Doctor's Review: Medicine on the Move

December 15, 2017
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30 Great Canadian Getaways

A province-by-province round-up of the country's most exceptional weekend escapes

BRITISH COLUMBIA
The town of Nelson
ROXANNE PUTS ON THE GREEN LIGHT
You have to love a town that flies neckties around the power poles on the approaching highway. The story goes that weary city slickers, immigrating from the rat race to the Kootenay town in south-central BC, ripped them off on arrival, symbolically discarding urban angst along with Windsor knots.

The restored heritage mining town of Nelson, pop. 9000, is virtually neon-free. Strolling its historic Baker Street is like walking into a Norman Rockwell painting. Which is exactly what the location scout for the romantic comedy Roxanne saw. After the 1987 film came out, showing modern moviegoers a quintessential small town they thought was long gone, people from all over upped stakes and moved to this mountainside town overlooking the West Arm of Kootenay Lake. A two-storey, category-A heritage house that sold for $75,000 pre-Roxanne now lists for $250,000.

But the newcomers have added a pleasing cultural cache of art galleries, bookstores and cappuccino bars. Tourists follow the town's free Architectural Heritage Walking Tour in spring, summer and fall. Come winter, posties strap on crampons to deliver mail to the former grand homes of legendary silver kings on the steeply hilled streets.

Sleeping possibilities include the Garden B&B (tel: 250-352-3226; $70-150), with fine hosts and a separate 1920's three-bedroom cottage available next door. The Dancing Bear Inn (tel: 250-352-7573; from $34) is a gem of a hostel for all ages, complete with Internet access, cozy fireplace, duvets and locally made furniture.

Nelson is an eight-hour drive from Vancouver. Even better, take North Vancouver Air's 75-minute scenic direct flight in on an 11-seater from Vancouver International Airport.

-- Kerry McPhedran

Half Moon Bay Cabin, Sechelt Peninsula
SOAKING UP THE BC COAST
The Sechelt Peninsula, aka Sunshine Coast, is part of the BC mainland, but, like an island, is accessible only by boat or small plane. BC Ferries (tel: 888-223-3779) is the link from West Vancouver's Horseshoe Bay. Ferry travel time, by the way, is shorter at 40 minutes and often half the price of flying.

Only a few know Sunshine's heavenly Half Moon Bay Cabin, a unique getaway worth the trip alone. Reservations are a must for this rustic yet luxurious waterfront log cabin with a massive stone fireplace, skylights throughout and all the perfect touches. Surrounded by an English country garden and huge sundeck, the cabin sits on a hill overlooking its own beach, complete with cabana and washroom.

There's no shortage of things to see and do. You can stroll the villages of Sechelt and Gibsons, where the TV series Beachcombers was filmed, or literally drive to the end of BC's coastal road in the tiny fishing village of Lund (Highway 101 starts in Chile). Hikers will love Smugglers Cove Marine Park. You can also play nine holes at Sunshine Coast Golf and Country Club, scuba dive off the HMCS Chaudier to BC's first artificial reef, or book an ecotourism trip.Mid-week off-season rates are $200 per night for the cabin (minimum two-night stay) for up to four guests. The weekly fall/winter rate (to March 31, 2000) of $1200 is a bargain. Reservations: (604) 688-5058.

-- Kerry McPhedran

The Empress Hotel and Entrée Gold, Victoria
THE BEST IN WEST COAST LUXURY
The big splurge but worth every penny! Vancouverites looking for a stress-free break skip the scenic ferry to Vancouver Island that typically chews up three travel hours, and instead fly Harbour Air's (tel: 604-688-1277) 35-minute harbour-to-harbour service to Victoria and the hotel Travel & Leisure ranked Canada's best. The low-flying Twin Otter 16-passenger float-plane flight over the Gulf Islands is a bonus at $168 return.

Stroll three minutes to Victoria's elegant Edwardian-era Empress Hotel, whose guest register lists Rudyard Kipling, Spencer Tracy, Rostropovich, the King and Queen of Siam, Bob Hope and Mel Gibson. Take the elevator directly to the second-floor Entrée Gold Floor concierge for a quick check-in. A hotel-within-a-hotel, Entrée Gold offers the most luxurious accommodations, including 11 suites, all with computer data ports, secretarial services, complimentary use of an executive boardroom, plus exclusive access to a serenely quiet private lounge, with a view over Victoria's Inner Harbour. This room is sheer therapy: wingback chairs, gleaming mahogany, polished silver bowls of mixed nuts, current magazines and papers, deep carpet, and the quiet tick-tock of an antique clock on the mantel.

