Vacation in Canada (I promise not to drive slow!)

Dr_Paprika’s thread Isn’t it time you moved to Canada? nudged me into planning my next vacation; Canada won the prize: me for a week.

I’ve read the guidebooks and travel literature but want more of a local perspective. I like doing the regular ‘touristy’ stuff, but I also like to find underrated/off the beaten path places that only the locals know about. I’m planning for July or August 2001 (though if there is some annual big event [theatre festivals, rodeos, herd/bird migrations, etc.] in June or September/October, I can adjust my plans).

Canadian Dopers (or anyone who has a favorite place in Canada), please convince me to spend my money in your province or territory. What are some fun/educational places to visit in your area, especially out-of-the-way places? (One, maybe two adults, no kids, rental car.)

Well, there’s so much to see and do here in Canada.

The “Toque Knitting Festival” runs from July 21-24 in Yellowknife.

Then there’s the “Mush Your Dog Team The Canadian Way” seminar. That goes in June so you might miss it.
The “Cure Your Back Bacon Like Nobodies Business” instructional series is basically running all year. (it’s a required course for Canadians)

Grizzly Bear Wrestling and Moose Riding are favorites too.

That’s enough jockularity for one post.

I suggest some White Water Rafting in BC. A buddy of mine runs an excellent rafting/tour company. The scenery is spectacular. The river is FAST and rather frothy in places.

I’ll check if he’s on the web and link you if I can.

What sort of things do you enjoy doing?

Good outdoorsy stuff can be found in almost any Canadian province. If you are planning July, I would highly recommend the Jazz festival in Montreal which is usually in the first couple of weeks. Montreal has lots of good restaurants and cultural things, too.

Realistically, a holiday for a week would be centralized in one of four places, depending on where you live and how you get here: (1) Vancouver and the West Coast, (2) Toronto (3) Montreal and Quebec City or (4) The Maritimes (“cultured Maine”). I deliberately excluded Alberta to piss off all my friends from Calgary and Edmonton who can’t get over themselves.

I live in Edmonton, Alberta and it is pretty well one of the best places to be in the summer if you enjoy festivals. From June through September we host some of the biggest and best festivals in this country.

Edmonton Festivals

In the summer of 2001 we are hosting the World Track and Field Championships.

We are a hop, skip, and a jump from the Rockies and some of the most beautiful scenery on earth.

I live in a pretty great city. It offers something for everyone whether you are into nature, the arts, music, theatre, sports, etc. etc. etc. There is always something going on.


Plus, Lola and I live here as well as Canadian Sue and a quite a few Dopers you would enjoy meeting like Havok and Smug. We could stage quite the Dopefest couldn’t we?

My favorite Canadian localles:
[ul][li]Banff National Park in Alberta[/li][li]Montreal, Quebec[/li][li]Victoria, BC[/li][/ul]

grins Yah Edmonton is pretty cool. Basically Feynn said it all so I won’t repeat but an Edmonton Dopefest would be cool. I’d like to meet some of the people around here.

I figure a couple of days in the city, a couple in the country/wilderness.
In no particular order -
li Outdoorsy stuff - hiking, canoeing, birdwatching, whalewatching (yeah, difficult if I’m in the interior, but I’ll get over it (IGOI) and save that for another trip) - whitewater rafting may be too much for me right now, getting over injuries from several car accidents[/li][li]Cultural events - theatre, concerts[/li][li]Sporting events - baseball, horseracing, rodeo (I know summer is not the season for curling and broomball, but again, IGOI. Yes, I like to watch curling!)[/li][li]New kinds of heartburn - restaurants, culinary festivals[/li][/ul]
Basically, as a local or frequent visitor, where do YOU go to have fun? What is the local flavor that really differentiates your area from the rest of the other cities or provinces/territories.

(And I have no problems with Alberta, and I found a Canadian French - English dictionary, so Quebec is okay).

May I recommend Vancouver? You can explore Stanley Park, and the Museum of Anthropology at UBC in the morning. In the afternoon, go whale watching or head up Grouse Mountain and have a meal at the pub with an incredible view of the city. For night life, there’s lots of clubs and live music venues. Vancouver has a huge variety of restaurants, from cheap to very expensive. We have a jazz festival and a folk festival.

