EVERY YEAR, HUNDREDS of Canadian students migrate south like geese, flocking to tropical destinations to spend their reading weeks sipping margaritas on sandy beaches. Sure, heading south is great… But did you know you can meet Anne of Green Gables in Prince Edward Island or that you can see wild polar bears in northern Manitoba? You can even go skiing almost any time of the year in British Columbia! So, we ask you, with so many amazing things to do in our very own country, why bother going to the Caribbean? Fulcrum writers make the case for keeping it Canadian this reading week and exploring the natural and manmade beauties of our nation’s glorious provinces.
Rushing rapids that flow into sapphire blue lakes and lush green forests that give way to black mountains capped with snow-white peaks: This is the image that comes to mind when asked to describe Canada. It is the image of British Columbia, “the best place on earth.”
The province, which is recognized by Frommer’s Travel Guides as a “top travel destination,” is home to world-class wineries, dining, and some of Canada’s finest
Aboriginal art, highlighted by the universally recognized totem poles of B.C.’s Aboriginal bands.
B.C. is home to 91 national historic sites, 10 provincial historical sites, and three UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Whistler, one of the province’s most famous cities, boasts world-class ski resorts and is the site of the most successful Olympic Games Canadians have ever known.
B.C. is also home to the city of Vancouver, the Economist’s third most liveable city in the world, which has served as the backdrop for horror films such as Freddy vs. Jason and the Scary Movie franchise.
British Columbia is not just the best province in Canada, British Columbia is Canada.
There are plenty of reasons to visit Alberta. The province holds the world record for the largest indoor shopping mall. The 5.3 million square foot West Edmonton Mall contains over 800 stores, as well as indoor water and amusement parks, movie theatres, hotels, more than 100 restaurants, and even a skating rink. Visitors can never be bored, thanks to the wide variety of entertainment available.
To the south, Jasper National Park is a hiker’s dream. Less crowded than Banff National Park, miles of forest and mountain trails are open to the public, and visitors can walk on the Athabasca Glacier in the Columbia ice field. Take a gradual climb up a mountain, passing stones that mark the former edge of the glacier over time, and step onto the remnants of an ice age. It’s winter jacket weather on the glacier even in August, so a visit can be a great way to beat the heat. And when you get tired of all that hiking and climbing, relax your muscles and your mind in the Miette Hotsprings, the hottest springs in the Canadian Rockies.
Just a few hours away, the Calgary Stampede welcomes rodeo fans from all over the world every July. Visitors can participate in the traditions of the Canadian west through rodeo, derby, an agricultural fair, and live country music shows around town.
Hard to spell, easy to draw
Some people are quick to dismiss Saskatchewan as little more than a flat, rectangular, wheat-filled province, but there’s more to it than you’d expect. Despite its small population of just over one million people, Saskatchewan is home to a diverse blend of cultural backgrounds. Many groups settled on the Prairies over the years, and today Saskatchewan has thriving populations of people who come from European home countries, such as the Ukraine, Germany, and Norway. Saskatchewan is also home to the largest concentration of First Nations people of any province in Canada.
Contrary to popular belief, there’s more to do in Saskatchewan than harvest wheat. Saskatoon, the province’s largest city, is surprisingly cosmopolitan and hosts numerous cultural events throughout the year. There are also two national parks in the province, the Grasslands National Park of Canada and the Prince Albert National Park of Canada.
Calling Saskatchewan flat as a board is hardly an exaggeration. While travelling the countryside, the horizon stretches endlessly; it’s called the land of the living skies for a reason.
Saskatchewan is full of surprises for those willing to give the province a try, and once you’ve visited, you’ll understand the magic of Canada’s flattest province.
Polar bears, hockey, and the aurora borealis—these spectacular things are traditionally Canadian, and they can all be found in the province of Manitoba. The arguably underrated province contains some very unique attractions that truly make this province the hidden gem of our fair country.
Situated along the shore of the Hudson Bay is the town of Churchill, which is otherwise known as the polar bear capital of the world. In Churchill, tourists are able to catch a glimpse of not only the big white bears but also beluga whales, all the while enjoying the breathtaking aurora borealis. Travelling south, sightseers can enjoy the International Peace Gardens, a stunning botanical masterpiece along the Manitoba–North Dakota boarder. For paleontology lovers, the province also boasts the largest collection of prehistoric marine fossils in North America.
Art fanatics and sports fans alike will be enthralled by the bustling capital city of Winnipeg. Those craving culture should check out the Winnipeg Art Gallery, which contains the world’s largest public collection of Inuit art. Sports lovers can cheer for the local football team, the Blue Bombers, or show their support for the newest addition to the NHL, the Winnipeg Jets.
This year, make it a priority to visit Manitoba and enjoy some truly quintessential Canadian attractions.
The big “O”
When people talk about Canada, they usually mention Tim Hortons, hockey, and the word “eh.” But perhaps the province they think of first is Ontario. Not only does Ontario boast the capital city of the country, but it also contains half of Canada’s people and its biggest city.
Our own beautiful city of Ottawa boasts the breathtaking Parliament Buildings, many museums, and the world’s largest outdoor skating rink. While skating along the Rideau Canal, tourists can enjoy a hometown favourite dessert, the Beaver Tail. No one can forget his or her first time biting into the crispy-on-the-outside, soft-on-the-inside delicacy.
The city of Toronto is one of the most multicultural metropolises in the world, and tourists flock in droves to its CN Tower, which is one of the planet’s tallest free-standing buildings. Toronto is also famous for the Toronto International Film Festival, which attracts dozens of movie stars every year.
