Destination Report: Alberta, Canada

The Rocky Mountains reflected in Moraine Lake in Canada
Photo by AlbertoLoyo/iStock/Getty Images Plus/Getty Images

To become a Canadian specialist, it was required that I visit the country every year, and I had to do a week in every province to get my certificate. The country is divided into ten provinces and three territories. Under the supervision of the Canadian Tourism Commission, they made arrangements for me to join up with a province tourist official and each year I was sent to a different part of the country. I enjoyed it all, even going to Saskatchewan, where the highlight was visiting the Canadian Mounted Police Academy in Regina and seeing lots of wheat farms.

I must confess that the province in which I have spent the most time is Alberta. This has given me some of the best heli-skiing and hiking holidays I have ever done. Skiing is an expensive hobby and I have been all over the world and must admit that Canada is the best place to visit. You can rely on good snow, and it’s a lot less pricey than the U.S. resorts or the likes of Switzerland, where my family went every winter. Canada has some lovely remote mountain lodges where you have to go in by helicopter, and the scenery is out of this world. No matter what time of year you go, it is breathtaking. It was named after Princess Louise Caroline Alberta, 4th daughter of Queen Victoria. It became a province in 1905, and Edmonton was named the capital city. Edmonton has the world’s largest indoor shopping mall. The Calgary Stampede is a ten day city wide celebration with top professional cowboys in action, chuckwagon races and spectacular shows and exhibits held in July. I enjoy seeing the different Indian Tribes take part with their dancing and drumming. People come from all over the world to attend this fun show. Alberta is also Canada’s leading producer of petroleum.

My enthusiasm for the province encouraged my husband Roy to come with me on some of our personal holiday trips. Now we are not young anymore, so I don’t’ recommend anyone do a lot of driving even though the roads are superb most of the time. What we really enjoy is train journeys. Going thru the Canadian Rockies at any time of year is a great experience. We have done the journey with Rocky Mountaineer several times, Vancouver to Banff, which is my favorite National Park. You don’t sleep overnight on the train, but stay in a hotel at locations where the train stops. The hotels are great, there's good food, and you don’t touch your luggage -- it is taken by road to each location while you are on the train. It is waiting for you in your hotel room when you arrive. The wildlife you see from the train is amazing, and one lake must have a thousand eagles sitting watching you as the train chugs by. It is the only province without a sales tax which means the visitor gets extra savings. Banff, Lake Louise and Jasper are the main highlights of the province. All are worth seeing.

Fishing is outstanding, no matter which river or lake you go to. They have more lakes than anywhere else in the world with trophy arctic char, lake trout, grayling and Northern Pike, all bigger than you’ve ever seen in your life. There are excellent golf courses, and first class accommodation to choose from. I am a fan of the Northern Lights, and Canada is a great place to see them. The shimming rainbow lights like ghostly dancers swirl and crackle in the heavens. According to legend, they’ll dance their way down to earth if you whistle at them. One thing I love to do, is spend a few days at a western guest ranch. Even if you don’t ride yourself, there is lots to do and experience living on a remote ranch with a Canadian family. I am a birder, and always seen something I haven’t seen before. You stop at the most beautiful spot in the world for a picnic on your hikes, and this high up, you don’t have to worry about ants on your watermelon.

There are excellent motor coach tours you can take, if you don’t want to drive yourself. This is not a tiring one night in a different place itinerary, but more relaxed with longer stops. You definitely save money by taking a packaged tour.

Once you have been to one province, you will want to see more of them.