Toronto Travel Guide


Cabbagetown, on the eastern outskirts of downtown, was settled by Irish immigrants fleeing the potato famine of 1841. The area was so called as the sandy soil proved ideal for growing cabbage. Today it has possibly the richest concentration of fine Victorian architecture in North America and is worth a stroll to peek at some of the beautifully restored houses and their carefully tended gardens. Gentrified 19th-century worker cottages with picket fences mix with bay and gable houses, Toronto's most famous architectural style, and a myriad other superb buildings.

Look out especially for the Toronto Dance Theatre & School, a soaring red-brick Romanesque Revival building with a distinctive weather vane. The Witches' House is nicknamed for its quintessential gingerbread-house appearance and the gargoyle on its front face. The Chapel of St James-the-Less, with its deep spire, is reminiscent of an English country church. It has justifiably been called one of the most beautiful buildings in Canada.

To the north of Cabbagetown is Rosedale, one of the city's wealthiest areas for almost a century. Here, striking Georgian and Victorian homes rub shoulders with country manors, with impressive gardens all round. If time is short you should head straight to Elm Ave, where almost every house has been listed by the Ontario Heritage Foundation for architectural or historical significance. They are all impressive, but particularly noteworthy are the two ornate faces of No 88 and the ornamental iron porch of No 93.

Downtown Toronto
Downtown encompasses many of Toronto's most significant and easily accessible attractions. The CN Tower - at 533m (1748ft) the highest freestanding structure in the world since 1976 - has become a symbol and landmark of Toronto. Impressive views only go so far, however, and many find the cost and long queues to the observation deck a turn-off. A better deal might be to dine in its 360 Revolving Restaurant instead. If feats of engineering really rock your boat, you may want to also visit the SkyDome next door. It features the world's first fully retractable dome roof, a striking interior and a playing field large enough to park eight 747s.

The Old Town of York is the city's truly unmissable attraction. Many of Toronto's oldest and best-preserved buildings can be found here. Highlights include the Flatiron Building, with its triangular shape and famous trompe l'oeil mural, and the St Lawrence Market, whose Market Gallery hosts exhibits of art and historic artefacts relating to the city. The North Market's clock tower is one of the city's finest examples of Victorian classicism. The venerable St James Cathedral is graced by Tiffany stained glass, a grand organ and the tallest spire in Canada. Pay your respects to the city by strolling up Toronto St, a narrow street full of elegant triple-storey 19th-century office buildings.

The Harbourfront area is jumping with galleries and cultural centres, and its lakeshore breezes make for pleasant strolling when the humidity is up. A little further north, historic buildings such as Mackenzie House, Osgoode Hall and Campbell House vie for attention with the restored grandeur of the Elgin & Winter Garden Theatre Centre. Galleries and museums abound - the Art Gallery of Ontario and Museum for Textiles are two especially worth your time. Chinatown's bustling restaurants and stores add some spice to the mix.

Little Italy
One of the great pleasures of exploring Toronto is visiting the city's many enclaves of immigrant cultures. Little Italy, west of the University of Toronto, is chock-a-block with see-and-be-seen outdoor cafes, bars, bakeries and fine ristoranti. Further northwest of Little Italy is the less sceney, more authentic Corso Italia, with the real Italian cinemas, smoky espresso cafes and pool halls. North of Bloor St the area is mainly Caribbean, and to the west there's Koreatown and multi-ethnic Bloor Village. The one-room Ukrainian Museum of Canada and a Tibetan Buddhist temple complete the multicultural picture of this section of Toronto.

While you're in the area, don your best threads and head to Casa Loma, literally 'House on a Hill', for a taste of the good life. This 98-room medieval-style castle-cum-mansion was built by wealthy electricity baron Sir Henry Pellat in the early 20th century. The sumptuous interior features the finest materials imported from around the world, including rugs in the same pattern as Windsor Castle's and a glorious Italian-made chandelier. Jutting up above The Annex, the mansion's towers offer city views that rival the CN Tower's. The restored gardens are open in summer.

Spadina House is another key Torontonian mansion, a gracious Canadian take on Art Nouveau. Built in 1886 and still lit by working gaslights, the impressive interior contains fine furnishings and art collected over three generations. The Edwardian and Victorian gardens are beautiful in spring and summer.

