We've decided to embark on an expedition (vacation) to the Vast North called Canada.

I have quite a bit of French Canadian in my veins, my wife as quite a bit of it in her as well. My relatives are Québécois and hers are Newfoundlanders or Newfies. We’d like to go North and see some of the rocky coastlines of the Labrador, and Newfoundland area, but we’d also like to tour around Montreal and part fo Quebec. Then we’d like to drive from Quebec to Vancouver stopping in Banff for a week. We are in the preliminary stages of planning it for June or July, and we will both have 6 weeks off.

So where should we go? We are planning to travel by land and air if need be, and renting vehicles along the way. I have always wanted to check out the Stampede in Calgary and we will be around during that time in July…As for Banff I really want to get some hiking in.

So can we do Canada in 6 weeks?

Wow. That’s a lot of ground to cover.

I’v driven from Edmonton to Toronto in five days. I’ve driven from New York to the tip of Nova Scotia, and then taken the ferry to Newfoundland, and the ferry from there to Labrador (OK, the mainland terminus is actually Blanc Sablon, Quebec, but you can spit into Labrador from there) in three days. If you’ve got six weeks, I can’t imagine you’ll have a real problem doing this, even earmarking an entire week for Banff (presumably including Jasper).

Some things to be aware of:

The drive between Toronto and Winnipeg is L-O-N-G. About 20 hours, if you insist on staying north of the border and going around Lake Superior, not much less if you dip down to cut across Minnesota, Wisconsin and Michigan. At least on the Canadian side, there’s not a lot to do in that entire stretch.

On the ferry to Newfoundland, get a cabin. My wife and I thought we could find a seat in a public area and just sleep there - we found that everyone who got on the boat before us had the same idea, and there were no good spots left for us. We ended up paying for bunkbeds in a barracks-like part of the boat. For the trip back, we sprung for a real cabin. The difference is tremendous.

Newfoundlanders and Labradorians are amongst the nicest people you’ll ever meet.

Nova Scotia’s city streets are clogged by the slowest drivers on the planet.

If you go to Prince Edward Island, prepare to have the image of Anne of Green Gables burned into your brain. She’s EVERYWHERE.

Manitoba uses Daylight Savings Time. Saskatchewan does not. Prepare for this when planning that leg of your trip.

Some attractions not to be missed (drawn purely from my own experiences, not even remotely a comprehensive list):

L’Anse Aux Meadows, Newfoundland
Magnetic Hill, Moncton, New Brunswick
Old Quebec City
Museum of the Bee, in Ste Anne, just outside Quebec City
Insectarium, Montreal
Parc Safari, Hemmingsford, Quebec (near Montreal)
Ontario Science Center, Toronto
CN Tower, Toronto - looking down through the glass floor is awesome
Niagara Falls is heavily touristy, but still tons of fun
Museum of Man and Nature, Winnipeg
West Edmonton Mall - yes, it’s a mall, but come on - it’s the biggest one in the world! Also, if they still have it, the glow-in-the-dark golf is cool.
Olympic Park, Calgary - you can luge! Even in the summer!
Vancouver Aquarium
Stanley Park, Vancouver

Have a great time, eh?

Those are all great places to visit. However, you would be attempting to cover a lot of ground. The distance between Newfoundland and Vancouver is around 3,000 miles. It takes six or seven days to drive from coast to coast. Even if you and a driving partner drive around the clock it will still take three days.

I suggest you break Canada into two groups: A West group centred on BC and the Rockies, and an East group consisting of Ontario, Quebec, The Maritimes, and Newfoundland/Labrador, and fly between the two.

Not to take anything away from Central Canada, but there is relatively little to see and it would be somewhat of a waste of time to drive across the region. Driving across Northern Ontario alone, while pretty, can take two days.

With that amount of time, I’d say that you can do a lot of it. I’d suggest remembering a few points though:

– Some of the places you may want to get to could be inaccessible by car. I’m unfamiliar with the Labrador coast, but it is my understanding that roads tend to be few and far between in spots. Check before you go.

– Be aware of the size of the place. I’m always amazed at those North American road maps of the US, Mexico, and Canada; that make it look as if Ontario is slightly smaller than, say, Kentucky. Those maps and atlases are deceptive, scale-wise–if you drive out of Toronto, heading for Winnipeg, you’ll still be in Ontario 24 hours after you leave. It’s that big. Get a proper set of provincial road maps (either from AAA or from the provincial tourist boards; they’re usually free for the asking), and use their time-and-distance tables to plan your trip accordingly.

– Given that, you’ll probably want to draw up some sort of schedule. Yes, the Calgary Stampede is held for ten days in mid-July, but if you’re leaving Montreal headed for Calgary, remember you’re looking at three days of driving (at least), and that doesn’t allow for stops for distractions (the Big Nickel at Sudbury, White River’s Winnie-the-Pooh exhibits, Moose Jaw’s tunnels, etc.). In other words, if you leave Montreal when the Stampede is half over, you may not make it in time.

