Home to hockey, Canada is a country of beautiful cities and wide open spaces. If you are considering taking a trip to the country, here is an overview of some things you might want to know.
An Overview of Canada for Travelers
The official name of the country is simply Canada. It covers an area of landmass over 3.8 million square miles in size and is the second largest country by square mileage in the world. The capital is Ottawa with a population of over 1.1 million people. Other major cities include Toronto with 4.8 million residents, Montreal with just fewer than 3.5 million people and the beautiful city of Vancouver with a population of roughly 2 million people. With its far northern location, Canada is a country with a cool climate. The farther north one goes, the colder it becomes until artic conditions apply.
Citizens of Canada are known as Canadians. The most recent study put the total population at more than 32.4 million Canadians. Of this figure, ethnicity breaks down into a wide variety of groups with no group forming a majority. Specifically, Canadians are comprised of 28 percent British-Irish heritage, 23 percent French, 15 percent general European and a whopping 26 percent are classified as mixed. Following the transfer of Hong Kong from British rule to Chinese, many citizens of Hong Kong immigrated to Canada, particularly the Vancouver area.
Religious preferences share the break down found in ethnicity. 44 percent of Canadians claim the Roman Catholic faith as their own, while 29 percent are Protestant. Other Christian and Muslim denominations are claimed by roughly 8 percent of the population.
English and French are the languages spoken in Canada. Literacy rates are 99 percent. Average life expectancy for a Canadian man is 77 years while a Canadian woman will live to 82 years of age on average.
Canada is a country with an odd segmentation. Whereas most countries tend to be divided towards eastern and western population centers, Canada can be said to be more of a north and south designation. Specifically, most of the population lives along the border with the United States and practically nobody lives in the far north given the cold.
Travel in Canada
The second largest country in the world should by no means stand in the shadow of its more boisterous southern neighbor. Canada’s 10 million square kilometers of land, lakes and life brings its own signature flavor to the North American continent. Travel through Canada is a truly mind-opening experience for even the most seasoned vacationer.
The region has been inhabited since the retreat of the last ice age, creating nearly 10,000 years of aboriginal history. Vikings roamed Canada’s arctic shores long before Europeans began bickering over land rights during the 16th century. The French settlers founded Quebec City in 1608 while British explorers populated the Atlantic seaboard and Hudson Bay. European wars exacerbated Franco-British tensions until the American Revolution sent British refugees north, tipping the balance away from the French. Canada was finally unified under a constitution in 1867, while maintaining ties to the British crown. Since then, a large Quebec sovereignty movement has emerged in the French speaking province and has gained momentum at the federal level.
Canada’s Untainted Urban Gems
Canada’s cities are as diverse as its territory is expansive. French-speaking Montreal is the largest city in Quebec and arguably the liveliest in Canada. After the 1976 Montreal Olympics, the Biodome de Montreal filled in the empty stadium with four actively maintained ecosystems and numerous living exhibits. The collection of species is nothing short of phenomenal. Montreal has a thriving museum culture (buy a 3-museum pass) and an irresistible nightlife, boasting the largest dance floor in the country and a pioneering music scene with an eclecticism not to be found elsewhere. Travel west into Canada’s serene backwoods to discover Vancouver, a metropolitan diamond in the rough of British Columbia’s rugged wilderness. Ski Whistler’s nearby slopes or enjoy a day of sailing, then flex your cosmopolitan muscle in the evening with a stroll through the acclaimed Vancouver Art Gallery and appetizers at Canada Place. Visit Vancouver for a taste of Canada’s blossoming multiculturalism and international flavor. For a slower and more intimate pace, discover Nova Scotia’s capital of Halifax in the northeast. This revamped harbor town has become Canada’s Hollywood, with a large number of movies and shows being filmed along the charming avenues.
Unlimited Supply of Adventure
Canada’s Northwest and Yukon Territories offer some of the most pristine stretches of natural beauty in North America, along with the best light show around complements of the Aurora Borealis. Kluane National Park protects Yukon’s World Heritage Sites and Canada’s highest peak. In Alberta, Banff and Jasper National Parks provide the most spectacular views from the Canadian Rockies and a visit to Canada’s Glacier National Park, British Columbia, is imperative to witness the retreating ancient glaciers. With 39 National Parks and Reserves, Canada provides an infinite stock of breathtaking encounters.
When is it best to travel in Canada ?
Due to Canada’s extreme northern latitude, travel is best enjoyed during the summer months of July and August, even if the days are extremely long or endless. Winter sports can be enjoyed in many resorts year-round; however, December and January tend to be unbearably cold and dark, particularly in the northern regions.
