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RBC Letter

February 1964 — VOL. 45, No. 2 —
A Vacation in Canada

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Canada holds all the lure and opportunity of a new frontier. At the same time it provides the comforts and conveniences of the space age.

Not everyone has the same idea of what an ideal vacation is, but whatever your choice, you can find it in this second—biggest country in the world, from the night life of the metropolis to the 24—hour—sunshine of the far northwest.

Are you tired out by the complexity of life so that you want above all to get away from people? Here is a lakeside or a mountain top offering you a haven of refuge. Are you bored by rural or small town life? Here are the thrills of crowded city streets, or the spirit of adventure in canoe or car, on waterways and highways from sea to sea and north and south.

If it is true that a picture is worth a thousand words, then only a massive computer could calculate the number of words needed to picture Canada, and this Monthly Letter, alas! has room for only 3,000 words.

What do you seek?

Canada is teeming with new things to do and to see, no matter how sophisticated you may be. It is an adventure to relive history, treading the paths where Champlain walked, touching the walls defended by Madeleine de Verchères, standing beside the stone on the peak from which Alexander Mackenzie first sighted the Pacific Ocean. It is adventure to paddle or sail or drive through forests and plains, among roaring rivers and placid lakes. It is adventure to penetrate to woodland glades where wild creatures live. It is adventure to fish, hunt, camp, swim or ski in a country that has a thousand faces, every expression being different from any you have ever seen before.

You can combine vacation with learning by signing up for one of the many summer courses. The Canadian Government Travel Bureau booklet Summer Courses in Canada lists 40 institutions and organizations which offer educational courses and 20 which offer courses in arts and crafts.

There are package tours by air, train, bus and ship in every province, providing holidays free from the tiresome details of travel reservations, meals, shelter and looking after luggage. For information about these and other holiday amenities you should write to the Canadian Government Travel Bureau, Ottawa, Ontario, or to the provincial travel and tourist bureaux at the capital cities named later in this Letter.

But, first of all, take a quick survey of our country.

No matter how modestly you talk about the physical facts of Canada, you seem to be grossly exaggerating the truth. If you had a spool of thread long enough, and started unrolling it at St. John's, Newfoundland, by the time you tied the other end to a stake at Victoria, British Columbia, it would reach nearly a quarter of the way around the earth's circumference.

The Trans—Canada Highway, linking east and west through 5,000 miles, has its first signpost at the eastern shore of Newfoundland, once Britain's oldest colony, an exciting country, full of warmth and history, and when you reach the other end in British Columbia you will realize the truth of the province's boast that if there is anything new under the sun, here's where you'll find it.

But let's follow the sun in a more leisurely way from its rising in the Atlantic to its setting in the Pacific to see what things there are to make note of.

Newfoundland. (Capital: St. John's. Provincial flower: Pitcher Plant). Here, floating off the coast, is the Great Island with a time zone all its own, a half hour ahead of Atlantic time.

When the Vikings landed here in the year 1001 they named it Markland, or Land of Forest. When John Cabot made his landfall in 1497 he called it New Found Isle. On the King's Beach in the harbour of St. John's 380 years ago was unfurled the flag of Queen Elizabeth I, marking the first colonial government of Britain overseas.

You may visit the fishing villages, called "outports", and listen to the English language as it was pronounced in Devonshire in the time of Shakespeare. In some settlements you will hear the roiling accent of Southern Ireland ( and many times it will be telling you a thrilling ghost story or a fascinating tale of pirate treasure or one of hundreds of folk legends.) They may even give you a folk recipe for what ails you." like walking backward, preferably in a circle, to cure your headache, or, if you have a nightmare, calling your name backwards. If you paint or take photographs there are scenic wonders not duplicated anywhere else in the world.

Prince Edward Island. (Capital: Charlottetown. Provincial flower: Lady's Slipper). Here is a tiny, red—earthed island called "The Garden of the Gulf." Its land is gently undulating and intensively cultivated. It has beaches of hard white sand, long and smooth and free from stones.

Charlottetown has been called the cradle of Confederation, because it was there, in 1864, that the first conference was held which led to federation of British North American colonies as the Dominion of Canada.

Among the holiday attractions of the Island you will find Green Gables, scene of the happy and somewhat adventurous life of Anne. You may pick out all the scenes that surrounded Anne in Lucy Maude Montgomery's books: the haunted wood, the lake of shining waters, lover's lane, and Green Gables house itself.

