The “east coast” of Canada is diverse and gigantically large. We crossed New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, took the ferry to the easternmost province of Canada – Newfoundland & Labrador (leaving out Labrador itself), crossed Nova Scotia and New Brunswick again and stopped in the smallest province of Canada: Prince Edward Island or PEI. Then we crossed the largest of all provinces, the French-speaking Quebec, and finally reached Ontario with the capital of Canada: Ottawa. After Toronto and a visit to the touristy but beautiful Niagara Falls, we returned to the United States. USA again? Why that? Later more ?
Canada – Newfoundland
Looking back, I would like to write a few words about Newfoundland. The small (not the smallest) province of Canada is different. Most of the Canadians, we met on our travels, have never been there. Newfoundland, discovered in 1497 by the Italian Giovanni Caboto, does not follow the Canadian time. And quite literally. Newfoundland has its own time zone, which deviates half an hour from the eastern Canadian time.
Although Newfoundland lives on tourism and fishing, the island seems not prepared for it. Food is expensive and not really fresh. And I’m not talking about pineapple or fresh strawberries. Hotels, Motels or similar not really represented. The public campsites in “good condition” are very basic and of course completely overbooked in the high season. Of course, fuel is expensive.
As a traveler, you feel like you’re on a journey through time. Back in a time when survival was more important than luxury. So you look for beautiful restaurant, organic, gluten-free, sugar-free or other “healthy” food in vain. The few “modern” facilities, such as the famous Fogo Island hotel, are priceless for average earners.
The nature of Newfoundland is breathtaking. Barren areas covered only with mosses alternate with forests, in between water, rivers, lakes, streams and ponds and of course the sea, which never seems to stand still and is always transformed by the wind in restless, whipped up, unfriendly bathing something. The countless Blackflies and Horseflies make a “being outside” a test of courage and a struggle for survival. We have heard from many locals that the little bloodsuckers disappeared in mid-August, but we did not really believe that. It would be as if someone wants to tell you that at a certain time of the year no people would be in Manhattan.
Canada – Nova Scotia
A popular in and out region. Canadians like to migrate from here to the west and Europeans like to enter this part of Canada. I can not say that we had a great exploration of Nova Scotia, so I can only write about the north-east of the peninsula – Cape Breton.
The island is known for its scenic beauty. Rugged cliffs, wide bays, narrow valleys and dark coniferous forests cover this part of Nova Scotia. The approximately 300km long Cabot Trail is certainly one of the most beautiful panoramic roads in North America. Anyone who has driven the Pacific Coast Highway No. 1 in California before, experiences little new here.
On every corner of Cape Breton, we met Alexander Graham Bell, the inventor of the first usable phone. The Edinburgh-born Scottish immigrated to Canada with his parents in 1870 and spent 33 summer months on Cape Breton.
Canada – New Brunswick
I can not say much about New Brunswick. Although we crossed this province from south to north and from east to west, I could not grasp the character of this part of eastern Canada. Only interesting is the Bay of Fundy. The 30km long Bay between New Brunswick and Nova Scotia is about 300 meters deep and up to 30 km wide. In the Bay of Fundy we were able to observe the natural spectacle of the largest tidal change in the world. When the tide changes from tide to tide every 12.5 hours, the water drops or rises by an average of 9 meters. We read that a tidal range of 21m was measured at Moncton.
Canada – Prince Edward Island
For about 20 years, the smallest province in Canada is no longer an island. At 12.9 km in length, the Conferderation Bridge is the longest bridge in Canada and connects the island of Prince Edward Island with the mainland and thus with the province of New Brunswick.
P.E.I. As the island is often called, with 5500 km2 is not only Canada’s smallest province, but also the most densely populated rural region and you can tell. Hardly a spot that was not drawn by human hands. Fields, houses, villages and more fields, surrounded by sea. Granted very dirty and not at all bath-friendly sea. It was extremely interesting to find such a densely populated region in the middle of Canada’s east.
