Travel to Canada’s Rocky Mountain Paradise

Mention the Canadian Rockies, and most people instantly think of Banff. As the main tourist destination in the Rockies, Banff is very much a commercial town geared to tourism. But for those who like their Rockies a little quieter, 250 kilometers north is paradise – the town of Jasper.

July and August are the peak times to visit Jasper, but if you don’t mind colder weather and like your lakes frozen, you can avoid some of the tourists by visiting in the few months either side. The weather can be haphazard, so allow a little flexibility in your plans.

Six kilometers south of Jasper is Whistler Mountain. If you visit early or late in the day, you will most likely hear the melodic sounds made by the whistling marmots living on the lower slopes of the mountain. Early birds can also get cheaper tickets on the Whistler Mountain gondola. The terminus is at 2,500m, with spectacular views south to the Columbia Ice fields, and west to Mount Robson.

For those who prefer to look up at mountains, there are plenty of beautiful lakes close to town, all surrounded by snow topped peaks. Patricia and Pyramid Lakes, 8km north-west of town, are small and quiet. They have beaches just begging for picnickers to sit on them and admire the view after a tranquil lunch. Herds of elk and deer roam the area, and if you’re very lucky, you may spot a coyote or a black bear.

Maligne Lake is south of Jasper, and is the largest of the glacier fed lakes. A boathouse from the 1920s completes the storybook setting. There are a couple of excellent hikes in the area, taking full advantage of the beautiful scenery.

Nearby is Maligne Canyon, a narrow cleft through the rocks filled with roaring water during the spring thaw. It’s also home to a very active herd of big horn sheep, who can jump out of nowhere to startle tourists.

For those visitors who like more leisurely pursuits, it is possible to swim in Lakes Annette and Edith near town. Situated at around 1000m, they are popular during the summer months, although it’s still not advisable to take a lengthy swim in the icy waters.

After a few hard days of sightseeing, go for a leisurely drive about 40km towards Edmonton. At the sleepy little town of Pocahontas (she certainly got around!) take the turnoff to Miette Hot Springs. The renovated spas contain two pools, and are a welcome respite for tired bodies. On the way there you may be lucky enough to see mountain goats beside the road, although they’re more likely to be perched on a cliff high above you.

Another excellent drive is route 93A, which was the original road heading out of Jasper towards Banff. Now preserved as a scenic route, the road offers a number of interesting stops. Keep your eyes open, particularly during the quieter times early and late in the day, because wild life abounds here. Mother bears with their cubs have been seen chomping on berries right beside the road!

The aptly named “Meeting of the Waters” marks the place where two rivers join together. During the spring thaw this meeting can make for spectacular waterworks. Further along, it is worth taking the time to visit Moab Lake. A pleasant walk ends with the magnificently sited lake, mountains hovering in the background.

Skiers visiting in winter will certainly want to make the trip to Marmot Basin, a popular ski resort south of Jasper on 93A. In summer, however, it looks much the same as any other deserted ski field, except for the breathtaking scenery.

One of the final stops before the road rejoins the main highway is the Athabasca Falls. A raging torrent in spring, the fierce waters tumble and crash over hundreds of smoothed boulders. The adventurous can explore further up the river, but wear shoes with a good grip.

When the time comes to leave Jasper, there are two major routes. Those who arrived by train can continue their journey either east to Edmonton and on across the Canadian plains, or west to Vancouver. This route takes you on one of the most spectacular train journeys in the world, with incredible scenery in every direction.

For those travelling by car, allow plenty of time to explore the 230km Ice fields Parkway which connects Jasper to Banff, with a slight detour to Lake Louise. The road follows a valley through the Eastern Mountain Ranges, and offers spectacular scenery and plenty of wildlife. By the end of the day you’ll probably have a stiff neck from craning upwards to see the view.

