Virtual Vacations #6- Canada
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This month's (June 2017) vacation will be to Canada.

A Virtual Vacation, is a way to daydream and live vicariously through other people's eyes and experiences in the hope that one day you may be able to physically be able to go and enjoy a country yourselves.
Hopefully you can learn something, and discover some hidden gems and ideas for when you do get there in real life.

If you enjoy this vacation, please comment and add your thoughts and images to any topic that you see.

You can also check out our other destinations by clicking on any of these links:

VGG Virtual Vacation #1 - BELGIUM
VGG Virtual Vacation #2- Australia!
Join us! Virtual Vacation #3-- Italy
Virtual Vacation #4 - Scotland
Virtual Vacation #5-- Japan!

Virtual Vacation #7- India
Virtual Vacation #8 - Ireland

Mini:
One and done- A Virtual Vacation to Buenos Aires
One and done: A Virtual Vacation to Vienna
One and done: A Virtual Vacation to Iceland
One and done: A Virtual Vacation to Denmark

Virtual Vacation discussion thread:
VGG Virtual Vacations

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1. Board Game: Travel Sequence [Average Rating:5.50 Overall Rank:17122]
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A face in the crowd
Canada
Chestermere
Alberta
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Life lesson: Hamsters are NOT diswasher safe.
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There are 10 types of people-- those who understand binary, and those who don't.
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Microbadge: If it's not Scottish it's Crap!Microbadge: This mango is off!Microbadge: The Prisoner fanMicrobadge: Parent of half-boy/half-fly (teleporter accident)Microbadge: Submarine
We are going to travel from west to east, with a bit of north-south thrown in so we can hit all of the territories.

This is a big country. Really big. Just to drive from one vertical border of a single province to its other border will require 8 or more hours (well, not Prince Edward Island, but most of the rest of them).
There are many stories out there about people arriving in Toronto (Ontario) who think that they can drive out to Banff (in Alberta) for a visit.
Sure, if you have 4 days to get there, and 4 more to get back. And that assumes 8+ hours driving each day.

Quick Itinerary:

BC- 5 days
YK- 1 day
NWT- 1 day
AB- 3 days
SK- 2 days
MB- 2 days
ON- 5 days
PQ- 3 days
NB- 1 day
NS- 2 days
PEI- 1 day
NFLD- 3 days
NU- 1 day

The particulars (starting with ListItem #8):

British Columbia (BC): Victoria, South Gulf Islands, Tofino + Cathedral Grove, Campbell River, Vancouver via Nanaimo
Yukon Territory: Whitehorse
Northwest Territories: Yellowknife
Alberta: Edmonton, Jasper-Banff, Calgary
Saskatchewan: Regina, Saskatoon
Manitoba: Churchill, Winnipeg
Ontario: Toronto, London, Windsor, Hamilton (Niagara Falls), Ottawa
Québec: Montreal, (edit: Saguenay), Québec City
New Brunswick: Saint John
Nova Scotia: Halifax, Cape Breton
Prince Edward Island: Charlottetown
Newfoundland/ Labrador: Saint John's, Cornerbrook, Happy Valley- Goose Bay
Nunuvat: Iqaluit
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2. Board Game: Oh! Canada [Average Rating:3.00 Unranked]
Board Game: Oh! Canada
A face in the crowd
Canada
Chestermere
Alberta
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Overview

How much do you already know about Canada?
Maybe you'd like to take a quick quiz that I created a while ago:
Quiz
Approximately what percentage of Canadians live within 100 miles (161 kilometers) of the U.S. border?
    66 answers
Quiz created by MABBY

Here is a map (with a spoiler so you don't have an advantage on the quiz above!) that shows most of our destinations on it:

Spoiler (click to reveal)
click the magnifying glass icon to enlarge
From gallery of MABBY


This map, from Maclean's Magazine, is pretty accurate, as well:

External image

laugh

The country was "discovered" in the 1600s but officially became a British Dominion (part of the British Commonwealth) in 1867. It only became an independent country in 1931; compare that to the USA declaring independence from Britain in 1776.
Newfoundland wasn't originally a part of independent Canada, and it didn't join the confederation until 1949.

Canada is famous for Hockey and its hockey players (and love of the sport across the country) much in the same way that England reveres its Football.
It is also "famous" for its socialized Health Care, which provides hospital care to any citizen at no personal expense (it isn't quite as simple as that, but if I got sent to the hospital today, most of my expenses would be covered by a health plan).

Finally, we have one of the most recognizable flags in the world:

External image
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3. Board Game: French Chatter [Average Rating:3.00 Unranked]
Board Game: French Chatter
A face in the crowd
Canada
Chestermere
Alberta
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In the USA, the most common "second" language is Spanish. In Canada it is French.
There are pockets of French-speakers all over Canada. We are given some French lessons in school, from grades 6 - 9 (sometimes earlier, and through grade 12, as an option) at least.

Canada has two official languages: English and French.
This means that both are "equal" in the eyes of the law, and you can demand that your choice of language be recognized in a courtroom or in government.

The French spoken in Quebec has variations that a speaker from France would not understand but, for the most part, your Euoropean French will serve you just fine.
You won't need to use your French language lessons in most places in Canada; mainly Quebec, and in parts of New Brunswick and Ontario.
Even then, unless you're in the more northern or eastern regions of Quebec or certain neighborhoods of Montreal and Quebec City, then you will find plenty of bilingual signs.

You won't find many signs in French outside of Quebec, unless they are government-related (airports, National Parks, and parliament buildings), in which case they will still have both English and French on them.

External image


Yes, there are a lot of Canadaians who say "Eh". Although not as many as some movies would have you believe.

Your English lessons may actually abandon you when you get to Newfoundland and parts of Nova Scotia.

"Stay where yer at til I comes where yer to." (Stay where you are and I'll come to you)
"What's after happening now?" (What just happened?)

(longer, but fun


The accent is thick and the idioms are flying around fast and loose there.
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4. Board Game: Culture Crazy [Average Rating:4.00 Unranked]
Board Game: Culture Crazy
A face in the crowd
Canada
Chestermere
Alberta
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Canada was built and founded by immigrants. We have Chinese, Italian, American, German, Polish, and Ukranian settlers who moved here along with the original English/ Scottish/ Irish (and French, in the early days) founders.
In later years "East" Indians, Pakistanis, and other middle eastern nations have joined Croations, Serbs, Africans, and almost any other place that you could think of to create a melting pot of true diversity.
There are several Native American tribes (from the Inuit in the north to the Haida on the west coast to all of the plains and lake indians who also are part of (now the USA) original nations people of central North America.
There are more than 600,000 people of direct Italian ancecestry living in Toronto and Montreal combined. Vancouver has a 30% Chinese population.

External image

Tolerance and Acceptance are Canadian watch-words

Museums focus plenty of attention on the early explorers and their trade with the natives.
Culture-- other than Quebec-- is a bit harder to see, but it does exist.

People from British Columbia pride themselves on being healthy and active, while supporting the lumber and fish trades.
Northerners are sometimes perceived as crazy loners but even with the prospect of snow and winter 8 months of the year, you couldn't convince many of them to live anywhere else where you can't hunt and fish, and live with nature.
People from Alberta are proud of their early western heritage-- cowboys and ranchers, and good old "Alberta Beef".
People from Saskatchewan and Manitoba are fierce supporters of the small farming communities that feed the country and export food all over the world.
Many Ontarians are from a mining background, and they all love the lakes and outdoors in "cottage country". And the East coasters are almost all tied in with the fate of the fisheries and other ocean-related industries.
Going to Quebec is like going to a new country all its own. They are very multicultural and artistic in their endeavors.
East-coasters are known as friendly and hard-working, but people of simple tastes and desires.
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5. Board Game: Money! [Average Rating:6.53 Overall Rank:1794]
Board Game: Money!
A face in the crowd
Canada
Chestermere
Alberta
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As you may already know, Canadians use the Canadian Dollar as our currency.
At times in history it was worth the same as, or more than, an American dollar, but with the economics of this age, it makes more sense to have the US dollar at a higher level to promote exports and manfactured goods.

