Category Archives for "Canada"

Must see locations, events and places to travel and enjoy in Canada.

Sailing Across a Splendid Forest & Mountains View – British Columbia

Growing up on Vancouver Island, British Columbia, I found it easy to mock visitors from abroad. “This place,” they’d whisper. “I can go swimming in the morning, siding in the afternoon, then kayak home for dinner.” The views, the landscape, the wildlife—that was the refrain. Even in the cities, the scenery dominates. On any clear afternoon, look up from the streets of downtown Vancouver and you’ll see the snowcapped North Shore mountains glowing pink, an ostentatious show of natural beauty so commonplace that most residents barely take notice.


Sailing the waters off Vancouver Island

There were times when visitors’ compliments sounded like admiration for a two-dimensional backdrop. But B.C. is a complex place, especially when it comes to its aboriginal communities. With a population of just more than 4.5 million, the province is home to around 230,000 aboriginal people from 203 different First Nations, who among them speak 34 languages and 60 dialects. Today, these groups live a life of ostensible equality, but centuries of oppression began a cycle of social devastation that hasn’t yet been fully resolved. In many aboriginal communities, poverty, homelessness and substance abuse still loom large.


a floatplane docks in Prince Rupert

Indeed, residents of B.C. live in a province of uneasy contrasts. My village on the island was a haven of middle-class comfort, bordered by the poverty of a First Nations reserve. As a child, I walked down the stony beach and saw wealth and privilege give way to sudden hardship. This, I was told once, was my first experience of apartheid.

As an adult I spent more than is years living outside Canada, and from time to time I would catch a glimpse of the ancient cedars and airborne orcas used to advertise my home province. I wondered which B.C. the visitors were coming to see. Was it possible to engage with the region’s complexities and to approach its original residents in away that went beyond the superficial?

If I was asking that question of others, I realized, I first needed to answer it my self. So I planned atrip that took me from mid-Vancouver Island, the land of Snuneymuxw and Snaw-Naw-As First Nations, north to Port Hardy, then on to the remote, fog-shrouded islands of Haida Gwaii, home of the formidable Haida people, to find out whether it was possible for a visitor to take in B.C.’s nuanced human stories while still keeping those forests and snowcapped peaks in view.


Sea lions gather on a rock near Windy Bay, off the coast of Haida Gwaii

Port Hardy, a seaside town of 4,000 people on the northern tip of Vancouver Island, is today known as a destination for storm- watchers, sport fishermen and hikers, though the place has retained a plaid-shirt solidity that reflects its past as a center for logging and mining. Outside the airport I was met by Mike Willie of Sea Wolf Adventures. Willie is a member of the Musg’amakw Dzawada’enuxw First Nation, and he runs what he calls boat-based cultural tours across the waters into Kwakwaka’wakw territory. That includes the village of Alert Bay, the Namgis Burial Ground, with its totem poles, and the unpredictable waters nearby. He goes from Indian Channel up to Ralph, Fern, Goat and Crease Islands, and as far north as the Musgamakw Dzawada’enuxw territory, also known as the Great Bear Rainforest—a 65,000-square-kilometer nature reserve that is home to the elusive white “spirit” bear.


I’d arranged to travel with Willie to the U’mista Cultural Centre in Alert Bay, as well as to Village Island,  the site of an infamous potlatch—a feast and gifting ceremony through which First Nations chiefs would assert their status and territorial rights. {Potlatches were banned in 1884 by the Canadian government, on the grounds that they were contrary to “civilized values.”

The ban was repealed in 1951.) As we set off, Willie told me about the ceremony. “The potlatch was an opportunity to reaffirm who you were,” he said. “It was away to get through the harsh winters. We gathered: that was the medicine.”

Willie took me to my lodgings, a beachfront cabin at the Cluxewe Resort outside the logging town of Port McNeill. The resort was comfortable but definitely designed to propel visitors outdoors. (A note inside my room reminded guests to please refrain from gutting fish on the porch.) I spent the evening reading, accompanied by a soundtrack of waves sweeping the beach outside, and the next morning, I took a walk along the stretch of pebbly Pacific shore in front of my cabin. I wanted to reacquaint myself with the past, inhale the moisture in the air, smell the cedar. Up above, unhurried eagles swooped, exuding a proprietary air as they circled and fell and circled again.

As l walked, it struck me that this beach, like so many others, has been home to the Kwakwaka’wakw people for thousands of years. Canada, on the other hand, turns a mere 150 this year, and it seemed to be a good time to reflect on the nation’s progress. The contrasts and contradictions I found in B.C. are playing out on a national scale. The Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada, set up as a response to the abuse inflicted on indigenous students in residential schools, concluded its findings in December 2015, attempting to redress the legacy with 94 Calls to Action. The Idle No More movement has been confronting the issues facing First Nations through a series of rallies and protests.

Meanwhile in B.C., tourism revenue is expected to double in the next 20 years, with the aboriginal sector playing a starring role. {This year it is forecast to bring in C$90 million.) Something is happening. This is not about “having a moment”; moments recede. This is a long slog for respect, an effort to change the way Canadians view the aboriginal community’s land and lives.

