Top tip: Stay ‘silent, low and slow’ when backing away from bears
Canada extends from the Pacific Ocean and Alaska in the west, to the Atlantic Ocean on its east coast. It borders Greenland in the northeast and the United States to the south. The landscape is extremely diverse, given its size, ranging from Arctic tundra in the north togreat wheatlands inthe central region. In the west lie the Rocky Mountains, and in the southeast are the Great Lakes, the St Lawrence River and the Niagara Falls.
Spring has mild days but the evenings are cool. As May approaches, the days become warmer but it can still be cool at night. June is warm, and the best time to travel or commit to any outdoor activities. July and August are the warmest months of the year. The first frosts of the year start as early as October, and November is cool to frosty. In many areas there is complete snow cover between December and March.
Facts and Figures
9,984,670 sq km (3,855,101 sq miles).
31,629,700 (official estimate 2003).
Ottawa- population sé: 1,063,664 (2001, including Hull).
Bilingual: English and French. The use of the two languages reflects the mixed colonial history – Canada has been under both British and French rule.
75 per cent of the population belong to the Christian faith: Anglican, Roman Catholic and United Church of Canada. There are numerous other active denominations and religions.
Canada spans six time zones depending on the region: GMT – 3.5. to GMT – 8
Canada is one of the largest countries in the world where you will experience six time zones and a huge variety of spectacular scenery and stunning National Parks where, moose/elks and bears roam around in their natural habitat. Jasper and Banff National Parks are majestically located in the heart of the Canadian Rockies and contain an extraordinary wealth of natural exhibits; mile after mile of fresh pine forests, huge glaciers, roaring waterfalls and an abundance of wildlife. Lake Louise is arguably set in the world’s most spectacular locations with the magnificent Victoria Glacier at one end and soaring mountains all around. The Rocky Mountaineer train trip from Banff to Vancouver is arguably ‘the Most Spectacular Train Trip in the World’. A highlight in the summer is whale and grizzly bear watching on Vancouver Island combined with a unique polar bear viewing experience in Alaska. Whistler boasts the largest ski area in North America and is lively all year round. The cities of Toronto, Ottawa, Montreal and Quebec are all located in eastern Canada, each with their own unique charm. Places to visit in the east include the Niagara Falls, the great lakes of Ontario not to mention Nova Scotia and Newfoundland on Canada’s Atlantic coast. All outdoor pursuits including skiing, hiking, fishing, biking and canoeing are popular throughout the country – if you enjoy the ‘Great Outdoors’, Canada is the destination for you!
The first wave of Europeans to arrive in Canada descended from Norse seafarers who had settled in Iceland and Greenland during the 9th and 10th centuries; the second influx of Europeans, led by the Italian navigator Giovanni Caboto (better known as John Cabot), had sought to reach Asia, in 1497. Over the next 100 years, rich fishing grounds attracted both English and French commercial interests to Newfoundland.
During the seventeenth century, the French increased trading with the New France Company. The creation of England’s Hudson’s Bay Company sparked a long period of rivalry, leading in the 1760s to the Anglo-French war; this ended with the surrender of the French Canadian capital, Québec, to the English forces. The Treaty of Paris, in 1763, handed all French territories in north-east America to the British. Just two decades later the British were ousted from their American colonies following defeat in the American War of Independence.
Eastern Canada was then settled by loyalists from the USA loyal to Britain. In 1791, Canada was divided between regions occupied by the English-speaking and the longer-established French-speaking community; this arrangement was unsuccessful and was replaced by a unified system. In the mid-19th century, Canada became a Dominion of the British Empire, with self-governance but the British monarch as Head of State. It promotes itself as a peaceful country, successfully uniting an astounding range of landscapes over an enormous territory.
From 1968 to 1984, politics were dominated by the charismatic figure of Pierre Trudeau. Brian Mulroney was elected in 1984, and the Québec issue became relevant once more. Indigenous peoples argue that traditional lands were forcibly taken from them by previous governments, but only minor gestures have been made towards tackling their grievances. A 1995 referendum in Québec resulted in an extremely narrow vote in favour of remaining part of Canada.
Interested in Canada? Call +44 (0)20 7604 4408 for expert holiday advice