Toronto Islands
Toronto's jewel-like islands are relatively new, formed in 1858 when a storm cut through the immense sandbar that stretched south of Toronto into Lake Ontario, creating the Eastern Channel. The islands' cool breezes are great on a hot, sticky day, and cycling along the paved paths and boardwalk on the southern shore isn't a bad way to spend some time.

Centre Island Park has the most amusements, including the quaintly old-fashioned Centreville Amusement Park, the Far Enough Farm, a hedge maze and a boathouse. The best beach on the islands is Hanlan's Point Beach, on the western end of Centre Island. Centre Island has hundreds of visitors each weekend, but no residents, as the 'sandbar bohemians' who had been living here for more than a generation were evicted in the '60s.

Algonquin Island Park and Ward's Island, on the other hand, managed to keep their homes and unique way of life. Once you see the small artistic communities for yourself you may feel a little jealous: the peace, lack of pollution and incredible skyline views of Toronto are really something. You can catch ferries to Hanlan's Point, Centre Island Park and Ward's Island. All islands are interconnected by bridges or footpaths.

Once Toronto's smaller version of Greenwich Village or Haight-Ashbury, the old counterculture bastion of Yorkville has become the city's trés glamorous shopping and gallery district. Glitzy restaurants, nightspots and outdoor cafes feature, with a passing parade of Jaguars, Bentleys and classic convertibles to lift the general tone of things. The busiest streets are Yorkville Ave, Cumberland St and Hazelton Ave.

For quirky pop culture value, try the Bata Shoe Museum - shaped to resemble a stylised lidded shoebox - on for size. Among the 10,000 sole-stirring exhibits are 19th-century chestnut-crushing clogs from France, four-million-year-old footprints and the offcasts of such luminaries as Elton John, Indira Gandhi and Pablo Picasso. For more stuff in glass cases head to the Gardiner Museum of Ceramic Art for its excellent history of ceramics. Canada's largest collection of old things, the Royal Ontario Museum (ROM) is only of limited interest; although, its Chinese temple sculptures and Gallery of Korean Art are some of the best in the world.

The nearby University of Toronto, Margaret Atwood's alma mater, has long been a wellspring and guardian of Canadian English-language literature. You don't need to be a literary pilgrim to enjoy wandering the historic buildings and UT Art Centre though. Not far from the student crowds, Toronto's gay village, Church St, stretches between Isabella and Alexander Streets. The hotspot is around Wellesley St, where you can eat, drink and dance up a storm.

Off the Beaten Track

McMichael Canadian Art Collection
Just north of Toronto in the pricey retreat of Kleinburg, The McMichael Canadian Art Collection is a must-see for anyone interested in First Nations and modern Canadian art. The gallery's rustic handcrafted wooden buildings (including painter Tom Thomson's cabin) are set among walking trails that crisscross conservation-area wetlands.

The McMichael gallery has extensive holdings of canvases by Canada's best-known landscape painters, the Group of Seven, much of whose work was created in northern Ontario. Many visitors are equally captivated by the Inuit and British Columbian Aboriginal prints, photography and carvings, which are not as easily found at museums in downtown Toronto. Be forewarned, however, that the McMichael can be overrun with boisterous schoolchildren on weekday mornings, so time your visit accordingly.

Niagara Falls
The roaring spectacle of Horseshoe Falls - Canada's half of Niagara Falls - makes the town of Niagara Falls one of Canada's top tourist destinations, drawing over 12 million people annually. Canada's falls are grander and more powerful than the US Bridal Veil Falls, plunging 56m (185ft) down into the Maid of the Mist pool and clouding views of the falls from afar. The equivalent of more than 1 million bathtubs full of water goes over the falls every second. Even in winter, when the flow is partially hidden and the edges frozen solid - like a freeze-framed film - it's quite a sight.

There are numerous pay-for-view options to see the falls. Maid of the Mist boats take passengers up close for a loud and wet view from the bottom of the falls. From near Table Rock Information Centre you can don a plastic poncho and walk down through rock-cut tunnels halfway down the cliffside - as close as you can get to the falls without getting in a barrel (or going over to the USA side). You can also head to either the Minolta Tower or Skylon Tower to gaze at the falls from observation decks. About 6km (3.7mi) north of Horseshoe Falls on the Niagara River is the Whirlpool Aero Car - a sort of gondola stretched 550m (1800ft) between two outcrops that takes you above a whirlpool so you can see everything spinning in the water below.

Niagara Falls is about a two-hour drive from Toronto. Buses run every two hours or so and trains run twice a day.

