Friday, June 24, 2016

Crossing the Canadian Rockies





Canada Highway through the Rockies in early April

Growing up close to the European Alps, with 12,000 ft high mountains, I really did not expect to be so impressed by the mountains of the Canadian part of the Rockies. I had inadvertently chosen the best time of the year, or at least the most photogenic: there was still snow on the mountains, half way down.  And the lovely sunshine was just what made it a perfect trip from Vancouver to Calgary.
Here are some impressions, I randomly picked from hundreds of images I took:


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Hiking, mountains in sight
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Historic Railway Hotel
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Yes, there was still some snow on the Pass
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Approaching Roger Pass

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Trans Canada HWY is clear
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Lucky with the weather....

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Rooms available in April - between Winter and Summer Season

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Mighty Mountains
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Matterhorn of the Rockies

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Casino and Lodge near Lake Louise
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Towards Lake Louise
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Hotel Lake Louise


Downtown Banff, Alberta
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Canmore historic sign


I can highly recommend this drive for spring and fall.


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Thursday, April 7, 2016

The Yearly Tulip Festival in Ottawa


Tulips around the Symmes Museum in Aylmer

The Canadian Tulip Festival is a celebration of the return of spring, with over a million tulips in 50 varieties blooming in public spaces across the National Capital Region. And it's a celebration of the friendship with the Netherlands.

How it all Began:
Ottawa, Canada’s capital, gave a safe haven for the members of Holland’s exiled royal family received during World War II, and Canadian troops also played a role in the liberation of the Netherlands.  Even a Dutch princess - Margriet - was born in Ottawa, and setting the flag of the Netherlands on Parliament she was technically born on Netherland's soil.  
In 1945 Princess Juliana of the royal family of the Netherlands gifted 100.000 Tulip bulbs to Ottawa. Tulips in Ottawa have grown to become a symbol of peace, freedom and international friendship. Since then each year, the Dutch Royal Family and the Dutch Growers Association each send 10,000 more tulip bulbs to Ottawa.

The highest concentration of tulips can be viewed in the flower beds of the Commissioners Park, on the banks of Dows Lake, where 300,000 flowers bloom.
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Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Champagne-Powder in Big White, Kelowna, British Columbia







When I visited the resort town of Big White, just 60 km out of Kelowna, at the end of November, early December, I found already 3 feet of snow.  Both, me and my dog wished we had snow shoes with us, as we sunk several times into the deep snow trying to make a shortcut to another road.  Right now the top levels have risen to almost 7 feet of snow (over 2 meters).  The location of this resort is outstanding, the views are stunning and you have sun almost all day long and on most days you can see the panorama of mountains and hills for hundreds of miles.  Several days a week you can even ski at night from 4pm to 8pm.
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During my whole stay I did not experience any waiting times at the ski lifts, in fact only approx. 20 percent of the ski lifts were used, almost entirely by young Aussies who seem to man the whole resort workforce.  They are very friendly, upbeat and an awesome bunch of youngsters and students who work in the resort during the season from mid November to the end of April.  On their days off or after shifts they can ski for free as much as they want.  
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What You Need to Know about Big White