Spend some time shopping on Granville Island (kind of like Seattle’s Pike Place market), Robson Street (very trendy shops) and Commercial Drive (funky hippy shops and vegetarian restaurants). You can head to Victoria for a couple of days, and have high tea at the Empress Hotel.

There’s lots to do in Vancouver. Come visit!

I’m not here to sing praises of Montreal (or Quebec in general) to the exclusion of the rest of Canada but it sounds like this is a food fit for what you want and the relatively limited time you have to spend.

Hiking - yes, in the Laurentians. Beautiful and only 1 hour north of the city (unless you want to go real deep into the woods).

Canoeing - yes, in the Laurentians as well. Tons of lakes. I’d recommend a 2 hour drive north to Mt. Tremblant. It’s a wonder how this resort has grown and what kinds of things it offers summer and winter.

Birdwatching - yes, in the Laurentians. Mountains, lakes and trees… if I was a bird that’s where I’d live.

Whalewatching - yes, but not in the Laurentians. You’ll have to drive northeast just past Quebec city to the mouth of the St.Lawerence. Lot’s of beluga whales there as well as sundry others. By the way, stop in Quebec city for a day. You won’t be sorry.

It’s already been mentioned but the Montreal Jazz festival is quite good and Jazz is not strictly the only music you will hear.

Certainly plenty hear for any culinary palate. I urge you to try the Montreal smoked meat sandwitches at Schwartz’s. It’s a one of kind experience.

And as you said, Quebec is okay despite the french language thing. You can get buy on English alone without a single problem. I’d urge you to at least make an attempt to say Bonjour to the locals but feel free to speak english for the rest of the conversation. The Quebecois fancy themselves a distict society but not so distinct to refuse tourist business.
Toronto, Ontario is another place you might consider but geographically it does not offer the type of variety and beauty that Montreal and surrounding areas do. Toronto is flat and so is everything else for hours around. Niagara Falls is close by but I would not spend a week in Toronto just to visit Niagara Falls. If you like clean, safe, well organized cities with great shopping, then I would recommend Toronto. Wonderful cuisine as well and very multi-cultural. As for natural sights, it’s not very high on the list.

I hear wonderful things about Vancouver and Victoria. Have never been there but I’d certainly be tempted to choose them over Toronto.

Oops, forgot to mention that I’ve already spent most of my time in Canada in Niagara Falls (ironically, a little place on Clifton Hill had the best Buffalo Wings ever) and Ganonoque (other side of Alexandria Bay, NY). Both were within a couple hours of my parent’s home (and I used to go there for the weekend whenever I got torqued off at Mom). So I’ve seen Niagara Falls and the Thousand Island Bridge/Wellesley Island/Zavikon Island, quite a bit.

Anything to do in Saskatchewan? Labrador? PEI?

I guess we could invite Topaz despite the fact she’s from “Cowtown”.


In truth… Calgarians are some of the friendliest people you’d ever want to meet…

[shameless plug] If you want to find out about birdwatching in Canada pick up a copy of “A Bird Finding Guide to Canada” by J. Cam Finley. And if you happened to be in the Weyburn Saskatchewan area I’m sure the writer of the Weyburn article would be glad to show you around. His name is Keith and I think his name on the board is Odieman. Now why does that sound familiar…[/shameless plug]

Keith (Theres that name again…) :wink:

I wouldn’t be much of a northerner (real north not 49th parallel north) if I didn’t try to convince you to see the real Canada. I’m going to ignore the comment about the toque festival. We don’t have much in the way of cities but since you’ll have to fly to get here you can always have a stop over in one of our fair southern cities. Obviously we’re chalk full of natural entertainment. If you come to Yellowknife, Northwest Territories we have the Midnight Golf Tournament, Folk Festival and Arts Festival. There’s amazing camping and fishing just minutes from the city (okay there’s only 15,000 of us but were still a city), take a float plane out over the second largest lake in Canada. Come at the right time of year and we promise Northern Lights. For awhile we had the highest average per consumption of beer in Canada, see we’re fun.
We also have many dangerous animals to make you stay that much more thrilling, bears, wolves and mosquitos. Plus there’s more, we’ve got diamonds, gold, oil and gas. Go farther north and see Polar bears, go south to see the buffalo, go east to see the whales and go west to see the Caribou.