Currently, I can buy one American Dollar for $1.34 Canadian.
That means that for just $0.74 American, you can buy one Canadian dollar.
Or the same thing, with £0.58 pounds sterling, or €0.67 Euros.
So for a traveller, that's a nice discount-- 25% off using US dollars, 33% off using Euros, and almost 40% off for British tourists.
Heck, even the Australian travellers are trading at par right now-- $1 is $1.

Canada has no "paper" money less than $5 (and they are trying to get a coin for that, as well, although no time soon), and the other bill denominations match the US versions-- $5, $10, $20, $50, $100 -- but with a lot more color.
Yes, our "Monopoly money" can be pretty funny if you're used to all of your money being "green" in the USA.

The coins used are nickels (5 cents), dimes (10 cents), quarters (25 cents), "Loonies" ($1.00) and "Twoonies" ($2.00).
The $1 coin has a picture of a loon on it, so it was quickly given a nickname that has become part of the Canadian language.
When the $2.00 coin was introduced, with a polar bear on it, someone instantly gave it a rhyming name and that, too, stuck.

External image


Canada stopped making the penny, years ago, and if you pay cash for something then your total will automatically be rounded up or down to the nearest nickel.
You'll also spot a 50 cent piece in that image, but even though there are hundreds of thousands of them in existence, they are pretty much always in a coin collection, or a change jar, or a junk drawer somewhere. You won't see them being used every day (although you could, if you had one).
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6. Board Game: Food for Thought [Average Rating:7.00 Unranked]
Board Game: Food for Thought
A face in the crowd
Canada
Chestermere
Alberta
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Life lesson: Hamsters are NOT diswasher safe.
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Food and Beverages

Since Canada is much younger, as a country, than the USA we tend to embrace the same foods that are popular in the USA-- hamburgers, American-style pizza, and so on.
You're going to find most of the familiar US fast food restaurants here.

The most Canadian of all food and beverage outlets, however, is "Tim Horton's".
Named after a hockey player (born in Canada but he played for the Toronto Maple Leafs, New York Rangers, Pittsburgh Penguins, and Buffalo Sabres) from the 1950s and '60s who co-founded a doughnut and coffee shop in 1964.
It has become a money-making empire in Canada. (they also sell soup and sandwiches, these days)

External image


You won't even have to wait long to find one-- most airports have several locations within the arrival and departure areas.

If you were going to pick a type of food that was more Canadian than any other, it would probably be poutine (originally from Quebec, but now it is EVERYWHERE).
At its most basic, it is french fries, cheese curds, and gravy. Many places expand the concept, to include smoked meat or pulled pork, or various other oddities.

External image

Don't knock it if you haven't tried it-- this is seriously good (if you're not on a diet!)

Speaking of Quebec, a fairly regional specialty there is "tortiere", which is essentially a great big (ground/minced) meat pie. Delicious.

Around Ottawa, you can buy "beavertails"-- which sound questionable, until I tell you that they are merely deep-fried dough covered with sugars, sauces, and even candy sprinkles. In the shape, and size of a beaver's tail, so over-the-top in size and calories.

Seafood, and salmon in particular, is likely what most people would term to be a Canadian staple. If you are on the prairies, however, you're going to find beef and potatoes is a far more popular choice.
On the East coast, cod competes with salmon as the number one choice of fish, and you'll find lobster as a popular alternate everywhere.

Indian cuisine is getting to be as popular here as it is in Britain, so you will find plenty of curries and "butter chicken" (equivalent, in essence, to "chicken tikka masala").

Even the smallest farming communities usually have a "chinese food" restaurant, so Asian cuisine is popular and plentiful.

In Vancouver, in particular, sushi options are never-ending.
Sushi is also popular in any of the larger cities closer to the US border.

I will be including food highlights in most of the individual city entries, as well.

Lastly, but not least, are beverages other than coffee (and a lot of tea is also served; a holdover from our British roots).

External image

One of these things is not like the others. Hint-- La Fin Du Monde is an outstanding Belgian-style ale brewed in Quebec,
and the rest of them are all very common, and underwhelming, lagers (horse piss, some would argue)
whistle

Americans and Canadians have long believed that the Beer north of the border has more alcohol in it, and that it is somehow better because of it.
The truth is, the alcohol level is almost identical but we use different measurements to report it on the bottles or cans.
Americans used to report alcohol level only by weight (ABW).
Canadians always report alchol by volume (ABV). But alcohol weighs less than water does.
So a beer with an alcohol content of 3.2 percent by weight is actually 4 percent by volume.
A beer that is 4 percent by weight is actually 5 percent by volume.
To convert an alcohol-by-volume reading to its alcohol-by-weight equivalent, multiply by 0.80.
Most of the USA microbrewers use ABV now, instead of ABW, so the comparisons are more direct (and it's a better method).

Molson Candian and Labbats Blue are the two brewing giants in Canada, and their beer tastes just like Budweiser, Miller, Coors, or the rest of the US super-brewers. (fizzy and awful, in my opinion).
You will find an endless variety of locally made and imported beers, of a much better quality, in almost any city in Canada.

Canada also has two main wine producing areas-- one in British Columbia and one in southern Ontario. They originally produced sugary plonk that no self-respecting homeless person would touch, but the variety and quality has been vastly improved since the mid '70s.
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7. Board Game: Face the Facts [Average Rating:7.50 Unranked]
Board Game: Face the Facts
A face in the crowd
Canada
Chestermere
Alberta
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Canadian Fun Facts!

A new item will be added every day in June. Subscribe to this item, or to the geeklist in general, and be counted as the first ones to receive a new fun fact!

01) The first brewpub to open in Canada (one of the first in all of N. America) was located in Victoria, BC: Spinnaker’s Gastro Brewpub, opened in 1984. I highly recommend a visit!
02) The island (and the mainland city, and a mountain in the US) are named in honor of English sea captain George Vancouver who, from 1792-94, painstakingly surveyed the west coast of Canada which actually included the stretch from Alaska down to Oregon. He also explored the Hawaiian islands and down to the Southwest coast of Australia.
03) Canada's motto is A Mari Usque ad Mare. That means “from sea to sea”, but Canada actually borders three oceans—the Arctic Ocean being the other one.
04) The bald eagle may be America’s symbol, but there are thousands of them in Canada— especially around Campbell River. While they do prefer fresh fish and other small animals for food, they are scavengers so the best place to view them up close is the Campbell River City Dump!
05) The Canada/USA border is the longest international border in the world (between just two countries).
06) The coldest temperature ever recorded in Canada was -63C (-81.4F) on February 3, 1957 in Snag, Yukon.
07) NWT has rather unique licence plates:
External image


08) The West Edmonton Mall, once the largest in the world is now the fifth largest indoor shopping mall. It still claims the title as having the largest indoor amusement park.
09) Banff, for whatever reason, is held in high regard by the citizens of Japan.
So much so, that most of the stores (jewellry stores, gift shops, and art galleries, especially) have signage in Japanese, as well as English and French.
From gallery of MABBY


10) Due to annual winter “Chinook winds” in Pincher Creek— a town about 90 minutes south of Calgary— the air temperature rose by 41 °C (74 °F), from -19 to 22 °C (-2 to 72 °F), in one hour, in 1962
11) Daylight savings time does not occur in Saskatchewan. So for part of the year they share the same time zone as Alberta (Mountain), and for the rest of the year the share it with Manitoba (Central)
12) Canada is the largest producer of uranium in the world. Much of it comes from Northern Saskatchewan.
13) Hudson Bay is a large body of saltwater in northeastern Canada with a surface area of 1,230,000 km² and was named after the British explorer Henry Hudson (c. 1565–1611)
14) Winnipeg has the largest elm tree urban forest in North American, with approximately 160,000 elms
15) Canadian Tire is a store that was founded in 1922 and it sells hardware, automotive, and sporting goods. The retailer is known for its Canadian Tire money, a loyalty program first introduced in 1958, where customers are provided with coupons resembling paper money worth 0.4% of their purchase that can be used in subsequent purchases as scrip at Canadian Tire stores and gas stations.
External image