1. Big White is for Winter Sport. Period.

The resort town is in a very remote area, no villages around and no grown infrastructure.  I could count the number of houses I have seen in the last 40 kilometers on one hand... The population in and around Big White consists of 60 people, however with visitors it grows to 22,000 during the Christmas and New Year's high season.  Don't compare it with Breckenridge in Colorado, Whistler near Vancouver, BC or any of the ski towns in Europe: Big White is marvelous and a perfect place for skiers and snowboarders, but that's it.
Barely any apres-ski activities, other than going out for an evening dinner or some music entertainment. Concerts, a library, movies, shopping malls etc. are absent.  No critique here, just to let you know what to expect - and to let you know that snow and skiing are the big thing here - not partying.  
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2. Transportation is Solely by Car or Bus. 
There is a shuttle bus from Kelowna's airport to the resort - in my eyes the safest way to get there.  
Even though the resort is only 60 kilometer from Kelowna and its international airport, the drive can be tough, and it is for sure longer than an hour, it took me more than two hours!  I was lucky to make it without winter tires / snow chains, as I drove very carefully and slow. The road will be plowed, but not salted. My drive was both ways during the week, so not any traffic to speak of.  The road is very winding and in parts pretty steep.  Should you have an accident on the road or on the ski hill or any health condition: Transportation to the Kelowna hospital is via the only connecting road.  No helipad available at the resort!  When you travel by air to Kelowna, don't spend any money for a rental car.  You don't need it in Big White as the lifts start directly in town.  The roads are very narrow and there are no parking spaces unless you have one in your own vacation rental place.
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3. Shopping and Groceries.
My camera quit on me at the last hour of my stay. For the way back and until I could purchase a new one, I wanted to buy a small digital camera.  No luck, to buy a camera, nor can you find batteries, memory sticks etc. 
I asked a local security guide and I went to all six shops in Big White. Yes, six is the total amount of stores there, where you can buy anything at all and only in one you can purchase groceries (at inflated prices, but somehow: everything needs to be extra-delivered to this high-altitude place).
When renting a vacation apartment in Big White 
organize your purchases before you travel up - and even if you are in one of the very few hotels and don't want to eat in restaurants three times a day, or if you are on a special diet.  Better don't forget anything!  If you arrive at Kelowna airport, take a taxi to the nearest grocery store or Costco in the city and stock up for the whole time of your stay.  Not only food, but drinks, water, milk and everything else you might need - before you enter your shuttle bus to Big White.
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Still a Fantastic Place to Spend Your Ski Vacation!
I haven't seen better snow anywhere else! Really!  And I have been skiing the Rockies and the Alpes in Europe! "Champagne Powder" as the snow is called, falls in huge amounts every year in this vast acreage for skiers, snowboarders, nordic fans, skaters and sun lovers.
 



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Make sure not to miss the 
Free Mountain Tours: Local "Snow Hosts" will show you the best ski and snowboarding spots on Big White with a Complimentary Mountain Tour.  This tour will open your eyes to the locals’ favourite ski and snowboard runs, providing you with the ins and outs of Big White Resorts.  Guided cross-country skiing tours are offered Thursday to Sunday to introduce you to the 9 miles / 14 km of nordic trails
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Lots of Praise for Big White:
Big White, 40 miles / 60 kilometers from Kelowna in British Columbia was named one of the Top Ski Resorts from a world-renowned German resort test portal.  After an assessment using 18 stringent criteria, the site Skiresort.info awarded Big White 4.3 out of a possible five stars.  Canada's largest, totally ski-in ski-out resort village Big White was also awarded North America’s #1 Family Resort. 
Did I mention the wonderful clear and clean air?  Coming from the city it was such a treat to smell this fresh and unpolluted air.  I am looking forward to the next ski and snow vacation in Big White!  Maybe even this spring when they offer specials after the Easter Holidays.  
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Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Fascinating National Parks in Canada

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It’s the quintessential Canadian travel or weekend experience:  visiting one of the many National Parks to be away from civilization and enjoy nature. These parks are also something that is very unique for a G20 country of this size to support so many parks.  Canada's Nation Parks can be found from the "Banana Belt" up to the Arctic.
13.5 million visitors came to Canada’s National Parks and Marine Conservation Areas in 2014-2015.  The Banff National Park alone had 3.6 million, and I was in Spring one of them  : )
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My Favoured Canadian National Parks:

Thousand Islands National Park 
Located is this beautiful area 3 hrs east if Toronto, or 1,5 hrs south of Ottawa:

Even though it is Canada's smallest national park, St. Lawrence Islands is spread over a remarkably wide swath of terrain. The park stretches for 80 kilometres along the shores of the St. Lawrence River.
Many of the islands are barely above the water line and are continually being washed clean of anything that might want to grow there. Most of the larger islands, however, are perfect places to while away a warm, sunny, summer afternoon. 