In northern Ontario, sightseers will marvel at the natural and largely untouched beauty of the landscape. Near the American border in the province’s south, tourists will find unrivalled fresh-water beaches. Ontario is also the home of Niagara Falls, which is a current candidate for the new list of the seven wonders of the natural world.
From city skylines to rugged northern forests, the province of Ontario truly has it all.
—Luna Al Kinani
The beautiful province
There is a reason Quebec is called “la belle provence.” No, not because of the lower drinking age (although that is a nice bonus) and no, not because of the Montreal Canadiens. The best thing about the great province of Quebec lies in the beauty of the Laurentians, an area about 35 minutes north of Montreal. The Laurentians, home of rolling mountains and scattered lakes, is the perfect place for tourists to visit year-round. The mountains, including Mont Tremblant, Mont Blanc, and Mont Saint-Sauver, are world-class skiing locations. Mont Tremblant in particular is also famous
for its adjacent and quaint village, which has charmed sightseers for decades.
Not into winter sports? Quebec is home to countless vast lakes, some of which are the cleanest in Canada, for sun-worshippers to swim in and boat on.
It’s hard for me to imagine a better province then Quebec. The landscape, the culture, and the history are all so overwhelming. It may take you more than just one trip to discover it all.
A maritime treasure
Why should you choose to go to New Brunswick over all the other provinces? The Maritime province has the largest chocolate factory in all of Canada. Enough said.
Lacking a sweet tooth? Don’t worry, there’s still plenty for you in New Brunswick. Unlike the flat Prairies, your view in New Brunswick is conveniently and wonderfully obstructed by beautiful hills. The province is dotted by colourful Maritime towns that play host to different music festivals throughout the year.
Water-lovers can kayak or canoe in the Bay of Fundy, and if they’re lucky, may come across a pod of whales—which is something you definitely won’t experience in many other Canadian provinces.
The seafood in New Brunswick is phenomenal. In the small city of Shediac, the lobster is to die for. It’s served fresh off the boat and prepared in a delicious way that only natives of the province can achieve.
New Brunswick is a province of beauty and is overflowing with Maritime culture and incredible food. Is there anything better?
An east coast gem
If the small town ideals of humility, kindness, hospitality, and the slow life are really what makes us Canadian, then Peggy’s Cove, N.S. is unquestionably the most Canadian town in all the land. Whether you spend the day exploring this adorable little fishing village or just sitting by the lighthouse and staring out at the sea, it will remain in your heart forever.
History buffs will also enjoy the Fortress of Louisbourg on Cape Breton Island, where every day an army of actors provide an interactive recreation of the French fortress and city once known as the Gibraltar of the North.
Finally, don’t leave the province without seeing the Bluenose II, a sort of mobile museum devoted to our country’s greatest achievement in sailing. The original Bluenose—designed by none other than my great, great uncle, William J. Roué—was not only an able fishing vessel, but the fastest sailing ship in history, consistently bringing back the Fisherman’s Cup year after riveting year. Unfortunately, because Canada at that time was a nation of ingrates and rum runners, the Bluenose was eventually sold to a shipping company that ran it against a reef in the Caribbean. The Bluenose II is a fully functional scale replica, which sails from harbour to harbour, giving Canadians an opportunity to actually stand on that boat we all have in our change purses.
Prince Edward Island
Red soil and royalty
What Prince Edward Island lacks in size, it certainly makes up for in sheer beauty and spirit. The tiny island, home to 140,000 Canadians, is instantly identifiable by its rolling green hills, traditional lighthouses, and red soil. Canadians are happy to travel great distances to see the uniquely coloured land and taste fresh, unrivalled seafood caught off the island’s shores. Small farming communities pepper the province and its coastline is occupied by the hardworking families of fishermen and women.
Prince Edward Island is also home to one of the country’s most celebrated achievements in engineering, Confederation Bridge. The bridge spans across the Abegweit Passage of the Northumberland Strait and connects the tiny island to New Brunswick.
Prince Edward Island inspired one of Canada’s most celebrated writers, Lucy Maud Montgomery, to write the Anne of Green Gables series. The books are a beloved childhood favourite of countless people the whole world over, including none other than Catherine, the Duchess of Cambridge. In fact, the Duchess loves Anne Shirley so much that she specifically requested to visit Prince Edward Island during her first official tour of Canada.
Ocean coves, unparalleled green hills, rugged cliffs, and a stamp of approval from Kate, the world’s most
adored duchess? Prince Edward Island truly is a gem amongst the provinces of Canada.
Newfoundland and Labrador
An island made of fog
There’s a common myth on the east coast of Canada that says once, a long time ago, Prince Edward Island was the topsoil of Newfoundland. One day, a great wind came and blew P.E.I. to a land of its own, and all that was left of Newfoundland was the rocky surface we see today.
If you go to Newfoundland and Labrador now, you are likely to be overwhelmed by the rugged beauty of the province. The brightly coloured, Victorian-styled houses of downtown St. John’s are enveloped by a dreamlike mist that spreads across the island. The Atlantic Ocean crashes upon each side of the province and the wind howls so loudly through the night that tourists fear their place of lodging might be blown away.
The people of Newfoundland and Labrador are kind hearted; they’re the kind of folks who will welcome you into their home and serve you a fresh bowl of stew. Music is an integral part of the culture of the province—kitchen parties are common where sticks and spoons are used as instruments.
The island is a place unique in its culture and it possesses a beautifully rugged landscape. With puffins, icebergs, humpback whales, rural fishing villages, and lovely people, who could ask for anything else?