There is no shortage of beautiful Canadian lakes, which isn’t surprising since there are over 30.000 lakes in the country!
When I was traveling around Canada in our camper van, we visited our fair share of lakes and together with the favorite lakes of several fellow travel bloggers, I’ve compiled this list of Canada’s most beautiful lakes.
The 25 most beautiful lakes in Canada
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Where to find Canada’s most beautiful lakes?
25 beautiful Canadian lakes you must visit once in your life
1. Moraine Lake (Alberta)
You’ve undoubtedly come across a picture of Moraine Lake on Instagram, Google, or as a desktop screensaver. This isn’t surprising, Moraine Lake is one of the most iconic and beautiful lakes on the planet.
Moraine Lake is located in the Valley of the Ten Peaks in Banff National Park. Its mesmerizing color is due to the refraction of light off the rock flour which is carried to the lake by meltwater from the surrounding glaciers.
Besides marveling at the lake, there are several things to do at Moraine Lake, such as canoeing and hiking. Please note that fishing and swimming is prohibited at Moraine Lake.
Popular trails include the easy Moraine Lake shoreline trail and Consolation Lakes trail, and more challenging hikes such as Sentinel Pass, Eiffel Peak and Mount Temple.
Are you visiting Moraine Lake in peak season (July and August)? Be sure to get there early (before 7 am), otherwise, you won’t be able to find a parking spot.
2. Lake Louise (Alberta)
Lake Louise is one of the beautiful lakes near Banff and definitely one of the most popular ones, so it can get very crowded during the summer months.
Be sure to set your alarm early as you need to get here before 7 am if you want to drive your own car, otherwise the parking lot will be full. You can still get to Lake Louise later in the day with the shuttle bus.
This bus leaves every 15 minutes (from 8 am until 6.30 pm) and departs from the Lake Louise Park and Ride. Please note that reservations are required.
Our favorite Lake Louise activity was hiking the Plain of the Six Glaciers Trail, a stunning 14-kilometer (out and back) trail that ends at Plain of Six Glaciers Teahouse.
Instead of returning via the same trail, we took a different path from the Teahouse to Lake Agnes (3.5km) and from Lake Agnes back to Lake Louise via Mirror Lake (another 3.5km).
It’s not surprising Lake Louise is called one of the most beautiful outdoor rinks in the world.
However, if you are celebrating a special occasion, such as your honeymoon, staying at the Fairmont Château will surely be a once in a lifetime experience.
3. Bow Lake (Alberta)
Bow Lake is one of the largest lakes in Banff National Park and is fed by glacial meltwater from the nearby Bow Glacier.
This lake is a great place for a picnic, there is a large parking lot and you can enjoy the stunning view while enjoying a home or van-made lunch.
If you have enough time, I strongly recommend hiking to the Bow Glacier Falls. This 4.6-kilometer trail (return) leads along beautiful Bow Lake and through a wonderful valley.
The trail ends at the thundering Bow Glacier Falls which are fed by the meltwater of the Bow Glacier. This isn’t a difficult hike and suitable for families with children as well but only if they can walk 4.6km or when you’re carrying them in a baby carrier or a toddler hiking backpack.
4. Peyto Lake (Alberta)
Please note that the Peyto Lake Viewpoint is currently under construction and will remain closed until November 2020. For more information and current updates, check the Parks Canada website.
Peyto Lake is another beautiful lake in Canada and one you cannot miss on your Canadian Rockies road trip! This beautiful blue glacier lake is best seen from Peyto Lake viewpoint.
The hike to Peyto Lake is a short easy hike (2.6km return) so you can tackle this trail within the hour and still have plenty of time to admire the views.
There are two viewpoints along the hike and while both are worthwhile, during peak season the first viewpoint can get very crowded. If you are visiting in summer I recommend making your way straight to the second viewpoint.
As with Moraine Lake (and several other lakes on this list), Peyto Lake gets it’s vivid blue color comes from the minerals that flow into the lake from the Peyto Glacier.
5. Pyramid Lake (Alberta)
Pyramid Lake near Jasper is a gorgeous bit of scenery and a fantastic spot for many different activities. For starters, you can cycle to the lake from Jasper as it’s only 7 kilometers away from town.
