8 Earth Day wonders in Canada

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Photos by Julia Pelish
Vacay.ca Visuals Editor


Monarch butterfly sightings are one of the draws of Point Pelee National Park. (Julia Pelish/Vacay.ca)

With Earth Day 2012 upon us, Vacay.ca takes a peek at eight places in Canada with a unique environmental story. Being a country full of open spaces and treasured parkland, we know there’s plenty more to see and explore. So, join us in celebrating the nation’s natural beauty by submitting your favourite travel photo from Canada — email photos@vacay.ca and we’ll publish it!

1. Whistler-Blackcomb, British Columbia. The nation’s top ski resort  has been named one of Canada’s Greenest Employers. Whistler’s hotels and motels alone employ 2,747 workers. Whistler-Blackcomb also operates a new $32-million micro-hydroelectric plant inside the ski area that produces enough clean electricity for its entire operations.

2. Niagara Falls, Ontario. Niagara Falls is one of Canada’s great natural wonders, as well as a major source of hydroelectric power for eastern North America. The construction of a new 10-kilometre tunnel under the city of Niagara Falls has created hundreds of new jobs. Once completed, Ontario Power Generation’s $1.6-billion Niagara Tunnel Project in 2015 will dramatically increase the output of the Sir Adam Beck Generating Station hydropower plant.

3. Lake Minnewanka, Alberta. Originally a glacial lake in Banff National Park, Lake Minnewanka doubled in size when dams were introduced in the middle of the 20th century. The lake, whose name means “Water of the Spirit,” has been home to human populations for 10,000 years.

4. Salmon Spawning in Toronto. On the Humber River in Toronto’s west end, the salmon are back. In the 19th century, the river was teeming with the fish but they disappeared because of human encroachment. Now, the Lake Ontario Atlantic Salmon Restoration Program, also known as Bring Back the Salmon. The species were indigenous to Lake Ontario and the Humber River prior to European settlers. Re-stocking at the Humber River is part of Phase Two of the program, which will run through 2015.

5. Wind Turbines in Alberta. We know this prairie province for its oil, but there are several wind farms and individual turbines popping up in Alberta, taking advantage of its wicked winds that routinely top 100 miles per hour. Wind has the potential to provide 20 per cent of Canada’s electricity demands — enough to  power million homes.

6. Vancouver Convention Centre. Built prior to the 2010 Winter Olympics, the Vancouver Convention Centre features a six-acre “living roof” that is home to thousands of indigenous plants and a thriving bee population that provides honey. The green roof recovers rainwater for irrigation.

7. Haida Gwaii, British Columbia. Haida Gwaii, whose name means “Islands of the People,” is a pristine archipelago off the northwestern coast of Vancouver Island, just south of Alaska. Formerly the Queen Charlotte Islands, Haida Gwaii is nicknamed the Galapagos of the North because of its diverse species and protected wilderness status.

8. The Monarch Butterfly and Point Pelee. Each autumn, thousands of monarch butterflies take up residence in Point Pelee National Park in southern Ontario. The annual migration between Canada and Mexico, a journey of 3,500 kilometres, has occurred for thousands of years. The monarch’s story is one of nature’s most incredible examples of adaptation and survival.

A photographer who has worked in the largest media markets in Canada and the U.S., Julia’s travel photos and videos have been featured prominently in the Toronto Star and been exhibited in galleries in Toronto, New York and Vancouver. Her new line of photo jewelry was inspired by her travels. Even though she is an American, one of her favourite travel experiences was spending Canada Day 2000 on Parliament Hill, joining in a parade with then-Prime Minister Jean Chretien and others. Julia is Vacay.ca’s Visuals Editor. See her work at www.juliapelish.com/blog.

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