In Canada’s sesquicentennial year, consider taking the picture postcard tour across Canada similar to the one I took with my family in 2015. We travelled in a small motorhome from Alberta to P.E.I. and visited as many historical landmarks as we could. The result, as I go through the travel diary and phone-saved photos, is as if we visited of all of Canada’s most famous places – the ones we grew up looking at on all our calendars.
The inter-provincial trip took nearly two months through June and July of that year. Here, including British Columbia, are my “calendar-shot” travel choices for Canada 2017.
Victoria, B.C.: Enchanting Vancouver Island (Google Maps: 14 hours and 43 minutes; 1,242.2 km) Butchart Gardens in spring features daffodils, cherry blossoms and primroses. It’s hard to beat.
Bow Valley Parkway, Alta.: (Google Maps: 3 hours 22 minutes; 350.2 km) It was tough to decide between prairie fields full of canola in July or mountains in June but my calendar shot for Alberta is two red chairs near Bow Valley in Banff National Park.
Prince Albert National Park, Sask.: (Google Maps: 6 hours 35 minutes; 663.1 km) Here’s my diary entry for Waskesiu: “Spent two hours kayaking on Hanging Heart Lakes. Awesome! 10 out of 10!”
Churchill, Man.: (Google Maps: 1,325 km) We could not drive to Churchill, but instead left the motorhome in Thomson, Manitoba and travelled on VIA Rail. We arrived in Churchill in near gale-wind conditions and the uncomfortable train trip took most of the night. I bent my glasses trying to sit up and sleep on the train, so some of my impressions of Churchill may be skewed. Nonetheless we saw polar bears from a distance and beluga whales, which crowded into land to get away from the huge seas. I spent the visit humming, “Baby beluga in the deep blue sea,” but my diary entry for the day says, “The wind was so strong it was hard to walk in a straight line and I felt that if I spread my arms I could sail away.”
Lake Superior, Ont.: (Google Maps: 27 hours to Sault Ste. Marie; 2,612 km) We spent 15 days in Ontario. For me the biggest surprise was at Lake Superior Provincial Park. It was rainy and cold and the lake surf crashed in at shoulder level when I waded near the shore. The water temperature was just 4.4 C. Brrr! I ran out and warmed my bare toes in the sand before wading in again. The diary entry reads, “Lots of mosquitoes and blackflies but fireflies near our camp were twinkling and shining and blinking in the bush.”
GaspĂ©, Que.: (Google Maps: distance from St. Albert 48 hours; 4,497 km) The Bas-Saint-Laurent GaspĂ©sie Tour loops round the GaspĂ© Peninsula and I’m not alone in calling it the “Most-scenic drive in Canada.” In 2013 National Geographic Traveler included this region on its list of Canada’s 50 Places of a Lifetime. My journal entry at Sur La Mer reads thus: “For this morning alone – on the sea – in a place I never knew existed, this trip was worth it. Quebec – the old city – the tour of Isle d’Orleans was close. BUT this place! This Place!!!”
Hopewell Rocks, N.B.: (Google Maps: 48 hours (4,498 km) We spent a fascinating day watching the highest tides in the world and the erosion caused on the “flowerpot rocks.” Diary entry for the day was, “Something to sing about this land of ours!”
Peggy’s Cove, N.S.: (Google Maps: 50 hours; 4,860.7 km) If you are in Nova Scotia you must visit Peggy’s Cove. When you get there, darned if it doesn’t look just like a calendar picture.
Confederation Bridge, P.E.I.: (Google Maps: 48 hours; 4,658 km) We took the ferry to P.E.I. and drove back on Confederation Bridge. Of the entire cross-country trip, I have the most photos of the bridge that links P.E.I. to the mainland.
The trip home was a bit hurried and we were travel weary. The last day from Battleford to St. Albert took forever and there are no cute little diary entries to record the memory. Would I do it again? Probably not, but if I could, I’d visit all of these places individually again and again.