Tourism in Canada
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Canada has a large domestic and foreign tourism industry. The second largest country in the world, Canada's incredible geographical variety is a significant tourist attractor. Much of the country's tourism is centred in the following (busiest) regions: Toronto, Montreal, Vancouver/Whistler, Niagara Falls, Vancouver Island, Calgary/Canadian Rockies, British Columbia's Okanagan Valley, and the national capital region Ottawa. The large cities are known for their culture, diversity, as well as the many national parks and historic sites.
In 2012, over 16 million tourists arrived in Canada, bringing US$17.4 billion in international tourism receipts to the economy. Domestic and international tourism combined directly contributes 1% of Canada's total GDP and supports 309,000 jobs in the country.
Most visitors arriving to Canada in 2015 came from the following countries of residence
|Total visiting foreign residents||27,554,943|
World Heritage Sites in Canada
There are 20 World Heritage sites in Canada, including one of the oldest, Nahanni National Park, Northwest Territories (1978), and one of the newest, the Writing-on-Stone Provincial Park, Alberta (2019). Of these 20 sites, 9 are Cultural Heritages and 10 are Natural Heritages. One (Pimachiowin Aki) is a combined site.
Canada's provinces and territories
British Columbia is Canada's westernmost province and touches the Pacific Ocean. The winters in the coastal areas are relatively warm in comparison to the rest of Canada. British Columbia is divided into 6 regions:
- Vancouver, Coast & Mountains
- Thompson Okanagan
- Cariboo Coast Chilcotin
- Northern British Columbia
- Kootenay Rockies
- Vancouver Island
British Columbia (BC) is Canada's most mountainous province and has some of the most spectacular mountain scenery in the world. Alpine skiing is a major draw for the province. The province has about 33 large ski resorts spread out from Vancouver Island to the Alberta border. Whistler, British Columbia, nestled in the rugged Coast Mountains, is consistently ranked as the #1 ski resort destination in North America and co-hosted the 2010 Winter Olympic Games.
Vancouver, the largest Canadian metropolitan area west of Toronto, is one of Canada's most multi-cultural cities. There is a large community of people of Asian origin. Vancouver is a harbour city and provides beautiful landscapes of mountains and ocean.
Sites of interest in Vancouver
- Capilano Suspension Bridge, a 136-metre-long (446 ft) bridge 70 m above the Capilano River
- Stanley Park, a large forested park near downtown, the largest city owned park in Canada. Eight million visitors each year.
- Granville Island, a small island near downtown with a public market, marina, shopping and theaters.
- Chinatown, Vancouver, one of the largest in North America.
- Robson Street, a bustling upscale shopping district with a good selection of restaurants.
- Gastown, a mix of tourist-oriented businesses, restaurants and nightclubs.
- Vancouver Art Gallery
- Vancouver Maritime Museum
- Museum of Anthropology at UBC
- Vancouver Museum
- Science World at Telus World of Science
Vancouver is home to the
- BC Lions, Canadian Football League
- Vancouver Canucks, National Hockey League
- Vancouver Whitecaps FC, Major League Soccer
Victoria, British Columbia, located on scenic Vancouver Island, is a major Canadian tourist destination attracting millions of visitors each year. Popular activities for tourists are whale watching, enjoying the busking in the inner harbour area and visiting world-famous Butchart Gardens.
Long Beach (Pacific Rim National Park) and the communities of Tofino and Ucluelet are popular tourist areas. Tofino, a town of only a few thousand, hosts more than one million visitors each year. Many new resorts are being built in the area to accommodate surfers, beach lovers, storm watchers and golfers.
Whale watching is common along the coastal areas of BC as is Pacific storm watching along the west coast of Vancouver Island during the winter months.
Wine tours are common in the Okanagan Valley, BC's wine and orchard country. The Okanagan valley area has some of the best beaches and warmest summer temperatures in Canada, as well as Canada's only hot desert around the town of Osoyoos. There are 53 golf courses and two major ski resorts in the valley.
British Columbia is also a popular location for the production of many Hollywood films, it is the third largest film centre in North America only trailing California and New York.
Alberta is a province in Canada's western prairies next to the Rocky Mountains. Its two major cities are Calgary, and Edmonton, the provincial capital. Edmonton is well known for West Edmonton Mall, the largest shopping mall in North America, formerly the largest in the world. Edmonton is also known as Canada's festival city, with over 60 festivals happening year round. Edmonton is home to the area of Old Strathcona, a historical district with boutique shopping, music, arts, and many restaurants. Calgary is famous for the Calgary Stampede, the world's largest rodeo and one of the biggest open air events worldwide attracting up to 1.5 Million visitors every year.