Each guest has a private direct phone number, with printed business cards for use while in Victoria. Condé Nast Traveler wrote "The Empress has an ingenious way of pampering travel sophisticates with the Entrée Gold service like a villa in which you are a house guest."

Depending on season and availability, Entrée Gold starts at around $210 for harbour-view suites and $180 for city-view suites. Complimentary evening hors-d'oeuvres and breakfast buffet are included. Reservations: (800) 441-1414.

-- Kerry McPhedran

 

ALBERTA
Waterton Lakes National Park
ANIMAL TOWN
It's only a two-and-a-half hour drive from Calgary south to Waterton Lakes National Park (tel: 403-859-2224), but the road takes you to a serene other world. The prairies come to a sudden halt at the walls of jagged mountain peaks and the views are spectacular in this 525-square-kilometre park, now a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

In winter, you'll see birds, elk, deer, big horn sheep and other animals wandering right through town. In fact, the wildlife outnumbers the 50 residents. There are only three hotels open in the winter, including the rustic Kilmorey Lodge (tel: 403-859-2334; $86-171) and Waterton Glacier Suites (tel: 403-859-2004; $115-145), but at The Lodge at Waterton Lakes (tel: 888-985-6343; $75-120), you'll find the only indoor pool, fitness centre and rental shop with cross-country skis and snowshoes.

There are hundreds of kilometres of well-maintained cross-country ski trails going out from town. Downhill skiers will enjoy Castle Mountain, only an hour away, but chances are you'll want to revel in the peace and solitude of Waterton in front of a roaring fireplace.

-- Monica Andreeff

Skoki, Assiniboine and Shadow Lake Lodges
BACK-COUNTRY CLASS
Visit the back-country lodges in the Rocky Mountains -- the land of vast, unpopulated mountain valleys and the freshest, purest air you'll ever breath. Three rustic lodges, Skoki, Assiniboine and Shadow Lake, give virtually everyone -- families with young children, urbanites with little experience, and the elderly -- a chance to explore the wilderness.

At Skoki and Shadow Lake, it's a half-day ski or hike into the lodge. Shadow Lake (tel: 800-691-5085; $115 per person in low season, $125 in high season) offers the only back-country bar service, while Skoki (tel: 403-522-3555; $235 for two nights, $130 for one) is a National Historic Site with a rustic ambiance. To get to Assiniboine (tel: 403-678-2883; $135 per person, including meals and ski guides), it's a challenging 27-kilometre trip one way; many guests opt for the helicopter ride ($90).

From each lodge, there are plenty of well-marked trails to follow for short or full-day trips. Best of all, there are few people on these trails, hours away from the crowded front-country areas of Banff National Park.

-- Monica Andreeff

The Solace Spa at the Banff Springs Hotel
DECADENT RELAXATION IN THE ROCKIES
It doesn't matter how cold the weather is outside -- it's always tropical inside the Solace Spa at the Banff Springs Hotel. Soak your bones in three different waterfall massage mineral pools while gazing at the snow-capped peaks of the Rockies, or let the jets in the outdoor hot tubs massage away the stress.

Hotel guests have use of the facility, but Solace also offers packages which include accommodations, meals and spa treatments. Inside the 35,000-square-foot spa, there are private solariums, lounges with fireplaces, steam rooms and saunas, so you can spend the entire day in a fluffy white robe and slippers. Treat yourself to a herbal wrap, detoxification treatment, body scrub, facial, pedicure or seven types of massages. If you want that toned look, consult with on-site personal trainers or check out the state-of-the art fitness centre, aerobic studio and 105-foot-long salt-water pool. Reservations: (800) 404-1772.

-- Monica Andreeff

SASKATCHEWAN
Manitou Springs Resort, Watrous
THE DEAD SEA NEXT DOOR
You're craving a weekend at a mineral spa, but let's face it, a two-day jaunt to Israel's Dead Sea isn't exactly realistic. A more practical alternative is the Manitou Springs Resort just outside of the town of Watrous.

The mineral spa is the only one of its kind in Canada, and its salinity level is actually 0.5 times higher than that of the Dead Sea. It's an easy drive from Regina, Saskatoon and Moose Jaw, and five kilometres from the town of Watrous. The resort overlooks historic Manitou Lake and offers 60 rooms and suites, a full range of à-la-carte spa services, three connected mineral pools, a fully equipped fitness centre, dining room and poolside café. Therapeutic services include everything from massages, manicures and facials to body wraps, reflexology and ear candling -- a natural (and surprisingly enjoyable) way of draining ear wax.

Prices start at $73.95 per person. The Bed & Breakfast package ($90 per person) includes two nights' accommodation, two single entries to the mineral spa, two breakfasts, use of fitness centre and discounts for mall shops. Individual spa treatments are $10-80. Reservations: (306) 946-2233.

