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19 Canadian Wilderness Facts

Do you know that Canada has its own version of the Loch Ness Monster? Or that one of the country's scariest predators is a bird? There are many interesting facts about the Canadian wilderness.

A lone fisherman standing by the Bow River in Banff National Park, Alberta

This big country has a lot to see — and lots to learn about. It can be hard to know where to start. The travel experts at Canadian Train Vacation are here to help. We've put together a list of fun facts and must-see spots that will help you learn more about Canada's wild places. From the rugged Rocky Mountains and untouched boreal forests to the sandy beaches of the Pacific Northwest, Canada offers amazing natural beauty.

1. Canada has the most diverse weather in the world

From the cold tundra of the Arctic to the lush rainforests of the Pacific coast, the country has a wide range of climates. On the coast, the weather is generally mild year-round. In central Canada, the weather is more extreme with hot summers and cold winters. In the Arctic region of Canada, temperatures usually remain below zero. The weather is never the same across provinces.

Canada has some of the most inspiring landscapes in the world. There are mountains, glaciers, prairies, tundra, forests, and more. One of the best ways to see Canada's varied scenery is to take a train across the country, or drive through its national parks, like Banff and Jasper in the Canadian Rockies.  The best time to go to these parks is in the summer when the weather is pleasant, the lakes have thawed, and the snow has melted.

Curving train track next to a turquoise river, forest and towering mountains in summer

#1 Travel tip: Cross Canada by train

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You can travel across Canada on VIA Rail trains. On The Canadian train from Vancouver to Toronto, spend time in the Skyline dome car and enjoy panoramic top-floor views of the changing scenery.

Blog Author - Athena McKenzie
Athena McKenzie
Content Manager

2. Iceberg Alley is a highway for icebergs

Iceberg Alley is off the coast of Newfoundland and Labrador. It is where some of the most impressive icebergs in the world can be found. These huge pieces of ice come from Canada's Arctic glaciers and western Greenland glaciers. When they break off, they fall into the ocean and float south along the coast. You can take an Iceberg tour from St. John's or Twillingate, or drive along the coast to get to Iceberg Alley. April to June is the best time to go as this is when the icebergs are more plentiful.

Close up of an iceberg with curved edges

3. Mount Logan Is the Tallest Peak In North America, after Denali

Mount Logan is the tallest peak in North America after Denali. This beautiful mountain is in the Yukon Territory's Saint Elias Mountains. It is a popular place for experienced mountaineers and outdoor enthusiasts.

To get to the top of Mount Logan, you have to climb a difficult and physically demanding path, but the rewards are well worth it. From the top of the mountain, you have panoramic views of the wilderness around you. You must have mountaineering experience to reach the summit. 

Jagged snow-capped mountain peaks in the Yukon
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4. The Atlantic Ocean sometime freezes

Even though it may be hard to believe, the harsh winters in Eastern Canada can sometimes cause parts of the ocean to freeze over. This amazing natural event draws people from all over the world. During the winter months, people can go to the coast of Newfoundland and Labrador to see this natural wonder. Between December and March is the best time to go. 

5. The town of Churchill rarely locks their car doors because of polar bears

In the Canadian province of Manitoba, the town of Churchill is known for its strange and unusual custom of leaving cars unlocked. This is because the town is close to the Churchill Wildlife Management Area, where there lots of polar bears. There have been times when the bears have wandered into town and approached people. So the townspeople leave their doors unlocked so that anyone who needs to get away from a polar bear can jump into a car.

Explore Churchill and see polar bears on our Canadian Train and Polar Bear Experience.

Close up of a polar bear walking towards the camera

#2 Travel tip: Best time for polar bears

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If you want to see polar bears in Canada, head to Churchill in October or November. The bears congregate along the shores of Hudson Bay, waiting for the winter ice.

Blog Author - Hannah Poaros-Mcdermott
Hannah Poaros-McDermott
Travel Writer and Senior Content Coordinator

6. Hudson Bay has less gravity

One of the most interesting things about Canada's wilderness is that the Hudson Bay area doesn't have as much gravity as other parts of the planet. This is because the large bay has been constantly eroding the Canadian Shield for hundreds of years, causing a depression in the Earth's crust. As a result, the area around the bay has slightly less gravity than the areas around it.