Another world-class attraction is the Royal Tyrrell Museum of Palaeontology in Drumheller, housing the largest collection of dinosaur fossils under one roof in the world. Alberta also contains significant natural scenery, including 6 of Canada's 20 UNESCO World heritage sites. These are Banff and Jasper National Parks, Waterton-Glacier International Peace Park, Wood Buffalo National Park, Dinosaur Provincial Park, Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Jump and Writing-on-Stone Provincial Park. In the southeast, Alberta shares with Saskatchewan the Cypress Hills Interprovincial Park, a geographic region of importance both to aboriginal history and to the North-West Mounted Police. Alberta has no provincial sales tax.
Alberta is an important skiing destination for tourists. It has several world-class ski resorts. Canada Olympic Park, with its downhill ski and ski jumping facilities, is located in the city of Calgary.
Saskatchewan offers two major cities, Regina and Saskatoon. Regina is home to the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) Academy at Depot Division where visitors can view the Sergeant Major's Parade held weekdays and the seasonal Sunset Retreat Ceremonies. Regina is also home to the RCMP Heritage Centre which opened in May 2007. Saskatoon is home to the largest branch of the Western Development Museum, which houses important artifacts and recreations of the early settlement of the Canadian prairies.
The prairie province also has the most golf courses and water bodies per capita of any other province. Statistically the warmest summers with the most sunlight hours in Canada occur in Saskatoon. Natural attractions include Cypress Provincial Park, the Great Sand Hills, Scottie the Dinosaur (the largest intact Tyrannosaurus Rex found in North America).
Saskatoon also has many famous attractions, such as the Remai Modern Art Gallery located on the river bank, and the city is also home to the Western Development Museum.
Manitoba was the fifth province to enter confederation in 1870. The province is home to many lakes and rivers with over 14.5% of the land area covered by lakes. This offers many opportunities for outdoor recreation, hunting, fishing, boating, and some of the finest beaches in North America, including Grand Beach, Victoria Beach and Winnipeg Beach . The province is a four-season travel destination offering cross-country and downhill skiing opportunities, as well as many miles of groomed ski-doo trails. Winnipeg every season offers a world class skating trail. Using the Red River and the Assiniboine River, Winnipeg has created the world's longest skating trail since 2008, including the all time record. Churchill on the Hudson Bay is a popular attraction due to the large polar bear and beluga whale population. The capital city Winnipeg, with a population of near 815,000, offers many cultural and artistic events, museums and year-round festivals. Brandon, Manitoba is a city of 56,000. Other cities with more than 10,000 people are Thompson, Portage la Prairie, Selkirk and Steinbach. Winnipeg has one of the best architectural settings in Canada. Half of its downtown consists of high-rise buildings from 1880–1920. It also has the famous Exchange District which is known as North America's best collection of architecture wonders. Setting from 1850–1920 the area of 56 square blocks has kept 95% of its historical buildings. Giving the tourist setting as they are walking in what Winnipeg looked like in 1920.
Sites of interest in Winnipeg
- Assiniboine Park and Zoo
- Costume Museum of Canada
- Fort Gibraltar
- La Maison Gabrielle Roy
- Le Musée de Saint-Boniface Museum
- Dalnavert Museum
- Louis Riel statue near the Manitoba legislative building. See a figure of Manitoba's leadership.
- Manitoba Children's Museum
- Manitoba Museum
- Naval Museum of Manitoba
- Royal Canadian Mint
- The Exchange District
- Fire Fighters Museum
- Transcona Historical Museum
- The Forks
- Upper Fort Garry
- Western Canada Aviation Museum
- Winnipeg Art Gallery
- Winnipeg Railway Museum
Winnipeg is also home to:
Other sites of interest in the province
- Canadian Fossil Discovery Centre in Morden
- Commonwealth Air Training Plan Museum in Brandon
- Lower Fort Garry in St. Andrews
- Manitoba Agricultural Museum in Austin
- Manitoba Amateur Radio Museum in Austin
- Manitoba Antique Automobile Museum in Elkhorn
- Marine Museum of Manitoba in Selkirk
- Mennonite Heritage Village in Steinbach
- New Iceland Heritage Museum in Gimli
- Oak Hammock Marsh in Stonewall
- Sam Waller Museum in The Pas
Festivals and Events
- Festival du Voyageur held every February in Winnipeg
- Folklorama held annually every August in Winnipeg. Folklorama is the world's largest multicultural festival. It is a 17 day festival held annually in August with close to 100 different cultural pavilions performing 3–4 shows per night.
