Canada | Moon Travel Guides https://moon.com Trip Ideas, Itineraries, Maps & Area Experts Sat, 21 Oct 2017 00:30:54 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.8.2 https://deathstar-650a.kxcdn.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/02/cropped-moon_logo_M-32x32.jpg Canada | Moon Travel Guides https://moon.com 32 32 125073523 Walking Vancouver’s Downtown and West End https://moon.com/2017/09/walking-vancouvers-downtown-and-west-end/ https://moon.com/2017/09/walking-vancouvers-downtown-and-west-end/#respond Mon, 25 Sep 2017 23:28:32 +0000 https://moon.com/?p=60263 This self-guided walking tour lets you explore Vancouver starting from Canada Place on the Burrard Inlet side of downtown, through the city to English Bay, passing numerous landmarks, artworks, and places to eat.

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This self-guided walking tour lets you explore Vancouver starting from Canada Place on the Burrard Inlet side of downtown, through the city to English Bay, passing numerous landmarks, artworks, and places to eat. You can do this walk anytime, but if you start in the early afternoon, you can wrap up your stroll at west-facing English Bay Beach as the sun is shining over the sea.

white sails of Canada Place line the waterfront in Vancouver

Canada Place, one of Vancouver’s iconic locations. Photo © Carolyn B. Heller.

Total Distance: 2.5 miles (4 kilometers)
Total Walking Time: 1 hour

Begin your walk at Canada Place, the waterfront landmark with its billowing white sails. Follow the Seawall path one block toward the Vancouver Convention Centre’s west building, and note the building’s living roof. Keeping the water on your right side, continue along the Seawall behind the convention center, passing The Drop, a 20-meter (65-foot) bright blue raindrop sculpture that a Berlin-based art collective created in 2009.

At the back of the convention center, after watching the floatplanes taking off and landing on the harbor, turn left up the stairs to Jack Poole Plaza. Look for Digital Orca (2009), by Vancouver artist Douglas Coupland, a sculpture of a whale that appears to be breaching toward the sky. Also on the plaza is the Olympic Cauldron, which was lit when Vancouver hosted the 2010 Winter Olympic Games.

Turn left (east) onto Canada Place, then in one block, turn right (south) onto Burrard Street. Walk one more block to the corner of Burrard and Cordova, and look up. Wrapping around the exterior of the Fairmont Pacific Rim are the words, “Lying on top of a building the clouds looked no nearer than when I was lying on the street.” It’s an art installation by New York artist Liam Gillick.

outside of the Fairmont Pacific Rim hotel

Talk a walk to the Fairmont Pacific Rim and don’t forget to look up! Photo © Carolyn B. Heller.

Ready for refreshments? In front of the Fairmont, stop for gelato or sorbetto at Bella Gelateria.

When you’ve finished your treats, continue walking south on busy Burrard Street, away from the water. After three blocks, turn left (east) onto Dunsmuir Street and take your first right (south) onto Hornby Street. In the middle of the block is the Bill Reid Gallery of Northwest Coast Art, one of the best places downtown to explore aboriginal art. Allow about an hour to walk through the gallery.

Exit the gallery and turn right (south) on Hornby. In one block, at the corner of Hornby and Georgia Streets, cross the street and go into the HSBC Building (885 W. Georgia St.). Why stop at a bank office? In the lobby is a massive, swinging stainless steel pendulum, an art piece called Broken Column (1987) by Alan Storey. The building’s air circulation system powers its movement. Also in the lobby, the free Pendulum Gallery mounts small changing art exhibitions.

Diagonally across Hornby and Georgia Streets is the landmark Fairmont Hotel Vancouver, built in 1939. Duck into the lobby for a quick look, and then exit the building, turning left (south) onto Burrard Street.

In one block, cross Burrard and turn right (west) onto Robson Street. Robson is one of downtown’s main shopping streets, and while many of the stores are international chains, it’s still a lively district. This retail route gradually gives way to restaurants, primarily noodle shops, Korean eateries, and other Asian spots. If you’d like to pause for lunch, line up for a bowl of tokusen toroniku ramen at Hokkaido Ramen Santouka, on Robson six blocks from Burrard.

After your meal, continue on Robson for one more block, and turn left (south) onto Denman Street. You’re now in the heart of the West End, with more small food spots and neighborhood shops along Denman. Stay on Denman for six blocks to Morton Park, where you’ll spot 14 grinning bronze figures. That’s A-maze-ing Laughter, the popular public art piece by Chinese artist Yue Minjun.

Cross Beach Avenue to English Bay Beach, where you can sit in the sand and do some people-watching, resting up from your downtown explorations.

looking out over English Bay Beach from the sidwalk

End your walking tour at English Bay Beach. Photo © Carolyn B. Heller.


Excerpted from the First Edition of Moon Vancouver. Looking for more walks? Pick up the book!

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Travel Itinerary for 3-5 Days in Vancouver https://moon.com/2017/09/travel-itinerary-3-5-days-in-vancouver/ https://moon.com/2017/09/travel-itinerary-3-5-days-in-vancouver/#respond Wed, 20 Sep 2017 15:25:23 +0000 https://moon.com/?p=60036 In just a few days, you can experience the best of Vancouver, combining outdoor activities, cultural explorations, and time for strolling, snacking, and sipping. Vancouver’s public transit system makes it easy to get around without a car; this 3-day Vancouver itinerary includes tips for the most convenient transit options.

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In just a few days, you can experience the best of Vancouver, combining outdoor activities, cultural explorations, and time for strolling, snacking, and sipping. Vancouver’s public transit system makes it easy to get around without a car; this 3- to 5-day Vancouver itinerary includes tips for the most convenient transit options.

view from Vancouver Lookout of the downtown skyscrapers and the waterfront

Orient yourself to the city with the 360 view from Vancouver Lookout. Photo © Carolyn B. Heller.

3 Days in Vancouver

Day 1: Downtown and Granville Island

Get your first glance of the city and orient yourself with the 360-degree view from the observation platform at the Vancouver Lookout downtown. Save your ticket to return later for the nighttime views.

