At times, even the most hardened traveller will secretly admit that they crave a glimpse of home. But instead of jumping on the first plane back to the Great White North, point your travel compass to one of these destinations to experience some home-away-from-home comfort.
Is it Paris? Or is it Quebec City?
Dating back to 1608, Quebec City is one of North America's oldest European settlements. In fact, the city predates Canada's confederation by more than two centuries. This all creates an entirely different vibe to that found in other provincial capitals. With its winding streets and distinctly colonial architecture, Quebec City has more in common with Paris than Toronto —particularly the French capital’s gorgeous Montmartre district.
Paris, France. Image via Dollar Photo Club
Why? Both share atmospheric alleyways, charming architecture and cobblestone streets and, of course, the French language floats romantically in the air. Visiting Québécois will feel right at home wandering through Montmartre's alleyways, nooks and crannies. There they’ll stumble upon curated boutiques, quaint boulangeries and vibrant nightclubs. It really comes as little surprise to learn that Paris and Quebec City have been sister cities since 2003.
Is it Ireland? Or is it the Maritimes?
©Tourism PEI / Sean Landsman
A mysterious place where rolling green hills meet plunging sea bluffs: we could be describing Canada's wild eastern coastline or Ireland's lush and romantic landscape. The parallels between the Maritimes and the Emerald Isle aren't just soil-deep either. After all, Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island all have communities with distinct Irish, British, Scottish and Acadian roots.
Ireland. Image via Dollar Photo Club
Canadians stepping into Ireland will immediately connect the familiar Celtic music, culture and friendliness to that found in the Maritimes. And for the one in four Maritime residents who can trace their heritage back to Ireland, it may even feel like a grand homecoming.
Is it the UK? Or is it British Columbia?
Victoria, British Columbia. Image via Dollar Photo Club
There's something very genteel about British Columbia's provincial capital. Is it that high tea is a tradition still observed at the Empress Hotel? Is it that the city is named after Britain's Queen Victoria? Or is it that the stately Parliament Buildings were designed by English-born architect Francis Rattenbury?
St. Paul's Cathedral, London. Image by Samuel Zeller via Unsplash.com
Victoria gives more than just a nod to the ‘British’ in British Columbia. Wander the streets of any of Britain’s major cities—especially Leeds—and you’ll see where Rattenbury found his architectural inspiration. A stroll around Savill Gardens' manicured flower beds will remind Canadian visitors of Butchart Gardens. A tour the UK’s numerous stately manors and castles will evoke memories of Victoria's very own Craigdarroch Castle. And lastly, a tour of London's famous highlights from a horse drawn carriage will remind homesick Canucks of Victoria's equine icons.
Is it Chicago? Or is it Toronto?
Toronto, Ontario. Patrick Tomasso via Unsplash
At first sight these two cities seem very dissimilar. While both are perched on completely different Great Lakes, they share some surprisingly similar 'personality' traits. Both were settled around 1800 by Europeans, mainly French and British. Fires destroyed much of the cities—1871 in Chicago and 1904 in Toronto—and both were rebuilt with better construction and urban design. Immigrants from all over Europe have made their homes in the two cities, and the gentle sloping topography of each city is much the same.
Chicago, Illinois. Jeff Hendricks via Unsplash
Globetrotting Torontonians suffering from a case of homesickness can gain solace in the Windy City’s Modernist architecture, lakeside location, healthy cycling culture, funky neighbourhoods and colourful suburbs.
Is it Denmark? Or is it the Prairies?
Denmark. Image by Jennifer Larsen
Characterized by their endless skies, the prairie provinces of Alberta, Manitoba and Saskatchewan are home to 90 percent of our nation's farmland. Although Denmark is possibly the last place you’d expect to find a 'rancher' vibe, the geography there is mostly made up of rolling plains; lowlands that are well suited to farming. Road-tripping through Denmark evokes the same sense of openness of as travelling through the Prairies. Long distances between communities, grassy fields and towering wind turbines are familiar sites. Warm Danish hospitality and athletic-casual dress will also have Prairie-born Canadians feeling right at home... until they reach the coastline that is!