16) Many people believe that hockey is Canada’s national sport, but until recently it wasn’t. Traditionally, it was actually lacrosse
17 The "Canadian Shield" is a "large" (8 000 000 km2) area of exposed Precambrian igneous and high-grade metamorphic rocks that forms the ancient geological core of the North American continent. Or, as it is known while driving in Northern Ontario, "Endless Rocks and Trees"
18) Since 1901, 15 people have attempted to go over Niagara Falls in the hopes of being alive at the end. 11 have succeeded. There are 20- 40 people per year who are either swept over accidentally, or commiting suicide.
wow
19) Hwy #11, through Northern Ontario, west towards Manitoba, is a mind-numbing and seemingly endless, winding stretch of pavement. To drive from Ottawa to Thunder Bay (still in Ontario) takes around 18 hours.
To drive from Thunder Bay to Calgary? About the same, but switching to Hwy 17 after Thunder Bay to avoid crossing through Minnesota: 18 hours.
20) Montreal has an Underground City – a series of interconnected tunnels beneath Montreal that runs for over 32 kms (20 mi). In the winter over 500,000 people use the tunnels on a daily basis. The tunnels connect shopping malls, museums, universities, hotels, banks, offices and seven metro stations.
21) Canada has the only town in the world with two exclamation marks in its name: Saint-Louis-du-Ha! Ha!, located on the south side of the St. Lawrence River, toward New Brunswick.
External image


22)The province of Quebec is Canada’s greatest producer of maple syrup.
23) Three provinces in Canada share the naming tradition of four US States (and one "region") with the prefix "New": New Brunswick, Newfoundland, and Nova Scotia (Latin for "New Scotland") go with New York, New Jersey, New Hampshire and regional New England (plus the non-eastern New Mexico).
24) Canada’s legal drinking age is 19 years of age in BC, New Brunswick, Newfoundland and Labrador, Northwest Territories, Nova Scotia, Nunavut, Ontario, PEI, Saskatchewan, and Yukon.
It is only 18 years of age in Alberta, Manitoba, and Quebec.
25) A 9.3 kg (20.46 pounds!) lobster is the largest documented lobster ever caught, in Nova Scotia in 1977.
26) Prince Edward Island, Canada’s smallest province, is only 225 kilometres long and 56 kilometres wide. That's larger than Rhode Island, which isn't really an island at all.
27) Screech is a particular brand of rum sold in Newfoundland. It has come to mean any “cheap, but with high alcohol, spirit (especially rum)” elsewhere in Canada.
External image


28) Gander, NFLD has a strong connection with the New York City attack on Sept. 11th, 2001. When incoming US flights were cancelled, 38 planes from Europe landed at the Gander airport. 7,000 stranded travelers spent many days living in gymnasiums, or with one of the 10,000 Gander families who opened their homes to these strangers.
29) It is actually closer to fly from St.John’s, Newfoundland to Galway, Ireland (1,932 miles) than it is to fly to Winnipeg, Manitoba (2,002 miles)
30) There are nearly 2.5 million caribou in Canada, from the Yukon through the NorthWest Territories, across Nunuvat and Northern Quebec.
External image
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8. Board Game: The Victorian Gamer [Average Rating:3.29 Unranked]
Board Game: The Victorian Gamer
A face in the crowd
Canada
Chestermere
Alberta
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Life lesson: Hamsters are NOT diswasher safe.
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June 1: Victoria, BC

This is the capital city of the province of British Columbia and it is a wonderful and charming place.
Victoria is one of my favorite cities, anywhere in the world, and we’re starting off the Virtual Vacation there.

In truth, you could spend a whole month on Vancouver Island, skip the rest of Canada, and call it time well spent.

Best time of year to visit Victoria? Any time, although Spring comes months earlier there than it does for the bulk of Canada or the northern USA.
You can fly in, from wherever you live, or maybe even take a ferry from Seattle (or Vancouver).
Victoria lies one degree below the long border with the USA that is along “the 49th parallel” so if you look to the east you will see Washington State, not BC.

The city itself is on the small side, compared to some other provincial capitals, but it makes up for it by being very pedestrian friendly and the downtown area is compact and easy to navigate.
It contains a nice sized “Chinatown” plus all sorts of funky restaurants and shops. They have a lovely main harbor, where busy marinas operate along with the occasional private seaplane landing there.
You can take a “water taxi” across the harbor or a guided boat tour up a nearby tributary, but most folks will congregate along the upper harbor wall—called “Front Street”—between the massive Empress Hotel and the Parliament Buildings.
If you don’t enjoy the rain, however, make sure you have waterproof clothes and/ or an umbrella. Spring and winter is mostly rain and sleet; snow doesn’t stick around too long.
The rainy periods occur far less often in Summer and Fall but there’s always a chance of a shower.
As a result, the city is very green almost year round. I was there in February, once, and the cherry trees were blossoming. There was 4 feet of snow back home, just 1,100 km east!

External image

Victoria- the Inner Harbor and the Empress Hotel

If you get down to Front Street and the harbor, you will find the Empress Hotel, where you can experience a “proper” English High Tea.
That is wildly popular, for some reason, even though the prices there make me shudder.
Then again, I don’t like tea. Nor cucumber and watercress sandwiches...

NOTE: I’m not sure how accurate their labelling is, but this is supposed to be the low-down from overseas:
A British Person wrote:
“There are 3 types of “tea” in the UK: AFTERNOON tea, CREAM tea, and HIGH tea.
The first two are white-collar experiences but a high tea is a blue-collar meal, probably no scones, but a variety of meat dishes, puddings, cakes, etc. — very filling, and designed to satisfy the factory worker or farm laborer as soon as he gets home and is too hungry to wait for the fashionable dinner hour of 8 pm.”
While in the harbor area, (with lots of unique shopping places) you can find independent companies offering whale watching tours to take you out into the ocean. There are a couple of different experiences-- the faster and closer to the water Zodiac speedboats, or the slower but more comfortable (and enclosed) ships.
As well, there are tiny passenger ferry (City-sponsored transit) and on-the-water Harbour Tours.

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Whale watching—killer whales almost guaranteed from May to November, but other whale species and wildlife can be seen year-round

Just around the corner from the Empress Hotel is the provincial parliament building and the Royal BC museum.
If you have time to walk and wander around, you can see swans, turtles, ducks, geese and Blue Herons in nearby Beacon Hill Park, or wind your way through a residential neighborhood to the very impressive Craigdarroch "Castle" and take a tour of it.

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The main entry of the Craigdarroch Castle

Further afield (actually fairly close to the airport) are Butchart Gardens, which should not be missed— even if you don’t think that you’re a fan of flowers and gardens— and there's a (sort-of nearby to that) rather nice Butterfly Gardens (indoor) as well.

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A small section of Butchart Gardens— full bloom in late Spring and early Summer

When the night time comes, you can get fresh seafood from the many restaurants along Front Street and the surrounding area, but my favorite place is a brewpub on the opposite side of the harbor (see the "Fun Facts" item, above, for details.
There are hotel rooms to rent, right beside the pub, and it is in a residential neighborhood so they close early and follow the noise restriction by-laws.
If you're looking for late light revelling then you’ll have to find another place.

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Spinnaker’s Gastropub
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9. Board Game: Island Hopper [Average Rating:5.63 Overall Rank:15543]
Board Game: Island Hopper
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Chestermere
Alberta
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June 2- The Gulf Islands

You won’t have time to do any island hopping if you’re only in the area for a day or two, but if you had more time then you could check out the (Southern) Gulf Islands, just off of Victoria and accessible by ferry or seaplane.
Best times to visit? Summer/ Fall.

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The Gulf Islands. Seattle is just out of the picture, on the SE corner.

