150 Reasons Canada Is Great in Honor of Its 150th Anniversary
There are so many things to love about the “Neighbor to the North.” The politeness. The maple syrup. The way Canadians say “out” and “about.” But the country is so much more than its most-known features.
July 1, 2017 marks Canada’s 150th anniversary of Confederation, and that means there are going to be many things you can do to celebrate, sesquicentennial-style. Throughout the year, the country will be celebrating with dozens of events to mark the anniversary. Lovers of the great outdoors, for one, can take advantage of the 2017 Discovery Pass to gain access to all of Canada’s National Parks for free, all year.
Related:How to Visit Canada’s National Parks For Free
After 150 years, Canada hasn’t stopped growing, changing and really carving out its own identity as a place for nature lovers, foodies, history buffs, artists, sports fans and just about anyone who wants to see a big, diverse country with both spectacular views and bustling cities.
When you break it down, Canada is one of the only places in the world where you can camp in the Rocky Mountains and eat maple syrup infused entrees in a sugar shack. Or where you can stay in a hotel made of ice in a beautiful, cosmopolitan city, and see moose, caribou, beluga whales, wolves and polar bears in their natural habitat. Or you can do just about every outdoor activity from scuba diving to heli-skiing. And it all happens in the same country.
Frankly, you could probably name one or two things you love about Canada. Or 10. Or maybe 20. But we all know there are dozens of things that make Canada an awesome country to visit — or live in. Therefore, here are 150 reasons why we should all tip our mountie hats to Canada, one for each year it’s been part of our little blue planet.
There are probably a lot more great things you can find to love, but there’s always next year.
1. The Canadian Rockies
You can see a different side of the Rocky Mountains. British Columbia is home to the northernmost area of the notable mountain range, complete with crisp lakes and snow-capped peaks. Nakiska ski resort in the Canadian Rockies was also home to the 1988 Winter Olympics.
2. Yoho National Park
Yoho National Park practically has it all when it comes to getting into nature. Located in the Canadian Rocky Mountains, the park offers both scenic waterfalls as well as sites where dinosaur fossils were discovered. The park is also home to a natural rock bridge, which is quite a rare site.
3. The Aurora Borealis
Yukon, Nunavut, and the Northwest Territories are some of the few places in the world where you can see the legendary Aurora Borealis, also known as the Northern Lights. Visitors in Yellowknife, in the Northwest Territories have a 90 percent chance of seeing the lights in wintertime.
5. Dinosaur Fossils
Near Alberta, Canada, you’ll find Dinosaur Provincial Park, where you’ll find the world’s largest collection of dinosaur fossils. Some fossils date back over 75 million years and over 40 dinosaur species have been discovered there.
6. More Fossils
Joggins Fossil Cliffs in west Cumberland County, Nova Scotia, also has a rich source of dinosaur bones. It was here that the earliest known reptile was discovered, dating back more than 300 million years. The cliffs are so famous, they are even mentioned in Charles Darwin’s On the Origin of Species.
7. Niagara Falls
See the other side of Niagara Falls. The western side of the falls, located in Ontario, overlooks Horseshoe Falls, the most expansive side of the cascade. While you’re there, you can enjoy the cliffside promenade and the 520-foot-high Skylon Tower, with an observation deck.
8. The Tides
It’s home to some of the highest tides in the world. If you visit Hopewell Rocks, in the Bay of Fundy, New Brunswick, the difference in high tide and low tide will surely amaze you. At high tide, you can kayak to your heart’s content. At low tide, you can literally walk on the ocean floor.
9. Reverse Waterfalls
The Bay of Fundy’s high and low tides also lend itself to another natural phenomena: watching the waterfalls in reverse. The Reversing Falls can be seen only in particular times during the day, about every 12 hours. If visitors are lucky enough, the strong pull of the tides will cause the falls to flow in opposite directions.
10. Mountain Adventures
This is where you can truly get away from the city. Mountain climbing and camping in Canada’s mountains, especially the Yukon territories, will make you feel like you’re truly exploring uncharted land. It’s the perfect place for an adventurer.
11. Polar Bears
Churchill, Manitoba, is hailed at the polar bear capital of the world. The majestic and endangered creatures still live in their natural habitat in this chilly area in Canada’s northern province. This area is one of the few natural places where humans can observe polar bear within a safe distance.