Catch bus 50 on Granville Street to Granville Island. Browse the stalls and stop for a morning snack in the Granville Island Public Market, before checking out the galleries and shops in the Net Loft, on Railspur Alley, and throughout the island. Don’t miss the museum-quality aboriginal art at the Eagle Spirit Gallery.

For lunch, return to the Public Market or sit down for a more leisurely meal, highlighting Canadian products, at Edible Canada Bistro.

To start your afternoon on an active note, rent a kayak or a stand-up paddleboard at Ecomarine Paddlesports Centre and spend an hour paddling around the island. Back on land, refresh yourself with a sake sampling at the Artisan Sake Maker or a craft cocktail made from the small-batch spirits at Liberty Distilling before catching the bus back downtown.

Your next stop is the Bill Reid Gallery of Northwest Coast Art, which shows works by a noted First Nations artist. Nearby, you can wander the exhibits at the Vancouver Art Gallery, making sure to see paintings by B.C.’s renowned Emily Carr.

In the late afternoon, rent a bike and take a leisurely ride along the Seawall in Stanley Park, stopping to see the totem poles at Brockton Point, then pedal past landmark Siwash Rock. Pause to rest at English Bay Beach, which is also one of Vancouver’s best spots to watch the sun set over the ocean. Across the street from the beach, smile at >A-maze-ing Laughter, a public art piece comprising 14 grinning bronze figures.

Have dinner downtown, perhaps the imaginative contemporary fare at Royal Dinette or a creative pizza at Nightingale, then return to the Vancouver Lookout to gaze over the city’s twinkling lights.

a pond in front of a traditional Chinese building

Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Garden was the first authentic Ming Dynasty garden built outside of China. Photo © Carolyn B. Heller.

Day 2: UBC, Gastown, and Chinatown

Enjoy breakfast at Forage or Medina Café before exploring more of the city’s cultural highlights.

From Granville Street, catch bus 4 or 14 west to the University of British Columbia and the Museum of Anthropology. This first-rate museum has a particularly strong collection of First Nations art, including an awe-inspiring gallery of totem poles. After exploring the museum, take a walk through the serene Nitobe Japanese Garden nearby.

When you’re finished on campus, take bus 4 back toward Kitsilano for lunch on West 4th Avenue: Thai food at Maenam or French bistro fare at Au Comptoir. Check out the 4th Avenue shops before stopping for dessert at Beaucoup Bakery & Café or a shot of rich hot chocolate from Chocolate Arts.

Bus 4 or 7 will take you from Kits to Gastown. Walk along Water Street, watch the Gastown Steam Clock toot its steam whistle, and stop into several of the First Nations art galleries, like Hill’s Native Art.

Continue into Chinatown for a late-afternoon tour of the Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Garden, the only authentic Ming Dynasty garden outside China.

Stay in Chinatown for dinner. Try the unusual combination of Italian and Japanese elements at speakeasy-style Kissa Tanto or share modern Canadian plates at Juniper Kitchen & Bar. After your meal, have a drink at the Keefer Bar, or take a cab back downtown for a nightcap at Uva Wine & Cocktail Bar or elegant Prohibition Lounge.

a woman stands atop Grouse Mountain looking out at Vancouver

Head up to Grouse Mountain on a clear day for incredible views. Photo © Carolyn B. Heller.

Day 3: The North Shore

Today, you’re exploring the mountains and rainforests on Vancouver’s North Shore. Catch the free shuttle from Canada Place to Grouse Mountain. If you’re up for a challenge, walk up the Grouse Grind, a trail nicknamed “Mother Nature’s Stairmaster.” But there’s no shame in taking the Skyride; it’s North America’s largest tram system. At the top, laugh at the lumberjack show, explore the wildlife refuge, and go for a short hike. The views are spectacular on a clear day.

Come down the mountain, and at the Grouse entrance, catch bus 236 to the Capilano Suspension Bridge. This 450-foot (137-meter) span swings over a canyon high above the Capilano River. If you’re feeling brave, follow the Cliffwalk, a series of boardwalks cantilevered over the rushing river. Do you dare stand on the glass platform and look down (way down!)?

Get back on bus 236 to Lonsdale Quay. Stop for a drink, with views of the city skyline, at Pier 7 Restaurant & Bar, a short walk from the quay. Then take the SeaBus across the Burrard Inlet to Waterfront Station downtown.

Have dinner in Gastown, where L’Abbatoir serves French-accented west coast fare on the site of Vancouver’s first jail or stylish Chambar combines flavors of North Africa and Belgium with local ingredients.

With More Time

front view of the International Buddhist Temple in Vancouver's Richmond neighborhood

Richmond’s International Buddhist Temple. Photo © Carolyn B. Heller.

Day 4: Richmond

Ride the Canada Line to spend a day in Vancouver’s “new Chinatown” in the city of Richmond. First up: dim sum in the Golden Village along No. 3 Road. At Golden Paramount Seafood Restaurant, choose from a mix of traditional and modern Hong Kong-style plates, or at Su Hang Restaurant, try Shanghai-style dim sum.

After you’ve eaten, catch bus 403 southbound along No. 3 Road to the International Buddhist Temple, one of the largest Chinese Buddhist temples in North America. Visitors are welcome to tour the gardens and the peaceful temple complex.

From the temple, head to the village of Steveston, an active fishing port where the Asian communities have historic roots. Visiting the Gulf of Georgia Cannery National Historic Site or the Britannia Shipyards National Historic Site will introduce you to the area’s multicultural history. Walk along the wharf, where fishing boats sell their fresh catch. Pajo’s on the pier makes first-rate fish–and-chips.

Bus 402, 407, or 410 will take you back to the Golden Village, where you can browse the Asian shops at Aberdeen Centre.

If you’re in town on a Friday, Saturday, or Sunday between mid-May and mid-October, take the Canada Line to Bridgeport Station for the Richmond Night Market. Graze your way through this Asian-style festival of street foods from China, Taiwan, Japan, and more. Return downtown on the Canada Line.

a fountain flows in the center of a pond

Take a morning stroll through the VanDusen Botanical Garden. Photo © Carolyn B. Heller.

Day 5: Cambie Corridor and East Vancouver

From downtown, take bus 17 to VanDusen Botanical Garden and spend your morning strolling among the blossoms. When you’re ready to eat, hop on a northbound bus 17 for lunch at Salmon n’ Bannock, a modern aboriginal bistro.

