SEVEN WONDERS of CANADA
This was a poll held by Canadian Broadcasting Corporation in 2007. Canadians voted but the final picks were by 3 judges.
1. The Canoe*
2. The Igloo*
3. Niagara Falls*
4. Old Quebec*, Quebec City
5. Pier 21, Halifax
6. Prairie Skies*
7. The Rockies*
Top Seven as voted by Canadians: Sleeping Giant*, Niagara Falls*, Bay of Fundy*, Nahanni NP, Northern Lights*, The Rockies*, Cabot Trail*. This shows how popular opinion polls become very stilted when one city (Thunderbay) voted in droves for Sleeping Giant and it didn’t even make the short list, ie it didn’t make the top 43!! I’ve been there and climbed to the top – it deserves its rating as it is quite uninspiring. It does look nice from Thunderbay though. The same happened in the world poll to pick the New 7 Natural Wonders of the World. Only one of the original remained and the 6 new ones were the result of heavy national votes.
Short List: Cathedral Grove*, CN Tower*, Confederation Bridge*, Crooked Trees (Thickwood Hills, Saskatchewan), Dawson City*, Dempster Highway*, Drumheller* (Red Deer River), Grand Beach (Winipeg), Gros Morne NP, Haida Gwaii*, Harland Covered Bridge (Newfoundland), Ice Roads*, L’Anse Amour (Labrador), Library of Parliament*, Manitoba Legislature*, Manitoulin Island, Montreal Bagel, Mount Thor (Auyuittuq NP), Museum of Civilization*, Narcisse Snake Dens (Manitoba), Nonosabasut Rock (Grand Falls-Windsor), #5 Road* (Richmond), Perce Rock, Porcupine Caribou Herd, Rankin Inlet Inukshuk, Rideau Canal*, Saguenay Fjord*, Saugeen Shores Sunsets (Ontario), Singing Sands Beach* (PEI), Spiral Tunnels*, Stanley Cup*, Trans Canada Hwy*, Tuktoaktuk Pingos*, Vegreville Egg, Vimy Memorial (France), Wreck Beach*.
UNESCO WORLD HERITAGE SITES:
1. Rocky Mountain Parks*
2. Dinosaur PP*
3. Gros Morne NP
4. Head-Smashed-in-Buffalo Jump*
5. Historic District of Old Quebec*
6. Joggins Fossil Cliffs (Nova Scotia)
7. Kluane / Wrangell-St. Elias / Glacier Bay*
8. L’Anse aux Meadow National Historic Site
9. Miguasha NP
10. Nahanni NP
11. Old Town Lunenberg
12. Rideau Canal*
13. SGang Gwaay*, Haida Gwaii
14. Waterton Glacier International Peace Park*
15. Wood Buffalo NP
NATURAL SITES TO SEE BEFORE YOU DIE:
1. Ellesmere Island
2. Mackenzie Delta*
3. Gros Morne NP
4. Gulf of St Lawrence*
5. Western Brook Pond
6. Hell’s Gate*
7. Burgess Shales
8. Cathedral Grove*
9. Banff NP*
10. The Drumheller Badlands*
11. Moraine Lake*
12. Nahanni River
14. The Bay of Fundy*
15. Niagara Falls*
16. The Great Lakes*
17. Yukon’s Ivvavik and Vuntut National parks host the 125,000-strong Porcupine caribou herd. The major caribou migration is when females head north to the calving grounds across the border in Alaska’s Arctic national Wildlife Refuge. They give birth in early June. June sees the mass migration south with the huge herds dispersing in August. July also has the worst insects.
