The following is a first-hand journey through Canada; with one small twist…the writer in question hasn’t been to the below destinations yet! Join our intrepid writer on a dream vacation as she takes you cross country from St. John’s to the Northwest Territories. Check out ‘My Canadian Journey‘ first to see where she’s already been.
You found out where I’ve already been in ‘My Canadian Journey’, but there’s still so much of Canada that I haven’t seen. So, here are some of the top places on my Canadian bucket list.
As a history major and Canadian history enthusiast, L’Anse Aux Meadows is always my go-to defense when someone says Canadian history is boring. This historic site at the tip of Newfoundland is the only confirmed Viking settlement in North America (sorry, Minnesota). Discovered in 1960 by archeologist Anne Stine Ingstad, the site is believed to be the “Vinland” established by Leif Erikson that is mentioned in the Icelandic Sagas (some of the oldest stories in literature dating back to the 9th century). Honestly, nothing gets me as excited as a good historic and literary mystery. The Viking settlement here dates back to around the year 1000 and is now a World Heritage Site and tourist attraction. You can explore the remains and recreated settlements, discover artifacts, and step back in time.
The colourful hillside houses of St. John’s have always been something I’ve wanted to see in person. The windy streets and unique houses remind me of a child’s design of a community because they’re so playful and pretty. Why isn’t it a more common thing to paint our houses fun colours??? In addition to walking and exploring the city, St. John’s is the best place in Canada to watch the sunrise. It’s been a dream of mine to stay up all night, find a spot near the ocean, and watch the sun come up. St. John’s is the furthest east in Canada you can go, which means you can see the sun before every other Canadian (and most other North Americans – Greenland being the only exception).
Live out my Anne of Green Gables dream in P.E.I.
Prince Edward Island is yet another example of how different Canadian places can be. The red-sand beaches, lighthouses, lush, green wonderland landscapes, and rolling hills make it easy to imagine why Lucy Maud Montgomery was so inspired by P.E.I. As you probably have guessed by now, my dream P.E.I. itinerary would be to visit New London (aka Green Gables Shore) and check out the Green Gables Heritage site. After I get all the fangirling out of my system (Anne is a national treasure, okay. Don’t make fun of me), I’d love to spend some time on a beach, explore lighthouses, and tour P.E.I. by kayak so I could see the red cliffs and landscapes from the water and possibly paddle alongside a seal or porpoise or two.
Nova Scotia is known for its excellent beers, wines, and ciders (No Boats on Sunday, please and thank you). The Good Cheer Trail lets you experience wineries, breweries, distilleries, and cideries from Yarmouth to Sydney at over 50 locations. This trail is the first in Canada to incorporate all four beverages and is an excellent way to see the province since it covers the whole thing. In addition to the many lighthouses, historical sites, and parks in Nova Scotia, one of the things on my bucket list is to stargaze. Nova Scotia is known for some of the brightest stars in Canada as the sky is so clear of smog and light pollution. Samuel de Champlain navigated across the Atlantic by the stars, and if they’re good enough for Sam, they’re good enough for me. The Deep Sky Eye Observatory seems like the perfect place to get a clearer look at the Milky Way and the rings of Saturn.
There’s no better place to witness the dramatic tides of the Bay of Fundy than Hopewell Rocks. The Bay of Fundy has the highest tides in the world with 160 billion tons of water rushing in and out twice a day. At low tide, you can walk along the ocean’s floor and marvel at the gorgeous cliffs that will be completely engulfed in 6 hours. After years of erosion, the tall cliffs look sculpted and bare except for the trees growing from the top. In low tide, you can walk along two kilometers of beach and explore the many coves and cliffs. A few hours later, you can kayak over the same spot.
Although there are still lots of places in Quebec and Ontario I want to see, I’m going to skip over them to the Prairies for completely new (and vicarious) adventures.
