Profile & Cool Places in Alberta (Rural) | Earth’sFace 🇨🇦

ALBERTA

/al-BER-duh/ * /al-BER-tuh/

provincial Flag of Alberta
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satellite map image of Alberta
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Canadian Provinces and Territories, map of Alberta province highlighted in red
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Name origin

for Princess Louise Caroline Alberta, a daughter of British Queen Victoria

Population

<4,371,000

Main languages

Predominantly English (c. 92%)

Capital

*Edmonton

Biggest City

Calgary

Location

Western Canada

Borders the United States to the south

Biogeography

Nearctic Realm

Part of Canada’s boreal forests and taiga, prairies, western mountains and forests (especially the Rockies), aspen parklands, and some dry steppe and highlands (especially around the badlands). Has part of large Lake Athabasca.


Places in Alberta Gallery

rock formation on a morning in the plains of Alberta
Bobbijogrunewald
canola fields in Alberta, Canada
Darren Kirby
Prince of Wales Hotel, Waterton Lakes
Prince of Wales Hotel, Waterton Lakes – Diana Robinson
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mountain and lake setting in Waterton Lakes region, Alberta
Jan Mosimann
hoodoos in the badlands of Drumheller, Canada
Hoodoos in Drumheller – Robert Montgomery
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dinosaur skeleton at the Royal Tyrell Museum, place in Alberta
Royal Tyrell Museum – Wilson Hui
Kakwa Falls in the Kakwa Wildlands provincial park, Alberta
Kakwa Falls – Ken Sawich
Maligne Canyon from inside looking up, Canada
Maligne Canyon – Keith Roper
Maligne Canyon during winter with frozen cascades, place in Alberta
Si Longworth Photography
Valley of the Ten Peaks, Jasper National Park
Valley of the Ten Peaks – Matt Thomason
a forested valley covered in snow in Jasper National Park, Alberta
WherezJeff
mountain peak covered in forest, Canadian Rockies
WherezJeff
a lake surrounded by forest and mountains in Alberta
Jasper National Park – Bernd Thaller
green trees near lake under blue sky during daytime, setting in Alberta, Canada
sterlinglanier Lanier
serene lake and mountain backdrop in Banff National Park
Mahesh Gupta
waterfall in Johnston Canyon, Banff, Alberta
Johnston Canyon – Janani Ramanath
frozen falls in a snowy setting of the Canadian Rockies
John Bakator
large cave and rock formation in winter Alberta, Johnston Canyon
David Kovalenko
two jack lake and mountain backdrop in the evening in Banff National Park
Two Jack Lake – Geoff Pinkney
Minnewanka lake and snowy mountains in Alberta, Canada
Minnewanka Lake – Natalie Toombs
Bow Lake in Banff, western Canada
Bow Lake – Bernd Thaller
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Peyto Lake and forested mountains in sunny setting of Alberta
Peyto Lake – Pascal Bernardon
Moraine Lake in Banff National Park, Canadian Rockies
Moraine Lake – Jacky Huang
bridge over a curving river and plains setting in Lethbridge, city in Alberta
town of Lethbridge – Ryan Reynolds
historical mural art in the city of Medicine Hat, western Canada
city of Medicine Hat – Kevin Dooley
large teepee structure in Medicine Hat, Alberta
Janusz Sobolewski
falls and canyon in Willmore Wilderness Park
Willmore Wilderness Park – Richard Bukowski
columbia icefield and glaciers in western Alberta province
Columbia Icefield – Gary Campbell-Hall
cascading waterfalls along the icefields parkway in Alberta
Delaney Boyd
road on the icefields parkway leading to a massive snowy mountain in the distance, Canada
Icefields Parkway – Floris Siegers
mountains and blue skies in Peter Lougheed Provincial Park
Peter Lougheed Provincial Park – JD Hascup
lake and mountains under a blue and purple evening sky in Kananaskis Country, place in Alberta
Kananaskis Country – JD Hascup
mountains and forest landscap in kananaskis country, a region of the Canadian rockies
Gaylon Yancy
highway under towering white mountain landscape near Canmore, Alberta
Canmore – Thiago Terleski
a wood bison walking in the snow near elk island, Alberta
Justin Hu
elk island seen from the shores at sundown, place in western Canada
Elk Island – Ezra Jeffrey-Comeau

**A Special Thanks: this post was made possible by the amazing and generous Creative Commons and Free Stock photographers out there. Thank you for making your work and the amazing places you capture accessible to the rest of the world!

What makes Saskatchewan unique? – 10 Cool Features 🇨🇦

double rainbows over Lake Diefenbaker, rural Saskatchewan
Lake Diefenbaker – Olivia Kulbida

Heading out to the middle of the prairie, this is Saskatchewan’s time. A Canadian province known for flat open terrain and farming, this place definitely has a lot more specialties than milk and bread. Read a quick profile and then enjoy about 10 cool things that make Saskatchewan a unique place.

SASKATCHEWAN: Quick Profile

Canadian Provinces and Territories map, saskatchewan highlighted in red
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road map of Saskatchewan
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Flag of Saskatchewan
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Cities: Regina is the capital; Saskatoon is the biggest city

Location: the middle of the three Prairie provinces in the interior of central Canada, far from any oceans; it borders the U.S. to the south

Read more: about Canada; about Manitoba

Climate: mostly humid continental (humid hot summers and snowy cold winters) with Subarctic climate in the north and some semi-arid steppe (dry plains) features in the southwest; the weather usually comes in extremes with particularly warm summers and intensely cold winters throughout; weather can be very windy with tornadoes and storms being fairly common, although Saskatchewan gets more sunlight than any other province

Environment: mostly prairies and plains in the south with some highlands; mostly boreal forests and taiga to the north with over 100 thousand lakes, Lake Athabasca is the largest; some tundra in the far north and some large areas of sand dunes

Name: it was once a part of Britain’s North West Territories; named after the Saskatchewan River, from the Cree language meaning “swift flowing river”

1. Because of Grasslands National Park

landscape of Cypress Hills, Saskatchewan
Cypress Hills – Erik Lizee / Eriklizee

What is it?:

Grasslands is a national park in southern Saskatchewan near the U.S. border. It preserves lots of prairies and rolling Great Plains landscapes, as well as the range critters.

Places and features:

Wildlife and hiking; Cypress Hills Interprovincial Park, with some highlands and collections of dinosaur fossils

2. Because of Moose Jaw

mac the moose statue in Moose Jaw, Canada
Mac the Moose – Lisa

What is that?:

While not a literal Moose Jaw, this place is a small city in rural Saskatchewan. Despite its size, it has a nicely infused natural landscape and some unique experiences throughout.

Places and features:

Tunnels of Moose Jaw, tunnel tours that explore parts of the city’s underground past such as prohibition and Chinese immigration; Wakamow Valley, urban park; the Western Development Museum, exploring how the West was won; Mac the Moose, a giant moose statue; Temple Gardens Hotel & Spa, a luxurious spa with a big geothermal pool

Discover: Tunnels of Moose Jaw tours; Temple Gardens

3. Because of Regina

prince edward building in Regina, Canada
Prince Edward Building – Grahampurse

What is it?:

Well, Regina (Reh-jai-na) is the capital and one of the main cultural hubs in the whole province. The city hosts several events and festivals along with some beautiful urban scenery. It may not be the most populous city in Saskatchewan, but it doesn’t miss by much

wascana lake and park in the wascana centre, near central city Regina
Wascana Lake – Tintaggon

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Places and features:

Saskatchewan Legislative Building; RCMP Heritage Centre, dedicated to the Royal Canadian Mounted Police with festivals and service ceremonies; the Government House; MacKenzie Art Gallery; Royal Saskatchewan Museum; Saskatchewan Science Centre; Wascana Centre, a huge urban lake with an even bigger park surrounding the city center and provincial buildings; Hotel Saskatchewan, offers historic interactions with a step back into the prohibition era; Victoria Park

4. Because of Saskatoon

Bessborough Hotel & South Saskatchewan River in Saskatoon
Bessborough Hotel & South Saskatchewan River – Kyla Duhamel

What is it?:

You know! Saskatoon is the biggest city, or most populous I should say, in the province. Similar to Regina, it offers lots of cultural and culinary attractions mixed in with a beautiful natural landscape.

