Are you on a quest to see Canadian wildlife? From grizzly bears to beluga whales, Canada's staggering wildlife is one of the highlights of a trip. Let's go on a journey of discovery to find the very best places to spot these animals in their natural habitats. Just don't forget your camera!
IN THE REALM OF THE POLAR BEAR
Polar bears are truly the king of the Arctic. These magnificent animals are the largest carnivore on the planet, and can weigh in at as much as 1,5000 lbs. To see one roaming free is the wildlife encounter to end all wildlife encounters. And there are few places better for it than Canada's Churchill. During the brief Arctic summer polar bears leave the melted sea ice, venturing in to hunt along the shores of Hudson Bay. Take to the water in a small boat to be in with a chance of seeing polar bears lounging on the remote, rocky coastline. If you want to get heart-poundingly close, head for the Leatherdale International Polar Bear Conservation Centre in Winnipeg.
IN SEARCH OF THE BELUGA WHALE
With their pure white skin, these friendly marine mammals are one of Canada's rarest animals. Yet head up to the mouth of the Churchill River during the summer months and you’ll find a gathering of thousands of beluga whales. In the chilly waters of the Hudson Bay, they come to feed, mate and give birth, and you can see them glowing white just beneath the surface. In eastern Canada, just north of Quebec, the Saguenay Fjord is one of the southernmost haunts of the beluga whale, and you can see them in the deep, dark waters year-round. Beluga whales are sociable and are often referred to as ‘sea canaries’ for the way they communicate in a series of clicks, squeals and whistles. When they poke their little round heads out of the water, it might also be the cutest thing you’ll ever see.
IN THE LAND OF THE MIGHTY MOOSE
Tread lightly and your chances of seeing moose are very high on a trip to Canada. Comical in appearance – with long snouts and large flapping ears – they’re big but timid. And greedy, too; they can munch their way through 110 lbs of vegetation in a single day. There are endless interesting facts about these loveable creatures, but here’s one of our favourites: moose antlers are the fastest-growing type of bone on the planet, and males can grow a set of antlers weighing up to 55 lbs. Moose roam in their hundreds near lakes and forests from east to west Canada. From the Laurentian Mountains near Quebec and Toronto, to the breathtaking Banff and Jasper National Parks, moose are an iconic and much-loved member of the Canadian wildlife family.
IN THE FOOTSTEPS OF GRIZZLIES
The adrenaline rush of seeing a grizzly bear is comparable to few other wildlife experiences. Whether they’re splashing into shallow waters, napping in the sun or padding through the landscape like the monarchs they are, it’s something you won’t forget in a hurry. It’s easy to understand why healthy numbers of grizzly bears want to call Banff and Jasper national parks home. Amid the snow-capped peaks, crystal-clear lakes, sparkling streams and rugged canyons grizzlies go wild. With luck on your side, you might spot grizzly bears near the iridescent Lake Louise during the spring and summer months. However, for the best chance of a sighting embark on a river safari through the aptly named Grizzly Bear Valley on the Blue River on the way to Sun Peaks, British Columbia.
IN THE SHADOW OF THE BALD EAGLE
With a seven-foot wingspan and iconic black and white feathered head, it’s hard to miss a bald eagle as it soars past. And when we say soar, we really mean it – bald eagles can fly at 30 mph and dive at 100 mph. All through Canada you can spy bald eagles perched high on treetops, the perfect vantage point for picking up the movements of fish far below. Around Vancouver and along the coast of British Columbia are among the best places to spot bald eagles. Or head over to Vancouver Island, where sightings of nesting eagles are common.