In preparation for our trip to Alert Bay, Willie drove me into Port McNeill for a breakfast of eggs and bacon at an unpretentious place called Tia’s Cafe. The town is small, so it wasn’t a huge surprise when Willie’s uncle Don wandered in. He told us there was excitement up in Kingcome, site of the family’s First Nations community. He said the oolies, or oolichans—smelt fish used for making oil—had arrived, and the villagers were out fishing last night.

“Sealions were spotted in the river,” Uncle Don said. “It’s strange to see them up that high.”

“And there’s excitement?” Willie asked.

Don raised an eyebrow. “Oh sure.”

Willie came to the guiding business in an organic way. In 2013, he started a water-taxi service between Alert Bay and neighboring Telegraph Cove, and en route he’d tell passengers about Kwakwaka’wakw life. Back then, the creaky remains of the notorious First Nations residential school in Alert Bay, which housed aboriginal children from 1929 to 1975, were still standing, and visitors were sometimes moved to tears when he told them about the abuses that took place there. But there was so much more: the totem-pole ceremony; the death protocol; family crests. You can look at a totem pole and appreciate the art, Willie explained to his passengers, but true appreciation comes from an understanding of its meaning. As he put it, “Wouldn’t you rather see B.C. through fourteen thousand years of history?”

Inside the U’mista Cultural Centre, in Alert Bay, which was set up to protect the heritage of the Kwakwaka’wakw community, I walked among the masks—a collection of painted wooden beaks and faces peering forth into the dimly lit exhibition room. In this culture, masks function not only as decoration but also as a form of historical and legal documentation. They also serve as tools of social instruction. Willie and I stopped in front of Gwalkwaml, or the Deaf Man, a one-eared mask with a downturned mouth and wisps of black horsehair. “It shows a head chief of a clan,” Willie explained. “He didn’t want to hold a potlatch, and the clansmen weren’t happy about that, so they killed him.” The mask, worn during retellings of the story, became a warning.

Back at the dock in Alert Bay, brightly colored houses huddled alongside boats ranging from weathered to freshly painted. As we left the harbor, Willie offered me pate of wild sockeye salmon from the Nimpkish River, and I ate as much as I could before we began cresting waves. Over the roar of the engine, I asked him why interacting with tourists was important. “We need to be vocal,” he said. “We need to talk about our evolution and bring people closer to our reality.” Oral-history cultures,

I was reminded, need audiences. “Every time we tell this truth,” he said, “it’s strengthened.”

Beauty and Bliss in the Rocky Mountains – Banff Retreat

The maple leaves are everywhere: red ones on white T-shirts, white ones on red T-shirts. They’re screen printed on bunting, chalked onto sidewalks, painted on faces, emblazoned on dog collars.

It is July 1 in Banff, Alberta, and residents are celebrating Canada Day as the country readies for the big bash in 2017, when Canada marks its 150th anniversary as a nation. The food stalls sell bison jerky and fruit juices and vegetable samosas.

Performers are attired in costumes from many lands. Singers belt out a universal message of love and harmony in various tongues. A stranger hands me a paper Canadian flag, and we make our way to the parade route along Banff Avenue. Many of us are from the U.S. or China or India, and we know only two words in the lyrics of the national anthem. But we all gamely chime in with “O Canada” at the right spots.

BANFF NATIONAL PARK LEFT: Banff Avenue is the Main Street in Banff and is filled with shops and cafés.  RIGHT: A portrait of Olivia Dorio, a parks employee, holding a bighorn sheep skull on Banff Avenue in Banff National Park.

LEFT: Banff Avenue is the Main Street in Banff and is filled with shops and cafés.
RIGHT: A portrait of Olivia Dorio, a parks employee, holding a bighorn sheep skull on Banff Avenue in Banff National Park.

From the red and the white all around me I look up and see blue and green. Banff is no ordinary small town. It sits in the middle of Canada’s first and arguably best national park, 2,500 square miles of Rocky Mountain splendor carpeted with pine and spruce trees and riddled with glaciers bleeding blue into clear lakes—a space big and bold enough to support huge numbers of wildlife, including wolves, elk, moose, cougars, lynxes, black bears, and grizzlies. A thought strikes me: People are puny; nature is the grand marshal of this parade.

A FEW MONTHS AGO I HAD AN ANXIETY ATTACK. Racing heart, tight chest, cold hands. My doctor told me my cortisol levels were elevated. He prescribed vitamins and supplements to counteract the effects of a limbic hijacking and urged me to “meditate and eat dark chocolate.” So, besides popping chill pills, I’m biting into a Godiva daily and listening to a playlist of nouveau spiritualism by pop sages of the modern age. Had somebody close to me died? Was I experiencing some newly surfaced childhood trauma? Did my husband leave me for his secretary? No, no, and well, yes, but that was 20 years ago. So what was going on? Something embarrassingly trivial: I’m a recent empty nester trying to write her next chapter.

Agnes Tea House

Lake Agnes Tea House, built by the Canadian Pacific Railway in 1901

If that diagnosis is clear, the remedy is not. Our bodies have minds of their own. I felt as if I’d pushed off from one shore and hadn’t quite reached the other. So I escaped to Canada, like a late-in-life runaway. I’m not unhappy. In fact, I had long anticipated this period after the kids went to college. But I live with a nagging question: What on Earth do I want?