The first place I really want to see in Manitoba is Pinawa. This area is home to great trails, Whiteshell Provincial Park, a giant sundial, and most importantly the Pinawa dam and suspension bridge. The Pinawa Dam Provincial Heritage Park is home to the old Pinawa dam, which was Manitoba’s first hydro-electric generating station but closed in 1951. Now, it is a great place to explore and take photos. Just ten minutes up the road is the Pinawa suspension bridge. The 50 meter-long suspension bridge dips down just 4 metres above the Pinawa Channel and is located on the TransCanada Trail.
There are so many places in Saskatchewan that I want to see. There are several provincial parks – many of which are completely natural and untouched by industrialization. However, the two places that interest me the most are the Four Corners Monument and the Athabasca Sand Dunes Provincial Park. The first stop would be the four corners. This is the only spot in Canada where you can be in four places at once. This corner intersects Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Nunavut and the Northwest Territories. Further west, the Athabasca sand dunes are particularly appealing to me because well, who knew there were sand dunes in Canada? Not me (apparently, there are also sand dunes in Prince Edward County – again, who knew? This is why I need to explore more of my country). The Athabasca sand dunes are the largest in North America and stretch over 100 kilometres along Lake Athabasca. Once again, Canada’s diverse landscape fills me with wonder.
Although I’ve technically been in Jasper National Park, I was only there long enough to get a taste and want more. The park is a beautiful place to stargaze, witness the beauty of the Rocky Mountains, and see tons of wildlife like black bears, grizzly bears, majestic elk, bighorn sheep, and mountain goats. I think a no-itinerary adventure would be best suited for this type of exploration. However, I do have one specific point of interest: Maligne Lake. Since moving to B.C., I have become a little obsessed with glacial lakes. I had seen pictures of clear blue lakes but always assumed they were photoshopped. Guess what? They’re not! They’re actually crazy blue and beautiful. Maligne Lake is home to the famous Spirit Island. Photos of this island have been used by Apple and it is a frequently photographed spot. Although it isn’t technically an island (except in spring when rain and snowmelt raise water levels), the “island” is surrounded on three sides by the same mountain range which is incredibly rare. Since it is closer to the mountains, the water around Spirit Island is more emerald than blue in colour. So basically, this tiny island is the most beautiful place I can imagine.
I’ve seen enough Westerns to know that Dawson is the place to go in the Yukon. After all, it is the Paris of the North. Days in the Yukon summer are extra-long, and enjoying the midnight sun is definitely on my Canadian bucket list. My first point of interest is looking down from the top of the world at the Midnight Dome. This spectacular lookout offers a panoramic view of the entire region and encompasses the Yukon River, Klondike Valleys and the Ogilvie Mountain Range. The Yukon is known for its quirky festivals and events. One that really interests me is the Authors on Eight Literary Walking Tour and Writing Competition which explore Dawson City through the eyes of literary geniuses Jack London (another one of my heroes), Robert Service, Dick North and Pierre Berton. The next festival that is calling my name is The Great Klondike International Outhouse Race. This crazy and unique competition is a scavenger hunt and race which involves rolling outhouses!
Twin Falls Gorge Territorial Park, Northwest Territories
There is no better place to chase the beautiful aurora borealis than northern Canada. The lights feel so close you can almost touch them. My dream is to visit Twin Falls Gorge Territorial Park and watch the sky along the Hay River as the lights dance overhead. The best time to view the lights is from late summer to winter. Twin Falls Park also features some spectacular waterfalls like Alexandra Falls and Louise Falls.
Floe Edge in Nunavut
Springtime in the Arctic creates a lot of melt and change. Floe edge is when the open sea and frozen sea meet. The slush and drift ice create a new and beautiful ecosystem – one of the most dramatic acts of nature in Canada and the world! You can book guided tours to see it from April until July. Many animals gather around the floe edge like polar bears, narwhals, seals, walruses, beluga whales, bowhead whales, and lots of different bird species.
Canada’s huge and diverse landscapes are both stunning and magnificent. I hope to explore every inch of my country some day and knock all of these places off of my bucket list!
Check out ‘My Canadian Journey’; an unforgettable trip through the best places in Canada I’ve been.
Our Canadian Travel Guide also highlights some of our staff’s favourite places in each province and territory.
Stay informed. Stay Current.