12 reasons why I love this country.
The above is not my statement. It derives from David Goldstein, President & CEO of Destination Canada. And it just nails it down. Well, there may be some areas which get a bit cold from time to time (I know my Canadian friends will now have a smile on their faces...) but the coolness of this vast country is more than obvious. You certainly know the stereotypes about Canada – mountains, forests, lakes, solitude and lumberjacks. True - but this country is so much more. I owe Canada a big part of my professional career – and have enjoyed so much sympathy from Canadians (well, with a very few exceptions ... ;-)). Whenever I attended private functions over the past 20 years and was asked about my job, people just said “WOW” when I told them I was working for Canada. I am so grateful for this. And here are my very personal 12 reasons why I love this big big country (and still work for it).
Photo: KHL attending a tourism marketplace in Ottawa, Ontario
1) Nature XXL
This is not new to anyone, right? Sure, we have breathtaking nature in Europe and many other parts of the world. But go, for instance, to the Yukon. Drive for hours trough pristine wilderness without seeing any human being (chances are better to view a bear). Take a bush plane and fly over Kluane National Park (watch out for Mount Logan, Canada`s highest mountain with almost 6,000 m) and you know what I mean. I had tears in my eyes (and not only me...) when we landed after an hour of incredible flightseeing. By the way, I have written a blog about this experience, which you will find on this page.
Photo: Flightseeing over Kluane National Park, Yukon
Not to forget the wild animals: black bears, grizzlies, moose, lynx, muskox and all kinds of whales. I have seen them all – except for a moose. 100 trips to Canada (even more than to Spain which is sort of my second home...) and no moose – apart from trying moose stew in the Yukon in the early 90s, just shortly before I became a vegetarian (for a good reason...). So – I will keep travelling this great country until I see that damn, big, gorgeous moose in its natural habitat!
Photo: Orca close to Victoria, British Columbia
2) Cities close to Nature.
You will get skyscrapers for sure. Toronto, Canada`s largest city with over 4 million people, has an impressive skyline and is fast becoming a fierce competitor to New York (no kidding!). Bustling Montreal is the second largest French-speaking city in the world after Paris (no worries, people also speak English...) and seduces with European charm, mixed with North-American way of life. And Vancouver ... well, this is for me the perfect mix between city and nature. Mountains, rain forests and the sea in combo with hip urban lifestyle – what else can you expect from a big city? And the list goes on. Calgary with its Stampede - the largest outdoor show on earth. Ottawa, the cozy capital with British charm. Quebec City ... it cannot get more “frenchy” (with stunning nature just next door) and Victoria, the beauty on the West Coast. All of them have one thing in common: gorgeous nature right at their doorstep. Moreover, most Canadian cities are pretty safe and clean. They always appear in the Top 10 of the most livable cities in the world – for very good reasons!
Photo: Toronto, Ontario – CN Tower and Ritz Carlton Hotel
3) The People
Well, those Canadians. Canada is a true melting pot. First Nations, Europeans (this includes Brits ;-), Africans, Asians, Aussies – they are all here. Ah – and two official languages, of course. Immigration and integration has worked better in Canada than in most other countries (the German Government does well by sending politicians there to learn how to do this). Canadian hospitality is legendary. It is easy to talk to people. They make you feel comfortable. No wonder that some years ago Germans answered “Canada“ when they were asked in which country of this world they would love to have a friend. And according to the latest Global Nation Brand Index, Canada ranks first as "Most Welcoming Country in 2015"!
Let me quickly tell you an anecdote: a few years ago, I escorted a group of Germans to Nova Scotia. At one point, we lost our way, stopped the car and studied the map in order to get back on track (no GSP!). An older lady working in her big garden saw us from afar – she dropped her equipment, came all the way up to us and asked if she could be of some help - just so Canadian!
Photo: Canada`s First Nations in Edmonton, Alberta
Yes, let`s call it that way. Canada is a free and liberal country. You can live the way you want unless you disturb anyone. There are equal rights for everyone – irrespective of gender, ethnic origin or sexual orientation – as long as you respect the laws and values, which include freedom and respect. Can one ask for more? No better place than Canada for the brand-new Canadian Museum for Human Rights in Winnipeg – the only museum in the world devoted to the concept of human rights. Awesome architecture on top!
Photo: Museum for Human Rights in Winnipeg, Manitoba (Courtesy of the Museum)
5) Canadian Lifestyle.
Sure, there are people who are stressed, even burned out. Not everything that shines is gold. But still, I feel Canadians are more relaxed than Europeans. Work hard, play hard (oh yes, these guys are party animals!). Everyone seems to have a cottage to spend the summer weekends there (hmmm ... maybe I am exaggerating...). They hike, play golf, go camping and are great skiers. It all seems so easy. Golf is so common, not an elite sport like in Germany. And would you drive for 3 hours just to have coffee with aunt Dorothy? Canadians do. In remote areas, they might just use a floatplane – or a skidoo in winter. Nature is always so close. Relax – you are in Canada!
Photo: Canoeing in Quebec
6) Canadian Creativity.