Places and features:

Forestry Farm Park & Zoo; Remai Modern, a cooly-designed modern art gallery; Western Development Museum, the largest of these in Saskatchewan; Ukrainian Museum of Canada, documenting Ukrainian heritage in the nation and one of the biggest ethnic minorities of Canada; South Saskatchewan River, a scenic river that runs through town, it shelters riverside green spaces like Rotary Park and Kiwanis Memorial Park; the Delta Bessborough Hotel

5. Because of the Trans-Canada Highway

yellow flowers cultivating in the qu'appelle valley, southeast Saskatchewan
Qu’Appelle Valley – Kjfmartin

What is it?:

This is basically what it sounds like. Within Saskatchewan, the Trans-Canada Highway takes drivers across pretty sweeping landscapes and through some interesting towns and provincial parks.

Places and features:

Qu’Appelle Valley, a stunning valley area with lakes and places like Echo Valley Provincial Park and Fort Qu’Appelle; Moose Mountain Provincial Park, several other towns and parks along the way

6. Because of its Unique Lakes

jackfish lake pier, Saskatchewan
Jackfish Lake – Kyla Duhamel

What are they?:

Saskatchewan, like much of Canada, is known for its many, many lakes. With so many of them, this province still has some that stand out from the rest.

Places and features:

Little Manitou Lake, a lake with a high salt concentration that allows for floating, it also hosts a resort and spa nearby; Lake Diefenbaker, an artificial lake or reservoir with interesting rock formations, cliffs, and a long shoreline; Jackfish Lake, with nearby Cochin Lighthouse (in the middle of the prairies!)

7. Because of Historic Towns & Forts

tipis in Wanuskewin Heritage Park near Saskatoon
Wanuskewin Heritage Park – Travis Wiens

What are these?:

Historic towns and sites like forts are important places where the past can be preserved. Saskatchewan has a lot of these places that share its extensive history.

Places and features:

Maple Creek, home to a frontier-themed B&B called Ghostown Blues and Fort Walsh, a historic mounted police fort; Wanuskewin Heritage Park, a cultural historic center near Saskatoon documenting over 6,000 years of First Nations heritage; Batoche, a stronghold town during the Métis rebellion, now a museum; Fort Carlton, a Hudson’s Bay fur trade post; the Battlefords, Battleford and North Battleford were important towns for the mounted police during territory days, home to Fort Battleford and, you guessed it, another Western Development Museum

8. Because of Sand Dunes

athabasca sand dunes near lake athabasca, canada
Athabasca Sand Dunes – Snappy Goat

What are those?:

Outsiders might not know that Saskatchewan is home to the largest sand dunes in the world that far north. Some are in the southern region, but the biggest dunes are a drive up.

Places and features:

Great Sand Hills, Canada’s second-largest; Athabasca Sand Dunes Provincial Park, Canada’s largest dunes along the shores of mighty Lake Athabasca

9. Because of its Northern Wilderness

Sunset on the Waskesiu Lake in Prince Albert National Park Saskatchewan, Canada
Waskesiu Lake, Prince Albert National Park – Viktor Birkus

What is that?:

To the north of this province is a vast area of wilderness. This ranges from dense boreal forests to scattered taiga, from the many lakes to tundra and even sand dunes, as we just saw before.

Places and features:

Clearwater River Provincial Park, with waterfalls, rivers, and rapids; Prince Albert National Park, with controversial conservationist Grey Owl’s Beaver Lodge; Reindeer Lake; Lake Athabasca; Hunt Falls, powerful waterfalls up north

10. Because of its Culture

Saskatchewan is a curious one of the Prairie provinces. It’s smack dab in the middle of them, with its plains and open spaces giving it the feel of a giant field or farm. Sure, the plains played a huge role in the settlement of the region from First Nations down to Eastern European farmers, though English and Anglo-Canadian ID is dominant. And it’s notable how important the mounted police culture has been in this place.

The indigenous presence is comparatively big in Saskatchewan’s largest cities. Their cultures are preserved in elaborate galleries, historic sites, and even universities dedicated to them. Beyond that, these cultural centers help to preserve so well the building blocks of the province’s society. They make it clear where the modern place has come from.

Spikes in temperature and the harsh climate have molded its diverse residents into toughness and resistance. Previously a province that suffered hard economical times, Saskatchewan has been turning business around and making things more interesting for all. Whether passing through on the open highway or stopping to slide on some dunes, this grain basket of Canada has a lot of flavor for any taste!

**Thank you all for coming! I hope you enjoyed learning more about Saskatchewan. Tell us what you like about this place, and shout out if you’re from SK. Feel free to look at other posts on Cult-Surf or related posts in the Earth’s Face section. Take care and be awesome! Peace.

What makes Prince Edward Island unique?- 11 Cool Features 🇨🇦

red sandstone cliffs on the shore of Prince Edward Island
Nicolas Raymond

Set the sails and off to the “Prince” of Canada’s provinces! Prince Edward Island is a place known for its red shores and soils, many lighthouses, Green Gables, and for potatoes, ostensibly. Let’s check out 11 of the cool features that make PEI special. But first, a quick profile.

PRINCE EDWARD ISLAND: Quick Profile

topographical map of Prince Edward Island
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Canadian Provinces and Territories map, Prince Edward Island highlighted and circled in red
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Cities: Charlottetown is the capital and biggest city; Summerside is the second-biggest

provincial Flag of Prince Edward Island
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Location: mostly on the island of Prince Edward with many smaller coastal and barrier islands; within the Gulf of St. Lawrence, part of the Atlantic Ocean; once in the traditional Mi’kmaq lands and then French Acadia, it’s now part of the Maritime and Atlantic provinces of eastern Canada

Read more: New Brunswick; Nova Scotia; about Canada

Climate: has a maritime climate with some continental features; long but mild cold season and mild hot season compared to more inland areas

Environment: north Atlantic forests with coastal beaches, dunes, sandstone cliffs, and marshlands; lots of agriculture and farmland

Name: named after British Prince Edward, the father of Queen Victoria; called ÎleduPrinceÉdouard in French

Alright, so why is Prince Edward Island unique, then? …

1. Because of Green Gables

Avonlea Village, part of the Anne of Green Gables cultural site
Avonlea Village – Carl Campbell

What is that?:

This is the setting of the classic children’s novel Anne of Green Gables by Lucy Maud Montgomery. She was also from the area which now has lots of historic points dedicated to the book and its author.

Places and features:

New London, Montgomery’s hometown; Avonlea, the fictional community in the book now set up for people to visit; Anne of Green Gables Museum, and more related sites

2. Because of Prince Edward Island National Park

Prince Edward Island national park, rocky red and green coastline
 PEI National Park – Dave Bezaire

What is it?:

This national park protects a large natural area of the PEI north coast. With an abundance of beaches, pretty shorelines, and boardwalks, it also contains parts of the interior like Green Gables.

marshes, boardwalk and dunes at Greenwich, PEI
Greenwich marsh & dunes – Claudine Lamothe

Places and features:

Dalvay-by-the-Sea, a national historic site and very famous hotel on the north coast; Stanhope Beach; Cape Tryon, a cape with beautiful green and red cliffs and the Cape Tryon Lighthouse; Greenwich Beach, beaches with marsh boardwalks and cool sand dunes

See more: visit Dalvay-by-the-Sea

3. Because of its Confederation History

the confederation bridge at sunset, eastern Canada
Confederation Bridge – Dillon Turpin

What is that?:

Prince Edward Island holds an important spot in Canadian history for hosting the meetings that led to its confederation. Several sites on the island are dedicated to this prideful part of its heritage.

Places and features:

Confederation Landing, a waterfront park in Charlottetown with some historic boating sites and tours like Peakes Wharf; Confederation Centre of the Arts, an arts center in Charlottetown with exhibits and popular plays; the Confederation Trail, a cross-province trail that can be walked, biked, or sled across, it offers the best opportunities to enjoy the island’s rural scenery; Confederation Bridge, the world’s longest bridge over frozen waters, it connects PEI to the mainland at New Brunswick

Read more: about Confederation Trail

4. Because of its Towns

beaches and dunes outside of Cavendish, town in Prince Edward Island
Cavendish – TourismPEI

What are they?:

These are the small towns scattered throughout Prince Edward Island. Most of them have nice boardwalks, beaches, and wharves to explore.

