The Essential Backpackers Guide to North America - Part 2

Published: 05/16/2014

In part 1 of this five-part series, we talked about Canada in terms of her location and geography. This second instalment will focus on some of the sights to see and the many wonderful things to do in a country that was, until 1982, part of the British Crown.

We will begin our look by focusing on Canada's southern border with United States. Not only is it the longest continuous border between two countries in the world, but the towns and cities within 100 miles of it are home to 75% of Canada's population. And in a country covering 3.8 million square miles, that is impressive. It means that most of the country's commercial activity is within 2 hours drive of the US.

As a backpacker, you are likely to want to see more of nature and less of commercial sprawl. Despite that fact, you cannot backpack through Canada without making a stop at Niagara Falls. The Falls are listed among the Seven Wonders of Canada for good reason. They are absolutely breath-taking by any measure. As a backpacker, you will be happy to know that the commercial development of the city of Niagara Falls does have one benefit: it is not hard to find cheap accommodations.

Travelling west from Niagara Falls along the Niagara escarpment, you will enjoy hundreds of miles of the best backpacking in Canada. You will see a number of rare species of both plant and animal life, get a first-hand view of the incredible Niagara wine industry, and be introduced to many of the small towns that make Canada what she is.

Eventually the escarpment will take you all the way to Bruce Peninsula on Lake Huron. Take a boat across the lake and head north toward Montreal and Quebec City. Both metropolitan areas are home to some incredible architecture and some of Canada's most important history. At Montreal, you will find plenty of mountain views of the famed St Lawrence Seaway.

Other Provinces

The farther north and west you go, the fewer people you'll find. However, that should not dissuade you from visiting the remainder of Canada's provinces. The east coast provinces of Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and Newfoundland/Labrador offer some of the most breath-taking views of the Atlantic Ocean in North America. You'll be amazed by the mountain peaks and the abundant wildlife.

Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Alberta, and British Columbia offer some incredible wonders of their own. For example, Alberta gives you direct access to the beautiful Canadian Rockies. If you fly or take a train into Calgary, you will be right on their doorstep. In British Columbia, you will find the Canadian West Coast, an area that is slowly learning how to combine the ruggedness and history of the Canadian interior with the new age of West Coast Modernism.

The one thing to remember about backpacking through Canada is that life is a bit slower there. Be prepared to take the time to enjoy yourself. After all, the Canadians are in no rush.

 
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