-- Narissa Tadros

The Delta Bessborough, Saskatoon
A HOTEL, GALLERY AND PRIVATE GARDEN -- ALL UNDER ONE ROOF
The Delta Bessborough is the closest thing to Quebec City's Château Frontenac you can find in the Prairies. The 1935 castle -- which recently had a nine-million dollar makeover -- is situated in downtown Saskatoon, and boasts five acres of private gardens, an Elizabethan terrace, a health club -- with a pool, sauna, whirlpool, exercise room -- two lounges, a garden atrium, two restaurants, a chocolatier and an art gallery. Best of all, it's not expensive.

Doubles start at $99. The Bessborough is offering a Visa B&B Package until December 28, 1999, for $109 per night per room, double occupancy. Reservations: (800) 268-1133.

-- Narissa Tadros

MANITOBA
Hotel Fort Garry, Winnipeg
OF RAILWAYS AND RIVERS
In the city that boasts North America's largest urban population of elms, the peaked roofs of the 1915 Railway Hotel stand out amongst a canopy of trees. The perfectly preserved hotel is an elegant Canadian Heritage site in the heart of Winnipeg. At the west end, in the dining room, the letters GTP (of Great Trunk Pacific Railway) are engraved on the vast cathedral ceiling. For a closer look, check the intricate work on the doorknobs.

Across the street is Union Station, designed by the same architects responsible for New York's Grand Central Station. Here you'll find a handful of unique shops to browse, but keep going right out the back door to the Forks.

From the earliest fur-trading days, the meeting of the Red and Assiniboine Rivers was critical to early Canadian settlements. Today, the historic Johnston Terminal is filled with markets of international goods and local produce. Central to many communities in Winnipeg, the Forks is also home to museums, theatres and a range of restaurants. Walkways stretch for kilometres along the river.

At the Hotel Fort Garry (tel: 800- 665-8088), rates start at $109 including full breakfast. Guests have access to the Assiniboine Health Club's gymnasium, indoor running track and pool, weight room, hot tub and sauna.

-- Ruth Degraves

Gull Harbour Resort, Hecla Island
PUTTING ON EAGLE EYES
Located on the North Shore of Lake Winnipeg, one of the largest inland lakes in the world, Hecla Island is inhabited by all manner of wildlife. But the big deal this autumn is the migrating American Bald Eagle. Take bikes or hike to the sites of the Eaglefest. You can spot their nests, haunts and learn about their habits from observation towers and trails, then watch the great birds.

The best way to take it all in is from Gull Harbour Resort, which also offers access to one of the finest golf courses in Western Canada, an Icelandic village, museum and marina.

Rates start at $95 per night. Starting in November, there's a great deal for two nights: $95 per person with complimentary breakfast and one fabulous candlelit dinner. Reservations: (800) 267-6700.

-- Ruth Degraves

ONTARIO
Niagara Falls
HONEYMOON IN HORRORVILLE
Niagara Falls somehow ended up with the ironic distinction of being both the honeymoon capital and the horror capital of Canada. While cynics may not be surprised -- Oscar Wilde once quipped: "Niagara Falls must be the second major disappointment of American married life" -- some 12 million romantics a year would probably disagree.

So what's new in our own little corner of Canadian kitsch? Well, there's Casino Niagara (tel: 888-946-3255) and the Niagara Parks Butterfly Conservatory (tel: 877-642-7275), for starters. Of course, the Falls themselves have always been the main draw, but they're eroding at a rate of about one foot a year. In a few millennia, the water will cut all the way back to Buffalo on Lake Erie, and the Falls as we know them will cease to exist.

See them while you can from a room with a view at The Marriott-Fallsview (tel: 888-501-8916; $119), The Renaissance Fallsview (tel: 800-363-3255; $109) or The Sheraton Fallsview (tel: 800-267-8439; $101).

On the spookier side of things, the end of October is a great time to visit The Haunted House (tel: 905-357-4330), Screamers House of Horror (tel: 905-357-7656) and Dracula's Haunted Castle (tel: 905-357-1282), which promises: "Unforgettable Thrills You Can 'Stake' Your Life On!"

If that's not scary enough for you, consider becoming the 16th person to go over the Falls the hard way. Annie Taylor, age 63, was the first to do the barrel thing, on October 24, 1901. She survived, but Robert Overacker wasn't so lucky. On October 1, 1995, he died in his confusing attempt to beat the fury of the Falls by jet ski.

The closest you can come to that experience without getting wet is at The IMAX Theatre and Daredevil Museum (tel: 905-358-3611 ), a tribute to those who've challenged the Falls by wire, boat and barrel.