Places and features:

Cavendish, home to several Green Gables sites, a famous ice cream shop, and cliffside shores; Victoria-by-the-Sea, also has a Seaport Museum; North Rustico, among many others

5. Because of its Many Beaches

boardwalk and pink flowery dunes at the coast of Basin Head Provincial Park, Canada
Basin Head Provincial Park – Nicolas Raymond

What are these?:

Remember that PEI province is full of differentiated coastlines. These come in the shapes of rocky and sandy beaches, coastal cliffs, and also wetlands.

Places and features:

Basin Head Provincial Park, home to Singing Sands Beach whose sands “sing” when stepped on; Brackley Beach, with red sands and boardwalks, also the locale of Dunes Studio Gallery, a kind of art gallery with a café and restaurant surrounded by green garden settings; Red Point Provincial Park, fun for families; Cabot Beach

6. Because of Charlottetown

Victoria Row neighborhood and shops in Charlottetown, Canada
Victoria Row – Heather Cowper

What is it?:

Charlottetown, as you know, is the capital and biggest urban area in Prince Edward Island. It’s also a center of culture and commerce with lots of historically significant sites dotted around. The city played a major role in Canadian confederation.

Places and features:

Victoria Park, a beautiful harborside park; Victoria Row, a popular shopping area with eateries and Victorian-era architecture; Prince Edward Battery; the Province House; Saint Dunstan’s Basilica; Beaconsfield Historic House, preserved Victorian home and museum; a series of mouse statues set up around the city

7. Because of the South Shore & Rocky Point

sailboat on the water ahead of Rocky Point, Prince Edward Island
Rocky Point – Martin Cathrae

What are they?:

Well, one is the southern shore of the island, particularly south of Charlottetown. Besides more coasts and beaches, there are a number of towns and historic sites found down here, especially on Rocky Point.

Places and features:

Skmaqn–Port-la-Joye–Fort Amherst, a national historic site home to some of the earliest European forts and settlements in PEI, it was also a main port of entry for early settlers; Blockhouse Point Light; Argyle Shore, more pretty red beaches and cliffs; Point Prim, with the historic Point Prim Light Station

Read more: Îles-de-la-Madeleine & Southern Québec

8. Because of Points East

East Point Lighthouse, a unique place in PEI
East Point Lighthouse – Stefan Krasowski

What is it?:

This area is the general eastern coast of the province. It combines a series of towns, parks, scenic shores, and most notably, lighthouses to light them all!

Places and features:

Points East Coastal Drive, the best way to catch the different places; Cape Bear, with a lighthouse and Marconi Museum; Wood Islands; East Point, home to one of the oldest operating lighthouses there; Orwell Corner Historic Village, preserving late 1800s country life

9. Because of its West Side

arch on North Cape cliffs, shores of Prince Edward Island
North Cape – Gregory Roberts

What is this?:

Here, I mean the western part of the island since everything else on this article has been further east. The west also has some of the prettiest coasts and settings, being either the starting or ending point of the Confederation Trail.

Places and features:

North Cape, more amazing scenery and coasts at the northwestern tip of the island, also part of the North Cape Coastal Drive; Cedar Dunes Provincial Park; the Bottle Houses, or Maisons de Bouteilles, a few homes made from recycled glass in a serene setting

10. Because of Summerside

colorful wharf and boat in Summerside, Canada east coast
Summerside Wharf – Stephen Downes

What is it?:

Summerside is the island’s second-biggest city and one of its main cultural centers. It has several unique and intriguing institutions that distinguish it from the rest.

Places and features:

Acadian Museum; College of Piping and Celtic Performing Arts of Canada, it has exactly what the name suggests; the International Fox Museum & Hall of Fame, also has exactly what the name suggests, dedicated to preserving the history of attempted fox domestication and some noteworthy foxes; Eptek Art & Culture Centre

11. Because of the Culture

Dalvay by the sea hotel and historic house
Dalvay-by-the-Sea – Corey Balazowich

So Prince Edward Island is something else. It’s the smallest province but the most densely populated. From the native Mi’kmaq to Acadians to British settlers, this place has seen its fair share of people coming to tame it. Still, the rugged shores and amazing coastal landscapes prove that the wild can attract more than any civilized town.

And pretty towns with that classic North Atlantic, Victorian style are found throughout, showing how much fishing and boating have fed the people of this province. Let’s not forget that PEI is one of the crop-baskets for Canada, as small as it is, and it played a major role in the confederation of the country.

That’s why so many things reference that fact all over the island. Well, that and Anne of Green Gables, which is also referenced all over the place. Quiet hills and gusty cliffs still allow for haunted woods to scare us and for fantastical gardens to enchant our minds. Prince Edward Island is a magical place — sure, it can be a little cold and cloudy at times. PEI knows what makes it PEI, and preserving that has made them one of a kind.

**What else can you share about Prince Edward Island? Are you from there or have you visited? Tell us what you most like about it! Contact me to collaborate or to send a personal message at tietewaller@gmail.com. Feel free to read more posts on the site or on Earth’s Face. A special thank you to all the photographers for making their amazing work available on creative commons. Thanks for the support and keep being adventurous! Peace out people.

Other reads:

Facts about Prince Edward Island

Cost of visiting Prince Edward Island

Tourism re-opening in Prince Edward Island

Safety and daily life on Prince Edward Island

How come Prince Edward Island is a province?

What makes Vancouver unique? – 13 Cool Features 🇨🇦

Welcome to Vancouver! This is a city known for activities like hiking and surfing and being ecologically minded with its many preserved forests. It’s also notorious for being one of the topmost expensive cities in the world — like, top 3 — but Vancouver doesn’t stop attracting ex-pats and tourists alike. Come check out a quick profile about the city, then learn about some features that make this place truly special in Canada and in the world.

VANCOUVER: Quick Profile

Location within Metro Vancouver in British Columbia, Canada
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satellite map of Vancouver and surroundings
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Vancouver is the biggest city and urban area in British Columbia, located in the southwest corner. There are over 631,000 people in the city and over 2,264,000 in the urban area. This makes Vancouver the 3rd biggest urban area in Canada and its most densely populated one. It also happens to be the most expensive city to live in, as many of you may know.

In the greater Pacific Northwest region on the Burrard Peninsula, the city has coasts on the Burrard Inlet and Vancouver Harbour to the north, along with a strait of the Pacific Ocean to the west that separates it from Vancouver Island. Most of its southern limits are on the Fraser River. (By the way, Vancouver city isn’t on Vancouver Island. It’s also not that city in Washington, USA.)

Read more: about Toronto; about Montreal

The climate here is comparatively mild by Canadian standards as far as both cold and hot weather goes. They certainly get a lot less snow and a lot more rain than most large cities here. The area is surrounded by wet oceanic forests and swamps that lead up into mountains on the north shores across the harbor. Those mountains do get snow and form an important part of the city’s skyline.

Vancouver was first established as Gastown, a post outside of a mill. Later it was called Granville before major railroad connections were brought in. Its current name is for British Navy officer, George Vancouver, who had explored the region.

Read more: about Canada; other Canadian provinces and Earth’s Face places

So why is Vancouver unique, again? …

1. Because of Neighborhoods like Gastown & Chinatown

What are they?:

Vancouver is stocked with many interesting neighborhoods to hang in, and one of the most famous is Gastown. This is the area originally settled by Europeans and remains as a sort of historic core to the city. Several other areas and points of interest can be found throughout the city.

What do they have?:

There’s the rustic feel of Gastown with hip shops, eateries, and a cool art scene. Don’t forget the famous steam clock! Chinatown here is an elaborate neighborhood with beautiful Chinese-style settings like the Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Garden or the strangely thin Sam Kee Building.

Commercial Drive, aka “The Drive” is a hood better known for its main street that fills with vendors, commerce, ethnic food options, and diverse people and attractions to get caught up in. Another option is the West 4th Ave area with more local shops and restaurants.

2. Because of Granville Island

What is it?:

Well, it’s not an island. Granville Island is a peninsula on Vancouver’s False Creek. Once an industrial center, it’s now open for tourism and one of the most popular spots in the city.

What does it have?:

Granville has an array of activities on it, including public art, restaurants, parks, and a popular public market. One of those is an old factory that’s been turned into a work of art. There’s also the waterfront to get a nice view of Downtown across the water, or to ride a ferry to the other side.