There are ten main islands; only one with actual settlements (villages)* on it. They are:
Galiano Island
Mayne Island
North Pender Island
South Pender Island
Salt Spring Island- *This is the populated one
Saturna Island
Penelakut Island
Thetis Island
Valdes Island
Gabriola Island

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Red sky at night-- sailor's delight

Life is slow on these islands, and the inhabitants, artisans, and artists living there are often quirky but very friendly.
You will find all manner of tourist in the high season, but mostly the ones who want to experience nature and get away from the city and the bustle and stress.
If that sounds like you, then you would really enjoy these islands.

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A typical view on Galiano Island

If you’re into hiking and walking, Mt. Erskine on Salt Spring Island, has a unique activity.
Called “The Assault”, it is a very steep 2 km trail uphill. Along the way, if you look closely enough, you will find “Fairy Houses” (notably, their wooden doors). Then enjoy the view from the top, rest up/ catch your breath, before going downhill for 2km. The round trip should take a couple or three hours, depending on your pace.

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One of the Fairy Doors along the trail

Most of the islands also have a ton of biking trails and kayak/ boat rentals.

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Kayaking off of Mayne Islane
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10. Board Game: Hit the Beach [Average Rating:5.22 Overall Rank:18416]
Board Game: Hit the Beach
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Alberta
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June 3: Tofino
Best time to visit? Summer (beaches, surfing, whale & wildlife watching)

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There’s actually a town—Tofino—at the end of that big pennisula

But first...
Back on the mainland, travelling north from Victoria, the next big city you reach is Nanaimo.
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It used to be a small fishing village, that had a large ferry port added to it.
Now its population (90,000+) is larger than Victoria’s is!
Now the only reason I’ve mentioned it is that is also the birthplace of a beloved Canadian dessert treat:

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Do yourself a favor—try these out.

Nanaimo Bars recipe

Makes 16- 2” squares, although some people like 32- 1” x 2” rectangles

EQUIPMENT NEEDED
Handheld mixer/ beaters, 8” x 8” square baking pan (if you use 9” square then the layers just get thinner, so it’s no big deal)
Bowls, spatula, glass (pyrex) measuring cup, maybe a knife or a spoon, depending on how clean you like to keep your hands.

Ingredients

BASE:
1/2 cup butter or margarine (softened, but not melted)
2 Tbs sugar
1/4 cup cocoa
2 cups graham cracker crumbs
1/4 cup shredded dry coconut (unsweetened is best; there is plenty of sugar elsewhere in these)- Optional
1/4 cup finely chopped walnuts (Optional)
1 egg, beaten until yolk and white is combined

MIDDLE LAYER:
1/2 cup butter or margarine, softened
3 Tbsp custard powder
2 cups icing sugar (aka powdered sugar or confectioner's sugar)
6 tbsp milk (estimate)

TOP LAYER:
8 oz semi-sweet or dark chocolate, in small chunks, or use chocolate chips
1/4 cup heavy cream

METHOD
Nanaimo bars are a No Bake dessert; you should chill each layer for at least 30 minutes before stacking on the next one, but if you get impatient I’ve seen then done with as little as 10 minutes of chilling (each layer)
Line your 8 x 8 pan with parchment paper, or foil, or alternately you can rub some melted butter directly onto it (or use a neutral tasting oil). The paper helps you to remove it from the pan and eventually cut it up, though.

In a bowl, use the hand mixer to cream the butter and sugar together. Add the cocoa and combine.
Now, with a large spoon or spatula, add the graham cracker crumbs and coconut (optional, but highly recommended by me) and nuts, if you’re using those.
The mixture will be quite dry. Finally, add the raw egg, and stir until everything becomes stuck together.
“Dump” the mixture into your prepared pan and press it flat with your fingers, or use the spatula or the back of a large spoon.
Place it in the fridge or freezer for 30 minutes to an hour, until it hardens slightly.

Make your middle layer in another bowl while the other layer is chilling—whip the butter with the (clean) mixer beaters and add the custard powder in gradually while you do. Use a low speed or you’ll get dust clouds.
(I’ve seen recipes that substitute softened cream cheese instead of butter, which is fine if you like cream cheese)
Now add half of the icing sugar and half of the milk, and continue to mix. You want a fairly stiff mixture, but with lots of air. Add the rest of the icing sugar and mix, only adding enough milk to make things moist enough.
You should be able to spread it with a knife or a spatula, but it can’t be too thin or the last layer will collapse it.

Add it on top of your chilled base mixture in the pan, spread it evenly, then return to the fridge for a half an hour or more. This is the layer that you do want to be a bit more solid, before the chocolate goes on top.

About 10 minutes before the dessert has finished chilling, make the final layer.
You can use the same bowl that the first layer used, as long as you wipe out any crumbs stuck to it.
Put the cold chocolate chunks/ chips into it.
In a glass bowl or microwave safe measuring cup, heat the cream for 45 seconds to a minute.
It should start to boil, and it will foam and rise up the edges of the cup, so watch it close to avoid a mess!
Pour the hot cream on top of the chips and wait for 3 minutes.
Now stir. The heat from the cream will melt the chocolate and you will have a lovely ganache to use for your top layer. Some people add butter/ margarine to the cream, although it isn’t strictly necessary to do that. It certainly doesn’t hurt it any, though.

Let your ganache cool down on the counter a bit while you wait for your middle layer to finish firming up in the fridge.
Pour it (you might need a spatula to get all of it out of the bowl) on top of the cold yellow layer and spread it quickly with a knife or spatula. It should be 1/8” to 3/16” thick after it is spread out.
Put everything back into the fridge, for the ganache to firm up.
After that, these can sit at room temperature for hours. I usually keep my leftovers in the fridge, if there happen to be any...
_______________________________________________________________________________________
Onward!
As you can see from the small map image before the recipe, there is a Y in the road that goes off to Tofino and over to the west side of the island, or you can continue north. We’re going west. It is the #4 Hwy (also known as “The Pacific Rim Highway”)
Very soon after turning, you go through MacMillan Provincial Park. This is where you should stop to see the magnificent forests, and Cathedral Grove in particular. It is a short, looping trail that shouldn’t take more than 30 minutes, unless you want it to last longer.
It is well-marked and well trodden, and there are loads of information points along the way, in sign form.

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A common activity is seeing how many people it takes to fully wrap around a tree base.

Our final stop will be Tofino, so continue on. Don’t place too much faith in that small map, though. There is a serious southward dip after Port Alberni, and then you go though forests and nature before turning NW on the same (#4) road.

The whole trip, from Nanaimo to Tofino (without the stopover) is around 3 hours of driving time.
You are now in a very remote part of the world, and a very beautiful one.
Tofino has a similar vibe to the Gulf islands. Full of sort of hippie, laidback, healthy, nature-lovin’ folks.
But more than likely you can find a shop or kiosk selling Nanaimo Bars...

Find out more about Tofino here: https://www.tourismtofino.com/
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11. Board Game: Salmon Quest [Average Rating:0.00 Unranked]
Board Game: Salmon Quest
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Chestermere
Alberta
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June 4: Campbell River
Best time to visit: June- mid September

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Campell River, with the Insular Mountain Range in the background. Nickname: Salmon Capital of the World

Before arriving at Campbell River, I should note that there are a few more Gulf islands that you can visit/ camp at; notably Hornby Island and Denman Island. These are much like the lower gulf islands from a couple of listitems back but less explored and even more rustic.

The ocean is a main attraction here, but the actual river in Campbell River is the start (and end) of the salmon migration.
Salmon begin life as freshwater fish, then swim downstream to the ocean and live until adulthood as seawater fish. When they are ready to reproduce (a four year cycle) they swim back upstream in th eriver to lay eggs or to fertilize those eggs, then they die in the waters that they were born in.

As a result, you can fish for salmon in the river, or on the ocean.

Typically the ocean salmon are the "big ones", and the near-dead ones going home to reproduce are of poor quality (but the local wildlife-- bears and eagles-- don't mind).

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A good day on the ocean

You could catch five species of salmon here: Pink, coho, chinook , chum, and steelhead-- and even the odd wayward sockeye salmon.
You can also catch halibut, lingcod, snapper, and even albacore tuna in the ocean, if you know where to go (hire a local expert!)

