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New things to see

From a B.C. aerial tram to catamarans hugging the mighty Niagara, Canada offers a number of fresh destinations

Posted: 04/19/2014 1:00 AM | Comments: 0

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The newly opened Ripley's Aquarium in Toronto is Canada's largest indoor aquarium.

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The newly opened Ripley's Aquarium in Toronto is Canada's largest indoor aquarium.

If the sinking loonie wasn't enough to keep you in Canada for your vacation this summer, then several new attractions might make you want to stay anyway.

This summer will see several important new tourist attractions open in Canada, adding to an already impressive number of things to see and do in this country. Here are five for you to consider:

1. Sea-to-Sky Gondola, Squamish, B.C., (seatoskygondola.com)

SQUAMISH sits roughly halfway between Vancouver and Whistler. While it is a gorgeous destination in its own right, with plenty of outdoor activities and beautiful scenery, it is often unjustly overlooked as people rush past on the Sea-to-Sky Highway.

That will change May 16 when the Sea-to-Sky Gondola opens for business. The high-speed aerial tram will whisk eight passengers at a time past The Chief, a massive granite monolith that is a signature landmark of Squamish, onto the mountainous plateau that overlooks the city for magnificent views of the Howe Sound fjord and coastal mountains.

The ride up will take 10 minutes and, once up top, visitors will not only be able to enjoy the scenery, but also take interpretative walks and follow hiking trails for all ages and fitness levels. It will also serve as a gateway to the backcountry for people who want to go rock-climbing and mountain-biking in the summer or snowshoeing and ski touring in the winter.

2. Canadian Museum for Human Rights, Winnipeg, (museumforhumanrights.ca)

THE first national museum to be located outside of the National Capital Region of Ottawa is set to open on the banks of the Red River in Winnipeg.

When it opens its doors on Sept. 20, the Canadian Museum for Human Rights will set out to tell the complex story of human rights with an eye on Canadian experiences, but also those of the world.

The first thing that will strike visitors to the museum is the stunning building that houses it. Designed by American architect Antoine Predock, it is a complex collection of curves inspired by Canada's landscape and is topped by a soaring pinnacle, known as the Tower of Hope.

Inside, organizers promise a series of galleries that use leading-edge technology, stunning visuals and fascinating artifacts to bring the abstract concepts of human rights to life.

3. Glacier Skywalk, Jasper National Park, Alta., (glacierskywalk.ca)

IN May, visitors to Jasper National Park will be able to get a mountain goat's view of the Sunwapta Valley when they take their first steps onto Glacier Skywalk.

The glass-bottomed promenade is a semi-circular walkway that juts out from the cliff wall overlooking the scenic valley 280 metres below. Visitors are encouraged to get out of their cars to truly discover the beauty of the Rocky Mountains and the winding Sunwapta River below.

The walkway is one of the first projects in Jasper National Park in a generation and was not without controversy when it was announced. But organizers have been strict about minimizing the walkway's environmental footprint and hope naysayers will be silenced once they see it in operation.

4. Niagara Thunder and Wonder, Niagara Falls, Ont., (niagaracruises.com/)

FOR generations, the Maid of the Mist was how tourists experienced the power of the mighty Niagara Falls.

That experience will be brought into the 21st century with a pair of purpose-built catamarans, the Niagara Thunder and the Niagara Wonder, operated by Hornblower Cruises.

The new boats will launch in May, and Hornblower promises they will allow people to get up close and personal with one of the world's natural wonders in ways that weren't possible before.

In addition to the standard 15-minute tour, visitors can experience longer sunset cocktail tours, night tours to see the illuminated falls and even a special tour to admire fireworks when they are set off above.

5. Ripley's Aquarium of Canada, Toronto, (ripleyaquariums.com)

CANADA'S largest indoor aquarium actually opened late last year, but Toronto's latest attraction is new enough many people will visit it for the first time this summer.

One of its signature attractions is the Danger Lagoon, which lets visitors pass through a glass tunnel to see sharks swimming overhead.

For those wanting something more colourful, there is Rainbow Reef, a display of fish and corals of every shade as well as Planet Jellies, a collection of delicate jelly fish that always fascinate visitors.

There is also much Canadian content at the aquarium with plentiful displays of fish that populate Canada's lakes, rivers and oceans.

Ripley's Aquarium has a strong educational component, but it's done in a way to be fun and engaging, so you won't even mind that you're learning something while you visit.

-- Postmedia Network Inc. 2014

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition April 19, 2014 E3

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