1. Malcolm Island, BC* (killer whale rub, dolphins, whales, Sointula, 24kms long, 25min ferry from Port McNeill)
2. Hecla Island, Manitoba (in Lake Winnipeg, limestone cliffs, marsh, Icelandic heritage, birdwatching
3. Manitoulin Island, Ontario (Lake Huron, Bridal Veil Falls, beaches, Turner’s Department Store, annual Wikwemikong powwow, Cup and Saucer Trail)
4. Iles del la Madeleine, Quebec (archipelago of 6 main islands in Gulf of St Lawrence, beaches, red coastal cliffs, lighthouses, harbours, villages, 12,000 people, Acadian-infused French)
5. Grand Manan Island, NB (34km long, ferry twice a day from Blacks Harbour, NB, lobster, scallops, 240 birds, Summer’s End Folk Festival, Hole-in-the-Wall, whales, seals)
6. Isle Madame, NS (in Chedabucto Bay, 30 minute drive from Canso Causeway, Acadians, Arichat deepwater harbour, Fleur-de-lis Trail, lighthouses)
7. Fogo Island, Newfoundland (bleak, windblown, villages, berries, locals, Fogo Island Inn, Brimstone Head hike, Flat Earth Society has named Fogo Island one of the four corners of Earth)
8. Dorset Island, Nunavut (prints, carvings, West Baffin Cooperative, Mallikjuaq Territorial Park on Mallik Island)
9. Haida Gwaii
1. Chilkoot Trail*, Alaska and Yukon Territory, U.S. and Canada –
Length: 33 miles, 3 to 5 days, Skagway to Bennett Lake
The Trip: This hike is redolent with the suffering of 1898 gold miners, and there’s no mistaking the history here. Both sides of the trail are littered with rusting remains of equipment the miners jettisoned out of exhaustion. More than a century later, the backcountry journey those miners blazed, driven by greed, has become one of the iconic wilderness routes in North America. The route rises quickly from tidewater to crest Chilkoot Pass at 3,300 feet. But instead of dropping back down, it meanders more than 20 miles through an alpine wonderland, while losing only a thousand feet before returning to its terminus at Bennett Lake. Take the White Pass and Yukon Railway back over the mountains to Skagway, a stupendous ride, and negotiate your way back to Whitehorse.
When to Go: The Coast Range opens up a bit earlier than the Rockies, so you can push the season a bit. Late June to early October works most years, but August has the best weather—and sees the heaviest traffic.
2. Tonquin Valley, Canadian Rockies, Alberta, Canada –
Length: 27 miles, 3 to 5 days,
Portal Creek to McCarib Pass to Tonquin Valley and Out via the Astoria River
The Trip: This big hiking loop takes you in over high, scenic McCarib Pass and out via the lovely Astoria River, laying the whole mind-blowing landscape before you in a backcountry journey to rival any. Nestled deep in the heart of the Canadian Rockies, the highlights are watching the sunrise light up the enormous broadside of the Ramparts, throwing golden reflections into the waters of Amethyst Lake. Consider booking accommodations at two wilderness lodges hidden at the edges of the valley. Founded as horsepacking operations, both the Amethyst Lake Lodge and Tonquin Valley Lodge increasingly cater to hikers looking for a bit of comfort and home-cooked meals in this wild place.
When to Go: July to September; it can snow any day of the year
3. The Long Range Traverse, Newfoundland
Length: Nearly 25 miles, 3-4 days
The Trip: This is a route that is 25 miles by map and compass (there are no trails here) across Gros Morne National Park. Starting at the fjord of Western Brook Pond near the Gulf of St. Lawrence along cliffs nearly the height of El Capitan to 2,644 Gros Morne Mountain in the Long Range Mountains. To follow the crest makes an unforgettable journey. It is well organized and strictly managed with designated camp spots that could break the trip down into a six-day adventure. You won’t run into many other people but more likely moose and caribou. Good skills with map, compass, and GPS are required. So wild is this trek that the park wardens won’t give you a permit unless you carry a locator beacon (they call it
a caribou collar). The impenetrable alpine krummholz vegetation (called tuckamore on Newfoundland) in Gros Morne is so dense it seriously complicates navigation. One useful technique is to follow “caribou leads,” trails carved through the tuck over centuries by moose and caribou. Then take a GPS waypoint and adjust your vector as required when you pop out the other side.
