodling.
Return to beginning of chapter SECHELT pop A useful base for active travelers, with plenty of hiking, biking, kayaking and diving opportunities in the area, Sechelt is the second-largest town on the Sunshine Coast.
For information, drop by the Visitor Centre , ; www. About as far from camping as you can get, each luxurious canvas-walled cabin has a heated rock floor, Jacuzzi tub and a private deck overlooking the bay. Your first stop should be Pemberton Museum ; Prospect St; admission by donation; 10am-5pm Jun-Sep where you can wander around a village of rescued pioneer shacks and imagine the Gold Rush sweeping through. Next, don your Stetson and saddle up with Adventures on Horseback ; www.
An even better way to see the area is from the air. Head to the Pemberton Soaring Centre , ; www. Tell the pilot you like rollercoasters and see what happens next. Finally, roll back to your cozy bed at the Whistler-style Pemberton Valley Lodge , ; www. Hop aboard a steel-hulled water taxi operated by High Tide Tours ; www. West of downtown, Willingdon Beach City Park is an ideal spot for a waterfront picnic.
Or you can hit the water with a kayak from Powell River Sea Kayak , ; www. For a quirky sleepover, the Old Courthouse Inn , ; www.
In keeping with the historic theme, the rooms are nicely decorated with antique furnishings. Nearby, the old Rodmay Heritage Hotel ; www. For an introduction to the island, contact Tourism Vancouver Island , ; www. This was a surprise to anyone who actually came from Britain, since Victoria promulgated a dreamy version of England that never really was: every garden complete with the occasional palm tree was immaculate; every flag pole was adorned with a Union Jack; and every afternoon was spent quaffing tea from bone-china cups.
Thankfully this tired theme-park version of Ye Olde England has been gradually superseded in recent years. Fuelled by an increasingly younger demographic, a quiet revolution has seen lame tourist pubs, eateries and stores transformed into the kind of bright-painted bohemian shops, wood-floored coffee bars and surprisingly innovative restaurants that would make any city proud.
Visitor Centre Map; ; www. Parliament Buildings Map; ; www. The BC legislature welcomes history-hugging visitors. Consider stopping for lunch Click here. This tiny strip of businesses is fronted by an incongruously large Chinatown gate. Consider a guided tour to learn all about days of opium dens and anti-Chinese sentiment. Check the online calendar of events if you want to rub shoulders with the locals at lectures, presentations and even singles nights aimed at lonely arts fans. The multiturreted Craigdarroch Castle Map; ; www.
The elegant, wood-lined stone mansion is dripping with period architecture and antique-packed rooms. Enter the park via Douglas St. Emily Carr House Map; ; www. When you get to Victoria Bug Zoo Map; ; www. This clutch of scrubbed colonial strongholds is now home to the Maritime Museum of British Columbia Map; ; www. Some operators: Orca Spirit Adventures Map; , ; www.
Some operators: Ocean River Sports Map; , ; www. Sports Rent Map; ; www. Cycle Treks Map; , ; www. Gray Line West Map; , ; www. Hidden Dragon Tours Map; , ; www. Victoria SkaFest www.
Victoria Jazzfest International www. Moss Street Paint-In In mid-July artists demonstrate their skills at this popular one-day community event. Symphony Splash www. Victoria Fringe Theatre Festival www. Victoria Cycling Festival www. A great place to meet fellow travelers. Daily guided excursions and tours include city, bike and history treks. HI Victoria Hostel Map; , ; victoria hihostels.
Free weekly city tours are offered. Geometric bedspreads and pastel paintwork color most interiors but the courtyard suites are much larger and suitable for small groups. Ocean Island Suites Map; , ; www. James Bay Inn Map; , ; www. There are some kitchenettes but the downstairs neighborhood bar also serves good pub grub. Add extra time for the painfully slow elevator to arrive.
Queen Victoria Map; , ; www. The rooms here have abandoned the floral bedspreads in favor of a smart business hotel feel. All have new bathrooms and fridges, some have kitchenettes and many overlook Beacon Hill Park from their little balconies. Shamrock Suites Map; , ; www. Call ahead for year-round room discounts. Rosewood Victoria Inn Map; , ; www.
Bring your laptop to the library-like lounge for wireless access or hit the selection of board games. The Heritage House is a restored family home with antiques, fireplaces and private patios. The larger Garden Suites have a contemporary feel and a smattering of Asian design flourishes. Gourmet continental breakfast is included. Swans Suite Hotel Map; , ; www. Most of the rooms are spacious loft suites where you climb upstairs to bed in a gabled nook, and each is decorated with a comfy combination of wood beams, rustic chic furniture and deep leather sofas.
