Today marks Canada Day, the country's national day and the anniversary of the implementation of their Constitution Act. To mark the occasion, Sophie Butler has put together her pick of the nation’s highlights.
1. Paddle power
Escapism is something Canada can offer in spades. For some time out with Mother Nature in an all-female group consider booking an 11-day Travel, Play, Live – Women’s Yukon tour which includes three days of canoeing down a section of the Yukon (one of North America’s longest rivers). Other highlights include the ice fields, forests and wildlife of the Kluane National Park, staying in hotels and campsites.
From £2,990 including accommodation and most meals. Flights and transfers excluded. Departures in August 2018. World Expeditions (0800 074 4135; worldexpeditions.com).
2. Walk on the wild side
Late August to mid-October is the best time to watch grizzly bears congregating at Knight Inlet in British Columbia to feast on spawning salmon. A seven-day Canada Wildlife Holiday at Grizzly Bear Lodge offers an interesting alternative to the tourist honeypot at Glendale Cove. This simple wilderness accommodation, accessible by seaplane from Campbell River on Vancouver Island, makes a good base for full-day excursions watching grizzlies and killer whales.
From £2,450 including accommodation, most meals and transfers. Flights not included. Departures between August and October 2018. Wildlife Trails (0800 999 4334; wildlifetrails.co.uk).
3. Rocky Railroad
For vast distances and spectacular landscapes, few countries can compete with Canada – and rail travel is an ideal way to appreciate both aspects. A 14-day Canada & the Rocky Mountaineer tour combines two of its most exemplary rail journeys: three-nights from Toronto to Jasper on The Canadian, and two days on the Rocky Mountaineer passing through the breathtaking mountains of Banff National Park and across the continental divide to Vancouver.
From £3,995, for accommodation, some meals, flights and transfers. Departures September 2018 to October 2019. Great Rail Journeys (01904 521936; greatrail.com).
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4. Island life
A whale-watcher’s paradise, Vancouver Island is a two-hour ferry ride across the Strait of Georgia from Vancouver city on the west coast. A six-day Introducing the Best of the West adventure is a good-value way to see the island’s highlights, from the buzzing harbour-front town of Nanaimo and the surfing town of Tofino to historic Victoria. There will also be time to go kayaking, hiking or exploring local bars.
From £696 including campsite accommodation and transport but not flights, transfers and meals. Departures June 2018 to September 2019. Intrepid Travel (0808 274 5111; intrepidtravel.com).
5. Va Va Vancouver
Straddling a peninsula with a striking cityscape fringed by sandy beaches and tipped by the 1,001-acre Stanley Park, this west coast city is a great summertime destination. Top-notch hotels and restaurants combine with alluring galleries and an excellent farmers’ market on Granville Island. Take a cable car up Grouse Mountain for superb views of the city and of the landscape beyond.
Fly to Vancouver with BA (ba.com), Air Canada (aircanada.com) or Air Transat (airtransat.com) from £455 return. Shangri-La hotel has doubles from £196, Skwachays Lodge from £60. More information: tourismvancouver.com.
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6. Water feature
A glimpse of the thunderous Niagara Falls is high on most travellers’ list of must-do experiences. Combine this natural phenomenon with a visit to some of Canada’s most vibrant cities on a 12-day Canada’s Eastern Splendours tour, taking in Toronto, Quebec and Ottawa. Highlights include a scenic lunch cruise around the 1,000 islands of the St Lawrence river and a spot of wine-tasting on the shores of Lake Ontario.
From £1,949 including accommodation, some meals, flights and transfers. Departures this summer until September. Travelsphere (01858 898746; travelsphere.co.uk).
7. Ride ’em cowboy
Canada’s ranches can offer horse-lovers an unforgettable insight into the life of a modern cowboy. Take a six-night stay at Lucasia Ranch in the foothills of Alberta’s Rocky Mountains, south of Calgary, to find out more about branding weeks and cattle drives – and to ride out through scenic landscapes of hot springs, high peaks, grassy prairies and turquoise lakes.
From £995 including campsite accommodation, all meals and transfers. Flights not included. Departures from June to October 2018. In the Saddle (01299 272997; inthesaddle.com).
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8. Cruise on by
Follow in the footsteps of time-honoured explorers with a trans-Atlantic voyage from Liverpool to St John’s, Newfoundland’s capital, on a 26-night Canada in the Fall itinerary aboard the Black Watch. After calling into Halifax, Charlottetown and Baie Comeau, the vessel sails through the Fjord National Park and along the Saguenay river to reach Quebec and Montreal with ample opportunity to enjoy the striking autumn colours of the fall foliage on route.
From £3,999 including accommodation and all meals. Departure on Sept 22 2018. Fred Olsen Cruise Lines (0845 287 6835; fredolsencruises.com).
9. Bear necessities
Canada’s far-flung Hudson Bay in northern Manitoba is one of the world’s best spots to see polar bears in their natural habitat. Hundreds gather here every autumn waiting for the ice to harden so they can journey further north. A seven-day Classic Polar Bear Adventure accompanied by an expert expedition leader is the ideal way to learn about the fascinating wildlife of the Arctic tundra with excursions from the small town of Churchill.
From £5,162 including accommodation, all meals and transfers but not flights. Departures between October and November 2018. Discover the World (01737 887163; discover-the-world.co.uk).
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10. Eastern treats
Nova Scotia’s capital, Halifax, and the nearby Unesco World Heritage Site of Lunenburg on Canada’s eastern shores are rich in maritime history. A 12-day Landscapes of the Canadian Maritimes tour reveals the stories behind this region’s aboriginal and colonial past. The itinerary also highlights its natural beauty, including the Cabot Trail and Cape Breton Highlands National Park, and its literary connections by including the house which inspired the children’s classic Anne of Green Gables.
From £2,955 including accommodation, some meals and transfers. Flights not included. Departures June to September 2018. Insight Vacations (0808 278 0686; insightvacations.com).