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Outdoor Report: Whale watching across Canada

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By Suzanne Leonard
Weather Broadcaster
Friday, July 18, 2014, 6:40 AM

The mighty St. Lawrence River has an important place in our country’s history and heritage and is well worth a visit this summer. It’s also the gateway to many outdoor adventure opportunities in Quebec and Atlantic Canada, including whale watching.

OUTDOOR REPORT: Swim Atlantic Canada’s beautiful beaches

All along the St. Lawrence River, from near Quebec City to the Gaspe Peninsula and out into the open waters of the Gulf and the Magdalen Islands, is prime viewing for whales. Cold Labrador ocean currents create a nutrient-rich environment in the St. Lawrence estuary for about 13 species of whales, including the blue whale, the largest mammal of all which measures up to 30m in length and 140 tons in weight. The village of Tadoussac in the video clip is a popular place to start a trip. It’s ideally located at the confluence of the St. Lawrence and Saguenay Rivers and offers a unique slice of Canadian history. It was the first trading post for France in the 1600s and lays claim to being the oldest continuously inhabited European settlement in Canada. The river’s north shore here is called the Route des baleines or Whale Route. Outfitters will tell you to dress warmly for your outdoor adventure – I’d strongly agree with that as ocean temperatures are cold even in summer, and so is the air. Find out more about Quebec trips by Zodiac (a rigid hull inflatable boat,) sightseeing boat or kayak here.

FIVE PHOTOS: Whale watching

There are many popular places on Canada’s east coast for whale watching. One I’d recommend is Bay Bulls, a small fishing village about a half hour drive south of St. John’s, Newfoundland. It’s a prime spot for whale and bird watching cruises. I’d also suggest you try some local delicacies by treating yourself to a tasty home-cooked meal once you’re back on land.

There’s also some great whale watching on the Bay of Fundy out of Tiverton, Nova Scotia. A few summers ago I had a memorable trip out with Captain Tom, aka, biologist Tom Goodwin – expert commentary, great “up close” viewing right down at water level from the Zodiac and great weather on this July day. Here’s their link: www.oceanexplorations.ca.

Suzanne and Captain Tom near Tiverton, Nova Scotia

Suzanne and Captain Tom near Tiverton, Nova Scotia

Being out on the ocean is a primal urge for a lot of outdoor lovers. Quebec and the Atlantic provinces offer a huge variety of options for seeing whales, dolphins, seals and birds in their natural habitat, and so does our Pacific coast. There are whale watching trips right out of the British Columbia capital Victoria, as well as many spots around Vancouver Island and the Gulf Islands, all the way north to Prince Rupert. Some trips can be combined with guided hikes through ancient forests, visits to natural hot springs or botanical gardens. Find out more here. A key part of planning any outdoor adventure is to check the forecast, and the bug report too – here's Victoria.

July is certainly a great month for leisure but if it’s more of a staycation than a vacation for you, here are a few things to consider for your July gardening ‘to do list.’

In my garden: Purple perennial

In my garden: Purple perennial

  • When temperatures are hot be particularly careful to water vulnerable plants or new additions to help them get established.
  • Continue deadheading to prolong blooms.
  • Prune as needed to control or reshape vigorously growing plants.
  • Stake up tall plants that may get knocked about by wind and storms or which have started to flop.
  • Keep watch for bug damage and treat plants promptly to minimize damage.

“Man cannot discover new oceans unless he has the courage to lose sight of the shore.”
André Gide

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