We’ve all heard of Niagara Falls, the Calgary Stampede and the Royal Ontario Museum. But what about the unsung heroes of Canadian travel? Any out-of-the-ordinary places we need to see or events we need to experience? Fess up and tell us your secrets.
Liz T commented:
One of the most unique Canadian destinations for our family was a trip to the Queen Charlotte Islands(Haida Gwaii). The distinct culture, the dense forest and the wild, cold ocean made for a truly spiritual kind of a vacation. The kids loved the amazing beach combing and the grown ups loved the remoteness and the ability to forage for some of our own food like chanterelle mushrooms, huckleberries and sea asparagus. We topped that off with some local salmon for the best beach bbq ever.
toque & canoe commented:
Hey Liz! I second that motion. We celebrated my Mom’s 70th b-day in Haida Gwaii not long ago. I was just thinking we should put up a post before long. Glad you enjoyed and again, love to see you on our pages. T & C
David Tetrault commented:
Naramata BC. Sleepy little town of under 2000 people at the end of Naramata Road. We have been coming here in the summer for 23 years and have seen many changes along the road, especially the growth of the wineries (from three to 30). There are a couple of small resorts there and we stay in one right on the beach down the bay (Sandy Beach Resort).
Naramata is at the end of the road, so it is really a destination. Very quiet. Lots of places to walk. Naramata was one of the destinations of the lake ferry, and there are still the old buildings which were used by the farmers to drop off fruit, which the ferries would pick up and take to Kelowna. The old dock is still there and is now a historic site.
The old Naramata Hotel is there, and is a historic site. It was a grand hotel in the old days, but closed in the fifties. The owner lived there by himself (he was one of the founder of Naramata) until his death in the 90’s. He was over 90 years old. They really were instrumental in bringing people to Naramata.
The hotel has been renovated, has 11 rooms, and a very nice restaurant.
The fruit pickers come (mostly from Quebec) in July to pick the fruit and increase the population of the town for a couple of weeks. All in all, it is a quiet little place with a volunteer fire hall, a museum, a general store and a couple of restaurants.
Don’t tell anyone it is there.
David Tetrault commented:
This is not a holiday destination, but certainly a place to see if you are in the Banff-Lake Minnewanka area. The name of the town is Bankhead, and it is on the road to Lake Minnewanka. Bankhead was started in the very early 1900’s as a coal town, but didn’t last too long. After the war the miners went on strike, but the coal company closed the mine instead. The operation was apparently not profitable.
with a population of about 1000 people, include a few hundred miners, the town just closed. All the buildings were owned by the coal company and rented to the residents anyway.
There are still the remnants of buildings there of what was once a bustling town. An interpretive trail leads through the town, which is covered by lichen and wild flowers.
Well worth a visit. It’s a ghost town, so I wouldn’t stay overnight.
I’m partial to the Miramichi Bay in New Brunswick. There are some sweet beaches along Oak Point, perfect for clamming and quick dips (the water’s not overly warm). You can find lobster suppers and old fashioned church bazars on the weekends. It’s off the tourist trail which means it’s not crowded and my favourite – cheap!
John Duckworth commented:
Even further east is Kingsburg, a beautiful peninsula jutting far out into the Atlantic – , located about 20 minutes south along the coast from Lunenburg, N.S.
While Old Town Lunenburg, a UNESCO World Heitage Site, is set on a protected harbour, Kingsburg is totally exposed to the crashing surf and the resulting long, sandy crescent beaches. With its five little lakes, three headlands, two beautiful beaches and three classic truncated glacial drumlins, Kingsburg is considered to have the most naturally beautiful setting along Nova Scotia’s famous South Shore.
Come and sea.
Catherine Morellon commented:
You should come to Montreal!
To enjoy the public markets which are always beautiful, whatever the season, and are a real pleasure for the senses (must stop by the beautiful Jean Talon Market).
These days, with Spring (hopefully) coming soon, we really look forward to going back to “la Montagne” the Mont-Royal. With the tam-tams every sunday that “thing” happens when people bring along their drums, and meet up with other music-makers and dancers for free-style jams. It brings together hundreds of people. It’s free and very laid-back.
Plus, nearby, there’s always the epic medieval warriors in score 🙂
Try also Maison Saint-Gabriel live museum. The ancient house and garden were recreated in the spirit of New France. Artisans, musicians, actors, and storytellers exhibit the way of living in the 19th-century. It is both informative and enjoyable, especially with kids.
I could write more, but I am not sure you will keep on reading my novel!