Right now I want to be in Banff. To be outdoors, hike, make new friends, and try to lose the thoughts that cobweb my brain in my suburban home office outside of Washington, D.C. This corner of the Rockies seems to me exactly what my meditation podcasts were telling me to visualize, but here I don’t have to close my eyes. I can open them.

I JOIN MY NEW BANFF FRIENDS Sally and Alison one morning for their daily stroll with their dogs up 5,500-foot-high Tunnel Mountain, just east of downtown. We’re three 50-somethings in cropped yoga pants talking about nothing and everything.

From an overlook we can see the turrets and dormers of the area’s oldest and most famous lodging, the castle-on-a-hill Fairmont Banff Springs hotel. Near the summit, Sally and Alison touch the trunk of a hr tree, its gnarled bark worn smooth by other hands. They touch for sick friends, for dogs long gone, for the fallen. I touch too, “for sisterhood,” I say.


The high life comes naturally at the Fairmont Banff Springs hotel, where poolgoers are treated to their own private overlook of peak-flanked Bow Valley

I had a short unhappy marriage and a long unhappy divorce. It was a slog, marked by custody battles for our two sons, tears, and trips to the therapist. I marvel at those who do it without family and friends—I had both. Looking back on those turbulent years, I realize I had an enviable clarity of purpose. My goal was the well-being of my sons; everything else was secondary. Now I miss the focus that gave me such direction.

After the hike I meet up with Alexia McKinnon at the Banff Centre, an “arts and creativity incubator” at the base of Tunnel Mountain. McKinnon manages leadership programs for indigenous people. Hailing from the First Nations tribe of Champagne and Aishihik, up in Yukon Province, she tells me that Tunnel Mountain is also called Sleeping Buffalo Mountain. And, she adds, “according to the elders, it is a place of healing, especially for women.” Really? The mountain I just climbed with the gals and touched wood—that mountain? “No doubt you felt its energy,” she says.

The town of Banff, at the convergence of three valleys and two rivers, was a place of gathering and trade for native nations, including those of the Stoney Nakoda, the Blackfoot, and the Tsuutlna. Their influence continues to resonate.

When I ask McKinnon what wisdom today’s elders offer, she smiles.

Find Out Some Canada Experiences From Nat Geo Writers

National Geographies love affair with Canada has filled our magazines, books, website, and television channel for years. Now, five of Nation Geographic writers, photographers, and adventurers—just back from assignments in Canada —share the wild wonders, cities, culture, and cuisine that most inspired them. From urban streets to forest paths, there’s a Canada experience waiting for you.


Provincial Park, Ontario

Provincial Park, Ontario


Alastair Humphreys, National Geographic Adventurer

“This was a journey of remarkable contrasts. Trendy, exciting, incredibly international Toronto and then an easy two hours away, the Muskoka Lakes wilderness with beautiful cottages perfect for big family gatherings with plenty of activities. Then just another hour to tranquil Algonquin Provincial Park.”

“Coming from the U.K., I’m awestruck by the extraordinary scale of Canada’s wilderness. Algonquin Park has 2,000 lakes and the autumn colors were spectacular. Swimming, fishing, and stand-up paddleboarding at sunrise were special moments. Also loved biking through Toronto, especially the Kensington area, and sampling ethnic restaurants—even more multicultural than London!”

“Canoeing the lakes and rivers of Algonquin Park is a must. My guide was so knowledgeable about the wildlife and wild landscape we paddled through.”



Yukon River


Robert Reid, National Geographic Digital Nomad and Travel Writer 

“The vast Yukon Territory is still an undiscovered secret, filled with stunning far north wilderness. I zeroed in on the area around the capital town of Whitehorse and found very different experiences without covering lots of distance.”

“A thrilling canoe trip down the legendary, fast-moving Yukon River. Hiked to huge Kluane Lake. Biked up Grey Mountain. And explored the town of Whitehorse where Northern Lights paint the sky and murals paint the buildings—filled with dozens of art galleries and the Yukon River right downtown.”

“The aerial tour over Kluane National Park’s 2,000 glaciers was amazing. Flying is the only way to truly appreciate the massive scale of raw rugged ice, mountain valleys, bright blue lakes, and floating icebergs.”



Montreal, Quebec


Eric Rosen, National Geographic Travel Writer

“Exploring Montreal’s vibrant food scene, biking through historic neighborhoods and along the Saint Lawrence River, and then having great wilderness adventures just outside the city really let me take the pulse of this extraordinary, invigorating area.”

“Phenomenal food halls and public markets reflect a robust restaurant culture fed by the renaissance of small local farms. Such a wealth of ethnic restaurants all across the city! A short day trip brought me to the Laurentians and beautiful hiking at Mont-Tremblant with forest paths, waterfalls, and spectacular panoramic views of the valley.”

“Kayaking along the Lachine Canal will give you a fascinating eye-level look at the city’s 19th-century industrial past and imposing architecture.”

Montreal International Jazz Festival – Montreal, Quebec




That’s right. Each year, Montreal sees the largest collection of cool cats in the world. And if you don’t believe us, take the Guinness Book of World Records’ word for it – they list the festival as the world’s biggest jazz fest; with around 3000 artists from more than 30 countries performing more than 650 concerts to over 2.5 million visitors. Now those are some seriously cool stats.


There are shows in big concert halls and popular clubs, but many of the performances are free and outdoors. Part of the city’s downtown district is closed to traffic for 10 days so that shows can be staged in the streets and city parks, so no one misses out.


