Canada - Landmarks and Points of Interest

The name alone makes people curious about Head Smashed in Buffalo Jump and a visit to this United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) World Heritage Site outside of Fort Macleod teaches visitors about the ingenuity of local hunters, who used the site as a hunting ground for thousands of years.

Not too far from Fort Macleod is the Waterton Lakes National Park. Home to the oldest rock in the Canadian Rocky Mountains (at 1.5 billion years old), Cameron Falls in Waterton Village is a draw for both its geological interest and sheer beauty.

Alberta has a number of wildlife conservation and rehabilitation facilities, such as the Birds of Prey Centre, which houses the hawks, falcons, eagles and owls of the province on a 70-acre portion of wetlands. Open May to September, the centre offers flying demonstrations, allows visitors to handle the birds and builds back populations through captive breeding of species like the endangered burrowing owl. Other options include the Calgary or Valley Zoos, Sea Life Caverns, Reptile World, Discovery Wildlife Park, Ellis Bird Farm and the Medicine River Wildlife Centre.

If your tastes tend toward the more peculiar, Alberta is home to a surprising assortment of the world's "largest," including: The World's Largest Badminton Racket, Beaver, Bee, Chuckwagon, Dinosaur, Easter Egg, Mushroom, Oil Lamp, Piggy Bank, Putter, Sundial, and Western Boot.

British Columbia
One of the most striking buildings in Vancouver is Canada Place, with its sail-like structures stretched toward the sky. Canada Place is a mixed-use building on the waterfront that serves as the home of the Vancouver Convention and Exhibition Centre, The Pan Pacific Hotel, the cruise ship terminal, the CN IMAX Theatre, and various offices. As Vancouver prepares to host the 2010 Olympic Winter Games, it is not only sprucing up existing amenities, but building new facilities in the area, like the recently opened Whistler Olympic Park, so keep an eye out for new points of interest.

In Victoria, the late 19th century Legislative Buildings sit on the Inner Harbour and illuminate the area every evening with 3,333 lights. Tours of the Francis Rattenbury-designed buildings are available at no cost, offering visitors a closer look at the murals, plaster work, stained glass, architectural details and the grounds surrounding the buildings.

In downtown Winnipeg sits Dalnavert, the home of Sir Hugh John Macdonald, the son of Canada's first Prime Minister. The Queen Anne-style house was built in 1895 and narrowly escaped demolition in 1970 when it was saved, then carefully restored, by the Manitoba Historical Society.

The Forks, where the Assiniboine River meets the Red River, has been a Winnipeg gathering spot for six thousand years and today it takes the form of a commercial, recreational and educational destination with a market, restaurants, attractions, an amphitheater, garden and riverwalk. The Johnston Terminal, also at The Forks, served as a cold storage railway warehouse in its former life and now houses specialty shops, offices and dining options.

New Brunswick
Visitors may be surprised to learn that New Brunswick has quite a few wineries scattered around the province. Belliveau Orchards and Bourgeois Farms outside of Moncton give visitors a literal taste of the area's bounty—icewine, flat wine, sparkling wine, juices and specialty wines are made at Bourgeois Farms and other area producers include the Magnetic Hill Winery, Belleisle Vineyards Inc., the Gagetown Cider Company and Waterside Farms Cottage Winery.

Newfoundland and Labrador
The Memorial University of Newfoundland (MUN) Botanical Garden showcases native and naturalized plant species. Five nature trails onsite allow guests to wander through a 110 acre managed preserve and nearby gardens include a cottage garden, rock gardens, shade garden, medicinal garden and compost demonstration garden.

Wandering around the towns of the province, visitors will be struck by the cheerful, candy colored saltbox houses lining the streets. Beautifully built churches display the talents of craftsman; St. John the Baptist Basilica in particular serves as a lasting example of early 19th century design. Built over a period of 21 years, the cathedral was consecrated in 1855.

Northwest Territories
Following the discovery of diamonds in Canada in 1991, diamond mines have sprouted in the Northwest Territories—the Diavik Diamond Mine, the EKATI Diamond Mine and the Snap Lake Diamond Project, which is owned by De Beers. Although percentage-wise, Canada is not a large-scale source of diamonds at this time, some predict that the area could produce 12 to 15 percent of the world's diamonds once all area mines are up and running—which would make Canada the third largest source worldwide.

