Cross-Canada Road Trip – Part 2
In the last article we covered the ‘western’ half of the Trans-Canada Road Trip beginning in Victoria and ending in Winnepeg. Crossing over the border into Ontario the road begins to curve and there are lots of opportunities to spot wildlife.
The first stop is Kenora originally known as “Rat Portage” as the French saw the site as the door to the muskrat. It’s a popular summer residence because of all the city’s lakes. It has lots of outdoor activities year round so it’s a great place to stop for some hiking or fishing. It also has the fantastic Lake of the Woods Museum which gives insight into local history including locals’ experiences in Canada’s residential school system.
Thunder Bay is the next stop a much bigger city than Kenora. Climb to the Terry Fox memorial or explore the marina downtown which offers a picturesque view with lots of different things to do. You can visit a mine learn more about local history at Fort William Historical Park or peruse one of the many museums and galleries. Stop in at the Thunder Oak Cheese Farm or the nearby Sleeping Giant Provincial Park or Hillcrest Park for hiking or other outdoor activities.
Sault Ste. Marie
The next major stopping point is Sault Ste. Marie which features the highly acclaimed Canadian Bushplane Heritage Centre featuring tons of information on planes and firefighting techniques. You can visit a brewery museum if that’s more your tastes! Stop by the Sault Ste. Marie Museum for local history and be sure to walk along the boardwalk and visit the Sault Ste. Marie Canal a National Historic Site of Canada. Visit Kinsmen Park to view the waterfalls or Fort Creek Conservation Area for a lovely walk to stretch your legs. This area is great for hiking canoeing and biking!
The largest city in Canada by area (although only the 24th largest based on population) has lots for you to do. One of the top places to visit is Science North a huge science centre perfect for the family – and adults! There’s also the Dynamic Earth Exhibition which is another science museum focused on geology and mining although they also have some great unrelated temporary exhibits. There are quite a few museums that let you learn more about the area’s history or you can have some fun at Dinosaur Miniature Golf. There’s lots to do outside too with excellent fishing and lots of trails to hike or snowmobile nearby. You can visit Wagonwheel Ranch for some trail riding in the forested countryside and don’t forget to stop by the Big Nickel!
After you’ve passed through Sudbury the next stop is North Bay a smaller city located between two lakes. It’s a great place to stop for a beach or lake day. If you feel like hiking there are also hundreds of trails to explore. You can check out the history of the area at Discovery North Bay or the Canadian Forces Museum of Aerospace Defence.
Canada’s beautiful capital city has a few must-see places. The Canadian Parliament buildings are truly impressive and with free tours and beautiful grounds you just can’t pass it by. The Canadian War Museum offers a fantastic look into Canada’s military history and the National Gallery of Canada is always worth a visit.
The city boasts many more awesome museums and there really is something for everyone. Between museum visits stop by the Byward Market for great food shopping and people-watching. Check out the Rideau Canal by enjoying a boat cruise in the summer or the world’s largest skating rink in the winter. Ottawa is also host to many festivals throughout the year so if you can try to plan your trip around one! There’s also several orchestras theatres and many historic sites to enjoy.
Once you’ve finished with the capital it’s onwards to the east into the province of Quebec. A worthwhile detour is Upper Canada Village where you can go backwards in time to experience what life was like in the 1860s. Tour the village ride a train get some family photos taken and try some delicious food. They also have special activities for adults like private tours in a horse-drawn coach and a workshop on 1860s fashion where you’ll be dressed head-to-toe in historically accurate clothing.
Montreal is the second biggest city in Canada and the largest in Quebec. It is the heart of French Canada and one of the country’s most acclaimed cities. It is a centre for commerce and culture and remains a popular tourist destination. The city is host to numerous world-class festivals and has vibrant music and food scenes. The Montreal Symphony Orchestra is one of the world’s best you can also see opera and ballet or check out one of the city’s many art galleries. There are many impressive churches to visit or if science is more your thing check out the Biodome de Montreal/Space for Life or the Biosphere/Environment Museum. You can also visit one of the many museums found around the city many of which focus on French Canadian history often overlooked elsewhere in Canada. Your visit isn’t complete until you’ve explored “Old Montreal” to experience the village atmosphere with its many unique shops and cobbled streets.
If you can tear yourself away from Montreal enjoy a scenic drive to Fredericton the capital of New Brunswick with a strong military heritage. The city features the Beaverbrook Art Gallery and has a strong arts and music community. There are twelve National Historic Sites of Canada to visit and many festivals take place year-round. Visit the Kings Landing Historical Settlement which is a living history museum or watch a Changing of the Guard. There’s a local science centre geared towards families or if the weather’s hot head to the water park.
