By Scott Opichal | University of Alberta
Photo: IDChris7 – Own work, CC BY 4.0
Twillingate, Newfoundland and Labrador
The small fishing town of Twillingate – with its quiet country roads, amazing coastline, and friendly locals – perfectly depicts what the province can offer.
The Town of Twillingate is spread over the two land masses that make up Newfoundland’s Twillingate Islands, located just north of the province’s main island. The area is renowned for its sea life — with huge icebergs just off the shore of Notre Dame Bay, plenty of whales, dolphins, and seals live nearby. In addition, the town is full of museums dedicated to the history of the local fishing industry and the people who have settled in this remote corner of Newfoundland.
Photo: Patrick Mueller from apex, usa – Twillingate, CC BY 2.0
Cavendish, Prince Edward Island
Anyone visiting this lovely town will likely agree that there’s a little magic in the air here.
Cavendish is a small rural town on the coast of Prince Edward Island, with a population of fewer than 300 residents, which grows in the summertime due to a tourism spike. The long beach on the north part of the island is perfect for a warm dip or nighttime walk. Pristine Cavendish Beach is at the gateway into the Prince Edward Island National Park, which boasts panoramic views of the shoreline looking out into the Gulf of St. Lawrence.
Photo: chensiyuan – chensiyuan, CC BY-SA 4.0
Lunenburg is a small town on the south shore of Nova Scotia with colourful streets steeped in German and maritime history. It is a popular stop on the tourist trail in Nova Scotia, and for a good reason, with many different things to see, do, and, of course, eat.
Lunenburg is pretty much the poster child for adorable East Coast towns. A UNESCO World Heritage Site, around 70% of the town’s original buildings from the 18th and 19th centuries are still intact and painted the town’s signature bright colours intact. Lunenburg is also full of Nova Scotia’s trademark friendliness, fun shops, and restaurants that trade in fresh Nova Scotia lobster dinners and seafood chowder.
Photo: Taxiarchos228, CC BY-SA 3.0
Known as the “gem of Lake Ontario” for its prime location on the lakeshore between Toronto and Kingston and an amazing waterfront.
Cobourg is rich in heritage and history. This prosperous and attractive town features many architectural gems dating to the 19th century. You’ll also find a spectacular sandy beach with a picturesque boardwalk, shady park, campgrounds, nature trails, and a world-class marina.
Stroll the boardwalk as you head down to Cobourg Beach for white sand and views of Lake Ontario. Go for a walk, hike the nearby trails, or hop on a bike and explore the natural scenery along the Rice Lake Ramble or Shelter Valley cycling routes.
Photo: Cobourg, Lake Ontario, 1840; Philip John Bainbridge – collectionscanada.gc.ca, Public Domain
It is often said that Peggy’s Cove is one of the most frequently photographed locations in all of Canada, and arguably it’s the most photographed lighthouse in the world. For many tourists, visiting Peggy’s Cove is on their bucket list of places they wish to travel to.
The lighthouse at Peggy’s Cove is one of Canada’s most iconic landmarks, but there’s much more to this site on the east coast of Nova Scotia. The village at St Margaret’s Bay is a picture-perfect little fishing town, with a museum and many colourful murals on the walk up to the lighthouse. Unfortunately, there are only a couple of dozen permanent residents. Still, the town is typically full of visitors looking to catch a glimpse of the lighthouse and the wave crashing waves below.
Photo: Gregory “Slobirdr” Smith – Peggy’s Cove, Nova Scotia, CC BY-SA 2.0
Ucluelet, British Columbia
Most of the beaches in Ucluelet are in their natural state, with trees and forests bordering the beach line. Ucluelet beaches offer fantastic beach combing at low tide; Big Beach has a rocky section that makes for amazing tidal pools for the kids to explore.
The relative glamour of nearby Tofino often overshadows Ucluelet, but it has its distinct character. Surrounded by the Pacific Rim National Park Reserve, Ucluelet has a relaxed and friendly atmosphere. The wow factor comes from the surrounding nature, with the roaring Pacific Ocean, endless beaches, and the ancient cedar trees that line the rugged coastline around the Pacific Rim Trail.
Photo: Tourism Ucluelet – Own work, Public Domain
Several charming villages dot the coastline of the Bas-Saint-Laurent region, less than a two-hour drive from Quebec City. One standout is the resort-like village of Kamouraska.
Spend some time along the coast relaxing and taking in views of the St. Lawrence River, islands, and the wharf. If you’re feeling active, you can cycle along the St. Lawrence River or go mountain climbing or kayaking.
Photo: Gabriel Picard – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0
Mahone Bay, Nova Scotia
Mahone Bay is a must-see town famous for its picture-perfect Three Churches photo-op. Explore the calm waters of Mahone Bay, home to hundreds of islands and numerous birds and marine life.
The east coast of Nova Scotia is lined with sublime little towns, and Mahone Bay is one of the most striking, largely because of the trio of classic churches that sit right on the waterfront. The rest of the town lives up to the look of the churches, with colourful Victorian houses and meticulously maintained gardens. The town is also packed with quaint shops selling wares from local artists, a draw for tourists driving along the coast.
Photo: Shawn M. Kent – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0
Victoria-by-the-Sea, Prince Edward Island
Though there is beauty all over the island, the central north shore of Prince Edward Island is often regarded as the prettiest part of Prince Edward Island.
Not to be confused with the much larger west coast city of Victoria, British Columbia, PEI’s Victoria-by-the-Sea is a tiny fishing village drips with maritime charm. When the Trans-Canada Highway was built in the 1950s, it bypassed the town, allowing it to retain its old-time qualities. Today, it’s a popular place to relax and enjoy the ocean or eat oysters and other locally caught seafood.
Photo: Leonora (Ellie) Enking from East Preston, United Kingdom – Victoria-by-the-Sea, CC BY-SA 2.0
Prince Rupert is a port city that offers a one-of-kind wilderness exploration, where you can catch whales a mere hour offshore.
Prince Rupert lies just below the tip of the Alaskan panhandle as northwest as one can get on British Columbia’s Pacific coast. The area has a long history in coastal First Nations culture, and the city continues to have a prevalent First Nations population. The presence of nature is profound in this part of the province. Still, culture also runs deep with museums detailing canneries that helped build the city and First Nations art galleries and totem poles.
Photo: Extemporalist – Own work, CC0