A few miles away, toward Summerside, is the home of the Woodleigh Replicas, reproductions to scale of famous churches, castles and homes in Britain.

Nova Scotia. (Capital: Halifax. Provincial flower: Mayflower). The Gaelic Ciad Mile Failte (One hundred thousand welcomes) greets every visitor to this sea—conditioned province, and the Scotians' old—fashioned hospitality says "Won't you stop with us a while?".

A drive along any part of the 4,625 miles of coastline will delight all who love the ocean and the picturesque as it is seen in fishing boats and fish houses, fishing villages and fishermen. Hundreds of artists haunt Blue Rocks and Peggy's Cove every summer.

When you visit Nova Scotia you are following the Norsemen who landed here nearly a thousand years ago, and John Cabot, who planted the British flag here in 1497, and Samuel de Champlain who built the habitation at Port Royal under the French flag in 1605. There are massive forts, historic houses and museums to remind you of the old days. The Cabot Trail through Cape Breton National Park is a modern highway which is nevertheless an adventure trail through spectacular scenery.

Lunenburg, where the "Bluenose" was built in 1921 to become champion schooner of the Atlantic, and where the movie ship "Bounty" was built in 1960, is still a snug harbour in which to drop anchor.

The fortress of Louisbourg is one of the most noted of all historic places on the continent. It was erected by the French between 1720 and 1734 to guard the entrance to the St. Lawrence, and cost so much that the French king asked if they were paving the streets with gold.

When Evangeline, the heroine of Longfellow's poem, and her fellow Acadians were expelled from Nova Scotia many of them went to Boston. Thirteen years later more than three hundred families walked all the way back and settled along St. Mary's Bay in a district now known as Clare. Their flag is the tricolour with a star ( Star of the Sea). They retain their mother tongue and many of the old Acadian customs, but they have a modern university.

A few miles away is Port Royal, where was organized the first social club in America, "The Order of the Good Time," in which you will be given a certificate of membership after spending seven days in the province.

New Brunswick. (Capital: Fredericton. Provincial flower: Blue Violet). "The Picture Province", they call New Brunswick down where it nestles between Maine, Quebec, Nova Scotia and the sea.

Among the glories contributing to that beauty we must reckon the lordly rivers. Their very names are music in the ears J Restigouche and Richibucto, Miramichi and Musquash. The tidal bore, a wall of water 3 to 6 feet high, sweeps up the Petitcodiac river every tide from the Bay of Fundy.

This is a paintable province. Fundy National Park, with eighty square miles of scenic wonderland, provides endless variety of seascapes and landscapes. A few miles away is Cape Hopewell, where giant columns of soft red sandstone have been carved into fantastic shapes by the ocean waves.

You can't see all this from the Canadian end of the bridge linking the province with Calais, Maine, but there are good highways and the distances are not great. There are some things, indeed, that you can't see at all unless you believe in them and are lucky, but you should try. On a night when the giant branches of the tall spruce trees are wind—tossed against the black sky, you may glimpse far out on the turbulent waters the Phantom Ship of Northumberland Strait. Fair out of the east she comes, a three—masted square—rigged ship, her masts and yards and canvas bright with the red majesty of leaping flame. You may see her disappear, bow first and still aglow, beneath the water of the Strait.

Quebec. (Capital: Quebec City. Provincial flower: White Lily). Standing proudly on its great rock towering over the St. Lawrence is the fortified city of Quebec. Its streets twist in cow—path fashion between centuries—old houses, its hills catapult down the steep incline of the Rock where its Citadel guns peer out toward the sea. But through its picturesque city gates stream all the vehicles that go to make up modern traffic, and outside the walls are the most up to date of motels and inns.

Downstream seven miles are Montmorency Falls, higher than Niagara, and across the bridge from them is the Island of Orleans, where time unchanging carries the visitor into another world. A few miles beyond Montmorency is Ste. Anne de Beauprr, a shrine which attracts scores of thousands of pilgrims and visitors every year.

On the south shore starts the Gaspé trail, leading to a peninsula of lovely scenery, the climax of the trip being Percé Rock of unforgettable memory, and nearby Bonaventure Island, one of the few world sanctuaries of gannets which nest here with guillemots, auks, kittiwakes, gulls and puffins, all quite accustomed to having their pictures taken.

Up the river 140 miles, 1,000 miles from the sea, is the greatest inland ocean port in the world, Montreal, where modern finance and business raise their skyscraping buildings beside the shrines of the Old World. A few blocks from the Head Office of The Royal Bank of Canada is Mount Royal, atop which Sieur de Maisonneuve planted the cross of his Faith in 1642.