Heading northeast from Fredericton the next stop is Moncton – you’ve finally reached the eastern coast! Stop by TreeGO to explore an adventure park and get your body moving after long hours in a car or RV. There are courses for every age and fitness level and it’s a great way to see some of the natural beauty of the area. The Magnetic Hill Zoo is also a great experience or head to the Musee Acadien for some local history. For the adults the Magnetic Hill Winery is a great place to stop by to see how wine is made and sample some of New Brunswick’s best.
Detour – Charlottetown
After Moncton you can take a slight detour to Charlottetown the capital of Prince Edward Island. Visit the quaint downtown with its Victorian architecture or walk along the reclaimed waterfront. The city has lots of history which you can explore at Province House and Founders Hall or at one of the other nine National Historic Sites of Canada.Visit the world of Anne of Green Gables or get adventurous with boat tours in the ocean. Take a hike to see the famous red soil or walk one of the many trails for a spectacular view.
Detour – Halifax
After Charlottetown you may want to make another detour down to visit Halifax the capital of Nova Scotia. This city is a major centre in Atlantic Canada and with its rich history and scenic setting it makes for a great place to visit. The city combines maritime and military traditions to form a unique culture. Visit the Halifax Public Gardens to stretch your legs and be sure to walk along the waterfront boardwalk. Visit the Halifax Citadel to explore the region’s military history and the Maritime Museum of the Atlantic to learn more about maritime history and the many disasters that have befallen ships. Take the Halifax Harbour Ferry to see the city from the water and tour the HMCS Sackville preserved from the Second World War. You can also visit the Fairview Lawn Cemetery where many of the victims of the Titanic were buried. For something a bit more cheerful go for a tasting at Alexander Keith’s Brewery or enjoy a lovely walk on Clam Harbour Beach.
Once you’ve finished in Charlottetown or Halifax head east to Cape Breton where the next stop will be Sydney. This town hosts the world’s largest fiddle and a scenic waterfront boardwalk. Stop by the Cape Breton Centre for Heritage and Science the Fort Petrie Military Museum or one of the many other heritage buildings or sites. It’s also a great place to use as your base as you explore the rest of Cape Breton. Be sure to try some lobster and listen to some lively Atlantic music! A side trip to the Fortress of Louisbourg is a must as it’s the largest historical reconstruction in North America and offers a real insight into life when the first Europeans arrived in Canada. Cabot Trail is another journey worth making whether you drive kayak hike or cycle it. The scenery is incredible and the road is dotted with amazing places to stop for lunch and experience the local culture.
After Sydney you’ll need to take a ferry to the island of Newfoundland. Once there head northeast to Corner Brook.
This city is located on the incredibly scenic shores of the Bay of Islands. There are tons of superb hiking and biking trails as well as many spots to observe the local wildlife. You can even go caving! Visit Captain James Cook Historic Site or the Railway Society of Newfoundland Historic Train Site to learn more about the history of the area (and Canada).
After Corner Brook the next stop is Grand Falls where you should definitely stop by the Salmonid Interpretation Centre to learn about Atlantic Salmon. You could also try rafting experience some more superb hiking or visit the Mary March Provincial Museum or one of the other museums that examine the history and past lifestyles of the area.
After another stretch of driving you’ve reached the last stop St. John’s. The capital and largest city in the province and has tons to do for everyone. Stop by the Provincial Museum of Newfoundland and Labrador which is housed in a historic building. The Rooms is host to the Art Gallery and Provincial Archives of Newfoundland and Labrador as well as to many cultural events. There are several other museums to explore as well as the Johnson Geo Centre if you’re more interested in the sciences. Climb Signal Hill – where the first transatlantic wireless transmission was received – for a great view of the city. There’s also a tribute to the Royal Newfoundland Regiment and additional hiking trails. There are festivals and tons of outdoor activities to enjoy year-round – you might even see an iceburg if you’re there at the right time of year!
Congratulations! You’ve made it on your cross-Canada road trip via the Trans-Canada highway. Of course this is only an overview as there are many more wonderful sites and activities along this monumental road spanning our wonderful country.
If you’re interested in planning your own Trans-Canada trip check out Trans-Canada Highway website which has tons of resources. Trip Advisor has written an entire guide to RV-ing across the country and it’s also a great place to find places to stop along your route. Have fun!