3. Because of Stanley Park

boat cruising by a lighthouse ahead of the seawall in stanley park
the Seawall Luc Tribolet

What is it?:

Stanley Park is one of the biggest urban parks in North America, as well as one of the best-rated parks in the world. It is a huge expanse of largely undisturbed forest and shoreline just at the opening of Vancouver’s inner waterways.

What does it have?:

The park is filled with things to do besides admire the natural setting. Along the shore are numerous sites like lighthouses, totem poles, beaches and pools like Second Beach, and statues like the Girl in a Wetsuit.

There’s also a “gun” or cannon that goes off every day at 9 pm, and the Seawall that functions as a trail for people to wander the park’s coastal edges. Within the park are attractions like a train and the Vancouver Aquarium. And let’s not forget the towering Lions Gate Bridge over the straits.

4. Because of the False Creek Waterfront

What is it?:

False Creek is a kind of harbor that cuts into central Vancouver. It happens to have a really pretty waterfront with lots of amazing urban scenery.

What does it have?:

Besides the already-mentioned Granville Island, other cool attractions to do here include sparking curiosity at the spectacularly designed Science World. Sports games and events are always happening at BC Place with the stadiums and arenas. There are also a number of parks that perfectly mix the urban, natural, and waterside landscapes like David Lam Park.

5. Because of Vanier Park & Sunset Beach

What are they?:

These two public spots are located right at the entrance of False Creek out to English Bay. Both are beachside parks that offer some interesting points to check out.

What do they have?:

Other than the park and beach settings, Vanier is home to cool-looking museums like the Museum of Vancouver and the Vancouver Maritime Museum. Just across the water — accessible by street bridge — is Sunset Beach Park, another one of the city’s many coastal hangouts.

6. Because of the Harbor Front

What is it?:

This is the waterfront of Vancouver’s port on the north side. It’s a popular stop for cruise liners in the area, as well as a major civic center.

What does it have?:

CRAB Park at Portside is a nice park right on the water with very scenic views of Vancouver’s many highrises (both manmade and geologically made). In addition to views of the mighty mountains opposite the city, there’s bustling Canada Place. With a cool sail-like roof, the place has a convention center, Vancouver’s World Trade Centre, and some fun attractions to go with them.

7. Because of VanDusen & Queen Elizabeth

What are they?:

These two green areas sit right next to each other in the inner part of Vancouver, further away from what we’ve been looking at so far. They are Queen Elizabeth Park and the beautiful VanDusen Botanical Garden.

What do they have?:

Both parks are noted for their exquisite naturally-made and manmade designs. Enchanted and royal gardens mix with pretty structures like the Bloedel Conservatory filled with exotic species. There’s also a prominent hill in Queen Elizabeth Park to view the city from up high.

8. Because of the area around UBC

What is that?:

The University of British Columbia itself is one of the oldest and best-ranked universities in all of Canada. Located a ways on the outskirts of town, the university lies at the heart of several natural and historical wonders.

What does it have?:

UBC has a famous Botanical Garden with open spaces, treetop activities, and mazes all near the coastal waters. There’s also the Museum of Anthropology which looks very unique, at the site of a former protective fort. Also among the many forested areas is Pacific Spirit Regional Park with its towering groves and coastal trails.

9. Because of Robson Street & Central Vancouver

What are they?:

Robson is a street that rides straight through Central Vancouver, the Downtown neighborhood. This part of town has a lot to do and see, being part of the city’s urban and entertainment core.

What do they have?:

Up and down the streets can be found major shopping centers and entertainment venues, especially around Robson Square. Around the square are major cultural centers like the Vancouver Art Gallery and the Commodore Ballroom, among other popular performance halls. There are important architectural feats like the Christ Church Cathedral with its gorgeous interior and the Harbour Centre, one of Vancouver’s most iconic towers.

10. Because of its Beaches (& Events)

What are they?:

Well, frankly these are the urban beaches of Vancouver’s long coastline. I can’t promise the water will be warm (it honestly won’t be) but there are some events and locales to enjoy next to these beaches.

What do they have?:

Besides the beaches we’ve already talked about, other ones with nice city views include Spanish Banks Beach, Jericho Beach, and English Bay Beach. Kitsilano is also a popular one with some great skyline views and a commercial area right near it.

Some of these places host a couple of Vancouver’s many festivals and events. English Bay Beach hosts a great view for the Celebration of Light with tons of fireworks, and Hastings Park near the coast hosts the fun Pacific National Exhibition.

11. Because of the North Shore Mountains

What are these?:

These are the general mountain range lying across the inlet from Vancouver. They are home to many natural sights and wonders for urbanites to immerse into the region’s pre-colonial past.

What do they have?:

Several pretty parks and natural areas can be found like Cypress Falls Park, Mount Seymour Provincial Park, and the Cove Forest, to name a few. Some places offering spectacular vistas of Vancouver would be Cypress Provincial Park and Grouse Mountain.

Deep Cove seems to be a great place for boating and water sports inside the harbor. A bit further from these other spots is Golden Ears Provincial Park with its amazing waterways, mountain views, and splashing waterfalls. Another feature is the Sea to Sky Highway which takes a scenic coastal route along the mountains and up to Squamish.

Read more: Southern British Columbia

12. Because of the Sunshine Coast

What is it?:

Following the Strait of Georgia, this is a large coastal region outside of Vancouver. It’s completely outside the reach of the city but close enough to be on this list.

What does it have?:

Sunshine Coast has a lot of coastal towns and villages like Gibsons to provide a quiet rural feel to the Vancouver region. There are also pretty beaches and islands like Bowen with a sort of secret exclusive vibe. Offering markets and fairs, there are also inland beauties like the rugged Tetrahedron Provincial Park.

13. Because of its Suburbs

What are they?:

These are the cities surrounding Vancouver, some of them among the biggest cities in all of British Columbia. They offer cultural experiences with the metro’s diverse inhabitants while preserving lots of natural spaces and parks. The main cities are Richmond, North Vancouver, Coquitlam, Surrey, and Burnaby.

What do they have?:

Richmond is home to many Chinese cultural spots like the International Buddhist Society, among other temples. With different kinds of markets, including a night market, the region was also an important wharf and industrial center, showing at places like Steveston and the Gulf of Georgia Cannery. The park around the Olympic Oval is also very pretty with some cool architecture and waterside gardens.

North Vancouver has a nice waterfront with markets at Lonsdale Quay, as well as a cool Polygon Gallery. Attractions mixing the environmental landscape with the thrill of heights include Capilano Suspension Bridge, Lynn Canyon (and suspension bridge), and the Cleveland Dam. Among Surrey’s features is Peace Arch Park on the U.S. border. All of these suburbs boast beautiful parks and green spaces, especially Coquitlam and Burnaby.

14. Because of the Culture

Vancouver is a city known for its super diverse identity. Most of the residents come from a visible minority and about as many speak languages other than English (or French for that matter) at home. The urban area has a huge East Asian and Asia-Pacific influence as can be noted throughout, though the indigenous peoples and cultures are represented in many ways too.

Pushes for technological advancements, preservation of its nature, and the struggles of dealing with an astronomical cost of living all pose constant motivations for the city to develop. I mean, logging is still the main business in Vancouver, and the city has its own style of urban design with elements of conservation and the native landscape in mind.

A bit crowded in some places and a popular tourist destination, the city is used to constant cruise ships on its waters or visitors that flock in for its many events like TED Talks or sports competitions. Vancouver is also one of Canada’s main film industry hubs and a major place for the nation’s TV and film culture.

There’s so much art, history, sports, and excitement going on, but one never feels too far from nature. Forested parks and snow-capped mountains all form a part of the nature-minded concepts of this city. Vancouver is Pacific Northwest at its heart (or just west, if you’re Canadian), and it truly is a one-of-a-kind city.

**Did you like reading about Vancouver? For those that have been there or are from there, please share more with us about your amazing city! Read more posts here on Cult-Surf, and check my email to contact or collaborate; tietewaller@gmail.com. Thanks again, and be great! Peace.

