Best places to visit in CanadaOccupying nearly half of the North American continent, Canada is a vast and beautiful land, consisting of ten provinces and three northern territories. The country extends from the Atlantic Ocean in the east to the Pacific Ocean in the west and northward into the Arctic Ocean. With nearly 10 million square kilometers of total land space, Canada is the second largest in the country in the world by area (after Russia), and the border it shares with its southern neighbor, the United States, is the longest continuous land border in the world between two countries.
The 10 provinces of Canada all feature a number of unique and interesting aspects and attractions. Below we have provided some detailed information about two of these provinces, the beautiful regions of British Columbia and Ontario.
British Columbia, Canada
British Columbia is the westernmost of Canada’s 10 provinces, bordering the U.S. states of Washington, Idaho and Montana to the south, the province of Alberta to the east, the Northwest and Yukon territories to the north, and Alaska to the northwest.
British Columbia entered the Canadian federation in 1871, adopting the provincial motto “splendor without diminishment.” The province’s capital is the beautiful city of Victoria on Vancouver Island, a gorgeous stretch of land just off the Pacific Coast. Leading the province today is British Columbia’s 29 Lieutenant Governor, the Honorable Judith Guichon, and Premier Christy Clark, the province’s 35 premier and the leader of the B.C. liberal party.
British Columbia has a population of approximately 4.7 million inhabitants and is home to people of many different origins, cultural traditions, languages, ethnicities, and religions.
The province plays host to a diverse population of Aboriginal people, including approximately 200 First Nations, such as the Gitxsan, Haida, Nisga'a and Squamish. The top 10 languages spoken in B.C. are now (according to the 2011 Census): English, Chinese (including Cantonese and Mandarin), Punjabi, German, Tagalog, French, Korean, Spanish, and Farsi. Each year, over 34,000 immigrants from around the world arrive and settle in British Columbia.
The total land and freshwater area in British Columbia is approximately 95 million hectares, an area larger than France and Germany combined. In fact, only 30 countries in the world are larger than the massive province. British Columbia occupies about 10 per cent of Canada's total land surface.
British Columbia boasts a total of 1,030 provincial parks and protected areas, attracting nearly 20 million visitors every year. Since 2001, the provincial government has established 84 new parks, 156 conservancies, two ecological reserves and 13 protected areas. B.C. has also expanded more than 75 parks, six ecological reserves, three protected areas and is protecting more than 2.3 million hectares (an area over four times the size of Prince Edward Island.). This includes 200,000 hectares of habitat for the world-famous Spirit Bear, B.C.'s official mammal. Today, approximately 15 percent (or more than 13.9 million hectares) of British Columbia is protected—more than any other province in Canada.
British Columbia is Canada's third-largest generator of hydroelectricity, providing some of the lowest power costs in North America. The province is Canada's second-largest natural gas producer, and the oil and gas industry continues to see tremendous growth in the northeast.
In 2013, the B.C. liberals were reelected for a fourth term. The people of the province are represented by 85 members of the Legislative Assembly. Nationally, the 308-seat House of Commons and 104-seat Senate in Ottawa include 36 elected Members of Parliament (MPs) from B.C. and six B.C. senators appointed by the federal government.
Small businesses make up over 98 percent of British Columbia’s businesses, and provide jobs for 56 percent of all British Columbians working in the private sector. Corporate income taxes in the province are among the lowest in the country, and combined with federal tax reductions, the general corporate income tax rate in B.C. is among the lowest of the G7 nations. B.C. currently has the lowest provincial personal income taxes in Canada for individuals earning up to $122,000 a year.
British Columbia is North America’s fourth-largest film and television production center, an industry that now rakes in nearly 1.2 billion annually and directly employs about 25,000 people. Indirect jobs generated by the industry fuel the construction, tourism, and small business sectors. B.C. offers two distinct tax credit programs for the film and television industry: the Production Services Tax Credit and the Film Incentive B.C. Tax Credit. These labor-based incentives provide refundable tax credits to eligible production companies.