Is it New Zealand? Or is it the Rockies?
Peyto Lake, Alberta. Image via Sergei Akulich, Unsplash.com
The geography of New Zealand's South Island is laughably Canadian. Standing among the mountains, there's an undeniable feeling of familiarity for the travelling Canuck. While they may be dubbed 'The Southern Alps' they very much feel like the Canadian Rocky Mountains. Both are marked by steep-sloped mountains, volcanic peaks, glaciers, milky blue lakes and mighty forests.
New Zealand. Image via Dollar Photo Club
Trek along a coastal trail in Abel Tasman National Park, and you could forgive yourself for thinking you were back at Vancouver Island’s Juan de Fuca Provincial Park. Heck,if it wasn’t for the Kiwi accent, it would be easy for a Canadian to forget you’re in New Zealand. Add to that the fact that the South Island experiences four glorious seasons, a colourful local wine scene and a love for all things adventure, and it’s clear to see why Canadians feel right at hope on the South Island.
Is it Texas? Or is it Calgary?
How did Calgary earn its cowboy reputation? Agriculture, cattle and big oil, surely. That sounds a lot like the Lone Star State, doesn't it? And for 10 days each July, Calgary definitely acts like Texas too. The Calgary Stampede is one of the largest rodeos in the world, complete with Stetsons, cowboy boots and a whole lot of swagger.
Comparably, you’ll find the same mix of big city bustle and Western drawl in Houston, Texas. Visit in March to experience the Houston Livestock Show & Rodeo, the granddaddy of all rodeos. The event attracts country music's biggest names and lasts nearly three weeks, easily making it one of the largest rodeos in the world. Square dancing Calgary natives who enjoy Western tunes will feel right at home in Austin too. After all, it is known as the live music capital of the world and you can expect to find a festival or concert any month of the year.
Is it Portland? Or is it Vancouver?
Zach Spear via Unsplash
Those who love Vancouver's historic Gastown neighbourhood will swoon for Portland. Both share a sort of gritty gentrification draped in hipster vibes. Find independent bookstores, local designers, art galleries, niche boutiques and craft beer breweries galore in both cities.
Vancouverites will particularly appreciate the walkability of Portland and its laid-back, West Coast attitude. We wouldn't swing through Portland without staying at the ultra-hip Ace Hotel. Nor can we resist making a reservation at the trendy Multnomah Whiskey Library.
Is it Colombia? Or is it Tofino?
Tofino, British Columbia via Dollar Photo Club
Each summer, the wild coast of Tofino on Vancouver Island is dotted with surfers, campers and whale-watchers. By winter it attracts storm-watchers. The beaches are long and scenic, with plenty of marine life visible in the tidal pools. Inland, there are plenty of protected rainforests to roam.
Likewise, the Pacific coast of Colombia is spectacular and rugged; a blend of forest-cloaked hills and sandy-smooth shores. Vociferous waterfalls force their way towards the ocean and if you look offshore you may be lucky enough to spot whales and dolphins. And just like Tofino, the region is rustic and remote, located far from the frenetic pulse of the bigger cities.
Is it Lapland? Or is it Yellowknife?
Northern Lights in the Finish Lapland. Image via Dollar Photo Club
Only a few hundred kilometres south of the Arctic Circle and interlaced with lakes, Yellowknife is extremely cold in winter. Despite the conditions, many First Nations people thrive in the harsh climate. It's a lifestyle that promotes solitude, yet demands community, in order to survive. Five distinct languages are spoken among the 20,000 residents, and travel by snowmobile or dogsled is as common as autos.
Comparably, the northernmost region of Finland shares an ethnically diverse profile. Three dialects of Sami that are spoken nearly as widely as Finnish and Swedish and the camaraderie fostered by the isolated and rugged territory is necessary for survival. Though few travel by dogsled, it isn’t uncommon to see a sleigh pulled by reindeer. In both Yellowknife and the Lapland, roaming Canadians can witness unparalleled Aurora Borealis, and learn from indigenous people who maintain a unique relationship with their environment.
Have you ever been keenly reminded of home while travelling?
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