Continue east on Broadway to the Cambie Corridor to browse the neighborhood’s boutiques. There’s a cluster of shops near Main and Broadway, and more clothing and accessories purveyors on Main between 20th and 30th Avenues (if you don’t want to walk, bus 3 can take you along Main Street).

When you’re done shopping, it’s time for a beer crawl to try the city’s craft breweries. Both 33 Acres Brewing and Brassneck Brewery are a short walk from the intersection of Broadway and Main.

For a more serious exploration of Vancouver’s microbrewery scene, head for the Commercial Drive and East Village neighborhoods. Parallel 49 Brewing Company has a large tasting room that’s a popular neighborhood gathering spot. To sample some spirits, visit Odd Society Spirits, a small-batch distillery in a former motorcycle garage. To get here from Broadway and Main, take bus 99 eastbound on Broadway to Commercial Drive, then change to bus 20 going north and get off on Hastings Street.

When you’ve tasted your fill, bus 4 or 7 (on Powell St.) or bus 14 or 16 (on Hastings St.) will bring you back downtown for dinner at lively Guu Garden (a Japanese izakaya) or at Boulevard Kitchen & Oyster Bar for local seafood in a stylish setting.


Excerpted from the First Edition of Moon Vancouver.

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Things to Do in Vancouver’s Stanley Park https://moon.com/2017/09/things-to-do-in-vancouvers-stanley-park/ https://moon.com/2017/09/things-to-do-in-vancouvers-stanley-park/#respond Mon, 18 Sep 2017 17:50:20 +0000 http://moon.com/?p=12834 A dense rainforest at the end of the downtown peninsula, Stanley Park is a green refuge, incorporating First Nations culture and heritage, woodland and waterfront trails, the city’s aquarium, and spectacular urban and harbor views.

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A dense rainforest at the end of the downtown peninsula, Stanley Park is a green refuge, incorporating First Nations culture and heritage, woodland and waterfront trails, the city’s aquarium, and spectacular urban and harbor views.

sunset on the water by the Stanley Park Seawall promenade in Vancouver

The Seawall Promenade at sunset. Photo © jamesvancouver/iStock.

Sights in Stanley Park

The Seawall, a 5.5-mile (9-kilometer) walking and cycling path, circles the perimeter of Stanley Park and passes many of the park’s attractions. You can also follow the park’s outer edge by car along Stanley Park Drive. It’s also worth exploring the park’s interior trails, many of which pass through old-growth rainforest.

Among Stanley Park’s highlights are the totem poles at Brockton Point and Siwash Rock, an offshore rock formation that figures in First Nations legends. A family-friendly stop is the Vancouver Aquarium Marine Science Centre (845 Avison Way, 604/659-3474; 9:30am-6pm daily July-early Sept., 10am-5pm daily early Sept.-June; adults $36, seniors and students $27, ages 4-12 $21), which is Canada’s largest aquarium.

On a finger of land jutting into the harbor on Stanley Park’s east side, the red and white Brockton Point Lighthouse was built in 1914. The Seawall travels under the lighthouse, through archways that support the lighthouse tower.

From Prospect Point, the highest spot in Stanley Park, you have great views of the Burrard Inlet, the North Shore mountains, and the Lions Gate Bridge, one of the world’s longest suspension bridges.

A giant western red cedar, roughly 800 years old, is one of Stanley Park’s best-known landmarks and the source of much controversy. Known as the Hollow Tree, the massive cedar on the park’s west side stopped growing in the 1800s and was essentially a 42-foot-tall (13-meter) tree stump. A 2006 windstorm damaged the tree, causing it to lean precipitously. The historic tree was eventually stabilized with a steel core and a foundation of underground steel “roots.” The tree is along Stanley Park Drive, north of Third Beach.

view of the Vancouver skyline and Lions Gate Bridge

Head to Prospect Point for panoramic views of Vancouver. Photo © Ronnie Chua/iStock.

Tours in Stanley Park

The park has a long and rich First Nations heritage. Several First Nations, including the Burrard, Musqueam, and Squamish people, made their home in the park for several thousand years. To learn more about the park’s aboriginal connections, take the 90-minute guided Talking Trees Walk with First Nations’ owned Talaysay Tours (604/628-8555 or 800/605-4643; 10am and 12:30pm daily May-Sept.; adults $35, ages 4-18 $28).

One option for getting around Stanley Park is on a trolley tour. The Vancouver Trolley Company (604/801-5515 or 888/451-5581) runs a year-round hop-on hop-off tour (one-day pass adults $45, seniors and ages 13-18 $42, ages 4-12 $28) that takes visitors to eight stops within the park and to 27 other locations throughout the city. From late June through early September, the company also operates the Stanley Park Shuttle (11am-6pm daily late June-early Sept.; adults, seniors, and ages 13-18 $10, ages 4-12 $5), a narrated ride that makes 15 stops within the park.

Stanley Park Beaches

Along the Seawall on the west side of Stanley Park, you can swim or sun at busy Second Beach. This sandy cove is also a pretty spot to watch the sunset. There’s a seasonal snack bar and a children’s playground near the beach. Third Beach at Ferguson Point on the west side of Stanley Park is a quiet stretch of sand with views toward the North Shore.

Water Sports on Stanley Park

A unique way to explore Stanley Park is from the water. Rent a kayak from Ecomarine Paddlesports Centre (1700 Beach Ave., 604/689-7575 or 888/425-2925; 10am-dusk Mon.-Fri., 9am-dusk Sat.-Sun. late May-early Sept.) on the beach at English Bay, paddle past Second and Third Beaches, and see Siwash Rock from the water. If you don’t want to navigate the route on your own, take their 2.5-hour guided kayaking tour (9:30am Thurs. and Sat., June-early Sept., $69 pp).

Hiking in Stanley Park

Some of the park’s interior trails include Tatlow Walk, which cuts across the southwest corner of the park, between Third Beach and the north side of Lost Lagoon; Rawlings Trail, open to cyclists and pedestrians, which parallels Park Drive on the west side of the park and takes you past the Hollow Tree; and the Beaver Lake Trail, which circles the lake of the same name near the center of the park.