Oswego Hotel Map; , ; www. Cleverly, the smaller studio rooms have space-saving high-end Murphy beds. Fairmont Empress Hotel Map; , ; www. Check out the handmade candies on display near the entrance and pick up some marzipan teeth for the road. Hulking sandwiches of the melt-in-your-mouth pulled pork variety beef brisket and smoked chicken variations are also offered dominate the simple menu and you can wash that down with a pail of homemade ice tea. Expect lunchtime queues better to arrive early or late and consider perking up your order with a side of succulent cornbread or a fried-banana-and-peanut-butter sandwich dessert.
Signature sarnies feature roast beef or pastrami but the bulging vegetarian sandwich is also popular. Soups, wraps and sandwiches dominate the menu and there are plenty of vegetarian-friendly options. Heaping Belgian waffles are served with homemade cream cheese, and those who come for dinner can choose from a medley of international comfort foods, from calamari to pierogies.
Even meat-eaters have been known to swoon here, as they tuck into surprisingly tasty spring rolls, dim sum and potstickers. Combo meals are the best option, since they offer an array of different flavors. Carnivores will be just as happy here, though, with hearty savory dishes like shitake-tofu potstickers and an array of dense fruit smoothies. Weekend brunch is popular and heavily patronized by hung-over students moaning quietly from the corners.
The excellent beer selection includes Phillips and Lighthouse craft brews. Try the salmon-and-cream-cheese bagel melt at ReBar above. Save room for dessert: a frightening array of giant cheesecakes.
With a great wine menu, this spot invites adventurous foodies. Locally sourced produce is de rigueur, so the menu constantly changes to reflect seasonal highlights like figs, salmonberries and heirloom tomatoes. We recommend the lamb shank, served with mustard-creamed root vegetables and braised chard. Unassuming from the outside, the ever-changing dishes might range from a hearty squash soup with butter-fried sage to a mouth-melting sablefish, served with rapini and poached eggs.
Savvy diners drop by on Saturdays, when a creative five-course tasting menu hits the blackboard. Extensive first-hand research was undertaken for these reviews. Summer drinkers often enjoy the lighter Honey Blonde Ale, while those with darker palates should make for the Nut Brown. Save room for dinner: the menu of seasonal, locally-sourced dishes is superior to most pubs and includes some excellent seafood. Irish Times Map; ; Government St; 11am-1am Colonizing a former downtown bank building, this lively Celtic bar is a cut above standard Irish pubs.
The interior is a pleasing fusion of high ceilings and dark wood finishes and the draft selection is a buffet of classics from Ireland, France and Belgium. Friday is also popular and there are also regular live acts. The Friday and Saturday night dance parties here are the main attraction. The latter is also home of the Victoria Symphony ; www. Shopping While Government St is a magnet for souvenir shoppers, those looking for more worthwhile purchases should head to the Johnson St stretch between Store and Government.
Tops and skirts with insect prints are hot items, but there are also lots of cute handbags, socks and brooches to tempt your credit card. You can pick up all manner of tea paraphernalia here or sidle up to the tasting bar to quaff some adventurous brews.
A minitheatre walks you through the process, a tasting bar serves those who like to quaff before buying and an impressive selection of vintages is offered for sale. Flavors range from peppermint to chocolate nut. Government St Public Market ; Government St; Sun May-Sep An eclectic mix of vendors and performers transform this stretch at the block of Government St into a bustling pedestrianized street market on summer Sundays.
Air Canada Jazz , ; www. Both airlines offer connections across Canada. Harbour Air Seaplanes , ; www. Similar West Coast Air , ; www. Regular services also arrive from the Southern Gulf Islands. Victoria Clipper , ; www. Black Ball Transport ; www. Pick up a copy of the Peninsula Times for local stories and happenings or drop by the Saanich Peninsula Visitor Centre ; Patricia Bay Hwy; ampm Jun-Sep near Sidney for tips and insights on the area. Drop by the Visitor Centre ; www.
The Marine Ecology Centre ; www. A floating barge in the marina on our visit, it was scheduled to move to swanky new premises in the Sidney Pier Hotel. You can check out the sea critters for yourself at Sidney Spit.
Accessed via a short ferry ride ; www. Dominating the waterfront, the new Sidney Pier Hotel and Spa , ; www. Victoria Regional Transit ; www. More than a century later, the cement operation is dust but the huge, elaborately manicured Butchart Gardens , ; www. Summer is crowded with the usual tour bus hordes but daily afternoon and evening music performances and Saturday-night fireworks July and August make it all worthwhile.