Other info:

What makes Nova Scotia unique? 8 Cool Reasons 🇨🇦

view of the hills and Atlantic ocean from the Cabot Trail heading over the Cape Breton Highlands
Cabot Trail Elyse Turton

Another piece of the Maritimes, Canada’s got its own little Acadian Scotland. Nova Scotia is known for its seaside towns, extreme tides, and forested highlands. But does any of that make the province unique? Well, let’s find out. First, take a quick look at some geography, and we’ll get into what is so special about Nova Scotia. Come on …

NOVA SCOTIA: Quick Geography

Map of Nova Scotia
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Canadian Provinces and Territories, Nova Scotia is highlighted in red
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Canada’s second-smallest province is Nova Scotia, a Latin name meaning “New Scotland,” or Nouvelle-Écosse (Nu-vell-Eh-coss) in French. True to the name, it’s also known as Alba Nuadh in Scottish Gaelic, though that’s one of the lesser spoken languages nowadays.

Nova Scotia is a part of both the Maritimes and Atlantic provinces of eastern Canada. It’s mostly located on the main peninsula, though a big chunk lies on Cape Breton Island which is home to a pretty large inland sea called Bras d’Or Lake (I know, the name is misleading). The capital and largest city of Halifax is on the main peninsula. Otherwise, there are thousands of smaller islands all around, including the famous Sable Island.

Read more: about Canada; what makes New Brunswick unique

It is connected to the rest of Canada in the north and is surrounded by parts of the Atlantic Ocean in all other directions like the Bay of Fundy and Gulf of St. Lawrence. The climate in Nova Scotia is mostly continental with wet weather and uncommonly cold winters for the region. There are lots of seasonal forests and highlands that form an extension of the Northern Appalachian system, especially on Cape Breton.

So, why is Nova Scotia so unique?

1. Because of Pretty Towns like Lunenburg

Peggy's Cove and the lighthouse at sunset
Peggy’s CoveShawn M. Kent

One thing that Nova Scotia is probably known for above all is its pretty colonial towns and villages, with one of the most famous being Lunenburg. This town is particularly colorful with museums and historic buildings, but it’s most famous for its beautiful waterfront.

Other popular coastal towns are Peggy’s Cove and Yarmouth, known for similarly beautiful rustic buildings, their ports, lighthouses, and the works. Amherst was the first designated town in the province and Sydney used to be the capital of Cape Breton’s colony. Either way, the mix of Maritimes coast with forested hills and wooden Victorian homes make these towns all a special sight.

2. Because of Halifax

Halifax is not just Nova Scotia’s main city, but it’s the biggest city in the Maritimes region. This makes it a center for business and culture, most notably at the Harbour and Waterfront. Here there are markets, the Maritime Museum of the Atlantic, a newly designed Art Gallery in the works, and the famed Pier 21. This place was once Canada’s gateway for European immigrants and is now a museum where folks can check their family records for free.

Read more: New design for the Art Gallery

Halifax Public Gardens entrance gate with purple flowers below, city of Halifax
Public GardensMarkjt

The Harbour is also where people can take a ferry over to Dartmouth to get a great view of Halifax or enjoy another set of waterfront attractions. Within the city are the beautiful Public Gardens and the historic Citadel Hill which houses the city’s old forts and a special panoramic view.

St. Mary’s Cathedral Basilica is one of the prettier structures to be viewed in town. Also known for its green spaces, pleasant zones to get fresh air are the Halifax Common and Point Pleasant Park. Long Lake Provincial Park is good to go a bit further in the boonies.

3. Because of Historic Sites like Louisbourg

a traditional canon demonstration by reenactors at the Louisbourg Fortress on Cape Breton Island
Demonstration at LouisbourgDennis Jarvis

The Fortress of Louisbourg is a National Historic Site where reenactments of colonial life are carried out by professionals all over the site. Even though it’s one of the larger forts, there are quite a few places that provide insight into historic life like the Ross Farm Museum and Fort Anne.

Grand-Pré National Historic Site in the Acadian region of Canada's Maritimes
Grand-PréDr Wilson

It and Port-Royal were actually among the first French settlements in Acadia and the Americas, while Fort Anne leads to the splendorous Annapolis Royal Gardens. Another historic site is Grand-Pré, a sort of monument town dedicated to the Acadians that were expelled from there by British rule.

4. Because of the Bay of Fundy & Minas Basin

That’s right! New Brunswick isn’t the only province that can boast the Bay. Nova Scotia also has a number of scenic sites and landscapes due some praise. Around Hall’s Harbour are a famous lobster restaurant, sea caves, and the site of huge tidal changes.

The area is also notable for whale watching. Cape Split has a series of high trails and cliffs that overlook the beautiful water. Going inward to Minas is where the real tide action happens, being home to the most extreme tidal changes in the world. There’s even a place where rafters can ride backward on the tides.

Read more: whale watching tours in Nova Scotia

Cape Blomidon Beach on the Minas Basin, eastern Canada
Blomidon Provincial Park

Blomidon Provincial Park is one of the best places to take in all the wonderful scenery with orange cliffs and long sandy passages being a feature there. Stamped between the Bay and some interior hills is Annapolis Valley, another very pretty region stocked with rolling vineyards and green knolls.

5. Because of Kejimkujik

Kejimkujik is — well, hard to pronounce, but also one of Nova Scotia’s best National Parks. It’s a gorgeous forest area with rivers and hills and even reaches down to some beaches. Besides its natural appeal, the park also has a number of cultural interactions with the native Mi’kmaq people. These can include villages, hunting and food practices, wildlife reserves, and other cultural immersion sites set to inform outside visitors about Nova Scotia’s original settlers.

6. Because of Cape Breton

a rocky beach with a cape and blue skies in the background, in the Cape Breton Highlands region
Cape Breton Island Tango7174

Cape Breton Island has a lot of what makes Nova Scotia unique, and a lot of it has to do with the Cape Breton Highlands. The coastal highlands form another great National Park to explore, particularly around the Cabot Trail.

Among the many trails that Giovanni Caboto blazed in the New World, this area has a number of scenic overlooks and pathways to take in the pure beauty of Canada’s Atlantic coastline. I mentioned the big sea/lake of Bras d’Or which has its own share of nice water and forest settings.

Along the coast is the town of Baddeck, a calm post for tourism, boat outings, golf excursions, and a site dedicated to the maker of the telephone, Alexander Graham Bell, once a resident there. We already mentioned Louisbourg too, so check it as another special place on Cape Breton.

7. Because of its Random Islands

Sable Island horses grazing on the island in Nova Scotia
Sable IslandHiFlyChick

With a few thousand islands, you have to bet that some of NS’s isles had to be a little strange. Or maybe random is a better descriptor word. There are lots of islands that could potentially make the count, but one that stands out is St. Paul Island.

This place is odd because it’s pretty far offshore from Cape Breton but was seriously settled at one point. There’s a lighthouse, an abandoned radio station, and a couple of abandoned manors. If that weren’t enough, the island is often shrouded in fog to make matters creepier.

A more pleasant yet no-less random island is Sable. This island looks more like a long sandbank and it’s also a ways offshore from the mainland. That didn’t stop the island from being populated by a special breed of horses (Sable Island horses, fittingly so). It’s also apparently a popular island in literature and other media and is well-known for its grassy hills, long sandy beaches, and a history of frequent shipwrecks. I’m sure the horses contribute to the fame, though.

8. Because of the Culture

A big part of Nova Scotia’s cultural identity is spelled right there in the name. Scottish and other Gaelic-nation immigrants had a huge impact on the province’s early British settlement. Still, the earlier French and Acadians also left their mark on NS, from place names to foods and some of the traditions.

Several places look like French Catholicism and colonialism clashed with Victorian design and made some very pretty architectural collages. Plus, this is Canada, so world immigration has contributed to NS’s already diverse population. Anglo-Canadian culture and language have taken over. Still, there are areas where the native language or French are still prevalent. Scottish Gaelic is sort of on the rise in some places and apparently has one of the highest speaker communities outside of Scotland.

Even though its population density is fairly high, the people are pretty spread out and the towns are able to maintain that old North Atlantic fishing village feel. Industrialization mixes with modern tech and arts. The influence of the Mi’kmaq people is still present in heritage festivals, galleries, and some of the renewed designs.

It was also a haven for British Loyalists escaping the American Revolution, and so New England has a foot inside the province. Quiet coastal living, rural country values, and the ocean itself all put a stamp on what it means to be in Nova Scotia. Quietly continuing to surprise people with its subtle beauty, this province holds a unique place in our world.