If past line-ups are anything to go by you’ll get a who’s who of who’s hot. The festival has featured legends like Leonard Cohen, Ella Fitzgerald, Paco de Lucia, John McLaughlin and Keith Jarrett in the past, and recent headliners have included k.d. lang, Diana Ross, Chick Corea and Joey Alexander.

Get Yourself Lost In The Most Romantic Spots of Canada


Looking to get away with your special someone but a beachside resort isn’t your speed? Consider one of these Canadian city hotels that provide an array of romantic amenities.

Montreal has several luxurious accommodations for couples looking to get away —whether it’s just for the weekend or for an extended stay.

Hotel Le Crystal, an independent boutique hotel that will be celebrating its 10 th anniversary in June 2018, “is as romantic and traditional as it is cutting-edge, as cosmopolitan and dynamic as it is small-town friendly.”


Hotel Le Crystal has an outdoor hot tub on a year-round terrace, an indoor saltwater swimming pool, a Swdish sauna, and fitness center overlooking the city.

Romantic gestures that the hotel has offered include rose petals and chocolate awaiting couples in their room; taking guests in a horse- drawn carriage for a tour of Old Montreal; booking a musician for a marriage proposal; and finding the best tables at the best restaurants in the city such as Europea, a Relais & Chateaux restaurant just across the street. Shopping is around the corner at La Maison Ogilvy; Saint Catherine Street’s boutiques are just a five-minute drive away.

The head concierge can be reached at Mylene Perrault is usually at the post but is currently on maternity leave until September; in the meantime Nairn Guessous is available to answer any questions.

Hotel Le Crystal currently has a “Romance Package” and a “Relax Together” package. The former includes accommodations in a Superior, Premium, Deluxe or Executive Suite, two signature cocktails at the Bar La Coupole, two breakfasts in-suite, late checkout and a gift card to Amerispa, the hotel’s onsite spa; the latter includes a stay in a Superior, Deluxe or Executive Suite, one 50-minute massage at Amerispa each, late checkout, breakfast at LA Coupole, and access to the fitness center, indoor pool, sauna, gym and outdoor hot  tub.

Of the 131 suites, the hotel recommends couples opt for the Executive Suite, which includes a large living room space with a fireplace (perfect for snuggling up next to at night) and 42-inch flat-screen TV, a kitchenette and minibar, a balcony and master bedroom with turndown service and en suite with deep bathtubs. There is also an outdoor Jacuzzi on the 12th floor terrace, perfect for relaxing and enjoying the city.

Good to know: Summer is the busiest season, which requires booking at least one month in advance. In June, the city hosts the Canadian Grand Prix, and bookings should be made between six months and one year in advance.

The Amerispa, led by Spa Director Caroline Charles, has four aesthetic rooms plus a section for manicures and pedicures. The Amerispa Massage (80 minutes) is the most requested; couples, however, should try the Tandem Massage (50 minutes). Spa treatments should be reserved one week in advance.

Hotel Gault, a member of Preferred Hotels & Resorts LVX, is a 30-room boutique hotel just a few blocks from the Promenade du Vieux-Port, a park bordering the St. Lawrence River. The original structure was built in 1871 for Andrew Frederick Gault, known as the “cotton king of Canada.” His dry-goods company was based out of the building until 1914. The original iron pillars and brick walls are visible in the lobby and certain guestrooms.

We recommend couples ask for the Deluxe Apartment — the hotels top accommodation. The 1,020-square-foot space has a kitchenette, a living room and a workspace with complimentary Wi-Fi, plus a King bed with Casa Rovea linens, 2 LED TVs (40- inch and 55-inch), a bathroom with an expansive bathtub, shower, heated floor and Molton Brown bath amenities.

For the best views, the Terrace Suites offer uninterrupted views of Old Montreal. These range from 400 square feet to 600 square feet. For specific room requests, book at least two weeks in advance. Director of Operations Amir Bakir will help advisors find the perfect room for their clients.

Tip: The “Romantic Retreat” package earns guests breakfast in their room plus a 1 p.m. late checkout.

Have clients looking to get out and explore? Hotel Gault can arrange a private helicopter tour of the city. A walk up to the lookout on Mont-Royal (a large volcanic- related hill immediately west of downtown) or an afternoon spent at the Jean-Talon farmers market is also ideal for couples.

Good to know: While the hotel doesn’t have an onsite spa, it is partnered with Scandinave Spa and Bota Bota spa-sur-l’eau, offering hotel packages and discounted rates for guests. Concierge Nadia Fentiman  should be contacted at least one week in advance to book treatments. She can even arrange for masseuses to come to the hotel for an in-room treatment.

Le Place d’Armes Hotel & Suites touts it can arrange the perfect experience for couples —“anything and everything from booking transportation and dinner reservations to finding the perfect harp player for a wedding proposal.”


Hotel Place D’Armes: Junior Suite + Balcony rooms have a King bed, a living area with fireplace and home theatre and a step-out balcony

Couples considering popping the question will be relieved to hear that Le Place d’Armes has a dedicated Coordinator for Weddings and Social Events, Nadine Topuzogullari. She will assists in planning as well as day-of coordination. Couples also receive a maitre d’hotel who will be responsible for the execution of their event only. Entertainment, food and beverages, floral arrangements, photographers, ceremony officials, hair, makeup, and all other amenities can be booked through the coordinator.

