Travel: My Rough Guide - Meet the people who know how to make love in a canoe

First Impressions

It's the size of everything that takes you by surprise - city suburbs sprawl over large distances and even the spaces between the houses seem unnaturally wide. But it's only when you catch the train (or bus) across the country that Canada's vastness really begins to reveal itself, with huge tracts of forest preceding rolling plains and mountain ranges that combine to stretch for over 7,000 kms (4,350 miles) from the Atlantic to the Pacific Oceans.

Favourite Quotes

Canadians have often been troubled by the lack of a clear self-image. Pierre Berton, one of Canada's most influential writers, famously ducked the issue by defining Canadians as "people who know how to make love in a canoe." The film-maker David Cronenberg was even more cryptic: "I don't have a moral plan. I'm a Canadian." And there's always John Buchan's: "You have to know a man awfully well in Canada to know his surname."

Best Discoveries

New Brunswick. Perched on the Atlantic seaboard, this sparsely populated, densely forested province has never been a particularly fashionable destination, but it's here you'll find the delightful little town of Fredericton, home to the one of the country's most eclectic collections of British and Canadian paintings in the Beaverbrook Art Gallery. The collection was a gift to the town by Lord Beaverbrook, a local lad made newspaper tycoon. Also in New Brunswick is Fundy National Park, a stunningly beautiful stretch of shoreline and one of the world's premier whale-watching areas.

Over in Ontario, the Lake Huron shoreline possesses two of the prettiest towns imaginable. First there's Coderich, where the prime attraction is the old jail, virtually untouched since its construction in the 1840s, and then there's Bayfield, a leafy, well-heeled resort of old mansions strung along the bluffs above the lake. The Lake Huron sunsets are simply spectacular too.

Favourite Museum

In Toronto, the Bata Shoe Museum occupies a beautifully designed building paid for by Sonja Bata of the Bata shoe manufacturing family. Inside is a spell-binding collection of footwear representing Sonja's lifelong enthusiasm for collecting everything from ancient French chestnut-crushing boots through to 16th-century Venetian platforms. Celebrity gear includes Elvis's blue and white patent-leather loafers and Robert Redford's cowboy boots.

Worst Mistake

Going to Churchill, the self-proclaimed "Polar Bear Capital of the World" without any insect repellant. Churchill is in the far north of Manitoba, well beyond the Arctic Circle. Polar bears start to come ashore here when the ice melts on the bay in late June and hang around until it freezes over again at the end of autumn. Catching sight of them is pretty amazing - or at least it would have been but for the mosquitoes: we're not talking one or two, but huge clouds so thick that it's impossible not to swallow them when you open your mouth or breathe through your nose. The town's favourite T-shirt is inscribed "I gave blood in Churchill" above a picture of a mosquito.

Favourite Hotels

In Nova Scotia, dozens of old sea captains' houses have been turned into first-rate inns and B&Bs. Several of the most delightful are in Lunenburg, a quaint fishing village that boasts the shingle-clad 1826 Maplebird House B&B and the grand Victorian Bluenose Lodge, which comes complete with a "widow's walkway", the name given to the balconies where the women paced, watching the return of the fleet. In Ontario, the Bayfield Village Inn, Bayfield, is an absolute delight from the antique furnishings down to the wood-panelled bar and superb restaurant.

fact file

Getting there

There are numerous daily flights from the UK to Canada; Air Canada is on 0990 247226. The main gateway cities are Montreal and Toronto, but there are also scheduled non-stop flights from the UK to Calgary, Edmonton, Halifax, Ottawa, St John's, Winnipeg and Vancouver (as well as charter flights). Cheapest fares through agencies start from about pounds 200 return.

Accommodation

Each of Canada's provinces produces a comprehensive list of its hotels, inns, and bed and breakfasts. Provincial brochures are available from the Canadian Tourism Commission, Macdonald House, 1 Grosvenor Square, London W1X OAB (telephone premium line 0891 715000; website: http://info.ic.- gc.ca/tourism). In Canada, most provincial tourist offices will book hotel rooms on your behalf.

Keep up with the latest developments in travel by subscribing to the free newsletter 'Rough News', published three times yearly. Write to Rough Guides, IoS offer, 1 Mercer Street, London WC2H 9QJ. A free Rough Guide to the first three subscribers each week.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Voices
Chris Grayling, Justice Secretary: 'There are pressures which we are facing but there is not a crisis'
voices

Does Chris Grayling realise what a vague concept he is dealing with?