Yuletide-loving December visitors are treated to thousands of fairy lights draped among the wintering plants. Perched atop Observatory Hill, this government facility houses the Plaskett Telescope in use since along with several hands-on exhibits and a miniplanetarium for the astronomically inclined. Starry-eyed visitors can crash the Star Party on Friday or Saturday evenings May to October , when the astronomers chill out, show off their equipment and tackle thorny themes from asteroids to zero gravity.
Hungry bald eagles are attracted to the fish and birdwatchers come ready with their cameras. Drop by the Sooke Region Visitor Centre , ; www. This route goes a step further by getting cyclists off the highways and into some usually unseen backcountry. Getting on and off the trails is easy since bus lines along both routes are bike-rack equipped.
You can download free maps and guides for both these routes from the Capital Regional District ; www. With surf crashing against the bluffs and a dense canopy of Douglas fir trees, it offers short strolls to the beach as well as a tough 10km coastal trail.
Sooke is also the end of the line for the popular Galloping Goose cycling trail see boxed text. Rent a bike from Sooke Cycle ; www. Paintings, sculptures and carved wood line its interiors. Be aware that some sections are often muddy and difficult to hike and bear sightings are not uncommon.
The most popular is the family-friendly China Beach Campground , ; www. Booking is also required on the West Coast Trail Express , ; www. An ideal place to wind down after a long hike, its facilities include barbecues and hot tubs. Hikers are often found lolling around outside on the picnic tables here. Contact Tourism Cowichan , ; www. Visit the Visitor Centre , ; www. Must-scoffs here include giant vegetable pakoras and the kind of cinnamon-infused rice that addictions are made of.
The nearby South Shore Motel , ; www. After fuelling up, duck into the Maritime Centre ; www. Continue to the Caycus River Bridge and, just south of the bridge, turn right and follow Rosander Main for 29km to the park. Instead of submitting to a slow death, town officials commissioned a giant wall mural depicting local history. People took notice, 34 more murals and 13 sculptures were ordered, and a new tourism industry was born. Check the Visitor Centre ; www.
Favorite stops include Cherry Point Vineyards ; www. For more information on the wineries of this area and across Vancouver Island, check www. In the evening, the surprisingly large Chemainus Theatre , ; www.
Rooms are slick and comfortable and many include kitchens. Its old Edwardian banks and trading houses are now occupied by artsy shops and coffee bars. Drop by the Visitor Centre , ; www. Downhill from the town hub, Transfer Beach Park attracts swimmers and picnickers and has summertime live music in its large amphitheater. You can also hit the water here with the help of Sealegs Kayaking Adventures , ; www.
With its own ferry service from the mainland, the city is a handy hub for exploring up-island. Nicol St leads south to Hwy 1 and the Duke Point ferry terminal. Heading north, Terminal Ave forks: the right fork becomes Stewart Ave Hwy 1 , leading to the Departure Bay ferry terminal, while the left fork becomes Hwy 19A Island Hwy and is the main up-island route. Downtown Information Centre ; www. Bring a picnic and check out the birds hanging around the lagoon, take a short hike through the gnarly Garry oak forest or give the climbing wall your best shot.
Newcastle Island Marine Provincial Park ; www. Walks or hikes range from 1km strolls to a 7. Access is via a minute ferry , ; www. Overlooking downtown, the colorful Nanaimo District Museum ; www. There are regular temporary exhibitions to keep the line-up fresh. A swanky new museum building in the city center was scheduled to open soon after our visit. This landmark fortified tower only fired occasional cannons to simmer down regional ruckuses. Wild Play Element Parks , ; www. For scuba fans, the coastline off Nanaimo offers some great dives and the folk at Ocean Explorers Diving , ; www.
Sleeping Painted Turtle Guesthouse , ; www. Hardwood floors and IKEAesque furnishings abound while facilities range from a large and welcoming kitchen to a laundry room and en-suite showers. You can book a wide range of local activities through the front desk. Buccaneer Inn , ; www. The neat and tidy approach is carried over into the maritime-themed rooms, many with kitchenettes. It has two lovely rooms, combining antique and contemporary chintzy flourishes.
Dorchester Hotel , ; www. Inn on Long Lake , ; www. The large rooms, each with a balcony, have plenty of amenities and some have kitchenettes. It has a sauna, a fitness center and lake-bound canoes to keep you occupied, along with free continental breakfast. The food is the main attraction, though. Drop by on Saturday and Sunday for live lunchtime music. The patio is a magnet on languid sunny days.