- Jazz Winnipeg Festival
- Red River Exhibition held annually late June in Winnipeg
- Winnipeg Fringe Theatre Festival
- Winnipeg International Writers Festival
- Winnipeg Music Festival
- Winnipeg Folk Festival
Major parks of interest
Ontario is the most populous and second largest province in Canada. Southern Ontario is home to the Nation's capital, Ottawa and Canada's largest city, Toronto, which is the provincial capital and one of the most multicultural cities in the world. The forests and numerous lakes of Central Ontario and Northern Ontario also provide popular hiking and camping destinations.
Sites of interest in Ottawa
- List of attractions in Ottawa
- ByWard Market
- Canada Agriculture Museum
- Canadian War Museum
- Canadian Aviation Museum
- Canadian Museum of Nature
- Canadian Museum of History
- Canadian Museum of Science and Technology
- Canadian Tire Centre
- Chateau Laurier
- National Art Gallery
- National War Memorial (Canada)
- Parliament Hill
- Rideau Canal
- TD Place Stadium
Sites of interest in Toronto
- List of attractions in Toronto
- Scotiabank Arena
- Art Gallery of Ontario
- Bata Shoe Museum
- Casa Loma
- CN Tower
- Fort York
- Hockey Hall of Fame
- Kensington Market
- Ontario Place
- Ontario Science Centre
- Queen Street West
- Rogers Centre (formerly SkyDome)
- Royal Ontario Museum
- St. Lawrence Market
- Toronto Eaton Centre
- Toronto Islands
- Toronto Zoo
- See also: Hotels in Toronto
Other sites of interest in Ontario
- List of attractions in Hamilton, Ontario
- Algonquin Park
- Canada's Wonderland
- Ontario Tourist Routes
- Fallsview Indoor Water Park, an indoor park in Niagara Falls, Ontario
- Fort Henry
- Niagara Falls
- Muskoka Lakes
- Kingston's Old Town
- Pelee Island
- Science North and Dynamic Earth in Sudbury, Ontario
- Shaw Festival in Niagara-on-the-Lake
- Stratford Festival
- The Thousand Islands
- Upper Canada Village
Quebec, a majority francophone province, is a major tourist draw. Quebec City is a taste of old France in the new world and a UNESCO World Heritage site. Montreal, the second largest francophone city in the world, has several tourist attractions.
Sites of interest in Montreal
- Olympic Stadium
- Juste pour rire
- Old Montreal
- Festival International de Jazz de Montréal
- Opéra de Montréal
- Montreal Museum of Fine Arts
- McCord Museum
- Crescent Street
- St. Lawrence Boulevard
- Canadian Grand Prix
- McGill University
- Mount Royal
- Parc Jean-Drapeau
- Underground city, Montreal
- Redpath Museum
- Canadian Centre for Architecture
- La Ronde
- Saint Joseph's Oratory
- Underground City
Sites of interest in Quebec City
- Musée national des beaux-arts du Québec
- Musée de la civilisation
- Musée de l'Amérique française
- Espace Félix Leclerc
- Musée naval de Québec
- Choco-Musée Erico
- Musée des Ursulines de Québec
- Musée du Royal 22e Régiment/La Citadelle de Québec
- Musée de l'Abeille
- Plains of Abraham Exhibition Centre
- Parc Aquarium du Québec
- Jardin zoologique du Québec
- Château Frontenac
Other sites of interest in Quebec
Saint John, The largest city in New Brunswick and the oldest Incorporated in Canada at the mouth of the Saint John River. Steeped with history from Irish immigration to a great fire in the 19th century. The port city has numerous Victorian houses and 18th- and 19th-century architecture in the Uptown area. The Saint John port welcomes close to 80 cruise ships a year with sites including:
- The Bay of Fundy
- Saint John River
- Partridge Island
- Reversing Falls
- Market Square
- Saints Rest Beach
- New Brunswick Museum
- Saint John Jewish Historical Museum
- Prince William Street
Moncton, the province's second largest city and the recreational centre of the province. With tourist attractions such as,
- Magnetic Hill Zoo
- Magnetic Hill
- Casino New Brunswick
- Magic Mountain
- Tidal bore, twice daily on Petitcodiac River
Fredericton, the province's capital and third largest city, is a cultural and educational centre housing the University of New Brunswick and St. Thomas University, and is filled with neighbourhoods featuring large Victorian-style homes.