Freaks of another kind are on display at Ripley's Believe It Or Not! Museum (tel: 905-356-2238), The Guinness World of Records Museum (tel: 905-356-2299) and The Criminals Hall of Fame Wax Museum (tel: 905-374-3011).

It just goes to show -- you don't need a marriage licence to have a good time in Niagara Falls.

-- Jackie Rosenhek

Voyageur Quest, Algonquin Provincial Park
AMONG THE WOLVES AND MOOSE

Canadians with a sense of curiosity about the natural aspects of their country can take a three-day discovery tour of the region adjacent to Ontario's Algonquin Provincial Park. An expedition from Voyager Quest (tel: 800-794-9660) allows you to experience the great outdoors as early explorers might have. Start with a 3.2-kilometre hike through boreal forests, lunch beside a beaver lodge, then help paddle a 26-foot cargo canoe to the lodge.

The two-storey log cabin features a mud room, a sunken living room and kitchen circling a magnificent 36-foot stone fireplace. Propane gas is used for cooking, lighting and heating water for the shower. In fact, if you're looking for four-star comforts, go elsewhere. Here the beds come in singles, the facilities are shared, and the hot shower and wood-fired sauna are located in a separate building. Not only is there no electricity, there's no bar and most certainly no gift shop.

In winter, ski, snowshoe and learn to handle your own dogsled team. Stargaze in silence at a million twinkling lights in the northern sky, while contemplating your own insignificance.

-- Gordon Garrison

QUEBEC
Château Cartier, Hull
A CAPITAL RETREAT
It's true. There is a full-fledged resort perfectly located within 10 minutes of the heart of downtown Ottawa.

The Château Cartier in Hull, QC, on 152 rural acres overlooking the Ottawa River, is just across the bridge from the city's parliamentary and cultural icons, and minutes from Hull's Museum of Civilization and the glorious parkland attractions and cycling paths of the Gatineau Hills, not to mention some of the region's finest restaurants.

Rated Canada's #1 Downtown Golf Resort for 1999 by Golf Canada Magazine after a two-million-dollar renovation, Château Cartier features a championship 18-hole course, an indoor gym and sports centre including tennis, squash, racquetball and volleyball courts, a full-service spa with indoor and outdoor swimming-pools, plus a fanciful children's playground.

During winter, there's on-site skating, cross-country skiing, tobogganing, snowshoeing and dog-sledding. Besides fine dining, the resort boasts a casual eatery, named Sam Snead's Bar & Grill, that is a veritable shrine to the legendary golfer.

Rates, per couple per night in a deluxe suite, vary for a variety of packages. The Getaway package, including breakfast and dinner with wine, is $275. The Golf Getaway, including breakfast, dinner, unlimited golf, cart and range ball is $310. The Wellness Retreat, including breakfast, dinner with wine and an hour-long massage, is $335. Reservations: (800) 807-1088.

-- Toby Saltzman

Au Diable Vert, Eastern Townships
A GREEN GETAWAY IN THE HEART OF WINTER
Au Diable Vert, in the town of Glen Sutton in Quebec's Eastern Townships, is surrounded by 200 acres of land at the guests' disposal. A 90-minute drive from Montreal, the four-season operation offers visitors kayaking, mountain biking and fly-fishing in the spring and summer, photography and hiking in the autumn, and snowshoeing and off-trail skiing in the winter.

When we visited the mountain station two winters ago, we took part in a two-hour nighttime snowshoe excursion through the woods with only the light of the full moon and the stars to guide us. The evening was topped off with a surprisingly good meal and wine by a roaring fire back at the cozy cabin. Although the excursions are first rate, the real star of a weekend here is the beauty of the land.

Rooms are $35 per person, including breakfast; campsites are also available. Kayak/foliage excursions, including kayak, guide, life jacket and transportation, are $35 per person, or $55 including table d'hôte. Weekend getaways

including accommodations, meals and excursions can be combined to suit your particular interests. Reservations: (888) 779-9090.

-- Lora Perrone

Relais Charles-Alexandre, Quebec City
A LUXURIOUS B&B FOR LESS
The 22-room, seven-suite Relais Charles-Alexandre is a charming luxury B&B centrally located near the Parliament, the Quebec Museum, the Grand Theatre, the Plains of Abraham and Old-Quebec. The rooms are air-conditioned with private bathrooms, solid oak floors and fireplaces. Breakfast is served in the ground-floor art gallery among works by Norman Hudon and Marc-Aurele Fortin. There are also many good restaurants nearby, including Le Bonaparte (680 Grande-Allée East; tel: 418-647-4747) and Laurie-Raphael (17 rue du Sault-au-Matelot; tel: 418-692-4555), whose duck confit lasagna and maple crème brulée are not to be missed.

