Canada is one of the largest countries in the world, second only to Russia in territory and crowning the North American continent. The country is a symbiosis of wilderness and modern urban life: Canada has industrial areas in the South, and vast forests, rivers with deep water, lakes, and mountain ranges in the North, which extend to the Arctic. Along with the capital, Ottawa, the largest metropolitan areas are Montreal, Calgary, Winnipeg and Toronto. Canada is a constitutional monarchy with a strong democratic tradition. The Queen of Great Britain is recognized as head of state, and is represented by the Governor General. All power is vested in the government, headed by the Prime Minister.
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Video: Nature of Canada
Canada has an area of 9,984,670 square kilometers, making it the largest state not only in the Americas, but in the entire Western Hemisphere. The population, according to 2015 data, is about 36 million people. Canada has the longest land border on the planet with one country, 8,891 km, namely the United States of America along with Alaska. The State has access to the Pacific, Atlantic and Arctic Oceans. By sea, the border runs with the Danish autonomous territory of Greenland and the French islands of Saint-Pierre-et-Miquelon. Canada has polar possessions in the Arctic, claims and part of the continental shelf, including the North Pole.
Jasper National Park Rideau Canal in Ottawa Toronto Lights of Vancouver at night
Maple Leaf Country, as Canada is also called, is a parliamentary federation of 3 territories and 10 provinces. One of them, Quebec, has a predominantly French-speaking population and the other, New Brunswick, has both French and English speakers. The rest of the country, with the exception of the Yukon Territory (which is also bilingual), speaks more English.
Statue of a Canadian logger Indian Lodge
The name of the country supposedly comes from the word kanata, which means “village” in the language of the Algonquin Indians. The turning point came in 1535, when two natives said the word to guide the navigator Jacques Cartier to the Indian village of Stadacona, near present-day Quebec.
Those who know Canada only superficially imagine eternal snows in which polar bears roam; Inuit hunting whales; grim loggers basking around a campfire in the impenetrable taiga to the droning accompaniment of polar wolves.
The Klondike Gold Rush
Inexperienced travelers may arrive in Canada in high summer hoping to go skiing, but they must travel thousands of miles before the snow crunches under their feet. But the view of the cold, harsh Arctic is unforgettable: Many people think of Canada and think of Gold Rush, the starving Charlie Chaplin in the far-off Yukon, nibbling on boots as a snowstorm passes through the windows of a gold rush hut.
The country’s most populous provinces are Ontario and Quebec. Many Canadians believe that the upper boundary of these regions’ forests is the beginning of the High North. Here starts the Canadian Shield, a huge glacial plateau, which stretches in a wide strip from Hudson Bay through the province of Saskatchewan and northern Manitoba to the circumpolar Northwest Territories. The Canadian Shield is a dusky land whose landscape consists of rocks, limestone, many lakes and swamps. Beyond the Canadian Shield extend vast areas of permafrost. In these snow-covered lands, on Baffin Land, is a national park with the eloquent name Auyuittuk, which translates from the Inuit language as “land that never melts. The ice shell holds untold riches: ores of non-ferrous and precious metals; huge reserves of gas, oil, and uranium. The indigenous people of the country, the Canadian Indians and the Inuit, are challenging the government for the right to use these minerals.
Canada offers its visitors such a variety of vacations that you may find it hard to decide which one to take. There is an endless expanse of natural beauty, a multitude of rivers and lakes, and a variety of climates. Year-round cultural activities are possible thanks to regular festivals of the peoples of the Old and New World and artistic events, in which everyone can participate. For shoppers, there are numerous stores, malls, boutiques and souvenir shops.
Quebec Winter in Canada
The territory of the country is a hilly plain. Mountain ranges run along the west and east coasts. The Canadian Cordilleras, which originate on the border with Alaska, stretch along the shores of the Pacific Ocean. Many mountains range from 2 to 2.7 kilometers in height. Along the Atlantic coast, the Appalachian Mountains are not very tall. This includes the peaks to the east of Quebec, the Shickshaw Mountains (north of the Gaspé Peninsula), and the Notre Dame Massif on the right bank of the St. Lawrence River.