Niagara Peninsula Wine Country
The Niagara peninsula sits at the same latitude as northern California and the south of Burgundy, France, making it a perfect wine-growing area. The area is known for its late-harvest and ice wines (sweet and fruity). A wine country drive - self-drive or organised - makes a great day trip from Toronto, allowing you to taste the wines as well as see some beautiful countryside. Many wineries are open daily year-round and offer tours. Tastings are almost always free.

Some wineries impress for their wines, others for their picturesque location, wine education or gourmet food. Numerous special events take place throughout the year, with September's Niagara Grape and Wine Festival the best known. Before setting out pick up a Wine Regions of Ontario map from any Ontario Tourism office and plot a route that suits.

A town named Stratford, located on a river called the Avon? You could be forgiven for thinking you'd been transplanted to the heart of England. In fact, Stratford is a fairly typical slow-paced, rural Ontario town, although it's consciously prettier than most, not to mention home to a world-famous Shakespearean festival. The Bard's words are the thing here, and visitors have from May until October each year to hear them. Productions are first rate, as are the costumes, and respected actors are always on stage. The town's three theatres also produce contemporary drama, music and opera. Post-performance discussions with actors, backstage tours, warehouse costume tours and readings by famous authors add to the mix.

Plays aside, a popular way to pass time in the town is to take in the history and architecture with a walking tour. The Shakespearean Gardens, Queen's Park, Stratford Perth Museum, The Gallery/Stratford and Victoria Costumiére are among the highlights. It takes just over two hours to drive to Stratford from Toronto, and trains and buses connect through Kitchener-Waterloo.

Other Canada Attractions

Canada's capital sprawls along the southern bank of the Ottawa River, on the eastern tip of Ontario. As you'd expect, it's a government town, dominated physically and spiritually by the neo-Gothic Parliament Buildings. You'll hear a fair amount of French spoken here, as many federal government workers are required to be bilingual. There's not a heap of exciting things to do in Ottawa - other than marvel at being in a national capital - but the air's clean, the streets are wide, there are lots of public parks and the people seem happy and healthy as they jog or cycle their way to work. The city has the usual plethora of impressive buildings common to capital cities: the War Museum (with a life-sized replica of a WWI trench), the Royal Mint, various grand old homes inhabited by ministers of state and a swag of museums to do justice to the country's icons: nature, aviation, science and technology, skiing and agriculture. Ottawa is also home to Canada's premier art collection, the National Gallery, displaying an enormous array of North American and European works. In summer the city is dotted with the familiar red coats of the Royal Canadian Mounties.

Ottawa's downtown district is divided into eastern and western portions by the Rideau Canal. The eastern section has a very useful pocket of central guesthouses, most of them with heritage details of some sort. Motels are clustered along Rideau St in the east, and along Carling Ave on the western side of town. Byward Market, east of the canal, has a stack of cheap eateries, and western downtown is the place to go for more upmarket eating.

As the capital of Canada's smallest province (the delectable Prince Edward Island), it's only fitting that Charlottetown comes across as an old, quiet country town. The issue of Canada's unity was first officially discussed here in 1864, and nowadays the tiny capital is known as the birthplace of Canadian confederation. The pace is slow, the atmosphere still colonial, and the tree-lined Victorian streets are very easy on the eye. The oldest part of town is clustered around the waterfront area, with the usual renovated buildings and recreation dollar-chasing facilities. A strident note is sounded by the 1960s modern structure that houses the Confederation Centre of the Arts, which highlights the work of Canadian artists. Prince Edward Island's main claim to fame, however, is the town of Cavendish, the setting for Lucy Maud Montgomery's Anne of Green Gables, followed by the island's tradition of whopping big lobster suppers.

Edmonton is the capital of Alberta, the most westerly of the prairie provinces. While Calgary milks the wild west image, Edmonton prefers to hit the headlines for housing the world's largest shopping and entertainment mall. The city enjoys an attractively wooded riverside setting, with parklands following the snaking rhythm of the Saskatchewan River. The province's famed mineral legacy is explored in the Provincial Museum, and there's also Canada's largest planetarium, unsurprisingly accompanied by an IMAX theatre. The gem south of the river is Old Strathcona, a residential area of gorgeous old buildings dating from 1891, interspersed with cafes, bookshops and buskers. Which it appears you won't find in all 48 hectares (118 acres) of the West Edmonton Mall, aka the mall that ate Edmonton's retail life. The 800 shops are tacky and repetitive, the chains are too-well represented, and the 'entertainment' includes an artificial beach and skating rink - but the climate is controlled, and for the frost-bitten denizens of the Canadian Plains that's probably reason enough for the mall's success.