12. And Even More Polar Bears
If you can’t get all the way to Churchill, Polar Bear Provincial Park in Ontario is also a place to see the great white bears in their natural habitat. As many as 200 polar bears are inhabiting the coastal areas of the park at certain times. While there are no visitors facilities, potential visitors can obtain permits to land in one of the parks four airstrips.
You can sample a unique Canadian sweet called the Nanaimo bar. The delicious, no-bake dessert, named after the city of Nanaimo in British Columbia, is a layered bar made up of a wafer crust, custard-flavored butter icing and chocolate.
14. Butter Tarts
While you’re devouring as many baked goods as possible, a Canadian butter tart is like nothing you can get in the U.S. (or anywhere else in the world). The simple dessert is made with butter, sugar, syrup, eggs and even more butter in a pastry shell. If you can enjoy it with a hot drink on a icy, Canadian day and that will probably complete your trip.
15. The Beavertail
If you’re really craving something fried, say hello to a Beavertail. It’s fried dough, with toppings like chocolate spread, bananas, and cinnamon. It’s like funnel cake but better. There are rumors that Beavertails may expand to certain states in the U.S. and possibly Japan, but for now, the Beavertail is a strictly Canadian sweet.
16. Canadian Candy
Speaking of sweets, tourists in Canada should also sample a bit of Crispy Crunch while they’re north of the border. The Cadbury-owned “exclusive” treat is just another candy that people just can’t get in the States. It has a peanut and wafer center, making it something of a cross between a Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup and a Kit Kat Bar.
17. Canadian Chocolate
If you think the best Hershey chocolate is in Pennsylvania, think again. In 2013, Hershey’s debuted a creamier, milkier chocolate bar only in Canada. The new bar was made with simpler ingredients to appeal to Canadian consumers, who preferred a “less gritty” taste. More proof that Canadians get the best stuff.
18. Gummy Fish
Not a chocolate fan? Not a problem. The North American Swedish Fish Factory has you covered. The factory is housed in Hamilton, Ontario, so you don’t have to fly all the way to Sweden to taste freshly “caught” gummy fish. About 13 million fish are produced per day.
19. The Waterfall Capital of the World
Hamilton is also nicknamed the Waterfall Capital of the world. Located along the Niagara Escarpment, Hamilton boasts over 130 waterfalls within its city limits. The city celebrates its watery heritages with plenty of festivals, books, artwork, a waterfall fan group, Facebook pages, and waterfall-themed hikes, walks and adventures.
Don’t forget about one of the best cuisines Canada has to offer: poutine. Poutine, traditionally, is French fried potatoes smothered in cheese curds and light brown gravy. And there are plenty of places across the country where you can dig into the delicious dish. Among the favorites include Belgian Fries in Vancouver and Whistle Stop Café in Petersborough, Ontario.
21. Ice Wine
The freezing temperatures in Canada aren’t all bad. They’ve actually lead to some incredible culinary innovation. Canadian ice wine is made with frozen grapes, which makes a delicious dessert wine that all visitors must try.
If you’re a skier, you must stop at Whistler Blackcomb in Whistler, British Columbia. The famous ski resort is open for business from November to May, which is one of the lengthiest ski seasons on the continent. That leaves plenty of time to explore the slopes.
23. Banff Yoga Festival
Canada is the go-to place for yoga lovers to find inner peace. Take a trip to Lake Louise at any point in the year and you’ll find something to do, but the Banff Yoga Festival is a one-of-a-kind event for people who are looking to perfect their downward dog with the added bonus of being next to a crystal clear lake in the mountains.
24. More Yoga
Yoga lovers can also gather on Parliament Hill in Ottawa, Ontario for free yoga on the lawn every Wednesday in summer. The tradition was started by an instructor from a local Lululemon store and has morphed into a free, one-hour class that has reached over 1,000 participants for nearly every class.
25. A Giant Nickel
You can see a really giant nickel. The 30-foot Big Nickel in Sudbury, Ontario was created in 1964 by Ted Szilva, a Sudbury fireman, who decided the monument was a good way to honor Canada’s Centennial. The twelve-sided, super nickel sits at the intersection of Municipal Road 55 and Big Nickel Drive at the westernmost end of the Gatchell neighbourhood. There’s also a big dinosaur statue next to it. It’s a motherload of roadside attractions.