The lake is the starting point for several hiking trails and there are boat rentals, as well as canoes and kayaks for hire. It’s a lovely place to spend an afternoon or even an entire day when you pack a picnic basket.
6. Medicine Lake (Alberta)
While often overlooked by people rushing to famous Maligne Lake (#6 on this list), Medicine Lake actually a worthwhile destination on its own as it’s a very special lake…
What makes this lake so special you might wonder?
Well, Medicine Lake is a seasonal lake that disappears each fall! During spring and summer, the lake is continuously fed by meltwater from the surrounding mountains.
In fall, however, the flow of melting water decreases to such an extent that the outflow of water is higher than the inflow.
While this is true for many lakes, those lakes all have rivers flowing out of them and Medicine Lake doesn’t. Still, the lake drains each fall.
So where does the water go?
The water from Medicine Lake disappears into a vast cave system on the northwest side of the lake. This cave system is one of the largest in the world and earned Medicine Lake a spot on the list of protected natural areas.
7. Maligne (Lake Alberta)
Maligne Lake is one of the most photographed lakes in the world and rightfully so, she’s a beauty indeed.
You can easily spend a day at Maligne Lake as there are many things to do. Whether it’s hiking one of the many trails, kayaking, canoeing, or fishing what your heart desires, Maligne Lake offers fun for the whole family.
A great summer activity is taking a boat trip to Spirit Island and in winter you can go snowshoeing. Altogether Maligne Lake is very much worth the 50-kilometer (one-way) drive from Jasper town.
8. Lake Minnewanka (Alberta)
Mayuri from To Some Place New: Lake Minnewanka is one of the most stunning lakes in Canada. Nestled in the Canadian Rockies, and located only 20 minutes away from Banff town, Lake Minnewanka’s pristine turquoise waters will melt your heart away.
During summers, the lakeside is filled with outdoor activities from canoeing, cruises, picnics, and hikes. From the lake, you can embark on a hiking adventure to the Aylmer Lookout for some stunning views of the mountains and other lakes nearby.
This lake is also a popular wedding photography spot, and it is not uncommon to see couples being photographed against the stunning backdrop!
One of the coolest things to do in Lake Minnewanka is to embark on a 90-minute cruise. This activity is only open during summers, and it gives you a great opportunity to view the mountains up close.
You can add a glass of champagne to your cruise tour to celebrate your time in the breathtaking Rocky Mountains.
With such gorgeous scenery comes limited availability. That’s right, Lake Minnewanka and the road access is only open during summers and early fall months. After October, roads are closed due to weather conditions.
However, with a varied range of activities, this lake deserves to be a part of your Banff summer itinerary. Don’t forget to pack comfortable shoes, sunscreen, and a camera to capture this stunning beauty!
9. Grassi Lakes (Alberta)
The Grassi Lakes are found just outside of Canmore, a lovely town in the Rockies. These pretty little lakes can be accessed via two different trails:
- An easy one most suitable for families, though not stroller friendly
- A slightly more difficult trail that can get slippery and muddy because of the nearby waterfall.
Both tracks are approximately 2 kilometers long and if you’re a fast hiker, a return trip takes just over an hour.
However, rushing there and back again would be a mistake as the Grassi Lakes are a great place to spend a couple of hours!
What the Grassi Lakes may lack in size, they more than make up for in beauty. These mesmerizing lakes have crystal clear water and are surrounded by green pine trees.
Swimming isn’t allowed, but it’s a great spot for a picnic. Just make sure to leave no trace, in other words: clean up properly after you leave!
In summer, rock climbers flock to the Grassi Lakes to conquer the 75-meter tall Cairn Formation cliffs.
Even if you’re not a climber it’s worth hiking up the rocky trail behind the lakes a bit further to enjoy stunning views over Canmore and it’s surroundings.
Note: unless you’re an experienced hiker with serious equipment, don’t try tackling this trail in winter as there will be lots of snow and ice.
10. Upper Kananaskis Lake (Alberta)
Upper Kananaskis Lake is located in Peter Lougheed Provincial Park, about 90km from Calgary. And while this lake isn’t nearly as famous as Moraine Lake, Lake Louise, or Maligne Lake, I personally think Upper Kananaskis Lake is one of the most beautiful lakes in Alberta!
A nice hike starting at the Upper Kananaskis Lake day-use area is the Rawson Lake trail. This moderate 8.9-kilometer track leads along part of Upper Kananaskis Lake, through a beautiful forest, and ends at Rawson Lake (pictured below).
