Canada - a journey from the Atlantic to the Pacific


CANADA - a journey from the Atlantic to the Pacific
At the mere mention of the name Canada, every tourist dreams of wild, snow - covered mountains, enormous empty forests and long turbulent rivers, of still lakes, crackling log fires, bountiful fishing and the joy of seeing eagles, bears and elks in the flesh. The northern part of the American continent offers all this and more. Better connections have brought it within easier reach, but it is still a dreamland which has not lost any of its fascinating or magic, despite mass tourism.
The enormous size and breadth of Canada alone are astonishing: 10 million square kilometres divided into ten Provinces and two Territories. It is the second largest country in the world, inhabited by not much more than 27 million people - a staggering concept for Europeans. Two oceans, the Atlantic and the Pacific, form the eastern and western boundaries. To the south, the St. Lawrence River, the Great Lakes and the 49thParallel form the boarder with its American neighbour. To the Northwest it is bordered by the American State of Alaska, while in the north, the country dissolves into the Arctic ocean via a series of ever tinier islands and icebergs. On Canada's Atlantic coast, the storm - tossed island of Newfoundland fans out across the Gulf of St. Lawrence like a stony warder.
The famous Trans - Canada - Highway, nearly 8000 kilometres long, begins in the provincial capital of St. John's, on the eastern tip of North America, and stretches straight across all of the provinces to Vancouver Island on the Pacific.

An overview of Canadian History
Around the year 1000 Vikings landed on the eastern coast of Canada, nearly five hundred years before the official discovery of the New World by Columbus. A reconstruction of a settlement of thatched houses in Newfoundland is a reminder of these first European settlers on the North American continent.
Five years later, in 1497, the Italian Giovanni Caboto (John Cabot) who was in the employ of the English King Henry VII, travelled round the coast of what later became the Atlantic Provinces and claimed them for England.
In the 1630's, Jacques Cartier claimed the area around what was to become Quebec as French territory. Another seventy years would go by, however, before the first French settlement would be established in Port Royal. From the early 17thcentury onwards French explorers pressed further into the interior of the country, looking for new shores, while English marines sailed round the north of America unaware.
The British fur trading company, the Hudson's Bay Company, founded in 1670 under English royal patronage, put a stop to the uncontrolled French colonisation of Canada, and brought the entire countryside in its catchment area under its control. Battles between the two sides over land rights, spheres of influence, and rights to hunting and fishing grounds, became the norm over the next one hundred years, until the Treaty of Paris in 1736 settled ownership issues in North America once and for all.
Although the majority of the population was clearly French, Canada fell to Britain. The Quebec Act of 1774 merely guaranteed the French cultural autonomy under British sovereignty. The English - speaking Canadians were joined by more fellow countrymen following the American War of Independence, when many Britons loyal to the mother country left the newly - formed United States of America. The old French Province of Quebec divided into the Anglophile Upper Canada and the Francophile Lower Canada (the modern - day Provinces of Ontario and Quebec).
In the last war on Canadian soil, the British - American War of 1812 - 1814, a number of skirmishes took place on different fronts. The ensuing peace treaty fixed the actual border between the two provinces at the 49thParallel. Towards the end of the 18thand the beginning of the 19thcentury, explorers like Alexander Mackenzie, Simon Fraser and David Thompson, in the employ of fur trading companies, opened the gateway to the west, up distant rivers and untrodden paths. By the first half of the 19thcentury the fur trade had reached its apex and was a lucrative business for the white, for whom the Indians acted as suppliers and merchants in the wilderness.
The Dominion of Canada was founded in 1867, with the Provinces of Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Quebec and Ontario. Politically, the new country enjoyed internal self - government, but it was firmly tied to its distant but immensely powerful motherland insofar as trade was concerned. Two years later, Canada acquired the landholdings of the Hudson's Bay Company, the so - called Rupert's Land. This area became the Western provinces of Manitoba (1870), Alberta and Saskatchwan (1905) as we know them today.
In 1885 the Canadian Pacific Railway achieved the first transcontinental railway link between the east and west coasts of this vast country and triggered off the rush to settle the Pacific Province of British Columbia. The Statute of Westminster in 1931 conferred on Canada complete autonomy from the motherland of Great Britain. Newfoundland joined the Dominion of Canada in 1949 as the tenth and last province, whilst the huge area of the northern territories (the Yukon Territory and the Northwest Territories), which are largely inhabited by Inuit and Indians, also came under the rule of Ottawa, the federal capital.
In the 1960's Canada saw a resurgence of conflict between its French - and English - speaking people. The Separatist Movement of Quebec was rekindled after a visit to Montreal by the French President Charles de Gaulle, who supported a free Quebec. As a result, countless businesses moved their headquarters from French - speaking Montreal to English - speaking Toronto, which rapidly became the largest Canadian city. The election of Pierre Trudeau in 1968 brought bilingualism to Canada and greater autonomy to the provinces. Calls for independence for Quebec gradually waned.
In 1982 the British monarch, Queen Elizabeth II, signed the Constitution Act, thus severing the last legal tie between Canada and Great Britain. Since 1968 every change to the Constitution had required British consent. Canada, however, remains a member of the Commonwealth and Elizabeth II remains the sovereign.
The 1990's have brought enormous political changes to Canada. The US - Canadian Free Trade Agreement allows the unimpeded trade of goods and services between the two countries.
The Inuits and Indians as native Canadians are demanding greater political rights.
And the Quebec Separatist Movement is again raising its head in strident tone. The French province is insisting on constitutional recognition as a distinct society with overriding political rights, but it has so far failed to carry it through.

