With the Canadian dollar being what it is these days, many people are considering taking their summer vacations on this side of the border this year. Gas prices also remain relatively low right now, making for the perfect conditions for a cross-Canada road trip.
Where should you go? What should you see? Aggregating data from their millions of users, the folks over at TripAdvisor have announced their annual list of Traveler’s Choice Awards. Here are the most popular attractions and historical sites this country has to offer.
Canada’s 10 most beloved landmarks for travellers
10. Fortress of Louisbourg National Historic Site, Louisbourg, Nova Scotia
The original settlement was made in 1713. Subsequently, the fishing port grew to become a major commercial port and a strongly defended fortress. By the mid-1740s Louisbourg was one of the grandest European fortifications in North America. In 1758, it was captured by the British, and its fortifications were destroyed.
The fortress and town were partially reconstructed in the 1960s and 1970s, using some of the original stonework. The site is operated by Parks Canada as a living history museum.
9. Cape Spear Lighthouse, St. John’s, Newfoundland and Labrador
Located on the Avalon Peninsula near St. John’s, Newfoundland, Cape Spear is the easternmost point in Canada. A lighthouse has operated at Cape Spear since 1836.
The lighthouse is the oldest surviving lighthouse in Newfoundland and the location has been designated a National Historic Site of Canada. The original lighthouse building and the light keeper’s residence have since been restored to the period of 1839, and are open to the public.
8. Peggy’s Cove Lighthouse, Peggy’s Cove, Nova Scotia
The original lighthouse at Peggy’s Cove was built in 1868 and was a wooden house with a kerosene-lit beacon on the roof to mark the eastern entrance of St. Margaret’s Bay. Today, Peggy’s Cove Lighthouse is still an active lighthouse and an iconic Canadian landmark. It is one of the most popular tourist attractions in Nova Scotia. (The lighthouse is officially known as the Peggy’s Point Lighthouse.)
7. Signal Hill, St. John’s Newfoundland and Labrador
Signal Hill overlooks the city of St. John’s. Due to its strategic placement overlooking the harbour, fortifications have been built on the hill since the mid 17th century. Today the Cabot Tower on Signal Hill is a national historic site offering a taste of history and breathtaking views of the city and harbour. (Also, on December 12th, the first transatlantic wireless transmission was received at this site by Guglielmo Marconi.)
6. Casa Loma, Toronto, Ontario
Toronto’s castle is a Gothic Revival style house and gardens in midtown Toronto, near Spadina and Davenport roads. Built from 1911 to 1914 as a private residence for financier Sir Henry Mill Pellatt, Casa Loma is now a museum and landmark.
Parts of the castle may look familiar to you. Due to its unique architectural character in Toronto, Casa Loma has been a popular filming location for many movies and television programs.
5. St. Joseph’s Oratory of Mount Royal, Montreal, Quebec
St. Joseph’s Oratory is a Roman Catholic basilica and national shrine on Westmount Summit in Montreal, Quebec. It is also Canada’s largest church. On display in the basilica is a wall covered with thousands of crutches from those who came to the basilica and were purportedly healed.
Pope John Paul II deemed the miracles to be authentic and beatified Brother André in 1982. In October 2010 Pope Benedict XVI canonized the saint. A reliquary in the church museum contains Brother André’s heart.
More than 2 million visitors and pilgrims visit the Oratory every year.
4. Capilano Suspension Bridge Park, North Vancouver, British Columbia
As the name implies, Capilano Suspension Bridge is a suspension bridge crossing the Capilano River in the District of North Vancouver. The bridge was originally built in 1889, and has been rebuilt numerous times since, most recently in 1956. It is 140 metres long and hangs 70 metres above the river. It is part of a private facility, Capilano Suspension Bridge Park, with an admission fee. This landmark attracts over 800,000 visitors a year.
3. Parliament Hill and Buildings, Ottawa, Ontario
Commonly known as ‘The Hill,’ Parliament Hill, is an area of Crown land on the southern banks of the Ottawa River in downtown Ottawa, Ontario. Originally the site of a military base in the 18th and early 19th centuries, The Hill is the home of the Parliament of Canada and numerous architectural elements of national symbolic importance. Free guided tours are available daily, including the opportunity to climb the Peace Tower for an incredible view of the city below.
2. CN Tower, Toronto, Ontario
Built on the former Railway Lands, the CN Tower was completed in 1976, becoming the world’s tallest free-standing structure and the world’s tallest tower at the time. (It held those records until the completion of Burj Khalifa and Canton Tower in 2010.) It is now the world’s third tallest tower and remains the tallest free-standing structure in the Western Hemisphere.
A signature icon of Toronto’s skyline, and a symbol of Canada, the CN Tower contains the 360 Restaurant – a revolving restaurant, a gift shop, and multiple observation levels. It attracts more than two million international visitors annually. Walk on the glass floors of the observation deck and look down. I dare you.
1. Notre-Dame Basilica, Montreal, Quebec
Originally constructed between 1824 and 1829, Notre-Dame is a basilica in the historic neighbourhood of Old Montreal. The church’s Gothic Revival architecture is among the most dramatic in the world. It is filled with hundreds of intricate wooden carvings and religious statues. The stained glass windows depict the religious history of Montreal.
Notre-Dame Church was raised to the status of basilica by Pope John Paul II in 1982. The funerals of Maurice “Rocket” Richard, and former Prime Minister Pierre Eliot Trudeau took place here, as did the wedding of Celine Dion to René Angélil. (A memorial for Angélil was also held in January of this year.)
The basilica now charges visitors $5.00 for admission unless they are there to attend mass. “And Then There Was Light,” a sound and light show detailing the history of the church, is also offered in the evening, Tuesday through Saturday.
TripAdvisor also recently released a list of the top destinations for travel in Canada.