The menu rests on the kind of wraps, burgers and sandwiches that are a cut above standard diner fare and there are some tempting small-plate options for those who want to snack or share.
The locally sourced ingredients mean ever-changing specials but the favorite on our visit was Pacific halibut with Dungeness crab potato salad.
In late July, the four days of marine-themed shenanigans include a street fair, a parade and a giant fireworks extravaganza, but the main event remains the big race where hundreds of salty sea dogs jump into customized bath-sized crafts and embark on a grueling 58km course. Speedboat engines are de rigueur for the minute sprint, with thousands of spectators lining the bay for the spectacular finish.
A dip in the tub will never seem the same again. The menu is also recommended and is a cut above standard pub grub. In contrast, the Port Theatre ; www. Frequent West Coast Air , ; www.
BUS Greyhound Canada ; www. Getting Around Downtown Nanaimo around the harbor is highly walkable, but after that the city spreads out and a car or strong bike legs are required. Be aware that taxis are expensive here. Nanaimo Regional Transit ; www. Bus 2 goes to the Departure Bay ferry terminal. No city buses run to Duke Point.
For cabs, call AC Taxi Most visitors spend time pointing at the sky here in summer: a herd of goats lives on the roof of the main building. World Parrot Refuge ; www. This excellent educational facility preaches the mantra that parrots are not pets. Pick up your earplugs at reception and stroll among the enclosures, each alive with recovering and very noisy birds. It has an excellent walk-through display on west coast animals and their habitats.
Dedicated to treating sick or injured animals brought to its doors, the facility also has active rehabilitation programs for eagles and black bear. Horne Lake Caves Provincial Park ; www.
Even better are the three circular yurts, complete with baths, kitchens, double beds and flat-screen TVs. The rest of the campground has showers, laundry and a playground. Free Spirit Spheres ; www. Like sleeping in a small boat cabin, the cozy, wood-lined interiors include cupboards, water coolers and the larger of the two Eryn has a microwave oven. Blue Willow Guest House ; www.
The two rooms and one self-contained suite are lined with antiques and each is extremely homely. Tigh-Na-Mara Resort , ; www.
Lodge rooms, cottages and condos are available, each with a rustic-chic ambiance. Drop by for some fortifying pub grub and a couple of beers or head into the slightly more upscale restaurant where fish, steak and pasta dishes jostle for menu attention. A hearty weekend brunch is also available. The same buses, with similar times and rates, serve Qualicum Beach. The daily VIA Rail ; www.
The same train, with similar times and rates, also serves Qualicum Beach. But the double whammy of aboriginal and pioneer heritage plus easy access to some truly outstanding natural wilderness makes this an ideal spot for an off-the-beaten-path visit. For more information, check in with the Alberni Valley Visitor Centre ; www. Try hugging that. A one-stop shop for active types, Batstar Adventure Tours , ; www.
Choo Kwa Ventures , ; www. You can help paddle if you want or just sit back and listen to the ancient stories and songs from the local Hupacasath people.
The breakfasts are correspondingly wholesome and the two rooms have a charming, rustic feel. Hummingbird Guesthouse , ; hummingbirdguesthouse. Its funky orange-and-blue interior provides a casual atmosphere indoors, or you can head to the patio for a side dish of panoramic inlet views.
First-timers should drop by the Pacific Rim Visitor Centre ; www. Wide sandy beaches, untamed surf, lots of beachcombing nooks and a living museum of old-growth rainforest are the main reasons for the summer tourist clamor. Safety precautions apply on all trails in the region: tread carefully over slippery surfaces and never turn your back on the mischievous surf. Long Beach Great scenery along the sandy shore easy.
Rainforest Trail Two interpretive loops through old-growth forest 1km; moderate. Schooner Trail Through old and second-growth forests with beach access 1km; moderate. Shorepine Bog Loops around a moss-layered bog m; easy and wheelchair-accessible.
South Beach Through forest to a pebble beach m; easy to moderate. Spruce Fringe Trail Loop trail featuring hardy Sitka spruce 1. Wickaninnish Trail Shoreline and forest trail 2. Extremely popular in summer book ahead , its tent sites are located on a forested terrace, with trail access to the beach.
Expect fairly basic facilities: the faucets are cold but the toilets are flush. Compasses are required for navigating here, unless you fancy paddling to Hawaii. From there, popular paddle-to points include the recommended Gibraltar Island, a one-hour kayak away.
