Canada is divided into 10 provinces and three territories, covering over 3.6 million square miles as the world’s second largest country. Each one has its own unique draw when it comes to attracting visitors, with everything from beautiful beaches and dramatic mountains to vast stretches of prairie, sparkling lakes, rivers, and waterfalls.
Knowing a little about what each one offers will help you make the best decision when planning your visit to this spectacular North American nation.
The westernmost province of Canada, British Columbia is bordered by the Pacific Ocean. It’s known for its more mild climate offering some of the country’s most temperate locations, with coastal islands and a mountainous center.
Vancouver Island, just west of the cosmopolitan city of Vancouver, is home to its capital city of Victoria, with famously colorful gardens, magnificent architecture, and British ancestry which can be seen in the many tearooms and double-decker busses. The province is also known for its world-class skiing, having hosted the 2010 Winter Olympics, as well as activities like hiking, mountain biking, kayaking, and whitewater rafting.
Alberta features both mountain and prairie terrain, best known for its stretch of the Canadian Rockies shared with its western neighbor, which make it a favorite for hiking and skiing. It hosts one of Canada’s most popular events, the Calgary Stampede and it’s home to the country’s most visited national park, Banff, and four others: Jasper, Waterton, Wood Buffalo, and Elk Island.
While Edmonton and Calgary are two of its largest and most well-known cities, St. Albert real estate has become especially popular with the city often found at the top or among Canada’s best places to live.
Saskatchewan is a landlocked prairie province between Alberta and Manitoba, with Regina its capital city. It’s best-known for fishing, hunting, and its university. The University of Saskatchewan’s historic Saskatoon campus is considered one of the most magnificent in the country.
The most easterly prairie province, most residents of Manitoba live in its southern region, with the north largely uninhabited. Churchill, one of its major cities, is in the far north, known as the polar bear capital of the world.
It’s also where you can see tens of thousands of beluga whales in the Hudson River each summer, and it’s one of the top spots in the world for viewing the Northern Lights. Winnipeg is the provincial capital and largest city, with history to explore and plenty of cultural attractions, including outstanding museums and art galleries.
The most populous province, most residents of Ontario live in Ottawa, the country’s capital, around Niagara Falls at its southern border with the U.S., or in the Greater Toronto Area. In addition to Toronto’s many attractions like CN Tower which defines the city’s skyline, the province is popular for its Niagara wine region, the Bruce Trail, Algonquin Park, and many beautiful lakes.
The largest province by land, Quebec is known for its French-speaking population and rich culture, with many living in or between its two major cities, Quebec City and Montreal along or near the St. Lawrence River. Quebec City has a fabulous Old-World European feel with cobbled streets and centuries-old walls as the only remaining fortified city north of Mexico.
One of the three Maritime provinces, New Brunswick attracts visitors for its stretch of the Appalachian Range, picturesque coastline, lighthouses, and the Bay of Fundy where one can experience the highest tides in the world.
Another one of the Maritime provinces, Nova Scotia is often visited for its Cabot Trail, one of the world’s most scenic drives. It’s also known for its Celtic culture, abundant wildlife, including whales, seals, and puffins, wine country, and fresh seafood, including lobster dinners.
Prince Edward Island
Canada’s smallest province and the third of the Maritime provinces, Prince Edward Island (PEI) is primarily known for its mussels and as the setting for the novel, Anne of Green Gables.
Newfoundland and Labrador
Canada’s easternmost province includes the mainland of Labrador and Newfoundland which sits on the Atlantic, home to over 90 percent of residents. The capital city of St. John’s is famous for George Street which features the highest concentration of pubs/bars per capita in all of Canada.
Many visitors come to see icebergs in the spring and whales during the summer along the east and north coasts, while the west is home to the fjords and waterfalls of Gros Morne National Park.
Canada’s territories offer wild landscapes with long, dark, and often clear winter nights for viewing the Northern Lights. They include the Yukon, known for the historic Klondike Gold Rush, the Northwest Territories popular for rugged outdoor adventures, and Nunavut, one of the world’s most remote locations. Adventure travelers head here to witness polar bears and narwhals.