Lifestyles Magazine Prague: Country Profile- Oh, Canada!

“Canada is probably the most free country in the world where a man still has room to breathe, to spread out, to move forward, to move out, an open country with an open frontier….”

— Valentyn Moroz

Moroz, the modern Ukrainian writer and political hero, had a particular appreciation for this, the second largest country in the world and bordered by three oceans. It’s easy to understand why adventurers have been drawn here for centuries. Freedom and adventure are somehow bigger here and endlessly magnetic. And today’s adventurers continue to come for the unparalleled excitement of it all. The difference is in the refinement of its accommodations and in the ready access to its special wonders. Three of Canada’s ten provinces and three territories come immediately to mind: British Columbia on its western coast with the incomparable Canadian Rockies mountain range; the Northwest Territories which frame the Great Slave Lake and its tributaries; and Alberta, located in the western part of the country, with its almost preposterous beauty. And in each area there are adventures found nowhere else on the planet.

…one of the Northwest Territory’s fabled, fearless bush pilots will fly you and your friends over dense spruce forests and island-spangled waterways to reach a secluded fishing lodge.

You’ll readily find one of the sweetest fishing highs you’ve ever experienced at the Great Slave Lake in Canada’s Northwest Territory. It’s an enormous body of wild water (almost 500 km long) linking with a series of smaller lakes and a network of mountain streams.

The great lake has remained virtually unchanged since a glacier carved it out; it’s filled with some of the purest water in the world. Incidentally, that helps make it an unparalleled aquatic factory world-famous for its trophy-size northern pike, lake trout, king salmon, and walleye – in short, world-class fishing. Come prepared with high-test tackle and get ready for some real muscle work. Each year, anglers catch lake trout weighing in at as much as 60 pounds, with many, many in the 20 and 30 pound range.

At the same time this area has been drawing more and more fly fishermen who come especially for the Arctic grayling. Cast a spinner or a fly for these colorful fish and brace yourself. They’re known to give a good, hard fight with lots of spectacular, twisting jumps that will take your breath away. Bring your camcorder or your friends back home will never believe you. Great Slave Lake is a fly-fishing dream where you’ll be casting into the deepest waters in North America.

It’s not easy to get there, but well worth the effort. You’ll need to hire a floatplane at beautiful Yellowknife located on the lake’s north shore. From this historic copper mining town one of the Northwest Territory’s fabled, fearless bush pilots will fly you and your friends over dense spruce forests and island-spangled waterways to reach a seclude fishing lodge.

There are a number of top notch wilderness lodges at Great Slave Lake and some even have their own airstrip for floatplanes or helicopters. Prime fishing season runs from ice-out (late May/June) through September. At this latitude, the much longer days of summer means you can fish and fish – you’ll hardly want to sleep when the fishing is this good! And when you’re finally too tired to fish, you can relax with a warm toddy and gaze up at the everchanging phenomenon of the Northern Lights.

If you wish you can break up a five- or ten- day fishing expedition with hikes along the rugged Canadian shield, visits to Native Canadian villages, and wildlife-viewing kayak trips on the lake. The huge Mackenzie Bison Sanctuary has about 2,000 wood bison, a small fraction of the almost 200,000 shaggy, bearded beasts that once ranged throughout the territories. There are also plenty of caribou, bear, and wolf among many other wild species you can view with or without a guide.

Most fishing packages are all inclusive with seasoned, personal guides; all equipment and meals are provided as well as special warm clothing if you want it. Winter is long in this area, and fishing continues on the ice, most ideally in November and March. In addition, even a late fall or spring vacation can give you a memorable snowshoe and snowmobile adventure on the frozen lake.

If your time is short, there are daily fly outs from Plummer’s Great Bear Lake Lodge, Great Slave Lake Lodge, and Trophy Lodge to locations inaccessible by boat. Daily and overnight fly outs are also available to the fabled Coppermine River.

Your senses are on full alert as you get your first look at “your” slope. You’ll catch your breath as you survey 500 vertical meters of pristine, blindingly white powder lined by enormous trees, stretching out and down before you.

Whether you prefer skis or a snowboard you can find the ultimate experience in the Canadian Rockies of the western edge of the country. Imagine sun sparkling the snow as you look out from your hotel room at virginal, breathtaking wilderness. The high mountain slopes and their legendary powder await you! Fortify yourself with a hearty breakfast and load your skis or snowboard onto your waiting helicopter. There are no roads, no ski lifts where you’re going. The scene around and below you becomes more extreme, more beautiful as you lift up into a faultless, blue sky.

