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

I’m in the Maritimes.

Lots of good seafood and Celtic music here. Halifax, in Nova Scotia, has the largest concentration of 19 to 25 year olds in Canada. A good place for the young. PEI has lots of nice beaches and lobsters, but unless you love Anne of Green Gables may be sort of dull. Newfoundland is very bizarre and highly recommended… certainly the nicest and funniest people in Canada. New Brunswick is okay, very good if you like fly fishing or outdoorsy stuff.

No true-blooded Canadian is going to tell you to go to another part of Canada. After you make up your mind, I will be pleased to give you more tips taken from the excellent Lonely Planet’s Canada.

I have been to Saskatchewan and it’s best feature is probably MegaTheRoo:D
[sup](although I have never met her in person)[/sup]

No mountains, but if you like wheat, you’ll looooove Saskatchewan.

Come spend your cash in Alberta.
We have no provincial sales tax.
That means…
You can buy all of us an extra drink in this province! :wink:

Put down another vote for the rockies! Jasper is where you want to go. It is a lovely place. I spent a week there around New Years, and from what I can remember (hey, I said it was New Year’s, cut me some slack), it was great fun. Y

You could always go from Calgary to Edmonton to Jasper down to Vancouver (though if you only have a week, it may cut it close). I have to agree with Zenster the Fraser Canyon is definitely spectacular (and there’s white water rafting to boot!).

I’ve been all over Western and Northern Canada, and I have yet to find a place I didn’t like. I think no matter where you go, you will have an amazing time.

Screech: Better yet, ditch the car and take VIA rail. It’ll be much more scenic, more comfortable, you’d spend as much on gas, they have restaurants in the train, it’s more environmentally sound, it’s a part of Canadian heritage, etc., etc.

The best thing to recommend Montreal: me. I love my city and I love serving as a tour guide. (I’ve been known to go up to people arguing in English over a map and ask them “Can I help you?” in both official languages.) I’d love to show you the sights. I’ll send you my phone number by email. Give me a call!

I am American, but my wife and I love the Canadian Rockies so much we got married in Jasper, in February!

If you like outdoor activities, Jasper is awesome. It’s easier to get to if you fly into Edmonton, but I’d recommend flying into Calgary and driving. It’s about five hours, but the drive up the Columbia Icefields Parkway between Lake Louise and Jasper is spectacular.

Some of the most breathtaking scenery in the world.


Did anyone ever tell you how big Canada is?

Since the majority of responses seem to be pointing you towards western Canada, let me join in with a few suggestions.

Fly into Saskatoon (Saskatchewan) start driving west: see the Qu’Appelle Valley, great hiking trails, ranks as one of the most beautiful spots in the west (depending on taste… those who are entranced with the mountains would disagree). Drive down to Drumheller, see the badlands and the Tyrell museum (everybody loves dinosaurs and fossils). Drive through Calgary, quickly (sorry folks, but our cities here in western Canada are pretty damn generic.) Rather than follow the herd up to Banff and Jasper, head down to Wateron Lakes National Park and the Crowsnest Pass (don’t take Highway 2, you will have seen enough of prairies by now, take Highway 22 through the Whaleback (more beauty). The Waterton/Crowsnest area isn’t as immediately impressive as the Banff/Jaspar area, but then again you won’t get trampled by tourists either. Lot’s of hiking trails and local history. Visit the Frank slide, take the hike up to Lille. Drive through southern BC on highway 3 heading for Vancouver. It takes longer to get to Vancouver this way, but more scenic, less traffic, lots of local colour. If you are a like hot springs there is a little know one at Kaslo (you can take a detour on Highway 3A and take the world’s longest free ferry ride from Kootenay Bay to Balfour, hot springs just 10 minutes north from the Balfour landing. Visit Nelson (coincidently the cannabis capital of North America, but we aren’t really suggesting you partake). Visit the wineries in the Okanagan, look for rattlesnakes near Osoyoos, scenery up the wazzooo all the way to Vancouver. Go over to Vancouver Island (Horseshoe Bay to Nanaimo is the nicer ferry ride), cross the Island, going through Port Alberni and head to Long Beach/Broken Islands (Pacific Rim National Park). This route you get your Prairies, badlands, foothills, mountains, desert, alpine plateau, more mountains, more mountains, Big City, forests, big old sandy beach.

It is the route less travelled, and no-one will recognize the place names, but you will get great photos.

I have to plug Montreal once more.

It’s a really cultural, interesting and FUN city. You’ll never lack for things to do, I promise.