When to Go: July through September. Hikers must obtain permits through Parks Canada.
4. Berg Lake* and Mount Robson, British Columbia
The Trip. Take four days, two to hike up via the Valley of the Thousand Waterfalls and camp at Berg Lake, one or two to do day hikes there and one to hike down. Glaciers calf off the sides of Mount Robson into Berg Lake. Mt Robson is the highest mountain in the Canadian rockies. Campsites must be booked.
When to go: July, August or early September
5. Rockwall Trail*, Kootenay National Park, British Columbia
The Trip: This 4 day hike passes a spectacular wall on the west. Campsites must be booked.
When to go: July, August or early September.
6. Traverse of Bugaboo Provincial Park*, British Columbia
The Trip: This can be an eight hour day hike or a 3-4 day backpack trip camping at Cobalt Lake, Appleby Camp and Conrad Kain Hut. Hike up to Cobalt Lake (can climb Northpost Spire if doing multi day hike), then go off trail along the left side of the lake, climb up to the pass below Brenta Spire over a small glacier, descend into the valley and turn right up a small valley and over a low pass to reach Appleby Camp, then walk on trail passing all the great granite spires of the park to the Conrad Kain Hut and finish on the wonderful trail back down to the parking lot. Need chicken wire to protect your vehicles brake lines from the porcupines (lots available in the parking lot). The trailess part requires some route finding skills but it is very restricted choice as there is only one way to go.
When to go: July or August.
7. West Coast Trail*, Vancouver Island, British Columbia
Length: 58 miles
The Trip: Originally a life-saving trail for sailors shipwrecked on the wild west coast, this 5-7 day backpacking trip is possibly the best in Canada. Has ladders for ascending and descending into the creeks and necessary boat rides over Nitnat Narrows and at the south end at Port Renfrew provided by the local First Nations people and included in the hiking fee charged by Parks Canada. Prefer to hike on the ocean and avoid the trees if possible which requires tide tables. Much of it is boardwalk which can be treacherous when wet (some people bring metal treads that can be strapped over your boots). Usually must be booked but some permits are available every day on a first-come-first-served basis. A brilliant way to
strapped over your boots). Usually must be booked but some permits are available every day on a first-come-first-served basis. A brilliant way to avoid the long all day bus shuttle between the ends is to take a boat from Port Renfrew to Bamfield on your first morning and start hiking in the afternoon. This allows you to see the whole trail from the water and almost always whales. Camp on the beaches.
When to go: May to October. It virtually never snows here but can get a lot of rain.
8. Alexander Mackenzie Heritage Trail
The Trip: A 20+ day trip between Quesnel and Bella Coola in British Columbia across Tweedsmuir Provincial Park. Not commonly known or used. He reached the Pacific overland in 1793 several decades before Lewis and Clark.
9. Skyline Trail, Jasper NP
The Trip: This is the longest alpine crossing of any trail in Canadian Rockies as it spends 25 of its 45kms in the alpine. Starts at Maligne Lake and ends near Jasper. Cross Big Shovel Pass in the Maligne Range and the Notch, the highest and steepest pass on the trail. See marmots, bighorn sheep, grizzly and black bear, deer. Usually 3 days.
EPIC ROAD TRIPS:
1. Dempster Highway*. 740 kms from Dawson, Yukon to Inuvik, North West Territories.
Packed Gravel, it is best driven in the summer when daylight is endless. Hike in the Tombstone Mountains. Eagle Plains, almost half way, has a restaurant, hotel and service station (the only gas station). Cross the Arctic Circle into the NWT dropping down passing Fort McPherson into the massive Mackenzie River valley. Cross on a ferry in the summer or on an ice road in the winter. Inuvik with 3,300 people, is the meeting point for the Caucasian, Inuvialuit and Gwich’in people of the Mackenzie Delta. Go in the fall when fall colour is at its peak.
2. Sea to Sky Highway and Duffy Lake Road*. 133 kms from Vancouver to Whistler, 130 kms on the Duffy Lake Road to Lillooet.
