From red-brick historic buildings to pastel waterfront houses, from art galleries to gourmet restaurants – Charlottetown might be Prince Edward Island’s capital, but with a population of 35,000 it still has the friendly feel of a small town. It’s the birthplace of Canadian Confederation but is still a modern city that’s always developing.
If you’re visiting Prince Edward Island in Canada, then there’s one name you’ll keep seeing – Anne Shirley. Better known as Anne of Green Gables, she might be fictional but has she has a serious fan club which stretches all around the world. There are the purists who’ve read each of the eight original books and there are others who’ve just discovered Anne’s world through new Netflix series Anne with an E.
It started on the plane over from Toronto, where every other person getting on board seemed to know each other. There were calls across the aisles asking how the meeting or gig had gone, and my driver got some advice about his dog from his vet as we waited at the baggage carousel. After a long travel day the friendly, relaxed feel was just what I needed, and the perfect introduction to Canada’s smallest – and arguably friendliest – province.
2017 was a big year in Canada – it celebrated its 150th birthday with events all over the country, peaking on Canada Day on 1 July, and free entry to all National Parks. But there’s never a bad time to visit Canada. To give you a taste of what the country has to offer, I’m sharing the most memorable moments from my leg of the #ExploreCanada road trip from one side of the country to the other in a Cruise Canada RV.
For four days our journey along the Trans-Canada Highway from Calgary to Toronto took us through the heart of the prairies. Our RV rolled along miles of long straight roads, passing fields of vivid yellow canola, nodding oil wells and mile-long trains. All accompanied by those huge, wide open prairie skies. But as we crossed the border into Ontario it all changed. We swapped straight roads for curves, flat land for hills, and wheat fields for forests. But most of all we’d entered the land of the lakes.
Two sisters, two weeks, 4500km, four provinces and three times zones – our leg of the #ExploreCanada road trip was epic in more ways than one. Especially considering neither or us had ever been in an RV (motorhome) before. How would this self-confessed camping-phobe cope with life on the road? Setting off from Calgary en route to Toronto felt a bit like being thrown in at the deep end. But it turns out RVing is a world away from camping, and Canada’s the perfect place to try it out.
It’s a summery Wednesday morning in Ontario. From our boat we can see children splashing in the shallows and building sandcastles on the shore. A canoe rests on the water’s edge and a group of friends picnic under a shady tree. Families carrying ice creams follow the waterside path past a neat line of sailboats. It’s a picture-perfect scene straight from a beach town or lakeshore resort.
After falling in love with Canada last year, I’m heading back again to explore some more, and this time I’ll be road-tripping through the heart of the country. It’s all part of the #ExploreCanada road trip – a blogger RV relay across Canada. Travel with Kat did the first leg in Vancouver Island and Quirky Traveller is just finishing her route from Vancouver to Calgary. Then my sister and I take over for the longest stretch between Calgary and Toronto, before Heather on her Travels finishes things off from Toronto to Montreal.
When I first heard that my trip to Canada was going to involve a few days out in the remote Great Bear Rainforest, I did wonder if I was going to be roughing it. But it turns out that at the Great Bear Lodge you can do luxury in the wilderness. Out in the fjords to the north of Vancouver Island, the lodge is surrounded by miles of unspoilt temperate rainforest. The area is home to grizzly, black and Kermode bears as well as plenty of other wildlife – cougars and wolves on land, whale and dolphins in the water, and hundreds of bird species in the air.
Think of a rainforest and you imagine tropical heat, howling monkeys, scuttling insects and colourful birds. But a rainforest doesn’t have to be hot – there’s also another, lesser-known version, the temperate rainforest. They’re both packed with natural riches and share the same high rainfall of 250–450cm a year, but where the tropical version is hot and steamy, the temperate version is cool and damp.
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