Here, too, is Chateau de Ramezay, now a museum but in 1775 the headquarters of the invading Americans. To it came Benjamin Franklin in a vain attempt to win French support against the British.

This city, the cradle of early Canadian history, now one of the great mercantile and financial capitals of the world, has a pulsebeat all its own. Here, in 1967, the hundredth anniversary of Confederation, is to be held the World Fair on a man—made island in mid—St. Lawrence.

Ontario. (Capital: Toronto. Provincial flower: Trillium). From the shores of the St. Lawrence to the rim of the prairies, and from a latitude as soft as that of the Mediterranean to the sharp edge of the northland half way up Hudson Bay, Ontario has more than 412,000 square miles that varies from the grape—growing Niagara Peninsula to the tundra of the reindeer.

Within a day's drive of more than a third of the population of Canada and the United States, there are ideal vacation places like Thousand Islands, the Rideau Lakes, and peaceful northern parks. And, of course, Niagara Falls, place of beauty, romance, history and honeymoons.

Eastward from Toronto, the home of the Canadian National Exhibition, the biggest annual affair of its kind in the world, are historic spots galore: Fort Henry is a preserved fortress manned today by cadets who wear the uniform and do the colourful drills of the past century: Fort Wellington, with its exciting sally—port; and Upper Canada Village. This last was born of the upheaval of the St. Lawrence Valley during development of the Seaway and hydro power. Churches, public buildings and the unassuming homes and shops of simple, hardworking people of the eighteenth and nineteenth century were brought bodily from the land that was to be drowned, and grouped here in a typical riverside village.

Westward from Toronto and a little north is the Huron country, inhabited three hundred years ago by stone—age Indian tribes. It was here around 1650 that several Jesuit missionaries were burned at the stake by the Iroquois. A reconstructed Huron village and an exhibition of Indian weapons and utensils attract thousands of visitors.

Manitoba. (Capital: Winnipeg. Provincial flower: Crocus). Continuing westward, we come to the first and largest city of the plains, Winnipeg. The nature of the country changes completely, and for nearly a thousand miles we cross the vast grain—growing regions of Canada.

Exploration began here in the age of Shakespeare when Henry Hudson discovered the Hudson River and sailed Hudson Bay. The British flag has flown longer over Manitoba soil than over any other part of the North American continent.

For decades, agriculture has been the mainstay of Manitoba's economy. From the fertile plains of the south, the province reaches northward to the rugged timberland of the Canadian shield, and then on to its northern coastline along 440 miles of Hudson Bay. The railway reached Port Churchill in 1931, and vessels laden with grain pass through Hudson Strait, within a few degrees of the Arctic Circle, on their way to Europe.

Manitoba has much unspoiled vacation land, historic sites and all of today's amenities.

Saskatchewan. (Capital: Regina. Provincial flower: Prairie Lily). Paleo—Indians, who were big game hunters from Asia, were the first known men to penetrate into what is now Saskatchewan. They crossed from the Old World toward the close of the last Ice Age. Today, Regina, "Queen City of the Plains", rules over a highly developed province.

Saskatchewan, the "land of swift running water," invites the tourist to travel for weeks through forest, up and down numberless rivers, over glistening lakes, through park land and forest practically untouched by the hand of man.

There are several provincial parks in addition to Prince Albert National Park. The national park stretches far beyond the haunts of man. At Lavallee Lake are rookeries of pelicans and cormorants, strange birds which provide visitors with hours of amusement.

Regina is headquarters of the world—famous Royal Canadian Mounted Police, successors to the North West Mounted.

Alberta. (Capital: Edmonton. Provincial flower: Wild Rose). It is difficult to stand on Jasper Avenue in Edmonton and realize that only sixty years ago this flourishing city was little more than a rudely palisaded fort with a population of a few thousand people mainly engaged in the fur trade. Today it is one of the centres of the rich oil fields, an important industrial hub, and the heart of a fertile farm and cattle area.

From Edmonton you may strike out northward on the Mackenzie highway to Yellowknife in the North—west Territories, or northwest on the Alaska highway to Whitehorse in the Yukon and Fairbanks in Alaska.

Southward, within sight of the Rockies, lies Calgary, home of the colourful Stampede. In the mountains are nearly 30,000 square miles of national parks, a maze of ranges, ice fields, Alpine valleys, glacier—fed lakes and hot mineral springs. The mountain skyway, a modern road through the heart of the Rockies from Banff to Lake Louise and Jasper is unequalled in all the world for breathtaking beauty.