Meanwhile, an excellent day trip can be had by taking the ferry from the town to nearby Quadra Island: the trip takes about 10 minutes and it runs once an hour, making 16 or 17 crossings a day. It costs $10.30 per passenger (age 12 and up), plus $24 for a car or $12 for a motorcycle (return).
It is a populated island, but there are all sorts of nature walks & hikes and activities that you can do on your own, plus investigating the associated lore of the native Indians who live there (for instance, you can view the petroglyhs-- carvings in the stones-- or head out to Rebecca Spit to do some swimming, seashell collecting, or clamming (littleneck and butter clams).

Back in the '70s, it was popular to take a "rubbing" of a petrogylph that you found in the wild; you take a piece of light canvas (or paper), lay it over the carving in the rock, and get a soft shale rock and gently bang & rub it against the canvas. The recessed areas stay blank.

It is no longer legal to do this. soblue You can buy rubbings, made by the natives, at gift shops now, however.

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One of the many petroglyphs on Quadra, and a rubbing made from one (not on Quadra island)

Campbell River has one other notable historic fact associated with it.
It lies at one end of the Discovery Passage (The Seymour Narrows), which connects the “Inside Passage” with the Pacific Ocean, and is the main route of Cruise Ships going to Alaska.
The tides there are some of the strongest and most dangerous on earth. Historically, it was even more treacherous:

Ripple Rock was a submerged twin-peak mountain that lay just nine feet beneath the surface of the Seymour Narrows. It was a serious hazard to shipping, sinking 119 vessels and taking 114 lives. The gunboat USS Saranac was one of the rock's first recorded victims.
On April 5, 1958, after twenty-seven months of tunnelling and engineering work, Ripple Rock was blown up with 1,375 tons of explosive; making it the largest commercial, non-nuclear blast ever detonated in North America. It was shown live on television, and you can watch replays at the museum in Campbell River.

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A common sight-- cruise ships pass Campbell River to go through the Seymour Narrows and up to Alaska, and back to Vancouver
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12. Board Game: Vancouver in a box [Average Rating:6.87 Unranked]
Board Game: Vancouver in a box
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June 5: Vancouver
Best time: Any; but particularly spring/ summer

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Downtown Vancouver

While I’m personally not a fan of the city Vancouver (too much urban sprawl, bridges and toll roads contributing to bad traffic, just too many damned people for my liking, and don’t get me started on housing and real estate prices), it is a very pretty spot.
It also wins (or comes in the top 5) opinion polls of “the most liveable city in the world”-style articles.
So there must be something in the water there.
Much like New York City and its boroughs, what I call Vancouver is actually seven (or more?) smaller cities known as “the greater Vancouver municipal area”: Vancouver, Langley, Richmond, Burnaby, Delta, New Westminster, Coquitlam, and Surrey.

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The Lion's Gate Bridge-

This suspension bridge has the look of the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco.
It's overall length is 1,823 m (5,981 ft) long and 111 m (364 ft) high, the deck situated 61 m (200 ft) above the water.
The term "Lions Gate" refers to The Lions, a pair of mountain peaks north of Vancouver.
A pair of cast concrete lions were placed on either side of the south approach to the bridge in January 1939.
It is a three lane bridge (one is reversed to help traffic flow at certain times of the day). The traffic volume on the bridge is 60,000 - 70,000 vehicles per day.

Vancouver has cruise ship ports and it is the heart of the Pacific shipping trade, with Asia, for Canada.
It is also an important air hub for Asian, western USA, Mexico, and South American travel.

The 1986 World Exposition on Transportation and Communication, or simply Expo 86, was a World's Fair held in Vancouver. It had lasting effects on the city, giving them their main mass transit line, a stadium, a convention center and other architectural landmarks. 24 years later, in 2010, they successfully hosted the Winter Olympics (the second to be held in Canda).

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Granville Island Market, on the center island, under the Granville Bridge

Natives of Vancouver consider themselves to be healthy and active, and the weather there allows them to cycle, row, golf, run, and hike almost year-round.
Popular tourist destinations are a wonderful aquarium within Stanley Park (an enormous green area on a pennisula in the bay, full of trails, and a scenic seawall), Granville Island (farmer’s and seafood) Public Market and the nearby False Creek area.

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Canada Place; feature of the Expo 1986 pavillion

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The Capilano suspension bridge—not for the faint of heart
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13. Board Game: Lost Valley: The Yukon Goldrush 1896 [Average Rating:6.78 Overall Rank:3180]
Board Game: Lost Valley: The Yukon Goldrush 1896
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Chestermere
Alberta
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June 6: Whitehorse
Best time to visit: fall/ summer
Whitehorse is located at Mile 918 on the Alaska Highway. The closest big Canadian city is Edmonton (Alberta)– 1,994 kilometers away.

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The aerial view of Whitehorse. Not too many people drive in.

From Vancouver, we will have to fly (or take a fairly long Alaskan Cruise) in order to get up to the Yukon; home of the Klondike Gold Rush of 1896 – 1899

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Come visit me some day. I’m in the fourth tent, in the fifth row.

The Yukon River flows though the center of town.
The city was named after the White Horse Rapids; before the river was dammed the rapids looked like the mane of a white horse.

The 1990s TV series Northern Exposure was about a recent graduate doctor who was sent up to Cicely, Alaska (a fictional town) to work off his debts incurred while at university.
Although that series was filmed just east of Seattle, the town of Whitehorse could be a real life counterpart to Cicely. A tightknit community, native people, lots of nature to enjoy, and local people who are a just little bit “bush-crazy”.

One of the main attractions in the north of Canada (or Alaska) is the chance to see the Aurora Borealis (Northern Lights).
I’ve seen them as far south as Calgary, but the chance increases the further north and the further away from city lights that you get.
If you thought that fireworks were mesmorizing, then you won’t believe what the Northern Lights will do for you.

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You can get colors other than green. The intensity increases the closer to the north pole that you get

Did you know that the Iditerod isn’t the only great sled dog event in the world— The Yukon Quest is a race that goes from Whitehorse to Fairbanks, Alaska, 1000 miles away.

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Gentlemen; start your... dogs!
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14. Board Game: Tundra: The Board Game [Average Rating:0.00 Unranked]
Board Game: Tundra: The Board Game
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Alberta
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June 7: Yellowknife
Best fall/ summer
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Like most other small cities, but with more "bushplanes" flying about

Yellowknife is one of Canada's newer cities; it wasn't really established until 1934, when gold was discovered in the area.
It only became the Territorial Capital in 1967, the centennial anniversary year of Canada.
Until 2012, Yellowknife did not have a permanent road connection to the rest of Canada's highway network, depending either on ferry service or an ice road to cross the Mackenzie River.

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As you can see, it it is a long way away from... anything else of note

The Northwest Territories used to include all of mainland Nunavut; it was split (more or less in half) in the year 1999.
They like to call themselves, “The Land of the Midnight Sun”.
The bulk of the territory lies above the Arctic Circle, although most of the population lives below that latitude.
North of the Arctic Circle, the sun is above the horizon for 24 continuous hours at least once per year (and therefore visible at midnight) and below the horizon for 24 continuous hours at least once per year (and therefore not visible at noon).

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A time-lapse photo, showing the path of the midnight sun

The capital city of this immense Territory is located on the northwestern leg of Great Slave Lake, the deepest lake in North America at 614 metres (2014 feet) and the 10th largest lake in the world.
That's a lot of fresh water.

The city is a hub of arctic travel and for mining industry support & activity. When the gold mining became unprofitable, Yellowknife was mainly a government town, but the discovery of kimberlites in the early 1980s changed everything.
That's right-- there are diamond mines in the Northwest Territories.

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All ("finished") Canadian diamonds are registered and some are even laser etched with a serial number and a tiny polar bear symbol on the side

With all of the water and scrub brush and tundra (tundra: a vast, flat, treeless Arctic region of Europe, Asia, and North America in which the subsoil is permanently frozen), there are plenty of bugs (mainly flies and mosquitoes) around in the summer.

