I was surprised how many UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Canada there were, 18 to be exact. As I’m sure you’ve heard, this year is Canada’s 150th anniversary so there’s a lot of buzz in the travel industry about my home country. I mean, what’s not to love? We have the most polite people, a diverse landscape, maple syrup and Ryan Gosling.
Sadly I haven’t even scraped the surface of World Heritage Sites in Canada. It’s pretty expensive to travel within the country so I often find myself looking to visit a new country instead. I’ll definitely be looking to change this in the near future, especially when airlines like New Leaf are helping to make travel cheaper.
Take a look, how many have you visited?
L’Anse aux Meadows National Historic Site | Newfoundland and Labrador
This large piece of land on the West coast is best known for being an 11th century viking settlement. The beautiful landscape is not one to miss. In fact, for those of you that have traveled to Iceland you’ll find a similar landscape and settler artifacts here. L’Anse is the first known presence of European settlers in Canada, and possibly North America. As one who loves natural landscapes, the rugged cliffs and rolling hills are sure to please you.
Nahanni National Park | North West Territories
This National park is preserved as it protects a portion of the Mackenzie mountains. It’s here that you’ll find one of the most outstanding rivers in North America; the South Nahanni river. With huge canyons and large waterfalls this national park shows you what Canadian landscapes are all about. The North West Territories are pretty remote and more difficult to get to; which is what makes the Nahanni National Park that much better.
Dinosaur Provincial Park | Alberta
The Dinosaur Provincial Park looks like the most bad ass place of all the world heritage sites in Canada. Obviously it’s gotten its name for being the destination with some of the most important fossil discoveries known to mankind. There’s been around 35 different species of dinosaur’s found here. The landscape in general of this national park looks incredible. Obviously one for the bucket list.
Glacier Bay | Yukon, British Columbia
These world heritage site is actually four combined; Kluane, Wrangell-St. Elias, Glacier Bay and Tatshenshini-Alesk. All four make up a stretch between British Columbia, the Yukon and Alaska. You’ll find, as the name suggests lots of glaciers and high peaked mountains here. It’s also home to some pretty crazy wildlife; grizzly bears, caribou and Dall’s sheep (whatever the heck those are).
Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Jump | Alberta
Another amazing spot in Alberta is the Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Jump. I know, I couldn’t believe the name either. This national park is home to an aboriginal camp. It’s also the home of where large amounts of buffalo skeletons can be found. The reason this park got it’s name is from an old hunting tactic the Aboriginals would use. They would chase the buffalo over the cliff, where, well, I’m sure you can imagine what happened.
SGang Gwaay | British Columbia
To be honest I’m not even sure I could help you with the pronunciation of this world heritage site in Canada. This spot is actually an old village from Nans Dins located on a small Island in British Columbia. It’s a bit of a haunting place as it used to be home to over 300 residents but is now deserted. When disease wiped out the population in the 1880’s what is left is all that remained. It’s no easy feat getting there but once you arrive it’s apparently worth it.
Wood Buffalo National Park | Alberta
This National Park and World Heritage Site is home to the world’s largest population of wild bison. It’s also the world’s largest inland delta connecting the Peace and Athabasca Rivers. Not only that, it’s Canada’s largest National Park, which in a country so big you know that’s saying something about its size!
Canadian Rocky Mountain Parks | British Columbia, Alberta
The Canadian Rocky Mountain Parks World Heritage Site is actually a combination of four parks in Canada; Banff, Jasper, Kootenay and Yoho. They are also the most photographed and famous parks within Canada. Here you’ll find plenty of breathtaking and amazing hiking trails, waterfalls, lakes, ski hills, limestone caves and glaciers. I think if I had to choose only one of the World Heritage sites in Canada to visit, this would be at the top of my list.
Historic District of Old Québec | Quebec
The Historic District of Old Quebec, or in short Old Quebec is as close to Europe as you can get in Canada. Built in the 17th century, this World Heritage site is a much loved and popular tourist spot in Canada. My recommendation is to visit in the winter, it’s hard to beat the romantic undertones of the freshly fallen snow and beautiful Christmas decorations in this old city. It’s a great place to visit for a weekend if you’re looking for something a little different – you won’t find anything else like it in North America.
Gros Morne National Park | Newfoundland and Labrador
Gros Morne National Park is another area that looks very similar to Iceland with its fjords and vast mountains. It’s said to be a rare spot in North America where you can physically see the continental divide. The ocean crust and rocks of the Earth’s mantle are exposed here, making it quite a unique spot to explore. It looks like landscape you wouldn’t want to stop taking pictures of!
Old Town Lunenburg | Nova Scotia
This colourful town located in Nova Scotia has become a World Heritage site in Canada for it’s surviving example of British Colonial settlements in North America. The town was founded in the mid-1700s and for the most part has maintained its original image. While it’s taken quite a bit of upkeep from the tenants, the people of Old Town Lunenburg have done an unbelievable job maintaining the wooden architecture and homes.
Waterton Glacier International Peace Park | Alberta
Waterton Glacier park makes up one half of what has become the world’s largest International Peace Park. The other half is the Glacier National Park in Montana. The parks sit together bordering each others country with breathtaking landscapes. The parks are home to quite a number of animals and different types of species. I mean really, how can you not love a beautiful landscape like that, that stands for peace?
Miguasha National Park | Quebec
The Miguasha National Park is the world’s biggest example of the Devonian Period, also known as “age of fishes”. In fact it’s here that you’ll find five out of the six fossil fish groups from that period of time. You know, if you’re into that kind of stuff. Personally, I would be travelling over for beautiful landscape and peacefulness of the ocean at this particular inlet but hey, that’s just me.
Rideau Canal | Ottawa
The Rideau Canal holds a bit of a soft spot in my heart actually. After living in Ottawa for 5 years I got to know the city, and the canal very well. In the summer the Canal makes for the perfect spot to go for a jog or bike and in the winter it turns into the longest skating rink in the world. You can stake along the canal from one side of the city to the other far faster than a car would be able to travel and it’s really one of the most unique experiences.
Joggins Fossil Cliffs | Nova Scotia
Located on the East coast of Canada, the Joggins Fossil Cliffs have been known also as the ‘cold age Galapagos’. You’ll also find a wide range of fossils here with rocks that are quite epic for the Carboniferous period. The site has three ecosystems combined; estaurine bay, floodplain rainforest and fire prone forested alluvial plain with freshwater pools. Whew, that’s quite the mouthful. In short? It’s as gorgeous as it is diverse.
Landscape of Grand Pré | Nova Scotia
The Landscape Grand Pre in Nova Scotia is a marshland that actually helped to form current day farming using dykes and the wooden sluice system. It’s also home to the Acadian settlement in the late 1600s. While the landscape looks quite simple and normal, the history you’ll find here is worth the visit.
Red Bay Basque Whaling Station | Newfoundland and Labrador
This World Heritage site in Canada is the former home to several of the Basque whaling stations and fishing village. It’s the earliest known spot of early European whaling traditions (as horrible as that is) and was founded in the 16th century. While it now only looks like a normal fishing village, you can get a pretty good sense of what life must have been like for them back then.
Mistaken Point | Newfoundland and Labrador
Last but not least in the list of World Heritage sites in Canada is Mistaken Point. This national park consists of a 17-km long strip of ragged and beautifully jagged cliffs. It’s also home to the oldest known assemblages of fossils found anywhere in the world. Just looking at pictures of this spot though make Mistaken Point a must-see. It looks as if it can be as spooky as it is beautiful, and all at the same time!
There you have it! All 18 UNESCO World Heritage sites in Canada. Which one will you be visiting first?