The St. Lawrence River is Canada’s main waterway. It has many tributaries: the St. Maurice, the Ottawa, the Manicouagan, and several others. Being navigable, it connects the Atlantic to the Great Lakes basin. Other rivers are the Nelson, Saskatchewan, Athabasca, Churchill, Peace River, Mackenzie, Fraser, and Slave. As for lakes, not every state can boast so many. The most famous and significant of them are located on the U.S. border: Ontario, Upper, Erie and Guron. The famous Niagara Falls, one of the most powerful on Earth, are also located on the Canada-U.S. border.
The plant world is characterized by the predominance of coniferous forests. They stretch between the two oceans, mostly south of the tundra. Of the trees, black and white spruce, pine, thuja, and larch are found. Deciduous forests are somewhat smaller, where poplar, birch, willow, and alder grow. Tundra is occupied by northern mainland Canada and island areas in the north, where shrubby willow and birch and sedge grow. Snow and ice cover Baffin Land and the Polar Islands region. They also do not melt in the summer, which, by the way, is very short.
Two polar bears in northern Canada A deer
The animal world of Canada is represented by such tundra inhabitants as the reindeer, polar hare, arctic fox, musk ox, and lemming. South of the polar zone the local fauna is more diverse. Animals found here include the gray bear, elk, snow goat, caribou, snow goat, wapiti, a deer close to red deer, big-toed sheep, as well as wolf, fox and the cougar and lynx, predators of the feline family. The family of rodents is quite numerous: chipmunk, beaver, squirrel chikari. Among birds there are many commercial species, there are nesting migratory birds. There are a lot of fish in the freshwater reservoirs.
Climate and weather
Canada’s extremely diverse climate is greatly influenced by its length and topography. The extremes of cold winters and hot summers make it continental. The country can be divided into a number of climate zones: cold in the north and warm on the Pacific coast. The cold zone includes the Canadian Arctic Archipelago and the northern parts of the Labrador Peninsula and the Mackenzie River Basin. The ground here freezes very deep and snow does not melt for most 365 days. Summers are short, with almost no precipitation. Average annual temperatures are between 5 and 10 degrees with a minus sign.
Atlantic coast Summer in Canada
The farther you get from the polar latitudes, the milder the climate. In southern Canada, summers are warmer (20-25°) and winters are milder. Precipitation is heavier, at about 400 mm to 500 mm a year. Snowstorms are frequent in the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence River region. On the Atlantic coast, on the contrary, the cold period is milder, and summers are less warm and fogs are not uncommon. Summers are the same on the Pacific Coast, and winters are mild with rain. The only place in Canada where January temperatures do not drop below 0° remains the region adjacent to Vancouver. Precipitation is abundant in the city itself, on the order of 5,000 mm per year. The headwaters of the Yukon Peninsula have the lowest temperatures on the American continent: -60° C.
Canadian cities are not only the starting points of travel across the country, but also a combination of unusual and vibrant experiences. In a suburban cottage luxury car can peacefully coexist with an ordinary wooden canoe. A striking example of Canadian eclecticism is Montreal, a city of unique combination of North American modernism and charming Old World style: graceful old red-brick mansions perfectly coexist with ultra-modern skyscrapers.
In winter, the canal in downtown Ottawa becomes a giant skating rink.
For North Americans, Quebec’s ostentatious extravagance is a perfect example of the French way of life. The complete opposite of this old city is energetic Toronto, whose residents consider it more groomed, and where tourists can see the Canadian version of the American metropolis. The nation’s capital, Ottawa, is known for its great museums, hi-tech businesses and peculiar bureaucracy. Calgary’s sassy attitude reminds American tourists of Texas, and the nature surrounding Vancouver makes the city especially charming.
Hardly any written sources have survived to shed light on the history of Canada before European colonization. An idea of this period is given by the findings of archaeologists, which unequivocally testify that Indians and Inuit inhabited this territory since ancient times. People migrated here from eastern Siberia and Alaska in whole groups. The population in that distant time was mainly engaged in hunting and fishing. Animism dominated among the local beliefs. Well, the first Europeans appeared here in about 1000 and it was the Vikings from Iceland who landed on the island of Newfoundland. The Icelander Leif Ericson, the Portuguese Joao Fernando Lavrador and João Vash Cortirial, the English Francis Drake and Henry Hudson, and many others pioneered the Canadian lands.