YES! This country is so much more than mountains and lakes. There is a whole bunch of innovation and creativity. Just to name the world-famous Cirque du Soleil as an example – an unrivaled mix of entertainment and acrobatics with the best artists from all over the world. And no animals for heaven sake! – The list of worldwide known musicians is endless – from Céline Dion, Avril Lavigne, Diana Krall, Michael Bublé, Bryan Adams to Nickelback, just to name a very few (oops, I forgot Justin Bieber, of course!). My dear friend Anna Maria Kaufmann, an award-winning, internationally known musical star and soprano, was born in Alberta, Canada! Many famous Hollywood movies were shot in Canada – and needless to say that some of the best actors and film directors are Canadian (Neve Campbell, Donald Sutherland, Ryan Gosling, Keanu Reeves, James Cameron...). And sure …good old Pam Anderson is also ... Canadian ;-)! The list is endless. Let me also mention that my favorite architect Frank Gehry was born in Toronto. Margret Atwood and Michael Ondaatje (“The English Patient”) – world-famous authors and - Canadians. - The Automotive Fuel Cell Cooperation Coop in Burnaby, British Columbia, is one of the world`s leading company to develop next-generation technology for zero-emission automobiles, so much needed! These are just a very few examples for innovation, creativity and talent. The world needs definitely more Canada!
Photo: Anna Maria Kaufmann (“Phantom of the Opera”) and KHL
7) The Prime Minister.
What? Yes. Finally Canada has that upbeat guy everyone will remember: good-looking, outgoing and efficient at the same time. And I was blown away when I met Canada`s new Minister of Small Business and Tourism, the Honorable Bardish Chagger: young, charming, charismatic and with Indian background – wow! Who needs boring politicians? Not me – coming from a country that has seen Angela Merkel in power for so many years. Ooops, I better stop here. This is not a political blog.
Photo: So happy to chat with the Honorable Bardish Chagger during the Rendezvous Canada marketplace in Montreal
8) Food. And Wine.
Canadian wines? I don`t remember how often I looked into surprised faces when talking about this. Yes, Canada has wines. And good ones. Remember – not every part of this country gets friggin’ cold. There are wonderful wineries in British Columbia, Ontario, Quebec and even in Nova Scotia. Wine also means lifestyle: great food, good restaurants. You will have all of that in Canada (apart from fast food, just to add ;-)). Sure, the country is known for meat (XXL steaks) and seafood but vegetarians and even vegans will find their gastro haven. Moreover, Canadians will hardly ever ask those stupid questions about why being a vegetarian. They are so used to it. Promised!
Photo: Wine tasting in Nova Scotia
9) The Coffeeshops.
Sounds crazy? – Not for an espresso lover. You will find many Starbucks and Tim Horton`s - not really my stuff. However, luckily there is more. My favorites are the outlets of „Caffé Artigiano“ in Alberta and BC – best espresso west of Milan and delicious Italian goodies. And they open early, some of them at 6 am! At that time German baristas are still in deep sleep. - The days where you could not differentiate tea from coffee in Canada (and I know what I am talking about…) are long gone. Thank God!
Photo: Coffeeshop in Montreal, Quebec
10) Fancy Hotels and stunning Resorts.
I have to admit that the Canadian hotel scene was a bit boring until the 90s. Luckily, this has changed big time: tons of great new hotels in the big cities. And awesome resorts the „Canadian Style“ out in the wilderness. The Sonora Resort, Nimmo Bay and the Wickanninish Inn in British Columbia come to mind. Or the Ritz Carlton in Toronto, with its glorious views of the CN Tower. The first five-star resort in the Northwest Territories will open in 2017 – the Solstice Lodge where you will have the opportunity to watch the famous Northern lights in a luxurious ambiance. Fogo Island is a rather new project in Atlantic Canada – a stunning 5 star property with fancy art studios all over that tiny little island just next to Newfoundland.
Photo: Truly Canadian – the Nimmo Bay Wilderness Resort in British Columbia
Photo: Fogo Island Inn, Newfoundland/Labrador – Courtesy of Ole Helmhausen
11) Float Planes
They are so Canadian. You can reach some regions and even resorts just by this means of transport. You don`t have to go to very remote areas to spot them. When staying in beautiful Vancouver you will see them every few minutes. There is a terminal almost in the middle of the city – how cool is that? Just hop on this little aircraft and fly over the Pacific to beautiful Victoria, all in a day. Or sip your coffee on the beautiful walkway at Coal Harbour and just watch them coming and going.
Photo: Float Plane in the Yukon
12) Fall Foliage
Yes, we have great fall colors in Europe. But still – the so-called Indian Summer in Eastern Canada (Ontario, Quebec and parts of the Atlantic Provinces) is just spectacular. With the first frost at night the maple leaves turn red. No wonder they have become THE icon of this country. Drive through the provincial parks on a mild and sunny early fall day and just marvel at this miracle created by Mother Nature – breathtaking.
Well, that was my kind of personal love letter. Nothing sponsored, just my very personal opinion. And only a little piece of what this immense country has to offer.
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