Mountain biking trails can also be found within the Peter Lougheed Provincial Park and during winter it’s a popular spot for cross-country skiing.
There are several campsites as well and if you are planning a road trip along Highway 40, I highly recommend spending a night in this lovely Provincial Park.
11. Emerald Lake (British Columbia)
I’ll be the first to admit that the Emerald Lake (BC) isn’t off the beaten track. In fact, it’s quite touristy, for Canadian standards at least.
However, I think the picture above proves that Emerald Lake is one of the most beautiful lakes in British Columbia!
Located in Yoho National Park, Emerald Lake is a 15-minute drive from Field, a small town on the Trans Canada Highway.
The color of Emerald Lake is once again due to glacial flour, also called silt, and the lake is aptly named, the vibrant emerald water is breathtaking.
I highly recommend hiking the (albeit heavily trodden) 5-kilometer Emerald Lake Trail, a well-maintained trail around the shoreline of the lake. This easy hike gives you plenty of time to admire the fascinating color of the water.
Renting a kayak isn’t cheap (60CAD per hour for two people) but it is a great way to see the lake from a different perspective.
During summer you can have cocktails on the balcony and marvel at the incredible color of the lake.Click here to book the Emerald Lake Lodge
12. Seton Lake (British Columbia)
Seton Lake is a gorgeous 22 km long freshwater fjord near Lillooet, a small town in BC. There is a nice day-use area, perfectly suitable for picnicking, canoeing, hiking, and fishing (you’ll need a permit).
From Seton Viewpoint, you can admire the lake and surrounding Chilcotin mountains. If you like to spend a night at this pretty lake, the Seton Dam campground offers 45 campsites (no reservations, available on a first-come, first-served basis).
13. Garibaldi Lake (British Columbia)
Campbell and Alya from Stingy Nomads: Garibaldi Lake is a spectacular turquoise glacial lake, located 1450m above sea-level. Surrounded by snow-capped mountains and alpine meadows the views are breathtaking.
The lake is located in Garibaldi National Park, a wilderness park, located on the coastal mainland between Whistler and Vancouver. This large lake is 5 km long and 4 km wide and the only way to get here is on foot.
Hiking to this beautiful lake in Garibaldi Park is a very popular day activity from Vancouver. Starting from the trailhead in the Rubble Creek parking area, it’s a strenuous 21km out and back hike to the lake.
While the water of the lake is chilly to say the least, it’s definitely possible to swim. In fact, after a 9 km uphill hike jumping into the lake is very refreshing!
There is trout in the lake and it is a popular spot for fishing, just make sure you have the appropriate permits.
Garibaldi Lake has a nice campsite, it is very popular to combine hiking to Garibaldi Lake with hiking the Black Tusk or Panorama Route over two days and spending the night in the campsite.
The trailhead is easy to reach by car via the Sea to Sky highway between Vancouver and Whistler. Alternatively, from Downtown Vancouver, you can also get to the trailhead in the Rubble Creek parking area by public transport using the Parkbus.
14. Lake Osoyoos (British Columbia)
Claudia from The Travelling Mom: Canada’s western-most province of British Columbia is home to spectacular natural landscapes, including mountain peaks and a magnificent Pacific Ocean coastline.
It’s also home to the country’s only desert and its warmest body of water, Osoyoos Lake. Osoyoos is derived from the word sẁiẁs meaning ‘narrowing of the waters‘ in the local Okanagan language.
Surrounded by the dry mountains and sprawling vineyards of the lush Okanagan Valley, beautiful Osoyoos Lake is a magnet for sun worshippers and lake lovers who enjoy marine pursuits like swimming, boating, waterskiing, and paddleboarding.
The area is the ancestral home of the Osoyoos Indian Band, which operates the Nk’Mip Desert Cultural Center just north of the Lake.
This interpretive center provides an immersive exploration of the region’s desert ecology, including the glacial meltwater that created Osoyoos Lake.
The small town of Osoyoos sits at a narrow point crossing the lake and is a popular tourist destination in summer. Day use access to the lake is free along the beachfront of Osoyoos.
Homes and cottages dot the shoreline of Osoyoos Lake, popular with families on holiday wanting prime water access.