On the Avalon Peninsula, on the eastern tip of Newfoundland, a colourful sea of houses in the island's capital of St. John is the nearest town to Europe of all the cities and towns of North America.
The Trans - Canada - Highway arches across the island in a huge curve some 900 kilometres long, starting at St. John's, where the distance marker reads "0", and along the craggy coastline with its tiny picturesque fishing villages.
If the Canadian West was shaped by wheat and cattle ranching, fishing has shaped the civilization of Newfoundland. Coastal and deep - sea fishing are the commercial backbone of the Province. Hundred of tiny fishing villages like Salvage, Harbour Grace and Pouch Cove are dotted around the wild fjords and the bays.
So for many Newfoundlanders home is a coastal village of less than a hundred houses, where fishing is a way of life, and many practics have not changed for generations. And life at sea is harsh and often brings few rewards. Many young people escape the remote loneliness of these small villages for the capital, St. John's, the largest town and most important port in Newfoundland.
St. John's, the capital city, lies on the Avalon Peninsula, facing the Atlantic Ocean in the extreme east of the province. It is a modern, bustling seaport that offers good restaurants, interesting night - life and many shopping opportunities. The city is built on steep, rocky hills, and close to the harbour its narrow streets are filled with brightly - coloured wooden houses.

A car ferry crosses the Cabot Strait from Port - aux - Basques to Sydney in a seven - hour journey. On the central southern coast of Nova Scotia a 26 kilometres long arm juts out to sea from the long peninsula to the provincial capital of Halifax. Halifax has retained all the charm of a "small large town", despite, being the commercial hub of the Atlantic Provinces. Dinghies, sailing, boats, cargoships, yachts and ferries form a splendid backdrop to the glass - walled office towers and restored historic buildings which dominate the skyline. The harbour walls, the old inner city and the Citadel all date from the early part of the 19thcentury. The mighty Citadel, one of the best examples of Canadian fortress building of the 19thcentury, stand guard over this small city and most important port on the transatlantic route.
An excursion to Peggy's Cove, not far from Halifax, is a must. It is surely the most picturesque fishing village in the Atlantic Provinces. This village has a population of barely 100 inhabitants and it has always been a magnet for artists. The graceful lighthouse on top of the granite cliffs and the cheerful colours of the boats and houses have been captured in countless photographs and paintings. Despite its enormous popularity and its short distance from Halifax, Peggy's Cove has not lost any of its natural charm or appeal.