American here, but adore Canada. Monteal, Quebec, the Maritimes, Jasper…it’s such a rich, dazzling place it’s impossible to package.

I love the Maritimes and Quebec; great food (and not just lobster!), history, the seascapes of Nova Scotia, PEI and the wonderful, scenic day-travels…

FWIW, I never found Canadians to be less than cordial and hospitable. For all the brouhaha, my godawful drawled school-French got me through even in Quebec. (Don’t know if that’s exactly a compliment; even Francophone Canadians hear the drawl and exempt hapless Americans from the bilingual standards they hold other Canadians to.)

But for a stellar vacation…Banff is amazing. If possible, tie it in w/ Vancouver and Victoria, BC. I am totally smitten w/ Victoria; extended my last vacation there by 4 days because it’s just sooo great.

This is a giddy, non-informative reply, but honest opinion: pick anywhere in Canada, give yourself time to discover and you’ll be amazed.

Bullpucky, didn’t even mention Louisbourg, which is what Williamsburg should have been before it got Martha Stewart-ized.

Go! Enjoy!


Yes, screech, Saskatchewan has a mountain, Mount Blackstrap, commonly called Mount Jockstrap because it was built for the Winter Games a few years ago.

Of course, it isn’t as big as the ones in B.C.

Please listen to bagkitty. She has said it so much better than I can.

Mind you that I have been to Canada a dozen times, whether it was hitch hiking to Edmonton, Alberta (from SF, Calif.) for Christmas, or doing a one hundred mile canoe trip at the Bowron lakes in BC.

The Canadian people are some of the most courteous and decent folk you’ll meet in your entire life. The Rockies are beyond belief (bring a camera).


Just do not visit Pickle Lake. Trust me on this one. The last American who did had such a miserable experience that he ended up on a National Geographic Special.

Pickle Lake? Pickle Lake?!

This cries out for explanation. Inquiring minds want to know!


Zenster… what, didn’t I type in a deep manly voice, or does gender confusion run in your genotype LOL

It’s really just a matter of Pickle Lake being a negative energy sink. Once you fall into the vortex, about the only way you can pull yourself out is to transfer your bad karma on the next unsuspecting dupe who passes through town. To make a long story short, I was trapped there at the bottom of the well when along came an unsuspecting American. I unloaded my burden on him to such a degree that his plane went down.

For those with nothing better to do with the next few minutes, here is the full story.

Last spring I had a court date in Pickle Lake, which is a small community in northwestern Ontario. I live in Thunder Bay, so normally it is only a short flight. Unfortunately, the Pickle Lake psychic sink struck early, for my staff messed up on the booking. Instead of placing me on the party charter, I was booked for he commercial passenger flight, which involved a transfer and almost twice the flight time.

When I arrived at the airport, there was a delay of over an hour. Unfortunately, the pilot and co-pilot both slept in. They came running through the terminal and out onto the tarmac about forty minutes late, but no sooner were they in the plane than an alarm went off in the terminal, sending the gate staff scurrying about and adding another twenty minutes onto the delay.

At the transfer station in Red Lake I missed my connecting flight. While waiting in the terminal, a woman sat down with a couple of fellows at the table beside me. She said to them in a loud voice that she had just been promoted the previous week (she was a nurse in Osnaburgh – we’ll get to what that entails later). Yesterday she had bought a truck. Later today she was to make a down payment on a house. Then she turned her head, looked directly at me, and said that the next think on her list was to find a man.

Having a keen sense of survival, I retreated to the men’s washroom. Unfortunately, a valve broke when I flushed, which flooded out the entire wshroom and a fair bit of the terminal. I spent the next couple of hours in a very nervous state.

Eventually the connection to Pickle Lake arrived. Aside from the bobsled run down the Red Lake taxi-way (a steep hill with a couple of tight curves), the flight was uneventful. When I arrived at the Pickle Lake terminal (a small steel shed), I was unable to use the telephone because it did not accept money – too many thefts, so the gas guy (the fellow who refuels the planes) kindly called in to town for the police to come and pick me up.

It took quite a long time for the officer to arrive. When he finally showed, he explained that the cracked winshield and mud on the sides and roof of the 4x4 were due to a shortcut he had taken when he received the call to pick me up. A delay had been incurred when he had to radio for a friend to pull him out of his ‘stuck’.

I arrived for court just as it broke for lunch, which was just as well, for my client’s circumstances had changed without his notifying me. The deal that had previously been arranged with the Crown was on hold due to my client facing half a dozen new charges. Unfortunately, no one quite knew what the charges were, so my client and I hiked on up the road to the police station (no ride was available, for my driver had to pull out the fellow who earlier had pulled him out of his ‘stuck’). Between the officer at the station, myself and my client, we eventually figured out what all the new charges were about, so we hiked back down to the community hall to face the judge.