It has a sheltered campground and many explorable beaches. Willis Island 90 minutes from Sechart is also popular. It has a campground and, at low tide, you can stroll to some of the nearby islands. Staff patrols the region to keep an eye on things and collect additional fees if you decide to stay longer. Alternatively, Broken Island Adventures , ; www. Winding between the West Coast Trail information centers at Pachena Bay ; 9am-5pm May-Sep , near Bamfield on the north end, and Gordon River ; 9am-5pm May-Sep , near Port Renfrew to the south, most trekkers take between five and eight days to complete the full route.
Since the southern section is more difficult, many hikers prefer to ease themselves in from the northern end. The trail is only accessible from May to September and there is a limit of 26 overnight backpackers starting from each end each day. Hikers can camp at any of the designated sites along the route, most of which have solar-composting outhouses.
Overnight hikers who only tackle this end of the trail can leave from Nitinat Lake. Day hikers are allowed on the trail from each end, but need a free day-use permit, available from the registration centers. West Coast Trail Express , ; www. A short drive south of town, the Visitor Centre ; www. Sights Check out what coastal temperate rainforests are all about by exploring the flora and fauna at the Tofino Botanical Gardens ; www. Admission and programs are free but donations are appreciated and you can also support the work here by buying a couple of their excellent trail guides.
Tranquility-minded trekkers travel here by Zodiac boat or seaplane, watching for whales and other sea critters en route. From the boat landing, 2km of boardwalks lead to a series of natural hot pools. Visible through the mist and accessible via kayak or tour boat from the Tofino waterfront, Meares Island is home to the Big Tree Trail, a m boardwalk through old-growth forest that includes a stunning year-old red cedar.
Situated on remote Flores Island and accessed by tour boat or kayak, Ahousat is the mystical location of the spectacular Wild Side Heritage Trail, a moderately difficult path that traverses 10km of forests, beaches and headlands between Ahousat and Cow Bay. A popular destination for kayakers, camping of the no-facilities variety is allowed here.
Pacific Surf School , ; www. The surf school Surf Sister , ; www. Remote Passages , ; www. Tofino Sea Kayaking Co , ; www. Tours Adventures Pacific , ; www. Tla-ook Cultural Adventures , ; www. Tofino Air , ; www. Ocean Outfitters , ; www. Sleeping Clayoquot Field Station ; www. A great sleepover for nature-lovers, it has a natural history library and regular speakers and events. Dolphin Motel ; www. A short walk from Chesterman Beach, it has a barbecue area with picnic tables and a couple of self-catering units with full kitchens.
Tofino Inlet Cottages , ; www. Gull Cottage ; www. Rates include breakfast, dinner and canoe use. Pacific Sands Beach Resort , ; www. Great for groups, these huge timber-framed houses open directly onto the beach and include kitchens, stone fireplaces, slate and wood floors and ocean-view bedrooms with private decks.
Built on pillars to preserve rainforest root systems, they also have energy-efficient heating systems. Wickaninnish Inn , ; www. Embodying nature with recycled old-growth furniture, natural stone tiles and the atmosphere of a place grown rather than constructed, the sumptuous guest rooms have push-button gas fireplaces, two-person hot tubs and private balconies. Pampering has rarely felt better. Head upstairs to the swish new lounge for cocktails and great views across the inlet.
Our menu favorite here is the shrimp and crab dumplings. Now affiliated with Greyhound Canada you can book via the www. The route runs daily year-round and twice daily from mid-March to mid-November.
In fact, the town has expanded in recent years to cope with visitor demand, successfully avoiding some of the growing-pain pitfalls experienced by Tofino. For information, head to the Visitor Centre ; www. In contrast, the poke-worthy tide pools and kelp beds at Big Beach make it a great kid-friendly spot.
If you want to stretch your sea legs, Subtidal Adventures , ; www. The highlight is the landscaped, lounge-worthy garden overlooking the inlet, complete with hammocks and a rope swing. With a full kitchen and its own deck and barbecue, it sleeps up to seven. Canadian Princess Resort , ; www. Drop by in the afternoon for coffee and sprinkle-topped cakes. Denman has three provincial parks: Fillongley ; www.
Ships Point Inn , ; www. The four-course breakfast, sometimes with oysters, will have you leaping from your bed. Sea Breeze Lodge , ; www. You can swim, kayak and fish here or just flop lazily into the cliff-side hot tub. The rates, reduced for unders, include three daily meals.
