Canada might be famous for the CN tower, renowned for its maple syrup, and the pristine and stunning mountains and lakes of Banff National Park. Apart from its world-renowned tourist attractions, Canada is home to some of North America’s best hidden gems and quirky attractions.
Leaving all the popular tourist attractions behind, there are plenty of lesser-known spots you should explore that aren’t on the typical tourist agenda, consider a few.
Reversing Rapids-Saint John, New Brunswick
The Reversing Rapids, also known as the Reversing Falls, are a unique phenomenon you must experience. When the high tides of the Bay of Fundy collide with the Saint John River in a rocky gorge in Saint John, New Brunswick, a series of whirlpools, waves, and water rapids are created when the tides collide. At high tide, the Bay rises above the Saint John River, and the tides’ power reverses the river’s flow creating huge waves. Exploring the reversing rapids is your chance to experience nature’s miraculous wonders firsthand.
Quebec’s Gaspe Peninsula stretches along the vast expanse of the St. Lawrence River. Gracing the Beach is a large-scale art project by Canadian artist Marcel Gagnon, comprised of 100 odd figures known as the “Great Gathering.” The life-sized sculptures carved in wood and stone look like armless pillars with covered faces. Some statues have a hunched back, while others appear leaning over the sand. The artist recently included a tethered wooden raft with a few figures. When the water level rises, the raft holds up the statues on top of the water, giving them a unique refracted zombie-like effect appearing to rise off the water.
Dinosaur Provincial Park- Alberta
This is the spot to explore one of the biggest dinosaur graveyards in the world. In 1979 the United Nations designated the park as a World Heritage Site. The park has a reputation as the go-to place for researching fossil fuels and includes a visitor centre, gift shop, exhibits, and picnic area, along with camping and hiking trails. The park is located at the centre of the Canadian Badlands; once there, you can tour the fascinating interpretive trail with a host of fossilized dinosaur skeletons on display. The park’s visitor centre offers guided tours and educational programs for students in a research lab and amphitheater.
Athabasca Sand Dunes-Saskatchewan
Spreading over 100 kilometers along the shores of Lake Athabasca, the Athabasca Sand Dunes are considered the largest active sand surface in Canada. Accessible by a float plane or boat, the park’s sand dunes go as high as 30 meters and feature a unique ecosystem of rare plants. Visitors must be fully equipped with wilderness travel gear and aware of potential safety hazards when visiting the park.
Abraham Lake-Calgary Alberta
The picturesque jaw-dropping scenery of Abraham Lake is a sight to behold. The man-made lake is known for its large amount of methane ice bubbles locked away in the lake’s clear ice. Winter is the best time to see loads of frozen ice bubbles formed by the trapped methane, created when organic matter like dead plants and animals sink to the lake’s bottom. When these materials decompose, they release methane gas. When the lake freezes, the bubbles get trapped and stack on top of each other, creating rare ice bubble formations.
Haida Gwaii- British Columbia
The unique archipelago comprises 150 rocky islands off the coast of British Columbia. With a diverse plant and animal life mix, the islands are home to abundant wildlife and rare species like dolphins, eagles, sea lions, humpback whales, and bears. The islands are also home to the First Nations community and have a rich heritage with more than 500 archeological sites. Renowned as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the islands are ideal for outdoor activities like kayaking and wildlife watching, thanks to their unspoiled beaches, forests, and ocean views. When you visit the island, check out the Haida Gwaii Heritage Centre and Museum to learn more about the island’s rich culture and history.
David Messiha | Staff Writer