26. The World’s Largest Dinosaur
Canada holds the record for the world’s largest dinosaur. Surprisingly, it’s not a fossil. The giant T-rex in Drumheller, Canada is 86 feet high, nearly four times larger than what a real T-rex would be. Still, the monument earned itself a Guinness World Record. It’s even surrounded by smaller statues of other dinosaurs, just in case you didn’t realize how big it was.
27. The World’s Largest Lobster
If giant lizards don’t impress you, perhaps a giant crustacean will. The World’s Largest Lobster in Shediac, Canada is a massive concrete, steel, and fiberglass sea bug that serves as a mascot for the town. Shediac, the self-proclaimed “lobster capital of the world” built the 35 foot long statue to honor their most beloved industry.
28. Giant Perogy
If you haven’t had enough of roadside attractions, Canada also paid tribute to eastern European cuisine with a statue of a giant perogy (and fork). In 1993, Glendon, a village in Alberta north of St. Paul, unveiled its giant tribute. The perogy stands 27 feet tall, weighs approximately 6,000 pounds, and is considered one of the “Giants of the Prairies,” a collection of sculptures that can be found across North America.
29. Tim Horton's
Two words: Tim Horton’s. There’s a reason this convenience store/restaurant has gained both cult status and international fame. You can get anything from a humble (but very good) cup of coffee from a delicious breakfast that will get your day started off the right way. No 7-11 can do that for you.
If you think Dunkin Donuts and Krispy Kreme have a monopoly on donut making, you’re wrong. Canadians will swear by Timbits, the adorable donut holes you can only get a Tim Hortons. The deliciously doughy treat comes in all kinds of flavors from classic cruller to perfectly inventive like apple cider and sour cream glazed.
31. Livable Cities
You can visit one of the most livable cities in the world. Calgary, Toronto and Vancouver all have been named some of the world’s most livable cities by The Huffington Post. With their low crime rates, amazing cultures and beautiful views, it’s no wonder why. Just try not move in.
32. A Walled City
You can see a truly walled-in city. You might think a city with walls are a thing out of medieval times, but Québec City is the only place north of Mexico where city walls still exist. Québec City is also built near the water, so the city looks absolutely stunning, especially at night.
33. The Ice Hotel
Québec City is also home to the famous Ice Hotel. The Hôtel de Glace features beautifully carved ice sculptures, bars, ice chandeliers, and 44 rooms and suites. Montreal also built a similar hotel, so you have more chilly destinations to choose from. If you’re not sure about staying for the night, you can always schedule a day trip instead.
34. Muskoka Cottage Country
You can literally go to the best vacation spot in the world, according to National Geographic. In 2011, the magazine named Muskoka Cottage Country the best place to take a vacation. Tourists can visit lakes, waterfalls and wander through 17 historic villages. Not a bad way to spend the summer.
35. Real Maple Syrup
Nothing says Canada like real maple syrup. 80% of the world’s syrup is produced in Canada, and there are 8,000 businesses that bring that syrup to the consumer every single day. Not only can you find this liquid gold in the grocery store, you can also tour a maple syrup farm.
36. Great Water
You can drink straight from the tap. While this might seem like a hum-drum activities while you’re exploring America’s northern cousin, you might be amazed at the water quality you can get right inside your hotel. Studies have shown that no other North American bottled water is better than what comes from a Canadian tap.
37. Clean Air
Also amongst the clean resources of Canada is the cleaner air. Sure, you can get a breath of fresh air anywhere, but Canada’s air quality is particularly cleaner than many other places on earth. According to a study done in 2011, Canada was reported as having the 3rd cleanest air out of any other country.Also amongst the clean resources of Canada is the cleaner air. Sure, you can get a breath of fresh air anywhere, but Canada’s air quality is particularly cleaner than many other places on earth. According to a study done in 2011, Canada was reported as having the 3rd cleanest air out of any other country.
38. Pineapple Pizza
You can savor the controversial pizza flavor, Hawaiian Pizza, in its real birthplace. Love it or hate it, the infamous pineapple pizza, with ham and sometimes mushrooms, was actually invented in 1962 by Sam Panopoulos in his pizza joint, the Satellite Restaurant, in Chatham, Ontario.
