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Atlantic Canada is blessed with world class attractions that do not take a back seat to any other place and demonstrate that one doesn't  need to venture far from home to enjoy 'the best'. Here is a description of just a few.

The world's highest tides

The Bay of Fundy is the undisputed record holder for the highest tides in the world. Every day 100 billion tonnes of water-exceeding the combined flow of all the world's rivers combined-rises and falls 46 to 49 feet in a matter of hours. To put that in perspective, the Fundy tides are five times higher than the tides on the rest of the east coast of North America, and most of the world.

So: at high tide near Hopewell Rocks in New Brunswick you can paddle a kayak around the amazing sandstone flower pot formations-wait a few hours, then explore these same formations on foot on the exposed sea floor.

Tidal bore rafting can be experienced near the mouth of the Shubenacadie River in Nova Scotia where a wave of incoming sea water crashes headlong into the outpouring freshwater, creating raging rapids that are great fun to shoot in rubber zodiacs.

Beginning in August, migrating shorebirds are attracted to the mudflats of Minas Basin and Chignecto Bay (part of the Bay of Fundy) by the millions and it is possible to see many thousands in one flock, occasionally pursued by the rare peregrine falcon.


Hikers have the option of family-friendly or rugged wilderness trails in Fundy National Park or Cape Chignecto Provincial Park. The Fundy Trail is a scenic driving route with many beautiful vantage points. For more detail visit www.bayoffundytourism.com.

UNESCO World Heritage Sites

UNESCO is the United Nations agency designated to identify and preserve world-class sites deemed to be a significant part of the planet's cultural or natural history. Designation as a World Heritage Site is a tremendous honour bestowed by the 185 countries participating in the program. Currently there are 878 sites worldwide, of which Canada has 14-and five of these are in the Atlantic region.

In northern Newfoundland, L'Anse aux Meadows National Historic Park contains the remains of a Viking settlement, representing the earliest evidence of Europeans in North America. It was apparently the home, for a time, of the legendary Norwegian explorer Leif Eriksson, celebrated in many a Norse saga.

Also in Newfoundland, Gros Morne National Park which received its designation for the remarkable geology of the region which is a classic example of plate tectonics. Fortunately for the visitor, this translates into spectacular world class scenery, including a true fjord with attendant cliffs rising straight from the ocean for hundreds of feet, plunging waterfalls, sea stacks and beaches.

Hiking opportunities abound and the area is dotted with colourful fishing villages. One could easily spend an entire vacation in Gros Morne and barely scratch the surface of opportunities for excitement and exploration.

Nova Scotia also has two UNESCO sites. The old Town of Lunenburg was designated in 1995 as representing the finest example of a planned British colonial settlement in North America. The uniformity of the 18th and 19th century architecture gives the town not only charm, but a true sense of the past that is rarely found in North America. It is best explored on foot to appreciate the nuances of the well-preserved homes and gardens. Lunenburg was the centre of the Grand Banks schooner fishery and there is much to explore. including the excellent Fisheries Museum. A harbour cruise on the iconic schooner Bluenose II to appreciate the view of the town from the water is a must.  

The most recent site designated are the fossil cliffs of Joggins, Nova Scotia, in the upper Bay of Fundy region. The cliffs of Joggins preserve the best examples of Carboniferous Age fossils in the world, and are referred to by paleontologists as 'the coal age Galapagos' for the extreme diversity of life forms found in the area.

For more information on UNESCO World Heritage sites visit www.whc.unesco.org.

Nova Scotia Battlegrounds

The history of the struggle between the French and the English to control the destiny of North America can best be appreciated and understood by visiting a number of National Historic Parks in Nova Scotia, where many of the great events in that era took place

Start at Port Royal where it all began in 1604, when Samuel de Champlain established the first French colony in North America. Move on to the nearby town of Annapolis Royal to visit Fort Anne, a well-preserved site that was the scene of numerous battles. Next, drive up the Annapolis Valley to Grand Pré, site of the deportation of the Acadians and the story of Evangeline. Visit The Citadel in Halifax, the best-preserved British colonial fort in North America. Finally, culminate the tour in the Fortress of Louisburg where it will take a full day to visit this bastion of French wealth and power. For more information on these and other historic sites in this conflict, visit www.pc.gc.ca.

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