Rates at the Relais Charles-Alexandre are $65-85 per night. Reservations: (418) 523-1220.

-- Narissa Tadros

NEW BRUNSWICK
Dinner at Kings Landing, Fredericton
CIDER, PIES AND TURKEY: A LOYALIST THANKSGIVING
Blazing autumn foliage, the serenity of an old Loyalist village and a bounteous harvest table are part of the nostalgic lure of Thanksgiving Weekend at Kings Landing.

For three days, this recreated village of 150 years ago celebrates the coming of winter with daily turkey dinners and other traditional events. Highlights are the Turkey Shoot with antique Brown Bess rifles and the Country Auction, in which the costumed auctioneer sings the praises of a bag of turnips as highly as he does a live sheep or crusty home-baked bread, cakes, pies, pickles, preserves, hard-to-get flower seeds and crafts.

The best event of all is the turkey dinner, when everyone sits down to devour stuffed turkey with gravy and mounds of fresh vegetables and sideboards of pies and puddings, all served in the candlelit atmosphere of Kings Head Inn, where the merry taverner keeps diners jolly with copious quantities of cider, ale and wine.

Festivities continue after Thanksgiving with Harvest Suppers offering roast saddle of venison, brandied baked rabbit and lobster-stuffed trout. Throw in a lantern-lit coach tour of the village and you've got an evening to remember.

Dinners are from $24 to $26. This year, the Harvest Dinners will begin at 7:30PM on October 15, 16, 22, 23, 29 and 30. Reservations: (506) 363-4999.

-- Colleen Whitney Thompson

Broadleaf Guest Ranch, Hopewell Hill
THE BAY OF FUNDY BY HORSEBACK
In late fall, it doesn't get better than crunching leaves, the smell of woodsmoke, ocean breezes and a trusty steed to carry you along. Add a log cabin, a blazing hearth, country food, a relaxing massage at the end of the trail and you get the Broadleaf Guest Ranch. Located in Hopewell Hill, near the famed flowerpot rocks of New Brunswick, it offers weekends geared to the weary and the jaded, the romantic and the active.

Colourful trail rides on old roads through the woods can be a half-hour or six hours. Over on the marshes, near Crooked Creek, you'll hear the ducks quack and see cattle graze. Further along, the miraculous Fundy tides fill chocolate mud flats to overflowing in a matter of minutes.

Meanwhile back at the ranch, hearty country food simmers and Sunday brunch is a 40-item smorgasbord of delectable offerings such as the cream and butter dish of fresh vegetables known as hodgepodge, samphire and goosetongue greens, sticky buns, cream cakes and biscuits. Accommodations are either in a rustic lodge for eight or, if you prefer, a private cabin where you can soak in outdoor hot tubs, cook or have catered meals delivered from the main lodge. Spa offerings are also available.

Prices are according to package. Two nights, all meals, including steak BBQ and trail lunch, six-hour ride and a massage is $250 per person. Two nights, candlelit dinner, breakfasts, trail ride, lunch and biking or canoeing is $239 per person. Reservations: (506) 882-2349.

-- Colleen Whitney Thompson

A Miramichi weekend at the Ledges Lodge
A SALMON RIVER RUNS THROUGH IT
The rustic Ledges Lodge sits on the banks of the famed Miramichi, a salmon river adored by the rich and famous. From the cozy glass-fronted lodge you can watch salmon leap, canoeists glide and deer peek shyly from the forest.

The lodge's interior is designed for comfort. Blazing fires, luxurious suites with balconies and views of the river, a wine cellar and delicious gourmet dinners are all part of the special ambiance that draws discerning guests to this unspoiled part of New Brunswick.

Even in November, when the full season has ended, this elegant inn is an enticing hideaway. Canoe green waters, learn how to "pole" a boat, take lessons in fly-fishing, hike trails by the river, birdwatch or explore the small community of Doaktown. There's even a good golf course. Two nights in this haven with all the outdoor activity, pancake breakfasts, a four-course dinner with wine, conversation in the congenial sitting room and the freedom to roam the kitchen for cookies or coffee is definitely a mind-clearing experience.

A special after-season package for November is $249 per person (or $399 per couple) for two nights, tax included. The package includes full breakfast each morning, a gourmet meal one evening, a bottle of wine from the Ledges cellar and a canoe trip down the Miramichi River. Other packages are available on request. Reservations: (506) 365-1820.

