Canada might be a young country yet, having been established sometime during the Age of Exploration in the 15th century, but it still boasts a wealth of historical landmarks to explore. From indigenous sites to the monuments erected by French and English settlers, there are plenty of artefacts, architectural wonders, and natural relics for tourists to delight in, most of which tell amazing stories of the local people, animals and travellers of old.
Here are a few of Canada’s best historical sites to fit in on your next trip!
L’Anse aux Meadows – Newfoundland
Way before Columbus had ever even boarded a ship, the Vikings tackled the Atlantic and set foot in North America. Evidence of this can be found at L’Anse aux Meadows, the 11th century Norse settlement that can still be found in the Canadian regions of Labrador and Newfoundland today.
The remains prove the presence of the first Europeans on the continent, and were first excavated in 1960 by a Norwegian explorer and his wife. Named a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1978, L’Anse aux Meadows is iconic because of its early-style timber framed structures, its iron smithing equipment, and its accurate depictions of ancient Norse life at the time.
Ninstints, Haida Gwaii Islands – British Columbia
For those who love history and culture alike, this site is a must-see. This archipelago off the coast of BC boasts Ninstints, a village that features a huge collection of Haida totem poles in their original locations. These celebrated works of art have even been left to weather in the lush rainforest climate of the region, lending authenticity to the final relics of the Haida Gwaii, who were wiped out by smallpox in the 1860s after inhabiting the islands for thousands of years.
Dinosaur Provincial Park – Alberta
Long before any settlers – or even locals – inhabited Canada, it was the dinosaurs who made the picturesque location their home. Evidence of this can be seen in the flesh at Dinosaur Provincial Park, which boasts extensive, world-class dinosaur fossil fields, preserved remnants of over 35 different specimens dating back tens of millions of years, and stunning scenery that can be toured on foot, by bus, or on guided expeditions and educational outings. Expect to be able to put down your MY casino games for hours on end when visiting this world-class park!
Fortress of Louisbourg – Nova Scotia
The Fortress of Louisbourg is an isolated but fascinating find for visitors to Cape Breton in Nova Scotia. The Fortress was one of North America’s busiest harbours in the 18th century, and become a key economic and military hub for France during that time as well. Today, the location is North America’s largest historical reconstruction, having been revived by the government in 1928.
Expect displays that paint pictures of what life was like in the 1700s, as well as costumed interpreters and a restaurant that serves real time-period fare!
Fairmont Historic Railway Hotels – Nationwide
Back in the late 19th and early 20th centuries when locomotive travel was the most effective form of getting around, numerous cities along the Canadian Railway route created luxury railway hotels to house discerning train passages.
The grandeur of these establishments is well-known in Canada, and many, like Fairmont Banff Springs, are still operational luxury hotels today. These hotels have been visited by royals, Hollywood celebs and politicians from every corner of the globe, and aside from meeting the odd prestigious person, guests can peruse their halls and enjoy authentic paintings, artefacts and photographs from the bygone era as well.