Canada Not just colder, cooler! Explorez sans fin!

As Will Ferguson said about his country, “With or without the Royals, we are not Americans nor are we British or French or Void. We are something else and the sooner we define this, the better.”

Canada is a land of vast distances and rich natural beauty. Economically and technologically, and in many other ways, cultural and otherwise, it closely resembles her neighbor to the south, the United States, although there are significant differences between the two countries. Canada is happy with, and has treasured her British heritage. The country has historically been built and influenced by immigrants from two main European nations, Britain and France. In some parts of Canada, particularly Quebec and parts of New Brunswick, the primary language spoken is French. Despite being a medium sized country with land to population ratio, Canada has earned the respect of the world for strong diplomatic skills, peacekeeping efforts, respect for human life, high quality of life, high scores on indices of economic and civil freedom, lack of corruption and so on.

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Similar to her neighbor, this country is also a melting pot of different minorities from all over the world living in Canada, particularly the urban centers. They have influenced the culture of Canada hugely, as it stands today. People are very friendly and love interacting with people from different ethnic backgrounds.

Climate:

Trying to distil the climate of Canada into an easily read and understood statement is difficult, given the vast area and diverse geography. Winters are harsh, but the more populated regions such as Toronto, Ontario etc., which are largely in the south, enjoy a less severe climate. This is also the reason that most of the Canadian urban areas are located primarily in the south of Canada. Summers are short and hot with temperatures over 35 degrees Celsius.

Things to do

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Canada is more than its imposing mountains and rough coastline, which definitely adds to its rugged charm. But there are also extraordinary gastronomic experiences to be had, cool, hip culture to be enjoyed and wild, moose spotting, hay baling trips to be taken.

Sit at a sidewalk bistro in Montréal, just like you would in Paris, and sit on a café au lait and tear into a buttery croissant. Hop on over to the Asian night markets, a big flurry in all the big cities and slurp noodles, or join a wild, harp, harmonica, mandolin fiddling Celtic party on Cape Breton Island, look out for the aboriginal cultures in villages on Haida Gwaii. The range of experiences that Canada has to offer is as diverse and wide as the country itself. You will hear the cultural, ethnic and social diversity in the music, see it in the arts, smell it in the food and taste it in the cuisine.

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As you fly in to Canada, look out your window. Or perhaps you are flying within Canada one peek outside and you will see how daringly low the pilots will fly you on amongst the sky-clawing Rockies. Once you land, visit the hot springs and relax in the hot mineral springs. The orcas can be seen gamboling in the frigid ocean waters from the decks in Newfoundland, Labrador and Ontario. Go snorkeling or scuba diving through Tobermory Bay just outside of Toronto. Float through the iceberg alley in Newfoundland and Labrador and enjoy the joy and panic that these arctic rocks drive into your heart. Drive across the farmland and prairies where wheat stands tall and a beautifully cool breeze blows. Listen to the tragically hip, and drink a hot cup of tea. Smoked salmon, maple cured ham and bacon, sharp cheddar and Okanagan wine. The vastness compels you to explore it. Go howl with the wolves in August and September in the Algonquin park, and very likely, they will answer back. Go on a polar bear safari near Churchill, Manitoba. Sit beneath the starry skies and watch the Aurora unfold the Northern lights in Yellowknife. Walk on the ocean floor at the Bay of Fundy, which hosts the world’s highest and lowest tides. At low tide, after over 100 million tons of seawater has receded, walk the ocean floor. Go fossilling in the Dinosaur valley or Drumheller. The largest standing dinosaur will welcome you to Drumheller. A visit to the Royal Tyrell Museum of Paleontology is a must.And if none of this entices you, there’s always a walk with the Vikings at the L’anse aux Meadows and home to Eric the Red’s son Lief will take you to the northern tip of this maritime province. See the wild bison in Alberta, and see Alberta’s oil sands, that helped her become the booming economy she is today.

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There’s much to do that supersedes the Niagara falls, the CNN tower, the Rocky Mountains, maple syrup and ice hockey.

Of the food, art and culture

Canada is the veritable smorgasbord of gastronomy, art and culture. Home to some of the biggest celebrations in the history of humanity, it is worth planning a trip to collide with one of these festivals. The Toronto pride parade, which celebrates sexual diversity and choice, has gone down as the most liberal in the history of the world, with the suave, charming Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau walking the pride, who is a delight to look at. Caribana is the Toronto Caribbean carnival parade, which takes place in Toronto. Masqueraders in colorful and striking costumes, parade of the Mas Bands, guest bands, cultural and steel bands also participate and make for quite the experience.

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The arts are an integral part of the Canadian culture. The international fringe theatre festival in Edmonton is a great opportunity to get swept up in an international artistic force, a journey and a celebration. Mega museums like the Ottawa National Gallery, the Montreal Jazz festival, and the Toronto’s star-studded film festival draw global crowds. An avante-garde ‘sound symposium’ at the St. John’s Street in Toronto is a great opportunity for the eclectic in you to explore acoustics. Also beautiful is the Stratford festival, an internationally recognized annual repertory theatre festival, which is one of the most prominent art festivals in Canada and recognized worldwide for Shakespearean plays. It also showcases productions of Greek tragedies to contemporary works and a must visit for the theatre enthusiast. Catch a theatrical performance at one of the many extravagant theatres in Toronto, like the Elgin and Winter garden theatre.

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Food is what the Canadians live for. Graze from east to west, and you will find wild salmon and velvety scallops, Poutine and lobster, with a dab of melted butter. This fare is not touted worldwide like the French or Italian food, but this is distinctive seafood, piquant cheeses, and fresh, seasonal fruit and vegetables to be had at the receivers’ discretion.

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Rarely does one come across a country that has as much variety of culture, arts and scenic natural beauty, as Canada does. From highest tides to temperate rains, the country has all the seasons. Investigate everything in between. You will be enthralled for life.

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Getting there

Air: Canada is well connected to all our major cities by most common airlines, which run non stop flights with return fares starting at Rs. 77,000.

Local: Getting around the towns of Canada is very easy as the cities all have great infrastructure. Every city has a version of the subway, metro or the underground, which connects almost every nook, and cranny of the city. Most cities also have a well-developed bus services and the cities are well planned and maintained and a joy to walk.

Travelling between cities in Canada is best accomplished by driving. The roads are scenic and give a great hand-on travel experience of the country.

Currency: Canadian dollar = Rs. 50.

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