-- Colleen Whitney Thompson

NOVA SCOTIA
Mabou and the Duncreigan Country Inn
SCOTLAND IN NOVA SCOTIA
The skirl of the pipes in the morning mist of Mabou, on the western side of Cape Breton Island, would surely warm the heart of any Scotsman. One of the many scenic areas of this part of Nova Scotia, Mabou has hiking trails and scenic routes in the Mabou Highlands to explore.

On most weekends, at the local pub, The Red Shoe, area musicians are particularly proud to perform the many Celtic tunes passed down through generations. You may still hear Gaelic spoken here as you stroll through the artisan shops from Mabou east toward Inverness.

The visit can be highlighted by a stay at the Duncreigan Country Inn, located on Route 19 at Mabou Harbour, slightly less than four hours from Halifax and two hours from Sydney. This comfortable turn-of-century inn has a great dining room, where leg of lamb, fresh salmon and pasta dishes are specialties. Although the dining room closes after Thanksgiving, the inn's owners, the Mullendore family, operate The Mull Cafe and Deli, in Mabou. Both have been listed in Where to Eat in Canada.

Rates are $85 to $130 per night, $10 less in the off-season. Reservations: (800) 840-2207.

-- Tom Peters

Victoria's Historic Inn and Carriage House, Annapolis Valley
A TOWN CALLED WOLFVILLE

The five-star Victoria's Historic Inn and Carriage House (tel: 800-556-5744; $85-175) in the historic university town of Wolfville, an hour west of Halifax off Highway 101, is an excellent location to base your stay in Nova Scotia's Annapolis Valley.

On the historical Evangeline Trail, Wolfville is filled with stately Victorian homes that reflect the town's Loyalist history while marshland dykes built in the 1600s, near the small harbour, are a reminder of local Acadian heritage. Nature walks at nearby Cape Split, overlooking the Bay of Fundy, can last up to three hours. Nova Scotia's famous Bald Eagles are a common sight at nearby Sheffield Mills or when rock-hounding for amethyst along the Fundy shores.

-- Tom Peters

John Stanfield Inn, Truro
CROWD-WATCHING IN HUB TOWN
Saved from the wrecking ball and restored to its full grandeur, the John Stanfield Inn (tel: 800-561-7666; $125), the former residence of the late Senator John Stanfield and wife Sarah, is a remarkable Queen Anne period house. The inn is located in the town of Truro, an hour north of Halifax on Highway 102. Known as Nova Scotia's "hub town" because of its central location, Truro is within an hour's drive of a number of attractions, including the fossil areas of Pugwash, an old grist mill, a steam-powered sawmill and an award-winning winery in the Tatamagouche area, and the mastodon ridge at Stewiacke, a geological site where the bones of an 89,000-year-old mastodon were discovered.

Within the town of Truro itself is Victoria Park, a 400-hectare park with two waterfalls. In addition to fine dining at the Stanfield Inn, where fresh salmon, trout and Arctic Char are house specialties, Truro has several fine restaurants.

-- Tom Peters

NEWFOUNDLAND
Winterholme, St. John's
ROMANCE ON THE ROCK
Winterholme isn't named for the season it describes, although it is the coziest place in St. John's when the air gets chilly. This 64-room Queen Anne-style house on the corners of Rennie's Mill and Circular Roads in the heart of downtown was built for Sir Marmaduke Winter in 1905. These days, it's Dick and Ruby Cook who show you in through the huge English oak doors and up the Titanic-esque carved oak staircase to one of 11 high ceilinged havens. Through the bevelled stained glass windows you'll see the 60-foot maples shedding their fall coats in the front yard and Bannerman Park beyond -- a perfect place for a romantic afternoon stroll.

A stay at Winterholme is the perfect way to celebrate a special occasion; the double Jacuzzi next to your bed and the log waiting in the fireplace will make it a night to remember. And Ruby's homemade raisin bread, blueberry pancakes and partridgeberry muffins should keep you coming back.

Rates are $99-179 per night. Reservations: (800) 599-7829.

-- Susan Flanagan

Marilyn's Hospitality Home, Hay Cove
NORTHERN LIGHTS WITH THE VIKINGS
If you really want to get away from the pagers and patients, head to Marilyn's Hospitality Home (tel: 709-623-2811; $40) in Hay Cove on Newfoundland's Northern Peninsula to soak up the Northern Lights and air so fresh you'll feel like a baby taking your first breaths. Marilyn's is a five-minute drive from L'Anse aux Meadows Viking site where Leif (The Lucky) Eriksson landed 1000 years ago.