The hotel also notes that it hosts honeymooners nearly every weekend throughout summer.

Top accommodations for couples include the five expansive Penthouse Suites or the six Junior Suites with balconies. All rooms, however, include 24-hour Clef d’Or concierge service, access to the spa with hammam, 24-hour fitness center, and rooftop terrace, complimentary morning shutde service downtown, Wi-Fi, and more. The Penthouses also have high ceilings, brick walls in some, master king bedroom with flat screen LCD TV, iPod docking station, a living room with electric fireplace, a second TV with home theater system, dining table, and a bathroom with walk-in, multi-jet rain shower, therapeutic soaker tub and a third LCD TV.

Reservation Supervisor James Gauthier can handle any bookings or questions regarding room categories.

The 2,500-square-foot spa has 10 treatment rooms spanning two floors. These include rooms equipped for duo treatments, a Vichy room and a traditional hammam with a private room. Contact Spa Director Roxanne Hamel to book a “Rainspa for Two” package, which can be tailored to include a Swedish Relaxation Massage, Swedish Deep Therapeutic Massage, a Hot Stone Massage, or Sports Massage, or even Thermal Mineral Body Scrubs, aromatherapy treatments and manicures and pedicures, among others.

       Auberge du Vieux-Port, located direct on the aforementioned park of the same name, is a 19th-century structure with classic furnishings. One side of the 45-room hotel overlooks the cobblestoned Rue Saint-Paul, while the other has views of the St. Lawrence and Old Port.


Auberge du Vieux Port: Deluxe King accommodations, with original exposed brick, either face St. Paul Street or the Old Port

Terrasse sur l’Auberge, the hotel’s rooftop bar, can be the perfect place for couples to grab a drink and enjoy the views of the city’s historic district, or as the setting for a cozy wedding with seating for up to 100 people.

Auberge du Vieux-Port also offers a dedicated wedding coordinator to help organize pre-event and the day of. Banquet Maitre-d’hotel & Events Coordinator Andree Harvey can help book all special event professionals and amenities.

CN Tower – Toronto, Canada

This 1,815-ft (1,553-m) high engineering marvel has been classified as one of the Seven Wonders of the Modern World. In the 1970s, the railway conglomerate Canadian National Railway (CN), in consultation with local broadcasters, decided to build a new transmission mast to meet Toronto’s growing telecommunications needs and to demonstrate its pride in the city. Upon its opening, the tower so impressed visitors that it soon became one of Canada’s principal tourist attractions. Its revolving restaurant is renowned for both its food and wine, and its spectacular views.


The Lookout Level enables visitors to look out across Toronto. Actually built over several levels, the upper tier has a cafe and a photo shop.

One level below, visitors can feel the wind at 113 stories up, peer straight down through the glass floor or dine in the revolving restaurant Thirty-three stories above the lookout, the Sky Pod is higher than many of the world’s tallest skyscrapers, even though it is not the top of the CN Tower. With an impressive 360-degree view of Toronto and Lake Ontario, on a clear day visitors can see as far as Niagara Falls from this observation deck.


Construction of the tower began in 1973, took about 40 months to complete, and cost around CA$63 million. A 75,000 sq-ft (6,968 sq-m) entertainment expansion and renovation was completed in 1998 at a cost of CA$26 million The tower has six elevators, which travel at 15 mph (24 km/h) and reach the Lookout Level at 1,136 ft (346 m) in 58 seconds; a separate elevator takes visitors 329ft (101m) higher to the Sky Pod. The tower is flexible, and in winds of 120 mph (195 km/h), the Sky Pod can sway 18 inches (0.48 m) from the center. Every year, about 2 million people visit the tower.


When assessing a structure for its ranking in the Tallest Buildings in the World list, the international organization the Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat (CTBUH), which sets the criteria for defining and measuring tall buildings, includes only those where at least 50 percent of the height is occupied by useable floor area. It also only measures a building’s architectural height and excludes broadcasting aerials and masts. The CN Tower does not meet these criteria, and so it is categorized as a freestanding structure. The tower was the world’s tallest freestanding structure from 1975 until 2007, when its height was surpassed by the 2,717-ft (828-m) Burj Khalifa in Dubai, which currently tops the CTBUH’s Tallest Buildings in the World list, and the Guangzhou TV & Sightseeing Tower in China, which is 2,000 ft (610 m) high.

Glass Floor


The ground is more than 1,122 ft (342m) below this thick layer of reinforced glass, made from 256 sq ft (24 sq m) of solid glass that is five times stronger than the weight-bearing standard for commercial floors.

The tower from Lake Ontario


The tower’s height is emphasized by the lower buildings of Toronto’s Harbour front.

View of Toronto from the Lookout Level


At 1,136 ft (346m) above the city, this level provides panoramas of Toronto, Lake Ontario, and the surrounding area. Visibility can stretch to just under 100 miles (160 km).


The CN Tower at night

Outdoor Observation Level


Open to the elements, this outdoor terrace is secured with steel safety grills. Air temperatures at this height can be up to 50°F (10°C) cooler than at ground level.



The single-shaft structure’s foundations were sunk around 55 ft (17 m) and required the removal of more than 56,000 tons of soil and shale.