Highway 99, the Sea to Sky Hwy, follows Howe Sound, North America’s most southerly fiord and stops at viewpoints of the Tantalus Range and Paradise Valley, Shannon Falls, Sea to Sky Gondola, hike 700m high Squamish Chief, visit the town of Squamish, see North America’s largest congregation of bald eagles at Brackendale or see views of Blacktusk in Garibaldi Provincial Park before finally arriving in Whistler.
After Pemberton, the road morphs into the Duffy Lake Road passing valleys and mountains. Stop at the glacial Joffre lakes before arriving in Lillooet.
3. Icefields Parkway*. 230 kms from Jasper to Lake Louise (and 365 from Jasper to Edmonton)
Highway 93 crosses two National Parks as it runs along the Continental Divide with jaw-dropping views along its entire length: Crowfoot Glacier, Bow Lake, Bow Summit/Peyto Lake, Columbia Icefields and the Athabasca Glacier, the most accessible glacier in North America, Athabasca Falls and the Jasper Skytram.
4. Red Coat Trail. 1,300 kms from Fort McCleod in SW Alberta, across Saskatchewan and ending in Winnipeg in Manitoba.
Endless blacktop across Canada’s prairie provinces, it follows the path of the RCMP who took the law west in 1874. Detour to Fort Walsh in Cypress Hills Provincial Park.
5. North Shore Lake Superior*. 690 kms from Thunder Bay to Sault Ste. Marie.
Batchawana Bay’s sand beaches, Agawa Rock Pictographs, swim at Katharine Cove, Marathon, Neys Provincial Park, Rossport, Nipigon, Sleeping Giant at Thunderbay.
6. Routes des Navigateurs and Gaspesie, Quebec. 1,220 kms loop on Route 32 between Quebec City and Gaspe Peninsula
Rich in French Canadian history and beautiful towns. Parc National de Bic 3 hours east of Quebec City near Rimouski, seals, St Lawrence becomes the Atlantic, Pointe-au-Pere Lighthouse, Amqui in the ChicChoc Mountains, Lac Matapedia, Parc national de Miguasha (Unesco fossils of fish and plants from 370 million years ago), Perce Rock is one of the world’s largest natural arches. Whales best in June and July.
7. Fundy Coastal Drive, New Brunswick. 460 kms between St Stephen (near the Maine border) to Aulac (at the Nova Scotia border)
The highest tides in the world with a vertical range of up to 16 meters (moves more water each cycle than combined flow of all the freshwater rivers on the planet). St John (reversing falls, Prince William Street is one of the best preserved 19th century commercial streetscapes). Route 114 goes through Fundy National Park (wildlife, hiking). Hopewell Rocks. Route 925 and 106 to Dorchester, then 935 to Rockport and Sackville is an alternate wilderness route at the end.
8. Cabot Trail*, Nova Scotia. 395 kms loop beginning and ending in Sydney. Many viewpoints. White Point near Neils Harbour is a highlight viewpoint. 7 1/2 km Skyline Trail in Cape Breton Highlands National Park.
9. Trans-Labrador Highway. 1,310 kms between Labrador City (get there via 389 from southern Quebec) to Saint Barbe on Newfoundland’s Viking Trail (Route 430).
Part asphalt and part packed gravel. Churchill Falls (world’s second largest underground power station). Happy Valley-Goose Bay (Labrador Military Museum). Cartwright (65km detour to stunning coast). Battle Harbour (all-inclusive hotel and historic 18th century fishing village, cod and whales). Red Bay National Historic Site (Unesco site 16th century Basque Whaling station, Saddle Island). Point Amour Lighthouse Provincial Historic Site (tallest lighthouse in Atlantic Canada, icebergs).
