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Thursday, 1 September 2016

Five cool Canadian places to see and be seen this summer

This is a remarkably diverse country we have here in Canada, with wide oceans, pristine mountain lakes and a rich cultural heritage. Here’s a list of some great places, activities and sights you can find across the country in the summer season.

The west coast of Vancouver Island is famous for its winter storms, but in summer things are much calmer. You can still surf when Mother Nature cooperates and, if you’re not into surfing, take a whale watching trip with one of the many companies scattered around the harbour. Gray whales are fairly common but you might also spot orcas or humpbacks. Chesterman Beach is a lovely spot for a walk with a loved one or your favourite pet. If you can afford it, book a night at The Wickaninnish Inn, often voted one of the top hotels in Canada. It’s got a lovely, natural feel with lots of local products on display. The main restaurant, The Pointe, has huge windows looking out towards the Pacific Ocean and the spa is one of the best in the country.


This province is justifiably famous for its brilliant national parks, the best known being Banff and Jasper. They’re both awesome, but also can be packed with tourists. Authorities were turning tourists away from Lake Louise in recent days, insisting that only folks with hotel reservations could use the crowded roads. Less crowded, but just as striking, is Waterton Lakes National Park on the Alberta/Montana border and just a few hours south of Calgary. You’ll find a regal, old-style hotel in the Prince of Wales Hotel and a fun little town with good, casual food, pretty parks and mountain sheep (or even moose) wandering the streets. The boat ride along Waterton Lake is a great way to enjoy the mountain scenery. A bit more taxing is the hike up the Bear’s Hump, a steep but manageable trail that rewards hikers with sky-high peaks and stunning views of the lake below.


Located northeast of Saskatoon (, this is a great place to learn about native Canadian history and culture. Set on a hill overlooking a small valley, the park’s interpretive centre features lovely displays on the Northern Plains people, with everything from paintings to sculptures to photos of families that are extremely moving. The area was a gathering place for centuries; a spot to hunt the invaluable bison who roamed the hills or gather berries. In addition to admiring the exhibits, visitors can take a walk through a pretty valley with a small creek and climb a hill to admire the broad sweep of the South Saskatchewan River. The centre is open 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., seven days a week, and from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. on statutory holidays.


This is one of the prettiest villages in Canada, with a rich seafaring and boat-building history. The town is a UNESCO World Heritage Site with colourful buildings painted in rich shades of blue, purple, orange and more. Some folks even call the row of buildings on King Street “The UNESCO Fresco.” You can take a fun horse-and-carriage ride and learn some cool facts, including how they sometimes shipped glass from Europe to North American in barrels of molasses so it wouldn’t break. The Salt Shaker Deli is a small, bright spot with very good chowder and other offerings. The Lunenburg Arms is a charming hotel with many rooms overlooking the harbour. The town also is home to Ironworks Distillery.


Located about four hours north of downtown Toronto on the shores of Lake Huron, Killarney Provincial Park offers some of the prettiest views in the province. The Group of Seven did some of their best work here, painting the pink-hued La Cloche Mountains and crystal lakes. Today, it’s a hiking paradise for folks of all ages and abilities. Borrow a kayak or rent one and take a paddle out to East Point Lighthouse for great lake views or for a quiet reading spot. There’s great camping in the park or you also can stay at the famous Killarney Mountain Lodge for old-time charm and Sportsman’s Inn Resort & Marina for a more modern take.

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