Canada’s got it all

Too often Canadians lament there’s a dearth of historical sites in our country. What do we have to compare with the Pyramids, the Acropolis or the Great Wall of China?Actually, quite a lot. In all, there are 506 natural and man-made wonders on UNESCO’s World Heritage List – places whose loss would impoverish mankind. Of those 506, Canada has a dozen World Heritage sites deemed to be among the most significant on the planet, according to the Canadian Geographic magazine:L’Anse aux Meadows: The remains of a 1,000-year-old Viking colony in Newfoundland, the site of the first known European settlement in North America.

^Historic area of Quebec City: Close to half the buildings in the historic quarter of the city were built before 1850. Some of the buildings date back to the era of New France and the founding of the city by Samuel de Champlain.

Gros Morne National Park: The scenery at Gros Morne in Newfoundland ranks among the most spectacular in Eastern Canada, states Canadian Geographic – with sharp ridges and huge cliffs, coastal bogs, highland tundra, dramatic ocean inlets and lakes.

Old Town Lunenburg/b> This Nova Scotia seaport, home of the famed Bluenose sailing clipper, is the best surviving example of a British “model town” in the new world. The first settlement was built in 1753 as a home for German, Swiss and French colonists. There are 400 buildings within the old town, 70 per cent of them from the 18th and 19th centuries.

Skung Gwaii: Once a thriving Haida community of 300 people, all that remains are abandoned wooden homes and memorial poles. In the 1880s, this village on one of the Queen Charlotte islands on Canada’s west coast, was decimated by disease.

Wood Buffalo National Park: Canada’s largest park with 44,807 square kilometres of boreal forest and plains, which sustain the largest free-roaming herd of bison – also known as buffalo – in the world.

Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Jump: For thousands of years, the bison provided the aboriginal peoples of North America with food, clothing and tools. The best place to kill large numbers of bison was at the buffalo jump, where herds were stampeded over the cliffs and butchered at the bottom. The park is located in the Porcupine Hills in southwestern Alberta.

Nahanni National Park Reserve: An area of towering mountains, tundra plains, wetlands, sand dunes, heavily-wooded forests along with bears and trumpeter swans in the Yukon.

Waterton Lakes National Park: High mountains and deep canyons mark this international area, which straddles Alberta and Montana. Mountain goats, bighorn sheep, coyotes, grizzly bears, a herd of elk and scores of birds inhabit the park.

Dinosaur Provincial Park: More than 300 dinosaur skeletons have been dug out of a 27-kilometre stretch along the Red Deer River in eastern Alberta since the 1880s. Its haunting hoodoos and isolated plateaus are the centre of Alberta’s badlands.

Canadian Rocky Mountains Parks: Last, but certainly not least, are the seven parks in the Canadian Rocky Mountains, a preserve of 22,990 square kilometres. The scenery of snow-capped peaks along the British Columbia-Alberta border is spectacular.