This island is in complete contrast to the bleak, crenellated coast of its neighbours. It looks a bit like a lobster on the map, lying at the door of Nova Scotia and New Brunswick. Although it is the smallest Canadian province, it is nevertheless connected to the main thoroughfare, the Trans - Canada - Highway, by a network of charming country roads, which criss - cross acres of potato and cornfields.
Prince Edward Island is an peaceful, rural, agrarian island and it certainly doesn't look like the most densely populated province of Canada. The only large town on the island is the capital Charlottetown, where the nation of Canada was founded in 1864.
Fishing brings the island essential income, and Charlottetown, is a reminder of its former importence as a colonial port. In the interior of the island, potato fields and green pastures, peaceful villages and gently winding waterways dominate the scene.
In New Brunswick we forsake the Trans - Canada - Highway for the coast road from Moncton along the Bay of Fundy.
In Fundy National Park you can witness the phenomenal 16 metre high tides. Particularly dramatic are the Flowerpot Rocks in the north of the Park. The wonderful shapes of the Flowerpot Rocks were fashioned by the spectacular tides in the Bay of Fundy, the highest in the world. The funnel shape of the elongated bay accounts for the phenomenal height of the tides - a natural spectacle which transforms the rocks into isolated in just a few hours.
The shores of New Brunswick and the St. John River are fairly developed, but the interior of the province, criss - crossed by numerous rivers, is largely uninhabited.

In Quebec we rejoin the Trans - Canada - Highway which runs along the south shore of the St. Lawrence River. Enormous ocean - going ships and tankers pass us in both directions on the river, the arterial life - blood of Quebec.
The majority of the population of Quebec is still concentrated near the river and farming is still a major industry. With the construction of the St. Lawrence Seaway between 1951 and 1959 Canada and the United States of America achieved an astonishing feat by creating a shipping thoroughfare between the Atlantic Ocean and the Great Lakes. The Seaway is one of the major waterways of the world.
The Chateau Frontenac, which opened its doors as a hotel in 1893, greets visitors to Quebec like a faithful servant. Its green copper roofs are a familiar and reassuring sight to the ships steaming past on the river below the town. Quebec is the only city north of Mexico surrounded by a city wall. And no other North American town has such a decidedly European air. Every visitor is overcome by his Gallic charm. The populace retained their French language and culture, despite French abdiction to the British.
Livilier, busier and more "Canadian" than Quebec is Montreal, which lies at the confluence of the St. Lawrence River and the Ottawa River. Montreal is like a small piece of France, combined with its inescapable influences of its large neighbour, the USA, and yet still typically Canadian.
The most populated city in the Province of Quebec and the second largest city in Canada possesses one of the most important deep - sea ports in the country, although it is 1,600 km from the open sea.
Within the city boundaries Montreal has some stunning examples of French - Canadian ecclesiastical architecture. Not far from the Old Quarter modern skyscraper symbolise the harmony of the old and the new, like the successful architecture of the inner courtyard of the Banking - House.

Ontario spans more than 15 degrees of latitude from the Great Lakes in the south to Hudson Bay in the north. Water dominates the topography - it is said that there are approximately a quarter of a million in addition to countless rivers and marshes.
We follow the Ottawa River on the Trans - Canada - Highway, the water border with Quebec. We soon reach the pleasant, stylish and somewhat formal Canadian capital. Its Parliament Buildings have been the centre of Canadian politics since the founding of the nation in 1867. The entire city can best seen from the 90 m high Peace Tower, the city's highest structure. The Parliament Hill is the starting point for most tourists' trips round the city and the scene for the daily changing of the Guard ceremony. Colourful spectacles such as the Highland Parade are reminders of the federal capital's British origins.
From Ottawa the Trans - Canada - Highway leads into the heartland of Ontario. The glittering metropolis of Toronto sprawls along the west shore of Lake Ontario whilst the Niagara Falls not far away astound the visitor with their natural beauty.
The city of Toronto rises out of waters of Lake Ontario like an island of trees. The 533 metre high CN - Tower, the tallest free - standing structure in the world, and the Sky Dome, the new multi - purpose sports stadium, dominate the skyline of the largest city in Canada.
The Eaton Centre, a modern enclosed and one of the world's biggest shopping mall, was built in 1970, bringing a new sparkle to the city centre and starting a trend for such schemes in numerous other cities in North America. The scale and stylishness of the four floors of shops, restaurants, pubs and cinemas astonish every visitor.
Not far from Toronto are the most famous waterfalls in the world - the Niagara Falls. The Niagara River rushes with a thunderous roar and a tireless torrent of water over the 54 m high and 670 m wide horseshoe - shaped Canadian Falls.
The highway crosses over to Lake Superior. We are nearing Thunder Bay, which sits at the end of the St. Lawrence Seaway and is the third largest port in Canada. Travelling further west on the highway we enter the neighbouring province of Manitoba.

