Canada has some of the most livable destinations in the world. Everyone has heard of the big cities like Toronto, Vancouver, Montreal and Ontario, amongst others, and most will agree that these are great places to move to for better employment, housing and overall quality of life. But Canada also has a few gems tucked away from the spotlight that may allure you with their quaintness, simple lifestyle or scenic beauty.
Located on the lower Sunshine Coast of British Columbia, Sechelt is about 50km northwest of Vancouver. Named after the Shishalh people, the original settlers of the land, the district of Sechelt’s coastline is a thing of beauty, with its cobbled beach, tree-trimmed mountains, waterfalls and creeks.It has a mild temperate climate with gentle, moist winters and warm, dry summers. Since the coast is protected from the open Pacific, there is very light snowfall. Sechelt is a thriving business and tourism hub because of its location, and is also rich in cultural heritage.
Sechelt has a population of 8,488 and is a popular retirement destination, with most of its residents being over 45. Probably taking advantage of this, many new residential developments have come up in the area. Sechelt has everything from a public library to a recreational aquatic center. The only hospital in the Sunshine Coast, St. Mary’s, is also situated here.
The natural beauty of the Sunshine Coast makes Sechelt an ideal place for activities like kayaking, diving, hiking, skiing and mountain biking. There is also an 18-hole golf course open to the public and many small marinas and provincial parks.
There are coach lines that operate daily between the Vancouver and the Sunshine Coast. There is also a bus service from the ferry terminal at Langdale to Sechelt. Travelling by air is also easy, with scheduled flights from Victoria to Sechelt, and also a daily floatplane service from Vancouver to Sechelt.
Banff is called ‘Canada’s highest town’ since it is located at a height of 4,540 feet above sea level. A resort town and a popular tourist destination, it is known for its hot springs and mountain scenery. Banff is a great place for those who love the outdoors, as it offers several opportunities for activities like hiking, scrambling and biking. Banff National Park and the three other adjoining mountain parks are spread over 5200 square miles of the Canadian Rockies. In 1985, the United Nations classified the Banff area as a world heritage site.
Once a sleepy resort destination that shut shop during the winter months, Banff is now a bustling town with a throng of visitors and residents. With restaurants, museums, cultural activities and several shops on offer, one can feel comfortably at home here. But the rapidly growing population has led to a worry that the area’s wilderness may be under threat. As a result, the federal government has maintained that only those who can demonstrate a ‘need to reside’ may be granted permanent residence.
The closest airport to Banff is the Calgary International Airport, which is about 75 miles away. The Rocky Mountaineer rail ride travels from Vancouver to Calgary, with a stop at Banff.
Sayward is a small coastal settlement in the Sayward Valley, on North Vancouver Island. It is about a mile inland from Kelsey Bay and gets its name from a lumber merchant called William Parsons Sayward, who arrived in Victoria in 1858 and became considerably successful. He never visited the region, but the government still decided to award him the honor of naming the community after him. Most of the Sayward’s population comprises of families and retired people.
The main industry of this little village is logging, but tourism is also steadily growing. Popular outdoor recreational activities include caving, whale watching, salmon fishing, kayaking and hiking.
You can reach Sayward in under an hour by taking the Island Highway 19 from Campbell River in the south. A 10km-paved road off the highway, called the Sayward Road, takes you to the settlement. It is about a couple of hours from Port Hardy in the north. A boat to Kelsey Bay will also get you to Sayward. The nearest airport is about 82km south in Campbell River.