Perched on one of the world's largest natural harbours, fog-bound Halifax has gone from old-salt port to deluxe destination, with its historic areas gussied up into sleek tourist precincts. More and more travellers are setting course for Nova Scotia's capital.

Most of Halifax's attractions centre, unsurprisingly, around a maritime theme. The city was the base of rescue operations for the Titanic tragedy and so nabbed much of the highly sought-after flotsam. Its museums, historic warehouses and downtown area, and landmark fort all have a salty flavour.

The immense Northwest Territories were subdivided in 1999 to create Canada's newest territory, the eastern Arctic Inuit region of Nunavut. It's a wild and isolated place, stretching north above the tree line from Hudson Bay up to Ellesmere Island National Park, within spitting distance of the North Pole. The provincial capital is Iqaluit, formerly called Frobisher Bay, on the east coast of Baffin Island. It's more a stopping-off and supply spot than an attraction in itself, though there are hiking trails in the vicinity. Most visitors pass through en route to Auyuittuq National Park, Canada's third largest national park, and one of only a few in the world north of the Arctic Circle. The pristine wilderness of mountains, valleys, fjords and meadows is a spectacular must for experienced hikers, and climbers flock to Mount Thor (1500m/4920ft), the tallest uninterrupted cliff face on earth.

Quebec City
Québec City, the rather European-flavoured capital of Québec province, borrows some of its grandeur from a lofty cape and some from its broad river.

The city divides between an Old Town bristling with historic ramparts, churches, narrow lanes and former battlefields, and districts revamped with museums, cafes, bars, restaurants and all the other mod-cons of international tourism.

St John's
Newfoundland & Labrador's rugged island capital is St John's, North America's oldest city (1528). The hilly town is splendidly located on a series of terraces rising up from the waterfront - there are stairs, stairs everywhere, leading to narrow, winding streets lined with multicoloured clapboard houses. St John's has a quaint, homey feel, and reminders of its fishing village origins are never far away. Not coincidentally, the number of drinking establishments in town is huge. The legacy of the extinct Beothuk tribe who once lived here is explored at the Newfoundland Museum, as are the exploits of the Vikings who used to visit. Many of St John's old buildings were destroyed in the Great Fire of 1892, but those that remain include the Murray Premises, a renovated warehouse from the 1840s. Signal Hill, overlooking the town to the east, is the site where Marconi received the first transatlantic wireless message back in 1901. On the other side of the hill is the picturesque fishing port of Quidi Vidi, complete with microbrewery and historic fort.

Montréal's charm lies in its relaxed atmosphere rather than its star attractions. Nonetheless, this city of immigrants has managed to carve out a place for itself as Québec Province's economic and cultural centre. That it's friendly and easy to get around helps.

The old town of Montréal is a wonderful feast for the senses. The streets are filled with musicians, restaurants, groovy shops and squares. Grab an outside table, shut your eyes and take in the smells, sounds and general atmosphere of bonhomie.

There aren't many cities in the world that offer Vancouver's combination of big-city lifestyle and outdoor fun in such cheek-by-jowl proximity. Ski in the morning, sail in the afternoon and still make it back to town in time for a cocktail or three.

Taking in some First Nations art and culture is a good way to begin a tour through Vancouver. Continue through its many green spaces, its countercultural and cosmopolitan neighbourhoods, and Gastown, the city's original settlement, now transformed into a gussied-up historical quarter.

Canada's wild west begins in the prairie province of Manitoba, and Winnipeg is its capital. But this culturally alive city is anything but provincial: with its US ambience and architecture, it's often compared to its grain-handling, transportation counterpart, Chicago. The similarities don't end there, as Winnipeg is said to have the windiest downtown corner on the continent (steer clear of the Portage Ave and Main St intersection). Downtown is the place to head for the historic sites and museums. The Museum of Man & Nature is a sight, sound and smell-fest of dioramas that bring the lives of Plains Indians and 1920s Winnipeggers alive. The meeting place of the Red and Assiniboine Rivers has been a people magnet for 600 years and these days it's known as The Forks, a riverside recreation area of redeveloped warehouses and factories. The Exchange District is one of the city's most interesting areas, crammed with Victorian commercial buildings and featuring distinctive old advertising signs. Across the Red River, the residential district of St Boniface is one of Canada's oldest French communities, and is well worth an atmospheric wander.