Well, things were not too pretty in the hall. The judge was a bit miffed because a busload of defendants from the nearby community of Osnaburgh (where the nursing station is surrounded by barbed wire) failed to show. The bus arrived full of people who wanted to visit the gorcery store and the liquor store, rather than full of defendants. It seems that when the folks at Osnaburgh heard that there was a bus going into town (usually there is none), they did not understand why only the criminals should be allowed on it, so they tossed the bad guys off, and took their places for the free ride into town. The shoppers were happy. The bad guys were happy. Only the judge was not happy, but no one really cared too much for him anyway.

The result of this was a further delay while the Osnagurgh mess was straightened out. Eventually the bad guys arrived, but they were pretty drunk by that time of day. The folks who had shanghied the bus ambled in, but they were also quite drunk following their visit to the liquor store. There were no extra police available to deal with the matter, for they were off dealing with the stuck vehicles. Things eventually settled down, but the delay made me miss the outgoing party charter back to Thunder Bay, and again I had to fly the milk run via Red Lake. To add to my misery, I had to wait at the airport shed for a couple of hours. Just me, the gas guy, and the ticket girl upon whom the gas guy seemed to have a crush.

I was frustrated; I was tired; I was bored. I was also a little disgusted by the gas guy’s behavior toward the ticket girl. I was not just under a cloud, I was under the Pickle Lake depression. I was trapped in this shed in the middle of nowhere, and I knew that I would remain there until I transferred my cloud to someone else. I reached out, trying to make a psychic connection to my family and friends in hopes that they could find me and rescue me. In particular, I reached out for a friend, Karen Smith of Gaia’s Garden, who is a wicce of the White Goddess with neo-Buddhist leanings who has some inside knowledge on navigation (

It worked. No sooner had I reached out than a wee plane flown by an American landed. Then another, and another, and finally an old biplane. A big smile grew across my face, for I knew that my karma was soon to transfer away from me onto these poor unuspecting tourists. They were loud and friendly and rediculously over dressed. They obviously had no idea of the negative vortex into which they had desended. I had a moment of doubt upon learning that their photographer was a Candian, but all was well when out from under his big fur hat(it was shirt sleeve weather) he said that he had been in California for many years.

While the gas guy filled their tanks, the group chatted with me as I quietly let my bad karma bleed into them. Their story was that the fellow in the biplane intended to fly to the north pole and back, while the ex-Canuck filmed him for National Geographic. I wished them luck as I left the hut for my flight, knowing full well that the only reason my flight had finally arrived was because these poor Americans had now inherited my bad dross and no longer had any chance what so ever of making it to the pole and back. Obviously I did not tell them this. I just smiled, gave a verbal ‘good luck’ to the Americans, and a silent ‘thank you’ to my family and friends whose energy had pulled me out of the hole known as Pickle Lake.

Did I happen to mention that I have family up near the north pole? Well, I do for about four months each year. My cousin Nadine’s husband Ray LeCote runs the Alert meteorlogical station. I guess the electromagnetic reception up there must be pretty good, for he sure picked up on my calling out for help from Pickle Lake.

When the Americans arrived at his station, they needed some gas, but had not made any previous arrangements. Ray had a drum of aviation gas that was about a decade old, but there was water in it due to condensation. He explained that if they wanted it they could have it, but they would have to filter it before using it, and sign a release to that effect. The release was signed and the National Geographic film crew recorded the final tanking up of the biplane. Note that I make no mention of the film crew recording any filtering. The pilot pumped directy from the barrel into the biplane without filtering, and National Geographic was there to capture every moment on film.

Surprisingly, the biplane made it to the pole, and even made it part way back to Alert before it went down. When the pilot was eventually returned to Alert he was pretty miffed at Ray. He yelled and swore and threated to sue (talk about matching a stereotype) because the bad gas caused him to crash land and abandon his plane.

Now Ray is a pretty smart fellow, and certainly not one to get in a flap. He saw that the American was trying to shift the Pickle Lake cloud onto his shoulders, and he was having none of it. While the American was making legal threats, Ray pulled out his ticket book, and proceeded to charge the pilot for polluting by leaving the plane out there rather than bringing it back to alert.

Eventually the plane was recovered. Ray figures it cost the fellow an additional $25,000. I figure that crash and the cash are just at the tip of the iceberg for the polar pilot, for until he realizes that the Pickle Lake low is over his head, he is in for some very rough times.