The French explorer Jacques Cartier landed on Gaspé in 1534.
In the first half of the 16th century, the French landed on the Canadian coast. On the Gaspé Peninsula, the navigator Jacques Cartier planted a cross and proclaimed the land to be the domain of the French crown. But the first to explore the North American coast from Newfoundland to Florida was the Italian navigator Giovanni da Verrazzano, in the service of the French, who coined the name “New France. But the English were also interested in the new overseas lands when they began exploring Newfoundland. The military leader and navigator Humphrey Gilbert declared it an English possession in 1583. The rivalry between the English and the French in the eighteenth century entered a sharp phase. In 1763 the Treaty of Paris was concluded. According to it New France fully fell under British sovereignty, remaining in this status until 1867.
A painting by Benjamin West The Demise of General Wolfe, depicting the death of British General James Wolfe after his victory at the Battle of the Fields of Abraham in 1759.
On July 1, 1867, the British North America Act was approved, giving rise de facto to the independent state of Dominion Canada, whose authorities gained the right to form their own government. De jure Canada remained part of Great Britain. Prince Edward Island and Newfoundland were not part of the Dominion. Canada was formed in its current borders in 1870, and Newfoundland became part of it in 1949. In 1931 the Statute of Westminster was passed, which expanded the country’s rights. It gained full independence in 1982 with the passage of the Canada Act by the British Parliament. The monarch of Great Britain remains the formal head of state.
Canadian tank and soldier attack at the Battle of Vimy Ridge in 1917
The new Constitution, which came into force in the same year, is not recognized by French-speaking Quebec, the largest province in Canada. The origins of this protest are to be found in the 1960s and 1970s, when the situation of French Canadians began to worsen. Ideas of independence began to emerge in the region, actually supported by the former metropolis, France. In 1980, a referendum on the separation of the province was held, which ended in failure for the separatists. In 1995 a second plebiscite was held, but again the majority was against secession. Thus, Quebec, where nearly 95% of the inhabitants speak and understand French, remained part of the Canadian Confederation. According to article 122 of the Constitutional Act of 1867, bilingualism was allowed in the provincial parliament as well as in the whole country.
As of 2015, there are 17 UNESCO World Heritage Sites within Canada. With some of them, let’s start to get acquainted with the attractions of this distinctive country.
L’Anse Aux Meadows is a national park in the province of Newfoundland and Labrador. It is here, in the “bay of jellyfish”, according to scientists, that the Vikings, who came from Greenland, founded the first European settlement at the end of XI century. In the fishing village of the same name on the island of Newfoundland, a smithy and eight dugouts were discovered during excavations in the 1960s.
L’Anse Aux Meadows National Park.
Nahanni National Park is located in the South Nahanni River Valley, known for Virginia Falls and the fact that there are four canyons above it. The park opened in 1976 and is located 500 kilometers from Yellowknife, the capital of the Northwest Territories, in the southern part of the Mackenzie Mountains. Nahanni Park is known for its thermal springs containing sulfur compounds. The landscape consists of tundra, mixed forests, and deposits of calcium carbonate (tufa).
Nahanni National Park
Dinosaur Provincial Park “Dynosor”. Opened in 1955, it has become popular as one of the largest repositories of dinosaur fossils on the planet. Archaeologists have discovered the remains of more than 500 giant animals that inhabited the planet during the Mesozoic era. All of them belonged to 39 different species. The unique finds have been exhibited at the Royal Ontario Museum (Toronto), the Royal Tyrrell Paleontological Museum (Drumheller), as well as the Canadian Museum of Nature (Ottawa) and the American Museum of Nature (New York City). The remains of many freshwater vertebrates have also been found.
Dynosor Dinosaur Provincial Park
Guayi-Haanas National Park was established in 1988 in the northwestern part of the province of British Columbia and includes the south of Moresby Island and a number of islands southeast of it. The dominant feature of the nature reserve: the San Cristoval Mountains, whose main peak, Mount La Touche, rises 1,123 m. The park includes the village of Ninstinz, inhabited by Haida Indians. The village, located in the Haida-Guay archipelago, is home to the largest collection of totem poles, revered by these people as mythical ancestors and tribal souls. But these masterpieces of art can be lost as they are badly affected by the local humid climate and begin to rot.
