“Canada has three seacoasts, dozens of mountain ranges, thousands of rivers, millions of lakes, billions of trees – and they’re all, like, really beautiful, eh?”
Our man in Canada writes: When it comes to great travel experiences in our own backyard, Canadians take pains to deflate all those Hollywood fantasies of red-coated Mounties driving dogsleds beneath snow-capped peaks. But we can’t escape the uneasy feeling that such clichés are in fact what our country is all about. For Brown + Hudson, the secret of a luxury vacation in Canada is to do the obviously spectacular but do it spectacularly better. A few examples:
• Explore the remote coastal islands of British Columbia aboard an elegant private yacht or a beautifully restored vintage sailboat: sea kayaking among the orcas, fishing for Pacific salmon when they’re in season or venturing up a coastal river to watch them leap waterfalls on their way to spawn – then hiking through the rainforest with a Haida elder to find totem poles you won’t see at any tourist sites.
• Raft down the white-water Tatshenshini River in the Yukon, spotting grizzlies in the wild (with an expert who know how close is too close) as bald eagles soar above the mountaintops – then rounding a bend to find your luxury camp set up on shore and the chef grilling Arctic char over a spruce-bough fire.
• Fly by helicopter deep into the Bugaboos or Yoho National Park, hiking over ridges with magnificent views and down through forested valleys where it’s possible no human has ever walked before – then enjoying a glass of wine around the campfire as a respected glaciologist details the impact of climate change
• Discover the wind-sculpted hoodoos of southern Alberta, searching for fossils with a palaeontologist in one of the worlds largest dinosaur graveyards – then flying north to Jasper, where you can meet elk face to face as you walk silent forest trails, or wave to them as you canoe down a glacier-fed river.
• In the wilds of northern Manitoba, leave the tourists in their tundra buggies and set out with your Inuit guides to view polar bears on the Arctic wastes or hunting among the ice floes – then explore the shores of Hudson Bay by helicopter or dogsled (red coats optional), camping in the kind of luxury that would make a lost explorer think he’d reached the Great Beyond.
• Discover Ontario’s beautiful Niagara peninsula, with its award-winning wineries, acclaimed restaurants and charming colonial architecture (plus a reasonably large waterfall), then sail east along Lake Ontario to Prince Edward County, where you can sample the best of emerging vineyards and locavore cuisine, biking quiet farm roads between historic Loyalist towns.
• From the historic fortress city of Quebec, sail up the St. Lawrence River to La Malbaie – Murray Bay to the American yachting types who summered here a century ago – and after settling into a rambling, gable-roofed mansion, explore a vast wilderness that offers everything from white-water kayaking to mountain biking to whale watching, along with the cultural legacy of more than five centuries of European settlement.
• Finally, as you near the Atlantic coast, the possibilities just seem to multiply: sailing to fishing villages and folk artists’ studios along Nova Scotia’s picturesque South Shore; biking among apple orchards and scarlet autumn maples to your Victorian home in Annapolis Royal; driving vintage motorcycles or sports cars around Cape Breton’s spectacular coastal highway; feasting on fresh lobster in an architect-designed retreat above the Bay of Fundy; and in Newfoundland and Labrador, exploring a thousand-year-old Viking settlement with an archaeologist before setting out in a scientific vessel to spot pods of whales among the icebergs.
Wherever your imagination leads you in Canada – from canoeing through Nunavut and the Northwest Territories to incredible alpine skiing at Whistler or Mont Tremblant – from a penthouse lakeshore condo in multicultural Toronto to a 17th-century loft overlooking Montreal’s old port – we have the knowledge and contacts to create a truly Canadian adventure…with not a cliché in sight, eh?
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