1. The Rooms, St. John’s Newfoundland. Brings Newfoundland’s archives, art gallery and museum together under one roof. therooms.ca
2. Fisheries Museum of the Atlantic, Lunenburg, NS. Bluenose exhibit, fishing, aquarium, touch tanks, perfectly preserved fishing vessels. fisheriesmuseumnovascotia.com
3. Anne of Green Gables Museum, PEI. Author Lucy Maude Montgomery memorabilia, carriage ride. annmuseum.com
4. Canadian Museum of Nature, Ottawa*. In castle built in early 1900s, research on Canadian species, mixes learning and fun. nature.ca
5. Royal Ontario Museum, Toronto. Canada’s largest museum of natural history and culture. rom.on.ca
6. Bata Shoe Museum, Toronto. Social, cultural, and economic role of footwear in civilizations spanning 4,500 years. batashoemuseum.ca
7. Itsanitaq Museum, Churchill, Manitoba. Inuit artifacts dating from 1700BC. A hidden gem.
8. Royal Tyrrell Museum, Drumheller, Alberta*. One of the best dinosaur museums in the world.
9. Museum of Anthropology, Vancouver*. Arthur Erickson designed building, totem poles. moa.ubc.ca
10. U’mista Cultural Centre, Alert Bay, BC*. Dozens of masks and artifacts from potlatch ceremonies in 1920s. umista.ca
1. San Juan Spruce*, near Port Renfrew, BC. Canada’s largest spruce at 63m tall. Over a thousand years old. Rich tapestry of hanging gardens of sword ferns, huckleberries and deep-green moss, birds, insects and small animals.
2. Gnarliest Tree*, near Port Renfrew BC. A huge cedar with a rampant growth of burls distending and distorting its large trunk. Healthy. Located in Avatar Grove discovered in 2009.
3. Burmis Tree*, near Burmis Alberta. Long dead, this is the most photographed tree in Canada. Outside Burmis at the eastern entrance to the Crowsnest Pass in SW Alberta. The pine died in the late 1970s at an estimated age of 200 years. it remained upright until 1998 when high winds finally toppled it. Community members resurrected it with steel rods and brackets. Reconstructive work was done again after the tree was vandalized in 2004. Later Highway 3 was built around it rather than removing it. The tree has a short, thick, irregularly limbed trunk with a stark outline that symbolizes how harsh life can be and the fortitude to overcome those difficulties.
4. Kenny Street Elm, Winnipeg. Dutch elm disease almost annihilated the species in the mid 1900s. But thanks to a vigorous campaign of inspection and pruning, the trees survived. Today, Winnipeg boasts the largest number of elms in North America. Located in St. Boniface, it is more than 150 years old and 19.2m tall. It was a Winnipeg landmark in the late 1880s when a hunter cut a large cross in the bark (which has now grown over). A century later, a reconstruction of the street was diverted around the tree to preserve its history in the city.
5. Comfort Maple, Near Fenwick Ontario. Sugar maples turn a brilliant red or orange in the fall and produce maple syrup. Canada’s oldest (530 years) and largest sugar maple, with a height of 23.5m and a circumference of 6.4m. It was honoured with a postage stamp in 1994. Located in a small, out-of-the-way conservation area in Niagara. It is named after the Comfort family, the former owners of the land. In 1961, they leased the property to the Niagara Peninsula Conservation Authority for the life of the tree. Lightning struck it in the early 1960s but it was repaired with bricks, concrete and wires.
6. Jack Pine, Algonquin Provincial Park, Ontario. Symbolic of the vast Canadian Shield of lakes, boreal forest and glacier-scoured outcrops. Found in Canada from east of the Rocky Mountains to Nova Scotia and north into the Northwest Territories. The cone opens and releases its seeds only under the extreme heat of a forest fire. The jack pine needs adversity to survive. The tree in Tom Thompson’s evocative painting was located in 1970 but was long dead at that time. A lookout at Grand lake marks the historic tree’s location.
