Today I bring you a guest post from blogger Alexandre Duval. I welcome him to my little piece of the Burbs as he reflects on his top three “must see” destinations in my favourite country in the world, Canada!
Almost everyone would agree that there are some cities in the United States that everyone should get to see at least once in their life. San Francisco, New York City, Boston, Chicago and the likes are more than worth a detour, and Americans are right to be proud of these urban, modern destinations. Yet, the United States’ northern neighbour – namely, Canada – also is endowed with remarkable cities that absolutely ought to be seen. Here is a list of three inviting Canadian urban destinations that will make you feel like crossing the border right away.
In 2006, the Canadian census showed that more than half of Toronto’s inhabitants were foreign-born, making the metropolis what is undoubtedly one of the most – if not the most – multicultural city on the planet. With half its population declaring being part of a visible minority, Toronto is made of an unmatched blend of cultures: more than 140 languages and dialects are spoken across the city. If some people would rapidly be brought to think that the city’s multicultural aspect rhymes with an eroded social fabric, the reality is quite the opposite: Toronto was ranked the safest large metropolitan area in North America by Places Rated Almanac.
Toronto’s diversity makes the city a very interesting destination for visitors who wish to experiment eclectic decors within a single city: the busy downtown area and its skyscrapers, the inimitable Chinatown, the glamorous Yorkville, the artsy Distillery District and Liberty Village, the magnificent Lakeshore and the eccentric Kensington Market are all so distinct that visiting one part of town after the other will make you feel like you are taking multiple little trips all at once! Once mostly renowned for being Canada’s economic hub, Toronto nowadays has an enviable cultural life that unites with booming gastronomy, thereby offering a flawless urban destination to tourists.
Although quite different from Toronto, Montreal nonetheless shares some common characteristics with the Ontarian capital: diverse, eclectic and always busy, Montreal is a must-see. Known for being the city of festivals, Montreal offers an unmatched cultural program throughout the year: the Jazz Festival, the Francofolies, Osheaga, the Just For Laughs Festival, the Loto-Québec International Fireworks Competition, the Igloofest, the World Film Festival, Montréal en Lumière, la Fête des Neiges… and the list goes on and on! No matter the time of the year you are planning on visiting Montreal, chances are that there will be at least one festival going on!
Montreal also is quite interesting and charming because of its French aspect. As the metropolis of the francophone province of Quebec, Montreal represents the heart of Quebecois culture: with all the events, shows, concerts that are offered across the city, it could not be otherwise! Visiting the Old Port and Old Montreal districts will bring you hundreds of years back; looking at the buildings will give you a little sense of Europe in North America. What’s more, Montreal has become a top, avant-garde destination for foodies. There is no way you can miss this city!
3. Quebec City
With more than 400 years of history behind it, the capital of the province of Quebec undoubtedly is Canada’s most picturesque, romantic and enchanting destination. In effect, Quebec City’s historical core is a UNECSO World Heritage Site which has not only kept its original fortifications (being the only North American city to have done so), but also has been the target of continued efforts to keep it authentic. Efforts are obviously paying off as Quebec City remains “that little piece of France in contemporary Canada”.
Quebec City is becoming an ever more-complete destination that is offering excitement, gastronomy, culture and sports beyond its historical and architectural trademarks. Traditionally, visitors went to Quebec City mostly – if not only – to walk through its historical district. However, throughout the past decade, things have changed quickly… and for the best! Indeed, some districts – such as the Nouvo St-Roch, Limoilou, St-Sauveur and even Sillery for its fabulous Promenade Samuel-de-Champlain) have boomed and now represent attractions that absolutely must be seen. Of course, “that little piece of France in contemporary Canada” remains the architectural and historical pearl along the St. Lawrence… but it now has multiple personalities within the same body!
About the author: Alexandre Duval is a blogger for Standard Life, a company offering dynamic mutual funds and retirement products. Alexandre has lived, studied and worked in Quebec City, in Toronto, in Montreal as well as in the United States and in France.