Enormous wheatfields today cover the area which was once the vast grassy plain of Manitoba and Saskatchewan.
Via the Trans - Canada - Highway we reach Winnipeg, the provincial capital of Manitoba and the undisputed business and cultural centre of the eastern prairies. For 7,000 years Winnipeg was a meeting place for tribes and Indians. White trappers later also came to appreciate the value of this region.
The statue of the Golden Bay holding a wheatsheaf, which sits on the dome of the government buildings, symbolises the economic importance of agriculture. The woods and lakes of Ontario make way for broad wheatfields of southern Manitoba. Gigantic harvesters rake grooves across the enormous fields in late summer.

In Saskatchewan the dry plains of the south reach further north than in Manitoba, where the cities of Regina and Saskatoon have grown into major conurbations of equal size. The expanding of the provincial capital Regina, commercially well situated on the Trans - Canada - Highway, was really due to the railways, as in so many other towns in the west of Canada.
Regina is inextricably connected with the red uniformed "Mounties", or Royal Canadian Mounted Police. This legendary police force, which was once a mounted troupe, is synonymous with Canada.

In appearance the most westerly of the Prairie Provinces, Alberta, is very much like its eastern neighbours Saskatchewan and Manitoba. In the south, enormous grassy plains stretch before you, while north of Edmonton the monotonous expanses of dense spruce forest cover nearly two - thirds of the province. However, in total contrast to the relatively featureless prairies, the imposing Rocky Mountains virtually hit you in the eye on the western border with British Columbia.
The chain of the snow covered Rocky Mountains rises above the prairies in southern Alberta, a fantastic panorama which can best be seen on a clear day from the 190 metre high Calgary Tower. With the arrival of the railways, the city of Calgary sprang up. The modern era arrived in 1914 when oil drilling began to the south of the city. A busy, urbane city today sprawls at the edge of the prairies. The Olympic Winter Games of 1988 finally brought Calgary into the international limelight.
Every Year since 1922, the Calgary Stampede transforms Alberta for ten days in July and drives it wild with rodeo fever. At the "greatest open - air show in the world", as it is unashamedly called, wild horses and experienced cowboys tangle in the arena and snorting bulls display their awesome strength. The highlights of those events are the nightly Chuckwagon Races, when horses, riders and carriages career round a course.
The Rocky Mountains are just an hour's drive from Calgary on the Trans - Canada - Highway. The mountains account for only a fraction of the province's total area, but the National Parks of Banff and Jasper are the greatest tourist attractions in western Canada. The primitive beauty of the Rocky Mountains can best be seen at Crowsnest Pass. Trees grown into bizarre shapes stand sentinel on the continental shelf.
Massive snow - covered mountain peaks and deep blue mountain lakes are dominating the scenery of Banff National Park. The Trans - Canada - Highway, the only Road in the oldest Canadian national park, follows the old railway line built by the Canadian Pacific Railways in the end of the 19thcentury.

