Travel Guides to Canada


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Alberta's diverse heritage is a varied off ering of First Nations history, pioneer spirit and rich immigrant culture that draws New Canadians from all parts of the globe. The annual 10-day whoop-up called the Calgary Stampede celebrates all things cowboy and rodeo early each July. Edmonton's K-Days follows up with a tribute to northern Alberta's Klondike heritage, while dozens of other festivals across the province celebrate its unique pockets of regional pride—think perogies in Vegreville, or beef jerky in Longview. From the granite spires of Waterton Lakes in Alberta's south to Wood Buff alo National Park in the rugged north, the Wild Rose province delivers hall-of-fame experiences including fi ve sprawling national parks and 300 provincial recre- ational areas such as Kananaskis Country, Cypress Hills, Writing-On-Stone and Dinosaur Provincial Park. The two biggest urban centres, Edmonton and Calgary, are cosmopolitan cities, while smaller cities including Red Deer, Grande Prairie, Fort McMurray, Medicine Hat, Lethbridge and Airdrie serve as important regional hubs for shopping, government, tourism and agriculture/industry. Alberta's dining scene is innovative and local, emphasizing Rocky Mountain cuisine such as game, fi sh and world-famous grain-fed beef. From upscale hotel dining rooms in the big city to eclectic alpine bistros in Banff , Jasper and Lake Louise, the restaurants consistently win international awards. So, too, do Alberta's major attrac- tions—like the retail city/theme park of West Edmonton Mall, or the Alberta Sports Hall of Fame in Red Deer. NATURE'S WONDERLAND Provincial recreational areas help keep Albertans and their visitors outdoors. Spread across 661,848 sq. km (255,541 sq. mi.) of pristine terrain, the fi ve major snow resorts and sprawling backcountry lure powder-hounds from November to May. Try dogsledding through the untouched Spray Lakes valley, or take a guided ice walk in frozen Maligne Canyon near Jasper. The lakes of Kananaskis Country, west of Calgary, are a paradise for ice fi shing in winter, and boating, hiking and cycling in the summer. Elk Island National Park east of Edmonton off ers a great opportunity to photograph wildlife, including its resident buff alo and, of course, elk. Rent a mountain bike in West Bragg Creek, or enjoy a more sedate bike ride on the paved path between the towns of Canmore and Lake Louise. Alberta's glacier- fed waterways—particularly the Bow and Red Deer rivers—lure anglers with the promise of top-notch trout fi shing. In the same day, visitors can play the back nine of a world-class golf course, hopscotch past cactus patches in search of ancient rock carvings in the desert, and then retire to the hotel hot tub to watch the sunset. VENTURING OUT Float your boat down a river or head for calmer waters along Lake Minnewanka or Moraine Lake in picturesque Banff National Park. Bonus: hear the crack of avalanches overhead, well out of your path but still powerful. Chase champagne powder from the top of fi rst-rate resorts such as Sunshine Village, Lake Louise or Marmot Basin, or explore them in summer to unveil a hiker's paradise of abundant wildlife and colourful carpets of wildfl owers. Canada Olympic Park in northwest Calgary has a national athlete training centre, a snow park and Olympic museum, while Peter Lougheed Provincial Park boasts unparalleled opportunities for adventure all year round. Bar U Ranch National Historic Site, south of Calgary, chronicles pioneer life from 1882-1950; this pristine setting in the shadow of the southern Rockies is featured on many postcards. Travellers with time on their hands head north to Wood Buff alo National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site with 44,807 sq. km (17,300 sq. mi.) of protected wilderness where the endangered whooping crane and the world's largest herd of free-roaming wood bison can be found. WHAT'S NEW? The highly touted National Music Centre depicts Canada's musical heritage. Built to sprawl overtop of a street running through Calgary's East Village, the fi ve-storey building, which opened last summer, features high-tech music studio space, live programs, numerous stages and theatres, and more than 2,000 instruments and artefacts spanning several centuries ( The relocated Royal Alberta Museum is scheduled to reopen later this year. The new facility, including exhibit space devoted to human history, a children's gallery, bug room and Manitou Stone Gallery, will be the largest museum in western Canada ( Renovations have made the popular Banff Gondola terminal more accessible and also more informative. It now features a sparkling new mountaintop indoor interpretive centre to accompany the existing exterior boardwalk and hiking trails. Open year- round, it aff ords spectacular views of nearby peaks as well as the town of Banff ( CITY LIGHTS Alberta's two major cities off er quite diff erent insights into the province, though they share a love of green space, sprawling river pathways and tidy, bustling downtowns. The provincial capital of Edmonton is a government city with a grand legislature building, a thriving arts community and numerous galleries, craft stores and art shops. Most can be found along trendy Whyte Avenue or in the downtown arts ICEFIELDS PARKWAY • KRISTINA CAJIPE AB 71

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