Canada - British Columbia
Canada is immense. It’s the second biggest country in the world after Russia. Its Atlantic coast lies closer to Britain than its Pacific shores. Yet despite the enormity, Canada has just half the population of the UK.
Whatever you want from a holiday you’ll find it in Canada. Take Québec City which celebrated its 400th anniversary in 2008. Quaint cobbled streets combined with French charm – more of which you’ll find in the super cool Montreal, also steeped in Gallic traditions from language to local dishes. The great St Lawrence Seaway divides the province of Quebec as it reaches east from Newfoundland.
The Atlantic Coast (a mere six and a half hours’ flight away) offers mile upon mile of unspoilt and uncrowded beaches, where you can stay in lighthouses and dine out on fresh lobster. The Maritime Provinces, which include Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island as well as Newfoundland and Labrador, have some of the world’s wildest seascapes combined with both Acadian and Celtic heritage - and the freshest of seafood! Ontario is where you’ll find Canada’s number one iconic site, the Niagara Falls as well as its capital, Ottawa, and its largest and liveliest city, Toronto.
The west is for mountains. British Columbia and Alberta have some that have yet to be named, let alone climbed – no wonder Canada once advertised itself with the slogan ’50 Switzerlands in one.” You can explore them by car or by train, aboard the Rocky Mountaineer scenic railway for example, or even from the deck of a ferry or a cruise ship as you sail past Vancouver Island and along the fabled Inside Passage. For an even more remote experience you might want to consider following in the wake of the 19th century gold rush pioneers and head north to the Yukon and maybe on to Alaska.
You could, if you have sufficient time, combine both, travelling by train from coast to coast through the awe-inspiring vastness. The ‘Canadian’ train operates along the 4424kms of track between Toronto (or Montreal) and Vancouver, a four night adventure – although you can break the journey wherever the train stops (in Winnipeg, for example, you can take the Hudson Bay train north to Churchill, stepping stone to Canada’s Arctic and the best place to see polar bears, beluga whales and the Northern Lights.