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3 weeks in Canada February 2014

Sydney
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3 weeks in Canada February 2014

Hi everyone,

I am travelling to Canada in a weeks' time and I'm finalizing the last leg of my trip .. was hoping to get some suggestions.

My current itinerary is as below:

Sydney - Toronto - Niagara - Montreal - Quebec - <<<BLANK>>>> - Vancouver

This takes me to about half way through my trip. Between Quebec and Vancouver, I want to see the Rockies (and ski for a day or two), go dog sledding, see the Northern Lights, go ice fishing. Was hoping to see polar bears too, however I know that that's not going to happen in Feb!

Can anyone please advise the best places between Quebec and Vancouver for the three activities above? I have about 6 days between Quebec and Vancouver (including time at the Rockies). Are there any other MUST-SEE things that I can do between these two locations within that time frame?

Thanks so much for any advice!!!

Vancouver, Canada
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1. Re: 3 weeks in Canada February 2014

Its not a great time for travel in Canada. For the Rockies and Banff, you need to fly to Calgary. For the Northern Lights, you need to fly to Yellowknife. Six days isn't really quite time to do both unless you have a really large budget. Ice fishing is more of an Ontario thing I think.

Toronto
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2. Re: 3 weeks in Canada February 2014

If your interests are winter activities (skiing, dog sledding, ice fishing), it's not necessarily a bad time to travel in Canada. I agree that you should just fly from central Canada (Toronto, Montreal or QC) to Calgary if you're going to the Rockies, or to Vancouver if you decide to go skiing closer to there instead. The Rockies are the mountain range along the Alberta-BC border, and they're great in terms of top national parks etc, but the whole of BC is full of mountains and ski resorts.

You don't say how long your total trip is, so we're just assuming it's long enough to cover both central and western Canada, which I'm sure you realize are quite far apart.

Ice fishing happens throughout Canada, but yes Ontario is particularly big on it, and there are great opportunities even within public transportation range of Toronto.

Going way up north to places where the Northern Lights would be a strong possibility would add a lot of expense to your trip. Wherever you go in Canada, if you're outside the city on a clear night you have some chance of seeing them, obviously the farther north the better, but unless this is a really strong part of your desire I'd probably pass on a destination trip specifically for them.

All bears are denned up in February.

Montreal
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3. Re: 3 weeks in Canada February 2014

Probably the easiest place to go ice fishing would be in the Old Port of Montréal, by the clock tower (so its eastern edge) -- see http://www.montrealgazette.com/sports/Port+offers+urban+fishing/9364943/story.html

Similarly, you can go dog sledding at the Fête des neiges, although it ends February 9th so you may not be in Montréal in time :( And it's not the same as doing it out in the wilderness like real places do, but then again, it's accessible by métro :).

Close to Québec City there are a few winter places around that offer dog sledding and ice fishing -- say bonjourquebec.com/qc-en/attractions-director… or bonjourquebec.com/qc-en/accommodation-direct… although surf a little and you'll find a few more suggestions.

If you really have 6 days to fill up, I would suggest adding Ottawa on your list if you like museums and such -- as a city, it's not that impressive in the winter (although skating on the Rideau Canal is famous), but its museums and other institutions are top notch, and it will give you another view of Eastern Canada aside from Toronto, Niagara Falls, Montréal, and Québec. Or, if you want more nature and less city, head further north to the Charlevoix or Saguenay region, where you have majestic mountains, and will be a precursor to the Rockies and the coast mountains of B.C. (which are even more impressive).

Sydney
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4. Re: 3 weeks in Canada February 2014

Thanks so much for all the posts.

Really great to know that I can do dog sledding and ice fishing in Quebec and/or Toronto and/or Montreal ... I will definitely look into the suggested sites / companies - thank you. I could probably fit these activities into the first 1.5 weeks then save the free 6 days for either more skiing or Northern Lights ... though yes, that is definitely an expensive trip!

Apart from Yellowknife, are there any other good vantage points for the Northern Lights? I read somewhere that Banff could be a good place? Thinking of killing two birds with one stone - Northern Lights plus skiing? If this is an option, any recommendations for a good tour to take to see the lights?

Thanks again for your responses!

Travelling from Australia, so hoping to see as much as I possibly can on this trip! :)

Toronto, Canada
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5. Re: 3 weeks in Canada February 2014

You can ski while in Vancouver and concentrate on Yellowknife and the Northern Lights...

Vancouver, Canada
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6. Re: 3 weeks in Canada February 2014

The Northern Lights are all about being at the right latitude under dark, clear skies. That right altitude is typically north of the arctic circle. Banff is a significant distance south of the arctic circle... in fact, it's at the same latitude as London and Amsterdam. Sure, on occasion people do see Northern Lights there, but I wouldn't spend money to go there expecting Northern Lights.

Nanaimo, Canada
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7. Re: 3 weeks in Canada February 2014

You could travel all the way "up there" for the Northern Lights and see zip, nada! There is no guarantee. I have a friend who lives in Anchorage, and she has lived in Anchorage and Fairbanks pretty much her whole life of 50 plus years.

Having said that, the absolute very best "show" I have experienced of the Northern Lights was in Whistler! And incredible but true, it was in July. July 24th to be exact. I'll never forget it, because it was my mom's birthday. The show lasted for a couple of hours. Just when we thought it was finished, it would start up again. We couldn't leave the balcony for hours. It was amazing, and something I will never forget.

Sydney
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8. Re: 3 weeks in Canada February 2014

Oh that's disappointing to hear re no guarantee of seeing the Northern Lights if I travelled to Yellowknife... I guess that makes the decision easy then. Will drop it off my list - thank you for the advice.

I will definitely be going to the Whistler, so will keep my fingers crossed - what a fantastic treat for your mum's bday!

Toronto, Canada
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9. Re: 3 weeks in Canada February 2014

There's great ice fishing an hour north of Toronto, in the City of Barrie, on Kempenfelt Bay...February is the perfect month for it....

tourismbarrie.com/things_to_do/fishing/ice_f…

Toronto
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10. Re: 3 weeks in Canada February 2014

Barrie is what I was hinting at when I mentioned ice fishing opportunities "within public transportation distance of Toronto", since GO Transit sends buses there (Orangeville could also work, since it also has GO bus service and the Island Lake Conservation Area offers hole drilling and hut rental on the reservoir). However, I think the place in Tristou's link would be far more convenient if you're going to be in Montreal anyway and don't have a car, since it doesn't involve inter-city bus travel. I hadn't heard of that operation in Montreal but if it's right downtown that could be great. It would be nice if Toronto had something similar, certainly right now there's a solid 2 feet of ice over the outer harbour, but a good freeze-up like that doesn't happen reliably enough each year for someone to start a business.

I guess the question is, how does the fishing on the Old Port of Montreal compare to Kempenfelt Bay? And I can't comment on that. Certainly if you rented a hut off Barrie you would catch something, whether a bunch of tasty little perch or a big fat lake trout.