Campers will want to visit Haynes Point (swiws) Provincial Park, which reaches into the middle of Osoyoos Lake in a spoon-like shape, each campsite having its own private waterfront access.
15. Spotted Lake (British Columbia)
Spotted Lake is one of a kind and very different from all other lakes in this post. This unique lake is located northwest of Osoyoos (#14 on this list) and what makes is so special are the different types of minerals within the lake.
Spotted Lake is officially called a ‘saline endorheic alkali lake‘, which is quite a mouthful.
What this means is that there are high concentrations of various minerals, such as calcium, magnesium sulfate, and sodium sulfates found in the lake. These minerals form the key to how the lake got it’s name.
During summer most of the water in the lake evaporates, but the minerals remain, crystalize and thereby form large colorful spots on the lake. The color of the ‘spot’ depends on the composition of the minerals in that particular spot.
Please note that the spots can only be seen during summer! During the other seasons the minerals are mixed with the water and you can’t actually see any spots.
It’s also important to note that this lake is a sacred place to the local Indigenous people of the Okanagan. The lake itself, as well as the area surrounding it, are private property. You can admire the lake from the road, but not up close.
16. Buntzen Lake (British Columbia)
Its former name was Lake Beautiful and it was well deserved. Eagle Mountain, on the east side of the lake, reaches 1240m and is a great area to go hiking and catch amazing views over the lake from above.
The reservoir lake functions as a source of hydroelectric power, but the recreation area offers a lot to do for the whole family.
Buntzen is quite popular on summer weekends so try to get there in the morning to fully enjoy your day out.
The Buntzen Lake Recreation Area opens every day at 8:00 am and the closing time varies from 4:00 pm in December and January to 7:30 pm in August.
There are beaches where you can sunbathe, you can go for a swim on a hot day or bring a kayak or a paddleboard to explore the lake. Picnic areas are also available, as well as grass areas where kids can play safely.
I particularly like that there are quite a few hiking trails around the lake, suited for any level of fitness. Trails vary between an easy 30 minutes stroll to a demanding 10-hour return hike.
Also, there are mountain bike and equestrian trails if that’s what you’re looking for.
17. Lake Superior (Ontario)
Liliane from My Toronto, My World: the five Great Lakes of North America are known as some of the largest and most beautiful lakes in the world. The largest of these lakes is Lake Superior, it’s actually the largest in the world!
The lake has a number of stunning features like a hidden Bathtub Island, beaches, forests, cliffs, and incredibly clear water which contributes to the beauty of it. The sheer size of the lake, in addition to the number of things to do along the shore, makes it one of the best lakes in Canada.
The two major cities that border Lake Superior are Thunder Bay and Sault St. Marie. While you can certainly drive the shoreline between the cities (the whole 700 km of it!), the best way to explore to Lake Superior is through the multiple parks that have the Lake Superior coast line as part of their park.
Provincial parks include Lake Superior Provincial Park, Nimoosh Provincial Park, Sleeping Giant Provincial Park, and Pukaskwa National Park.
Vehicle day passes to the provincial park range from $12.25-$21 with the parks being open year-round. Pukaskwa National Park is open from Mid May to Mid October and single admission is $5.90 while a group entrance is $12.
You can explore the lake in a number of ways. You can camp out in one of the parks, go kayaking or canoeing, go swimming or hiking any of the trails around the lake.
No matter what you choose to do, experiencing Lake Superior is an absolute must-do.
18. Killarney Lake (Ontario)
Kathi from Watch Me See: the most beautiful places often take a little extra effort to reach. Killarney Lake in southern Ontario is no different.
The lake is located at the heart of Killarney Provincial Park, a park on the Georgian Bay that is known for its clear lakes and pink granite mountains that have been shaped by glaciers over millions of years.
Many visitors spend their lakeside getaway at the most accessible George Lake, the first of a wide network of lakes in the park.
But those that take on the challenge of a canoe camping trip deeper in the park, will be rewarded with the pristine views of Killarney Lake.
It takes a few hours to paddle from Goerge Lake to Killarney Lake via Freeland Lake. The portages between are not long, but tough if your canoes are piled high with equipment and supplies for a few days in the backcountry.
Campsites are dotted along the shore of Lake Killarney and are first-come, first-served, but you must book a backcountry camping permit from the park in advance ($12.43).
