Live in the beautiful country we know as Canada? There's plenty to see and do, and here's our favourites to experience
7 July 2016| Last updated on 22 October 2017
Did you just arrive in Canada for your next work stint? Or are you about to leave and you have some time left to explore this beautiful country? Maybe you just put it on the map because you’re in between postings and this is your holiday. Whatever the reason, Canada truly has something for every type of traveler and since there is so much that’s worth your while – here are Canada’s Eastern Coast summer High Lights.
As Canada’s main business city and one of the most multicultural places on earth, in fact a couple of years ago almost half of the city’s population consisted of immigrants (46%), small wonder that there are tons of fun neighbourhoods to tour: Greektown, Little Italy, Koreatown, Chinatown and Little India.
Similarly with a population that diverse there is a wide variety of festivals taking place all summer. From food festivals like ‘Summerlicious’, a Taste of the Danforth or Toronto’s Festival of Beer. To the Toronto Jazz festival, a Busker festival at the end of summer, the Caribbean Carnival or the Canada National Exhibition (CNE), an art festival, a theater festival….You name it, it’s here.
Other must-do things in the city would be Toronto Island, take a ferry across and enjoy a day lounging in the sun, renting a bike to go around as cars are not allowed, spend time on its beaches or visit the amusement park Centreville. Come see the city from the CN tower’s vantage point, stop by the distillery district based out of an old Whiskey distillery and visit its specialty shops and crafters. For a more touristy destination check out Casa Loma, a fairy tale castle built early last century by Sir Henry Pellatt (remember this name).
Although there are three falls at this location, only one of those is Canadian, the other two are American. 2400 cubic meters of water go over the falls every second with a drop of 50 meters with the water eating into the massive rocks moving the falls backwards inch by inch. Take the Maiden of the Mist boat to the foot of the falls or walk behind the curtain of water for an idea of the sheer force going over the ridge. That force also inspired a few industrious and forward thinking men (remember Sir Henry Pellatt, yes, him) early last century to build the water first large scale hydroelectric power plant generating electricity for the city of Toronto. Before they could turn it into a profitable business however the province of Ontario claimed the plant on behalf of all Ontarians.
Once you’ve seen the falls, go out at one of the casino’s or check out the winery tours. Whether you drive or decide to take a bike tour, go and taste what the region has to offer.
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Ganong Chocolate Museum & Whale Watching
When you make it to the very Eastern border between the United States of America and Canada, you will find yourself in St Stephen the birthplace of Ganong Chocolate, Canada’s oldest chocolate and candy maker. Tour their small but lovingly set up family business housed in their former plant down town and literally get a taste of what Ganong has to offer.
Then make your way over to St Andrews to hop onto one of their whaling tours! See these majestic animals’ breath to alert you to their presence and watch their fluent moves take them under again. Going between the small islands you may also see eagles, puffins or seals and dolphins. And in case you wondered where some of your favorite Atlantic Salmon is farmed, it’s right there. Massive basin like nets sunk off in the bay where the salmon stay until there are ready for consumption.
Fundy National Park
This park is known for the world’s highest tides differing 12 meters between high and low tide. One of the most incredible ways of seeing nature’s hand in its design is by viewing Hopewell rocks, either by high tide in a kayak or walking the mudflats once the tide recedes. If that is not your cup of tea: walk or cycle it’s paths, go fishing and stay at one of the campsites or in authentic yurts. One of the trails will take you to an historic sawmill where a film will give you a view of what life at that location was like about a century before when big tree where chopped, their branches taken off and the trunks sent downstream. Hopewell Rocks – Fundy National Park
Prince Edward Island (PEI)
Did you hear of ‘Anne of Green Gables’? A book by Lucy Maud Montgomery which is set at Prince Edward Island. The story is about an orphaned girl who is taken in by a farmers’ family on the island to become their help. Though they had wanted to find a boy, they decide to let the girl stay and everyone grows really fond of the outspoken Anne. The farm described in the book can be visited in Cavendish on Prince Edward Island.
There are lots of smaller villages and places on the island and it is a great summer stay to go to the beach, walk some trails on the distinctly red soil and enjoy the lovely food, in (for example) the biggest town on the island: Charlottetown. It is up to you to decide if you leave the island by ferry or over the 13 km long Constitution Bridge.
Deciding to take the ferry means you’ll end up in...
A 75 min ferry ride from Prince Edward Island will take you to New Scotland or Nova Scotia. Another great province to explore by bike, car of simply hiking your way around. Go to the small but cute city of Halifax and walk the harbourwalk passing navy vessels, fishing boats and sightseeing ships. There is a wide array of eateries that serve fresh fish and sea food.
Mais oui! You have to visit Quebec city, in the French speaking part of Canada. Walk the steep hills up to the old, walled, quaint and distinctly French feeling part of this Quebecois town. The narrow cobble stone streets, the big mural at the Place-Royale depicting the city’s writers and artists and showing the architecture. When you made it up the hills take a moment to catch your breath and look out over the river. Visit Chateau Frontenac, enjoy and ‘apperative’ at one of the outside terraces and drink in this European looking part of the town.
Did you know that Montreal is the biggest cultural and financial city of the Quebec province? Well, it is. It was built on an island in the St Lawrence river but has since spread to both sides. Another artificial island in that river is maybe a little better known since it houses the Villeneuve Circuit where the Formula 1 races take place. It was created to house the Expo 67 celebrating Canada’s 100th birthday and it has since been repurposed in a couple of ways: to house a casino, an ice-rink and the Floralies gardens.
Algonquin Park and Lakes Area
Ever heard of the cottage life? Lots of people have a second home outside of the city at the side of a lake. No wonder really since there are so many lakes to choose from. Every Friday Canadians make the trip from the city to their cottage. If you want a taste of that life style, why not go to Algonquin park and rent a cabin? Hang out by the lake, paddle around in a kayak or a canoe, go swimming, waterskiing, fishing, hiking or have a barbecue. Why stay at Algonquin park? Because why not combine the cottage style with a chance to see bears or moose while you walk the trails. They range from short 2 km walks with stunning views to day long hikes with the best chance of seeing the wildlife at its very best. Bring a hat, insect repellant and a good pair of shoes and explore.
Of course you also have to visit Canada’s Capital city, divided by the Ottawa river with the French speaking part Gatineau on the north side in the Quebec province, and the capital Ottawa on the Ontario side. It may not be the biggest city but its straddling of two provinces, two languages makes it a very interesting one. Go and see the ‘change of the guard’ at Parliament, check out the old town center Bytown which has been set up as ‘market area with smaller stalls and shops. Or see the canal where the Rideau river joins the Ottawa. With the myriad of festivals that take place over the summer, you’re sure to have a great time here.
So take your pick and make your way around the Eastern part of Canada whether you look for action, nature, museums, food or festivities, you will find it here.
About the Author
Mariken Zuydgeest is a Dutch expat spouse, freelance writer and blogger for hire (at www.Meltszee.com), WAHM and coffee & kick box aficionada. She has worked and lived in over 4 countries and currently resides in Toronto, Canada with her family.