The westernmost province of Canada has an unbeatable variety of scenery and landscape. Travelling along the Trans - Canada - Highway is the best way to get to know the spectacular mountain landscape of the National Parks of Yoho, Glacier and Revelstoke.
"Yoho" is an expression of astonishment and wonder in the Kootenay Indian language. The men who worked on the Canadian Pacific Railway were taken with the fabulous mountain scenery when they laid their tracks in 1884. The Trans - Canada - Highway runs parallel to the railway since 1927.
94 per cent of the woodland of British Columbia belongs to the Province, which gives licences to the forestry industry to fell trees in certain chosen areas. Whole mountain - sides fall victim to massive clear - cutting which, although cost effective, is ecologically questionable. But pulp and paper factories and sawmills are the largest employers in British Columbia.
For the last few kilometres before the Trans - Canada - Highway reaches Vancouver, it meanders along just to the north of the Canadian - American border through the wide, fruit - bearing Fraser Canyon.
The bustling million - strong city of Vancouver, the largest port and the third - largest city in Canada, lies in a uniquely attractive position between the Coast Mountains and the delta mouth of the Fraser River. It grew from a tiny gold - mining settlement in the middle of the 19thcentury into the most flourishing and populated commercial centre in the Province of British Columbia with the arrival in 1886 of the first transcontinental railway in Canada.
Many say that Vancouver is the most beautiful Canadian city, and it is certainly true that the combination of the Coast Mountains and the ocean make a stunning backdrop for the largest city in the western provinces.
The Lion's Gate Bridge connects Downtown and Stanley Park with West and North Vancouver. The bridge is particularly stunning by night, when it is brilliantly illuminated.
At the heart of Vancouver lies Robson Square in Robson Street, the perfect meeting place for young and old, for locals and tourists.
The unique Stanley Park is Vancouver's "green lung". No other city in North America with over a million inhabitants can boast such an extensive park so close to the city, with an 80 km long network of cycle - and footpaths. Various west coast Indian tribes have set their beautiful totem poles as landmarks in Stanley Park.
After a short ferry trip from Vancouver to Nanaimo, the last few kilometres of the Trans - Canada - Highway are leading to the province's capital. Victoria lies at the southern tip of Vancouver Island, an area blessed with a wonderful climate of mild winters and moderately warm summers. The city was named after Queen Victoria and to this day retains a peculiarly English charm not to be found elsewhere outside Great Britain.
Life in Victoria revolves around the colourful Inner Harbour, where ferries from the United States, seaplanes and yachts moor up. The harbour sparkles at night. Pavement artists, street musicians and entertainers and their audiences rendezvous here. Passengers can also admire the gaily lit provincial government buildings.
The last rainforests of Canada, with their centuries - old giant redwoods, cover much of the extensive remote mountain regions of the west coast of Vancouver Island. The influential forestry industry has often cast its eye longingly over them. The island's inhabitants are inevitably drawn into the great controversy between the ecological importance of protecting the last great nature reserve and the economic importance of deforestation.



facts about Canada:

    capital: Ottawa on the Quebec/Ontario border second largest country in the world 10 million square kilometres 10 Provinces 2 Territories

    not much more than 27 million people

    two oceans, the Atlantic and the Pacific, form the eastern and western boundaries, with 89 degrees longitude between them the St. Lawrence River, the Great Lakes and the 49thParallel form the border with its American neighbour in the south to the northwest it is bordered by the American State of Alaska in the north, the country dissolves into the Arctic Ocean via a series of ever tinier islands and icebergs

    around the year 1000 Vikings landed on the eastern coast of Canada, nearly five hundred years before the official discovery of the New World by Columbus from the early 17thcentury onward French explorers pressed further into the interior of the country 1670: the British fur trading company, the Hudson's Bay Company was founded 1736: the Treaty of Paris settled ownership issues in North America 1774: the Quebec Act 1867: the Dominion of Canada was founded 1885: first transcontinental railway link between the east and west coasts 1931: the Statute of Westminster conferred on Canada complete autonomy from the motherland of Great Britain 1949: Newfoundland joined the Dominion of Canada 1982: the British monarch, Queen Elisabeth II, signed the Constitution Act

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