Nosh on some pizza for lunch or just drop in to talk to a resident Denman artist over a java and a muffin. Summer evenings feature a barbecue buffet specializing in fresh local fare, while the main menu focuses on hearty soups, sandwiches and burgers. A good base for outdoor adventures across the region, its highlight is the Mt Washington resort. Drop by the area Visitor Centre , ; www. The main reason for most visits, Mt Washington Alpine Resort , ; www. But there are also some great summer activities here, including horseback riding, fly-fishing, alpine hiking and mountain biking.
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. Be sure to tell the locals all about it. Wedding parties shoot photos against a backdrop of redbrick and cobblestone; clean-cut couples shop for leather lounge suites beneath charmingly decrepit gables and gantries.
In summer expect live jazz, exhibitions and food-focused events. You can peek at the radio newsrooms anytime or attend a free noontime concert in the world-class Glenn Gould Studio.
Both are east of the Queen St shopping district. Out the front is Nathan Phillips Square, a meeting place for skaters, demonstrators and office workers on their lunch breaks. The fountain pool becomes an ice-skating rink in winter Click here. Now housing legal courtrooms, the hall has an off-center bell tower, interesting murals and grimacing gargoyles.
Constructed in , the stunning Winter Garden was built as the flagship for a vaudeville chain that never really took off, while the downstairs Elgin theater was converted into a movie house in the s. Public tours are worth every cent.
Click here. When it opened in , it was the first church in Toronto not to charge parishioners for pews. Workshops teach batik making, weaving, knitting and all manner of needle-stuff. Prices will rise once renovations are complete and opening hours are subject to change; check the website for updates.
The Leafs lost their first game to the Chicago Blackhawks in , but went on to win 13 Stanley Cups before relocating to the Air Canada Centre in Over the years, Elvis, Sinatra and the Beatles have all belted out tunes at the Gardens.
Rumors that this much-loved piece of city history was going to be demolished were only partly true. The Gardens were bought by grocery chain Loblaws in , with a shopping complex redevelopment slated to begin in early we hope the chunky art-deco facade survives.
The new work involves a magnificent explosion of architectural crystals on Bloor St, housing an array of new galleries. The Chinese temple sculptures, Gallery of Korean Art and costumery and textile collections are some of the best in the world. Kids file out of yellow school buses chugging by the sidewalk and rush to the dinosaur rooms, Egyptian mummies and Jamaican bat-cave replica. The on-site Institute of Contemporary Culture explores current issues through art, architecture, lectures and moving image.
Peruse some 19th-century French chestnut-crushing clogs, aboriginal Canadian polar boots or famous modern pairs worn by Elton John, Indira Gandhi and Pablo Picasso. Permanent and rotating exhibits cover the evolution of shoemaking, with a focus on how shoes have signified social status throughout human history.
Spread over three floors, collections cover several millennia; various rooms focus on 17th- and 18th-century English tavern ware, Italian Renaissance majolica, ancient American earthenware and blue-and-white Chinese porcelain.
The central St George campus is venerable indeed. West and north of U of T lies The Annex, a residential neighborhood populated primarily by students and professors.
It overflows with pubs, organic grocery stores, global-minded eateries and spiritual venues. He later lost everything in land speculation, the resultant foreclosure forcing Hank and his wife to move out. The castle briefly reopened as a luxury hotel, but its big-band nightclub attracted more patrons than the hotel ever did, and it too failed.
Lit by Victorian gaslights, the interior contains three generations of furnishings, art and fabrics. Viewing is free, but security regulations are in full force. Dating from , sociable Hart House ; www. Eating here is an absolute joy, and shopping is a blast. The streets are full of artists, dreadlocked urban hippies, tattooed punks, potheads, junkies, dealers, bikers, goths, musicians and anarchists.
Shady characters on bicycles whisper their drug menus as they glide by; hooch and Hendrix tinge the air. The further west you go, the more traditional things become, with aromatic bakeries, sidewalk gelaterias and rootsy ristoranti.
Permanent holdings only number about works, curated since , but award-winning temporary exhibitions promote new artists from Nova Scotia to BC.
Completed in , the m bridge arcs 40m above the Don River, linking east and west Toronto. Structural engineer Edmund Burke cunningly included a lower deck for future rail transport in his design. At a peak rate of one every 22 days, around folks decided to call it quits here. The solution? The park is open to the public on weekends and holidays; cars and pets are prohibited. Summer schedules offer interpretive programs and guided walks, usually with an ecological theme.
To get here on public transportation, take any streetcar east along Queen St to Leslie St, then walk m south to the gates. Alternatively, hire a bike or some in-line skates and follow the Martin Goodman Trail all the way here. Kids follow the farmer around as he does his daily chores, including milking the cows at am. Toronto Islands Once upon a time there were no Toronto Islands, just an immense sandbar stretching 9km into the lake.