Sky Pod


One of the world’s highest observation platforms, at 1,465 ft (447 m), the Sky Pod offers fantastic views in every direction. It is reached via its own elevator.

Revolving Restaurant


At a height of 1,148 ft (350m), 360 The Restaurant at the CN Tower turns a full circle every 72 minutes and boasts the world’s highest wine cellar, with more than 500 labels.

Interior Staircase


This is the longest metal staircase in the world, with 1,776 steps. It is opened to the public twice a year – for fundraising stair climbs that attract almost 20,000 climbers.

Exterior Elevators


High-speed and glass-fronted, the elevators shoot visitors up the outside of the building to the upper levels. They reach the Lookout Level in less than a minute.

Toronto Islands


Toronto Islands from CN Tower

These small islands, separated by canals and waterways, can be seen from the lower observation deck of the CN Tower. They are a popular day trip from the Harbour front.


There are dozens of television and/or radio broadcast masts that measure more than 2,000 ft (600 m) and all are in the US. Supported by guy wires, these structures do not qualify for inclusion in the Tallest Buildings in the World list. The highest is a 2,063-ft (629-m) television mast near Fargo, North Dakota. Poland’s Warsaw Radio Mast was the tallest ever guy-wire-supported mast, at 2, 120 ft (647 m), before it collapsed in 1991.


1975: Work begins on the the CN Tower, which is to address the city’s communication problems.
1976: The CN Tower opens to the public and a time capsule is s
ealed to mark the event.
1977: The first annual stair climb is held for charity.
1995: The CN Tower is declared a Wonder of the Modern World by the American Society of Civil Engineers.


  • a couple of years ago
  • Canada

Sainte-Anne-de-Beaupre – Canada

The shrine to St. Anne, mother of the Virgin Mary, is the oldest pilgrimage site in North America. In 1620, a group of sailors who had survived a shipwreck established the shrine and dedicated it to St. Anne. In 1658, a chapel was erected and since then several churches have been built on this site. The fifth and present one, which dates from the 1920s, receives 1.5 million visitors every year, including those who come for the annual pilgrimage on St. Anne’s feast day (July 26). The collection of crutches inside the basilica’s entrance bears witness to its reputation for miraculous cures. Inside, the dome-vaulted ceiling is decorated with gold mosaics portraying the life of St. Anne. She is also represented in a large gilt statue in the transept, cradling the Virgin Mary.


The shrine’s museum displays works of art that attest to the early Quebec settlers’ devotion to St. Anne, with wax figures, paintings, and educational artifacts, illustrating her life and cult in North America. One of the most important pieces is an 18th-century sailor painting, which depicts the French mariners who prayed to St. Anne to save them from a storm; when they survived, they built a shrine in her honor on the banks of the St Lawrence River.


There are two chapels on the lower level: the blue-painted Immaculate Conception Chapel and the Blessed Sacrament Chapel. Also on the lower level is a copy of Michelangelo’s Pieta, and the tomb of Venerable Father Alfred Pampalon (1867-96), patron saint of alcoholics and drug addicts. The main church is on the upper level, where hundreds of crutches, braces, and artificial limbs attest to miraculous cures. The earliest healing here, in 1658, is said to have been that of Louis Guimond, a crippled man who insisted on carrying stones for the construction of the first church despite his affliction, and who was cured before the other workers’ eyes. Pilgrims gather on the wooded hillside beside the shrine to follow the Way of the Cross and to ascend the Santa Scala, or “Holy Stairs,” a replica of the staircase that Jesus climbed to meet Pontius Pilate.


Although the Bible makes no mention of the mother of the Virgin Mary, early Christians had an interest in knowing more about Jesus family, especially his mother and grandmother. A 3rd-century Greek manuscript called the Revelation of James tells the story of Jesus’ grandparents, naming them Anne (from Hannah) and Joachim. According to this account, Anne of Bethlehem and Joachim of Nazareth, a shepherd, were childless after 20 years of marriage. Each cried out separately to God, asking why they were childless, and vowing to dedicate any offspring to his work. An angel came to Joachim and Anne, and they learned that they were to have a child, Mary, who became the mother of Christ.


In 1876, St. Anne was proclaimed patron saint of Quebec, and in 1887 the existing church was granted basilica status. The Redemptorist order became the guardians of shrine in 1878.

Sailor Painting


The oil wood painting Three Shipwrecked Sailors from Levis (1754) is one of a collection of marine ex-votos (a votive offering made to a saint) on display in the St. Anne Museum.



The present basilica was built by the Canadian architect Napoleon Bourassa. He based the design on a mixture of Gothic and Romanesque principles.

Great Rose Window


This beautiful stained-glass window was designed by the French artist Auguste Klabouret in 1950.

Statue of St. Anne


Located on the upper floor, this sits in front of one of the three relics of St. Anne donated to the shrine over the years.



Illuminated by light streaming in through 214 stained-glass windows, the cream and gold interior is divided into a nave and four aisles by large pillars topped with sculpted capitals.

Sanctuary Mosaic


This splendid mosaic was created by the artists Auguste Labouret and Jean Gaudin in 1940-41. God is shown overlooking an infant Jesus, flanked by Mary and St. Anne.



A faithful copy of the original by Michelangelo in St. Peter Basilica in Rome (search the related post), this depicts Christ at his death being held by a seated Madonna.


