O Canada - The Best Place To Live in Canada
The Best Places To Live In Canada
I was born on the West Coast, and I will always be a West Coaster. You can't take the ocean out of the girl...but after growing up traveling from coast to coast, and having lived in almost every province in this vast and beautiful country, I settled in Alberta. It wasn't my choice at the time, but now I can't think of a better place to live. In fact, to me, it's one of the best places to live in Canada.
Most folks who know Alberta are familiar with Banff and Jasper, two internationally renown mountain resort towns famous for their world-class skiing and unrivaled mountain vistas.
Two of my favorite spots are slightly less well known, but each is remarkable for its own wild, unique, and totally spectacular scenery. Both spots are high on my list of the best places to live, and, as the cost of living remains low and services improve, more seniors than ever, especially those with an eye for the unique and the remote, are looking to these areas as places to retire.
Mind you, the seasonal temperature range in either spot is not for the faint of heart, especially the badlands of Southern Alberta. Peace River Country, though, is one of the fastest developing regions in the province, with both industrial and agricultural projects vying for land and attention. Some of the best honey in the world comes out of the fields and hills around Peace River.
They call it Big Sky Country, and it certainly is. Watching a summer storm roll in, billowing clouds filling the miles-long horizon, brazen green-tinged sky below riven by white-hot flares of lightening, black roiling thunderheads above, charging down in at breakneck speed - cinematographers live for scenes like that.
You can see the weather coming for miles here, and when the leaden, snow-laden winter clouds settle in, piling up all along the edges of the sky, you know that Old Man Winter is here to stay for a while.
Long known in the United States as a hunter's paradise, the Peace River area plays host to big game hunters from around the world. Hunters return each fall from Germany, Japan, and other far-flung places to enjoy some of the wildest and most beautiful untouched back-country still in existence.
A recent entry into the eco-tourism field, hunting with a camera, photo-hunting, is proving to be a big draw. The participants experience the same thrills as the sport hunter - "roughing it", trekking wilderness area with experienced guides, fresh air and amazing food, and stalking their prey. The prey gets to go home too though, and at the end of the day, the hunters carry away the experience of a lifetime, and they have the photos to prove it.
To be sure, it takes a special kind of person to live there. Major centers are few and far between, and local shopping may leave something to be desired if you are used to perusing your corner boutiques for the latest fashions from Paris and New York.
You would, however, have access to some of the best produce, farm-fresh poultry, eggs, and specialty meats, in the world. Several farms from this area are featured producers, staple providers of quality meat products at the local farmers' markets in the city where I now live, Their sausages, pepperoni, salami, and smoked meats appear on supermarket shelves across this country as well as in some large chain stores south of the border.
The original settlers came form a variety of ethnic and cultural backgrounds, but they had a few things in common beside their desire for land. They had a pioneering spirit - they were willing to work hard for what they wanted. They believed that they should stand on their own two feet and make a life - a life free from well-intentioned government interference. Many feel that localized government is far more responsive to the needs of its people than some faceless beaurocrats at the other end of the country.
That spirit of independence seems to pervade the very air up there. The people stand a little taller, walk a little prouder. They help out a neighbor without a second thought, and without waiting for some agency to intervene because "that's just what you do". If you have pioneering spirit and a Northerner's attitude this little piece of wild heaven might be the place for you.
A Small Sampling of Alberta's Splendors
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- Jasper Alberta: Guide to Jasper National Park in the Canadian Rockies
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- Banff Alberta-Banff National Park
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- Alberta\'s Rocky Mountains: WorldWeb.com Travel Guide for the Alberta Rockies
Discover Alberta's Rocky Mountains with WorldWeb.com's travel guide and vacation planner for Alberta's Rockies, Canada.
- Travel Alberta Canada - Vacation Guides
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Drumheller, Dinosaur Country, The Royal Tyrrell Museum, The Hoodoos, Writing On Stone National Park - these are names to conjure by.
In 1884, in an unassuming corner of the Alberta - the Red Deer River Valley - Joseph Burr Tyrrell uncovered the fossilized remains of a dinosaur. Named for its founder, the Royal Tyrrell Museum, world renown and the only one in Canada dedicated solely to the study of Paleontology, opened September 25, 1985 and was given "Royal" status by Queen Elizabeth II in 1990.
Some 47,000 square feet of the museum’s sprawling 121,000 square foot complex is dedicated to a series of display galleries that tell the history of our earth – some 3.9 billion years of it.
One of the most popular exhibits is the Dinosaur Hall with over 40 mounted skeletons. It includes such wonders as T-Rex, the mighty Tyrannosaurus, and Albertosaurus, an impressive smaller cousin to T-Rex, weighing in at only two tons.
Of all the other exhibits, the most popular are Lords of the Land, a vast exhibit dedicated to the dinosaurs, Devonian Reef, a life-sized model of a million year old reef, and the Cretaceous Garden which houses over 600 species of living plants.
Another popular pair of exhibits, Age of Mammals and Ice Ages, cover mammalian life in the Cenozoic Age.
A window into the Preparation Lab affords visitors a glimpse into the work of the skilled technicians who carefully prepare the fossils for research and exhibition.
…and no visit to the Royal Tyrrell would be complete without taking in some of the interactive educational stations simulating fossil digs, fossil casting, and much more.
The first thing you notice though, when you step out of your hopefully air conditioned vehicle is the heat. The second is the wind. After you have chased down your sunhat for the third or fourth time, you begin to understand how that elemental force of nature, almost always present in these parts, could have eroded something as hard as stone into the amazing tortured shapes of the hoodoos.
Carved from living rock, worn and burnished into fantastic shapes by the ever-present wind, the Hoodoos are among the most amazing natural sights on this planet...and I do mean ever-present wind. I have never seen a day in Lethbridge without wind ranging from a gentle zephyr to a full-out, gale-force blow.
You can always spot someone from Lethbridge. They walk with a slight forward lean - a survival technique made habitual by constantly thrusting oneself forward against the prevailing winds. They also exhibit a slightly bemused look when emerging from their vehicles, hands at the ready to grab hats, scarves, and outer wear to keep it from blowing away, only to discover there is no wind to pull at their clothing and send them pelting down the street after their errant headgear.
The sheer grandeur of the scenery more than makes up for the heat and the restless air. Some have described the badlands and the Hoodoos as looking like "the far side of the moon and about as hospitable". Theirs is an austere grandeur, a remote and harsh beauty, once seen impossible to forget. Not everyone's cup of tea...but an amazing experience, nonetheless, and one not to be missed.
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