Algonquin Park
East Ontario's Algonquin Park is one of Canada's best-loved parks, with a dazzling array of hiking and canoeing options. The lake-dotted semi-wilderness has 1600km (992mi) of charted canoe routes to explore, the waterfall-filled Barron Canyon to jump around in, and bear, moose and wolves to run away from. Hikers can opt for a half-hour jaunt or spend days crisscrossing the park's many trails. Algonquin Park is 300km (186mi) north of Toronto, and is accessible by bus in the summer months.

Bay of Fundy
Almost the entire southern edge of New Brunswick is licked by the constantly rising and falling waters of the Bay of Fundy, home to the world's highest tides. The Bay is dotted with the peaceful Fundy Isles, where fishing for lobster is the most strenuous thing to do. The islands include Deer Island, a wooded place of lobster wharves, whales and Old Sow, the world's second-largest natural tidal whirlpool. Campobello Island is a tranquil summer getaway for wealthy New Englanders, while Grand Manan Island, the largest of the Fundies, has spectacular coastal topography, excellent birdwatching, fine hiking trails and sandy beaches. The town of Saint John, on the Fundy Shore, can claim the actor Donald Sutherland as its own, but it's best known for the Moosehead Brewery tours that are run from mid-June through August. East of Saint John, a 12km (7.5mi) cliff-edged stretch of the Fundy Trail Parkway links the town of St Martins with Big Salmon River - it's rugged, wild, drivable, hikable and just gorgeous.

One of Canada's few accessible northern outposts, remote Churchill's lifeblood is the 1.5-day train journey linking the town with Winnipeg, Manitoba's capital, a mere 1600km (992mi) away to the south. Churchill is a major grain-handling port, but eco-tourism is an increasingly important industry for the town. Despite the subzero temperatures and minimal facilities, visitors flock to see the region's huge array of arctic wildlife - from polar bears and beluga whales to caribou and Arctic foxes - and to catch a gaudy glimpse of the aurora borealis. Churchill dubs itself the 'Polar Bear Capital of the World', and for a good reason: the town sits smack bang in the middle of the animals' migration route, and the cute but lethal white bears have been known to wander right through the township. Tours to the tundra to see the bears are Churchill's star attraction during the migration season (September-November), followed closely by May-June birdwatching and the June-August spectacle of 3000 beluga whales moving into the Churchill River.

Dawson City
When there was gold in them thar hills, Dawson City was the place to spend it. The city was built at the confluence of the Yukon and Klondike Rivers in the gold rush of 1896. At its height, Dawson City was known as 'the Paris of the North', and was home to 38,000 people; these days fewer than 2000 call the city home. It's the most interesting of the Yukon towns, with many attractions remaining from its fleeting but vibrant fling with fame and infamy. The protected buildings create a real frontier atmosphere, and with the Arctic Circle just 240km (150mi) away, they're built on permafrost. Tourist season is limited to May-September, and sights include Diamond Tooth Gertie's Gambling Hall, a re-creation of an 1898 saloon complete with honky-tonk piano and dancing girls. There's also the flamboyant Palace Grand Theatre; a museum housing 25,000 gold-rush artefacts of one kind or another; the SS Keno riverboat; the typically rustic gold-rush cabin that housed Robert Service from 1909 to 1912; a Jack London Interpretative Centre; a couple of old mines to explore; and a graveyard of paddlewheel ferries. Dawson City is a 6.5-hour bus ride north of the Yukon capital, Whitehorse.

Gaspésie Park
Jutting into the Gulf of St Lawrence, north of New Brunswick, the Gaspé Peninsula is often compared with the popular Cape Breton Island of Nova Scotia, but it's much less crowded. The excellent Gaspésie Park, in the centre of the peninsula, is a huge, rugged and undeveloped area of lakes, woods and mountains. Deer and moose amble the backwoods, and the fishing is good - but the real attraction is the hiking. Trails traverse the wonderfully named Chic Choc Mountains, culminating in Mont Jacques Cartier, at 1270m (4165ft) the highest peak in these parts. The hike to the top of the peak is shared by shy woodland caribou, and the alpine scenery and views are fantastic. Other climbs include rigorous Mont Albert and lakeside Mont Xalibu, a fine half-day return walk with superb alpine scenery, a waterfall and views of mountain lakes. The main entry to the park is from the nearby town of Sainte Anne des Monts, 300km (185mi) or so north of Quebec City.