The City of Vancouver publishes a Stanley Park trail map on its website (http://vancouver.ca). Don’t hike alone on these interior trails, as they can be surprisingly secluded even when the Seawall and beaches are busy.

Cycling in Stanley Park

Vancouver’s most popular cycling route runs along the Seawall, and the most scenic section of the Seawall is the 5.5-mile (9-kilometer) loop around Stanley Park. The paved path passes many landmarks, including the totem poles at Brockton Point, Prospect Point, and Siwash Rock.

The Mobi bike share program (778/655-1800) has a number of locations that are convenient to Stanley Park. You can also rent bikes from several West End shops, just outside the park’s boundaries:

Map of Stanley Park in Vancouver, BC

Stanley Park

Practicalities

All of the parking lots are fee-based ($3.25/hour Apr.-Sept., $2.25/per hour Oct.-Mar.). If you purchase a daily pass, you can use it at any parking lot within the park. You can enter Stanley Park on two sides: from West Georgia Street, near Coal Harbour, or from English Bay, near the intersection of Denman and Davie Streets.
Just above Third Beach, the Teahouse in Stanley Park (Ferguson Point, Stanley Park, 604/669-3281) serves a crowd-pleasing menu of west coast favorites, from smoked salmon and Pacific sablefish to burgers and steaks. The patio is particularly lovely on a sunny day or at sunset.

A dense rainforest at the end of Vancouver's downtown peninsula, Stanley Park is a green refuge, incorporating First Nations culture and heritage, woodland and waterfront trails, the city’s aquarium, and spectacular urban and harbor views. Plan your perfect day in the park with this visitor's guide to the sights and activities in Stanley Park.


Excerpted from the First Edition of Moon Vancouver.

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Weekend Road Trip to the Sunshine Coast, BC https://moon.com/2017/08/weekend-road-trip-sunshine-coast-bc/ https://moon.com/2017/08/weekend-road-trip-sunshine-coast-bc/#respond Wed, 02 Aug 2017 23:04:31 +0000 https://moon.com/?p=58469 Named for its surprisingly abundant summer sun, British Columbia’s Sunshine Coast sits on a striking section of coastal rainforest. Start this easy weekend getaway from Vancouver with a 40-minute ferry ride, meandering between offshore islands. Once on shore, you can drive through a string of funky seaside towns to gallery-hop, hike, or savor the solitude of the rocky beaches.

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Named for its surprisingly abundant summer sun, the Sunshine Coast of British Columbia sits on a striking section of coastal rainforest. Start this easy weekend getaway from Vancouver with a 40-minute ferry ride, meandering between offshore islands. Once on shore, you can drive through a string of funky seaside towns to gallery-hop, hike, or savor the solitude of the rocky beaches.

But this region offers unexpected stops, too: you can a tour a one-of-a-kind archeological exhibit in a small First Nations-run gallery, or hike to the Skookumchuck Narrows, where twice-a-day tides churn up unusually large rapids.

Here’s our itinerary for a road trip to the Canadian sun.

dock on Ruby Lake

Seek serenity at Ruby Lake Resort. Photo © Carolyn B. Heller.

Markets, Microbrews, and a Mandala

Reserve a spot for your car on BC Ferries Horseshoe Bay-to-Langdale route, which departs 13 miles northwest of downtown Vancouver. When the ferry docks, follow Marine Drive to Gibsons, a seaside town featured in the long-running Canadian TV series, The Beachcombers, which aired from 1972 to 1990.

At Gibsons Public Market, lunch on salads, burgers, or Buddha bowls at Emelle’s Market Bistro; the Thai curry with fresh seafood from the fish market downstairs is excellent. Opposite the bistro, the Nicholas Sonntag Marine Education Centre, a catch-and-release aquarium housing local marine life, is opening later this summer. Have a post-lunch latte at Bowen Island Roasting Company or a fair-trade organic bonbon at Art Meets Chocolate.

A short stroll from the market, check out Sa Boothroyd’s gallery of humorous artworks on Government Wharf. As her sign helpfully notes, it’s “the last building before you fall into the water.”

Drive up to farm and microbrewery Persephone Brewing to sample a tasting flight on the shady patio where the tables are crafted from tree trunks. Try the multigrain saison or the unusual smoked porter.

Check into Bonniebrook Lodge opposite beautiful Ocean Beach. Choose a room with a view of the water in the main lodge or a modern suite with whirlpool tub near the gurgling creek. For dinner, it’s a short drive north to Roberts Creek and Gumboot Restaurant, where popular dishes include local fish tacos, wild salmon burgers, and oversized salads. After your meal, walk to the pier to watch the sunset and check out the colorful mandala that residents paint every year.

beer tasting flight on a wooden plank

Enjoy a tasting flight on the patio at Persephone Brewing in Gibsons. Photo © Carolyn B. Heller.

Centuries of History

In the morning, continue north on Highway 101 toward the town of Sechelt and Gourmet Girl Café, where you can dig into the hearty breakfast poutine or sip a fresh fruit smoothie.

Operated by the shíshálh First Nation, Sechelt’s tiny Tems Swiya Museum recently opened a groundbreaking exhibit. On shíshálh land, archeologists discovered the body of a man determined to be a chief, buried in a garment made of more than 350,000 minute stone beads. Nearby were several more bodies, including that of a woman also interred with thousands of handmade beads. Using facial reconstruction technology, scientists determined what these people and their relatives, estimated to have lived more than 3,700 years ago, may have looked like; you can examine their “faces” in an eerily like-life video. The unearthed beads, which would have taken years of work to craft, are also on view.

Refresh at newcomer Bricker Cider Company with a taste of their original apple cider or their almost beer-like hopped version. If you’re ready for brunch or a coffee break, the French toast with berry compote or eggs Benedict served on homemade banana pepper scones at Mad Park Bistro are good choices. Then continue toward Garden Bay to settle into a colorful cottage at John Henry’s Resort, Marina, and Café. On the busy marina, the four cute cabins aren’t super private, but all have sitting areas, kitchens, and lovely water-view decks.