– Watch ferry schedules as well, especially in the Atlantic Provinces. Ferries between Nova Scotia and Newfoundland run pretty well to schedule, but again, the distance and the number of ships means that there may only be a sailing every second day. I’ve taken these ferries, and while they are reliable and comfortable, we have had to cool our heels in the departure ports for longer than we might have wanted to, while we wait for the scheduled sailing. Again, check before you go, and when you do figure you want to go, make reservations so you are assured of getting the sailing you want. More information is available from Marine Atlantic, the folks who run the ferry services.

– In fact, remember that all kinds of reservations may be very important. Rental cars, hotel and motel rooms, and air reservations are in great demand in Canada in the summertime; and especially so here in the west during special events like the Calgary Stampede, or in touristy places like Banff. It is sometimes possible to make them as you go, but don’t be surprised if you’re told there is nothing available if you just “walk in” and ask about a room or a rental car. Things book up early.

I have to admit I’m puzzled by your plans to rent cars, and drive from Quebec to Vancouver. That’s gonna be one helluva drop-off fee! But I think with a lot of advance research and planning, you’ll find out what you need to know to put together a great trip without unexpected delays or surprising expenses. Good luck!

I must add the Lobster capital of the world to that list… Shediac, New Brunswick. It’s a short drive from Moncton, NB, so stop in Shediac for dinner. They do lobster better than anyone in the world.

I’ve been out east to the maritimes about a dozen times in my life because my grandparents live in Moncton, NB and I used to visit them every year when I was a kid. More recently, I spent a week in Shediac. I can tell you beyond the shadow of a doubt that it’s the most relaxing place I’ve ever been. The people are so incredibly friendly it gives me goosebumps just thinking about it. Traffic in Shediac actually STOPPED on the main drag and let me cross. I was confused at first thinking “why are these people stopping, come on, go damnit!”, but they were actually stopping so I could cross. Some store owners in Moncton might recognize me even today, after not having seen them for 12 years. When my grandfather passed away, I hadn’t seen them in about 3 years, and they were like “Hey, you’re Mark, from Niagara Falls, right? Good to see you!”. These were store owners, not in any way related to me, or friends of family. Creepy? Maybe a bit, but they really were quite friendly.

Spoons I am married to an OCD trip planner and if nothing else, we will have the majority of the trip planned to the “t”. That being said, we have traveled from Key West to San Diego (I-95 to I-10) I-40 across the southern-central US, I-70 across the middle of the US, I-80 across the northern reaches of the US…the next major one is going to be Montreal to Vancouver via Canadian-17 to Canadian 1. Newfoundland is not exactly set in stone, she wants to see it because a lot of her ancestors are from there and New Brunswick…We’ll see.

I think we are going to drive across instead of fly because we do have 6 full weeks to do it, I think the flying is going to come in when we fly from Vancouver to home in Connecticut. I dunno really. I am excited to begin the process of planning and it should be a wonderful trip. We love to travel and we are not getting any younger, and we don’t have kids yet so I think we are going to do it now…[Probably again with kids some day…]

Hey, cool -

My fiancée and I will be in Québec City (and Montréal) this summer. Here or there, I’d be honoured to share a drink with you folks, if you’ll have time.

My folks are from Aroostook Junction (current population ~300) New Brunswick. When we move to Québec I would like to take the time to visit.

A road trip from Québec to Vancouver sounds spectacular - if you have the time for it.

You will need some maps! There are no such highways. You’re thinking of using the Trans-Canada Highway, which is an amalgam of various provincial routes: from Montreal, for example, you’re taking Quebec A40 to Ontario 417 to Ontario 17 to Manitoba 1 to Saskatchewan 1 to Alberta 1 to BC 1 and into Vancouver that way. Of course, you can always shorten that route a little with BC 5 from Kamloops to Hope, but it’s a toll road. :wink:

Never mind; I’m just having a little fun with you. With enough time and an, as you say, OCD trip planner; as well as an awareness of long distances, you’ll be fine. Have a great trip and (I’ll be the first to say it) keep us posted as you go along–heck if you’re in Calgary long enough, perhaps we could organize a Dopefest.

Heh heh I was looking at google maps when I spouted off those roads, OCD Wife will hopefully do better than I. :smiley:

I will definitely keep everyone posted as I will be doing a little work from the road on my laptop. And a Calgary Dopefest would be really fun!

Despite your experience with long distance travel, keep in mind that Canada is the second largest country in the world, and you’re discussing two sides of it in your travel plans (but not the top, so maybe that’s good.). I’ve driven California to Newfoundland, and its a really, really long way.

That said, Newfoundland is lovely. The people are amazingly friendly and pleasant, and they still generally like Americans. St. John’s, the capital, is a nice town of about 100 k people with easy access to iceberg tours in the spring (and excellent whale watching in the summer). It’s the oldest English city in the new world, for what that’s worth, and has an entire street devoted to bars, if that’s your thing (reportedly more bars per square foot than anywhere else, according to wikipedia). You may also enjoy the other oddities of Newfoundland- idiosyncratic dialects*, bottled moose, Lord Baltimore’s other colony, and all that sort of thing. L’anse aux Meadows is quite a drive, but if you’re interested in the vikings and Vinland, you’ve almost got to go.

