For Australians, Canada has an unmistakable attraction, and for all sorts of great reasons.
Canadians share a similar system of Government, they know who the Queen is, and they have a similar sense of humour. Add to that a natural politeness their cousins to the south seem to have forgotten, and Canadians are amongst the most welcoming and friendly people you will meet.
Add to that a country that is simply spectacular in scenery, rich in history and very easy to navigate and you have one of the most popular countries for Australians – actually for anyone- to visit.
From west to east, north to south Canada offers a huge range of possibilities for the traveller. Most people will enter Vancouver as their first port of call crossing the Pacific. Surrounded by sea, boasting the fabulous Stanley Park as home to recreation for the Vancouverites and offering every modern amenity, Vancouver is a very liveable city. Check out the Granville Markets and cross by tub boat if you want a truly unique experience! Visit Gastown for Vancouver’s history and explore the local shops, bars and restaurants. Capilano suspension bridge and now the skywalk on the edge will get you to dizzying heights over the gorge. Vancouver is also the main gateway for the Alaska Inside Passage cruises.
Capitol of British Colombia is Victoria on Vancouver Island. It is possible to fly in or take a ferry. The Parliament building dominates the harbour, as does the gorgeous Fairmont Empress Hotel. Victoria boasts the only runway that closes for whales who have right of way over the seaplanes. Famous for the Butchart Gardens, hundreds of thousands of people experience the beauty of these gardens created from a disused quarry every year. Absolutely required viewing!
If it is scenery you are after, look no further than the Rocky Mountains. Whistler for skiing and also summer activities, Sun Peaks for skiing as well, and the world renowned towns of the Rockies – Banff, Lake Louise and Jasper. Mountains clad in snow or wildflowers and trees, lakes of emerald water, wildlife abounding. The Athabasca snowfields will amaze.
If you love your trains, the Rocky Mountaineer is hard to beat, but Canada’s ViaRail will also allow you to explore the country as well. Rail to Whistler and into the north mountains at Quesnel, and try the transcontinental train from Vancouver to Toronto if you really love rail travel.
On the western edge of the continent lies the Yukon. Gold has shaped the history of the province and for those with the urge to get off the beaten tourist track, this is a place of wide vistas and great adventures.
Speaking of outdoors – the Calgary Stampede is an annual spectacle in August. Covered wagon races, First Nations culture and lots of fun for everyone. Next time -Eastern Canada.