a field guide to the planet - by Damon Ramsey
The second biggest country in the world has a lot of wilderness areas.
I was lucky enough to see some very scenic parts of Canada while a member of the expedition team with Silversea in the northern summer of 2019. While on board I gave my lecture: "An introduction to Canada; The land of Canucks, Chinooks, and Captain Kirk - and the second greatest country in North America!"
Canada geographically dominates North America, as it is bigger than the U.S.A. In fact, at almost 10 million square kilometres, it is the second largest country in the world. The population is relatively low, with less than 36 million people. Most people live in the south, not too far from the U.S.A. border.
Some of the land, such as Alberta, is famous for the fossils of dinosaurs, including the largest Tyrannosaurus skeleton ever found. Canada also has the oldest fossils of multi-cellular animals in the world. Elsewhere, the land is among the oldest rock in the world. In 1999, the oldest known rock on Earth was dated to 4.031 billion years, in north-western Canada.
It is estimated Canada has over 2 million lakes. In fact, there are more areas of lake in Canada than every other country in the world combined. In the Arctic north the land is dominated by Tundra, but much of the rest of the country is covered in forest, including various Conifers and of course Acer.
Various species of these Maple are found in Canada, and are a symbol of the country, including of course on the red and white flag.
It has the longest coastline of any country in the world. And it has the largest recorded tides of any place in the world - 16.3 metres at the Bay of Fundy.
And it is one of the best places in the world to see the 'northern lights', the aurora borealis.
In Autumn (or known in North America as Fall), the leaves start to lose their green colour producing chlorophyll, and the other anthocyanin and carotenoid pigments are revealed in the weeks before the leaves go brown, die and fall off. During this time of the year, the forests turn various reds and oranges, and the tourism to appreciate this is known as 'leaf peeping'.
There are other interesting plants, such as the Purple Pitcher Plant. This is not related at all to the Asian Nepenthes Pitcher Plants, but they look quite similar.
Because of the large expanse of wild areas with low population, the north retains examples of megafauna. The most famous are the Polar Bears.
The fjords of northern Canada are good for Arctic cetaceans, such as Narwhal and Beluga; although keep in mind views of these marine animals are often just splashes and lumps in the water.
Torngat Mountains National Park has incredible scenery and hosts wildlife.
Bonaventure Island hosts one of the biggest Gannet breeding colonies in the world.
Many cities in Canada are easily reached by international flight. You can also easily cross the border from the U.S.A. Access to the more remote northern parts of the country are trickier. Expedition ships regularly explore the top end of the country, including up into the Arctic.
Thinking of travelling again after everything settles down? One of the first expeditions I am booked to work on is the NZ sub-Antarctics with Silversea Expeditions. And here is a shortened version of one of my lectures in a warmer part of the world.