A polar bear walking along the snowy shoreline next to Hudson Bay

7. You can run on the ocean floor in Nova Scotia

Extreme tides in the Bay of Fundy cause the water level to drop significantly, exposing a large area of mud flats. During the year's lowest time, runners emback on the "Not Since Moses" Run, an organized 5K and 10K course over the exposed ocean floor. It usually happens between August and November. Even when the race is not on, the low tides in the Bay of Fundy are an interesting sight.

People running on the muddy ocean floor with red rock formations behind

8. Banff National Park's lakes are turquoise

Banff National Park is a paradise for people who love nature, with its beautiful Rocky Mountains, large glaciers, and bright turquoise lakes. The lakes get their unusual colour from glacial silt suspended in the water. See these lakes on a Canadian Rockies trip.

Banff National Park has over 1.6 million acres of wilderness to explore and is home to wild animals, like elk, moose, and grizzly bears. The park is open year-round and can be reached by bus, train, or car. 

A person sitting on a rock looking at a turquoise lake in Banff

9. Canada has a version of the Loch Ness Monster

Canada is known for its huge wilderness and wide range of animals, but did you know that it also has its own Loch Ness Monster? The Ogopogo, also called Naitaka, is a lake monster that is said to live in British Columbia's Okanagan Lake. The creature is said to be long and snake-like, with a hump on its back. Locals have talked about it for hundreds of years. The first time the creature was seen on record was in 1872, and since then there have been many sightings, videos, and photos that claim to show it. Some people think the Ogopogo is just a story, but others think it is a real animal, possibly a living plesiosaur. Whether you believe in the Ogopogo or not, it makes the Canadian wilderness more mysterious and interesting.

Metal Ogopogo sculpture on a brick wall in West Kelowna

10. One of Canada's mightiest predators is a bird

There are many different kinds of animals in Canada's wild areas, including some of the most dangerous predators in the world. But did you know that one of the most lethal animals in Canada is a bird? The Bald Eagle is known for being a fierce hunter and can kill animals like deer with its sharp claws and strong beak. Don't worry — eagles are not known to attack humans, but people should protect their small pets. 

A bald eagle sitting in the trees

11. The lowest temperature ever recorded was -81.4 degrees Fahrenheit

The coldest temperature ever recorded in North America was in 1947 in Snag, Yukon. It was a bone-chilling -63 degrees Celsius (-81.4 degrees Fahrenheit). In the northern parts of Canada, where temperatures can drop to well below -40 degrees Celsius (-40 degrees Fahrenheit) in the winter, this kind of very cold weather is not unusual.

Two people in red winter jackets walk over ice and snow at Hudson Bay

12. Boreal forests are crucial ecosystems

These forests cover more than 60% of Canada's land area and are home to many different kinds of plants and animals. Not only do they provide homes for many endangered species, but they also help keep the Earth's climate in balance. Carbon sinks like these forests take in and store a lot of carbon dioxide, which helps reduce the effects of climate change.

A large part of eastern Quebec is covered by boreal forest, as seen in the image below. Canada's boreal forest stretches over Newfoundland and Labrador, Ontario, Manitoba, Alberta, northern British Columbia, the Yukon and the Northern Territories.

Aerial view of winding river through a boreal forest in Quebec

13. Trees must be replanted

The importance of regenerating forest land is one of the most interesting things about the Canadian wilderness. In Canada, there are strict forest laws and conservation guidelines. Areas of public land that have had trees cut down must be reforested. In some cases, this means that new trees are being planted to replace the ones that have been cut down. This makes sure that the forest stays healthy and can keep doing important things for the ecosystem, like storing carbon and keeping biodiversity.

Faint sunlight and mist over mountains and forest

14. Canada has northern sand dunes

The Athabasca Sand Dunes in Canada are the most northerly active sand dunes in the world. Located on the shores of Lake Athabasca, in the middle of a boreal forest, the dunes are a fragile environment and unusual ecosystem. 