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A less typical mosquito-- actual size whistle
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15. Board Game: Crude: The Oil Game [Average Rating:6.72 Overall Rank:2345]
Board Game: Crude: The Oil Game
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June 8: Edmonton
Best time to visit: summer/ fall
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Located on the banks of the North Saskatchewan River

Edmonton is the provincial capital of Alberta, a controversial choice*. The province is named after Princess Louise Caroline Alberta, 4th daughter of the queen of England. In fact, you will also find Lake Louise and a small town called Caroline in Alberta..
*I say controversial, because the province had another candidate city 200 miles south; Calgary.
Calgary was (and still is) more populous and more prosperous, but Edmonton had elected two officials from the ruling party back in Central Canada (in the 1900s), while Calgary had no direct political influence in that way.
The two cities have been fierce rivals ever since.
Since I was born and raised in Calgary myself, I have no doubt as to which the “better” city is but I will admit that Edmonton has a lovely downtown river view, some excellent museums, and many other good points about it.

It is the “gateway” to the north—to Ft. McMurray and the Athabasca oilsands, mainly —so it is very much a “blue collar worker” city (there are those large distances showing up again; Edmonton to Ft. Mac is about 5 to 5 1/2 hours driving) and oil refinery, oil and gas exploration companies, and support industries, are abundant.

They also have a well-established arts and musical community that includes an annual summer fringe fest.
Oh, and there's a really big shopping mall that is famous for being... really big.

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The indoor waterpark, part of the sprawling West Edmonton Mall

They are proud of their sporting history, being the home to several championship teams (Canadian Football and NHL hockey). They also have a development league soccer team, and the city itself was the host of the 1978 Commonwealth Games—a sort of Olympic Games for British Commonwealth nations (47, at the time) only.
The main legacy from those games was a huge stadium where the track & field events were held. It is now the home of the local professional football team, and plays host to all of the biggest touring musical concert acts of the world.

I would catch all sorts of flack from the locals if I didn’t mention Wayne Gretzky and the Edmonton Oilers, in particular:

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Obligatory picture; circa 1984-85

Edmonton is also home to several brewing companies, the largest being a plant producing Labatt’s beer (a very mainstream and commonly available beer everywhere in Canada), but also many “microbrewers” who are putting out some much more memorable (and tasty) stuff.
I was once informed by the owner of one of those microbreweries (Alley Kat Brewing) that Edmonton has “the perfect water for making beer. The mineral content and quality of the water right from the kitchen tap is exactly what you want to start your beer with”. Which is no doubt why Labatts’ set up shop there, in 1962.

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I know which beer I would prefer to drink
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16. Board Game: Park and Shop [Average Rating:5.29 Overall Rank:17359]
Board Game: Park and Shop
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June 9: Jasper-Banff
Best times to visit: summer/ winter (hiking/ sightseeing/skiing)

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Downtown Jasper and Banff, respectively

4 hours east of Edmonton, on Highway 16 (which leads to the “Yellowhead Pass”, through the Rocky Mountains and into northern B.C.) you will arrive in the town of Jasper, in Jasper National Park.
Here you will see a lot of nature—elk, deer, bighorn sheep—as well as mountain vistas and the usual nature expected in the wilderness. The town itself is quaint and development has stepped up in the past few years. You’ll find brewpubs, restaurants, and other shopping and tourist services.

As you head south from Jasper (another 4 or more hours, depending if you stop or power on through) toward Banff National Park on the Banff-Jasper highway, there are glacier icefields to admire.

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The Glacier Skywalk, near Jasper.

That road can sometimes be closed, due to poor driving conditions, between October and May (!) so you need to check on its status before trying or you’ll end up on a 7-hour trip/ detour (east and then south, through Calgary, then back west).

The town of Banff is everything that Jasper isn’t. Quirky, touristy, and full of activities within the town itself (they both share an abundance of nature). Far more commercial oriented, amd probably double the size, but worthwhile nonetheless.
Banff was the first National Park ever designated in Canada; established in 1885 in the Rocky Mountains.
The Canadian Pacific Railway was instrumental in Banff's early years, building the Banff Springs Hotel and the Lake Louise Chalet (about an hour or so away by car, or take an icefields’ tourbus).

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Lake Louise, and its “chateau” (hotel). The water color is due to glacier melt.

Banff is also the hub of winter sports activity, with dozens of nearby cross-country ski trails and downhill ski resorts.
In the summer, Banff is a starting point for several scenic hikes, and there is a world class golf course there.
There is a natural hot spring so you can relax in a public pool year-round.
Sulphur Mountain is on the outskirts of town and it has a gondola that you can ride up to the top to visit a restaurant there or just to look at the view.

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Sulphur Mountain gondola

Plus it is only an hour and half drive from Calgary...
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17. Board Game: Stampede! [Average Rating:4.49 Overall Rank:18473]
Board Game: Stampede!
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Alberta
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June 10: Calgary
Best time to visit: fall/ summer

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Looking west, toward the Rocky Mountains

This a modern city, but citizens are perfectly non-chalant about someone walking into a boardroom meeting at an oil company headquarters who is wearing a cowboy hat and/ or cowboy boots.
We embrace our Western image and our farming & ranching roots.

Yet, only after Toronto, Calgary has the most corporate headquarters/ head offices anywhere else in Canada.
Calgary Economic Development lists 123 companies headquartered in Calgary that report annual revenues of $100 million or more. Dozens have revenues in excess of $1 billion, and 12 of that number are not oil and gas companies.

Once a year (starting the 2nd weekend in July), for 10 days, the entire city goes crazy. Stampede crazy.
There are free pancake breakfasts going on every morning; some are private but most are public, and they can feed 1,000 people while they sit on hay bales and listen to a local band play country songs live.

The fairgrounds is where the Calgary Stampede-- all kinds of exhibits, rodeo action, and the midway (you know, for the kids)-- happens and it is pretty much guaranteed that after parade day (in which the city center is closed for business until noon) 1,000,000 + people will go to the grounds.

The main rodeo events are bull riding and barrel racing, but the biggest crowds turn up for the "chucks"-- four different teams of riders, plus the driver, load up a chuckwagon with stereotypical camping equipment, like two tent poles and a "campstove" then the drivers take off in a figure eight around some barrels before hitting the main course, while the riders have to get on their horses and chase their wagon around the one mile track.

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"The greatest outdoor show on Earth!", as they like to call it

Calgary is no stranger to large public events, as the city became the first ever Canadian host of the Winter Olympics, in 1988.
It was the last time that the Olympics were truly an amateur event (before professional teams of superstars could enter) and that gave birth to the Olympic heroes Eddie "The Eagle", a British wall plasterer turned ski-jumper, who came last in the standings but first in everyone's heart and The Jamaican Bobsled Team, which was later chronicled in the underrated Disney movie comedy Cool Runnings.

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A scene from the opening cermonies

Calgary also has a large and impressive zoo, a summer folk music festival, and various museums and other touristy attractions.
Summer is short, and often rainy (more rain in June than any other month), but the fall stretches out into late September when the nights are cooler but the days are pleasant and warm.

If you drive an hour west, you are in the Rockies. If you drive an hour south, you are in the "foothills", which is a hilly but wide open space where you encounter small towns that were part of early oil and natural gas exploration, or large ranches such as ones found around “Longview”, where Hollywood goes to film their big Western Movies, like Clint Eastwood's Unforgiven.