After relaxing by the bay, head north for dinner on the terrace at Ruby Lake Resort, where you might spot a beaver swimming in the adjacent lagoon. Chef-owner Aldo Cogrossi, a Milan native, uses regional ingredients in trattoria-style dishes like smoked tuna with caper mayonnaise or savory wild boar with local mushrooms.

digital representation of indigenous people at a museum

Learn about indigenous culture at the Tems Swiya Museum. Photo © Carolyn B. Heller.

Hike to the “Skook”

From Highway 101 north, turn east onto the winding road toward Egmont, where a 2.5-mile hike through the forest leads to a unique tidal phenomenon. As tidewater squeezes through the Skookumchuck Narrows connecting two inlets, large waves form, sometimes exceeding nine feet in height. Bear right at the sign toward Roland Point to get closest to the waves on a “flood tide”; during an “ebb tide,” you’ll see whirlpools by bearing left to North Point. Check the tide tables online, and time your visit for a large or extra-large tide.

Near the start of the trail, stop at Skookumchuck Bakery for a giant cinnamon bun; they’re soft, doughy, and perfectly cinnamon-sweet.

waves backed by green hills

Watch the tides at Skookumchuck Narrows. Photo © Carolyn B. Heller.

Cruise to the Falls

On your Sunshine Coast road trip, you also have to leave the road, so pack a picnic and explore the region’s waters and inlets. Departing from Egmont, Sunshine Coast Tours runs scenic guided boat tours through the fjords toward Princess Louisa Inlet and Chatterbox Falls, which plunge 120 feet into the sea, next to granite cliffs that soar to more than 7,000 feet.

Back on land, reserve a table on the deck at West Coast Wilderness Lodge, where dishes like oysters Rockefeller or grilled halibut come with expansive views across the inlets. Then toast your road trip to the sun on BC’s Sunshine Coast.

waterfall flowing over a hill with forest in the background

Chatterbox Falls plunges 120 feet into the sea. Photo © Carolyn B. Heller.

Take a weekend road trip to the Sunshine Coast of British Columbia for funky seaside towns, indigenous history, and a bit of seaside solitude.


Get ready to hit the road and explore more of Canada with Moon Vancouver & the Canadian Rockies Road Trip.

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The Top Environmental Issue in Atlantic Canada https://moon.com/2017/07/top-environmental-issue-atlantic-canada/ https://moon.com/2017/07/top-environmental-issue-atlantic-canada/#respond Sat, 29 Jul 2017 16:57:37 +0000 http://moon.com/?p=42543 Today, the state of local fisheries—most notably the collapse of cod stocks—is the most important environmental issue facing Atlantic Canada.

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Boats in Lunenburg, NS.

You’ll see commerical fishing boats at almost every coastal town in Atlantic Canada. Photo © Andrew Hempstead.

The northeastern Atlantic fisheries have been the economic engine driving exploration and development of these coasts for centuries. In days past, codfish were said to carpet the sea floor of the shallow Grand Banks, and those who caught them—first with lines from small dories, then with nets, and finally from great trawlers that scour the sea—have hauled in untold millions of tons of not only cod but also flounder, salmon, pollack, haddock, anchovies, and dozens of other species.

The beginning of the end was the arrival of “factory ships” in the 1960s, which could harvest up to 200 tons of cod per hour.So abundant were the cod fisheries of the Grand Banks, the shallow undersea plateaus south and east of Newfoundland, that John Cabot claimed a man had only to lower a basket into the sea to haul it up full. His report exaggerated the truth only slightly. Although the specifics have not been documented, European fishermen are believed to have preceded Cabot by decades.

Legends in Newfoundland describe the Basques as whale hunters in the Strait of Belle Isle as early as the 1470s. France’s fishing exploits are better known. In the early 1500s, French fleets roamed the seas from the Grand Banks—where they caught cod and dried them on Newfoundland’s beaches—to inland rivers such as the salmon-rich Miramichi in what is now New Brunswick. England’s fishing fleets were equally active, leading one diplomat to describe Newfoundland as “a great ship moored near the Grand Banks for the convenience of English fishermen.”

Today the fish are in serious trouble and so too, inexorably, are the people and communities whose lives have revolved around them.

Today, the state of local fisheries—most notably the collapse of cod stocks—is the most important environmental issue facing Atlantic Canada. The beginning of the end was the arrival of “factory ships” in the 1960s, which could harvest up to 200 tons of cod per hour. By the late 1980s, the cod stock had been mostly obliterated, and by the early 1990s, a moratorium was put in place until the fisheries had recovered. Unfortunately, what was not fully understood at that time was that overfishing was only a part of the problem. Cod are a groundfish, and the factory ships had been bottom trawling—scooping up the cod in nets with an opening up to one kilometer wide that dragged along the sea floor and decimated the very ecosystem that was a breeding ground for the fish. It is widely thought that the cod stock will never fully recover, especially in the waters around the island of Newfoundland.

For more information on the state of Atlantic Canada’s fisheries:

Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society – A national nonprofit organization that is instrumental in highlighting conservation issues throughout Canada.
Starving Ocean – Filled with Canadian content, this private website contains articles related to seals, humpback whales, and the decline in cod stocks.


Adapted from the Eighth Edition of Moon Atlantic Canada.

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Visiting St. John’s and the Avalon Peninsula https://moon.com/2017/07/visiting-st-johns-avalon-peninsula/ https://moon.com/2017/07/visiting-st-johns-avalon-peninsula/#respond Fri, 28 Jul 2017 10:24:48 +0000 http://moon.com/?p=42937 Come to St. John’s for some of Atlantic Canada’s highest-quality shopping, dining, nightlife, and an emerging and eclectic fine-arts scene.

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St. John’s, the provincial capital, is a colorful and comfortable city. Situated on the steep inland side of St. John’s Harbour, the city’s rooftops form a tapestry: Some are gracefully drawn with swooping mansard curves, some are pancake-flat or starkly pitched, and others are pyramidal with clay pots placed atop the central chimneys. Against this otherwise picture-perfect tapestry, the tangle of electrical wires strung up and down the hillside is a visual offense.

Colorful homes cluster at the edges of St. John's harbour in Newfoundland.