The best of Canada
Prince Edward Island.
Your Canada travel itinerary would not be complete without a stay here. Once on the Island, marvel at miles and miles of beautiful white, champagne, pink or red sand beaches. On Prince Edward Island shorelines your eyes will soar as high as a seabird and beyond to the top of the red sandstone cliffs that overlook the ocean.
If fishing is your forte, Prince Edward Island has a wealth of opportunity for the duration of the summer months. Charter a deep sea fishing expedition with friends and you could well wind up with Tuna, marlin or even shark as your reward for a long day’s work, and well worth it. For something with less adventure, cast into the still waters beyond the bridge or off the end of a pier and Mackerel could soon find its way to the end of your line. For freshwater fishing, Brook or Rainbow trout could make fly-fishing in any one of PEI’s winding rivers the perfect day trip.
The edge of Canada
Travel to the edge of Canada and from there, continue onwards across the marvel that is the Confederation Bridge and until you find yourself at the sapphire blue of the water’s edge, then dip your toes in the warmest ocean waters north of Virginia.
The home of Lucy Maud Montgomery’s beloved classic Anne of Green Gables, one of the Island’s main attractions. Hike or bike our green rolling hills. Then spend some time visiting craft shops in our quaint Island villages.
Are you into shopping ?
If shopping is more your penchant, Summerside or Charlottetown are chockfull of artisan crafts including hand-stitched quilts, pottery bowls, intricate woodworking and woven tapestries. Traditional crafts studios dot Prince Edward Island, speaking to its history as the home of Confederation itself.
The seafood is fresh
Prince Edward Island is renowned for its seafood as would be expected so take the time to linger over your lobsters, order tons of tuna steaks, or chow down on the fresh baked bread that is certain to accompany your bowl of clam chowder, served piping hot and rich with cream or dairy products from an island farm, and thickened with the natural agent that is the Prince Edward Island potato.
Canadas East Coast Adventure
Making the decision to visit any one of Canada’s beautiful provinces or territories is easy, especially if you decide to spend your time on the East Coast. Canada’s East Coast is made up of Newfoundland, Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and precious Prince Edward Island which exudes island hospitality and charm.
Your trip will be packed full of exciting activities when visiting any number of the East Coast festivals, cultural events, heritage sites as well as a ton of indoor and outdoor attractions. There is definitely no shortage of things to do on the East Coast. When visiting here is a list of the top 5 things you must see and do.
When in Newfoundland, Gros Morne National Park is a must see. Either for a day trip or for a week long camping trip, Gros Morne National Park has been designated a UNESCO World Heritage site since 1987. You can hike through mountains, camp by the sea, visit freshwater fjords, waterfalls, and sandy beaches. As an area with vast natural beauty and a variety of scenery, wildlife and recreational activities, there are a million and one things to do.
The next stop on your east coast vacation has to be beautiful New Brunswick. If you are searching for some indoor activities your next stop is the traditional farmers market in St. John – this market offers patrons the best New Brunswick has to offer in terms of fresh food, produce, meats and seafood. The St. John City Market also hosts the maritime craft show and offers hundreds of hand crafted items for you to enjoy. It’s a wonderful place to visit and stop in for a bite.
If outdoor adventure is more your speed visiting the Fundy Trail in St. Martin’s New Brunswick will be most enjoyable! The Fundy Trail is an area of true importance as it is a sensitive ecological area, previously inaccessible to people. Untouched coastal areas with unmatched beauty and eco-diversity offer its visitors the opportunity to hike, bike or drive through portions of the park to take in the view.
When in Nova Scotia shellfish is the dish dejour, particularly if you enjoy Lobster! Nova Scotia offers lobster tours for sea lovers of all ages. Tours are a great way to become familiar with the fishing methods used to catch these delicious creatures as well as to learn about the marine habitat of the many sea creatures that frequent the waters off Nova Scotia. A day on the water will reveal whales, seals, dolphins, seabirds, porpoises and other exciting species.
The final stop on your east coast adventure must be Prince Edward Island, the gentle Island. Offering annual cultural and artistic events, numerous sights and attractions, PEI is fun for the whole family. You can learn to deep sea fish, do some afternoon birding, or golf on one of over 30 island golf courses . Be sure to visit Prince Edward Islands’ beautiful lighthouses, the home of Anne of Green Gables, and historic Province House, the Birthplace of Canada. Or if the idea of putting your feet up on one of PEI’s beautiful red sand beaches is more your speed, the gentle island has many places for you. Surrounded by the sound of waves coming ashore, birds flying overhead and nothing but peace and quite, this are definitely the place for you. Rejuvenate your spirit, Love Prince Edward Island!