WHERE THE MOUNTAINS MEET THE SKY
For the traveler, it’s nearly the end of the Earth. Bordering on Alaska and the Great White North, this is Canada’s westernmost province, a primeval realm that distills the rugged majesty of the Pacific Coast, its vast forested expanses splintering into fiords where the land meets the ocean. A forbidding region that was nonetheless familiar to Native Americans, who knew how to reap the bounty of its freshwater streams, game and edible plants. British Columbia was not explored by Europeans until 1791 with the expeditions led by George Vancouver, namesake of Canada’s third largest city.
Born of the wild Pacific storms, the port of Vancouver anchored its docks and cranes in the delta of the Fraser River, which flows down from the ice caps high in the Rockies. Those same mountains can be admired from the top of the skyscrapers of Calgary, the country’s “wild west” town, before taking off for the national parks, where hiking and skiing whet the appetite for a prime cut of Alberta beef or a filet of salmon smoked the traditional way on a slab of maple wood. From there, the famous transcontinental train takes visitors back, along the shores of the lakes with their everchanging colors and through the mountains all the way to the heights of Vancouver, overlooking the never-ending ballet of freighters, seaplanes and yachts in the harbor.