Canada is an enormous country, covering a massive 10 million sq km, making it the world’s second-largest country, and way too big to explore in one short visit. Its vast size and its varied geography mean that whatever you fancy seeing you’ll find here: from the snow capped Rocky Mountains to many miles of unspoilt coastline; from miles and miles of open prairie grasslands to as many as 8 different forest regions, including the boreal forests of the north.
You can volunteer in isolated, out of the way islands reachable only by boat, or in one of the vibrant, multicultural cities that provide Canada with its wonderful cultural life: and even then you can choose the flavour of the far west or of old France! Our hosts offer opportunities to volunteer which are as varied as the landscape itself: you can help on a cattle ranch, horse breeding farm, lavender farm or a vineyard; you can accompanying groups on ghost hunting adventures or hiking through the wilderness, work as an au pair or look after pets, and even learn about First Nation spirituality and wildcrafting.
And of course when you are not volunteering you can take the opportunity to visit some of this wonderful country, celebrated for its natural beauty. Apart from its exciting cities, Canada has more lakes than any other country, as well as over 125,000 miles of coastline, making it a great place for water sports. It also has 42 National Parks and 14 World Heritage Sites. In short Canada can offer nature, culture and history in abundance. Here are just a few places to tempt you, moving east to west...
If you are volunteering on the East Coast you can visit the Bay of Fundy, a 170-mile-long ocean bay that stretches between the provinces of New Brunswick and Nova Scotia offering one of the world’s most dramatic and dynamic coastlines, or walk the Cabot Trail which loops around the northern tip of Cape Breton Island, Nova Scotia, and is over 185 miles long. The trail passes through many small towns and villages, each with breathtaking scenery and offering great hospitality.
Canadian culture is influenced by British, French and indigenous influences, and it is in Quebec City and Montreal that the French have left their mark. Quebec culture is rich and unique from the rest of Canada, and nowhere is it more evident than here. Old Quebec City is surrounded by a stone wall that once protected the city from the British Navy, making it one of the last walled cities to be built. Montreal is the world‘s second largest French speaking city (second only to Paris): here you browse in French boutiques; enjoy some of the best cafes and restaurants in the world; visit both historic buildings and modern skyscrapers; enjoy the exciting nightlife; and watch the sun rise and set at the port - all within walking distance in this compact city.
The Niagara Falls straddle Canada’s border with the USA: the falls are 17 miles (27 km) northwest of Buffalo, New York and 75 miles (120 km) southeast of Toronto. On the Canadian side you will find platforms with spectacular views of the falls, and underground walkways that lead into observation rooms which give the illusion of being within the falling waters. Toronto is Canada’s biggest city with its own multicultural flavour and plentiful museums and art galleries. Ottawa, Canada’s capital, is smaller, but still a great place to discover Canadian culture. The Rideau Canal, which connects the Ottawa River to the Great Lakes, forms the longest skating rink in the world when it freezes.
The Canadian Rockies are a home to five national parks, four of which (Banff, Jasper, Kootenay and Yoho) make up the Canadian Rocky Mountain Parks World Heritage site. Take your camera and a spare memory card to catch the peaks, glaciers, lakes, waterfalls, canyons and caves, as well as the guaranteed wildlife sightings of bears, elk, deer and mountain goats. Banff offers plenty of hotels and some wonderful outdoor hot-springs; camping grounds are plentiful throughout the region, and don’t miss Lake Louise, a large turquoise lake fed from a glacier that can be seen in the distance.
British Columbia is home to what some say is Canada’s most vibrant city, Vancover, with its multicultural, Pacific West Coast feel. British Columbia (BC) is also home to the Pacific Rim National Park which is loved by hikers for its varied terrain of rugged coastline and lush rainforest. Watch out for whales, seals and sea lions. And on the BC side of the Rockies is Okanagan Valley with some of Canada‘s best weather – a wine producing area this is a holiday destination for many Canadians.
Finally, let’s not forget what the great northern expanses of Canada have to offer, including Baffin Island, an extremely remote spot, located in Arctic Ocean. The island offers the traveller unique experiences such as the sight of polar bears, or the Northern Lights, and kayaking between ice flows.