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You can see a long way, in all directions, so they called the town Longview

Calgary and area (down into northern Montana) experiences a fairly unique weather experience, several times over the winter months. The so-called “chinook winds” blow warm air over top of the mountains (from the west) and it creates an arch in the sky and wild temperature gains. Like it could go from -20 C (-4 °F) up to +10 C (50°F), in about an hour. The temperature can stay around for several days, then plunge back to negative numbers again without much warning.
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18. Board Game: Christina Regina: The Queen's Path [Average Rating:0.00 Unranked]
Board Game: Christina Regina: The Queen's Path
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June 11: Regina
Best time to visit: summer

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Regina is the Provincial capital

For some reason, the province of Saskatchewan seems to give some people trouble with pronunciation.
But it’s easy: sass-CATCH-you-juan

The city’s nickname is “The Queen City”, because of course Regina is Latin for Queen.
The original name for Regina (which was actually named after Queen Victoria of England) in the Cree language, before settlers came west, was oskana kâ-asastêki—- and you thought that “Saskatchewan” was hard to pronounce?-- which translated to "Pile of Bones". Because that’s where all of the buffalo bones were left when the creek runoff dried up.

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What else could you call it?

Regina is a city, not on a river, but on/ near a lake, in the middle of the wheatfields and grassland, that also happens to be on the TransCanada Highway (also known as the #1 Hwy, which goes from St. John’s on the island of Newfoundland to Victoria in BC).

This is a typical Saskatchewan story:
“My dog ran away. I watched him for three days before I couldn’t make him out on the horizon any more”.
Yeah, Saskatchewan is known for having a lot of sky. Because, man, is it flat. Glaciers will do that.
Neighboring Manitoba is in a similar situation. Flat, and with a lot of lakes left behind up north.

In Regina, farming equipment and grain distribution are the major industries.

Their one big diversion in life, it seems, is that they have an enormously popular— all across Canada, since most people born in Saskatchewan have moved away— football team, The Saskatchewan Roughriders.
Canadian football, that is. Pretty close to American football but with only 3 downs instead of 4, and a wider field, an extra player, and outdoor playoff games that are often played in subzero temperatures.

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I’d call these guys “typical” fans, except that they aren’t wearing watermelons on their heads...

The city (and its northen neighbour Saskatoon-- heck, everyone in the province) lives and dies with their team’s fortune during the summer and fall.
The team’s mascot is a gopher (named “Gainer”). No lie.

Regina is also the headquarters of the world famous “Royal Canadian Mounted Police”.

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The mounties perform a ceremonial “Musical Ride”

Pretty much all of the police are in cars, and not on horses, these days although you will see some (all across Canada) at various large public functions.
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19. Board Game: Tiny Toon Adventures [Average Rating:5.00 Unranked]
Board Game: Tiny Toon Adventures
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June 12: Saskatoon
Best time to visit: June/July
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Saskatoon-- "The Paris of the Prairies" (because of the bridges, supposedly)

Saskatoon is a very pretty city on the banks of the South Saskatchewan river.

Much like my Regina story, Saskatoon is an anglicization from the Cree language word misâskwatômina (Mis-sack-qua-too-mina), which means “the fruit of the tree of many branches”.
Not so coincidentally, then, it is also the name of a berry— somewhat like a small blueberry— that grows wild on trees (almost always near a source of water) throughout the four Western provinces (and northward as well).

So if you had Nanaimo bars when you were in the city of Nanaimo, this is now a chance to say that you had some saskatoon pie in Saskatoon.

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A Western-Canadian delicacy (for some people)

Many would describe the taste of saskatoon as having a sweet, nutty almond flavor. They are also high in fiber, protein and antioxidants. Berries ripen in late June or early July.

Speaking of food, the city is very proud of its Ukrainan/ Polish/ Russian immigrant roots, so you’ll find more than one restaurant here that specializes in perogies and kobasa (kielbasa) sausage.

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This may look pretty bland, but boy is it tasty.

There is one “drive-through” perogie hut that sells over 10,000 perogies, 120 litres of borscht, and 3,000 cabbage rolls daily (probably because you can also buy them frozen, for fundraising or to take home and cook yourself).
Link here: Baba’s Homestyle Perogies

The most popular menu item there is the “Super Combo”: 5 perogies, 2 cabbage rolls, 1 smokie; served with ground bacon, chives and sour cream, for just $8.99. Yes, that’s a typical meal for ONE person....

Saskatoon is also well-known for an annual Jazz fest, and its river & bridge pathways (walking and biking).
In the short summer, and the early fall months, of course. Because Saskatoon is also well-known as one of the coldest large cities in Canada:

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Yes, but it's a dry cold...

Converting, for our American friends: -12.4C = 10F; -23.7C = -10F; 53.3 cm = 21 inches.
So maybe -23.7C doesn't sound too bad, does it? Well those are average temperatures. If your daytime high is -12C then your overnight low is -35C in order to average out to that number.
If you add "wind chill"-- and believe me, that is a real concern-- the daytime temperatures feel like -36C (-33F). Notice that Celsius and Fahrenheit are getting much closer now. They meet at -40, which is a not uncommon temperature in Northwestern Canada.
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20. Board Game: Churchill [Average Rating:7.68 Overall Rank:567]
Board Game: Churchill
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Alberta
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June 13: Churchill
Best visited in October/ November
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Those are railway tracks in the foreground, but not for a passenger railway

There are only three reasons that you’d ever want to go to Churchill: To see polar bears, beluga whales, and Northern Lights.
Seriously.
Record high temperature in January? 1.7 degrees C (35.1F). Permanent population: 900.
Winnipeg is the closest large city, and that is 1,000 km (620 mi) south of here.
This is a remote place, one that has two seasons— Winter, and Insects.

In 1717 the Hudson's Bay Company built the first permanent settlement, a log fort, a few kilometres upstream from the mouth of the Churchill River. The trading post and river were named after John Churchill, 1st Duke of Marlborough (an ancestor of Winston Churchill), who was governor of the Hudson's Bay Company in the late seventeenth century.
The fort was built mostly to capitalize on the North American fur trade, which then shipped then furs through the actual (the water known as) Hudson Bay, across the North Atlantic Ocean south of Greenland, and back to England.

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Polar bears. Oh, they look cute, but they are nasty creatures

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Beluga whales. They look like white dolphins. Only bigger.

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Northern Lights. Because you really can’t get enough of them
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21. Board Game: Dead of Winter: A Crossroads Game [Average Rating:7.59 Overall Rank:115] [Average Rating:7.59 Unranked]
Board Game: Dead of Winter: A Crossroads Game
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June 14: Winnipeg
Best time to visit: Summer
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People sometimes call it "Winter-peg", but it isn't all bad

Winnipeg was founded at the intersection of two large rivers-- the Red and the Assiniboine.
Spring flooding was a regular occurance (they have improved diversion canals in place these days) and that made the soil perfect for farming.

Winnipeg winters are brutally cold and snowy, but it is a lovely place to be in the summer.
Assuming that you can get away from the mosquitoes. whistle

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The intersection of Portage and Main streets has been called the "Windiest intersection in North America"

Long, lazy summer nights see the citizens out walking and talking on the streets. You can buy an ice cream at 9:30pm and there is still enough daylight to see where you are going. The temperature will have dropped to a pleasant 22 degrees by then as well.

Manitoba is the "Slurpee" capital of the world, mostly because of Winnipeggers (depite contrary claims, in error, by Detroit)-- an average of 188,833 Slurpee drinks per month! are sold at Winnipeg 7-Eleven stores. When winter temperatures hit -20, sales remain strong. They have even been served at weddings, if you can believe it.

As well as having a diverse Native history, the city is situated in the very center of North America, making it a vital transportation hub for the Trucking and Railway industries.
Many of the world's top touring acts play live concerts in Winnipeg, which has a rich musical history that stretches back to the 1940s.
Neil Young lived there, and The Guess Who were all born and raised there.

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A little band called The Beatles once played live in Winnipeg (1964)

If you look at a map of Manitoba, there are a couple of really large blue "spots" on it. The largest of those spots is Lake Winnipeg.
The city is not on the lake; in fact, you have to drive north about a couple of hours to get to it. But it is something to see, once you arrive. It looks like the ocean, but without the tides.
There are a few deep places further in the northern parts of the lake (over 200 feet deep) but the "average" lake depth is just six feet.
I once went to the largest beach (Grand Beach), and started walking out into the water. After 2 minutes it was barely above my thighs.