Person walks along a large sand dune

15. Canada has more lakes than any other country in the world

Canada has more than 2 million lakes in total, ranging from small ponds to the huge Great Lakes. Some of the larger lakes offer activities like swimming, fishing, boating, and even scuba diving. It's easy to see why many Canadians are proud of their "cottage country" and the many water-based activities they can enjoy there. It's the perfect place for people who love nature and water sports.

Mountains behind Cheakamus Lake in Garibaldi Provincial Park on a summer day

16. Canada has many wild animals

Bears, wolves, and cougars live in Canada's backcountry, along with other predators. These animals are important to the ecosystem because they help keep the food chain in balance. When you're in the backcountry, it's important to always be aware of your surroundings and take the correct safety steps. Visitors should know what to do if they see a dangerous animal. With the right knowledge and planning, outdoor activities like hiking, camping, and hunting can be done safely in the backcountry. Generally, these animals leave humans alone.

A cougar sitting on a rocky ledge in the forest

17. Some of the tallest trees in the world are in Canada.

The coast redwood and Douglas fir can grow to be more than 300 feet tall. You can find these tall trees in places like Pacific Rim National Park, MacMillan Provincial Park and Jasper National Park. These trees are an important part of the ecosystem. They are home to many different kinds of animals.

Couple stand on a boardwalk in an old-growth forest in British Columbia

18. Canada has the largest concentration of snakes in one area

The Canadian wilderness is home to an incredible array of wildlife, including one of the largest concentrations of snakes in one area. There are up to 10,000 snakes at Narcisse Snake Dens in Manitoba. Visitors can expect to see red-sided garter snakes at the site. You can explore independently or on a guided tour. The best time to visit is during the warmer months, typically from May to September.

Many red-sided garter snakes slithering over each other

19. Canada is home to some of the largest animals in the world

Moose roam the forests and grizzly bears call the mountains their home. Canada's wilderness is teeming with big and majestic creatures. Visitors to the Canadian wilderness can expect to see animals like bison, elk, and caribou, all larger than their southern counterparts. Whether you're an avid wildlife enthusiast or just looking for a unique outdoor experience, Canada's wilderness is sure to impress with its iconic animals.

Close up of a grizzly bear walking through the trees

Final Thoughts

With so much natural beauty to explore in Canada, it's no surprise that many people choose to experience it via train vacations. Canadian Train Vacations specializes in offering unforgettable train journeys through the country's wilderness. Towering old-growth trees, snow-capped mountains, rugged coastlines, and abundant wildlife — there is so much to see in Canada. So pack your bags and join us for an incredible Canadian vacation.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the Canadian wilderness known for?

The Canadian wilderness is known for its vast, unspoiled landscapes, rich biodiversity, and abundance of natural resources. It is home to a wide variety of plant and animal species, including many that are unique to Canada.

What is the Canadian wilderness called?

The Canadian wilderness is also known as the Canadian boreal forest, which is the largest intact forest on earth.

Why is wilderness a symbol of Canada?

Wilderness is a symbol of Canada because it represents its natural heritage and connection to the land. It is also a source of inspiration and recreation for Canadians and plays a vital role in the country's economy and culture.

How big is Canada's wilderness?

Canada's wilderness covers an area of approximately 3.9 million square kilometers (1.5 million square miles).

What is the wildest place in Canada?

The wildest place in Canada is a matter of personal opinion and can vary depending on one's perspective. Some people may consider the Arctic tundra or the rugged mountains of the western provinces to be the wildest, while others may point to the pristine lakes and forests of the boreal region.

What is wilderness and why is it important?

Wilderness refers to natural areas that are relatively untouched by human development. It is important because it provides habitat for wildlife, protects biodiversity, stores carbon, and helps regulate the earth's climate. It also serves as a source of inspiration, recreation, and spiritual nourishment for people.

About the author: Louise Weiss is Director of Legendary Hospitality with Fresh Tracks Canada. Having worked in the Canadian travel industry for more than 25 years, she enjoys sharing her local expertise with visitors. She is based in North Vancouver and has spent time... Read more

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