Homes along the hillside in the harbour at St. John’s. Photo © Craig Chislett/iStock.

Along the streets, cement walls brace the hillside, and any blank surface serves as an excuse for a pastel-painted mural.Contrasts of color are everywhere. House windows are framed in deep turquoise, red, bright yellow, or pale pink and are covered with starched white lace curtains. Window boxes are stuffed to overflowing with red geraniums and purple and pink petunias. Along the streets, cement walls brace the hillside, and any blank surface serves as an excuse for a pastel-painted mural. The storefronts on Water Street, as individual as their owners, stand out in Wedgwood blue, lime green, purple, and rose. At street-side, public telephone booths are painted the bright red of old-time fire hydrants.

As the Newfoundlanders say, St. John’s offers the best for visitors—another way of saying that Newfoundland is short on cities and long on coastal outports. But without question, St. John’s thrives with places for dining, nightlife, sightseeing, and lodging—more than anywhere else across the island and Labrador. Simply put, the Newfoundlanders have carved a contemporary, livable, and intriguing niche in one of North America’s most ancient ports. Come to St. John’s for some of Atlantic Canada’s most abundant high-quality shopping, unusual dining in lush surroundings, interesting maritime history displayed in fine museums, rousing nightlife and music, and an emerging and eclectic fine-arts scene.

When you’re done with the city, there’s the rest of the Avalon Peninsula to discover. Within day-tripping distance of downtown, you can go whale-watching at Witless Bay Ecological Reserve, watch archaeologists at work at Ferryland, walk in to North America’s most accessible bird sanctuary at Cape St. Mary’s, and drive through delightfully named villages like Heart’s Desire.

Planning Your Time

Whether you arrive by air, by ferry, or overland from the west, St. John’s is a definite destination in itself. It has all the amenities of a major city, including top-notch accommodations, a good range of restaurants, and lively nightlife. Sightseeing will easily fill two days, with at least a few hours spent at The Rooms, a museum and art gallery complex as good as any in Canada. Don’t miss the drive up to Signal Hill National Historic Site, and stop at Johnson Geo Centre along the way. The Fluvarium is a good rainy-day diversion. While the village of Quidi Vidi provides a taste of the rest of the province without leaving city limits, the rest of the Avalon Peninsula is well worth exploring.

The options are relatively straightforward—either use St. John’s as a base for day trips or plan on an overnight excursion. Two highlights—a whale-watching trip to Witless Bay Ecological Reserve and a visit to the historic Colony of Avalon—can easily be combined into a day trip. Bird-rich Cape St. Mary’s Ecological Reserve is also within a couple of hours’ drive of St. John’s, although if you’re arriving by ferry from Nova Scotia, it’s only a short detour from the main route into town. If you’re arriving by air, five days is the minimum amount of time to allow for exploring the city and the Avalon Peninsula. If you’re arriving by ferry with your own vehicle, plan on spending three days on the Avalon Peninsula (including St. John’s) and seven days traveling through the central and western portion of the province to the ferry terminal at Port-aux-Basques. Add two days’ travel from Halifax (including the two ferry trips from and to Sydney) and you can create a 12-day itinerary with no backtracking.

Travel map of Saint John, New Brunswick

Saint John


Excerpted from the Eighth Edition of Moon Atlantic Canada.

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A Road Trip through British Columbia’s Fraser Canyon https://moon.com/2017/07/road-trip-british-columbias-fraser-canyon/ https://moon.com/2017/07/road-trip-british-columbias-fraser-canyon/#respond Mon, 24 Jul 2017 11:22:58 +0000 https://moon.com/?p=58281 In the 1980s, the faster Coquihalla Highway (Hwy 5) opened, replacing the scenic Fraser Canyon section of the Trans-Canada as the most popular route between Vancouver and the Canadian Rockies. But for road trippers who have time for a more leisurely drive, there’s a lot to do along the Fraser Canyon.

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The Trans-Canada Highway is perfect for road-trippers, spanning the country from British Columbia to Newfoundland. Two hours’ drive east of Vancouver, the Trans-Canada (Hwy 1) turns north, where the Fraser River has carved a deep canyon, creating a rocky gorge between the Cascades and Coast Mountains.

looking through an old bridge at forested mountains

Alexandra Bridge over the Fraser River. Photo © Carolyn B. Heller.

Surprisingly, this scenic Fraser Canyon section of Highway 1 is no longer the main east-west route. In the 1980s, the faster Coquihalla Highway (Hwy 5) opened, replacing this section of the Trans-Canada as the most popular route between Vancouver and the Canadian Rockies. But for road trippers who have time for a more leisurely drive, there’s a lot to do along the Fraser Canyon.

Here’s our road trip plan.

Chainsaw Sculptures in Hope

From Vancouver, follow Highway 1 east toward Hope, where Highways 1, 3, and 5 intersect. Stroll around this riverside town to see why it’s known as “The Chainsaw Carving Capital.” Master carvers have crafted more than 60 wooden carvings, from a life-size bear to a fanciful wizard, all sculpted with chainsaws.

wizard carved in wood sitting on grass

One of the statuesque chainsaw carvings in Hope. Photo © Carolyn B. Heller.

Have dinner at 293 Wallace, a modern bistro that highlights ingredients from local farms in dishes like crispy pork belly with a rainbow of fresh and pickled vegetables. Save room for the creamy chocolate pot de crème dusted with chocolate “soil.”

Stay the night at three-room Evergreen B&B, which new owner Christian Paauwe and his family have spiffed up with stylish furnishings, colorful pillows, and convenient road-trip amenities, like in-room fridges and coffeemakers.

Back in Time in Yale

In the morning, head into the Fraser Canyon, following Highway 1 north to tiny Yale. This hamlet had two boom times in the late 1800s—when prospectors came north during BC’s brief gold rush, then during the construction of Canada’s transcontinental railroad.

At the Yale Historic Site, peek into tents that served as the general store, doctor’s office, and saloon as the town grew into the largest community west of Chicago and north of San Francisco. Visit St. John the Divine Church, where parishioners worshipped from 1863 until 1976. Have lunch or a cup of tea in the Ward Tea Room, where staff in period dress serve chicken pies, Cornish pasties, and apple turnovers.