Between these two cities, in the Red Deer River Valley, are the Badlands, a wide, fantastic valley of hoodoos, coulees, red shale hills, and the gigantic bones of dinosaurs which romped here 70 million years ago.

British Columbia: (Capital: Victoria. Provincial flower: Dogwood). This province occupies the whole of Canada's Pacific coast. It is a country of strange conjunctions, for smart modernity rubs shoulders with the primitive art of earlier days, and a short journey carries the visitor from zones of brisk activity into regions of somnolent villages bristling with totem poles.

All along the west coast the sea comes in to meet the mountains, with long narrow inlets warmed by the Japanese current. The scenery of the mainland provides infinite variety, as lush meadow lands give place to snow—capped mountains of the Selkirk Range, and the park—like valleys lead into frowning canyons above which only a thread of sky shows. There are tumbling rivers and broad lakes, and everywhere fragrant leagues of spruce and pine.

Victoria, the capital city, is on the southern end of Vancouver Island overlooking the Strait of Juan de Fuca and the Olympic mountains on the United States mainland. It is generally agreed to be one of the most English of Canadian cities, not only in climate but in the customs and traditions of its people.

From Vancouver you may take the Great North Road, 780 miles to Dawson Creek and on to Fairbanks Alaska, another 1,523 miles.

The Yukon. (Capital: Whitehorse.Territory flower: Purple Fireweed). If you have the soul of an explorer, this Land of the Midnight Sun beckons you. The face of the Yukon is not what you have known ever before. Someone has described it as "the great unwritten symphony."

Mrs. Martha Louise Black, F.R.G.S., published a lovely little book in which she and her husband described and pictured more than 500 varieties of wild flowers and shrubs that carpet the valleys. "Although the lure of gold took me over the trail of '98," she writes, "the difficulties, hardships and disappointments of those early years were many times forgotten when a tramp in the woods or along an old trail opened out before me a vista of fairylike beauty."

Dawson City is steeped in golden legends and traditions. Here you may visit Robert Service's cabin, walk along the original Trail to the mining scenes of yesterday, fly over Lake Labarge, where they "cremated Sam McGee," admire the ancient wooden railroad, and visit the graves of Skookum Jim, Dawson Charlie and George Carmack, who found the first gold in the Klondike and triggered the great gold rush.

The Northwest Territories. (Administered by the Department of Northern Affairs, Ottawa. Territory flower: Mountain Avens). Visitors will be disappointed if they expect to find here merely an extension of the southern playground. The NWT does not pretend to offer the assembly line attractions of traditional holiday areas. It is one place in this jaded world that is proud to be different.

For example, swimming is attempted only when necessary, but there are some good sand beaches along warmer waters in the Great Slave Lake area, and a few intrepid bathers dip ( briefly, says the NWT handbook ) in the Arctic Ocean every summer.

Not many years ago it would have been ludicrous to suggest holidaying in this vast land, but today there are scheduled airline services to many communities and an all—weather gravel highway to serve the southwest corner. You have as many as twenty daylight hours a day in the month of June in which to explore and enjoy.

Yellowknife, the largest community, has a population of 3,500, paved streets, a golf course and tennis courts. In this part of the world an angler with reasonable ability and an average portion of angler's luck has no need to tell anything but the truth after a few days fishing.

Honeymoon in Canada

Canada is a wonderful country in which to honeymoon, whether it be the first fond rapture or the twentieth anniversary of the happy day.

The sights and sounds, the excitement and romance, of this vast, vital and beautiful country offer you a million memories that will be called up in your mind and conversation time and again.

The Canadian Government Travel Bureau will send you a booklet called A Canadian Honeymoon if you write to them at Ottawa; or Canada House, 680 Fifth Avenue, New York 19; or 102 West Monroe Street, Chicago 3; or 1 Second Street, San Francisco 5; or 19 Cockspur Street, London, S.W.1.

The fun in having a holiday is to escape from the tedium of everyday life, to get away from the pose of being an old campaigner for whom life holds no thrills. Tackle it with enthusiasm, look for the unexpected, and behave like a child who enjoys life so thoroughly that an hour seems like a minute.

Your vacation anywhere in Canada will leave you with many fulfilments, but also with many urgent wishes to return. When you do: Ciad Mile Failte ( a hundred thousand welcomes).

 

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