Guay-Haanas National Park
Old Quebec is the historic part of Quebec City, the capital of the province of the same name. Samuel de Champlain, the founder of the first French colonies in Canada, built the Chateau-Saint-Louis, the residence of the governor and government of New France. Within Old Quebec, the architecture of the nineteenth century dominates, but there are also earlier buildings erected in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. The Quebec Fortress also survives to this day. Next to this military fortification is the Hôtel du Parlemain, the Quebec National Assembly building, where the Lieutenant-Governor of the province also sits.
The historic town of Lunenberg is the most striking example of English colonial settlement in North American lands. Administratively, it is part of the province of Nova Scotia, located from the capital, Halifax, about 90 kilometers away. Before Europeans, the area was inhabited by the Mi’kmaq Indian people. The city was founded in 1753. It received its name in honor of the British monarch George II and at the same time the ruler of Brunswick-Luneburg, a duchy in historic Germany. Local attractions include the city harbor and the Lunenberg Academy, the Anglican Church and the Atlantic Fisheries Museum, and the City House.
Historic Town of Lunenberg.
The Rideau Canal is a waterway connecting Ottawa to Kingston, a city in southern Ontario. The canal was opened in 1832, having been built in the event of a military conflict with the United States. It is the oldest operating canal on the continent and has not been interrupted since its opening. Its length is 202 km. In the summer the Rideau is put to work for tourists whenever possible, and in the winter, when the annual Winterlude Festival is held, a giant ice rink is set up on the canal, the area of which is commensurate with 90 hockey fields.
Red Bay Whaling Station. In the XVI-XVII centuries, seasonal migrants from the Basque Country settled here in Labrador, traded in whaling. In our time, not far from the coastal harbor is a fishing village of Red Bay, named for it, as well as the local red-colored granite rocks. The remains of the former station as well as whale bones and a number of shipwrecks here are local tourist attractions.
Canada’s National Parks: The Magnificent Ten
Canada is a wonderful country for travelers, modern yet perfectly preserved in nature and rich in attractions. Tourists pay much attention to the largest cities: Vancouver, Toronto, Ottawa. The picturesque national parks of the state are a must-see. They are some of the most beautiful on our planet. The article will bring to your attention all the richness of their content: mountain peaks covered with snow, the clearest lakes, endless valleys. Any tourist will not remain indifferent to the beauty of the surrounding nature, choosing one of the many options for travel through the parks. You can enjoy the scenery by taking part in one of the hiking tours, ride a bicycle through countless trails, go fishing, go kayaking, a host of other water activities are also at your service.
Yoho National Park
The provinces of Alberta as well as British Columbia are at the mercy of the great continental divide. The territory of Alberta boasts the expanse of Banff Park. If you’re a fan of places with not too many tourists, however, be sure to check out Yoho Park, located in British Columbia. The national park is very close to the famous Canadian city of Calgary, but it is an amazing island of pristine nature. Here, first of all, marvel at the shimmering shimmering surface of Emerald Lake and the splendor of Lake O’Hare. Don’t forget to take in the beautiful views of the Natural Bridge and the Takkakau and Wapta Falls. The latter owe their names to local tribes who have lived in the region for centuries.
Prince Edward Island
It’s no surprise that Prince Edward Island has a park of the same name. The island itself is the only one in the region whose shores are washed by the Atlantic Ocean. The national park spreads out in the northern part of the island and surprises tourists with red sandstone cliffs. They drop right into the ocean and are very interesting compositions, being a decoration of the coast. You can camp, lounge in the sand, and plunge into the depths of the water. Prince Edward Park is rich with historic sites and various museums, and as a tour, we suggest appreciating the beauty of Cowhead Harbor Lighthouse first.
Auyuittuk National Park.
The Canadian region of Nunavut has one of the largest islands of our planet called Baffin Land. Here is another magnificent national park of the country, Auyuittuk. Tourists come here to see the beautiful scenery, enjoy the Arctic nature and enjoy the summer days, which are surprisingly long here. The greatest number of travelers arrive in this national park in June and July. It is during this period that the sun literally does not leave the sky, and you can enjoy not only bright days, but also bright nights. A lot of unique recreational activities meet you in the expanse of Auyuittuk. For example, you can dash through the Arctic tundra on a dog sled.
