A guest post of Jack Leeming of Canadian your world.
Road trips are always good fun, and normally the forte of that strangest of travellers – The American. But, just like not all those who wander are lost, not all road-trippers are American. Canada has spectacular, winding roads, stunning scenery and (very importantly) cheap gas prices – Canadian gas prices are only about 10% more expensive than the US’, which, believe me, is pretty cheap.
A Canadian roadtrip would have to prioritise two things: the natural beauty of the country (immensely important) and seeing all three of the big cities: Vancouver, Toronto and Montreal. All three are very, very different from each other and deserve equal attention from a roadtripper. So, we’ve ended up travelling the entire length of the country. Excellent.
Before we go any further, I would like to remind everyone what I always remind people when they talk about roadtrips: it’s a social thing. Don’t go on your own, you will get bored. It doesn’t matter if you’re driving through the best scenery in the world if you’ve not got anyone to admire it with. Also, if you do it with someone (or better, several someones) you don’t have to be the only person driving; nor do you have to stay sober for the entire trip. Trust me: bring people.
So, a roadtrip around Canada. As I said, you’re going to want to visit all three of the big cities, which means driving from coast to coast. Don’t worry too much about going out of your way to find the natural beauty – Canada has it in abundance and if you can’t see it when you’re driving through the provinces, maybe you shouldn’t be driving at all. I suggest you start in Vancouver and head East – Vancouver’s a lovely place to start and French-speaking Montreal can be a little off-putting for a first-time visitor.
After checking out Vancouver (and the wilds around the city), head to Toronto, but take your time. If you’re in it for the countryside and the views, head north(ish) on your way to Toronto, away from the US border, on Route 16 through Edmonton – not Calgary. The drive’s going to take a while, and you have a lot of nature to see, so take your time and enjoy it. If you’re not keen on staying in a motel/hotel, feel free to rough it and sleep in the car. Don’t use a tent though – some of Canada’s wildlife, though stunning from a distance, wouldn’t be averse to trying a few pieces of human.
Head through Winnipeg down to Thunder Bay, where the views in lake country are truly, utterly stunning – there’s a reason there’s so many national parks in the area. Then head onwards to Toronto via the north side of Lake Superior, where the highway is so close you can see the water rippling, and spend a few days there experiencing the culture and eating as much as you possibly can – the food’s good here, really good. Before taking the relatively short trip across to Montreal, make sure to check out Niagara Falls from the side most people miss.
Throughout all of this, the Trans-Canadian Highway is your friend, but feel free to be a little independent and make your own way around the place. The highway is one of the best stretches of tarmac in the world, and in many parts is almost entirely deserted, but you’ll be guaranteed to have a lot more adventure if you opt for something a little different. Buy a roadmap, and see what you feel like. Happy Travels!
Oh, and if you liked this, (or hated it and want somewhere to vent your dissatisfaction) feel free to check out some more of my articles over at canadianyw.com or follow me on Twitter as @j_leeming. Thanks to foodandphotosrtw for having me!