Camping in Canada’s backcountry must be done with careful precautions in mind, knowing about bear safety, and bringing the right equipment to keep your campsite safe. If you are inexperienced, I recommend hiring a guide and full outfit from nearby Killarney Outfitters.
From Killarney, you can paddle to other nearby lakes, the breathtaking OSA Lake for example, which was named after the Ontario Society of Artists, who played a significant role in protecting these lands from the logging industry.
Another must-do is the hike on the Silhouette Trail up to The Crack, high above Killarney Lake. All this makes Killarney Lake a must-see for outdoor enthusiasts and nature lovers on a road trip through Ontario.
19. Lake Muskoka (Ontario)
Stephanie from The World As I See It: one of the most beautiful lakes in Ontario, and in Canada for that fact, is Lake Muskoka. Situated in Ontario’s cottage country, Lake Muskoka is about a two-hour drive north of Toronto, making it a perfect Toronto road trip.
Muskoka is home to 1600 lakes and Lake Muskoka is one of the largest. Many people, both tourists as well as locals, flock to Lake Muskoka for its sparkling blue waters that are a haven for water lovers.
In the summer you can enjoy everything from boating to swimming and canoeing to cruises. One of Muskoka’s top attractions is the Lady Muskoka boat cruise.
You can enjoy a lunch, dinner, or sunset cruise along the picturesque Lake Muskoka and even see Millionaire’s Row, a stretch of the lake’s coastline that’s home to extravagant homes.
Lake Muskoka is accessible year-round but the best time to visit is through summer and fall. And there are endless things to do in Muskoka as well as on the lake itself.
Bring your swimsuit, beach towel, and rent a cottage on the lake to enjoy a long weekend in paradise. There are incredible hiking trails around, many of which have sweeping views over the lake.
You’ll also find a bunch of amazing waterfalls and charming small towns to explore. And for families visiting there’s even a theme park, Santa’s Village, that’s full of fun things like rides, a petting zoo, and more.
So, if you’re looking for an incredible lake to visit in Canada, add Lake Muskoka to your list!
20. Canisbay Lake (Ontario)
Canisbay Lake in Algonquin Provincial Park isn’t a very large lake, however, it has something to offer for everyone. You can rent a canoe, go fishing (note that you need to purchase a license), take a swim, or simply admire the view from the shore.
Around the lake, several fun activities can be enjoyed as well. If you’re into mountain biking, the Minnesing Mountain Bike Trail starts at the nearby Canisbay Campground.
Depending on your experience and level of fitness, you can choose between four different loops that are between 5 and 23 km long.
There are also different hiking trails that you can enjoy or join one of the Discovery Programs or Special Events that take place every day during the summer months.
21. Lake on the Mountain (Ontario)
Eric from Penguin and Pia: in Prince Edward County you’ll find Lake on the Mountain, one of the most beautiful lakes in Ontario, with a bit of mystery…
The mystery of the lake starts with where it was formed: the lake sits high up on a ridge while Lake Ontario is only a cliff-edge away. The second mystery is where it gets its water from since there are no major visible water sources flowing in or out of it!
To get there, just head for ‘The County‘ and then drive to the small community of Glenora where the lake is located. The lake itself is part of a Provincial Park by the same name and there is free parking right across the street from the lake.
Once there, visitors can walk some of the wooden paths and viewing platforms at one end of the lake or choose to take a canoe out on the water.
Lake on the Mountain has a law against motorized boats so it’s always very peaceful and well-kept. The lake is accessible all year round but the warmer months are the best time to check it out.
Close to where you park, you can also enjoy views of the lake from the patio at The Inn (a local restaurant in a historic building).
For a drink, Lake on the Mountain Brewing Company is nearby to grab a sampler flight of their craft beer and enjoy their outdoor space!
22. Lake Ontario (Ontario)
Lauren from Justin Plus Lauren: Lake Ontario is one of the five Great Lakes, and it’s one of the largest freshwater lakes in the world. There are many major cities on Lake Ontario, like Toronto and Hamilton, as well as picturesque towns, like Niagara-on-the-Lake.
You can find many wild shorelines and public beaches on Lake Ontario. Some are even considered to be Blue Flag Beaches, like Hanlan’s Point on Toronto Island, meaning that it meets some of the strictest standards for water quality.