**Enjoying learning about Earth’s places? Show us some love and follow to get notified every time we post about a new place! Want to collaborate? Contact me at tietewaller@gmail.com, and read more posts like this on Earth’s Face. Take care, you all. Peace.

Why is Southern Ontario Special? 9 Cool Reasons (Besides Toronto) 🇨🇦

You read it right! We’re going to look at just the southern portion of Ontario. Welcome to the land of great lakes! (or beautiful waters) Unlike the previous Earth’s Faces in Iceland, Canada has some remarkably large subdivisions called provinces. Since this province is so big, I decided to break it up between north and south. It’s already one of the most iconic parts of Canada, but what (besides Toronto) makes southern Ontario so special? Let’s take a look … sh-hall we?

map of Ontario highlighting the southern region of the province
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Canadian Provinces and Territories, highlighting Ontario in red
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Southern Ontario: Quick Geography

The southern portion of Ontario is a very interesting part of Canada, being the region with the densest population. Several big urban areas are found here, including Toronto (Canada’s biggest city, Ontario’s provincial capital), and Ottawa, the nation’s capital.

It’s a region surrounded by the United States on three sides and is the southernmost part of the country. Most of the region is a type of lowland naturally covered in mixed-wood forests. Being a part of the Great Lakes / St. Lawrence River valley, part of its borders are traced by Lake Huron, Lake Ontario, and Lake Erie.

The province is actually named after Lake Ontario, which in turn probably comes from Wyandot or other Iroquoian languages. It means something like “great lake” or “beautiful water,” fitting since Ontario is home to nearly 250 thousand lakes! Some other major ones are Lake Simcoe and Lake St. Clair. Further to the north, you start to hit the boreal shield. Here, the forests are colder and denser, and the terrain gets more hilly. So, what are some special features?

1. Niagara Falls – quaint cities & waterfalls

a colonial style building in the town of Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario
Niagara-on-the-Lake – by Josh Appel

Let’s just forget about Toronto (for now). The next thing that might come to mind when you think of southern Ontario should be beautiful Niagara Falls. These are some of the most famous waterfalls in the world, so I don’t need to explain too much. Besides the gushing rapids themselves, the falls sit right along the actual city of Niagara Falls. This is cool because you can be in the urban area, stroll in the park, be up in a hotel, and see the falls right next door.

frozen Niagara Falls in the winter, Southern Ontario
Niagara Falls in winter – by Elvir K

Comparing to Buffalo, New York, for example, the falls are a lot closer to the city. Still, another special thing about Niagara Falls is its proximity to other unique cities. You have easy access to Buffalo, not to mention the city of Niagara Falls, New York. Inside Ontario, there are some quiet colonial towns with a laidback vibe like St. Catharines and Niagara-on-the-Lake. These cities deserve their own exploration with unique styles and even some of their own waterfalls. There’s also the Whirlpool Aero Car which takes you up above the valley to see the rushing waters from above. Just don’t look down for too long.

2. Thousand Islands – islands & history

The Thousand islands, a unique place in southern ontario, canada
Thousand Islands region – By Teresa Mitchell

The Thousand Islands is another very special part of Ontario. Like Niagara, this region is shared with New York state. It’s basically a series of isles and islets, numbering way more than 1,000, that straddle the mighty St. Lawrence River. There are boat tours and island hopping, views of towering bridges, and majestic castles to explore.

It’s a very cool-looking region that amazed me to learn about. Being from California and all, I had no idea about these kinds of places. If you’re coming from Lake Ontario, the historic city of Kingston sits right at the opening of the river. It seems like a great entry point to learn more about the region and take in the vibes of yet another Canadian city.

3. Ottawa – the capital

parliament hill in ottawa, canada's capital
Parliament Hill – by Shubham Sharan

You know I had to include the capital of Canada! I get the sense that not many people outside of Canada know that Ottawa is the capital. It’s not as talked about in the world media, but it’s a very unique city. Being the capital, you can expect some important government buildings and astonishing architecture; look no further than Parliament Hill, towering over the Ottawa River.

the big spider sculpture at the national gallery of canada, ottawa
National Gallery of Canada – by Pascal Bernardon

One really striking building in these parts is the Library of Parliament which is amazingly beautiful. It reminds me of when I learned about the big library in Washington, DC. I mean, I really am surprised at how pretty libraries are in some parts of the world. Okay, so you have great museums like the National Gallery of Canada with its giant spider sculpture and the Canadian Museum of Nature. Important historic buildings are here like the St. Patrick Basilica and the old Laurier House, once home to the prime ministers.

For those just looking to chill, the city is stacked with urban parks, including those along the Rideau riverside. Rideau, by the way, is that river that freezes over in winter where people can go ice skating through the city. Riding around in the snow past beautiful buildings seems like an awesome experience to me. Ottawa is also interesting for being right on the border with Quebec, the predominantly French-speaking part of Canada. There’s lots of culture and lots of fun to be had out here.

4. Interior Parks – nature

fall foliage in algonquin provincial park, southern ontario
Algonquin Provincial Park – by Dylan McLeod

Ontario has tons of provincial and national parks, and some of the prettiest ones are inland. Algonquin Provincial Park is probably the prime example. Acting as a sort of natural divider between northern and southern Ontario, it’s a heavily forested area cut by scenic lakes, rivers, and isles. It’s especially pretty in the autumn when the leaves change colors.

cliffs and lake at bon echo provincial park, ontario
Bon Echo Provincial Park – by Ariana Kaminski

Another standout park is Bon Echo. It holds similar forested hills and dramatic landscapes to Algonquin but shines alone as far as scenic parks go. Further south you have rocky waterways like the Elora Gorge, great for canoeing or splashing in the water. One more important mention is the Bruce Trail. It’s this historic trail now used mostly by hikers to witness some of the awesome Ontario scenery. It goes from Niagara Falls all the way up to our next unique spot in the Bruce Peninsula.

5. Tobermory & Bruce Peninsula – nature & adventure

green rocky shores and blue water at tobermory in the bruce peninsula, ontario
Tobermory, Bruce Peninsula – by Zen zeee

Again, from California guys, I’m sorry. When I first saw footage of Tobermory, I could not believe this place was in Canada. It is a region right along the edge of the larger Bruce Peninsula within the midsection of Lake Huron. The main striking feature here is the blueness of the water cut into by all kinds of rocks, grottoes, and cliffs.

The land is forested and honestly looks like somewhere out of the Caribbean during the summer. It’s a really pretty mixture of acrylic greens and blues, all set aside the massive lake backdrop. Travelers can explore caves, dive in natural pools, and even witness some funky-shaped rocks like the famous Flowerpot. And it’s not just Tobermory at the tip. The entire peninsula is full of pretty and interesting sites. Natural surprises speak loud out here.

6. The Great Lakes – lake shores

marshes and boardwalk in point pelee national park, southern ontario
Point Pelee National Park – By Tango7174

I know, Tobermory is on Lake Huron. I had to give it its own little section. Still, there is so much to see in the other Great Lakes. Sticking with Lake Huron, there’s an area called the Georgian Bay Islands, a series of islands and forests great for exploring nature. Right on the south of Huron is the city of Sarnia. Besides being another city to explore, there are also some nice beaches there to enjoy (at the right time of year, of course).

sunset on lake ontario with new growth trees coming from the water, sandbanks national park, canada
Sandbanks Provincial Park – By Jasonpettit

Lake Erie has a couple of (literal) points of interest like Long Point and Point Pelee. These places hold sandbanks and boardwalks where you can walk across the marshes and observe wildlife. Pelee National Park is actually the southernmost point in Canada, holding a few islands out in Lake Erie. Lake Ontario obviously has lots of cool towns and cities to stop at. A bonus place I want to mention is Sandbanks Provincial Park, a section of the lake dotted by hills of sand and pretty blue waters, plus some tranquil beaches. And speaking of Lake Ontario …

7. Hamilton – city & nature

albion falls in the city of hamilton, ontario
Albion Falls, Hamilton – by Joe deSousa

Southern Ontario has lots of neat cities, but Hamilton stands out in the crowd. Not just the name of a famous play, it’s also one of the larger cities outside the immediate Toronto area with its own special identity. With the enchanting Royal Botanical Gardens and castles like the Dundurn, you don’t need much to appreciate this place. As if those kinds of features weren’t enough, Hamilton has a number of urban waterfalls to boot. Two prominent ones are Tews Falls and Albion Falls, but the city is loaded with natural spaces and parkland. But it’s not the only city worth a mention.