L'Anse-aux-Meadows is the oldest European habitation site in North America. Led by Leif Eriksson, son of the Eric the Red, the Scandinavian Vikings crossed the North Atlantic in 1000 AD, becoming the first known Europeans to land in North America.

Now protected as a national park, the historic site is set on the edge of the Strait of Belle Isle, across from Labrador, in a rough, rocky northern environment. It's a fascinating place, made all the more special by the unobtrusive, low-key approach taken in its development. The Viking settlement includes replicas of sod buildings, complete with smoky scent, and there are also eight unearthed originals of wood and sod. There's an interpretive centre to help make sense of things, and if you're lucky you might be offered some Viking snacks to sample. You can also take a two-hour tour on a replica Viking ship.

Running south from Halifax is Nova Scotia's South Shore, a fogbound, jagged coast dotted with rocky coves, fishing villages and historic towns. For tourist purposes it's been dubbed the Lighthouse Route. The gorgeous little shipbuilding town of Lunenberg is a UNESCO World Heritage site, and is best-known for having built the racing schooner Bluenose back in 1921. Fishing has always been big in Lunenburg, and things haven't changed too much: Atlantic Canada's largest deep-sea fishing fleet sets sail from here, and North America's biggest fish-processing plant is located in town. Lunenburg still has the flavour and character of an 18th-century British colonial town, thanks to its tradition of wood-construction architecture, maintained since the 1750s. Other than explore the town's Fisheries Museum and beautiful old churches, the thing to do here is to just wander, taking in the wooden houses, wharves and old-fashioned streetscapes - and of course finishing up with a dinner of halibut or haddock, mussels or lobster.

Rocky Mountains
Sprawled along the Alberta-British Columbia border, the Rockies are barely contained within two gigantic national parks - Banff to the South and Jasper to the north. Banff was Canada's first official wildlife sanctuary and these days the town that lent its name to the park is the nation's number one resort spot year round. But Jasper National Park has a larger, wilder and less explored landscape on show.

Banff's glorious turquoise Moraine Lake, while in danger of suffering cliche overload, is one of Canada's most idyllic natural attractions. Connecting Banff and Jasper parks is the Columbia Icefield, a vast bowl of ice made up of about 30 glaciers and a remnant of the last Ice Age. For those not glacially inclined, the Rockies offer wildlife walks, swimming, caving, camping, hiking, canoeing, hot-spring soaking, mountain climbing and plenty of places to stay. Accommodation costs are generally lower at the Jasper end of this quintessential Canadian mountain playground.

The Prairies
Starting at the foot of the Rockies and heading out long, wide and flat through Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba is Canada's heartland prairie country. Golden fields of wheat, or sunflowers, stretch forever in these parts, and locals might be heard to sigh 'the Rocky Mountains may be nice but they get in the way of the view'. Alberta's busiest prairie attraction is the quaintly named Blackfoot Indian heritage site - Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Jump, near Fort Macleod.The massive Riding Mountain National Park is a forested oasis in the Manitoba prairies, where bison and bike riders roam. Next door in Saskatchewan the prairies are scattered with evocatively named national parks, and canoe routes often outnumber roads. Eclectic surprises here include Yorkton - north of the Crooked Lake Provincial Park - where onion-domed churches reflect the area's Ukranian heritage. Park your UFO just southeast of Yorkton, near the tiny town of Rocanville, and you'll be at one of Canada's most famous crop circle sites.

Yellowknife is the place to organise your canoe, fishing, kayak, camping, skiing and hiking requirements before heading out into the mountains, forests and treeless tundra of Canada's wild Northwest Territories. The territorial capital sits on the northern shore of Great Slave Lake, catchment basin for the mighty Mackenzie River which runs 1800km (1115mi) northwards to its delta on the Beaufort Sea. A walk around Yellowknife's Old Town takes you past wooden miners huts built during the 1934 gold rush, on streets with good-luck-turned-sour names like Ragged Ass Rd. Visit the Prince of Wales Northern Heritage Centre to learn about the lifestyles of the Dene and Inuit, or head outdoors (weather permitting) for dog-sled tours, visits to a beaver colony or guided fishing trips. The famed Northern Lights (aurora borealis) light up the fall-to-winter sky October-February with streaks and haloes of green, yellow and rose. In March the city celebrates the end of winter with the Caribou Carnival, and July explodes with the Festival of the Midnight Sun and the Folk on the Rocks music festival.


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