On April 13, , a hurricane blasted through the sandbar and created the gap now known as the Eastern Channel. The islands are only accessible by a minute ferry ride Click here. Squeezed together on a few hundred acres are an antique carousel, goofy golf course, miniature train rides and a sky gondola.
Far Enough Farm zoo presents kids with plenty of opportunities to cuddle something furry and step in something sticky. Further south are changing rooms, snack bars, bicycle rentals opposite and a pier striking out into the lake.
Thanks to climate change, winters nowadays are too mild for it. Bus 30B picks up at High Park subway station, then loops through the park on weekends and holidays from mid-June to early September. The High Park streetcar drops off on the east side of the park. If you exit the park by Colborne Lodge at the south gates, walk down to Lake Shore Blvd W and catch any streetcar back east to downtown. Elizabeth Simcoe named the spot in after Scarborough in Yorkshire, England.
Several parks provide access to clifftops, from where views shoot across Lake Ontario. You can also access the shore at Galloway Rd further east. Unless you have wheels, getting to the bluffs can be a drag, and if you do have a car, parking is limited. One option is to take the subway to Victoria Park, then bus 12 along Kingston Rd.
Nature paths start near the bridge and wind back to the secluded Todmorden Mills Wildflower Preserve www. Along the way you can connect to the Don Valley mountain-bike trails at Cherry St. On the Toronto Islands opposite the south-shore boardwalk and the interconnecting paved paths are car-free zones.
You can also cycle or skate around hilly High Park opposite. A recreational cycling club, the Toronto Bicycling Network ; www. Rental operators include: Community Bicycling Network Map; ; www. Alternatively, hook up with one of the following groups for hardy day hikes: Hike Ontario ; www. These artificial rinks are open daily weather permitting from 10am to 10pm, mid-November to March.
Toronto Windsurfing Club Map; ; www. Get off the bus at Commissioners St and walk 10 minutes south. Beyond the digital stock-market displays, turn left and take the stairs up to the Design Exchange 9; ; www.
Shuffle through the basement, diverting right through a zany striped corridor and up some stairs to be spat out onto Temperance St. Pursue the signs to the Eaton Centre 14; Click here , window-shop your way to the north end of the mall then take the escalators up two levels.
Queues can be lengthy; most rides operate rain or shine. Wonderland is a minute drive northwest of downtown Toronto on Hwy Exit at Rutherford Rd, 10 minutes north of Hwy Climb a rock wall, catch a criminal with DNA fingerprinting and race an Olympic bobsled at the excellent, interactive Ontario Science Centre Map; ; www.
Over high-tech exhibits and live demonstrations wow the kids and the adults at the back, pretending not to be interested. Also here is the giant domed Omnimax Cinema. Black Creek Pioneer Village ; www. The village is on the southeast corner of Steeles Ave and Jane St, a minute drive northwest of downtown. A handy online resource for parents is www. Seats 20; bring your own food and drink. Since the s, its cutting-edge productions have focused on radical new plays with contemporary Canadian themes.
Post-performance chats with cast and producers happen regularly. Sign up for a workshop on erotic photography or Bondage ! Need a comic book fix? Beguiling Map; ; www. Check the website for events. Shuffle in under the rusty ballroom sign for live bands playing honky-tonk and classic rock. Some of the weirder city festivals include Caribana, with its booty-licious carnival parade; Nuit Blanche a sleepless night of kooky urban art experiences; and the always in-your-face Toronto Buskerfest.
Favorites include: New Tribe Map; ; www. Tat-a-Rama Map; ; www. Way Cool Tattoos Map; ; www. For shorter excursions, just show up and buy a ticket at the quay; reservations are recommended for brunch and dinner cruises. Keep in mind that ferries to the Toronto Islands offer spectacular city views for half the price! Mariposa Cruise Lines Map; , ; www. Sunday brunch and dinner-and-dance cruises, too.
Toronto Tours Map; ; www. Bus Toronto bus tours are convenient, but with TTC day passes Click here being so cheap, a do-it-yourself tour makes perfect sense. Gray Line Tours Map; , ; www. Buy tickets on board. Moose Travel , ; www. ROMBus Map; ; www. Toronto Hippo Tours Map; , ; www. Cycling tours allow you to cover a bit more territory.
Try the following companies: A Taste of the World ; www. Reservations recommended. Civitas City Walks ; city. Heritage Toronto ; www. Reservations not required. ROMWalks ; www. Sights On Bikes ; www. Many events are free. Pride Toronto ; www. Late June. National Aboriginal Day ; www. Toronto Downtown Jazz Festival ; www.
