Travel Guides to Canada


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SWIMMERS The beaver, Canada's national symbol, is a big, aquatic rodent with a large fl at tail like a paddle and prized thick fur. Found in waterways throughout Canada, beavers are industrious, felling trees with their sharp buckteeth and building lodges and dams. Primarily nocturnal, beavers are best viewed at dusk. A Beaver Boardwalk winds through wetlands and past a beaver pond in Hinton, Alberta. Beluga whales, not much bigger than dolphins and white in colour, are called the canaries of the sea for their constant singing. Every summer about 3,000 belugas gather in the Churchill River delta in northern Manitoba. You can get close by boat tour and listen to them chattering via a hydrophone. Belugas are so gentle you can swim among them—a once-in-a-lifetime experience. Orca, a.k.a. killer whales, cruise all oceans, but are particularly abundant around Johnstone Strait near northeastern Vancouver Island and in the Salish Sea near Victoria. Extremely intelligent animals who live in matrilineal pods, their high dorsal fi ns slice elegantly through the water. Numerous boat tours are off ered. You may also see grey whales up to 15 m (49 ft.) long, especially around Tofi no during their migration twice a year in March and October, as well as dolphins, seals and sea lions. The east coast and the St. Lawrence River are also prime sources for whale watching. Every summer some 15 species of whales including minke, humpback, fi nback and the right whale come to the Bay of Fundy to mate, play and feast on the bountiful food churned up twice daily by the powerful tides. Salmon live in both the Atlantic and Pacifi c oceans and are renowned for spawning, that is fi ghting their way upstream to lay eggs and die in the same freshwater location where they were hatched. Spawning salmon, the lifeblood of the west coast, provide food for bears, foxes, wolves, eagles and more, who then fertilize the forest with their droppings. Spawning salmon can be seen in fall and the fi rst half of winter at many locations, often far inland. FLYERS Featured on our dollar coin, loons are duck-sized birds, regally patterned in black and white. Excellent swimmers, they catch small fi sh in fast underwater chases. Other than in the extreme north, their eerie, echoing calls can be heard on numerous lakes across Canada, especially in the Canadian Shield. The bald eagle, a noble raptor with a 2-m (6.6-ft.) wingspan, builds enormous nests in tall trees across most of North America. The bald eagle, with its white head and tail, is particularly abundant in western British Columbia. The best time to see eagles in B.C. is in fall and the fi rst half of winter when they gather, sometimes in the thousands, at spawning rivers such as at Brackendale and the upper Harrison River. Canada geese are so common across the country they have become a pest on some golf courses and parks. In the air, however, they fl y in an elegant V-formation. Once BIGHORN SHEEP, LAKE MINNEWANKA, AB • SHUTTERSTOCK/NATALIA PUSHCHINA 42

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