Your senses are on full alert as you get your first look at “your” slope. You’ll catch your breath as you survey 500 vertical meters of pristine, blindingly white powder lined by enormous trees, stretching out and down before you. Your personal mountain guide briefs you and you’re ready to go. This day, your ski run will be one of heart-leaping, untamed joy – one unlike any you’ve ever experienced before and in conditions that cannot be found anywhere else in the world. Even your lungs will be amazed!

ski011.jpgThe adrenaline rush should last you all the way back to the lodge at the end of the day, where steam from one of the outdoor spas will rise around you like a visual “Ahhhhh.” You’ll feel alive as never before. As your muscles relax you can anticipate a four-star dinner by the log fire in the lodge. What ski stories will be told around the fire tonight! And afterwards you will sleep the sleep of angels.

Open ski runs average between 760 to 1,005 vertical meters and the longest are approximately 1,500 meters. You’ll find endless possibilities in the glacier and open bowl skiing, always on fresh powder due to the regular, heavy snowfall. It is light, dry powder, resulting from the mix of moisture-laden storms moving across the Monashee and Selkirk ranges, and the cold air coming from the Clemenceau-Columbia Icefields.

The skiing is in seven different valleys, each with its own terrain and character. For instance, if you have the legs for it, take a jump run over the northeast corner of the Dawson onto the Iroquois glacier. Its mile-wide north-face run drops 1,600 vertical meters at a constant 35 degrees. Numerous 600 vertical-meter old growth tree runs are still unnamed in the surrounding valley. The Tsar Valley contains 4,000 hectares of stunning 35-degree tree lines. The Wood River Valley is home to over 30 huge alpine bowls, each over 600 vertical meters. Many lead into old growth forests that extend another 900 vertical meters to the valley bottom. Take your pick; they’re all good.

On average, guests ski between 10 and 12 runs per day or 9,000 vertical meters. Per week, guests average 45,700 vertical meters. The season for heli-skiing in the Canadian Rockies is usually from December to April. Space is limited so be sure to book early. And get those thighs in shape!

photo: courtesy of the Canadian Tourism Commission

HeliCat Canada represents 28 heli-ski/snowboarding operations throughout British Columbia. Full-service packages from three to 10 days are offered. Where else can you get over 43,500 meters of virgin downhill powder in one of the most spectacularly beautiful places on earth?

…a Canadian RockiesNorthwest Territorywill likely give you the most extraordinary golfing days you’ve ever had.

In the heart of the Canadian Rockies, Banff National Park in the province of Alberta is Canada’s oldest and most famous national park. The emerald waters of Lake Louise, the wildflower fields at Sunshine Meadows, and the snowy, jagged peaks lining the Icefields Parkway provide a sensory celebration in all directions. And it is here you can find some of the world’s finest golf links.

Perhaps you’ve golfed in the Hawaiian Islands, the great courses of Europe, or even the storied St. Andrews in Scotland. Even so, a Canadian Rockies golf vacation will likely give you the most extraordinary golfing days you’ve ever had. Truly one of the greatest natural wonders of the world, the Canadian Rockies are internationally celebrated for the astonishing scenery, sparklingly clean air, and the serenity of pure, untracked wilderness. And also for their superlative golf courses.

photo: courtesy of the Canadian Tourism Commission

Banff boasts some of the greatest courses in all of Canada. Robert Trent Jones, when designing the courses at Kananaskis Country Golf Course, called it the “greatest natural setting I have ever been given to work with,” and Banff Springs has won so many accolades they are running out of places to put them. Whether you’re a golfista, golfeur, or giocatore, this could be your nirvana. The beauty and magnificence of the Fairmont Banff Springs par 72 golf course is a case in point.

Renowned for its panoramic beauty, Fairmont Banff Springs Golf Course is a particularly captivating, challenging layout. Designed by Stanley Thompson, Canada’s master golf course architect, it features breathtaking views in every direction. It is a magnificent layout that thrills every golfer, amateur or professional, lucky enough to spend a day there. This course will delight and tempt you as no other.

It is a magnificent layout that thrills every golfer, amateur or professional, lucky enough to spend a day there.

Built in 1928, the course winds along the Bow River under the snow-capped peaks of Sulphur Mountain and Mount Rundle. In 1989, nine more holes were added, resulting in a total 27 holes of championship layout. While enjoying the course you can also improve your game: ask about private or semi-private sessions with their on-site teaching pros.

Fairmont Banff Springs Resort, with its unusual blend of opulence and seclusion, is styled after a Scottish baronial castle and has been a symbol of Rocky Mountain grandeur for a century or more. And après golf, there are plenty of opportunities to indulge your senses. Every service is from the European-style Willow Stream Spa, or massages in your hotel room, to the fine cuisine. The resort offers a lineup of unique leisure packages, tailored to reflect an array of lifestyle interests and special occasions. Got an anniversary coming up?

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