If you are a student looking to further your education, British Columbia is a great place to settle. The province is home to a number of world-renowned post-secondary institutions, ranging from the University of British Columbia to the University of Victoria to Simon Fraser University. In 2013, more than 440,000 students enrolled in at least one course at British Columbia’s 25 public post-secondary institutions—taking classes at one of 130 campuses, satellite or learning centers across the province. Since 2001 more than 32,000 student seats and seven new public university campuses have been added to the public post-secondary system; 2,500 new graduate student spaces have been funded in the last five years. There are currently more than 33,000 apprentices in the trades training system, more than double the number of apprentices registered in 2004. In addition, there are over 9,000 industry employers currently sponsoring apprentices throughout the province. In May 2012, B.C. released its International Education Strategy to promote the two-way global flow of students, educators and ideas between countries. B.C.’s high-quality education system has been very successful in attracting students from around the world, with the latest figures showing more than 100,000 international students in B.C.
Because of its natural beauty and cosmopolitan cities, British Columbia is a tourist’s haven. Last year, the tourism industry in B.C. contributed $13.4 billion to the provincial economy up 40 percent since 2001. The tourism industry provides a job for roughly 1 in 15 employed British Columbians, and has been identified as a key growth sector in The BC Jobs Plan.
Top Sights and Attractions in British Columbia
Set between the Pacific Ocean in the west and the magnificent Rocky Mountains in the east, British Columbia brims with astounding landscapes and impressive geographical diversity. As Canada’s westernmost province, British Columbia features a superb blend of inspiring outdoor recreation and cosmopolitan culture, with hundreds of fun and interesting sites to explore. Some of the province’s more popular attractions include:
Glacier National Park, British Columbia
Known as “North America’s Crown Jewel,” Glacier National Park in British Columbia boasts more than 700 miles of maintained trails, sparkling lakes, alpine glaciers, and deep forests.
Yoho National Park
One of Canada’s 41 impressive national parks, Yoho is home to surging waters, looming peaks, pounding waterfalls, glacial lakes, and gorgeous patches of pretty meadows.
Kootenay National Park
From glacier-clad peaks along the Continental Divide to the semi-arid grasslands of the Rocky Mountain Trench, where cactus grows, Kootenay National Park is noted for its diversity of landscapes, ecology, and climate.
Mt Revelstoke National Park of Canada
A drive along the summit parkway in Mt. Revelstoke National Park will take you through a variety of geographical zones. Visitors to the park can spend one day experiencing the dense growth of the giant cedar and pine forests, and the next traveling through miles of alpine meadows and tundra.
Ainsworth Hot Springs
Situated in an ideal spot overlooking the beautiful Kootenay Lake in British Columbia, Ainsworth Hot Springs is a must-visit for anyone visiting this gorgeous province. Guests to this site can experience the unique horseshoe shaped cave, where the darkness, mineral deposits and humidity combine for a unique hot springs experience. In addition to the hot springs pool and caves, this attraction also offers first-class accommodations, a trendy lounge and superb dining; there is also an excellent gift shop on the premises.
Artisans of Crawford Bay
Guests to Crawford Bay should definitely take some time to visit the impressive gathering of artisan studios located there, where they can watch craftsman such as broom makers, glass blowers, and blacksmiths ply their trade.
The province of Ontario in Canada is home to some 12 million people, making it the most populous of all the Canadian provinces (Ontario is home to one in three Canadians). From a geographic standpoint, Ontario is Canada’s second-largest province, covering more than one million square kilometers (415,000 square miles) of total area, including roughly 895,000 square km of land space and 177,000 square kilometers of water, including 250,000 lakes and about one-third of the world's fresh water.
The capital and largest city in Ontario is Toronto, home to approximately 4 million inhabitants as of the last census. Toronto is located on Lake Ontario and is the commercial, industrial and financial center of Canada.
Ontario’s flag is the “Red Ensign.” It includes the Union Jack, representing Ontario's ties to Great Britain, and the Coat-of-Arms of the Province. The Coat-of-Arms of the Province consists of a green shield with three golden maple leaves surmounted by the Banner of St. George, a red cross on a silver background. The banner indicates Ontario's close ties with Britain, while green and gold are Ontario's official colors; green symbolizes the land. Above the shield is a bear, with a moose and a deer supporting the shield; all representing the rich animal life of Ontario. The Latin motto is translated as "Loyal She Began, Loyal She Remains." The shield was granted by Royal Warrant of Queen Victoria in 1868, and the crest, supporters and motto by Royal Warrant of King Edward VII in 1909.