7. Gros Morne Tuckamore, Gros Morne NP, Newfoundland. Tuckamores are found mostly along Newfoundland’s west coast and are stunted like bonsai. It is not a specific plant but a vegetation type, a balsam fir or white spruce that has been sculpted by strong, persistent onshore winds. They form nice low “caves” for animals and campers to shelter in, but never try to hike through them – they behave like a barbwire fence and are impossible to get through. It is a symbol of Gros Morne NP.
BRITISH COLUMBIA’S BEST GARDENS
1. Milner Gardens & Woodlands, Qualicum Beach. Former estate with 4 hectares of rhododendrons, cyclamens and trilliums and 25 hectares of old-growth
forest.. Historic home open for tours.
2. Vandusen Botanical Garden, Vancouver. 22 hectare garden that was a golf course for 50 years, converted into a garden in 1975. Many Asian landscapes. Elizabethan hedge maze. vndusengarden.org
3. Abkhazi Garden, Victoria. Now owned by the Land Conservancy. Exotics, rhododendrons, Princess A peony, teahouse.
4. Nitobe Memorial Garden, UBC Vancouver. One hectare Japanese Zen garden, moss, Japanese pruning, rock, cherry blossoms in March, blue irises in July.
5. Butchart Gardens, Victoria. Started in 1904 in an old limestone quarry, Rose, Japanese and Italian Gardens. Historic Site of Canada.
6. Dr Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Garden, Vancouver. First “scholar’s garden” built outside of China. Tai hu rocks, 150 year old miniature trees, pond with koi fish, 14th century buildings. Opened Expo 86.
7. Tofino Botanical Gardens, Tofino. Humorous, culture and natural history of west coast, sculpture park, venue for art and cultural events, restaurant.
8. Cougar Annie’s Garden, Tofino. Floatplane or water taxi 55kms north to Boat Basin, 100-year-old homestead and 2 hectare garden. Bought by Peter Buckland in 1985 and run by the Boat Basin Foundation. Fruit trees, dahlias, many perennials, hostas. She sold plants and bulbs by mail.
9. Kohan Reflection Garden & Nikkei Internment Memorial Centre. Tells story of 22,000 Japanese Canadians interned here in WWII. Strolling garden, 15 kinds of Japanese maple trees. teahouse, cherry trees.
10. Osoyoos Desert Centre, Osoyoos. 27 hectares with 1.5km boardwalk, snakes, birds.
11. Okanagan Lavender & Herb Farm, Kelowna.
OUTDOOR SKATING RINKS
1. Mystic Lakes, Golden Ears Provincial Park. At 1,600m, these backcountry lakes are only accessible by helicopter.
2. Lake Louise, Banff National Park. Set in front of the grand old Chateau Lake Louise and ringed by the Rockies, this is the perfect picture post card rink.
3. Inuvik-Tuktoyaktuk ice road, NWT. This 190km section of the MacKenzie River is available for road hockey from mid-December to late April. This is to be replaced by the all season Mackenzie Valley Highway set to open in the fall of 2017.
4. Clear Lake, Riding Mountain National Park, Manitoba. If conditions are right – cold, calm nights with no snow or wind, the ice is so clear that you can see northern pike swimming below the ice.
5. Red River Mutual Trail, Winnipeg. The length of the world’s longest naturally frozen skating trail varies every winter, this trail is at the mercy of the weather.
6. Arrowhead Provincial Park, Huntsville, Ontario. 1.3km loop through the forest. Tiki torches light the trail during select Saturdays in January and February.
7. Rideau Canal Skateway, Ottawa. At 7.8km long, this is the world’s largest skating rink – parliament, Fairmont Chateau Laurier, TD Place Stadium. Annual Winterlude Festival (Feb 3-20, 2017).
8. Bonsecours Basin, Montreal. In the city’s old port, has coloured lights, Montreal skyline, natural and artificial sides.
9. The Loop, St. John’s. In Bannerman park, is a figure-eight-shaped rink, 270m long, has trees, a bandstand, Victorian-era street lights.
10. Todd Churchill’s backyard rink, Portugal Cove-St.Philip’s, NL. 94 by 46 feet, it was first built in 2012 to raise money for charity.