Grand Prix of Toronto ; www. Beaches International Jazz Festival ; www. The air show and Labour Day fireworks take the cake. Caribana ; www. Toronto Buskerfest ; www. Films of all lengths and styles are screened in late September, as celebs shimmy between gala events and the shiny new film-fest HQ. Buy tickets well in advance. Virgin Music Festival ; www. Nuit Blanche ; www. Late September. Readings, discussions, lectures, awards and book signings.
Check hotel websites for internet discounts and package deals. Downtown Toronto offers historic hotels, boutique digs and lakefront properties. Budget beds are harder to find, but there are some top-quality youth hostels around town.
A handy online resource is www. Booking agencies are another way to save time and money. During Pride Toronto opposite , about a million visitors descend on the city.
Click here for drinking and entertainment options. In Toronto became the first city in North America to legalize same-sex marriage; apply at City Hall Map; ; www. In September , an Ontario Court also recognized the first legal same-sex divorce. Helpful Toronto resources include: Community Centre Map; ; www. These days the hotel insists that guests sign a waiver stipulating there will be no such free double-plays.
Refurbished throughout, it maintains a few old-fashioned features, including a fine lobby and a warm welcome at the hour reception desk. Rates include health club privileges. Strathcona Hotel Map; , ; www. Tour desk and on-site pub, too.
Fairmont Royal York Map; , ; www. Rates rise with demand. The Epic tearooms and the Library Bar are both worth a look. Beds in quad rooms may not cost any more than those in larger dormitories, so ask when making reservations. Pub crawls and quiz nights keep things lighthearted. Cosmopolitan Map; , ; www. Suites have lake views, bedroom-sized showers and sexy design.
Staff are serene and courteous, directing you to the Asian fusion restaurant, gym and spa. Absolute opulence. Holiday Inn on King Map; , ; www. Standard rooms have lake or city views, while the seasonal rooftop pool gazes onto the CN Tower. Children under 12 stay and eat free; service is stern but efficient. Days Inn Toronto Downtown Map; , ; www. Reception at times seems dramatically understaffed, but staff are bubbly with their apologies. Gay and lesbian travelers welcome.
Delta Chelsea Toronto Downtown Map; , ; www. Prices vary with season, day of the week and occupancy. The courtyard is perfect for lounging about. Studios have kitchenettes; management can be a little standoffish.
Gloucester Square Inns Map; ; www. Ceiling fans revolve above Persian rugs, McCausland stained glass and Chinese urns. Samantha Fox once bounced around in the attic suite. Free parking.
Comfort Hotel Map; , ; www. Renegades under 18 stay free. Down-to-earth wood-and-brick decor; kids stay free! Holiday Inn Toronto Midtown Map; ; www. The location is also prime, near U of T and the big T. Windsor Arms Map; ; www. The distinguished atmosphere makes you want to whisper! Breakfast includes croissants, bagels, yogurt, fruit and fresh muffins. Global Guesthouse Map; ; singer inforamp. It fills up quickly, so book well in advance. Castlegate Inn Map; ; www. Their three houses 37 rooms are all within striking distance of U of T and Yorkville.
The whole place is furnished and decorated with interesting antiques and collectibles. The cheaper rooms share a bathroom. Check-in across the road at No Annex Guest House Map; ; www. Wooden floors, handmade bedspreads and crafted copper bowls highlight the spaces. Casa Loma Inn Map; ; www. Each of the 26 rooms has a TV, fridge, microwave and immaculate bathroom.
No breakfast, but Bloor St is just minutes away. Madison Manor Map; , ; www. All rooms have a bathroom; a few have a fireplace or balcony. Continental breakfast included; kids excluded.
exuper: Canada (part-1) – Canada Day Parade and Official Ceremony
Pacific Rim National Park Reserve offers up the rugged and salty West Coast Trail, a six- to eight-day trek on Vancouver IslandвЂ™s wild.
Canada day vancouver islandвЂ™s wilderness lodgepole
Pacific Rim National Park Reserve offers up the rugged and salty West Coast Trail, a six- to eight-day trek on Vancouver IslandвЂ™s wild.
– Canada day vancouver islandвЂ™s wilderness lodgepole
Pacific Rim National Park Reserve offers up the rugged and salty West Coast Trail, a six- to eight-day trek on Vancouver IslandвЂ™s wild. BUDGET The park has three Parks Canada vehicle-accessible campgrounds, none of which take reservations. Backcountry campsites are limited.