From your room you're just as likely to see a moose as fall foliage. When Marilyn offers you a glass of iceberg water, it's not the bottled kind. It's a chunk of iceberg from her freezer melted in your glass. Ask Marilyn to set you up with a fisherman for a short jaunt in a boat in the Strait of Bell Isle. The water will give you an excuse for all the food you can't help but consume. Marilyn's fisherman's brews dinner and moose stew might make you decide to spend the rest of your days in Hay Cove, pop. 55.

-- Susan Flanagan

Glynmill Inn, Corner Brook
SKIING DOCTORS AND FALL FOLIAGE
The 75-year-old Glynmill Inn is the hotel in Corner Brook, Newfoundland's second city. For two weeks in January or February, about 50 of the 81 rooms fill up with the Skiing Doctors, a group of physicians from across Canada who descend upon Corner Brook to take part in the winter carnival festivities at Marble Mountain -- where one of the slopes is called OMJ (for "Oh Me Jesus!").

In fall, the area comes alive. You walk out the front door and you're almost knocked out by the ruby reds of the maples and the shower of spruce cones. Just down the front steps is the Glynmill Inn Pond, complete with swans and walking trails galore. Down in the Wine Cellar Steakhouse, award-winning chef Joe Froud will char grill you a triple-A filet of beef whose secret seasonings will get even the Albertans begging for more.

A room at the Glynmill runs between $69-155 per night. Reservations: (800) 563-4400.

-- Susan Flanagan

PRINCE EDWARD ISLAND
The Inns on Great George, Charlottetown
A CONFEDERATION WEEKEND
Charlottetown, where the seeds of Confederation were sown, is a walk through time that every history buff should experience. You can visit Province House and the room that hosted the 1864 Charlottetown Conference that led to the formation of Canada.

Great George Street, near Province House -- a route where the Fathers of Confederation walked -- was known for its hospitable accommodation. Today that tradition is continued with the Inns on Great George, a collection of historic properties that have been fully restored, filled with antiques and offer quality and privacy. Each inn is unique in design and character.

High-season rates are $145 (single) and $155 (double); after October 15, rates drop to $95 (single) $105 (double). Reservations: (800) 361-1118.

-- Tom Peters

Delta Prince Edward Hotel, Charlottetown
CHRISTMAS IN NOVEMBER
In November, PEI just naturally wraps itself in the festive colours of the coming season. Bright red fields stripe and criss-cross through rich green landscapes, a foretaste of candy canes and Christmas wrapping paper.

If you're planning to celebrate the holidays at home and want to make them special, you'll love the November weekend organized by Charlottetown's Delta Prince Edward Hotel, where some of the Maritimes's finest chefs will gather to provide advice, cooking demonstrations and recipes guaranteed to make you the most innovative host of your neighbourhood.

The secrets of holiday entertaining are divulged by charismatic Chef Paul Pabondjian, who presides over the Prince Edward Hotel's fine dining, and Jay Nutt, also of the hotel staff, featured as a "Chef at Christmas" last year at Jasper Park Lodge. His appetizers will be your social coup. Talented Chef Stephan Czaply from Seasons 'N Thyme, a noted restaurant in Summerside, PEI, and Chef Dale Nichols of the Hotel Halifax are also part of the team. Beginners are welcome.

The November 24-26 weekend includes two nights' accommodation, reception, all meals, demonstrations and workshops, entertainment, wake-up walks and aerobics, Sunday brunch and carol sing. The price is $199 per person. Reservations: (902) 566-2222.

-- Colleen Whitney Thompson

Dalvay-by-the-Sea, PEI National Park
A CIVILIZED WAY TO SEE ANNE'S COUNTRY
At the east end of PEI National Park, just off Dalvay Beach's sandy strip of dunes, sits Atlantic Canada's premier seaside inn. It's not far from Cavendish and Green Gables, where hundreds of thousands of tourists throng each summer. But that's not why people come to Dalvay-by-the-Sea.

The gingerbread-trimmed Victorian mansion was built in 1895 as the summer home of oil baron Alexander MacDonald, a partner of John D. Rockefeller. It was converted into a hotel in the 1930s, and has been drawing people from around the world since. Dalvay has also achieved some fame as a movie star, appearing as "The White Sands Hotel" on the CBC television series Road to Avonlea.

But there are no TVs (or phones, for that matter) in any of the inn's 26 wood-panelled rooms, impeccably furnished in period antiques. The attention to detail extends outside onto Dalvay's manicured grounds, where tennis, croquet, horseshoes and lawn-bowling await. If you want to bring the family, four three-bedroom cottages overlook the sea and Dalvay Lake.