Hidden away from much of the major traffic of Canada's greatest river, these 21 islands and 90 islets offer the perfect get-away for folks that live in the Kingston-Ottawa-Montreal triangle or anyone else travelling along the Trans-Canada Highway.
Don’t miss the nearby Prince Edward county close to Belleville with its lovely small towns, wineries and farmer markets - and the Sand Dunes Ontario Provincial Park which gives you the feeling to be on an Ocean as you will see only sand and water.

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Fathom Five National Marine Park, 3 hrs north of Toronto
Georgian Bay and the waters surrounding the Bruce Peninsula are crystal-clear and a breath-taking sight. I spent a week there and will return this year for sure.  Diving or chartering one of the boats with glass floors will allow you to see amazing shipwrecks in a fascinating underwater world. Lots of ship traffic during the eighteen hundreds left also lots of shipwrecks. However not only underwater, but also on dozens of island treasures can be found if you like nature: The oldest forests in Eastern Canada with very rare Orchids and Ferns.  Beautiful sand beaches stretch for hundred kilometres around Georgian Bay and invite swimmers, surfers, sailers, hikers and sun-lovers.

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Banff National Park
Coming from Austria in the Alps, I did not expect at all to be impressed by the Rocky Mountains. Boy, was I wrong!  Leaving a rainy Vancouver in early April I headed to the mountains and expected even roads to be closed due to snow. But no, the next day turned out beautifully and I had chosen the best time of the year:  The mountain tops were still snow-covered to about half of the elevation and this made for an outstanding driving experience.  I guess I shot about 500 photos, and stopped every 5 km to soak in the beautiful sights.  Would I have driven in summer through the Rockies, I would have seen water in Lake Louise near Banff, instead of the snow in April, but all the mountains would have been green-brown-grey and wouldn’t have so fantastic sparkled in the sun.  Lucky as I was, I even found a hotel room close to Banff and Lake Louise with a million-dollar-view towards the snow-covered mountains and with a balcony for only US$28 on the internet. Cheers to the nice Australian girls who work there for the winter season. You made my day too. 
I only regret that I did not drive up to the many Hot Springs in the vicinity.  They must be marvellous at this time of the year, hot steaming pools surrounded by snow-covered trees and meadows. 
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How to Get to the Ontario Parks:
From Toronto and Ottawa are express bus rides offered to the Algonquin Park and a dozen other parks, if you don’t want to drive by car. Parkbus also offers all-inclusive packages for camping.
http://www.Parkbus.ca
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Where to Stay Overnight:
Many visitors camp out in the wild, but if you like it a bit more comfortable or don’t have a tent, or don’t want to carry one around, there are often tents provided or Yurts, which are equipped with a wooden floor, windows and beds. Ontario has 74 of these yurts in 10 Provincial Parks. Gatineau Park close to Ottawa features Yurts in some of its campgrounds for overnight stays. 
http://www.parcscanada.gc.ca
http://www.pc.gc.ca

Ontario Parks Canada also has a wildly popular program in weekend overnight sessions were you can learn to camp and cook in the outdoors. 
http://www.Ontarioparks.com/learntocamp
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FREE Entrance for New Canadians:
A Cultural Access Pass allows new Canadians for one year after they received their citizenship to visit four National Parks for free - including up to four of their children.
http://www.icc-icc.ca

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Small Selection of National Parks in Canada and Accommodations


ALL NATIONAL PARKS CAN BE FOUND HERE:
http://www.parcscanada.gc.ca

ALGONQUIN PROVINCIAL PARK
http://www.algonquinpark.on.ca/

ALGONQUIN PARK ACCOMMODATION
http://www.arowhonpines.ca 

BANFF NATIONAL PARK OFFICIAL HOMEPAGE
http://www.worldweb.com/ParksCanada-Banff/index.html