In ancient Rome, a basilica was a public building supported intern ally by double colonnades and with a semicircular apse at one end. Later, the Catholic Church began to use the term as a title of honor for important churches, especially those of great age, or an association with a saint. The title gives a church special privileges, principally the right to reserve its high altar for the pope.


1876-1922: The first basilica, built in honor of St. Anne, is used for worship.
1922: A devastating fire destroys the basilica.
1923: Work on the current Neo-Romanesqe basi
lica begins.
1976: The basilica is consecrated by Cardinal Maurice Roy.


  • a couple of years ago
  • Canada

Prince Edward Island – “Canada’s Food Island”

Golden beaches, towering sand dunes, jagged red cliffs, vibrant fishing harbors, and rolling green farms make Prince Edward Island a photographer’s paradise and a foodie’s haven

Rich in potatoes, blueberries, beef, and pork; abounding in lobster, mussels, and oysters; and brimming with passionately creative chefs, it’s only natural that PEI is home to the Culinary Institute of Canada. And that’s just scratching the surface. Follow the PEI Culinary Trail where it’s possible to eat your way “tip to tip,” as the islanders say, from East Point to North Cape, across a breathtaking landscape.

Islanders are great celebrators of food, known for their kitchen parties, beach picnics, barbecue pits, market days, and food festivals, culminating in the grand fiesta of them all – the PEI Fall Flavors Festival. This month long, island-wide food festival with over 50 culinary events highlights authentic island tastes and traditions to celebrate fall harvest season.

PEI chefs delight in the island’s abundance of seasonal ingredients. From wharves and orchards to farms and u-picks, buying lobsters fresh from the fishers’ traps, and foraging for fiddleheads, dining on the island is very much a local experience. Stop at roadside fruit and vegetable stalls or explore neighborhood bakeries, sinking into the aroma of fresh-baked bread, pies, and cookies. “Living off the land” is a satisfying and quintessential part of the island way of life which anyone can enjoy simply by traveling the PEI Culinary Trail.

Part of the charm of “eating island” is coming across unexpected delicacies such as artisanal cheeses, homemade jams, smoked salmon, heritage recipes, church suppers, and strawberry socials -unique local events and specialties to be savored and cherished, first as delicious culinary experiences and later as vivid PEI memories.prince-edward-island-1

For those looking for a more hands-on experience, take part in island life and take home local traditions. I-lop on an oyster dory (small boat) and learn to tong, shuck, and eat oysters straight out of the bay; dig or dive for island clams and cook them on the beach or enjoy deep-sea fishing for bait before hand feeding giant blue-fin tuna as they swim under your boat. Become a lobster fisherman and learn to set your traps and cook your fresh delicious catch, or participate in a hands-on pottery workshop, culinary boot-camp, or Acadian step-dance class. With over 50 Authentic PEI Experiences, there’s adventure for everyone.

One aspect of island life that’s sure to make an impression is the extraordinary combination of gorgeous landscapes and great eating. Decks, verandahs, bars, and dining rooms are all located to maximize the breathtaking views. Enjoy an ice-cold PEI handcrafted ale while looking out over a quaint fishing wharf or a succulent lobster supper on a patio with a panoramic view down a blue, boat-dotted bay.

PEI is a feast for the senses. Look for white-painted lighthouses perched atop red-cliff capes overlooking sandbars, harbors, bridges, and wharfs. Listen for the crash of waves along the island’s nookm (684 miles) of coastline. Feel the white sandy beach under your feet and the warmth of the sun on your skin. Smell the fresh salt seaside air and the scent of wild roses and bayberry leaves. Taste a lobster roll crammed with lobster fresh off the boat, an oyster plucked straight from the sea, or the world’s best creamy ice-cream. These are just some of the sensuous pleasures that await the island visitor.prince-edward-island-2

  • a couple of years ago
  • Canada

Travel Destinations For An Unforgettable Vacation

Canada – Bolstered by the wave of positivity unleashed by its energetic new prime minister, Justin Trudeau, and with dynamic cities that dominate global livability indexes – plus its reputation for inclusiveness and impeccable politeness – the world’s second-largest country will usher in its sesquicentennial in 2017 in rollicking good health. Marking 150 years since confederation, the birthday party promises to be heavy on bonhomie and highly welcoming to international gate-crashers. The weak Canadian dollar means visitors should have plenty of pocket money to spend on Canada’s exciting fusion food and mysteriously undeerrated wine.

Colombia – Decades of civil war and violent crime meant Colombian passport stamps were once for hardcore travellers only. Fast-forward to the present day, and the lost years seem but a dust speck in Colombia’s rear-view mirror. There are no world wonders here, but the country’s mix of vibrant culture, nature and hospitality is a rich tapestry woven by welcoming arms. More than a decade into its dramatic about-face, this South American jewel is even expecting a visit from the world’s No. 1 Catholic. When Pope Francis kisses Colombian soil in 2017, it will mark the Andean nation’s first papal visit in 30 years.