Across the Bridge

Continue north and stretch your legs in Alexandra Bridge Provincial Park, following a short trail to the Fraser River. The first bridge on the site was built in 1861. From the current span, which dates to 1926, you have beautiful views up and down the river.

airtram over the Fraser River

Enjoy panoramic views from the Hell’s Gate Air Tram. Photo © Carolyn B. Heller.

Swing Through Hell’s Gate

For another perspective on the Fraser Canyon, ride the Hell’s Gate Airtram, which plunges (gently) into the gorge. From the suspension bridge at the base, you can take in more river and canyon vistas. There’s also an exhibit about the salmon that spawn in the river and the man-made fishways that help their journey.

Rest Stop for Rafting

The Fraser Canyon is one of Western Canada’s hot spots for whitewater rafting. The secluded REO Rafting Resort outside Boston Bar runs half- and full-day rafting excursions, catering to different levels, on the Nahatlatch, Thompson, and Fraser Rivers. Settle into one of their river-view “glamping” tents for a stopover combining rafting, yoga, and relaxing by the river.

tent on a deck overlooking a river

Stay a night in the Riverside Tent at the REO Rafting Resort. Photo © Carolyn B. Heller.

Explore Native Culture

Curious about the region’s indigenous history? Near Lytton, Paula Cranmer-Underhill welcomes visitors to Spapium “Little Prairie” Farm, where she’s replanting the riverview land that belonged to her great-grandparents.

After sharing her First Nations heritage and family stories, she might teach you to weave a cedar bracelet, explain the medicinal properties of local plants, or offer a snack of homemade bannock (a native bread). Book online, so Paula knows you’re coming.

Back on the Road

From Lytton, you can continue north on Highway 1 toward Kamloops and east to the Canadian Rockies. Another option is to return to the coast via Whistler, following Highway 12 toward Lilloet, where you’ll meet Highway 99. Or simply retrace your path south along Highway 1 back to Vancouver. Either way, you’ve discovered a lesser-known road trip route through a scenic and historic section of British Columbia.

For road trippers who have time for a leisurely drive in Western Canada, there’s a lot to do along British Columbia's scenic Fraser Canyon.


For more Canada road trip ideas, check out Moon Vancouver & Canadian Rockies Road Trip.

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Atlantic Canada’s Wildflowers and Other Plants https://moon.com/2017/07/atlantic-canadas-wildflowers-plants/ https://moon.com/2017/07/atlantic-canadas-wildflowers-plants/#respond Sun, 23 Jul 2017 02:57:33 +0000 http://moon.com/?p=42542 Travelers to Atlantic Canada in the spring and summer are treated to beautiful wildflowers display. Here's what you can expect to see in the provinces.

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Along the forest margins, raspberry and blackberry thickets proliferate in Atlantic Canada, providing, among other benefits, welcome snacks for summertime hikers. Throughout the spring and summer months, the Maritimes host magnificent wildflower shows that change subtly week by week. Common wildflowers throughout New Brunswick and Nova Scotia—seen especially along roadsides in summertime—include lupine, Queen Anne’s lace, yarrow, pearly everlasting, and daisies. The showy spikes of purple loosestrife, a pretty but aggressive and unwelcome pest, can be seen everywhere.

A field of lupin flowers in shades of pink, purple, and violet.

Lupine bloom across Atlantic Canada. Photo © George Burba/iStock.

Bayberries and wild rose bloom on the Chignecto Isthmus during June. The bayberry bush grows clusters of dimpled fruits close along woody stems and releases a pleasant spicy aroma, popular in potpourri and Christmas candles. The yellow beach heather colors the Northumberland Strait dunes and sandy plains, and the rhodora (miniature rhododendron) brightens coastal marshes. Another dune resident, the beach plum, grows snowy white to pinkish flowers in June, which produce fruit welcomed by birds, beasts, and man in late summer and early fall. Nutrient-rich bogs in northeastern New Brunswick nurture plant exotics, especially at Lamèque and Miscou Islands, where wild cranberry and sundew grow among peat moss beds. Prince Edward Island is like one large garden when late spring and summer’s warm temperatures urge columbines, bachelor’s buttons, pansies, lilacs, wild roses, pink clover, and the delicate lady’s slipper (the provincial flower) into blossom.

Across Newfoundland’s marshes and bogs, you’ll see white and yellow water lilies, rare orchid species, purple iris and goodwithy, and insectivorous plants (such as the pitcher plant, the provincial flower). Daisies, blue harebells, yellow goldenrod, pink wild roses, and deep pink fireweed thrive in the woodlands. Marsh marigolds, as bright yellow as daffodils, are native to the western coast’s Port au Port Peninsula. Low dense mats of crowberry are common throughout Newfoundland and Labrador. The late-autumn crop of blue-black fruits is a favorite food of curlews, plovers, and other migrants preparing for their long flights to the Caribbean and South America. Yellow poppies, heather buttercups, miniature purple rhododendrons, violets, and deep blue gentian, mixed among the white cotton grass, brighten Labrador’s arctic tundra; farther south, the daisy-like arnica and purple saxifrage grow in plateau-rock niches.

While enjoying Atlantic Canada’s wildflowers, you may encounter poison ivy. Mushrooms are everywhere; be absolutely certain you know the species before sampling—the chanterelles are culinary prizes, but the amanitas deadly poison.


Excerpted from the Eighth Edition of Moon Atlantic Canada.

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Two-Day Best of Niagara Falls Itinerary https://moon.com/2017/07/two-day-best-of-niagara-falls-itinerary/ https://moon.com/2017/07/two-day-best-of-niagara-falls-itinerary/#respond Wed, 19 Jul 2017 15:52:45 +0000 http://moon.com/?p=15008 For this itinerary, base yourself on the Canadian side of the border for excellent views while remaining close to all the area's major attractions.

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For this Niagara Falls itinerary, base yourself on the Canadian side of the border. The Fallsview Casino Resort and Marriott Niagara Falls Fallsview Hotel & Spa both offer excellent views and are close to all the major attractions.

mist rising to the sky from Niagara Falls

Aerial view of the falls in Ontario. Photo © CPQNN/iStock.