Aside from miles of dunes, hiking, cycling and six championship golf courses nearby (including the Links and Crowbush Cove), the real diversion at Dalvay is the dining. Starters might include Malpeque oysters and warm salad of duck confit, followed by mains like pan-fried Atlantic salmon and herb-crusted rack of lamb. Don't miss Dalvay's dessert specialty -- sticky date pudding, served warm with toffee sauce and vanilla ice cream. (This is not the weekend to be watching your waistline.)

Doubles, including gourmet breakfast and dinner, are from $160 per couple in low season (early- to mid-June and mid-October to mid-November); cottages start at $300 a night. Reservations: (902) 672-2048.

-- Jackie Rosenhek

NORTHWEST TERRITORIES
Blachford Lake Lodge
SNOWSHOES, SNOWMOBILES AND SAUNAS
The Northwest Territories might not be the first place you think of when imagining a winter break, what with winter temperatures rarely rising above -20 degrees Celsius and just four intense hours of daylight from December to March. That said, if waking up to the sound of 2000 migrating caribou galloping across frozen Great Slave Lake sound good, then north is where you should be.

For the last 20 years, Blachford Lake Lodge has been an established holiday destination in the Territories. Owner Mike Freeland describes it simply -- "The land is our home."

The lodge is at the west end of remote Blachford Lake, about 95 kilometres southeast of Yellowknife. The 20-minute flight by charter float/ski plane brings you to the small Tyrolean-like village with five comfortable log cabins and a main lodge with accommodations for up to 40. There's also a Jacuzzi hot tub, sauna and traditional tepee for reflective moments.

Depending on the season (Blachford is open year-round), interpretative nature trekking, birch-bark basket-making, fish-smoking lessons, as well as cross-country skis, snowshoes and ice-fishing gear are available. You can even learn to construct a traditional quinzhee snow hut and sleep under the northern lights.

Packages (which include airfare and meals) range from $725 for two days to $1799 for seven days. Reservations: (867) 873-3303.

-- Fiona Traynor

Great Slave Sledging Company, Moraine Point MUSH, MUSH, MUSH!
Bill and Mary Carpenter opened Great Slave Sledging Company in 1987 and continue to offer intimate, made-to-order winter trips on the frozen shores of Great Slave Lake.

Rustic luxury describes the lodge located on Moraine Point, 114 air kilometres west of Yellowknife on the border of the Mackenzie Bison Sanctuary. You can either fly to the lodge in a Twin Otter float/ski plane, or take the longer trip by dog team across Great Slave Lake (the fifth largest lake in the world) to the hand-hewn log lodge.

If you want full-tilt adventure, or a more relaxed wilderness rest, the Carpenters will make sure you get it. Choice is stressed at Moraine Point Lodge, and travellers develop their own itineraries, choosing everything from menus to what time you want your bath drawn.

Bill, a biologist with the World Wildlife Fund, leads wilderness viewing excursions and knows where the best eagle-nesting, ice-fishing and bison-viewing spots are. You can learn to drive your own dog-sled team, snowmobile, cross-country ski on groomed trails, snowshoe and view the swirling green Aurora Borealis beside a huge bonfire.

The lodge is open from November to April. Rates vary depending on the itinerary, but an average six-day trip costs $5000 for two people. Reservations: (867) 920-4542.

-- Fiona Traynor

YUKON
A literary tour of Dawson City, the Yukon
JACK LONDON AND ROBERT SERVICE SLEPT HERE
Dawson City will always be known as the place where the Klondike Gold Rush began in 1896. Less than 10 years later, the world-famous city was all but abandoned, the prospectors lured west by new finds in Alaska. By the 1950s, there wasn't much left here.

Today, at the Palace Grand Theatre, most tourists take in the award-winning Gaslight Follies, a wistful film that brought Dawson's decline to public attention in the 1950s.

These days, gold-rush fever of another kind has taken over Dawson City as tourists flock to see what it must have looked like 100 years ago. Most of the town has been restored, complete with original false-fronted buildings and dirt streets. But there's a cultural side to a getaway here, and I'm not talking about a visit to Diamond Tooth Gertie's -- Canada's first legal casino.

Two of Canada's most famous literary figures were also drawn to Dawson City in its heyday -- Jack London and Robert Service. Jack London came here to find his fortune, but returned to California penniless. The experience, however, led to his classics The Call of the Wild and White Fang. London's cabin, together with a small memorabilia museum, are worth a peek. Nearby, outside poet Robert Service's Cabin, recitals of his "gold-rush classics" like The Shooting of Dan McGrew and The Cremation of Sam McGee are held regularly.

For more information, contact Dawson City's Visitor Information at (867) 993-5566 (closed mid-September to mid-May).

-- Jackie Rosenhek

 

This article was accurate when it was published. Please confirm rates and details directly with the companies in question.

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