Cartagena, Colombia

Cartagena, Colombia

Finland – Long fought over by Russia and Sweden, Finland finally gained independence in 1917, The Finns will celebrate their centenary with gusto: expect everything from outdoor concerts and communal culinary experiences to sauna evenings and vintage travel poster exhibitions. There’s even anew national park: 27,000 acres around the village of Hossa, studded with pine forests and crisscrossed with rivers. With the country also playing host to the World Figure Skating Championships and the Nordic World Ski Championships in 2017, there’s never been a better time to discover Finland’s proudly unique culture and landscapes.

Dominica – Locals joke that if Christopher Columbus rose from the grave and returned to the Caribbean, Dominica is the only island he would still recognise. One glimpse of its prehistoric ferns and deserted shores, and you’ll see what they mean. For decades, an absence of shiny white beaches has helped keep at bay the resort development that has swept through other parts of the Caribbean, Coconut palms are the only skyscrapers you’ll see here. Visit before Dominica gets its first large-scale chain resorts in 2018, which will pave the way for anew era of tourism.

Nepal – Even natural disasters can’t keep Nepal down for long. The 2015 earthquakes caused devastation, but what is most striking from a traveller’s perspective is not how much was lost but how much remains. Landmark temples crumbled, but others came through with just the odd tile out of place, and whole swathes of the country escaped serious damage, including most of the popular hiking trails, Nepal has all the skills required to repair monuments and infrastructure, but what it does need is income. By visiting Nepal now and supporting local culture and people, you could help a nation rebuild and bounce back even stronger.



Mongolia – In 2017 Mongolia will raise the curtain on a b rand- new capital – city airport, a state-of-the-art facility that symbolises the rapid modernisation of this country of steppe nomads. Ulaanbaatar has been the biggest beneficiary of an economic boom – the capital’s transformed skyline bristles with glass and steel towers. At the centre of this development is a £380 million Shangri-La hotel complex, to be completed by 2017. Beyond the city lies Mongolia’s stunning and sparsely populated countryside. Lake Khovsgol, known as the Blue Pearl of Asia, is an undoubted highlight. In 2015 the lake was connected to Ulaanbaatar by paved road, cutting driving time by 10 hours.

Mynmar – Change has been a long time coming in the nation also known as Burma, but the election of the first civilian government in half a century has all eyes on the future. No-one is pretending that all of Myanmar’s problems have gone away, but things are moving in the right direction, and Southeast Asia’s most secretive country is now poised to receive an influx of travellers. Visiting comes with challenges, but the reward is a window onto a vanishing Asia, where the difficulties of travel are part of the appeal. You’ll find a land with more stupas than office towers, where life moves to the timeless rhythms of chanting monks and monastery bells.

Ethiopia – With its own calendar (where else can you get 13 months of sunshine?), timekeeping, script, language, cuisine, church and coffee, Ethiopia is as exotic as countries come. And whether you’re hiking through the Simien Mountains to see wildlife that roams nowhere else on Earth, climbing to a church carved into a remote cliff face in Tigray, or boating across the waters of Lake Tana to visit an age-old monastery, you’ll be overwhelmed by the beauty of the landscape. In 2017, new airline links will make the country more accessible than ever; be one of the first to get on board.

The Lobster Boil – Bay of Fundy, Nova Scotia

From ocean to plate – a fireside feast of the world’s finest seafood

bay-of-fundy-1The sound of the engine was faint at first and it was hard to determine the direction from where it came. But a boat soon appeared, framed by a thicket of spruce trees that ended at the edge of the cliffs below. The Bay of Fundy was calm despite the tide having already begun to recede and the vessel, with its bulging cabin and low stern, cut through the glassy water with ease. Finally it slowed and sat back in the water as those onboard began to work. Here, on the west coast of Nova Scotia where the lobster are plentiful, it was nearing the end of the season and these fishermen were making the most of the time they had left.

The lone figure in the cabin was barely discernible but for his occasional signals to the three crew on the deck. They moved in well-rehearsed harmony, first hooking a cable attached to a buoy that marked the start of the string – a group of ten or more lobster pots joined on a line. Once full they fed the cable onto a pulley that slowly dragged it to the surface, each pot emptied of their catch, re-baited and dropped overboard again, ready to entice another victim.

The skill of the fishermen meant that this work finished quickly. The boat turned and headed south to a deeper part of the bay as the first rocks appeared in the water below. Their day had only just started and there were at least 12 hours in front of them before they returned to harbour. There was also work in front of us; a mission to get 30 lobsters for a water-side feast. So we too headed south, towards Harbourville, in search of a fisherman named Kevin.

Arriving at the harbour we found Kevin working on his boat, The Fundy Breeze. In seasons that run from March to July and again from October to January he, his two sons and one other fisherman go out every other day, crisscrossing the bay to harvest the pots, changing their location depending on their success. And though this was supposed to be his day off, it barely resembled one.

Kevin has had The Fundy Breeze for 21 years, first buying the shell and then fitting it out over time. It is a proud beast and as I joined him on deck I found it bigger than I had imagined. In the cabin the smell of the engine’s diesel and grease reminded me of my Australian home and the farm machines I grew up around. So too did his stories – the parallels with those of my father and grandfather were striking, all forged through a life of honest hard work. He had been a fisherman since the 1970s and, though it could be tough at times, said it was worth it. “I wouldn’t do anything else,” he told me, “I’d keep going until I couldn’t get up that ladder anymore.” It wasn’t difficult to understand why.bay-of-fundy-2

  • a couple of years ago
  • Canada
1 2 3 7