When planning a family trip, it can be, uh, challenging to settle on a spot where everyone will be happy and entertained. It’s a common scenario: Mum wants charming villages and hikes; Dad seeks adventure and history; and both parents want fun, educational experiences for the kids. Canada has all these things and more – often all in the one easy-to-navigate province. Here are five reasons why it’s our No.1 pick for multi-generational entertainment.
Canada is like the holy grail for outdoorsy types. If your brood’s into rafting or kayaking, there are literally hundreds of rivers and lakes to choose from, with conditions for all skill levels. Not to be missed are the whitewater rivers of the Northwest Territories, including Yellowknife, Slave and Keele.
If you prefer to adventure on foot, some of the world’s best hikes are in Canada (we love the Fundy Trail in New Brunswick – only recently opened to the public). For bike-riders, glorious loops can be found from coast to coast. Coast along Nova Scotia’s Cabot trail, for instance, where you can discover this Atlantic province’s unique sea-faring history as you go.
Sure, we have lakes in Australia, but not like this… Canada has more than 3 million lakes, with 561 of these boasting a surface area larger than 100 km2, including the world’s second-deepest lake, Great Slave Lake, in the Northwestern Territories, which has a depth of 614m! Children’s’ minds will boggle at the thought of a lake as big as an ocean, and the log-cabin lake lifestyle offers a good time for young and old.
Our top four lakeside destinations are Lake Louise, Alberta, which is an azure blue like you wouldn’t believe in summer and transforms into a spectacular ice-skating rink in winter. Stay at the Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise or at least book a massage there. Then we have Lake Superior bordering the US in Ontario, with its peaceful coastline that attracts families and fun-lovers year-round. For fishing and boating, you can’t go past Lake Ontario, conveniently located next to the city of Toronto, making logistics easy. Last but certainly no less amazing is Waterton Lake in Alberta – a gorgeous mountain lake surrounded by a national park and teeming with flora and fauna.
Unforgettable Road Trips
There won’t be any cries of ‘Are we there yet?’ with 360 degrees of awe-inspiring scenery and plenty of roadside attractions. Everybody agrees Canada is good driving country (even if you do have to drive on the other side of the road), and one route definitely worth checking out is the Alaska Highway Corridor, which is celebrating its 75th anniversary in 2017. Stretching 1900km from Dawson Creek, through British Columbia, Yukon, and finishing up at Delta Junction, Alaska, it’s paved with history, wildlife, nature, art, music and educational insights into the indigenous people of the region. The St. Lawrence North Shore in French-speaking Quebec also comes highly recommended and it’s a touch shorter for younger kids, at 510km.
The French connection
Immerse the family in a whole new culture – including a new language. We all know children are like sponges, especially when it comes to languages, and one of the most fascinating things about Canada for Australians are French-Canadians. The French first arrived in 1608 and the cultural influence is still pervasive – you can see it in the food, the architecture, everything, mon dieu! There’s Quebec of course and the French influence continues in New Brunswick, Ontario, Manitoba and Nova Scotia. If you’ve got a high-schooler learning French and a younger child who loves nature, you won’t holiday better than Canada.
A different breed of wildlife
Children and adults alike will adore seeing the Kermode bears at Princess Royal Island in British Columbia – they’re not polar bears, but they do have a striking light-coloured coat due to a recessive gene carried by only 10% of the sub-species of black bear native to the area.
You can also see pods of white beluga whales in several Nunavut Rivers, spy one of 150,000 caribou in Yukon, and spot elk and moose at Jasper National Park in Alberta.
Presented by Destination Canada.