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The big cities and world-famous ski resorts are forever making the headlines in Canada, but this almost 10 million square kilometer country is packed with pleasant surprises. If you’ve already visited the major tourist destinations or are the kind of traveler who takes joy from discovering quieter corners, then take heed of these recommendations. From the wilderness of the Yukon Territory to the North Atlantic coastline, there are travel gems the length and breadth of the country.
Fun fact: James Naismith, the inventor of basketball, was born in this former mill town set on the Mississippi River. Whether you're a basketball fan or not, this tiny town exudes charm and is perfect for a day trip from Ottawa. Clapboard houses and refurbished limestone buildings line the streets and cafés serve up delicious variations of butterscotch pie. Get a history lesson at the Mississippi Valley Textile Museum and listen to the soothing sounds of the Mississippi Mills Waterfall. The BusFusion festival is a highlight of summer, when hundreds of VW camper vans roll into town.
Cavendish, Prince Edward Island
Nestled between the coast and lush green pastures of Canada’s only island province, Cavendish is a must for literature fans. The town is one of the main inspirations for Lucy Maud Montgomery’s novel Anne of Green Gables and you can spend time at the historic house of the novel’s protagonist. Walking trails take you deep into the picturesque countryside and along the clifftops. Beachcombing and golf are also on the agenda.
Dawson City, Yukon Territory
You’d be forgiven for thinking that you’ve stepped back in time to the Klondike Gold Rush upon landing in Dawson City. An aura of the Wild West permeates the air of downtown’s dirt roads and multicolored buildings stand in beautiful contrast to the encompassing mountain landscapes. Dawson City Museum will bring you up to speed with the gold rush heritage and you can give Lady Luck a try at Canada’s first casino.
Miramichi, New Brunswick
Fancy a few fun-filled days boating and salmon fishing? If so then Miramichi can offer just that. A riverboat cruise to Beaubears Island, where costumed guides bring local lore and Acadian history to life, is not to be missed. Storytelling is second nature to the townsfolk and celebrated with aplomb at the annual Miramichi Folksong Festival. Soak up the quaint and quirky atmosphere at the shipbuilding-themed Ritchie Wharf Park.
Your reward for reaching this seaside peninsula town on Newfoundland island is complete solitude. Coastal walks await in abundance and you’ll often stumble upon museums, lighthouses and wineries. Jump on a boat for the chance to spot dolphins, seabirds and whales while cruising around rugged bays. The entire community seems to come out for the Fish, Fun and Folk Festival to celebrate music and fishing traditions that date back to the 1600s.
Wolfville, Novia Scotia
There’s something about Wolfville that evokes a feeling of warmth. Perhaps it’s the pretty university campus or maybe it’s the setting between the ocean, rivers and rolling hills. It could be the local wineries, brewpubs and cider house or even the pavement cafés. It all makes for an all round delightful experience and a popular stopover for cyclists peddling the open roads of Nova Scotia.