The best place in Canada is Toronto.
The most romantic is Quebec City. But watch out at night, as the Fortress area goes very rough when the ferry stops running and the tourists leave the area to the down-and-out locals.

No one mentioned Winnipeg. That’s where I live. 'Nuff said. :smiley:

Okay so maybe that’s not enough. I don’t know how to post a link, so bear with me. If you coming in the summer, Winnipeg is sunny and beautiful. We have festivals every weekend including the Folk Festival, The Fringe Festival and not too far away, Classic Rock Weekend. Also we have the largest multicultural festival in Folklorama.

We are a short drive from many beautiful beaches and lakes, including Grand Beach, and the Whiteshell area ( many, many lakes). A plethora of history too, once “the Gateway To The West” Winnipeg is rich with history, some still visible in turn of the century architecture.

Let’s Party? Lets’ talk inexpensive drinks and almost no cover. Most bars feature sets by live bands, most of them are great (avoid Damian Styles like the plague) and there’s three or four clubs to suit every music preference.

In the way of hiking, Manitoba has a very rare prairie desert and apparently good rafting on the Winnipeg river.

In the winter there’s even more to do, socials every weekend and a multitude of indoor and outdoor festivals. You can try your hand at a variety of winter sports and experience cold weather you can tell your friends about.
There, that’s all I can think of right now.

I’ll second Odieman in his recommendation of Weyburn, but a week might be a little much. (Except in the winter - you did say you like curling!) Or you could head up through Regina (tour the Legislative buildings) to Saskatoon. You could even take a side trip to Saskatchewan’s mountain.

On the other hand, I’m in Vancouver, so I’ll recommend that too. Lord Derfel mentioned a few highlights, but there are lots more.

If you have never been to Canada, you may want to consider the Canadian Rockies. Banff, Jasper and the surrounding areas are breathtaking beyond description. The drive through the Fraser River gorge between Revelstoke and Vancouver is stunning too.

Vancouver is a splendid town and has many spectacular locations to visit. The food is excellent and the surrounding area is scenic too.

Feynn you must have missed it… I’m no longer a Calgarian I’m an Edmontonian again (I was born here) I’ve been living here since the end of August/beginning of September

Even though it’s just a few hours away, Banff is my favourite place to go. You can check out the links I’m scattering throughout the post. There’s lots to see and do there.

I’ll also throw in another plug for Edmonton, since you might as well stop here if you’re going to Banff. :slight_smile: During the summer, you can catch a lot of events. The Edmonton Street Performers Festival, Klondike Days, A Taste of Edmonton, Heritage Festival, The 19th Annual Fringe Festival, and more. There’s so much to do in the summer here, it’s hard to get it all in, unless you’re on holidays. Plus the attractions that are always here. West Edmonton Mall has an indoor waterpark, an amusement park, miniature golf, an indoor skating rink, submarine rides, dolphin shows, etc. There’s also the Edmonton Space & Science Centre 5 minutes from my house. It has an IMAX, a star theatre, laser light shows and a simulated trip on a space shuttle. You could also try Fort Edmonton Park, or the Muttart Conservatory.

Have I convinced you yet??

Thank you all for the information. D@mn, I want to meet each and every one of you. I have four weeks of vacation next year, but am planning on one week for Canada.
Still making my decision. Got a lot of websites to get through.

Edmontonians, is Rapid Fire Theatre (I think that’s the name) still around? I met some performers from there a couple of years ago at the Orlando International Fringe Festival.

rjk, Saskatchewan has a mountain? American Movie Classics showed “Saskatchewan” (RCMP chases a bad guys) last year, and it seemed like there was a whole range through there (unless it was filmed on the backlot). [See, that is why I need the local info!]

Poysyn, if you can provide a link or some info, I’d appreciate more on Winnipeg.

Nobody in the maritimes?