Terry Belleville commented:
I, too, adore Montreal and spend a good share of my waking hours fabricating reasons to return there. There is one place nearby, however, for which I have an enduring affection and that is Quebec City. A long time ago, back in the days before grandchildren, I made my way to Quebec City for the Carnaval de Quebec. There really isn’t another experience quite like it. But it wasn’t the merriment and madness that I remember most, it was the generosity. I went to the information bureau to recruit help finding accommodation. (Yes, I know I should have booked ahead but remember I was still young and foolish and broke.) There was nothing to be had. I was told to leave my backpack there and enjoy the carnival. By the time I returned they would have found me something suitable. I had a fabulous time. At the appointed hour I returned to the information bureau. The man at the counter stated, very simply, that he had been unable to find me any paid accommodation. The solution seemed an obvious one. He would take me to his home to stay with his family. I would be their guest. It couldn’t have been done with more simplicity or humility. I stayed three days. It was remarkable. Sometimes it’s all about the place. Sometimes it’s all about the people.
Don E commented:
I’m really enjoying this thread! Here are a couple of my thoughts:
Everyone in Canada should see Writing-On-Stone Provincial Park in southern Alberta. So very few of us have ever really seen a wild bit of prairie, and here you’ll see golden eagles soaring over an exquisite hoodoo-filled valley, with Montana’s Sweetgrass Hills as your backdrop. The place has tremendous spiritual and historical significance (hence the name)– the petroglyphs are beautiful. Cap it off with a giant prairie sky filled with stars and nighthawks. Unforgettable.
Next on my list would be East Point on Saturna Island, BC. Windswept, grassy knolls overlook the exquisite waters of the southern Strait of Georgia. This is where the killer whales come to play in summer- rarely can you see such a spectacle from shore.
And a vote of support for Haida Gwaii, mentioned above. I had the privilege of visiting Windy Bay, one of the Haida heritage sites in Gwaii Haanas. Go there. Spend time with one of the Haida watchmen (mine were women, actually, but they still call themselves that). This was the site of the Lyell Island standoff in the 1980’s- walk through the giant trees and start to understand what it was all about.
So many places, so little time.
Alright. I’m going to put my two cents in. I’ve talked about the Khutz before – what I believe to be Canada’s only wild grizzly bear sanctuary. I’ve had the privilege of visiting twice and both times were life changing.
Please check out our original story AND our “follow” story on this amazing Canadian destination. And, if you go, be sure to find Doug Davis to give you your tour. Doug is the one who took the incredible shots of the nursing grizzly and cub.
If you go, or if you’ve been, be sure to come back to http://www.toqueandcanoe.com and tell us about it! It’s easy to comment at the bottom of any of our posts.
Samantha Rideout commented:
I love the Milongas (social dance nights) organized by the various tango schools of Montreal. They’re less crowded and jostling than most of their counterparts in Buenos Aires. And they’re not intimidating: Dancers of all levels of ability show up, from beginners to world-class tanguistos. The best is in the summertime because they move outside to the parks, where you can dance against a backdrop of city lights.
There are several regular locations and a schedule of special events listed on this website: http://www.milonga.ca/
Thanks for the original idea Samantha. Makes me want to book into Montreal for a weekend this summer!
Two of my top favourite spots are Waterton Lakes National Park, AB, and La Dune de Bouctouche, NB. I went down to Waterton on a whim one weekend and didn’t book in advance. The whole city was full up. But it still stands out to me as one of my more enjoyable stops. The Dune was breath-taking. I didn’t dare trek to the point of the dune, but I saw a few brave souls walking out that way. One of my favourite destination vacations was spending the weekend in Prince Edward County, ON. 25 minutes in a car can get you anywhere on across the county. Picton is a super cute city. They have a great cheese factory, wineries, and even had a few gluten free options for my celiac co-traveller.
Barry F commented:
My favorite place to go in Canada is right under Calgarians noses and its Canmore. Its Banff without the noise, the tour buses, tourists and high prices. Canmore is an active place in the summer and winter with cross country skiing in town at the Nordic Center (including night skiing with lights), lots of other mountain trails and some of the best alpine skiing at your doorstep. In the summer there are hiking and mountain bike trails everywhere. I have tried to summit all of the peaks one can see from Canmore and have only the Middle Sister left on the list. There are all kinds of other activities to do with tour guides such as ATV, dog sled, rafting and many more. I have done the caving tour and it was amazing (http://www.canmorecavetours.com/) and would do it again. One afternoon adventure had a group of us ride our bikes from Canmore to Banff on the Goat Creek Trail and then canoe back to Canmore. The logistics of the dropping off of the canoes and bikes and picking them all up at the end still escapes me. Lots of great restaurants and pubs in town and the view at dusk when the light changes and reflects off the mountains is breathtaking.