Canada is the land of the maple leaf, the true north strong and free, a place where the national symbol is the busy beaver and the varied landscapes are more stunning in real life than they are in the brochures. Dig a little deeper and you’ll soon discover the cool things that linger north of the 49th parallel. Here is my list of top 10 cool things you’ll find in Canada (in no particular order) verging on the scientific and unexplained.
Get a cool free car tow at these hills in the east. Canada’s magnetic pull is especially apparent at these two hills in Quebec and New Brunswick.
In Moncton, New Brunswick, tourists are baffled when they put their vehicle in neutral at Magnetic Hill. Their car will be magically pulled uphill.
The same strange phenomenon happens in Chartierville, Quebec. Drive to the bilingual sign, Cote Magnetique, put on the hazard lights, look behind and give it a try. Watch the strange phenomenon at 1:37 of this video clip
2-Canada’s cool version of the Dead Sea
In the middle of the prairies, there’s a lake where the waters purport to be the cure-all miracle. Locals swear Little Manitou Lake in Saskatchewan has special healing powers.
Legends even suggest a pile of crutches were left by the shoreline by those whose ailments were magically cured. But don’t even try to hit the bottom of the lake as this bottomless salty tasting lake makes everyone float. Submerged in a natural setting, folks venture to Little Manitou Lake to give this outdoor spa a try. It might be salty, stinky and sludgy but beach-goers do enjoy slathering on the mud for a good old fashioned mud bath.
3-Cell phone mania
Before the IPhone became the rage there was a world of Blackberry users who were committed to this brand of mobile device. Heads of state and nobility were even known to clutch the tiny thin black wireless technology in their hand.
Most Blackberry users would not have cared the wee phone that connected them as they roamed the world is actually a homegrown Canadian invention.
The company is Research in Motion headquartered in Waterloo, Ontario.
4-Cool: Please call home
You might be used to getting those phone messages and texts to “please call home”. However, the smart phones we now use would not have been invented if not for the brilliance of the father of the telephone, Alexander Graham Bell.
Born in Scotland, Bell moved to the small Canadian town of Brantford, Ontario with his parents and at the age of 27 he invented the telephone.
History buffs and invention enthusiasts are lucky that Canada has a few spots from which to admire and reflect on Bell’s life. Visit his homestead, now a historic site in Brantford and see the Alexander Graham Bell Historic Site in Baddeck, Nova Scotia.
5-Cool as ice
Every year in Quebec there’s an enormous undertaking to create the country’s largest ice hotel. Snow movers, carvers and builders shift around 400 tons of ice and 12,000 tons of snow to erect a massive ice castle.
In true Quebecois style, the interiors are smartly furnished and the ice hotel guests are kept entertained and lubricated at the ice bar. An ice wedding chapel is very popular with brides and grooms hailing as far as Australia.
6-A desert that might not be hot but it’s sure cool
Canada has a desert. You need to trek to Osoyoos into British Columbia’s south for this cool discovery. Once you arrive don’t blink because you might miss the strange setting.
The sand span sometimes nicknamed ‘Canada’s pocket desert’ for its boutique-small size only about 24-km long is the only desert in the world that has an elevated pedestrian boardwalk so visitors don’t sink into the cool sandy mounds.
7-Cool Natural Skyscrapers
Before the invention of multi-storey towers, Canada’s trees especially the redwoods and cedars were the nation’s skyscrapers.
Curious visitors can see some amazing groves in British Columbia like at the Cathedral Grove on Vancouver Island or visit the Hanging Garden Tree on Meares Island, where it’s believed one of the world’s oldest western red cedars and Canada’s largest tree has been standing for nearly 2,000 years. Big Tree Trail at Meares Island is a terrific must-do.
8-Cool Iceberg Alley
On a sunny day take a guided boat cruise along Canada’s east coast off Labrador and Newfoundland to watch icy mammoths and frozen towers so high you need to crane your neck.
The legendary Iceberg Alley is the spot to be at in spring.
The average iceberg weighs 200,000 tons and is the size of about a 15-storey building. Over 90 percent of an iceberg is underwater.
The double cool thing is that these glacial giants are over 10,000 years old.
9-Cool Snakes …these snakes don’t need ladders!!
Venture to the deepest pockets of Manitoba’s interlake country in spring to witness the largest aggregation of snakes anywhere in the world.
This bizarre annual natural phenomenon is the mating dance of thousands of red-sided garter snakes.
Located in Narcisse, tens of thousands of slithery red-sided garter snakes appear at the Narcisse Snake Den, a natural sink hole that’s the size of your living room, in the Narcisse Wildlife Management Area.
See for yourself through this captivating video from National Geographic
10-Cool world of monsters
Canada’s big three would be the perfect stars for a horror movie. There’s the rarely seen Sasquatch a.k.a. Bigfoot, a black hairy beast akin to a monster guerrilla that lurks in the back country of British Columbia. There’s lots of folklore surrounding Bigfoot, along with some alleged sightings among them dating as early as 1864. Legend says a fur trader and his party were in the Fraser River Canyon and attacked by ‘hairy humanoids which threw rocks at them.’ Most likely, drinking the moonshine helped contribute to this bizarre occurrence.
British Columbia has another monster, the Ogopogo, a mysterious sea serpent resembling Scotland’s Loch Ness Monster.
B.C.’s beastie lives in Lake Okanagan. The local Salish Native people call it Naitaka meaning ‘lake demon.’ If you can’t spot him (nobody really has) don’t worry. You can visit Kelowna’s city park to grab a selfie with the popular Ogopogo statue.
Quebec also lays claim to its version of Nessie. Memphre, the long neck lake monster apparently lurks in Lake Memphremagog, a vast sea-like lake that straddles the Canadian-U.S. border bookended by two picture pretty towns Magog in Quebec and Newport, Vermont.
Now isn’t Canada cool? Come discover other cool spots in Canada for yourself. And if you have any suggestions for cool spots to visit please leave a message in the comments below.
Ilona Kauremszky is an award-winning freelance writer who lives in Toronto and has travelled extensively throughout Canada.