Many people participate in water activities and sports on Lake Ontario, like kayaking, stand-up paddleboarding, boating, and more.
I’m very fortunate to live just steps from Lake Ontario in beautiful Port Credit, a village within the city of Mississauga. I love going for walks on the Waterfront Trail, a 3000km walking path that extends around several of the Great Lakes.
I go for walks almost daily by the lake, and I’ll never get tired of its sparkling deep blue waters. The views are stunning all year long, and there are gorgeous parks, paths, and trails that surround the shores of Lake Ontario.
If you’re interested in enjoying a quiet and peaceful moment by Lake Ontario, I suggest coming to Port Credit early in the morning for the sunrise.
The skies light up in vibrant shades of red, pink, and purple, putting on quite the dazzling show almost every day.
23. Lake Waskesiu (Saskatchewan)
Lake Waskesiu is located in Prince Albert National Park, one of the two National Parks in Saskatchewan.
Interesting fact: the name ‘Waskesiu’ means ‘red deer’ in Cree.
At the Waskesiu Heritage Museum, you can learn more about the human history of Waskesiu Lake (and Prince Albert National Park).
Lake Waskesiu is a great place for overnight camping trips, picnicking, bird watching, fishing, Aurora watching, biking, golfing, and more (sunsets at the lake are spectacular!).
There are many facilities at Lake Waskesiu, such as a small grocery store, gas station, laundromat, and several restaurants and hotels. The closest (bigger) city is Prince Albert, about 90 kilometers south of the lake.
24. Great Slave Lake (Northwest Territories)
Lindsay from I’ve Been Bit! Travel Blog: did you know that Canada is home not only to the largest lake in the world, but also to the deepest lake in North America? Located in the Northwest Territories, Great Slave Lake is also the tenth-largest lake in the entire world.
Just how big is Great Slave Lake?
At 28,568 square kilometers (approximately 11,030 miles squared), that makes it roughly the same size as Belgium!
As you can imagine, there are a number of places within the territory that you can experience its beauty. In the warmer months, it’s a popular lake for canoeing, kayak, and paddleboarding.
Some people even live on the lake in one of the two-dozen houseboats on Yellowknife Bay! However, the true magic is in the winter. Believe it or not, Great Slave Lake freezes over to breathe new life into its waters.
Home to the most famous ice roads, it creates a transport network you need to see to believe. If you find yourself in touring Yellowknife in the winter, don’t miss taking a step on the coolest road out there… if you dare!
To top it off, Great Slave Lake has an incredible bird’s eye view. So much so that it’s actually shaped like a Canadian goose! I’d say that alone makes it one of the best Canadian lakes.
25. Emerald Lake (Yukon)
Gemma from Offtrack Travel: Emerald Lake (yes this is actually the second Emerald Lake on this list, but believe me, this one is definitely worthwhile as well!) is a spectacular gem of a lake in Canada’s Yukon Territory, sparkling with blue-green colors.
The gorgeous colors are a result of sunlight reflecting off a white layer of calcium carbonate clay on the lake bed. This type of clay is called ‘marl‘ and is from limestone deposited during the last ice age.
Depending on the direction and strength of the sun (as well as the depth of the water), Emerald Lake displays a range of blues and greens, from teal and turquoise to deep sapphire blue.
It’s best to visit Emerald Lake in the summer during sunny weather, as the colors’ pop’ the best at this time.
On cloudier days, the colors are harder to see but Emerald Lake is pretty in a different way. Being relatively small, the water is usually very calm. This creates the most wonderful reflections of the mountains that backdrop the lake.
Located right on the Klondike Highway between Skagway and Whitehorse, Emerald Lake makes a great Yukon road trip stop. There’s a large parking lot with viewing area, complete with information boards explaining why the lake features such unique colors.
Emerald Lake isn’t the only multicolored lake in Yukon, but it’s by far the most accessible. It’s definitely a worthwhile destination on any Yukon road trip, especially when combined with other nearby Yukon highlights like the Carcross Desert (only five minutes drive south).
Best lakes in Canada: in conclusion
I hope this post has inspired you to pay these Canadian lakes a visit when making a Canada road trip!
Please let me know if you have any questions about one of these lakes, you can leave a comment below or send me a message.
Also read my other posts about Canada, for more Canada travel inspiration!