8. Explore Other Cities – more cities & culture

the ambassador bridge and view of windsor, ontario
Ambassador Bridge & Windsor – by N Bandaru

Given that southern Ontario is the most densely populated part of the country, you have to imagine there are some other cities worth their own shout-outs. This part of Canada is home to several of the nation’s very top universities. Take Toronto, Western, McMaster, and Waterloo, to name a couple. Education: check.

Windsor is a cool city kinda known for being a great place to view downtown Detroit. They also have a flashy yet homegrown art scene like the Chimczuck Museum, Art Gallery of Windsor, and the Sculpture Park. Some of these are on a parkway along the Detroit River, right next to the international Ambassador Bridge. And that’s not to mention the city’s extensive street art.

Stratford is famous for its local festival dedicated to theater. It has been one of the biggest Shakespeare festivals in the world. Fittingly, the town is home to the Shakespeare Gardens. Little Dresden is home to Uncle Tom’s Cabin. This place is an important historic site for Canadians and Americans, being a station for former slave, Josiah Henson. After escaping from Maryland, he settled near this town where he wrote about the Underground Railroad and supported abolition. That’s worth celebrating!

Of course, you can’t talk about celebrations without mention of the Oktoberfest in Kitchener-Waterloo. These two cities come together to form one of the biggest Oktoberfests outside of Germany, adding on to their province’s pride.

9. Culture (And Closing)

My my. Southern Ontario is definitely one of the most important parts of Canada. It’s the region where Canada was essentially born and remains at the center of Canadian industry, entertainment, and economy to this day. It’s a place where American and Canadian identities meet since they’re so close together. In the cities, diversity runs wild and influences from around the globe morph together in this one section of the map.

Canada’s history is embedded into this part of Ontario and is, in many ways, the cradle of the nation’s English-Canadian identity. After all, many of the other provinces were populated by people who were leaving Ontario. This region is home to many of the Canadians that the world knows by way of entertainment, and is the political center of the nation as well. Borrowing bits and pieces from all over, southern Ontario is a unique place all by itself.

You can find more posts about the world’s special places in the Earth’s Face section.

**I hope you all enjoyed learning about this special place in Canada. I know some of my readers are from Canada, so please share what you know about southern Ontario. Are you from there? Let me know if there’s anything you would change or add in this post. And, as always, keep that adventurous learning spirit! Peace to you.

Canada on the Map: Straight Facts

A vertical triband design (red, white, red) with a red maple leaf in the center.
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We’re starting off a new section here in CultSurf just to give you all a bit of variety. We’ve been discussing culture, society, music, and movies from around the globe (mostly the USA, sorry, I’m a little biased). Some of you might be interested in learning more about the in-depth characteristics of English-speaking countries. We won’t focus too much on culture here, but more on geography and a few other things. I was really inspired by Geography Now on YouTube and I enjoy their channel, so I’ll share their video with the corresponding countries if they’ve made it already. They make videos about all the world’s countries from A-Z, so it might take a while for them to reach Zimbabwe, for example.

What does an American know about Canada?

So obviously I won’t be writing about myself or Americans that know a lot about Canada. I’m speaking about what I knew about the country before I started learning geography, and what my fellow citizens may or may not know already.

Happy Canadian here – Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com
  • We know about some cities like Toronto and Vancouver, probably Montréal. Some of us like the name Newfoundland and joke at how hard it can be to pronounce.
  • We know it’s freezing up there. We’ve seen those pictures of polar bears walking through town.
  • Moose, caribou, Northern Lights, and the Arctic is somewhere up there.
  • We have to cross it to get to Alaska.
  • Funny accents, eh? And syrup, lots of bacon and syrup.

The Provinces & Cities (and Territories)

As we see on our lovely map, Canada has 10 subdivisions called provinces, plus another 3 called territories.

A map of Canada showing its 10 provinces and 3 territories
The easiest map I could find on Wikipedia

Central Canada has the two biggest provinces, Ontario and Quebec. This is also where you find the two biggest cities, Toronto and Montréal. It’s known as central Canada even though it’s not directly in the middle of the country. That’s because historically these were the main places to be settled by the British and French as the colony known as Canada. Later they spread out and acquired more land. These places have the most people and are the biggest economic and cultural influencers in the country. They’re also massive, reaching from the Great Lakes all the way up to the northern tundra!

The smallest provinces are in the general Atlantic Maritimes region, which are Newfoundland and Labrador, Prince Edward Island, Nova Scotia, and New Brunswick. These areas were among the last to really join Canada as a united country. They had lots of immigration from Scotland and Ireland, and have a much stronger sea culture than the rest of the country. They’re sort of like the New England of Canada. They were also the main places that welcomed British Loyalist soldiers during and after the American War for Independence.

Then there’s out West. This area can be thought of generally as the Great Plains and mountains of Canada. Here we have Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Alberta, and British Columbia, though B.C. can also be thought of as the West Coast province. These were lands acquired after Central Canada was already set up, and are known for big open spaces, farming and agriculture, and lots of mountain stuff. There is major business and cultural influence coming from this part of Canada too, especially since Calgary and Vancouver are major global centers.

And then there were the Territories; Northwest Territories, the Yukon, and Nunavut. These, generally speaking, are three massive landmasses (haha) way up in the tundra and arctic of North America. They are very, very, very scarcely populated and mostly got attention during the gold rush years, especially in Yukon. Otherwise there’s lots of ice and natural beauty, but I’m pretty sure they’re the least known region of the country overall.

Notre-Dame Basilica, Montreal – By Diego Delso

A little about the cities, you have Toronto, Ontario, the biggest in the country, that is known as one of the most, if not the most, ethnically diverse cities in the world. I think about half the city is non-white, if not more, and even the white population is pretty diverse there. The capital, Ottawa, is in Ontario as well. A lot of the world-famous artists from Canada come from this lower area of Ontario, like Justin Bieber, Drake, The Weekend, and so on. Niagara Falls is the home of those same falls, and Mississauga has some cool spacey architecture.

Montréal is the 2nd biggest mostly French-speaking city in the world and is also extremely diverse, as is the rest of Canada. Québec is a very traditional European-looking city, especially in the old town. Halifax, Nova Scotia and St. John’s, Newfoundland are important port cities and historic centers. Edmonton is the capital of Alberta and the biggest city in the world for how far north it is. Calgary is also a very big city and cultural center. Some other major cities worth your research are Victoria, Saskatoon, Regina, Winnipeg, and St. John.

What are They?

So we know Canada has provinces, not states. The provinces actually are quite similar to states in how they are run, and many freedoms that the United States are allowed, so too are the Canadian provinces. Provinces, in general, tend to come from more Empirical powers (like the United Kingdom was) and so this name stems from historical association. The United States were also at once independent states that united, while Canada’s provinces have mostly been under the rule of Britain except for a few exceptions.

Canada stayed loyal and sympathetic to Britain for much longer than the U.S. which could explain many things about their cultural identity. Otherwise, the territories are similar to territories of any country. Even though they are huge, they have tiny populations. This makes it so that their representation is a little less relevant on the national scale, and so they do in fact have less representation.

Canada the year the British colonies united – By Unknown author

And the Commonwealth?

Like with province, there’s no universal definition of what a commonwealth really is. Puerto Rico and Guam, for example, are commonwealths of the U.S. Still, the British Commonwealth states have a lot more autonomy and are all considered their own sovereign states with some more or less cordial ties to Britain. The Monarch really only has a say in cases of a complete national or political emergency really, but otherwise Canadians are Canadians and not Brits. Although as I said before, they do and did keep stronger ties with Britain (and France, for that matter) over the years than the U.S. did.

Canada’s English-Speaking. What About Québec?

Good question. Canada traditionally had two main European colonizers: the English/British and the French. You’ll actually see this in a lot of English-speaking countries, where France took the colony from Britain or Britain took it from France and so there is a lot of mixed historical identity. Think of Louisiana, St. Lucia, or Cameroon. Geographically, Canada’s French-speaking population stuck mostly to one general area, giving this group a more distinct identity. People from Québec have long had mixed feelings about Canada, some wanting to separate into their own independent place while others just want more autonomy (not to mention those who don’t really care either way). Speaking English, French, or Punjabi, they’re all Canadians in the end.

