What happens when you get a group of professional Instagrammers and let them loose in the fall season in Canada? Well, they fall in love with autumn in Canada, and leaves, and …more glorious golden leaves…
Seeing the autumn leaves is one of the top attractions in Canada. Lauren Bath titles this image “Best Leaves Ever” and they surely are…
When is autumn in Canada? Mark your calender to visit from 21 September to 21 December.
Autumn in Canada
Well, everybody admires the change of colours announcing the end of summer and beginning of the winter season.
People flock to Canada’s fall season wooded areas to see the spectacle: masses of trees in colours that stun, from bright orange to flaming red, luminescent yellows to vivid copper.
Hundreds of years ago people used to play music and dance beneath trees changing colours in autumn.
I had once the opportunity to walk through a beech virgin forest surrounded by a golden halo of filtered light.
A sparse rain of trembling yellow leaves continuously fell from the canopy above.
The place was so quiet I could hear the leaves land when I stopped walking.
Coming from Australia to these broad-leaved deciduous forests is a big novelty because the Australian bush is mainly composed of eucalyptus and evergreen Acacias that shed continuously but don’t change colour.
So, predictably, our photographers Lauren Bath, Jeff Bartlett and Garry Norris have fallen in love with autumn in Canada and gone, well… leafing mad.
Where to experience Autumn in Canada
At Le Mauricie National Park, midway in between Quebec City and Montreal, the forests are stunning, particularly in autumn.
It’s one of the best offerings of Quebec.
There are over 30 species of trees covering 93% of the 544 square kilometres the park occupies.
Of the many species found, the yellow birch was chosen as Québec’s official tree.
Birches are sometimes called “The Watchful Tree” because of the eye-like impressions on the bark.
Is someone out there looking at you?
This vast rolling plateau broken up by lakes and dotted with waterfalls and streams was, for 8000 years, home to the Algonquin people known as Attikameks.
There are some 150 lakes in the area varying from small to really big lakes.
Our photographers boarded a seaplane to have a bird’s eye view of the National Park.
Well, do you guys pack special effects props in your luggage or do you just happen to have had a colourful umbrella at hand?
I love this lonely umbrella in the woods: a perfect bull’s eye to bring us straight to the only human presence there.
Hey! We Australians thought we have the only natural heart formation in the Whitsundays made of coral rock but look at what the Canadians have come up with (at higher elevations there are small lakes containing water with acid and this is one example):
Birches might dominate but there are also different species of pines, cedars, black spruce, oaks -including chestnut oaks-, elms, poplars, trembling aspens, sycamore and shagbark hickory, aside of course, from the ever-present maples.
But are there roses?
No roses but mouth-watering cupcakes looking like white roses.
You guys were treated royally I can see…
While onto sweets, you might recognise in the list of trees above a few you have tasted possibly on your pancakes.
Yes, maple syrup on your pancakes and hickory chips to flavour your barbecue.
Yum! But, did you know that there is also Birch Syrup?
A high-end product, yellow birch syrup has a distinctive caramel flavour and is attracting interest from chefs because of its great versatility.
It can be used in desserts as well as main courses and manufacturers are overwhelmed with the demand.
For millennia, these forests were of great importance to the First Nations of the area who used birch trees to construct bark canoes and wigwams.
Eastern Algonquian families lived in dome-shaped wigwams made of birch bark.
These abodes were easier to take down and transport than the Plain’s inhabitant’s tepees.
It seems unbelievable but 20,000 years ago, this area was completely covered by a glacier ten times higher than the surrounding mountains.
As it slowly moved southeast the glacier left lakes with sandy beaches and some massive deposits of erosion debris dammed the largest valley creating and separating Lakes Wapizagonke and Anticagamac.
The first non-indigenous peoples were trappers who traded in beaver pelts.
Logging in the 1850s reached peak fever and white pines were nearly decimated to build warships for the British Navy.
By 1880, white pine was scarce and spruce and fir became the next target to feed a thriving pulp and paper industry.
Between 1933 and 1970, 50% of the remaining forest cover was cut down and transported by river to the sawmills.
Since 1970, restoration of forests and waterways and the eradication of logging roads and white spruce plantations have provided protection for this magnificent place while making it accessible to everyone.
Now, dear reader, I am going to make myself some pancakes doused in maple syrup and eat them under my gum tree while I look at these images again and book a trip for next year’s autumn leaves.
Ah, I also have to find out where those divine cupcakes come from…
Things to do in Autumn in Canada
There’s plenty to do in Canada in Autumn. Here are some ideas:
1- Visit a Sugar Shack
Quebec is famous for its sugar shacks, which are open pretty much all year round. But if you choose to go in autumn, there’s the bonus of seeing autumn leaves.
2- Taste ice cider
Also in Quebec, it’s a lovely season to taste ice cider.
3- Go on a polar bear safari
It’s the season to see polar bears in Churchill, Manitoba. Churchill is known as the polar bear capital of the world and autumn is when the bears hang around waiting for the ice to form.
Vancouver Island is a fabulous spot to camp and autumn is also a great time to go camping or glamping in one of Canada’s national parks.
5- Discover the Thousand Islands from Gananoque
Discover Ontario’s Thousand Islands in the air and on the water. Try one of the Gananoque boat tours for a fun day out.
6- Ride the trans-Canadian train
Canada rail holidays area popular and easy way to see the countryside between Toronto and Vancouver. And watching the autumn trees whizz past is a comfortable way to see the fall.
7- Board the Rocky Mountaineer
The world-famous train trip is a scenic journey through the Rocky Mountains in Alberta and British Columbia
8- Explore the Icefields Parkway
The Icefields Parkway is the scenic route between Jasper National Park and Banff. Autumn is a lovely time to drive and there are plenty of stops along the way to view autumn leaves.
9- Go on a drive across Canada
Driving across Canada in autumn is a fantastic way to see the fall. You can stop whenever you want, to take photographs and soak up the autumn landscape.
10- Visit Butchart Gardens
Butchart Gardens is a garden for every season, including autumn.