Road Trip In Canada: Edmonton To Vancouver, Beautiful Sceneries Of The Rockies

As our last hurrah for the summer of 2012, We’ve had the pleasure of going on a road trip from Alberta to British Columbia – a very invigorating and stress-relieving though tiring trip.

I was longing to be able to know where the Rocky Mountain started forming and I thought that I would be able to find out on this trip, but to my dissapointment, we crossed the part of the Rockies from East to West and not the South to North where I expect the gradual formation of the mountain range started.

It still was a sight to behold that I never get tired of admiring, even after I’ve seen repeatedly. It always leave me in awe, this creations’ gift to Canada, whenever I see the approach to the mountains.

What was new to me, though, was that this is the first time that I will be able to travel from Edmonton to Vancouver. I am excited because, not only will I be able to experience Vancouver just for the second time but we will also be staying in Kelowna for a night. My cousin was all praises for the sights in Kelowna that makes me want to see the city even more.

Additionally, I will be able to experience myself what’s it like in Vancouver so I can write about living there. I know that my stay in Vancouver will be a very short one to be able to really get a good grasp of what its like to live as a local. But because we have close relatives there who volunteered to show us around, my plan was to use the opportunity to interview them about life as a local in Vancouver. That will be in coming blog posts, though.




For now, let me show in photos and words our road trip across Alberta and British Columbia…..

First stop: Canmore, Alberta

We started of course in Edmonton, where we left about 6 in the morning. The plan was to stop for lunch at Lake Minnewanka inside Banff National Park. The drive to Banff from Edmonton is about 4 1/2 hours but when you’re on a trip like this with so many people in tow, you should expect that some have smaller bladder than others, so a lot of “washroom stop” is un-avoidable.

To avoid the traffic, we bypassed Calgary and instead we took a regional road West (Olds Road) and another turn South (Cowboy Trail) that led us to Highway 1 (Trans Canada Highway) where we drove West to finally arrive at Canmore, Alberta.

Canmore is the first picturesque town by the Rocky Mountains you’ll encounter in Alberta if coming from Calgary or Edmonton. When you reach it, you will know that you are in the Rockies because the mountain range gradually rises starting with the town’s valleys.

a hotel in downtown Canmore in Alberta

Canmore Chateau Hotel

A gas station at Canmore, Alberta

Canmore gas station

Picturesque view at Canmore, Alberta

Canmore, Alberta

After taking a few photos, filling our van with gas and washroom stop at Canmore, we proceeded to Banff. Driving time is about 20 to 30 minutes.

Lunch time at Lake Minnewanka at Banff National Park

When going to Banff National Park, an entrance fee is being collected at the gate. So, if you are going to stay for at least a day there to explore or if you will proceed to Jasper National Park later, be prepared to pay for a National Park fee. In our case, because we are only passing through to get to Vancouver, we did not have to pay anything.

There is a separate gate upon entering the park for those who are passers-by and for those who are staying at Banff. Click here for the entrance payment information.

Lake Minnewanka picnic area

Lake Minnewanka

Lake Minnewanka picnic area

Lake Minnewanka, Alberta

It is my first time to see Lake Minnewanka Park and although I knew that the view around Banff National Park is amazing, I was a bit surprised to see how close the park is to the peaks. I took a lot of pictures of the place but in my mind, not one photo justifies the beauty of what my eyes were seeing. I did not have a good lunch in the area because I feel that I want to feel the environment around more and enjoy the nature than eat.

I wanted to stay a little bit longer at this lake picnic area so I can explore the place more, but we have to be in Kelowna before dark for our reservation. Too bad, but maybe next time.

Short visit to Lake Louise

After our lunch at Lake Minnewanka Park, we went for a brief photo snapping time at Lake Louise also inside Banff National Park. We decided to make a brief stop there so that my kids can see for themselves this World Heritage site.

In photos, Lake Louise looks like a big area but when there it looks smaller than what is shown in most photos. At any rate, it really is a beautiful part of Banff and should not be missed by anyone visiting or even just passing by the area.

A waiting shed at Lake Louse

Lake Louise shed

World Heritage site in Alberta, Canada

Lake Louise

Name of the peaks at Lake Louise

Lake Louise peaks

There is only one hotel at Lake Louise, and it is an expensive one. If you are eager to explore more the area, I would suggest to find a cheaper place to stay-in at the town of Banff (about 10 or 15 minutes away) and just drive to Lake Louise for your exploring trip.

Or you can also camp or park your trailer at the area for a small park fees.

There are scenic walking (Nordic in the winter) trails at Lake Louise that not only show the beauty of the place but also a physically challenging hike.

On to Kelowna, BC

After that short stop at Lake Louise, we drove on to our destination where we will be spending the night – Kelowna, BC.

Driving time from Banff to Kelowna is approximately 6 1/2 hours but with leisurely drive like we’re doing plus more stops, took us about 8 hours. We’re still along Highway 1 or the Trans-Canada Highway and from Banff, the next National Park we passed was Yoho National Park.

town of Golden, British Columbia rest stop

Bridge at Golden, BC

Passing Yoho, I was told that we already crossed provincial boundary. We’re in British Columbia already. We stopped briefly at a Golden, BC rest area for the usual bathroom break and stayed for a couple of minutes to enjoy the view of the bridge where you can see the oncoming traffic as they drove down the length of the highway.

It was such a spectacular view, as you will see in the photo. The drive starting from Canmore, Alberta up to Revelstoke, BC on the stretch of the Trans-Canada Highway is nothing but natural, mountainous beauty! But one grand landscape that I regret not taking a photo of was when we passed the Rogers Pass scenic area.

It is there that the grand vista of the snow-capped Rocky Mountains was visible as the mountainous-landscape slowly turn to become a pine-forested peaks of British Columbia. My eyes were feasting on this beautiful part of nature’s creation while most of my companions were sleeping.

Kelowna bread-and-breakfast By-th-Bridge

By-the-Bridge B&B: Phone Yodit@(250)860-7518

It’s good that I went ahead with this trip. I’d really like to see how different the landscape is from Alberta to British Columbia and compare them with what I’m used to in Ontario.

Each Province has its own spectacular scenery that any person who value natures’ gift will feel lucky to have seen and experience.

We finally reached Kelowna about 7 pm. We checked in at the bread-and-breakfast lodging we reserved and then had dinner in a Chinese restaurant.

After dinner, we walked around the main town for about an hour or so and finally for a goodnights rest.

I got up very early the next morning because I’m excited to find out how Kelowna looks like because prior last night, it seemed like it is big area that I will not be able to see a big portion of so I can get a good grasp of how it is to stay there.

Turned out I’m wrong. The main place of attraction, which is the baywalk from where we are staying up to the end of Waterfront Park, will only take about an hour or two of leisurely walk. I’m taking photos while walking and I’m guessing I’m walking slower than leisurely, so it must be really a small place.

Kelowna, BC waterfront at night

Kelowna at night

floating bridge at Kelowna, BC

Kelowna floating bridge

ducks swimming in Okanagan Lake

Clear Okanagan Lake

Kelowna is beautiful. Lake Okanagan is a very clean lake; crystal clean as a matter of fact. It is also a retirement place for many Canadian seniors (as evidenced by the presence of a lot of senior citizens hanging out and working at a McDonalds outlet). There are also a lot of activities to keep you busy. I find it a very nice place to stay at on vacations but to retire there, in my opinion, is not for me. For one, it’s not cheap. And also, it is still cold although it is nice in the summer.

Docking harbor at Kelowna

Kelowna Harbor

condominium units at Kelowna

Lakefront Condos

Waterfront Park at Kelowna

Waterfront Park

I may stay for a week or two (in fact I’m thinking of going back with the whole family), but to stay there for a month – I don’t think it’s for me.

para-sailing at Kelowna

Parasailing at Kelowna

condo units at Kelowna

Kelowna condo

water-sports offerings at Kelowna

Kelowna watersports

Off to our last stop – Vancouver, BC

We left Kelowna just after lunch to go to our final stop for this trip. But before we drove straight to Vancouver, we searched for where to buy the famous Okanagan cherries.

We traveled the length of Highway 97 South to Peachland and up on one of the hills we found some cherry plantations. Our intention was to pick the cherries ourselves but according to the owners, cherry-picking season is only in the month of July, so we ended up getting only a boxful of their reserve to bring as present to our relatives in Vancouver. As I found out, Okanagan cherries are really good and that’s probably why even in Ontario, groceries stock-up on them more than the Ontario variety.

After that, we drove back to the highway leading to Vancouver (Highway 97C and then Highway 1). Travel time to Vancouver from Kelowna is approximately 4 1/2 hours only so we drove easy because that’s not that far anymore.

The mountain-landscape from then on are pine-forested peaks, which to me is not as a fantastic view compared to when we drove past the Rockies as we approach British Columbia. In fact, I’ve seen better panoramas in Ontario. What I don’t like about the forest plants in the mountains of BC? Majority of the plants are pine trees. In Ontario and also in Quebec, there’s a lot of variety of trees covering mountains, valleys or even the road side, which make the a road trip in those places a pleasant drive in the Autumn.

You’ll see leaves in a variety of color when driving along the highways of Ontario and Quebec in the Fall season – and I don’t think it will be the case when driving past the mountain ranges in BC.

We reached Vancouver at about 6 pm and since it was Summertime, it is still bright when we got to the house we rented. It was a classy house. Beautiful view of Grouse Mountain and an inlet or cove of the Pacific Ocean is what will greet you upon entering the receiving area.

Vancouver is what I remembered it was when I visited years ago. Hilly and like Toronto, is a city surrounded by many beautiful parks. What I like about going about in Vancouver is the fact that it’s a city by the Pacific Ocean.

I love to be close to the ocean than by a lake like in Toronto. Specially in the summer, when the day is longer and the weather is warmer, it would be nice to stroll or bike or take photos of the ocean and the surrounding parks.

I love it in Vancouver and so did my kids. They had plenty of goodtimes when we were staying there and my son was considering to move in May. I wouldn’t mind. It would be great to have another Canadian city to live at besides Edmonton and Toronto.

I would write about what my relatives in Vancouver told me about living in the city in future posts, meanwhile, here are some photos that I took while in Vancouver:

Fishermans Wharf

Texas farm Burnaby

English Bay

Stand Up Paddling, English Bay

Crabbing, Jericho Beach

Jericho Beach

Filipino town – Joyce st.

Crab net

Stanley Park

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Living In Canada – Edmonton or Toronto? Where Is It Better?

If you’re moving and living in Canada, where is it better to locate – Edmonton or Toronto?

This two Canadian cities are probably the only places in Canada that I will be able to provide some accurate information on because it will be the only locations we will call home in Canada.

Not that we don’t want to live in other Canadian towns or cities but we already have planted roots and have established businesses in those two. It would be very difficult for us to plan another move because there’s too much to lose now.

Anyway, in the interest of writing about life like a local in Canada, for those who are planning on moving in this vast country – for this post, I will try to differentiate living in Edmonton against living in Toronto. It will be a general differentiation but I hope to at least give readers a good picture about those two cities.

Jobs In Toronto And Edmonton

Let’s talk about availability of jobs, the most important factor in choosing where best to live. Generally, like I said in my previous post, if you’re not picky there are available jobs anywhere in Canada you choose to live.

Jobs in Canada for immigrants & contract workers

Photo Tippett.org


Specially at this time when the population of Canada isn’t growing fast enough to maintain the momentum of the country’s economy plus the fact that oil exploration out West of the country is in full swing, there are jobs available in the major cities or even small towns like Red Deer.

In Edmonton, since the time I landed there in 96, jobs are always available. If you are not lazy, are resourceful and are always ready to take on any kind of work while waiting for the right opportunity, you will not experience being jobless.

I’m not saying this because I was resourceful and lucky to be networked with old timers there – I say it because I have talked and interviewed a lot of newcomers and have not heard them complain about lack of work.

On the contrary, many are complaining of working way too many hours!

Today, the business leaders of Edmonton and the rest of Western Canada including British Columbia and Saskatchewan are in panic mode because they are forecasting a severe shortage of manpower in the coming years. They are pushing the Federal government to act immediately on creating more flexible immigration programs to let in more workers and immigrants to the Western Provinces.

The situation is different in Toronto and some other Eastern Provinces. Although, there are still plenty of work, the pay difference is so great that many citizens of Toronto and other Eastern cities are moving West in great numbers.

I was just in Edmonton in May 2012 to renew our business license. The lady who was tasked to look after me was from Toronto and she told me that she moved her whole family 2 years ago to Edmonton because she can provide for the whole family on her salary alone unlike when they were still in Toronto where she and her husband were juggling two jobs.

The same story was repeated by one of the acquaintances of my cousin when we talked. He said that because the tax is lower and the pay is better in Edmonton, he is now able to save money and not live on paycheck-to-paycheck anymore unlike when he was still living in Scarborough. Scarborough is one of the former municipalities of the now amalgamated Toronto.

This are just two of the so many stories I’ve heard about how much better it is in Alberta.

So, when in comes to jobs – hands down living in Edmonton or any of the cities or towns of Alberta is best.

Cultural And Racial Diversity Of Edmonton And Toronto

Racial diversity in Canada is very much alive

Photo gladysemory.wordpress.com

Canada is a country built by immigrants. Many people from all parts of the world live, work and study in Canada. That is why it is very common to have friends, acquaintances or even spouses from a different race.

One thing I noticed while living in both Edmonton and Toronto is the diversity of the people you come face to face with or talk to. In the bus, at the park, in school and just about everywhere.

There is no difference, therefore in racial diversity in both Edmonton and Toronto.

What I specially like about Edmonton when it comes to interaction between races, is that – they are really mixed.

What I mean is, it is very common for people, specially the young people to be mixed, be friends or hang-out with other people outside of their race.

An example was when we went clubbing in Edmonton as a new immigrant. During my first few weeks of going out with a Filipino friend, I was totally amazed when we get to the club finding out that there are already seats waiting for us where we are mixed with people of different races.

Mostly whites, but in the group there is also a Pakistani, an El Salvadoran and blacks. I feel awkward at first but when I got to know them after a few more meets, I found that they’re no different from me.

Another example are my nieces and nephews. Most of their friends are either white, Indians or blacks. I seldom see them hanging out with other Filipinos except when they are with their cousins.

It is different in Toronto. Although I noticed that races are more varied, most usually they hang-out with their own kind. Pakistanis with Pakistanis, Indians with Indians, Filipinos with Filipinos…. you get what I mean.

You’ll notice that in clubs, malls, parks, etc. if you’re living in Toronto.

The only time probably you will see them different races mixed is in school or work place. Even then, during their free time, you’ll notice them gravitating towards and talking with the same race.

So, for me, when it comes to racial interaction – Edmonton is my choice over Toronto.

Availability Of Convenient Apartment Communities In Toronto And Edmonton

St. Jamestown in Toronto apartment communities

Photo twitter.com/the_brom

After jobs, I consider living in an area close to places of convenience a secondary requirement when seeking for where to locate. In my previous post about living in Canada, I have partially discussed the basic requirements I listed which I try to carry out.

As I became more acquainted in the city I chose to live in, those basic essentials list grows. For example, when I experienced living at Flemingdon Park in Toronto where we first experienced amenity abundant community living, I have added being close to community centers, parks, hospitals, 24 hour bus routes, proximity to subway line, etc. to my list.

If you choose to live in Toronto, this is possible. There are so many communities in the city that are seemed to be designed to be convenient for their residents’ needs.

The former municipality of East York is an example. The area is close to subway lines, has many 24 hour bus routes, a general hospital, plenty of parks and playgrounds, community centers all over, groceries, etc.

This is just one municipality. There are many more like this in Toronto.

Not so in Edmonton. Even if you live downtown or close to the University of Alberta area, the presence of those conveniences enumerated above being so close to each is hardly present.

There are no parks like the ones you will find in Toronto and you will really need a car to get around specially if you are coming home late.

Therefore, for convenient apartment communities where a resident have access to most amenities, Toronto has much, much more to offer.

Transportation Convenience For Non-vehicle Owners

Edmonton Transit System bus

Photo flickr.com/photos/adoborepublic/

Aaah, this part of comparison between Edmonton and Toronto is a no-contest. If transportation convenience is the subject, I think Toronto has the most extensive transport system in the whole of Canada.

Newcomers, specially, do not have access to a car yet – some even after years of living in Canada. If you are living in Toronto, this would not pose a problem. You can get around the whole city using Toronto public transit system 24 hours, if you choose.

The subway system of Toronto is stretched North to South and East to West of the city not like Edmonton’s which services just a small part North/South of the city.

Edmonton, too, have no 24 hour bus service unlike Toronto which has the Blue Night Service – 24 hour bus routes around the city.

So, even though you miss the last trip of the subway system, the Blue Night route is savior in getting home. Just make sure to know where and what bus numbers to take, specially in the winter season.

Places To Visit & Things To Do When Bored

Wilket Creek Park in Toronto

Photo flickr.com/photos/adoborepublic/

This is another topic where living in Toronto trumps living in Edmonton. In the summer months, both cities offer a lot of festival celebrations that can have a resident occupied and entertained.

Although there are more festivities in Toronto than in Edmonton, I’d say Edmonton in the summer is not boring at all. But there are more festivals and more to do in Toronto which makes the city a fun place to be the whole summer.

Running out of fun things in Edmonton? Drive out-of-town for a picnic or camping with friends or relatives. There are many such recreation areas within 3 hours drive of Edmonton. But, again, picnic and outdoor recreational activities in Toronto have more choices than the former.

Within 3 hours drive North, South, East and West of the city reveals the reason why I prefer to spend more time in Ontario in the summer.

Ontario Parks and sceneries, I think, is one of the best in Canada.

Let’s talk about winter happenings.

In both Edmonton and Toronto, winter is the most boring season of the year. So, to get my mind off what I call winter-blues, I took up a winter sport – ice skating.

The whole Canada is a winter playground, so I suggest to get busy with a winter activity to make the winter season go quicker. Tobboganning, skiing, snowboarding, etc. are just some of Canada’s favorite.

In Edmonton, there are plenty of casinos inside the city. So, many old folks and casino lovers frequent them come winter time or even other season of the year.

In Toronto, casinos are outside of the main city. So, bus trips to casinos is the only way for casino enthusiasts to enjoy their “sport.”

Bars and clubs in Toronto are all over the city, the best ones are scattered along the stretch of Yonge and Queen streets. That is quite a long stretch if you are going to see in person.

In Edmonton, the best bar I’ve been to is the Red Piano inside West Edmonton Mall. There are others beside it, too. There is also another area where bar-hoppers frequent, Whyte Avenue. This is my favorite area when we go bar-hopping.

What Else?

For me, because I was fortunate to make inroads and connections in both cities – I would say I live in the best of both worlds. I fly between Edmonton and Toronto from time to time to stay with family and also to look after some business. I can’t say that one is better than the other because when you have family and have made friends in a place, I’m sure you will feel home wherever it may be.

Whenever I’m in Canada, I’d either be living in Toronto and then other months, in Edmonton. Otherwise, if I’m feeling the winter blues – I’d fly right away to my favorite tropical destination.

If anyone have any other suggestion about what to discuss that I probably missed, you may leave your suggestion at the comment below and I will write about it in the coming posts.

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