Canada – Quebec
Quebec is the largest of all Canadian provinces, with 1.7 million km2 – about 5 times the size of Germany. With only about 8 million people, the average population is about 6 per km2 (230 in Germany). Most people in Quebec live in the south of the province in urban metropolises like Montreal and Quebec City. In the north, which is also considered the beautiful area of the French-speaking province, there are beautiful lakes for camping, hiking and canoeing. If there were not also the nasty mosquitoes, blackflies and horseflies.
Of particular note and our favorite in this province is Montreal. The approximately 375-year-old city is a unique example of the East-Canadian province. It connects European and American cities and has developed its own character.
Vieux-Montreal is the largest Old Town on the North American continent. We experienced the old, cobblestone streets with the old carefully and partly elaborately restored houses from the 17 and 18 Century. We enjoyed some of the countless sidewalk cafes and restaurants that all came up with the best quality.
Quebec City is known as the most French-seeming city in Canada. In some places, the city tries to imitate Paris so much that it seems to lose its own character. For those who do not know Paris, this makes no difference ?
The huge Chateau Frontenach is the landmark of the city and was built in 1892 on behalf of the Canadian-Pacific Railway Company. The magnificent Fairmont Hotel, housed in the Chateau, now has 500 rooms and several conference rooms, and like most Fairmont hotels with historic interiors and tasteful rooms and restaurants.
Although the province of Quebec – like Canada – is or should be bilingual, you do not know anything about it here. French Canadians usually shrug their shoulders, mumbling something in French when addressed in English.
Canada – Ontario
Toronto, Ontario’s 3 million capital city, is Canada’s largest city and the fifth largest city in North America after New York, Chicago, Los Angeles and Mexico City.
Ontario itself, the second largest province in Canada and the densely populated with 14 million inhabitants. Kensington Market was the clear highlight for us. An artist and homeless neighborhood that has probably seen better times. The number of different people, restaurants, bars is overwhelming. Kensington Market also seems to be a popular movie set. We stumbled into a movie set twice. Once to the series “The Boys” and once to a series whose name I can not remember. Both times we recognized an actor.
In Toronto we visited our first baseball game. Ever. Canada’s only baseball team, the “Blue Jays,” competed against the Minnesota “Twins” at the large covered Roger Station. To be honest, I have no idea how it went and why. Baseball seems to be the most boring ball sport of all time. It’s downright soporific to focus on the game. Much more interesting is the social component of the sport. It is laughed, danced (no joke), talked, done businesses and now and then follows a brief look at the game. Talking to a hot dog about the events of the week with his partner or a “father – son time” seems to be the actual meaning of a baseball game.
The numerous courses and food stands for beer and hot dogs are also a popular meeting place, in countless breaks of the game. If something exciting happens, it can be tracked on the countless TVs that are mounted every few meters.
Ottawa, the capital of Canada, seems to have been conceived as such. The most interessing “thing” there is the Rideau Canal system. It is a chain of interconnected rivers and lakes stretching between Kingston and Ottawa over 202km. The system was conceived in 1812, when the British colonies felt threatened by the Americans and the St. Lawrence River no longer seemed sufficiently secure. Countless locks balance a wide range of water levels. Funny and very interesting to observe is that all locks are operated by hand by the National Park Service.
Who does not know the Niagara Falls. These huge waterfalls are remnants of the ice age. When the huge ice masses melted about 50,000 years ago, the “Great Lakes” between Canada and the USA remained behind. The Niagara River has to overcome a difference in altitude of about 110 meters between Lake Erie and Lake Ontario. Voila: Niagara Falls.
The Falls are better seen from the Canadian side than the US side. On both sides it is extremely touristy. Hotels, ziplines, casinos, helicopter tours, amusement parks, motor cards, gondola rides, walks behind the falls, a boat ride into the spray of falls, jetboats, bars, restaurants, lookout towers and much more. In the evening, the falls are lit in all colors and there is a fireworks display that can compete with any New Year’s fireworks I know.