BANFF NATIONAL PARK ACCOMMODATION
http://www.banfflakelouise.com 

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FATHOM FIVE NATIONAL MARINE PARK OFFICIAL HOMEPAGE
http://www.canadianparks.com/ontario/ffivemp/index.htm

BRUCE PENINSULA AND FATHOM FIVE ACCOMMODATION 
http://www.tobermory.org  

CAPE BRETON ISLAND NATIONAL PARK OFFICIAL HOMEPAGE
http://167.33.61.89/parks/nova_scotia/cape_highlands/Cape_highlands_e.htm

CAPE BRETON ISLAND NATIONAL PARK ACCOMMODATION 
http://explore.gov.ns.ca http://www.canadianparks.com/ontario/ffivemp/index.htm

GLACIER NATIONAL PARK OFFICIAL HOMEPAGE
http://parkscan.harbour.com/glacier/index.htm

GLACIER NATIONAL PARK ACCOMMODATION 
http://glacier.canada.allwebhotels.com

JASPER NATIONAL PARK OFFICIAL HOMEPAGE
http://www.worldweb.com/parkscanada-jasper/index.html

KEJIMKUJIK NATIONAL PARK OFFICIAL HOMEPAGE
http://www.pc.gc.ca/eng/pn-np/ns/kejimkujik/index.aspxhttp://www.pc.gc.ca/eng/pn-np/ns/kejimkujik/index.aspx

KOOTENAY NATIONAL PARK
http://www.worldweb.com/parkscanada-kootenay/index.html

KOUCHIBOUGUAC NATIONAL PARK OFFICIAL HOMEPAGE
http://www.tourismnewbrunswick.ca/Products/K/KouchibouguacNationalPark.aspx

KOUCHIBOUGUAC NATIONAL PARK ACCOMMODATION 
http://www.tourismnbcanada.com

MOUNT REVELSTOKE NATIONAL PARK OFFICIAL HOMEPAGE
http://parkscan.harbour.com/mtrev/

MOUNT REVELSTOKE NATIONAL PARK ACCOMMODATION 
http://revelstoke.canada.allwebhotels.com

NATIONAL PARKS BRITISH COLUMBIA
http://www.national-parks-kanada.de/british_columbia/index.html#glacier

POINT PELEE NATIONAL PARK OFFICIAL HOMEPAGE
http://www.pc.gc.ca/eng/pn-np/on/pelee/index.aspx

RIDING MOUNTAIN NATIONAL PARK OFFICIAL HOMEPAGE
http://www.pc.gc.ca/eng/pn-np/mb/riding/index.aspx

RIDING MOUNTAIN NATIONAL PARK ACCOMMODATION
http://clearlake-wasagaming.com 

ST.LAWRENCE ISLANDS NATIONAL PARK OFFICIAL HOMEPAGE
http://www.canadianparks.com/ontario/stlawrn/index.htm

ST.LAWRENCE ISLANDS NATIONAL PARK ACCOMMODATION 
http://www.1000islandsgananoque.com 

WATERTON LAKES NATIONAL PARC OFFICIAL HOMEPAGE
http://www.parcscanada.gc.ca/parks/alberta/waterton_lakes/waterton_lakes_e.htm 

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WATERTON LAKES NATIONAL PARK ACCOMMODATION 
http://www.watertonchamber.com

WATERTON LAKES NATIONAL PARK ACCOMMODATION 
http://www.discoverwaterton.com

YOHO NATIONAL PARK OFFICIAL HOMEPAGE
http://www.worldweb.com/parkscanada-yoho/index.html 

YOHO AND KOOTENAY NATIONAL PARK ACCOMMODATION
http://www.bcrockies.com  


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Thursday, June 18, 2015

Bicycling in Quebec: La Belle Province

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Nature lovers, whale watchers, gourmets, heritage and art lovers, wine connoisseurs, francophiles - they all enjoy traveling La Belle Province by bicycle, one of the best ways to experience all this and more and have a really relaxing vacation.
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Start Your Vacation in Montreal
Bicycles are almost as iconic to Montreal as gondolas are to Venice.  350 km of bike paths include hilly downtown Mont Royal Park, several islands in the St. Lawrence River and the banks of the Lachine Canal.  In 2007 the locally-developed public bike-share program, BIXI was launched.  The name comes from the first two letters of “bicycle” and the last two letters of “taxi”.  Use your credit card to unlock one of 5,200 bikes and afterwards drop it off at any one of 460 stations across the city.