Nova Scotia
Primarily known for his accomplishments while living in America, Alexander Graham Bell spent many years living on Baddeck Bay in Nova Scotia. Now home to the Alexander Graham Bell National Historic Site of Canada, the complex features photographs, displays, artifacts, replicas and films tracing the life and work of the famed inventor.

In Upper Economy, Nova Scotia, sits That Duchman's Farm, where owners Maja and Willem van den Hoek produce farmstead gouda, tend heritage animals, and maintain extensive grounds, walking trails and waterways for visitors to explore.

Cape Dorset, the Capital of Inuit Art, sits in eastern Nunavut and local artists are revered for their skill with ancient arts. Napatchie Pootoogookwas, who focuses on prints and drawings, Pudlalik Shaa, who works on stone carvings, and Alasua Sharky, whose preferred medium for carving is stone, but also works with antler and whalebone, are a few of the town's more prominent artisans.

Inukshuk, which can be found throughout much of Canada, are directional markers built of large stones and abstractly human-like. The largest of these structures can be found in Shomberg, Ontario, but they are primarily located in the Arctic regions where they were historically used by the Inuit to convey information about the best routes, places to camp, dangerous waterways and other vital details. On a more spiritual level, inukshuks protect travelers on their journey.

Toronto's offerings are nearly endless, with a well-developed waterfront, the St. Lawrence market with more than 60 specialty food vendors, and—of course—the CN Tower, which is likely Canada's most recognized man-made attraction. The Tower has four levels of viewing stations—the lowest (at 1,122 feet) with a glass floor and outdoor observation deck, the next (1,136 feet) with a café and indoor observation deck, the third (1,150 feet) with a fine dining restaurant featuring 360 degree views of the city and a floor that rotates once every 72 minutes and the SkyPod deck at 1,465 feet.

Prince Edward Island
The smallest of Canada's provinces played a fundamental role in the creation of the country, as Province House in Charlottetown hosted the 1864 Charlottetown Conference, where the idea for a united Canada was developed. Visitors can explore the house, watch a film on the conference, and enjoy historical reenactments.

Prince Edward Island also has quite a few scenic drives that take guests on a picturesque tour of the island; visitors should also consider driving through some of PEI's heritage red clay roads—but be aware that you are sharing the roads with farmers and their large equipment and that these roads are quick to become muddy and difficult to navigate in the spring when the snow melts.

Montréal is bursting with spectacular examples of architecture such as Olympic Stadium, Place Ville Marie, Environment Canada's Biosphère and, perhaps most famous, the Notre-Dame Basilica, a Gothic revival masterwork built between 1824 and 1829. Other worthwhile stops and views include the Mount Royal Park, the Jacques-Cartier Bridge and Saint Joseph's Oratory

In Quebec City, La Citadelle of Quebec provides visitors a glimpse into the military past of the area. La Citadelle remains an active military facility, so all tours are guided, and visitors will learn about the fortress and its history; guests may also explore the Governor General's residence, which overlooks the Saint Lawrence River and has served as the second home to every Governor General of Canada since 1872. During the summer months, the morning Changing of the Guard can be viewed, as well as the evening Retreat.

This one might not be visible from space, but the Great Wall of Saskatchewan near Smiley is quite a feat in its own right. The Wall was started by Albert Johnson in 1962 and continued to grow over the years as rocks from neighboring farms were added to the project. Completed in 1991, it was built without any cement or mortar.

Moose Jaw, where dozens of murals adorn the fronts and sides of buildings in the downtown corridor, is also home to two fascinating, multimedia tunnel tours. The town used to have an extensive underground system used for various purposes—both mundane and nefarious—and visitors can now participate in the "Passage to Fortune" tour, which gives guests an idea of the life of a Chinese immigrant in the late 19th century, and "The Chicago Connection," which looks as Moose Jaw's role in supplying liquor to the United States during Prohibition.

Don't miss the views from the Top of the World Highway, which runs from Dawson City to Alaska—a narrow, meandering road that takes drivers on a spectacular journey through unspoiled Canada.

And while most travelers buy souvenirs, for those more inclined to leave something behind, there is the Sign Post Forest in Watson Lake. The forest began simply enough, by Carl Lindley, an American Army man working on the Alaska highway; Lindley missed his home in Danville, IL, so he posted a sign in 1942, pointing in the direction of Danville and listing the mileage to make it there. In the decades since, more than 10,000 signs have been posted—pointing toward the hometowns of so many visitors.

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