Those expecting Canada to be a version of the USA should check their assumptions at the door. Canada's wild northern frontier, which has etched itself into the national psyche, and its distinct patchwork of peoples have created a country that is decidedly different from its neighbor. It's the edginess between Canada's indigenous, French and British traditions that gives the nation its complex three-dimensional character. Add to this a constant infusion of US culture and a plethora of traditions brought by migrants, and you have a thriving multicultural society.
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The iconic Fairmont Le Chateau Frontenac blends the charm of the hotel's enchanting past with modern innovations.
The second-largest country in the world has sights enough to keep you going for several lifetimes. Its wild bounty of nature parks hold bald eagles, bears, lynxes, wolves and thousand-year-old pines. Its cities are shaking off their staid reputations and revelling in their cosmopolitan chic.
The Québec City Winter Carnival, which takes place during the first two weeks of February, features parades, ice sculptures, a snow slide, dances and music. Ottawa's three-week Winterlude fetes all things snowy and starts in early February. The Montréal Jazz Festival in late June or early July and the Ottawa International Jazz Festival in late July both attract international and local players. Two major events in Toronto are Caribana, held in July, which is a Caribbean festival of music, dancing and wild costumes, and the Pride Week, whose events are held throughout the downtown area in late June, culminating in an outrageous Pride Parade. In September, there's the Toronto International Film Festival. Calgary hosts the popular Calgary Stampede in the second week of July; the highlights are the chuck wagon race and rodeo. In the west, Victoria celebrates the First Peoples' Festival in early August with traditional craftwork, dancing and war-canoe rides.
Some public holidays are only celebrated regionally. They are: 3rd Monday in February - Family Day (Alberta); Monday nearest March 17 - St Patrick's Day (Newfoundland); Monday nearest April 23 - St George's Day (Newfoundland); June 24 - National Day (or St-Jean-Baptiste Day, Québec); Monday nearest June 24 - Discovery Day (Newfoundland); Monday nearest July 12 - Orangemen's Day (Newfoundland), and 3rd Monday in August - Discovery Day (Yukon).
Spring, summer and autumn are all ideal for touring, though if you want to ski you'll naturally have to come in winter or early spring. For campers and those who want to visit the far north, the summer months of July and August are best. Summer is also when many of the country's festivals take place. Note that the peak tourist season is between Victoria Day (late May) and Labour Day (early September). Although spring and autumn have fewer crowds, lower prices and a more relaxed pace than the summer months, some visitor-oriented facilities and attractions may be closed during these shoulder seasons.