North of Montréal in the Laurentians, an abandoned railway line called the P’tit Train du Nord (the “little train of the north”) has been converted into a 230 km biking and walking path, travelling through forest, alongside rivers and through lovely villages with cafés, bistros and lovely B&B's along the way.
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La Route Verte - Bienvenue Cyclistes!
Planning a multi-day bike ride in Quebec? There’s a handy guide / organization “Route Verte” welcoming cyclists "Bienvenue Cyclistes".  Members are savvy about local bicycle repair centres, bicycle rental outlets and nearby tourist information offices.  Good to know: Cyclists are guaranteed a space even if they don’t have a reservation.
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Route des vins, Wine Route.
Southeast of Montreal along the Eastern Township’s visit local farmer’s markets, taste artisanal cheeses and wines, dine on local cuisine or visit a grand Benedictine abbey where monks are producing cider and award-winning cheese.  Stop at quaint New England-style towns that have officially been designated as the province’s most beautiful villages.
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South Shore St. Lawrence River
The Eastern Townships and the South Shore are my favored areas in Quebec - and once you discovered them you will know why...  
St.-Antoine-de-Tilly: Located 25 km from Quebec City, a real gem with it`s beautifully restored heritage homes, surrounded by quaint farm country and apple orchards.  A small park dotted with picnic tables on the river shore allows you to watch big ocean freight liners on their way to and from Montreal's port. The Manoir de Tilly, built in 1786, serves fine local cuisine, the Bergeron fromagerie offers tastings and tours.
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Take your time to explore this and many more beautiful villages along the mighty St Lawrence. From Lévis, across Quebec City, via a lovely ferry ride, cycle to the town of Montmagny, about 60 km away while you will experience farmland with river views, and rural villages with tiny churches and cafes.  Don't miss the islands of the Lawrence River: From Berthier-sur-mer, take a ferry to historic Grosse Île National Historic Site. Or from Montmagny, to L'Île-aux-Grues, for a tranquil route past dairy farms.
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Route Verte #6 from Québec City.
An old, abandoned railway route from just outside Québec City to Riviere-a-Pierre has been converted into the leisurely, forested and almost flat 68 km Jacques-Cartier/Portneuf cycling path, part of the Route Verte #6 with villages and scenic viewpoints along the way.  Don't miss to stop at the Wendake Nation Reserve.  Find out about this self-governing territory next to Québec City, with a thriving community of artists and artisans.  Don't miss the yearly famous Pow Wow in late June. The magnificent Kabir Kouba Falls plunges through a canyon right next to the town. 
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North Shore - Charlevoix.
Explore the Charlevoix region northeast of Québec City from the Montmorency Falls, the famous Sainte-Anne-de-Beaupre basilica, further on to Baie-Saint-Paul and to La Malbaie, a landscape made famous by Québec painters.  See their work in Baie-Saint-Paul’s many galleries, then stop in at farms, cheesemakers and restaurants serving farm-to-table cuisine with views of the St. Lawrence River. 
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Saguenay Fjord and Whale Watching.
No matter on which shores of spectacular Saguenay Fjord you cycle, you can spot Beluga and Minke whales, hike or kayak the fjord.  One doesn’t need to board an expensive zodiac, whales are easily to observe from the shore at sunrise or after sunset.  Observe St. Lawrence Belugas in Sainte-Marguerite Bay all summer long.  Walk to the lookout to see if you can spot the whales!  From May to October many types of Whales are abundant, especially in the area between Tadoussac and Rimouski.
Experienced cyclists may take on the Cols du Fjord, a three-day, challenging cycling excursion!  Others want to pedal leisurely the Blueberry Route in the Saguenay-Lac Saint-Jean region.  Wild blueberries in late summer and a flat, paved route around Lac Saint-Jean make cycling a delicious and relaxing experience. 
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Where is La Belle Province, Quebec? 
It's Canada's second largest province by area.  Quebec is bordered to the west by the province of Ontario, James Bay, and Hudson Bay; to the north by Hudson Strait and Ungava Bay; to the east by the Gulf of Saint Lawrence and the province of Newfoundland and Labrador;  in the south it is bordered by the Canadian province of New Brunswick and the U.S. states of Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, and New York.
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All photos by Doris-Maria Heilmann.  Read also:

http://www.marvelous-canada.blogspot.ca/2011/12/hull-quebec-or-gatineau-canada.html

http://www.marvelous-canada.blogspot.ca/2010/06/most-beautiful-villages-of-quebec.html

http://www.marvelous-canada.blogspot.ca/2009/11/st-lawrence-river-whales.html



Thursday, November 20, 2014

Photo Impressions of a Cross Canada Tour

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Canada from Coast to Coast: an impressive tour, I highly recommend!


Maritimes



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The Dunes Gallery Prince Edward Island


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16 km Prince Edward Island Bridge


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Nova Scotia


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Light Tower St George Bay, Antigonish

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Near Antigonish


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Lunenburg 


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Peggy's Cove Lighthouse


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New Brunswick


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Rockwall in Arcadia


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Lobster Traps 

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Quebec 



Whale Watching



Saguenay Fjord 


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Quebec City


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Saint Anne de Beaupre


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Saint Lawrence River


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Old Montreal



Aylmer, Quebec


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Aylmer Marina


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Wooden Bridge Wakefield




Gatineau Park




Ontario
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Rideau Locks Ottawa


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Bentley in Front of the Ottawa Parliament


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House of Commons, Parliament


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Rideau Hall, Ottawa


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Ontario

Toronto City Airport


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Toronto China Town


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Rideau Canal


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Burritt Falls


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Canoes Algonquin Park


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Golden Lake Pow Wow


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Ontario on the Lake


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Niagara Falls


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Lake Huron


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Store in North Bay

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Lake Huron, Georgian Bay


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Heritage Museum Northern Ontario



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Sault Ste Marie, Ontario



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Short Side Trip:  Wisconsin 



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Winnipeg, Manitoba



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Old Winnipeg


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Red River in Winnipeg


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New Museum for Human Rights in Winnipeg


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First Nations Casinos everywhere



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Lake Winnipeg


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Endless Prairies in Manitoba and Saskatchewan



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Old Grain Elevators


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Endless Prairie Roads ...


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Prairie Grass


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Saskatchewan Wheat Country


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Saskatoon Hotel


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Prairie Heritage Museum



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Alberta Badlands



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Alberta Prairie


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Native Museum


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Blackfeet Nations lost their country to the Whites




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Bog in cloudy Waterton Park


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Waterton Lake Ntl Park


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Mural in Creston


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British Columbia greet's with flowers and vegetables


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Kootenay Lake


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Ferry to Nelson, BC


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House Boat - Boat House?


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Nelson, BC, Heritage Building


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Greenwood


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Osoyoos BC, semi-arid


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First Nations Winery


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Osoyoos, Lake Okanagan


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Millions of Roses around Lake Okanagan


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Bear Warnings everywhere


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Overhead Kelowna


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Millions of Apple trees in the Okanagan


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Over Kelowna


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Okanagan Wine


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Wine Harvest


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Monument Kelowna Harbor


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Bridge over the Okanagan


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City Hall Kelowna Backyard Early November!


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Kelowna Bear


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More coming soon  : )