Elizabeth II has visited Canada over twenty times since she has been on the throne. Her first visit was in 1957 when she visited the elegant Canadian capital, Victorian Ottawa and next in 1959 for her first major tour as the ruling monarch when she visited all provinces and territories in six weeks. She has visited Canada to mark other landmark events such as in 1967 for Canada’s 100th anniversary and the 1976 Olympic Games in the French Canadian capital, Montreal. She officially opened the Games which Princess Anne was competing in as a member of the British equestrian team. In 1977 she visited for her Silver Jubilee, in 1978 for the Commonwealth Games, in 1992 to mark the 125th anniversary of Confederation and the 40th anniversary of her accession to the throne and in 2002 for the Golden Jubilee.
It is not surprising that the Queen has visited Canada on so many occasions as it is a country of superlatives and together with its sheer scale gives it a most intriguing and formidable quality. Canada is the size of a continent stretching from its boundary with Alaska to the most remote wilderness of North America and is home to a vast array of natural beauty and amazing diversity from unspoilt, wildlife wilderness to history-rich centres of culture and cuisine and activity-laden mountains and coastline.
A highlight of a visit to Canada is a sighting of the famous grizzly brown bear in its natural habitat and a unique way to do this is to travel inland to the depths of the wilderness by light aircraft to British Colombia’s Great Bear Rainforest.
The majestic Great Canadian Rockies offer some of the most spectacular scenery on the planet with snow-capped mountain peaks, virgin forests, lush alpine meadows, towering waterfalls and plummeting canyons bejewelled with swirling rivers that glitter into turquoise lakes below.
The Rockies offer some of the world’s best climbing, hiking, biking, riding, paddling, fishing and skiing and this is where we headed for our family holiday.
We drove to sparkling Lake Louise and past stunning Victoria Glacier to Banff, the pretty capital of the Rockies for some exhilarating exploration. We soared into the mountains on the Banff Gondola with breathtaking views in all directions, and then set off on a trail in search of Canada’s big five – grizzly bears, moose, bison, mountain lions and wolves which all roam wild. Returning to Banff with rejuvenated souls, it was time to soothe the body with a wonderful soak in the hot mineral springs followed by a delicious feast in Wild Bill’s saloon!
Having made a detour for some dinosaur fossil hunting, we then headed to Calgary for the July cowboy extravaganza heralded ‘The Greatest Outdoor Show on Earth’, the Calgary Stampede. The party atmosphere was electric with everyone dressed in cowboy attire and everything cowboy themed. The event is one of the largest rodeos in the world, with shows, wagon racing and parades and was a unique and wonderful spectacle polar opposite from the dazzling wilderness of the Rockies.
We plan to visit multiple times and fit in a six week royal tour like the Queen to soak up more of Canada’s wonderful treasures, but the wild stories and memories of the mountain scenery, fabulous wildlife, delicious food and hospitable Canadians will last us a lifetime.