Generally, there is pride in the history of French Canada, the part of Canada where the country got its name from. English and French are both official languages in the nation, but French is a lot stronger in Québec province, along with a few pockets of places in the neighboring provinces. You also get St. Pierre and Miquelon, which is an overseas territory of France (something like French Guiana, although it’s a full-on department of France) that borders Newfoundland and is fully French.

Talk More About Diversity

Canada is really one of the most diverse countries there is, and this is due to its historic reputation as an open arm for immigrants. The Asian (East and South) population and impact on Canadian culture is huge. German and Scandinavian identity is big in some regions, not to mention the largest communities of Icelandic and Ukrainian descendants outside those countries live in Canada. The country has also welcomed many from other Commonwealth states and former colonies, such as Caribbeans and Guyanese, Africans, Indians, and Pakistanis. The most influential though, hands down, have been the British and French.

Canada’s a diverse place – Photo by Gemma Chua-Tran on Unsplash

Most Canadians live within a few hundred miles from the U.S. border which also impacts the culture. Northern Americans and most Canadians have a fluid cultural and societal mixture that influences one and the other. This is especially true of migration, business, and the arts. Lots of Canadians have American ancestry and vice-versa. And of course, the first occupants of the continent have had a huge impact on the country. In Canada, they are generally referred to as First Nations, and they themselves are as diverse and influential as the later foreigners that would create modern Canada. They generally are considered two main groups, the traditional people most of us think of as Native or indigenous Americans, and the Inuits, a set of people with a bit different ancestry.

Let’s End with Some Actual Geography!

Canada has a land area of over 3.5 million square miles, making it the second biggest country in the world after Russia. It has a population of about 38 million, less than countries like South Korea, Spain, and Uganda, which are way smaller. I mean, compare them on a map. The Maritimes are mostly chilly and rainy with oceanic climates and many pretty islands. The northern continuation of the Appalachian Mountain system goes up here, and way up North in Labrador to Nunavut you get the Arctic Cordillera range of tall, jagged, arctic mountains.

Thefalls.jpg
Kakabeka Falls in Ontario – By Hgsyro

The south of Central Canada borders the U.S. by way of the super-important St. Lawrence River system, as well as the Great Lakes. This area is very hospitable and is where the biggest urban areas are concentrated. You also get big waterfalls and some dense forests on up to Hudson Bay which supports a kind of wet plain. It usually freezes over and so this is a major crossing ground for Arctic animals like polar bears. The middle of the country has an outstanding number of lakes, and the north is especially stocked with some of the biggest forests and highest amount of lakes on planet Earth.

Going back down, you get a general plains and prairies region that goes on till you hit some mountains. These are essentially the Canadian extension of the Rockies, and they go up all the way to the Yukon and even into Alaska. You have a fertile yet somewhat dry valley between those and the coastal mountains and rainy forests which also extend into Alaska. Above all that stuff is basically a large stretch of lakes, cold plains, forests, and taiga (basically a tundra with some scattered trees). Tundra covers most of that very northern part of the country where it steadily transitions into polar landscapes. This is especially true of the massive islands of Nunavut which reach all the way up to the North Pole (and Santa! Oh wait, he’s Scandinavian)

That’s all, you curious geography lovers! I hope you enjoyed mapping out this huge and special country called Canada. As promised, here is the Geography Now video. Please comment if you like Canada. If you are from there (howdy neighbor) comment if you want to teach us more about your fabulous home! Thanks, and we’ll be talking soon.

If you liked this, you might also like to read about the U.S. geography with Aren’t all the U.S. states and cities basically the same? – Regional diversity in the USA. Tell me what you think, and enjoy 😉

Other fun facts about Canada: https://www.canadianaffair.com/blog/how-big-is-canada/

“i like the devil” [Purity Ring] – lyrics for English students

A vertical triband design (red, white, red) with a red maple leaf in the center.

Video and more explanation below–>

Mother laid her elbows on the bed _ Whispering the wishes to the threads

  • Whispering wishes” gives the sensation of praying, especially with her elbows on the bed, like the traditional form of praying on one’s bedside. “The threads” can refer to the bedsheets, but more figuratively may refer to the Fates in Greek mythology. They were a group of goddesses that decided the fate of people by weaving and cutting their “life” threads.

Weaving in the weight of all our dread _ Wiping up the stains of our regret

  • “Weaving” here refers to the threads from before. You can also “weave through” something, as in to bend your way through a tough situation or difficult information. “Wiping up” gives the idea that she’s cleaning up her past difficulties and regrets.

Heal her hands by kneading up the bread _ Cleaning off her fingers as she wept

  • Kneading is the process of stretching and molding dough before you make bread. Dough is soft and so has a healing sensation to the hands. It also refers to a woman who had past difficulties and tries to heal by doing something traditionally for women, like making food. “Cleaning off her fingers” is washing off those past mistakes, along with the sticky dough.

Lurk within her gleaming silhouette _ Then seal in our wonder to ferment

  • Below her pretty outer image is a kind of danger or ugliness. We use “lurk” to talk about something dangerous or ominous, like a monster, that is hiding somewhere. Ferment is the process which allows dough to grow, cheese and butter to harden, and so on. We also use ferment to show how something bad, ugly or evil can rot and grow over time within a person. It sounds like this woman tries to hide her past inside this image of what a good woman should be, but her problems are slowly growing and causing her damage from within.

I, like the devil, can fly _ And I read her sweet mind last night, and _ I, like God, can fly _ And I held a candle over her fright

  • Referring to herself as the devil and God references how women have historically been perceived both as something perfect and saintly, as well as something evil and wicked. Reading thoughts and using candles have a mystic or religious feeling too. Partly, she’s saying that she, like all people, have the capacity to be good and bad, or we all have a little bit of God and the devil in us. It’s also a reference to an old way of speaking that’s not really used anymore. “Run like the devil,” and “Talk like the devil.” It’s like saying someone runs, talks, or flies really fast. Megan doesn’t mean it in this way, but she’s playing with the meanings of words.

What is happiness but a word? _ Spoken from on high for what it’s worth

  • She’s questioning what it means to be truly happy, and refers to how happiness is often dictated to women, or people in general, from another source. Usually, it’s someone in power, “from on high.”

Flown beneath the wings of little birds _ But I have felt the wind crawl where we’re cursed

  • Happiness can be found in simple things like watching birds fly. Also there’s a sense that messages from those in power come to us from small messengers, like with carrier pigeons that used to deliver things. She has felt happiness or joy in situations or places that are looked down upon or not accepted by certain people.

Find us in the folded parts she pressed _ Lying in positions like we’ve slept

  • “Folded parts she pressed” gives the idea that her curse as a woman comes from her “hidden parts,” whether physical or emotional. It also sounds like folding clothes, so the curse may come from simply being a woman, a mother, etc. Positions like we’ve slept reminds me of the fetal position, like how babies sleep. It might refer to an actual fetus or baby being a source of happiness, or life in general. It can also be another reference to womanhood or motherhood being a joy and a curse. The theme of a baby also fits in with the album’s title, WOMB.

Find us in the hallows of her chest _ Lying in positions, like we’ve slept

  • “In the hallows of her chest” refers to the heart, and love overall. Hallows also makes it sound more holy or saintly. Repeating “lying in positions” is again a reference to babies, motherhood, etc. Happiness can then be found in the heart, love, and womanhood. Again, there’s a sense that all of this is a curse and a blessing at the same time.

I, like the devil, can fly _ And I read her sweet mind last night, and _ I, like God, can fly _ And I held a candle over her fright _ I, like the devil, can fly

  • I also want to point out that the title is intentionally misleading. “I like the devil” sounds like she will talk about how she likes or worships the devil. However, we clearly see that she uses this phrasing to compare herself (her actions, intentions) to the devil, and later, to God.

A better and more in-depth look at the lyrics. Please read to learn more: https://medium.com/an-injustice/i-like-the-devil-purity-rings-prayer-for-a-balanced-perspective-on-feminism-and-womanhood-1d0833d41d4f

Watch it here: