Canada's Islands: A Guide
Author: Nicholas Jordan
Away from Canada's big cities and beaten tracks lies another world of epic landscapes, wild cuisines and cultural richness. Here is a guide to the secret adventures and luxuries of Canada's islands.
Cape Breton Island
When it comes to scenery there are two places everyone in eastern Canada talks about: Newfoundland and Cape Breton Island. The latter's peak (both literal and metaphorical) is the Cape Breton Highlands National Park, a cluster of picturesque forest-covered, moose-filled mountains. The easiest way to experience it is via the Cabot Trail, named after the island's early explorer John Cabot. The scenic road passes next to the Highland peaks and cliffs, as well as various idyllic fishing villages which show off the island's seafaring and French colonial history.
Keltic Lodgeis a cliff-edge lodge that looks like a deluxe Scandinavian barn.
383 Keltic in Rd, Ingonish Beach, kelticlodge.ca
The Bite House seats 12 seats for five courses showcasing the best of the region's wine and produce.
1471 Westside Baddeck Rd, Baddeck, thebitehouse.com
Newfoundland and Labrador
Newfoundland and Labrador is to Canada what Scotland is to the UK, an entirely (and proudly) separate culture, cuisine, language and landscape. Canadians will debate which of the latter two are the most remarkable. Locals speak a twisted Irish- and French-influenced English that's been nicknamed Newfinese. Much easier to grasp is the island's incredible and varied landscape. Icebergs pepper the sea, blistered mountains hide fjords, and valleys with glacial views are home to moose, caribou, beavers and bears. We would say it's neither though - the food scene here, particularly in St John's, is among the most creative (while remaining local and historically derivative) in Canada.
Vintage Newfoundland is a series of restored heritage cottages dotted along the Newfoundland coastline. vintagenewfoundland.ca
Raymonds takes a fine-dining approach to Newfoundland's hearty, meaty cuisine.
95 Water St, St. John's, raymondsrestaurant.com
Mallard Cottage is housed in an 18th-century
Irish-Newfoundlander cottage and serves unpretentious fare based on
8 Barrows Rd, St. John's, mallardcottage.ca
There's simply one good reason to visit this island: it's overrun with horses and seals. Sable Island is a kind of serene paradise, completely fantastical and utterly bewildering. Recently it also became a National Park Reserve meaning the small crescent-shaped landmass and its sandy hikes are much easier to access. For flights and ferries check Parks Canada's website.
On an isolated point of Fogo Island's rough granite shores there's a mystical inn. Outside people are fishing, foraging for wild berries and staring into the harsh sheen of the ocean. Inside guests are wrapped in hand-woven quilts, eating fresh bread and listening to the melodies of Fogo's heritage. With an art gallery, historical library, 29 individually decorated suites, a cinema for Canadian film and two resident dogs you'll be simultaneously experiencing Fogo's past, present and future.
Stay & eat
Fogo Island Inn is the Canadian wilderness at its finest and offers a fine-dining restaurant based on the "seven-season" produce of the island.
210 Main Rd, Joe Batt's Arm, fogoislandinn.ca
This is where Canadians go for summer holidays. The island's unique climate means it's like experiencing the Mediterranean, albeit with a few more storms. A summer holiday here means hikes through literal rainforests and the best beach-lazing in Canada, while in winter you'll find some of the best skiing in the country. Regardless of season, however, Vancouver Island has a cutting-edge culinary scene that produces some of Canada's great wines, cheeses, meat, beer and recently also olives and lemons.
Nimmo Bay Resort, an eco-lodge nestled among fjords, is accessible only by helicopter.
1978 Broughton Blvd, Port McNeill, nimmobay.com
Wickaninnish Inn, embedded in a rainforest, looks out onto the
Pacific Ocean with rooms custom-built to watch the region's epic
500 Osprey Ln, Tofino, wickinn.com
The Pointe Restaurant at Wickaninnish Inn offers 240-degree ocean views, fresh seafood and an extensive wine list - a definitive Canadian dining experience.
500 Osprey Ln, Tofino, wickinn.com
Sooke Harbour House is a 35-year-old restaurant and inn serving
fresh local seafood on a daily-changing menu that features
traditional First Nation ingredients, as well as more than 200
herbs, vegetables and flowers from its organic garden.
1528 Whiffen Spit Rd, Sooke, sookeharbourhouse.com
While a lot of islands are set up for luxury R&R, fine dining and cultural experiences, Canada's northernmost island has the opposite attraction. It's almost completely barren. There are about as many polar bears as there are people and there's only one permanent settlement. What it lacks in accessibility it more than makes up for in awe and adventure. In winter, the fjords are snow-swept, epic and bathed in the lights of Aurora Borealis, while in summer the mountains are covered with wildflowers and the bays welcome beluga whales.
Grise Fiord Inuit Lodgeis a basic hut surrounded by mountains and offers snowmobile trips to nearby hikes and wildlife hotspots.
Grise Ford, Ellesmere Island, arcticco-op.com/acl-baffin-region-grise-fiord.htm
This little island was one of the first places in Canada to be colonised by the French, drawn by the thriving crops of wild grapes. Now the island known as the "garden of Québec" is teeming with spectacular wineries, strawberry fields (the produce of which you must enjoy at any roadside strawberry stand), apple orchards and maple farms. L'Île d'Orléans' other great legacy is its French colonial architecture and heritage, it's one of the best examples of French-Canadian history and culture to be found.
Dans les bras de Morphéeis a heritage stone manor in the countryside offering a full French breakfast and natural spa.
5474 Chemin Royal, Saint-Jean-de-l'Île-d'Orléans, danslesbrasdemorphee.com/home
Le Moulin de Saint Laurent, housed in a converted 18th-century stone mill, serves French-Canadian cuisine based on l'Île d'Orléans produce.
6436, Chemin Royal, Saint-Jean-de-l'Île-d'Orléans, www.moulinstlaurent.qc.ca/en
Presented by Destination Canada.