Category Archives: Tourism

Higher than Niagara Falls!

Canada boasts so many beautiful locations, for tourists and visitors alike.  We are all familiar with Niagara Falls, which borders Canada and the United States.  But in Quebec there is a special gem called Montmorency Falls and is 30 meters higher than Niagara Falls!

It is at the junction of Montmorency River and the St. Lawrence River, about 10 kilometres east of Quebec City.  It has captured people’s fascination and awe since the years of Champlain.  Like most of Canada’s geography, there is a different experience to be had if you visit in the summer or in the winter.  The following videos can show you its beauty more than my words ever could.  Enjoy them.








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British Columbia: Two Capitals?

British Columbia has a fascinating history, as do all of Canada’s Provinces and Territories.  For today’s post, however, please let me acquaint you with some of B.C.’s history.

Photo of Songish village, Brithish Columbia, prior 18634

Songish village opposite Victoria, B.C., before 1863. from

There are two parts that make up British Columbia: the mainland and the island, until they both united in 1866.

For a while there wasn’t agreement between the ex-colonies about which of their capital cities would serve as the seat of government.  Islanders wanted Victoria, and the mainland argued for New Westminster.  For years, the cities alternated.  Eventually, Victoria became the permanent capital of the colony.

Have you heard of Bill Smith?  He was a newspaper editor and politician, If you haven’t, you may have heard of what he called himself: Amor de Cosmos (<–  you can read my earlier post about him by clicking on his name). One of his greatest achievements was his hard work to get British Columbia to join Confederation, and later became Premier of the province.

Vancouver acquired the nickname “Terminal City,” because the terminus of the transcontinental railway was there.  A chief financier of the railway, William Van Horne, had chosen the site  and he also insisted that the new city be named after the explorer George Vancouver.

Photo of Mount Elbert

Mount Elbert from Turquoise Lake, the highest summit in the Rocky Mountains

I cannot write of British Columbia without mentioning the Rocky Mountains. It is Canada’s largest mountain range as well as the largest in the western hemisphere. While it runs nearly the entire length of British Columbia, it also forms part of the border with Alberta.  The economic resources of the Rocky Mountains are varied and abundant. Minerals found in the Rocky Mountains include significant deposits of copper, gold, lead, molybdenum, silver, tungsten, and zinc.

Every year the scenic areas and recreational opportunities of the Rocky Mountains draw millions of tourists and it’s easy to see why.

Map of the Rocky Mountains

Map outlining the Rocky Mountains, in both Canada and the United States.


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Medicine Man’s Hat

Medicine Hat in Alberta was named in 1882 by Cpl Walter Johnson of the North-West Mounted Police. Johnson may have simply translated the Blackfoot Saamis, “head-dress of a medicine man”, in reference to the shape of a small hill.

Medicine Hat

View from the Finley Bridge, looking southwest toward City Hall and Court of Queen’s Bench. MedHatRiverViewCC BY-SA 3.0
Festbock – Own work

However, at least 13 legends about the naming of the place have evolved over the years.

One story often told claims a Blackfoot medicine man was killed during a battle with the Cree medicine man’s hat, with the Cree fleeing.

When some suggestions were made in 1910 to give the city a more prosaic name, such as Gasburg, or Smithville, the calamity was stifled after famous British writer Rudyard Kipling sharply rebuked the thought of such insolence.

There is a great book, Dictionary of Canadian Place Names that I still refer to for research, and sometimes just to read through. To visit the official page for the city of Medicine hat, click HERE! If you are thinking of visiting Medicine Hat someday, I refer you to Medicine Hat Tourism.


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Some Things Are Just Different in Canada?

English: Map of Canada

Map of Canada (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


No matter where you travel  to, you will find the differences between home and where you visit. Canada has its own style.  Because we are neighbours, we are sometimes put in the same “box” as the United States.  But even though we are all in North America, we certainly differ in a few ways.  What am I rambling on about?


Well, there’s the grammar.  We are more like the British, finishing “or” words as “our”.  For example, “neighbour” and “colour”.  There’s the check / cheque, and centre / center.


There’s also different pronunciation.  For instance, we pronounce “roof” as in “oof”, the Americans pronounce it as “rough”.


There’s food and drink differences too.  I’ve yet to taste New York’s pretzels with mustard; and I would guess not too many Americans are familiar with Poutines or Beaver Tails.  Lay’s potato chips join in the difference: Flavours only available in Canada are Ketchup, Baked creamy dill, Dill pickle, Smokey bacon, Sea salt and pepper, Old-fashioned ketchup.  They also only sell  Roasted Chicken and Fries ‘n gravy (only in western Canada), and Old-fashioned barbecue (only in western Canada).


I remember that on my last trip to the United States, I asked for vinegar for my fries (a given here in Canada) and not only did I get a funny look, but the best they could offer was cider — not the same.  Other treats that are hard to find elsewhere?  Crispy Crunch, Coffee Crisp, Mr. Big, Wunderbar, and Bounty chocolate bars.


