North of the border there’s a party going on. And what better way to celebrate Canada’s 150th anniversary year than by experiencing Canadian charm from the Atlantic to the Pacific. You can cruise from the Maritimes to Montreal, ride the rails from Vancouver to Lake Louise, or fly and drive to the city of your choice. So, hop on my magic travel carpet and let’s party…from the Maritimes in the Atlantic, to a paradisiacal Island in the North Pacific.
HALIFAX, NOVA SCOTIA: Halifax is the cosmopolitan capital city of Nova Scotia,. It is Canada’s 13th largest city and its residents, called Haligonians, make up 40% of Nova Scotia’s population. In Halifax, a city that embraces the sea, all roads lead to the shore. The Maritime Museum of the Atlantic will take you on a voyage of discovery through Nova Scotia’s rich maritime heritage. Perhaps the most popular exhibit in the Maritime Museum is the one that depicts the tragic history of the ill-fated Titanic that sank some 700 miles east of Halifax on April 15, 1912. While the Cunard liner Carpathia was taking survivors to New York, 209 of the dead were brought to Halifax. 59 bodies were shipped home to relatives, but 150 were buried in Halifax cemeteries. One of the first victims to be carried to his grave at Fairview Lawn was a small, unidentified baby boy. A haunting tombstone marks his grave.
GRAVE OF UNKNOWN CHILD IN HALIFAX
SAINT JOHN, NEW BRUNSWICK: If you ever plan to enter a spelling bee, take note: Canada’s first incorporated city (1785) is spelled Saint John, not the abbreviated St. John as it is spelled in neighboring Newfoundland. To add to your confusion, the proper way to spell its mighty river is the St. John River. That very St. John River is one-half of a natural phenomenon known as Reversing Falls that takes place twice a day in Mother Nature’s own theater. It occurs when there is a head-on collision between two mighty bodies of water…the St. John River and the Bay of Fundy.
REVERSING FALLS IS MOTHER NATURE’S THEATER
QUEBEC CITY: Québec City is love at first site. Quebec, where French is the main language, transports us to Europe without ever crossing an ocean. Vieux-Québec (Old Québec) is a UNESCO-designated World Heritage Treasure that is alive with history and charm. In Vieux- Québec, the world-renowned Le Château Frontenac Hotel reigns supreme. Precipitously perched on a bluff overlooking the mighty St. Lawrence River, Le Château Frontenac, with its castle-like architecture and turrets, is the heart of the Old City.
|QUEBEC’S LE CHATEAU FRONTENAC REIGNS SUPREME|
MONTREAL: Montreal, in the Canadian Province of Quebec, is claimed to be the second largest French-speaking city in the world. Anglophile meets Francophile and the past meets the future in this vibrant city where stop signs command “arret”, a horse-drawn calèche clip- clops along 300-year old cobblestone streets, and jets whisper into the international airport. Montreal, at the confluence of the Saint Lawrence and Ottawa Rivers, derived its name from Mount Royal, the imposing hill at the heart of the city. In English we call it “Mount Royal”, but in French they say “Montréal”. Vieux Montreal (Old Montreal) is a step back in time. The crowning jewel of Old Montreal is Notre Dame de Montreal, the most magnificent of French Canadian churches
|NOTRE DAME DE MONTREAL|
LAKE LOUISE, ALBERTA: Picture-perfect Lake Louise, the ultimate escape from the hustle and bustle of reality, is a romantic, relaxing village that has attracted royalty, Hollywood stars, and heads of states for over a century. The lake was named Lake Louise in honor of Princess Louise Caroline Alberta, daughter of Queen Victoria. Directly in back of Lake Louise is Victoria Glacier on Mt. Victoria. Both were named for Louise’s mother, Queen Victoria. I simply could not take my eyes off the awesome beauty of the striking turquoise Lake Louise…at dawn and dusk…at sunrise and sunset…in foggy rain or in clear moonlight. Little wonder that this matchless sight is the most photographed lake in all of North America and one of the most photographed places in the whole world.
|PICTURE-PERFECT LAKE LOUISE|
VANCOUVER, BRITISH COLUMBIA: Vancouver, Canada's third largest metropolitan area, is one of North America's most beautiful cities. Its natural harbor is reminiscent of that in Hong Kong; its cosmopolitan atmosphere comes from its unique mixture of people that came from Europe and Asia. In addition to the 1000-acre Stanley Park, one of the largest city parks in the world, and the stunning waterfront ringed by rugged snow-capped mountains, Vancouver's bustling Chinatown is the second largest outside of the Far East. In Chinatown, at the corner of Carrall and Pender Streets, is the narrowest building in the world. This 'Believe It or Not' building is only six-feet wide. Gastown, the once-lively birthplace of Vancouver, has been rescued and restored to preserve the city's heritage. The Gastown Steam Clock, the world's first steam powered clock, uses live steam to wind the weights and blow the whistles.
|GASTOWN STEAM CLOCK|
VICTORIA, BRITISH COLUMBIA: Victoria, the jewel in Vancouver Island’s crown, is the capital city of the Province of British Columbia. Known as "The Sunshine City of Gardens", Victoria has the mildest climate in Canada. Little wonder that Victoria is always in season. During summer months, a blaze of blossoms in front of the magnificently domed B.C. Legislative Building, spell out the words: "WELCOME TO VICTORIA". Roses bloom at Christmas and, in early March, tulips and daffodils are shipped all over Canada from this area. Butchart Gardens, an explosion of blossoms and manicured lawns, was once an abandoned limestone quarry. These incredible gardens are rated among the most beautiful in the world. The elegant vine-covered Empress Hotel is famous for her elegant furnishings, colorful rose gardens and age-old traditions that have made her a Victoria landmark.
JANET STEINBERG is an award-winning Travel Writer/Editor and International Travel Consultant with THE TRAVEL AUTHORITY in Mariemont, Ohio