It is a country renowned for its stunningly beautiful scenery and love of the outdoors. Even the cities have been carefully designed to preserve metropolitan green belts and parklands, ensuring that Canadians are never far from their natural heritage. The country has a French and British colonial heritage, which is reflected in its cuisine, culture and customs, mixed in with the legacy of the country’s own enigmatic aboriginal First Nations history.
From its large, cosmopolitan cities to its frozen northern tundra; its snowy mountain peaks to its rugged coastlines; and its rich farmlands to its pioneering outposts, Canada offers something to suit the taste of every traveller. Canada is bound to the west by the Pacific Ocean and Alaska, to the east by the Atlantic Ocean, to the north by the polar ice cap, and to the south by the United States of America.
In the south the Rocky Mountains intrude into Canada across the border with the United States, separating Canada’s two main tourist provinces, British Columbia and Alberta. The mountains abound with winter sports resorts. Throughout the nation the most popular venues for outdoor pursuits, year round, are the country’s huge national parks. There are more than 41 of these, with one of them, Wood Buffalo National Park in Alberta, larger than the country of Switzerland. Canadian national parks are unique in that they have cities and towns inside the protected areas, which provide comfortable bases for exploring the natural and manmade attractions of the reserves.
When to visit
Despite Canada’s size, weather patterns are largely the same across the country, with defined seasons similar to those in Europe. While there are variations – coastal regions are usually more temperate than prairie provinces and mountain ranges attract higher rainfall and snow in some areas than others – it’s cold everywhere in winter and warm in most locations in summer. The summer months are most popular, offering sunny days and pleasant temperatures. Springtime starts in late April through to early June and can be a delightful time of year to visit, with gradual snow melt revealing forests and wildflowers and a re-emergence of Canadian wildlife from the long winter hibernation. September’s considered the peak of the salmon run, attracting large numbers of bears. It also marks the start of autumn, with spectacular fall foliage lasting into October.