To pretend to give a comprehensive idea of the varied scenery of Canada in the limits of this chapter would be absurd, and the reader must therefore be content with what may appear to be somewhat casual references to scenes and places some of which have become world-renowned for their interest and beauty. The Rocky Mountains, or the scenery of the St. Lawrence from the Gulf to Montreal, would each require to be dealt with at great length before it would be possible to convey anything like an adequate idea of their majesty, splendour and beauty. It must, therefore, suffice if, in addition to these, a brief mention only is made of some of the many notable landscapes of the country.
The Rocky Mountains proper, as we have already shown,’lie to the east of the province of British Columbia, but the term is often used to describe the whole of the mountain ranges lying between Alberta and the Pacific coast. There are, in reality, a number of parallel ranges more than 400 miles in width, comprising the Cascade or Coast range, the Gold range, the Selkirks and the Rockies. The region has been happily described as ” a score of Switzerlands, with loftier mountains, larger lakes, mightier glaciers and rivers, and with a magnificent seaboard in addition.” Apart from the grandeur of the mountains themselves, mention must be made of the picturesque lakes high up in the mountains, the impressive canyons and beautiful valleys which go to make up scenery which for sublime beauty cannot be excelled. The National Park at Banff, a reservation of some 5,732 square miles embracing portions of the Bow, Cascade and Spray Rivers and the Yoho valley, is the largest park in the world, and forms a magnificent area of mountain, forest, lake and river in which tourists to this part of Canada are able to spend holidays under the most inspiring conditions.
Thedomestic character of the scenery of the prairies, pleasantly varied by timbered views, requires no detailed description, but it has a charm which grows with acquaintance even though the first impression suggests to the uninitiated monotony and lack of variety. One of the most wonderful scenes is presented by the prairies in harvest time, when mile upon mile of golden grain is seen waving and glistening in the bright summer sunlight.
The mighty St. Lawrence River, from the Gulf up to Quebec, presents a series of panoramas varying in impressiveness and beauty. On entering the river from the gulf the scenery is stern and impressive, and many miles must be sailed before the banks of both shores can be seen, until at last the rocky coasts are left behind, and the picturesque settlements along the river margin come into view. Tadousac, at the mouth of the Saguenay, Cacouna, Rivière du Loup, Murray Bay and other pleasure resorts are passed, but the scenery becomes still more picturesque on entering the channel between the Isle d’Orleans and Bellechasse county on the south shore. A little nearer to Quebec are the Falls of Montmorency. This stupendous cascade presents a most superb spectacle, especially when the volume of water is increased by the floods of spring or the rains of autumn. The height of the Falls is 275 feet, much greater than those of Niagara, though, of course, the volume of water is not so huge. Some little distance from the Falls are the famous natural steps where the river falls in a series of cascades forming a scene of great beauty. But perhaps the region which remains longest in the memory, apart from the view of the city of Quebec when approached by steamer, is that known as the Thousand Islands, the charm of which has so often been described by its count-less admirers. There are about 1,800 of these islands within a distance of forty miles, and the variety of effect they produce is truly astonishing. On many of them are picturesque houses, and the district is one which attracts tourists and pleasure-seekers in great numbers.
The Falls of Niagara, on the Niagara River, which takes the overflow of the Great Lakes, the rapids and whirlpool, have been so often described that it is only necessary to mention them in passing, and to say that their winter aspect is possibly more beautiful than at other times. The Queen Victoria Niagara Falls Park, consisting of some 734 acres, is maintained by the Ontario Government for the benefit of the public visiting the district.
The Niagara Peninsula, so beautiful and fruitful, must be seen in all its glory in summer time to be properly appreciated as the ” Garden of Canada.” This delightful country with its numerous peach and apple orchards, its beautiful cities, towns and villages, must be regarded as one of the most favoured as well as most picturesque districts in the whole Dominion.
The Muskoka district, some hundred miles north of Toronto, with its picturesque lakes and islands, Georgian Bay and the Thirty Thousand Islands, and the magnificent upper reaches of the Ottawa River all afford scenery of the most attractive kind. Two other famous resorts in Ontario are the Algonquin National Park, a forest and game preserve about 2,000 square miles in extent, and the Rondeau Provincial Park, consisting of about 5,000 acres.
In the east and in the Maritime provinces the Lake St. John country north of the St. Lawrence, the valleys of the Matapedia, the Restigouche, the Miramichi and St. John Rivers afford typical forest scenery in many places of surpassing beauty. The shores of the St. Lawrence, with picturesque bays and health resorts and the fishing stations on the many lakes and rivers, are well known to tourists who frequent them in large numbers. Better known perhaps by repute is the far famed Annapolis valley in Nova Scotia, the ” Land of Evangeline,” with which readers of Longfellow’s poem are so familiar, but in a different sense this is surpassed by the charm of the Bras d’Or Lakes in Cape Breton Island to the north of the province, which for diversity of scenery are justly celebrated.
No one can claim to judge of Canadian scenery unless he has visited the country and seen it in all its glorious autumn beauty when the foliage is changing colour, and the varied tints of the maple are a delight to the eye. It may convey some idea of the scene if one is asked to imagine the rich autumn colour of the county of Surrey transferred to a thickly-wooded country, but words would fail to describe truly that which delights the heart of the Canadian and prompts him to rapturous praise of the landscape in the glorious autumn season.