39. Feel Lighter
Canada actually has lower gravity than you’ll find in the U.S. According to a study in National Geographic, underlying mantle rocks that are slowly flowing downward are the reason for part of the Hudson Bay region cause a slight difference in gravity. “It's like being aboard a raft in a rapids,” said lead study author Mark Tamisiea. So, you might not float, but you’ll weigh slightly less.
Winnipeg, Manitoba is literally the Slurpee Capital of the World for the seventeenth year in a row as of 2016. 7-Eleven stores across Winnipeg sell an average of 188,833 Slurpee drinks per month, whereas the rest of Canada only sells sells an average of 179,700 per month. Now you know where your summer drink stop is.
41. Canadian Fast Food
If you’re on the east coast of Canada during the summer, you’ll more than likely be able to run into McDonald’s version of the lobster roll: the McLobster. Fast food connoisseurs can’t possibly pass up the chance to sample such an exclusive dish. Not to mention, the chance to compare it to the classic New England and Connecticut versions, stateside
42. Snake Dens
Though it may not be for the faint of heart, snake and reptile enthusiasts might love a trip to the the Narcisse Snake Dens in Narcisse, Manitoba. During the winter, red-sided garter snakes stay underground in their dens, but as soon as it gets warm, tens of thousands of the slithery creatures come up into the sunshine and, well, make another generation of slithery creatures.
Canada isn’t just great for a winter ski vacation, it’s also an amazing destination for summer. The reason: some of the longest summer days on the planet. Since Canada rests on such a Northerly latitude, summer days normally last well past 10:30pm and the weather is not unbearable. Which means more time to spend on the lake.
Canada is one of the few places where you can kayak next to ice bergs. In Newfoundland, you can take a tour boat or take a guided kayak adventure and see icebergs up close and personal. Many of these icebergs have broken off glaciers from the coast of Greenland and traveled to Canada through an area known as Iceberg Alley.
Not only can you paddle by icebergs, you can also walk on the world’s most accessible glacier. The Icefields Parkway, a stunning 232 kilometer (about 144 miles) route of icy glacier that cuts through the Rockies between Banff and Jasper is accessible by off-road vehicle from mid-May until mid-September.
Vancouver Island is home to the world’s longest mammal migration. Whale-watchers can witness the majestic migration of about 20,000 gray whales every spring in Canada, where they swim north near the coast of Vancouver toward their summer home in the Bering Sea. While the some whales can be seen from shore, there are plenty of boat tours available. Every March, Tofino, Ucluelet and Pacific Rim National Park Reserve celebrate with the annual Pacific Rim Whale Festival.
You can also go snorkeling with beluga whales. Western Hudson’s Bay is home to about 27,000 white beluga whales, which tourists can view or even take a swim with. Additionally, up north, 3,000 belugas gather each summer off the eastern coast near the community of Churchill, Manitoba. Remember to bring your cold water swim gear.
Canada is a haven for hikers. The Trans Canada Trail is 21,500 kilometers (about 13,359 miles) of 400 recreational trails in Canada’s gorgeously picturesque landscape. At the moment, the trail network is 91% connected, with a goal of 23,000 kilometers (about 14,291 miles) of trail that connects both coasts of Canada by the end of 2017. Hikers and bikers rejoice!
Hikers who are also train enthusiasts can also find interesting places to discover, like the Othello Tunnels in Coquihalla River Canyon, near Hope, Canada. The tunnels drive through solid rock and are remnants of the old Canadian Pacific Railway. Nearby, there are plenty of campgrounds as well as water activities, gliding, a golf course and even gold panning.
50. Kayak Racing
If you’re more of a water bug, kayakers and canoers can take part of the world’s largest kayak and canoe race in late June and early July. Starting in Whitehorse and spanning 444 miles to Dawson City in the Yukon, the annual Race to the Midnight Sun, paddlers are challenged to race against the daylight. The race is so far north that the sun doesn’t actually set until early midnight, hence the name of the race.
51. Customized Canadian Stamps
Ever wanted to be so famous that you got a commemorative stamp? Well, you may not be the Queen or the President (or a Looney Toon) but Canada Post can still put your face, your logo, or even your own original artwork on a stamp for you. You can even design your stamps online, using their website.
