The second largest country in the world should by no means stand in the shadow of its more boisterous southern neighbor. Canada's 10 million square kilometers of land, lakes and life brings its own signature flavor to the North American continent. Travel through Canada is a truly mind-opening experience for even the most seasoned vacationer.
The region has been inhabited since the retreat of the last ice age, creating nearly 10,000 years of aboriginal history. Vikings roamed Canada's arctic shores long before Europeans began bickering over land rights during the 16th century. The French settlers founded Quebec City in 1608 while British explorers populated the Atlantic seaboard and Hudson Bay. European wars exacerbated Franco-British tensions until the American Revolution sent British refugees north, tipping the balance away from the French. Canada was finally unified under a constitution in 1867, while maintaining ties to the British crown. Since then, a large Quebec sovereignty movement has emerged in the French speaking province and has gained momentum at the federal level.
Canada's Untainted Urban Gems
Canada's cities are as diverse as its territory is expansive. French-speaking Montreal is the largest city in Quebec and arguably the liveliest in Canada. After the 1976 Montreal Olympics, the Biodome de Montreal filled in the empty stadium with four actively maintained ecosystems and numerous living exhibits. The collection of species is nothing short of phenomenal. Montreal has a thriving museum culture (buy a 3-museum pass) and an irresistible nightlife, boasting the largest dance floor in the country and a pioneering music scene with an eclecticism not to be found elsewhere. Travel west into Canada's serene backwoods to discover Vancouver, a metropolitan diamond in the rough of British Columbia's rugged wilderness. Ski Whistler's nearby slopes or enjoy a day of sailing, then flex your cosmopolitan muscle in the evening with a stroll through the acclaimed Vancouver Art Gallery and appetizers at Canada Place. Visit Vancouver for a taste of Canada's blossoming multiculturalism and international flavor. For a slower and more intimate pace, discover Nova Scotia's capital of Halifax in the northeast. This revamped harbor town has become Canada's Hollywood, with a large number of movies and shows being filmed along the charming avenues.
Unlimited Supply of Adventure
Canada's Northwest and Yukon Territories offer some of the most pristine stretches of natural beauty in North America, along with the best light show around complements of the Aurora Borealis. Kluane National Park protects Yukon's World Heritage Sites and Canada's highest peak. In Alberta, Banff and Jasper National Parks provide the most spectacular views from the Canadian Rockies and a visit to Canada's Glacier National Park, British Columbia, is imperative to witness the retreating ancient glaciers. With 39 National Parks and Reserves, Canada provides an infinite stock of breathtaking encounters.
Due to Canada's extreme northern latitude, travel is best enjoyed during the summer months of July and August, even if the days are extremely long or endless. Winter sports can be enjoyed in many resorts year-round; however, December and January tend to be unbearably cold and dark, particularly in the northern regions.