News
Brian Harvey turned up at Downing Street today demanding to speak to the Prime Minister

Met Police confirm it was a 'minor disturbance' and no-one was arrested

News
Blackpool is expected to become one of the first places to introduce the Government’s controversial new Public Space Protection Orders (PSPOs)
news

Concerns raised phenomenon is threatening resort's image as a family destination

Life and Style
gaming

I Am Bread could actually be a challenging and nuanced title

News
Nigel Farage has backed DJ Mike Read's new Ukip song
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Shia LaBeouf plays a World War II soldier in forthcoming drama Fury
films

Eccentric Fury star, 28, reveals he is 'not a really confident actor'

Travel
ebookHow to enjoy the perfect short break in 20 great cities
Life and Style
Time and Oak have developed a product that allows drinkers to customise the flavour and improve the quality of cheaper whiskey
food + drink

Sport
football

Peter Biaksangzuala died from his injuries in hospital on Sunday

Life and Style
The final 12 acts will be facing Simon Cowell, Cheryl Fernandez-Versini, Mel B and Louis Walsh tonight
fashion

The X Factor's judges colourful outfit was mocked by Simon Cowell

News
news

Footage shot by a passerby shows moment an ill man was carried out of his burning home

News
people
Independent Travel Videos
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Amsterdam
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Giverny
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in St John's
Independent Travel Videos
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Travel

    SCRUM Master

    £30 - 50k (DOE) + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a SCRUM Master to joi...

    Franchise Support Assistant

    £13,520: Recruitment Genius: As this role can be customer facing at times, the...

    Financial Controller

    £50000 - £60000 per annum: Sauce Recruitment: A successful entertainment, even...

    Direct Marketing Executive - Offline - SW London

    £25000 - £30000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: A fantastic opportunity h...

    Day In a Page

    Oscar Pistorius sentencing: The athlete's wealth and notoriety have provoked a long overdue debate on South African prisons

    'They poured water on, then electrified me...'

    If Oscar Pistorius is sent to jail, his experience will not be that of other inmates
    James Wharton: The former Guard now fighting discrimination against gay soldiers

    The former Guard now fighting discrimination against gay soldiers

    Life after the Army has brought new battles for the LGBT activist James Wharton
    Ebola in the US: Panic over the virus threatens to infect President Obama's midterms

    Panic over Ebola threatens to infect the midterms

    Just one person has died, yet November's elections may be affected by what Republicans call 'Obama's Katrina', says Rupert Cornwell
    Premier League coaches join the RSC to swap the tricks of their trades

    Darling, you were fabulous! But offside...

    Premier League coaches are joining the RSC to learn acting skills, and in turn they will teach its actors to play football. Nick Clark finds out why
    How to dress with authority: Kirsty Wark and Camila Batmanghelidjh discuss the changing role of fashion in women's workwear

    How to dress with authority

    Kirsty Wark and Camila Batmanghelidjh discuss the changing role of fashion in women's workwear
    New book on Joy Division's Ian Curtis sheds new light on the life of the late singer

    New book on Ian Curtis sheds fresh light on the life of the late singer

    'Joy Division were making art... Ian was for real' says author Jon Savage
    Sean Harris: A rare interview with British acting's secret weapon

    Sean Harris: A rare interview with British acting's secret weapon

    The Bafta-winner talks Hollywood, being branded a psycho, and how Barbra Streisand is his true inspiration
    Tim Minchin, interview: The musician, comedian and world's favourite ginger is on scorching form

    Tim Minchin interview

    For a no-holds-barred comedian who is scathing about woolly thinking and oppressive religiosity, he is surprisingly gentle in person
    Boris Johnson's boozing won't win the puritan vote

    Boris's boozing won't win the puritan vote

    Many of us Brits still disapprove of conspicuous consumption – it's the way we were raised, says DJ Taylor
    Ash frontman Tim Wheeler reveals how he came to terms with his father's dementia

    Tim Wheeler: Alzheimer's, memories and my dad

    Wheeler's dad suffered from Alzheimer's for three years. When he died, there was only one way the Ash frontman knew how to respond: with a heartfelt solo album
    Hugh Bonneville & Peter James: 'Peter loves his classic cars; I've always pootled along fine with a Mini Metro. I think I lack his panache'

    How We Met: Hugh Bonneville & Peter James

    'Peter loves his classic cars; I've always pootled along fine with a Mini Metro. I think I lack his panache'
    Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's heavenly crab dishes don't need hours of preparation

    Bill Granger's heavenly crab recipes

    Scared off by the strain of shelling a crab? Let a fishmonger do the hard work so you can focus on getting the flavours right
    Radamel Falcao: How faith and love drive the Colombian to glory

    Radamel Falcao: How faith and love drive the Colombian to glory

    After a remarkable conversion from reckless defender to prolific striker, Monaco's ace says he wants to make his loan deal at Old Trafford permanent
    Terry Venables: Premier League managers must not be allowed to dictate who plays and who does not play for England

    Terry Venables column

    Premier League managers must not be allowed to dictate who plays and who does not play for England
    The Inside Word: Brendan Rodgers looks to the future while Roy Hodgson is ghost of seasons past

    Michael Calvin's Inside Word

    Brendan Rodgers looks to the future while Roy Hodgson is ghost of seasons past