Canada’s exquisite landscape offers endless amounts of natural beauty to see and remarkable terrain to explore. From the Bay of Fundy to the Northern Lights, Canada’s natural wonders are enough to inspire any type of traveller to plan a visit. Whether you’re the outdoorsy type, a photographer at heart, or a casual historian, these must-see sights will bring out the traveller in you.
Niagara Falls, Ontario
We share Niagara Falls with the United States, two-thirds on the Canadian side of the border (the Canadian Horseshoe Falls) and one-third on the American side (the American Falls). The Horseshoe Falls are 57 metres high, and 168,000 cubic metres of water crash over the crestline every minute during the peak daytime hours. Favourite ways of navigating the falls have included barrel, tight-rope, and (less successfully) kayak and jet ski. Today, visitors can experience the falls by taking a trip on the Maid of the Mist or the Whirlpool Jet boat.
Bay of Fundy, New Brunswick/Nova Scotia
The Bay of Fundy is renowned for its high tidal range and rivalled only by Ungava Bay in northern Quebec and the Severn Estuary in the United Kingdom. Carved into “flower pot” shapes by the tides, the Hopewell Rocks on the edge of Shepody Bay earn their place on any Canadian wonders list. At low tide you can walk to them, but you’ll need a kayak to see them at high tide.
Northern Lights, Northwest Territories
Scientists know the Northern Lights (or Aurora Borealis) is caused by particles flung around the solar system and attracted to the magnetic field around the poles. However, the otherworldly darts of light – green, pink, red and gold – have been seen as omens of good or evil by the first people who lived in these extreme latitudes. Yellowknife in the fall and winter is best place to experience Mother Nature’s light show.
Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Jump, Alberta
A mere 20 kilometers from Fort Macleod is Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Jump, the final resting place of bison driven over the cliffs to be butchered on the ground below by the Plains Indians. It’s the largest, oldest (used for more than 5,500 years), best-preserved bison jump in the world. Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Jump was inscribed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1981.
Fossil forests on Ellesmere Island, Nunavut
Millions of years ago – about 55 million to be exact – the fossil forest on Axel Heiberg Island was a wetland. Temperatures here hovered around 18 degrees Celsius (not the -10 degrees of today). Silt-rich flood waters preserved the flora — palm trees, dawn redwoods, bald cypress and cycads.
Manicouagan Crater, Quebec
Is the Manicouagan Crater a legacy of the impact that may have spelled the end of some species 210 million years ago? The fifth-largest crater in the world has multiple rings, but the inner ring, occupied by a lake, shows up most clearly in satellite images — sapphire water piercing green land. René-Levasseur Island occupies the centre of Lake Manicouagan, named for the engineer who created the Manicouagan Reservoir.
Haida Gwai Islands, British Columbia
The islands off the coast of British Columbia were once known as the Queen Charlotte Islands, but some know them as the Galapagos of the North given their flora and fauna. One of the islands – SGang Gwaay – features totem poles and remains of cedar longhouses that offer a glimpse into what a traditional Northwest Coast First Nations village was like; it’s also a UNESCO World Heritage site.
Singing Sands Beach, Prince Edward Island
As you walk along the white sand beach at Basin Head listen carefully to what the sand is saying. It sings, or some say it squeaks, perhaps because of the shape of the quartz sand on the beach.
(Main image: Francisco Diez)