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Canada's greatest attribute is its natural environment - it would be simpler to list the activities that aren't available in Canada than those that are. Pursuits on the available list should begin with hiking. In Ontario, Killarney Park has a long-distance trail around the tops of its rounded mountains. Other impressively vertical regions include Gaspésie Park and Mont Tremblant Park in Quebec, Gros Morne National Park in Newfoundland, and Cape Breton National Park in Nova Scotia. More hardcore multi-day hikes can be had in Pukaskwa National Park on Lake Superior and on the partially completed coast-to-coast Trans Canada marathon trail (can you spare 750 days?). Many parks provide outfitters for canoeing, kayaking and white-water rafting. Some of the best paddling can be found at Nova Scotia's Kejiumkujik National Park.

For beach activities, surf's up on the east coast at Ingonish Beach in Nova Scotia and in the warmer waters of Melmerby and Caribou beaches near New Glasgow. Skiers are spoilt for choice, with good cross-country skiing found all across the land. The main alpine ski centres are in Ontario, Quebec, Alberta and around Whistler in British Columbia. There's also rock climbing; Collingwood and Thunder Bay in Ontario, Banff and Jasper in Alberta, and Squamish in BC are all good places to try. Fishing is abundant and popular, even in winter; you'll need a license. Some of the most popular cycling areas are the hilly Gaspé Peninsula in Québec and the Atlantic Provinces, excluding Newfoundland. In Ontario try the Bruce Peninsula and the Thousand Islands Parkway. There's also good cycling in the Rocky Mountains (especially off-road mountain biking) and throughout British Columbia.

The ecotourism movement has a long history in Canada, and unlike most countries, the costs involved are reasonable. One of the best trips is to the Magdalen Islands of Quebec, where baby seals await your cooing adoration. There are also many trips specializing in the culture of Native people.


The Quebec City Winter Carnival, which takes place during the last two weeks of February, features parades, ice sculptures, a snow slide, dances and music. Ottawa's three-week Winterlude fetes all things snowy in February. The Montreal Jazz Festival at the end of June and the Ottawa International Jazz Festival in July both attract international and local players. Two major events in Toronto held in June are Caribana, a cultural exchange offering ethnic music, dance and food, and the Gay Pride Day Parade through the downtown area. In September, there's the Toronto International Film Festival. Calgary hosts the popular Calgary Stampede in July, the highlight of which is the chuck wagon race and rodeo. In the west, Victoria celebrates the First Peoples' Festival in August with traditional craftwork, dancing and war-canoe rides.

Public holidays

January 1 - New Year's Day

3rd Monday in February - Family Day (Alberta)

Monday nearest March 17 - St Patrick's Day (Newfoundland)

March/April - Good Friday & Easter Monday

Monday nearest April 23 - St George's Day (Newfoundland)

Monday before May 24 - Victoria Day (except in the Atlantic Provinces)

June 24 - Fête Nationale (Québec)

Monday nearest June 24 - Discovery Day (Newfoundland)

Monday nearest July 13 - Orangeman's Day (Newfoundland)

1st Monday in August - Civic Holiday

3rd Monday in August - Discovery Day (Yukon)

1st Monday in September - Labor Day

2nd Monday in October - Thanksgiving

November 11 - Remembrance Day

December 25 - Christmas Day

December 26 - Boxing Day

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