Day 1

Purchase an Adventure Pass at the Ontario Parks Welcome Centre near the base of Clifton Hill. The clerk will ask if you’d like to reserve ticket times for Journey Behind the Falls, Niagara’s Fury, and the White Water Walk. Add two hours to the current time to come up with your reservation time for Journey Behind the Falls. Reserve Niagara’s Fury for one hour after that. Do not reserve a time for the White Water Walk.

Walk one block to Hornblower Niagara Cruises, and hop on a boat for an up close (and saturated) look at the falls. Afterward, walk south along the rim of the gorge, enjoying the excellent vista of the U.S. side of the border. In the front atrium of Table Rock Welcome Centre, you’ll find the entrance for Journey Behind the Falls. Explore the falls from a tunnel dug through the gorge, emerging in time to catch Niagara’s Fury, located on the second floor of the Welcome Centre.

Relax and enjoy the view from the brink of Horseshoe Falls, located at the rear of the Welcome Centre. For lunch, treat yourself to a meal at Elements on the Falls for casual fine dining with an incomparable view.

Spend a leisurely afternoon exploring Queen Victoria Park, across from the Welcome Centre. Within walking distance are the Dufferin Islands, the Floral Showhouse, and many beautiful gardens.

Hop on a green-line WEGO bus (included in the Adventure Pass) headed north along the gorge. Get off at the White Water Walk, where you can spend an hour strolling close to the river’s rapids. Get on another green-line bus and head farther north, stopping at the Whirlpool Aero Car. From the viewing area, you’ll have a chance to observe the dangerous and breathtaking whirlpool.

After returning to your hotel for a rest, it’s time for dinner. Try the Grand Buffet at the Fallsview Casino Resort for exceptional value and a great view of the falls. After dinner, try your luck at the casino tables, or head to Queen Victoria Park for the nightly illumination of the falls. Enjoy the beauty of the lights projected on the falls and fireworks over the falls on Wednesday, Friday, and Sunday evenings in the summer.

Day 2

Start early! Explore the U.S. side of Niagara with a trip aboard the Niagara Adventure Jets in Lewiston. Afterward, head south along the gorge and stop by the Niagara Power Vista. Take the brief drive to the bottom of the Power Vista to the fishermen’s platform and see anglers catching huge trout and salmon. Next, continue south along the gorge to Whirlpool State Park, a perfect 30-minute stop for a brief walk to an excellent view of the swirling waters of the Niagara River whirlpool.

Enter Niagara Falls State Park and head to Goat Island. Here, you will find many opportunities to experience the majesty of Niagara up close. Start at the Cave of the Winds, which takes you beneath Bridal Veil Falls. Next, head to Luna Island, which will let you get as close to the brink of Niagara as possible. On the far shore of Goat Island, Terrapin Point is next. This is the best spot in the park for a view of the brink of Horseshoe Falls. Finally, walk along the south shore to Three Sisters Islands, which jut out into the upper rapids of the Niagara River.

If you’re looking for a quick lunch, try the Misty Dog Grill, or if you have time, take the 10-minute drive to Little Italy and go to the Como Restaurant for an authentic Italian lunch. Return to the Canadian side via the Rainbow Bridge and rest before dinner.

Head north to St. Davids for dinner at the Ravine Winery Restaurant. After dinner, go to the Skylon Tower and watch the sunset from the observation deck, 52 stories above the falls. Take a walk down Clifton Hill for some kitschy entertainment. Take an evening ride on the Niagara SkyWheel.


Excerpted from the Second Edition of Moon Niagara Falls.

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Moose in Atlantic Canada https://moon.com/2017/07/moose-in-atlantic-canada/ https://moon.com/2017/07/moose-in-atlantic-canada/#respond Tue, 18 Jul 2017 16:57:42 +0000 http://moon.com/?p=42544 Moose are present in Nova Scotia and New Brunswick but are most common in Newfoundland, where they are naturally suited to the terrain.

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The giant of the deer family is the moose, an awkward-looking mammal that appears to have been designed by a cartoonist. It has the largest antlers of any animal in the world, stands up to 1.8 meters tall at the shoulder, and weighs up to 500 kilograms. Its body is dark brown, and it has a prominent nose, long spindly legs, small eyes, big ears, and an odd flap of skin called a bell dangling beneath its chin. Each spring the bull begins to grow palm-shaped antlers that by August will be fully grown. Moose are solitary animals that prefer marshy areas and weedy lakes, but they are known to wander to higher elevations searching out open spaces in summer. They forage in and around ponds on willows, aspen, birch, grasses, and all aquatic vegetation. Although they may appear docile, moose will attack humans if they feel threatened.

Although they may appear docile, moose will attack humans if they feel threatened.Moose are present in Nova Scotia and New Brunswick but are most common in Newfoundland, where they are naturally suited to the terrain. Ironically, they are not native to the island. The estimated 150,000 or so that thrive in the province today are descended from a handful of individuals introduced in 1878 and 1904 as a source of meat. On the mainland, they are most common in Cape Breton Highlands National Park (Nova Scotia).

A moose in Atlantic Canada grazes on the hillsides of Cape Breton Island, Nova Scotia.

Moose are solitary animals that prefer marshy areas and weedy lakes. Photo © Wally Hayes/Tourism Nova Scotia

Caution: Moose on the Loose

Some locals won’t drive on rural roads between dusk and dawn. The reason? Moose on the loose.

About 400 moose-and-car collisions occur annually in Newfoundland alone, where the moose population is 150,000 and growing. Rural New Brunswick and Cape Breton Island are other trouble spots. A moose collision is no mere fender-bender. These animals are big and heavy, and hitting one at speed will make a real mess of your car (it doesn’t do the unfortunate moose much good either). Consequences can be fatal to both parties.

Seventy percent of collisions with moose in Atlantic Canada occur between May and October. Accidents occur mainly 11pm-4am (but that’s no guarantee collisions won’t happen at any hour). If you must drive after dark in areas frequented by moose, use the high beams, scan the sides of the road, and proceed with caution.

Provincial governments post signs marked with the figure of a moose along the most dangerous stretches of highway.


Excerpted from the Eighth Edition of Moon Atlantic Canada.

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