Then there’s a difference in Pop /Soda drinks:  We use sugar, where the Americans use corn syrup.  Believe me, that makes a big difference!


I’m sure you can find other differences as well … Let me know what you think.  And if you also know of differences with other countries, let us know.




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World’s Longest Skating Rink!

English: Rideau Canal in Ottawa, Canada, Janua...

English: Rideau Canal in Ottawa, Canada, January 2005 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


The Rideau Canal between the Ottawa River and Lake Ontario is now used only by pleasure boats.  The lift from the Ottawa River to the canal is through a series of picturesque locks between the Parliament Buildings and the Château Laurier Hotel.  The first stone of one of the locks was laid by Sir John Franklin, the famous explorer.

The project that eventually led to the building of the Rideau Canal began on September 29, 1783, immediately after the end of the American Revolutionary War.  British military leaders wanted a route from the St. Lawrence to Lake Ontario that would not be exposed to the American border.  Lieutenants Jones and French were assigned to survey what was ten wild territory and reported that a canal was possible by using the Rideau River and a chain of lakes.

Nothing was done until after the War of 1812, when the building of the canal again became an issue.  In 1824, Upper Canada became impatient with the delay and had another survey made by Samuel Clewes.  The British Government offered to lend upper Canada £70,000 to build the canal, but Upper Canada would not go through with it.  In 1826, the British Government sent Colonel John By to build the canal.  he built the eight locks up the steep cliff from the Ottawa River and reserved the land on either side for military purposes.

By coincidence, the opening ceremonies for the building of the canal in 1827 were on the same date that Jones and French began their survey, September 29.  People came from near and far, on foot, in canoes and by ox-teams.  It was an Indian summer: the forests were rich in colour, with scarlet maples and golden birches.  During the opening ceremony, where Governor Dalhousie turned the first sod, frogs in nearby marshes provided their “musical” accompaniment.  The first steamer, Rideau, made the journey from Kingston to Bytown in 1832.  The route was busy until nearly 1900 when railways made it unnecessary.

However, it becomes the “World’s Longest Skating Rink” in the winter!

The Rideau Canal is amazing, as is its beginning.  To learn more about it, I suggest going to the Rideau Canal World Heritage site, the Bytown Museum, the Canadian Encyclopedia, the Parks Canada. If you would like to take a holiday in Ottawa, then I would suggest clicking your way to Ottawa Tourism!


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False-Fronted Stores Built on Stilts

The town of Bakerville which grew up in the Ca...

Barnard Express, Barkerville, BC
Date 1865
Author Charles Gentile / Library and Archives Canada / C-088919

On August 21, 1860, gold was discovered in the creeks running into the Quesnel River in British Columbia, and prospectors swarmed into the area later known as Barkerville.  Billy Barker, from Cornwall, England, decided to sink a shaft and not pan for gold.  He tried Williams Creek, and by August 1862, had sunk a crude shaft 40 feet into the bedrock.  By this time, Barker was almost broke, and other prospectors told him that he was crazy to go on.  Determination paid off.  Before the end of the month, Billy Barker struck rich pay dirt.  his claim was only 600 feet long, but he took gold worth $600,000 from it.

Then Barkerville grew up almost overnight.  It became a town of log shanties, saloons, and false-fronted stores built on stilts along narrow, muddy streets.  People flocked there from all parts of the world.  There were not only miners, but clerks and card-sharks, bankers and barbers, poets and priests, dudes and dancing-girls.  There was real inflation in Barkerville; boots sold for $50 a pair, and soap for $1.25 a bar.  Entertainers, including strolling Shakespearean players, were paid in gold dust!

Disaster came in 1868 when Barkerville was destroyed by fire.  Fortunately, when the gold petered out, many Barkerville residents stayed in British Columbia to share the wealth of other, less fickle, natural resources.  Billy Barker was one of the many, although he didn’t benefit much.  he married a very expensive woman who spent money as naturally as she breathed!  Barker ended his days in the Old Men’s Home in Victoria.

Barkerville's main street, taken in June 2004,...

Barkerville’s main street, taken in June 2004, showing the historic buildings and a small stream of water flowing down its sloped, unpaved, roads (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Barkerville was a ghost town for many years, but was rebuilt almost in its original form in 1958, when British Columbia celebrated its 100th anniversary.  Now it is a historic park, and during Barkerville Days in the summer, thousands of visitors enjoy the sights and entertainment of the gold rush days.

Want to learn more? I suggest visiting the Vancouver Sun, the Ghost (the only thing I don’t understand is why they say it sometimes snows in the summer …). A few other places are the British Columbia Heritage for a very interesting article by Lorna Townsend, and another is a site I just found, the Look and Learn – I can’t describe the site very well, so I encourage you to look around the site after you have read “A second gold rush followed patient Billy Barker’s find.”


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There Once Was a Man From Nantucket …

Sailing Ship

  On July 30, 1711, Sir Hoverden Walker sailed from Nantucket to capture Canada. This was one of the biggest fiascos in Canadian history.


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