Other attractions include:
- Hopewell Rocks
- Cape Enrage
- Kouchibouguac National Park
- Fundy National Park
- New Brunswick Potato Museum
- Whale watching and the Confederation Bridge to Prince Edward Island are also draws.
Prince Edward Island
Prince Edward Island is the birthplace of Lucy Maude Montgomery's character, Anne of Green Gables, and a recreation of her literary home, Green Gables Farm, serves as a museum to the character. The island is also famous around the world for its potato farms and rich red sand beaches.
Other tourists attractions in Prince Edward Island include, among others;
- Victoria Row, a Victorian era street lined with restaurants, cafes and galleries, in the island's capital, Charlottetown.
- West Point Lighthouse, the first lighthouse built on the island, which also serves as a museum and hotel.
- Confederation Bridge, the longest bridge in the world crossing ice-covered water, it is a 12.9 kilometres (8.0 mi) bridge that connects the island to the rest of Canada.
Newfoundland and Labrador
Newfoundland and Labrador attracts many tourists because of its icebergs and fjords. It was settled by Leif Ericsson, an Icelandic sailor, in 1000 A.D. Remains of this settlement can still be found in L'Anse aux Meadows, northern Newfoundland. Europeans settled in 1497, headed by an expedition by John Cabot.
The province's capital, St. John's, is the oldest city in North America, founded in 1497 by John Cabot. It contains many historical locations, such as Cabot Tower, receiver of the first wireless trans-Atlantic message in 1901. Steeped in a long, proud history and home to a rich, unique culture – St. John's residents are known for their hospitality, and their city is a major travel destination in Newfoundland both domestically and for foreign travellers. In recent years, St. John's has become a popular stop for cruise ships originating from ports in Canada, the United States and Europe. The cruise industry has brought tens of thousands of tourists to the St. John's area. In the city's downtown core, George Street, renowned for its nightlife, is home to the most bars and pubs per square foot in North America.
Halifax, the provincial capital, has several major attractions, such as the Pier 21 museum, Citadel Hill, and the Public Gardens. The Halifax Metro Centre is home to numerous events both sport-related and otherwise, such as the Nova Scotia International Tattoo. Downtown Halifax is considered the prime tourism district in Halifax, with most historic attractions located here as well as the waterfront harbourwalk, a continuous 3 km (2 mi) stretch of boardwalk home to street vendors, entertainers, the Casino Nova Scotia, and the Maritime Museum of the Atlantic. Downtown Halifax is also the location of several major hotels.
With its history of the Klondike Gold Rush, First Nations culture and spectacular wilderness, the Yukon Territory has an extensive tourism industry, welcoming over 300,000 visitors a year. Tourist attractions include the gold rush town of Dawson City, Kluane National Park and Reserve and a number of attractions in Whitehorse and other communities. Opportunities for wilderness adventure tourism and ecotourism abound (hiking, canoeing, kayaking, skiing, dog-sledding), but the territory is also served by a well-developed road network, with most places accessible by road.
Watson Lake Sign Post Forest makes its home in Watson Lake, Yukon Territory. Started as a U.S soldier was repair road signs, and added his home sign of Illinois. Now this is home to over 77,000 different road signs.
Northwest Territories attractions include:
- Aurora Borealis
- Northern Life Museum
- N.W.T. Mining Heritage Society
- Wood Buffalo National Park
- Tuktut Nogait National Park
- Nahanni National Park Reserve
- South Nahanni River
- Canol Heritage Trail
- Aulavik National Park
- Coppermine River
- Mackenzie River
Nunavut is probably the most expensive of all the tourist destinations in Canada. Attractions in Nunavut include:
- Auyuittuq National Park
- Quttinirpaaq National Park
- Sirmilik National Park
- Ukkusiksalik National Park
- Ovayok Territorial Park
- Canada shares the world's longest undefended border with the United States.
- A marine border is shared with both Greenland (a Danish territory) and Saint-Pierre and Miquelon (a French overseas collectivity).
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- "Official Destination Website for Whistler BC – Tourism Whistler". Tourism Whistler. Retrieved 20 August 2017.
- "Metro Vancouver – Home" (PDF). Gvrd.bc.ca. Retrieved 2017-08-20.
- "Victoria Row". Charlottetown Area Development Corporation. Retrieved July 26, 2018.
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- "Louisbourg Institute Site". Retrieved February 21, 2020.
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