52. The Annual Wolf Howl
In August and September, wolf enthusiasts should head to Algonquin Park in Ontario, Canada for the annual Wolf Howl. Each year, park rangers call out to the area’s wolves with their best howls and everyone heads out in guided caravans to catch a glimpse at the wolves up close. Public howls are also free.
53. The Vikings
Ever wanted to walk amongst Vikings? At L’anse aux Meadows, a national historic site in Newfoundland, you’re not far off. Discovered in 1960, the archeological site is believed to be the one-time home to Eric the Red’s son, Leif. Visitors can also head to Norstead, a recreated Viking village to watch history come to life.
54. The Viking Trail
While you’re exploring the same territory as Vikings did hundreds of years ago, you can also take one of Canada’s most scenic drives: The Viking Trail. The 489 km (303 miles) drive takes you to ancient native burial grounds, and the thousand-year-old Viking settlement at L'Anse aux Meadows National Historic Site.
55. The Enchanted Forest
Canada isn’t just scenic vistas, there’s also a bit of magic in those gorgeous views. The Enchanted Forest in Malakwa, Canada, is like a fairytale forest come to life with over 350 fairy folk figurines hidden amongst 800 year-old cedars. If you’ve ever dreamed of being a fairytale hero or a character in The Lord of the Rings, there’s no better way to spend a hike.
56. Free Spirit Spheres
Another forest with a hidden gem happens to be in Qualicum Beach, on Vancouver Island in British Columbia. Suspended from the trees, you’ll find large, wooden orbs connected to spiral staircases. The Free Spirit Spheres are made of fiberglass and feature fold-out tables and mirrors, curved loft beds and benches, and tiny appliances.
57. Flowerpot Island
Near Lake Huron, there’s a small island that’s nicknamed Flowerpot Island. The island is named after its two, unusual pillar formations that look like flower pots. Old legends say the pillars are the petrified bodies of two lovers, kind of like Romeo and Juliet, who were frozen in time by the island’s spirit. Lots of visitors, especially couples, like to pose with the pillars, but also hike the island’s cliffs, caves and forests.
58. Twisted Trees
In Speers, Canada, you can see the Twisted Trees of Alticane, a grove of Quaking Aspen, apparently mutated from a single source, giving them a twisted and unnatural appearance. The slighted breeze causes the entire grove to shudder due to its interconnectedness, which is both spooky and magical for any outdoors person to behold.
59. The Monkey’s Paw
Canada’s best attractions aren’t only reserved for outdoorsy visitors either. If you’re visiting Toronto, be sure to find The Monkey’s Paw, a bookstore that’s home to the world’s first “Biblio-Mat”, a book-only vending machine that sits on Bloor St. The rest of the store also has plenty of rare and old books to peruse.
60. Rare Book Library
If your rare book curiosity goes further than a vending machine, the University of Toronto’s Thomas Fisher Rare Book Library has one of the world’s most incredible collections. The library holds around 700,000 volumes and 3,000 meters of manuscripts, including a 1551 edition of Cicero’s Book of Natural History, Ulyssis Androvandi’s Monstroum Historiae (1642) and Palfijn’s version of Licetus’ Book of Monsters (1708).
61. An Elizabethan Hedge Maze
One of the only places you can find an Elizabethan hedge maze in North America happens to be in Canada. In Vancouver, VanDusen Garden's Elizabethan Hedge Maze is one of only six Elizabethan style hedge maze. Built in 1981, the maze is made of 3,000 pyramidal cedars and the gardens cover 55 acres.
62. A 15th-century Chinese Garden
Also in Vancouver, a traditional 15th century Chinese garden awaits travelers who are looking to find some zen. Located below the city’s Chinatown, the Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Garden is a collaboration between Canada and the People’s Republic of China. The garden plays host to year round events such as the Vancouver Storytelling Festival in June, the Fiddles Around the World Concert in October, and the Winter Solstice Lantern Festival.
63. A Tropical Rainforest
Canada isn’t just frozen tundra, there’s a little bit of the tropics for the visitor looking to get warm as well. The Bloedel Conservatory in Vancouver maintains a variety of tropical jungle ecosystems in the middle of the highest point of Queen Elizabeth Park. The conservatory is comprised of three different biodomes: a tropical rainforest, a subtropical rainforest and a desert. Each dome is stocked with lush plant life and acts as an aviary for over 100 birds who are free to fly under the domes.