*I knew I finally understood Newfoundland English when I mentioned to a friend that she looked like a certain celebrity. She replied “Scattered time people are after telling me that”

Scattered time = Occasionally
People are after telling me that= People have said that before

YOU HAVE BEEN IN MY WORLD. :eek: We spent a weekend with my wife’s extended family as far south in the states as they would go [Calais, Maine] :smiley: and they spoke just like that! Thank OG there are people who understand! When we finally got back on rt.95 heading south back down to CT [about 9 hours] we had no idea what some of the relatives were talking about. Especially Uncle Duncan: Oh Jeez he was a hoot! :smiley: LOL

Always bothers me when people say there is relatively little to see in Central Canada - there is TONS to see here and I am sorry you have never taken the time.

How would you know I haven’t taken the time?

I am in no way knocking Central Canada, but compared to other regions there is less to see. Hence my use of the word relatively.

Come to Newfoundland. It is great in the summer. There is lots to see and do and in the summer time there is lots on the go. Let me know if you have any questions. I would be happy to help you out. I live in St. John’s but have been all over the province. ( And just fyi, we don’t really like being called Newfies… it’s almost like the Jap thing… some people don’t mind, but others really hate it.)

Banff National Park is the most beautiful place in the world. I lived right near its gates just prior to moving to Maryland to marry Dave. I miss it terribly.

I figured as much, my wife’s great uncles in New Brunswick call other relatives who live in Newfoundland Newfies and they don’t particularly like it that much. I get the impression for people who live there it’s different if you call your neighbor or yourself a newfie, but for an outsider to do it is just plain wrong. I gotcha.

I am very excited to visit Newfoundland. I hear wonderful things about it and I cannot wait to try all the good food and see the rocky coasts. If the people are anything like some relatives I have already met, I can’t wait to hear the tall tales!

This is our major reason for traveling to the west of Canada to go to Banff. We have a couple friends who live in Jasper and we plan on meeting them in Banff. I’ll post pictures hopefully from along the trip!

  • blink *

Wow. Do Newfoundlanders use Gaelic internally or something? :slight_smile:

I have never been to Newfoundland. I would very much like to go there.

Back to the OP: Highway 17 between Sault Ste. Marie and Wawa passes through Lake Superior Provincial Park, one of the most beautiful places I have ever seen.

There are a lot of Irish influenced phrases. For instance, the way they use the word ‘sure’, as in “He was completely lost, sure”. In parts of the island the accents are sufficiently similar that the Irish hospitality industry (hotels and such) would come and recruit here, since someone from the southern shore here could speak normally in Galway, and still charm the hell out of the tourists with their own real, yet essentially Irish, accent. Many of the other phrases are simply from Newfoundland and nowhere else, and you just have to learn what they mean.

Soon after I first moved to here, back in the last millenium, I had to go buy some nets from a netmaker located in Quidi Vidi (“kitty vitty”) which is essentially a small community located within the main city of St. John’s. I understood not a word that he spoke- not one word. Four years later I had to see him again, and I understood everything he said. I don’t think he had altered his speech at all in the interval.

Keep in mind that the weather is unreliable until well into the summer. It can snow in June. It can fog up throughout June. June is usually good for icebergs. In August the weather is reliable and warm-ish and the whale watching is excellent.

When I first moved here, I was out in the woods on Mother’s day and it started to snow a pretty hefty snow. I got back to my car and turned on the radio, to discover that a polar bear had swum ashore in Quidi Vidi. That was when I started to hear the Twilight Zone music in my head. That hasn’t happened since, although a few moose have wandered the streets in the last few years.

Its a great place to visit, and not a bad place to live. Eastcoastgirl is of course correct on the Newfie issue, it’s something that a Newfoundlander can call him- or her-self, but is potentially insulting from someone else. As a CFA* and a mainlander, I don’t use the term at all.

*Come From Away.

That’s a peeve of mine, too. Sure, the Prairies look boring if all you’ve ever seen of them is them whizzing by at 120 kph. I get Westworld magazine with my AMA subscription, and they’re always listing all the cool places and events going on in Alberta alone - there’s more going on here than we can get to, and I’m sure SK and MB are the same.

(I found driving through Ontario with all the trees horribly boring - you couldn’t see farther than the edges of the road! How claustrophobic! And the mountains are the same - too bumpy.)

Driving long distances has never bothered us. We don’t zoom-zoom so much anymore, and we are more likely to catch the random cool thing on the side of the road, like the largest Moccasin in the world just outside Tucumcari New Mexico and other cool things. I know a lot of people think they are Hokey but we like the odd things in the world.

As for the prairie lands in central Canada - Love them. I can’t wait, it is incredibly relaxing to have a good conversation to the drone of tires on a straight road with a sea of grassland around you. I know we are a little odd.

And **Attack from the 3rd dimension ** - we are really looking forward to coming up there. I’m very excited to see if they really do eat seal flipper pie…