Canada offers a huge range of attractions, from large cosmopolitan cities such as Montréal and Toronto in the south, to isolated Inuit (Eskimo) settlements dotted around the frozen shores of Hudson Bay. The contrasting Pacific and Atlantic seaboards and the thousands of lakes and rivers of the interior provide superb watersports and fishing. The Rocky Mountains and other ranges offer breathtaking scenery on a grand scale. Some of the best resorts are in the series of great National Parks which preserve the wildlife and forests of Canada in their virgin state.
Those in the north provide basic amenities for tours of the beautiful northern wilderness. A taste of the pioneering west can be had in the rich farming and grain regions of central Canada. Further north are the New Frontier of Yukon, the Northwest Territories and Nunavut.
Province of Alberta
The capital of Alberta, located at the centre of the province, was originally established as a remote trading post by the Hudson Bay Company in 1795. From then on, Edmonton experienced relatively little growth until the Klondike Gold Rush of 1897. Overnight, Fort Edmonton became the supply area for the thousands of gold seekers heading up the treacherous Klondike Trail to the Yukon. The discovery of oil in the Edmonton area in 1947 assured the city of its future, making it one of the fastest-growing metropolitan areas in Canada. The spacious well-planned city is also famed for its huge parks, which sit on the banks of the North Saskatchewan River. Edmonton’s love affair with its past is reflected in Canada’s largest historical park, Fort Edmonton Park. This is a complex of reproductions of the city’s frontier days and reaches its apogee in the annual ‘Klondike Days’ extravaganza, held each July, when Edmontonians relive the days of the Gold Rush. West Edmonton Mall is the largest shopping mall in the world, with theatres, restaurants, nightclubs, amusement areas (including a miniature golf course, ice rink, swimming pool, waterpark and amusement park), aviaries, aquariums and museums. Edmonton also boasts Fantasyland, the world’s largest indoor amusement park, and Canada’s largest planetarium, the Space & Science Centre which also has an IMAX experience and Challenger centre. There are several theatres and art galleries. On a clear day, an estimated 6500 sq km (2500 sq miles) of Alberta can be seen from Vista 33 at the Alberta Telephone Tower. The Ukrainian Cultural Heritage Village is just outside the city. Other attractions include the Valley Zoo to the west of Edmonton and the John Janzen Nature Centre nestled in the River Valley Park.
In the town of St Albert, 30 km (19 miles) northwest from downtown Edmonton, is the historic log cabin of Father Lacombe and Alberta’s oldest surviving structure. It was at one time the centre of a thriving French-speaking Métis settlement (native peoples of mixed heritage). Today, St Albert is known for its extensive parklands, which include 40 km (25 miles) of walking trails and groomed cross-country trails. Elk Island National Park is located approximately 45 km (29 miles) east of Edmonton and can be reached via Highway 16 (Yellowhead Highway) from the south and Highway 15 from the north. Originally established in 1906 as an elk preserve, this completely fenced park is now home to over 44 different kinds of wildlife (including elk, moose, coyote, bear and beaver) as well as massive herds of plains bison. Camping is possible for a maximum stay of two weeks.
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