Canada's Greatest Islands

Aug 27, 2017

From the Atlantic to the Pacific to the Arctic, Canada has an impressive amount of coastline. More than 200,000 km of it, in fact. The most by far of any country in the world. This country is also up there when it comes to lakes, rivers, streams and other inland water areas. 

So what does that mean? Canada has a lot of islands — thousands of them, both big and small. Here is a list of some of our favourites across the country. 

Haida Gwaii (Queen Charlotte Islands), British Columbia

Haida Gwaii, previously known as the Queen Charlotte Islands, is an archipelago off the northern coast of British Columbia. Home to the Haida Nation, the islands are famous for their native art and culture, especially the numerous and distinct red cedar totem poles, some of which date back hundreds of years.

Flickr photo by Green Fire Productions

Gulf Islands, British Columbia

The Gulf Islands are more than 200 islands in the Strait of Georgia, between mainland British Columbia and Vancouver Island. Salt Spring Island is the most popular island, but there are also less populated islands that are accessible by BC Ferries. Salt Spring Island and Pender Island both have beautiful, established wineries, organic farmers markets and artists’ communities.

Flickr photo by CK Golf

Vancouver Island, British Columbia

Vancouver Island is the largest island on the west coast of North America, and the second-most densely populated in Canada. The island mirrors the rest of the country, with stunning landscapes, serene beaches and towering mountains. It is also home to bustling metropoles, including Victoria and Nanaimo.

Nanaimo, Vancouver Island. Flickr photo by Jo-in-BC

Manitoulin Island, Ontario

Manitoulin Island is on Lake Huron, the largest freshwater lake in the world. The island is known for its hiking trails, nature reserves, fishing spots and world-famous hunting. There are also more than two dozen small settlements, including First Nations communities, each offering unique experiences.

Flickr photo by Patty Ho

Pelee Island, Ontario

Pelee Island is Canada's southernmost community, with the approximate latitude of Northern California. It’s located on two major bird-migration routes and is home to the famous Pelee Island Bird Observatory. Visit Canada’s oldest estate winery or one of the local artists who have set up shop here. Go cycling or hiking along the nature trails or sit back and enjoy some of Canada’s warmest weather.

Flickr photo by aecole2010

Thousand Islands, Ontario

The Thousand Islands are actually 1,864 islands (some Canadian, and some belonging to the U.S.) in the St. Lawrence River near Kingston, Ontario. Take a ferry tour to get a history of the region and stop at Boldt Castle, a 120-room complex that was intended to be a symbol of millionaire George C. Boldt's love for his wife. He halted construction in 1905 before completion, after her sudden death.

Boldt Castle. Flickr photo by Seabamirum

Bonaventure Island, Quebec

Located in the Gulf of St. Lawrence, Bonaventure Island became a bird sanctuary in 1919 and the last of the local residents were forced out in 1971. Walk along one of the four main trails and try to spot as many of the 293 bird species that call the island home.

Flickr photo by dobroide.

Magdalen Islands, Quebec

The Magdalen Islands (Îles de la Madeleine) is an archipelago of 12 islands in the Gulf of St. Lawrence. Go horseback riding along the endless beaches; try kitesurfing off the shore; kayak between the towering ocean rocks; or sit back and enjoy some of the freshest seafood in the country.

Flickr photo by Brian Burke

Sable Island, Nova Scotia

Sable Island is a Parks Canada-protected island 300 km southeast of Halifax. It is home to more than 400 free-roaming horses, so you need permission from the Canadian Coast Guard to visit. It’s also famous for more than 350 shipwrecks, some of which can still be seen poking out of the sand dunes.

Sable Island horses. Flickr photo by Sorus Nomad

Cape Breton Island, Nova Scotia

Cape Breton Island is one of Canada’s most famous Islands and is connected to mainland Nova Scotia by the man-made Canso Causeway. Walk or drive along the world-famous Cabot Trail to see spectacular ocean vistas, colourful fishing villages and magnificent forests. Immerse yourself in Celtic culture and take in an impromptu fiddler concert. There are more fiddlers per capita here than anywhere else in the world.

The Skyline Trail. Flickr photo by Andrea Schaffer

Brier Island, Nova Scotia

Go to Brier Island to see the whales, stay for the beautiful scenery, miles of hiking trails and stunning sunsets. The island is also popular with amateur geologists who can spot jasper, agate, zeolite and amethyst along the shore.

Brier Island Lighthouse. Flickr photo by Dennis Jarvis

Fogo Island, Newfoundland and Labrador

Fogo Island, sometimes referred to as one of the four corners of the Earth, is home to 11 distinct communities. Tilting, an Irish fishing settlement dating to the 18th century, has been restored to its original charm. Stay at the world-famous Fogo Island Inn, winner of numerous international hotel and architecture awards.

Fogo Island Inn. Flickr photo by KimManleyOrt

Baffin Island, Nunavut

Baffin Island is Canada’s largest island and one of its most remote. Take a dogsled tour to see polar bears, barren-ground caribou and other Arctic wildlife. You can also sleep beneath the stars to catch a glimpse of the Northern Lights.

The Northern Lights. Flickr photo by Matt Jiggins

Prince Edward Island

Canada's smallest province, and arguably the most famous island, is also one of its most unique. Home to the Anne of Green Gables legacy, the island receives thousands of fans every year who visit in hopes of seeing the land that inspired author Lucy Maud Montgomery. Visit Green Gables House or spend the day at Avonlea Village, a recreation of community based on Anne’s fictional village. Then wander off to explore the island’s breathtaking beaches, cycle along Confederation Trail or visit a lighthouse, or ten.

Flickr photo by Dennis Jarvis


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