Other official symbols of Ontario, Canada include:
- Official Flower. The official flower of Ontario is the trillium, a delicate white three-petal flower that grows in profusion in the wild woodlands of the province in early spring.
- Official Gem. Amethyst, the rich purple semi-precious stone, is the official gem of Ontario. Large deposits of the gem are found in Northwestern Ontario.
- Official Tree. The Eastern White Pine, Ontario's official tree, was an important source of income and trade during days of early settlement, and continues to be a valuable resource for Ontario today.
- Official Bird. The Common Loon was adopted as Ontario's official bird on June 23, 1994.
Scores of museums and galleries can be found throughout Ontario, particularly in the urban centers of Toronto and Ottawa, the nation’s capital. Together these museums allow guests to absorb the lovingly-preserved history of Canada and learn more about the nation’s culture. Other experiences to be had in Ontario include:
- Study the Aboriginals. In Ontario, visitors can
- experience the spirit, culture and legends of the people who walked this land before recorded time.
- Spas. Ontario is home to scores of relaxing spas where guests can re-energize and soother their bodies and souls.
- Witness the Changing of the Seasons. Whether you decide to drive along the edge of Ontario’s pristine forests or take one of the many train excursions offered there, you will simply be dazzled by the showy display of fiery color.
- Wine and Dine. Ontario is the ideal locale for sampling a huge menu of tempting culinary adventures, from sumptuous dining in the some of the province’s 5-star restaurants, to sampling award-wines to taking a tour of some wonderful Canadian cooking schools.
- Shopping. Feeling the urge to shop? If so, Ontario has everything you need to satisfy your urge to splurge in scores of trendy one-of-a-kind boutiques, upscale malls, factory outlets, antique shops and more.
- Arts, Culture, Theater. Visual and performing arts centers abound in the bustling province of Ontario, where visitors can share their love for these various mediums with everything from opera to ballet to scintillating theater and hilarious improvisational and stand-up comedy.
- Sports and Gaming. Ontario is home to seven professional sports team, including baseball, basketball, football, and hockey, the national sport of Canada. There are also plenty of thoroughbred racing venues and a host of decadent casinos.
- Gardens. Discover hundreds of beautiful reasons for visiting Ontario while perusing the seemingly endless array of floral havens, botanical gardens and conservatories.
Top Sites and Attractions in Ontario
It would literally take a lifetime to see all the fun and interesting sites Ontario has to offer. To help you get started, below we have listed some of the more popular sites and attractions to see while visiting this beautiful province.
Royal Ontario Museum
Celebrating its centennial in 2014, the multidisciplinary Royal Ontario Museum is Canada's biggest natural history museums and one of the largest museums in North America.
Toronto's iconic and very useful CN Tower, a marvel of 1970s engineering, resembles a giant concrete hypodermic needle. Its function as a communications tower, however, takes a backseat to its relevance as a tourist attraction, as riding those glass elevators up the highest freestanding structure in the world (553m) is one of those things you just have to do in this life.
Toronto's favorite and best-known recreational locale, High Park is a wonderful place to unfurl a picnic blanket, swim, play tennis, bike around, skate on the Grenadier Pond in the winter, or in the spring meander through the groves of cherry blossoms, donated to the park by the Japanese ambassador in 1959.
St Lawrence Market
Old York's sensational St Lawrence Market has been a neighborhood meeting place for over two centuries. The restored, high-trussed 1845 South Market plays host to more than 50 specialty food stalls, including cheese vendors, fishmongers, butchers, bakers and pasta makers.
Toronto's only true castle, Casa Loma may have never housed actual royalty, but it certainly has its share of grandeur and opulence. Overlooking a cliff that was once the shoreline of the glacial Lake Iroquois, from which Lake Ontario derived, this is definitely a must-see attraction when visiting Ontario.
Elgin & Winter Garden Theatre
A restored masterpiece, the Elgin & Winter Garden Theatre is the world's last operating double-decker theater. Celebrating its centennial in 2013, the Winter Garden was built as the flagship for a vaudeville chain that never really took off, while the downstairs Elgin was converted into a movie house in the 1920s.
Built around the Gooderham and Worts distillery that began in 1832, the 12-acre Distillery District is one of Toronto's best downtown attractions. Its Victorian industrial warehouses have been converted into soaring galleries, artist studios, design boutiques, cafes and tasty eateries.