The shores of Newfoundland Island are occupied by another national park in Canada. The park owes its name, Gros Morne, to the largest mountain peak. The peculiarity of the territory is the presence of the Long Range mountain range, the Appalachian Mountains begin here. The tourist visiting this place will not get bored: the park has a huge selection of hiking trails, during which the stunning scenery will delight the eye from a variety of observation decks. In the summer, Gros Morne can offer you a boat tour of the West Creek. Unique views of the mountain peaks await guests. The Cow’s Head Lighthouse is a must-see: the place holds many mysteries.
Riding Mountain National Park
The province of Manitoba welcomes you to another local park, Riding Mountain. It’s a great place for campers, hikers, and nature lovers. The park is home to the indigenous Wasagaming tribe, which means you’ll be able to sample traditional cuisine and learn the customs of the people. If you turn to not so distant historical events, it is very interesting to learn that it was here during World War II was based on a prisoner-of-war camp. Riding Mountain has an abundance of fauna. Walking along the Loon Island Trail, you can find beaver, deer, elk, cougar, and white pelicans. The shores of Lake Odie are owned by wild bison.
Waterton Lakes National Park.
The difference of this park is its location near the border with the United States. On the Canadian side, part of the park is called Waterton Lakes, and on the U.S. side is an area of another national park called Glacier. Both parts represent the International World of Waterton Glacier. The park rightfully boasts a very memorable place, Red Mountain Canyon. The cliffs here are bright red and give the impression of being in the Arizona desert rather than Canada. Another attraction is the Buffalo Run. The atmosphere here is calm and serene, herds of buffalo graze peacefully as they did centuries ago, and the scenery is complemented by Lake Camerno and Blakiston Falls.
Pacific Rim National Park.
British Columbia, more specifically Vancouver Island, is the territory of another Canadian park. Pacific Rim is divided into three parts. Most tourists choose the Long Beach area, located in Vicannish Bay. It is the most popular place for camping fans. The second part, Broken Group, includes a series of islets, the most famous of which is Cree Island. The third park area consists of a long hiking trail, the West Coast Trail. Visitors who prefer hiking can explore the many kilometers of ocean shoreline.
Nahanni National Park
Nahanni Park, which has taken a fancy to northwestern Canada, is not an easy place to visit. It is not accessed by well-trodden roads, but only by seaplane, so this place is for the most desperate travelers. Water travelers should visit the southern Nahanni River and use a raft, canoe, and kayak to conquer its swift waters and enjoy the view of Virginia Falls at the end of the trip. The park area is perfect for camping. To see and appreciate all the local beauty, people live here for several weeks. You can choose an excursion tour for all tastes: conquer the mountain peaks, visit places with hot sulfur springs, walk through the expanse of alpine tundra. Nahanni is one of the country’s ten natural wonders.
Jasper Park Canada
Nestled at the base of Alberta’s Rocky Mountains, Jasper is stunning in its size and its many diverse landscapes, from mountaintops to thousand-year-old glaciers. One of the most popular places in the country for hikers and long walkers, as well as anyone who prefers an active vacation. The choice of excursions and activities is incredibly impressive, from standard hikes to explore the local scenery, fishing, horseback riding to mountain climbing. As you explore the park’s trails and paths, be sure to enjoy the splendor of Athabasca Falls and the crystal clarity of Lake Medisn. Take in the beauty of the area from the JasperSkyTram.
Banff National Park
Another Canadian national park, Banff, lurks in the Rocky Mountains of Alberta. Getting to know the park is best begun at Canada Place. The complex concentrates detailed information about the area, as well as exhibitions showcasing local natural and cultural features. Next, you can head out on one of the hiking trails, such as checking out the hot sulfur springs. Lake Louise is especially attractive to tourists. The water is famous for its crystal clear water, and if you travel through it on a gondola, you will also appreciate the mountain scenery around it. There’s something for everyone in Banff Park to do. Skiing, hiking, golfing, and wildlife exploration are just a small part of what the park has to offer.