Like I said, avoid Pickle Lake.

Hmmmm Pickle Lake sounds like a place that Mega the Roo (who is from Saskatoon and who may not take kindly to DDG’s comments :wink: ) might want to visit.


I’ve been to all ten provinces of Canada (but not the territories). Here’s my rating on how much I enjoyed each. I should tell you right off the bat, though: I’m not an outdoorsy-type. I like museums, historic sites, modern wonders, regional specialties and seeing (but not hiking) national parks. So, here goes, from favorite on down:

  1. Alberta (sorry, Dr_Paprika). The West Edmonton Mall, as well as several Edmonton museums. Banff & Jasper National Parks. Doing the luge at Calgary’s 1988 winter Olympic site. And one thing that I really wanted to see but didn’t get to, though it sounds way cool: the “Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Jump” in Fort McLeod.

  2. Quebec. Montreal and Quebec City and the area between the two have some nice and unique museums and parks. Montreal’s Metro is the nicest public-transit system I’ve ever ridden on. I (as a non-French speaker) found it annoying to have difficulty communicating with some of the locals, especially when needing directions, but it certainly didn’t detract from my experience enough to knock it down so far. And those two cities have a look about them that’s unique on this continent.

  3. Prince Edward Island. Rustic charm, plus the most unique amusement park I’ve ever been to: The Great Island Adventure Park in Cavendish.

  4. British Columbia. I was only in Vancouver, but it’s a great city. The Pacific Space Center, the Aquarium, and Stanley Park stand out for me.

  5. Ontario. Specifically, Toronto and Niagara Falls. Unlike Vancouver, Montreal, or Quebec City, it doesn’t feel any different from any other North American big city, but it has some amazing museums, including the Royal Ontaio Museum, the Ontario Science Center and the Bata Shoe Museum.

  6. New Brunswick. Interesting natural anomalies, such as Magnetic Hill in Moncton and the Reversing Falls in St. John. Some nice local museums…as well as the Moosehead brewery.

  7. Newfoundland & Labrador. The world’s only authenticated Viking settlement in the Western Hemisphere. Whales in the Labrador strait (and a whaling museum in Red Bay). Nice local museums. And the nicest bunch of folks you’ve ever met. Main drawback is that to get there, you have to take a long boat ride (nice boat, though), or a very, very expensive flight. But if you’re doing the Maritimes, I urge you to try and fit it in, because if you ever decide you do want to see it, you’d have to go through the Maritimes to get to it anyway (unless you fly).

  8. Manitoba. Winnipeg has some nice museums, but nothing I can pinpoint that’s particularly unique, and no great scenery, either. Most interesting thing was a “Costume Museum” in nearby Dugald.

  9. Nova Scotia. Not many interesting museums, and, while the scenery is striking, the shlep of driving amongst the slowest drivers on the continent (when rush hour isn’t an issue) takes the fun out of it.

  10. Saskatchewan. Museums are strictly small-scale. Scenery is totally flat. Seemed like the road signs were constantly underestimating the distance to our next destination. And the worst of it was that when I drove through Saskatoon, I had to go to the bathroom really, really badly, and every gas station, hotel or store I stopped at refused to let me use a bathroom, earning it a “least friendly” rating in my book. (No insult intended to any Dopers who live there, of course.)

I really like the people I know from Calgary and Edmonton. I think they are friendlier than in many parts of Canada. Just don’t ask me to weigh in on the Calgary vs. Edmonton debate.

Head-Smashed in Buffalo Jump is kinda cool… I went there once years ago (I’ve been lots of places in Alberta… most a few years ago) it had a nice museum then you could hike to the top of the jump and look down (there was a railing so people wouldn’t fall of course)

One really nice camping spot is Gull Lake. It’s south of Calgary on the road to Drumheller (or is it slightly north of Calgary?) Um… just find your way to Drumheller I know it’s on the way there. I’ve been camping there a few times and it’s gorgeous (though not as gorgeous as Japser or Banff but pretty good still)

One place I haven’t been yet is the Frank Slide and probably quite a few others. And I try to avoid the Edmonton/Calgary debate because I have lived in both places and like both about equally.

I’ve lived with this one all my life. My dad was from Drumheller (closer to Calgary than Edmonton) but we have always lived in Edmonton. He and we, growing up all were Stamps and Flames fans. Ya know, those Edmonton fans are an unruly bunch :wink:


Gull Lake?

I used to ride my bike from Bentley right to the beach and it happens to be 15 minutes west from Lacombe. I have to agree that it is a beautiful area.