A sense of immensity pervades any cross-country tour of Canada. In a space of 3,855,102 sq mi/9,984,670 sq km, just slightly more than 30 million people occupy it, 90% of whom cling to the warmer areas near its southern border with the U.S.
But the country is far from empty. If you're traveling via Canada's excellent road network, you may have trouble concentrating on your driving with the abundance of natural beauty looming beyond your windshield. And you'll be tempted to park your car for days as you enjoy the neighborly hospitality of its world-class cities.
From the fogs of Halifax Harbour to the quaint sophistication of Montreal, the international vivacity of Toronto and the nearby honeymoon mecca of Niagara Falls, the eastern half of the country can easily occupy the span of a multiweek tour.
But the wide-open spaces of the west and the vistas of a wild northern frontier will satisfy the appetite of anyone in search of an adventure in an untamed, magnificent wilderness. From the heartlands of Winnipeg and Saskatoon to the awe-inspiring Rockies surrounding Calgary and Edmonton, Canada's west will elicit the cowboy in even the strictest city dweller. Regardless of where you venture, you'll welcome the opportunity to lose yourself in Canada's vastness.
Atlantic Provinces(New Brunswick, Newfoundland and Labrador, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island) - This region is known for its history, particularly during the formation of Canada as a sovereign state. Atlantic Canada is well-known for unique accents, the origin of Acadian culture, natural beauty (particularly around coastal areas), the historic beauty of Halifax, and a huge fishing and shipping industry. It is also home to the distinctive culture of Newfoundland and Labrador, which was simultaneously the first part of what is now Canada to be explored by Europeans and the last part to join the confederation.
Quebec - One of the most unique regions in Canada, and for that matter, North America. Originally settled as part of New France, Quebec is culturally distinct from the rest of Canada. French is the dominant language, unlike the rest of the country, and the province is known for great cultural sites like Quebec City's Winter Festival, Montreal's classic architecture, and maple syrup and poutine (two staples of Canadian cuisine). Montreal is also the second largest French-speaking city in the world, though through centuries of influence from both the British and the French, its inhabitants have developed a distinct sense of identity.
Ontario - Canada's most populous province is also quite geographically vast, allowing for endless activities to partake in. Toronto, Canada's largest city, is eclectic and vibrant, and prides itself on its multiculturalism. The province is also home to Ottawa, Canada's charming, bilingual capital, as well as Niagara Falls, and the untapped natural beauty of the Muskoka and beyond. All these things and more make Ontario showcase a lot of what is considered quintessentially Canadian by outsiders.
Prairies (Alberta, Manitoba, Saskatchewan) - Known for their vast open spaces and plentiful resources, the Canadian Prairies are a dynamic set of provinces with some of the most stunning natural beauty in the world. On the western edge of the Prairies, in Alberta lie the mountainous national parks of Banff and Jasper, and on the eastern edge in Manitoba, lies the beginning of the Canadian Shield, which contains some of the oldest rock on the surface of the earth. The major cities of Calgary, Edmonton, and Winnipeg are modern cities with everything from massive rodeos to high-class museums.
British Columbia - Colloquially known as "B.C.", this province prides itself on being beautiful. From cultured Vancouver, to charming Victoria, to the iconic ski slopes in Whistler, to the wineries of the Okanagan, B.C. is filled with wonder, both natural and man-made. The province also has the mildest winters in Canada on average (though often cloudy), especially in coastal regions, making it popular with Canadians who are less enthusiastic about winter.
The North (Northwest Territories, Nunavut, Yukon) - The Territories are some of the most remote regions on Earth and constitute most of Canada's landmass. Though more known for their unique fauna and landscapes, the Territories also have some interesting human settlements, including Dawson City, a city that looks nearly untouched from the gold rush of 1898, and Iqaluit, Canada's newest territorial capital, which is home to some interestingly adaptive architecture to the harsh climate of the North.