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The specks in the lake are people, probably only up to their waist, or less, in water

What else can you do here? The Royal Canadian Mint makes coins for the country, and there is one in Winnipeg (you can tour it), and down where the rivers meet is a large area known as "The Forks", which contains a marketplace, a casino, a Children's Museum and a Human Rights Museum, plus docks and areas for various riverboat tours, or to sit and eat your lunch while people-watching.
Closer to downtown, there is a planetarium and the Museum of Man and Nature which I have been to twice, and loved it both times.

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Riverside, at The Forks
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22. Board Game: Masters of the Universe [Average Rating:4.70 Overall Rank:18534]
Board Game: Masters of the Universe
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June 15: Toronto
Best time to visit: Any time

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If you're a native, you don't pronounce all of the "O"s-- you say, "Torana"

Q—What city is at the very center of the universe?
A—Toronto. Just ask them.

It gets confusing to some, but Toronto is the capital city of the province of Ontario, while Ottawa (Ontario) is the capital city of Canada.
Ontario is very much a land of lakes (much like Minnesota) and Toronto is located on the shores of one of the five Great Lakes (Lake Ontario), four of which form the border between the USA and Ontario.

Toronto is just part of an enormous metropolitan area; much like Vancouver, if you include all of the suburbs that used to be separate cities once, the population triples (or more). Also like Vancouver, real estate prices are crazy nutso there, due to the shortage of it.

You can see it in every skyline picture (you just did).
At one time it was the world's tallest. It's been passed, but it is still way up there (the aerial, on top, especially): It's the CN Tower!

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Partial view from the "Edge Walk".
The observation deck is 342 m (1,122 ft) from the ground and no, those people are not sane.


Some less dangerous things to do/ see?
The Royal Ontario Museum, Ripley's Aquarium of Canada, The Islands of Toronto (and Centreville Amusement Park), The Distillery Historic District (walking tours), St. Lawrence Market, The Hockey Hall of Fame.
One day here is definitely selling it short.

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Toronto City Hall

Have you ever heard about Yonge Street? They claim to be "the longest street in the world", at 1,896 km.
This is because it morphs into Highway 11 north of the city.
The actual named portion is 86 km.
South end: Queens Quay in Toronto
North end: Former Canadian National rail spur in Barrie (continues as Burton Avenue)

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The two best-known roads in Toronto: Yonge Street and Dundas Street

Toronto has the busiest airport in Canada, with daily international flights to all of the major European cities.
It is also Canada's Financial center, home of the Toronto Stock Exchange, as well as headquarters for practically every large business.

It is also very proud of its ethnic diversity, often comparing itself to New York City. It is the home of generations of Italian-born and Chinese immigrants, and practically every other nation on earth has a community to call its own there.
"Little Italy" is a district near the Kensington Market, where you can feel like you are in Rome or Milan.

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When Italy is playing in the World Cup, Toronto celebrates
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23. Board Game: North Wind [Average Rating:6.47 Overall Rank:3100]
Board Game: North Wind
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June 16: Windsor
Best time to visit: summer/ fall

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Windsor, Ontario is on the shores of the Detroit River...

Today begins a (short) stretch of Canadian cities that sound like they should be in Britain.
Being part of the British Commonwealth for so long, it isn't exactly surprising that there are common names in both countries.
There is an Edmonton near Wales and a Calgary in Scotland, but Ontario, being the oldest province in Canada, has more than a bunch of them-- Acton, Ancaster, Bath, Battersea, Blackburn, Brighton, Cambridge, Cornwall...Southampton, Stratford, Watford, Westminster...

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This mining town in Ontario was named for the Hindu symbol of good luck, well before the word got a bad reputation

The main claim to fame of Windsor, is that the American city of Detroit is direct north of it.

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The gray line is the US/ Canada border.
Because the border follows a river from Lake Huron to Lake St. Clair and down to Lake Erie, Canada is below the USA here


Like Detroit, there is a lot of automobile production going on in this area. There are some tourist attractions as well, including an art gallery and a "sculpture park" containing 35 large-scale contemporary sculptures by world-renowned artists.
You can visit the Coventry Gardens (yes, still in Canada) in Windsor, or visit the lovely Pelee Island, in Lake Erie, to the southernmost (populated) spot in Canada; the town of Pelee.

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Pelee Island is well-known by hunters as a place to hunt pheasants, in the fall
As you can see, it also has a famous hook at the south end of the island.


And, of course, you can cross the "Ambassador Bridge", asuming that your passport is in order, and go visit Detroit!
As the Canadian city with the highest number of days including severe thunderstorms and lightning, Windsor has historically been subject to tornado (and waterspout) activity!

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24. Board Game: Looting London [Average Rating:5.87 Overall Rank:6947]
Board Game: Looting London
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June 17: London (Ontario, that is)

Best time to visit: spring/summer/ fall

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London on the Thames. Wait—what??

So if you’re going to name your new town after one of the most famous cities on Earth, naturally you’d go the extra mile and name the river that way as well.
By the way, the town of Stratford is northeast of London and situated upon the Avon river, so they aren’t the first people to borrow some more famous place names. Stratford has a rather well-known “Shakespeare Festival”, where plays and other musicals are performed during the season from April until October.
It often attracts international stars, and actors like William Shatner, Maggie Smith, Jessica Tandy, Peter Ustinov even had early appearances there.

London’s nickname is “The Forest City”, and they have many parks and greens along the Thames river to enjoy.
It is Canada’s 11th largest metropolitan area. London is a regional centre of health care and education, being home to the University of Western Ontario and several hospitals. It has a large population of researchers and computer IT workers and tech companies.

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Part of the University of Western Ontario campus

For fun, here is a Children's Museum west of downtown, near River Forks park, and Storybook Gardens in Springbank Park, the city’s largest park that also offers 30 or more walking trails.
Or consider Fanshawe pioneer village, for a historical journey to the past, plus hiking, biking, jogging, or canoe/ kayaking at the Conservation Area.
The “London Rib-Fest” is the second largest barbecue rib festival in North America (late July or early August).

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When you need to get your kids some recreation, at non-Disney prices

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Get back to nature
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25. Board Game: Niagara [Average Rating:6.49 Overall Rank:1368]
Board Game: Niagara
A face in the crowd
Canada
Chestermere
Alberta
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June 18: Hamilton
Best time to visit: summer/ fall

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A lovely Autumn day in Hamilton
While Hamilton is close to Niagara Falls (about an hour's drive), the town of St. Catherines's is closer (about 15 minutes drive)


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This is what most people think of when they hear "Hamilton" in Canada. Its nickname is "Steeltown", eqivalent to Pittsburgh in the States

Named after Canadian politian and merchant, George Hamilton, after the war in 1812.
Hamilton is home to the Royal Botanical Gardens, the Canadian Warplane Heritage Museum, and McMaster University (featuring business and engineering studies); ranked 4th in Canadian Universities.

It is also part of the Bruce Trail, a hiking trail from the Niagara River to the tip of Tobermory, Ontario. The main trail is more than 890 km (550 mi) long and there are over 400 km (250 mi) of associated side trails.
In 1995 distance runner Scott Turner set a record for running the trail end-to-end in 14 days, 5 hours and 58 minutes.
in 2010, Charlotte Vasarhelyi surpassed this performance by completing it in 13 days, 10 hours 51 min.

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Tobermory, by the way, is named after a town on the Isle of Mull, in Scotland, famous for its whisky

But let's face it-- you probably wouldn't choose Hamilton as a destination for the city itself. The main draw, naturally, is the relative proximity of Niagara Falls.

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Specifically, Horseshoe Falls. From largest to smallest, the three waterfalls are the Horseshoe Falls, the American Falls and the Bridal Veil Falls. The last two are on the American side of the border

You can go on the famous "Maid of the Mist" tour of the falls, where you approach the thundering wall of water from the basin below.
Afterward, you can visit the nearby town of Niagara-on-the-Lake.
It is known for its wineries and the summer Shaw Festival, a series of theatre productions. The flower-filled, tree-lined old town features 19th-century buildings, mainly along Queen Street.
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