Reader Recs: Canada’s Places of a Lifetime
We asked our readers to fill us in on what we missed in our latest and greatest online feature, “Canada’s 50 Places of a Lifetime.” We received hundreds of submissions full of natural wonders, eclectic cityscapes, and scenic retreats. Here are ten destinations that our editors agree are worthy of an honorable mention (and a visit):
> Long Beach, Pacific Rim National Park (British Columbia)
Long Beach, on Vancouver Island, is “one of the wildest and most intriguing nature spots in the world,” Petra Speyrer writes from Berlin, Germany. “Coming from Port Alberni and going to Tofino you crest the hill on the road and all of a sudden there it is: the white sands of Long Beach” she says. “It makes you feel small and lifts you up at the same time.”
> Dawson City (Yukon)
Adam Gerle of Whitehorse, Yukon, swears there’s no place like it. Home of the Klondike Gold Rush in 1898, the historic, turn-of-the-century town is “like going back in time,” citing “wood sidewalks, heritage buildings, cancan dancers at the Diamond Tooth Gerties Gambling Hall, and the Commissioner’s Ball at the Palace Grand Theatre” as evidence. John Anger of Binbrook, Ontario, agrees, and recommends traveling there for the summer solstice. “There’s nothing more spectacular than being on the top of Dome Mountain in Dawson City and seeing the midnight sun reflecting off the Yukon River,” he says.
> Point Pelee National Park (Ontario)
Anna Lamarche of Kingsville, Ontario, recommends this national park, which she describes as a “birding paradise.” In addition to its avian wonders, Anna says, “September brings hundreds of thousands of Monarch butterflies migrating through to Mexico, as well as hawk, dragon and damsel fly migrations.”
> Kananaskis Country (Alberta)
Sheryl Green of Kananaskis describes her home base, more than 4,000 square kilometers of mountains and foothills about an hour’s drive west of Calgary, “a wilderness paradise that offers activities for outdoor lovers and vistas that enthrall photographers.” She says that though the area’s on the cusp of Banff National Park and beloved by locals, Kananaskis Country remains “one of those gems often missed by the international traveler.” Bottom line: This is a less commercialized alternative–or addition–to a trip through Banff, especially for those who enjoy winter sports.
> Île Verte (Québec)
“The authenticity and peaceful surroundings of Île Verte (Green Island) will captivate you as the rural charm of the area takes you back in time,” promises Johanne Verret of Québec. According to Johanne, this island located near the village of Tadoussac at the confluence of the Saint Lawrence and Saguenay rivers, “is the place to go to disconnect with reality!” The lighthouse there, the third oldest in all of Canada, was completed in 1809 on the banks of the Saint Lawrence River. You can even make arrangements to sleep in the lighthouse keeper’s house, Johanne adds.
> Digby Neck, Long Island, and Brier Island (Nova Scotia)
“Located at the start of the Bay of Fundy, this area is world renowned for its whale watching,” says Saskia Geerts of Digby. Digby Neck, Long Island, and Brier Island, which together comprise the northwest shore of St. Mary’s Bay, are also hotspots for rare orchids (including the rare Eastern Mountain Avens) and prime locations from which to observe hawks during fall migration season. “Combine this with the genuine fishing villages, delicious fresh seafood, [a] unique coastline, and hiking, and this area deserves to be on the list,” Saskia says.
> Macklin (Saskatchewan)
Each August, Alexandra Stang of Saskatoon writes, “Macklin more than doubles (almost triples) in size as former residents, friends, and family participate in the World Bunnock Championship.” What’s bunnock? In Alexandra’s words, it’s “a game that was brought over from the old country. Legend has it, the townspeople’s German-Russian ancestors developed this game while stationed in Siberia as soldiers. The ground was too frozen to play horseshoes–they couldn’t drive the stake in–but someone quickly realized that the ankle bones of long-dead horses could easily stand.” Teams of four take turns tossing thrower bones at the the opposing team’s row, and whichever team knocks the bones down in the fewest shots wins. “For some, like my Dad, the game is a link to their ancestry,” she says. “For most, it represents good times spent with friends and an outstanding display of community spirit.”
- Nat Geo Expeditions
> Kelowna (British Columbia)
Jenny Rutherfurd reports that her hometown is full of “stately wineries [and] neat rows of vines stretching over rolling hills.” Napa? Nope. She’s talking about Kelowna, in Western Canada’s Okanagan Valley, which she reports is “gaining the respect and admiration of oenophiles around the globe.” In addition to producing wines that are winning international awards and being touted at high-end restaurants, she says the area is also known for the magnificent Okanagan Lake, “which curls for 68 miles through this vineyard-laced valley.” “The package? Pretty as a picture and perfect for Pinot,” she says.
> Pollett’s Cove, Cape Breton (Nova Scotia)
You can access Pollett’s Cove by boat, but as Ryan Barry of Halifax writes, “those willing to tackle the 18-kilometer round trip hike into the North Western Highlands of Cape Breton just outside of Pleasant Bay will embark on a journey through some of Canada’s finest coastal, Acadian forests and highland scenery.” With virtually no light pollution to sully the night sky, Ryan suggests visitors “take the time to lie on the beach and marvel at the Milky Way.” “This place to me just has Canada written all over it,” he says. “The peace of mind knowing that places like these still exist on Earth today makes me proud to call myself a Canadian.”
Cabot Head Lighthouse, Bruce Peninsula, Ontario
Looming 80 feet above the Georgian Bay and offering staggering views of the Niagara Escarpment, the Cabot Head lighthouse has guided ships into harbor for more than a century. “Located at the apex of many national and provincial parks and game preserves, the light station is, metaphorically, an historic island, awash in Nature–both terrestrial and marine,” says Douglas Sylvester of Ottawa. The cedar lighthouse itself “is a glimpse of the lost art of carpentry” having been carved from local stands of timber and constructed on site. “The trip is truly a journey in time–past, present and future,” he says.