The Sunwapta Falls are set in chunky terraces of rock, and it’s worth taking a short stroll to the viewing platform. Peyto Lake is a beautiful glacial lake, but should only be visited when the snow clears, otherwise the gentle uphill stroll can become a mammoth battle through waist high snow drifts.

Another beautiful stop is the Tangle Falls. Intrepid visitors can do some exploring here, rewarded by a close up look at the rushing waters. The best known stop, however, is Athabasca Glacier. This glacier has been steadily retreating for years, and there are date markers so you can see the gradual regression. It is possible to take a truck ride on the ice, or you can simply walk from the car park. Be warned – the weather can change very rapidly during your visit, so be prepared.

The Weeping Wall is particularly interesting after or during rain, with thousands of tiny waterfalls pouring down its rough faces. And for those nature lovers with a penchant for moose, try visiting Waterfowl Lake at either end of the day. It’s home to a number of these huge creatures.

The Ice fields Parkway continues on to Lake Louise, the magnificent setting for scenes in the movie “The Bodyguard”. Finally the road reaches Banff, leaving the peace and quiet of the wilder Jasper behind for good.

Exploring the Canadian Rockies is a must for lovers of rugged, mountain scenery. For those who want to experience the Rockies and its wildlife as closely as possible to how it would have been centuries ago, Jasper is the perfect base. The Rockies are waiting for you.

Travel to Canada, but Should You Become A Canadian Resident?

Why Become a Canadian Permanent Resident? That’s one question you may already be wondering, especially if you’ve done some research into what the process requires. It isn’t easy to become a permanent resident, after all.

Plus, there are other options available if you want to work or study in Canada. Short-term, temporary visas are issued to workers and students that allow them to live and work in Canada.

So why become a permanent resident? The answer is simple: you’ll have more rights.

When you become a permanent resident of Canada, you are entitled to most of the sam e rights and privileges as a Canadian citizen. Below is a list of a few of these rights:

  • You are entitled to equal treatment and equal protection.
  • You are entitled to certain legal rights, such as; to be presume innocent until proven guilty, to be provided with an interpreter in the courtroom, if necessary, to have a lawyer.
  • You have the right to enter and exit Canada as you see fit, plus you can move freely from province to province.
  • You can work and study anywhere you choose in Canada (you cannot hold some high-security government positions, however.)

While most of these rules also apply to temporary Canadian residents, there are some social service benefits that are only or primarily designed to help permanent residents and citizens of Canada.

These benefits include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Canada Child Tax Benefit (CCTB) – For families with children under the age of 18 who are considered to have a low-income, the Canadian government provides monthly tax-free payments to help cover expenses.
  • Old Age Security, Guaranteed Income Supplement, and Canada Pension Plan – All three of these programs are designed to provide financial support to workers after they reach retirement age – currently age 65. To be eligible, you have to meet specific residency requirements and to have contributed to the system by paying taxes in Canada. However, most permanent residents will qualify for at least partial payments from these programs.
  • Universal health care – Most necessary medical expenses are covered through the Canadian universal health care program. These expenses include visits to emergency room, immunizations, yearly exams, etc.
  • Free education – All children under 18 are entitled to a free education in the Canadian public school system.
  • Maternity and parental leave – In Canada, working parents are given time off when a new baby is born or adopted. Women can take up to 12 months of maternity leave and receive 50 to 65% of their normal income. Partially paid parental leave is also available for up to 35 weeks. One parent can take all 35 weeks or both parents can split the allotment of time (i. e. one parent takes 20 weeks while the other takes 15 weeks). To be eligible for parental leave, you must have worked in Canada for at least 600 hours.

All of these benefits and more become available to you when you are a permanent resident of Canada.

Additionally, being a permanent resident gives you the opportunity to become a Canadian citizen after only three years of living and working in Canada.

Once you become a citizen, you can run for political office, become involved in political activities, and vote in elections. You can also maintain duel-citizenship, so you don’t have to give up citizenship in your home country just to enjoy the benefits of Canadian citizenship.