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Summer Holidays

With the Canadian dollar plummeting to earth faster than the Mir space station, my plans of taking a vacation south of the border are breaking apart and going up in flames.

With the Canadian dollar plummeting to earth faster than the Mir space station, my plans of taking a vacation south of the border are breaking apart and going up in flames.

In the past decade, the Canadian green, blue, red, and purplebacks have dropped 26 cents in value compared to the U.S. standard – from a high of US$0.8934 in November 1991 to last week’s low of US$0.6341. Our record low is US$0.6311, which we hit in August of 1998 while in the midst of the Asian economic crisis.

Some financial analysts are predicting it could drop even lower in the next few months, eventually stabilizing at about 60 cents.

Even the peso is doing better, with the Canadian dollar dropping 8 per cent compared to the peso compared to just 4 per cent to the U.S. dollar in the last three months. Ay Carumba!

I don’t know if you’ve been to the states lately, but prices for goods and services are about the same in American dollars these days and they are in Canadian – the days of dollar a gallon gas and $2.39 all you can eat buffets are long gone. The Land of the Free isn’t so free anymore.

With the States out of the question, and Mexico even looking a little iffy, it might be a good summer to think about taking a Canadian vacation.

While it’s always good to get out of town for a little while, that doesn’t mean you have to leave the province. It would take three lifetimes to even see and do half of what British Columbia has to offer: Kayak with the Killer Whales. Surf in Tofino. Tour the islands. Tour the Okanagan vineyards. Ride horses in the Rockies. Ski tour in the Coast Range. And camp, hike, mountain bike, golf, and fish just about anywhere. The travel times are reasonable, the language is familiar, the water is okay to drink (in most places, anyway), and the Canadian dollar is accepted at par.

This is the official Web site of the Tourism British Columbia and a great place to start planning your summer getaway. It’s also a good place to sniff out deals.

Every region in B.C, is covered in the guide, and backed by maps and links to accommodations, activities, restaurants, festivals and events, and anything else you might want to know before loading up the car.

If you were looking for something a little more exotic, you might want to go a little further north to the Yukon Territory, Canada’s True North. While 24 hours of daylight may not appeal to some people, the Yukon scene gets bigger every year. From folk festivals and hippy happenings in Dawson City, to slow rivers you can Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn down. The fishing is incredible, and if you spend any prolonged length of time outdoors you’re bound to see caribou, moose, grizzly bears, elk, mountain goats – even musk ox and wood bison if you hit it just right. In the water you’ll find some incredible fish, and in the sky a wide range of owls, hawks, and eagles.

And although the Yukon is becoming more and more popular with the RV crowd, it’s still one of those places where you can truly find a moment to yourself.

There’s a lot more to Alberta than the Rockies and the towns of Canmore, Banff and Jasper (although you probably want to see this part of the world at least once in your lifetime). If you’re into shopping, you could kill a few days easily at the West Edmonton Mall. Calgary is also a cool city, especially during the Stampede (an event that you should visit at least once in your lifetime). The province gets a little more boring as you head east, but the town of Drumheller and the Alberta badlands to the South are unreal. Waterton National Park is also worth a gander.

I know, it’s flat and the biggest cities are Saskatoon and Regina, but if you get off the Trans Canada for just a little you’ll see that there’s more to this province than wheat. There are dinosaur digs, badlands, lakes, forests, and incredible views of a seemingly endless sky where sunrises and sunsets last for hours and you can watch thunderstorms brewing a hundred kilometres away.

It’s like oatmeal – don’t knock it ‘til you’ve tried it.

No cross-Canada trip would be complete without a visit to the Centre of the Universe, or On-terrible, as the B.C.ers like to say. The best of Ontario is not Toronto, although you owe it to yourself to see where Neil Young and Joni Mitchell used to hang out in Yorkville, and no hockey fan’s life is complete without a visit to the exceptional Hockey Hall of Fame. Northern Ontario is beautiful, from Sleeping Giant provincial park on the shores of Lake Superior, to the entire coast of Georgian Bay, one of the clearest lakes you’ll ever swim in and the world’s longest freshwater beach. Cottage country is incredible, and a great place to kill time. And no visit to Ontario would be complete without a visit to Ottawa, our nation’s capital and one of the coolest cities in the confederation. Be sure and visit the National Art Gallery.

La belle province lives up to its billing with lakes, mountains and more pastoral beauty than you can shake a fleur-de-lis flag at. Montreal is a party town and Quebec City is one of the oldest and best preserved cities in North America. The Gaspé peninsula is breathtaking, as is most of the St. Lawrence shoreline. While you may be intimidated to try out your shaky high school French, most people you talk to will appreciate the effort and are happy to help you out with their high school English.

It may seem unfair to lump all the Maritime provinces into one like this, but like PEI potato chips you can never try just one. Nova Scotia and New Brunswick are right next door, and with a bridge to Prince Edward Island, sandy beaches are just a short car ride away. Newfoundland is a little harder to get to, but from what I have heard it’s well worth the effort.