Travel across Canada from Victoria on Vancouver Island in the west to Toronto, French-Canadian Montreal and Quebec City in the east. Canada’s gardens reflect her diverse history of settlement. It’s high summer and gardens reach their peak flowering. Cities are alive with markets, street parades, al fresco dining and outdoor concerts. Put this alongside Canada’s charismatic French charm, add the unique camaraderie of a Ross tour and you have an unforgettable experience.
Meet Michael McCoy at Sydney Airport for the Air Canada flight to Vancouver. Morning visit to Capilano Suspension Bridge Park with a welcome lunch.
A relaxing stroll this morning through University British Colombia Botanic Garden with its superb suite of gardens including Nitobe Memorial Garden, a traditional Japanese Tea and Stroll garden considered to be among the top five Japanese gardens outside of Japan. Granville Island is a great spot for lunch today, a colourful artistic community, a living, breathing urban oasis with waterfront restaurants and the most spectacular fresh food market. The afternoon is free for you to explore historic Gastown, Vancouver’s oldest neighbourhood with its quaint Victorian houses, boutiques and galleries.
Take a relaxing cruise through the Gulf Islands across to Vancouver Island. Our home for the next two nights is Victoria, British Colombia’s capital city that blends British colonial charm with fresh west coast style. Settle in to Lauren Point Inn then take a stroll around this charming harbour-side city. Every lamp post is decorated with a floral basket and the colonial buildings are outlined in fairy lights. It’s a mesmerising place.
Butchart Gardens is one of the worlds best-loved; made in the 1920’s by Jennie Butchart in a stone quarry. A suite of gardens surrounds the original Butchart family home, now a restaurant where we will have lunch. And we’ll discover it all: the fuchsia house, formal rose garden, sunken Italian garden, Japanese Garden, Bog Garden, Mediterranean Garden and finally walk down into Jennie’s Sunken Garden. Her family continues to keep her dream alive.
It’s a direct flight from Victoria to Toronto this morning where our coach will be waiting to take us to Niagara Falls. Check in to our hotel overlooking The Falls, quite magical. After dark the falls are illuminated. Dinner is included tonight in our hotel.
A walk this morning to see the Falls, actually three waterfalls that straddle the border between Canada and USA; the Horseshoe Falls, American Falls and Bridal Veil Falls. This is the Niagara River that drains Lake Erie into Lake Ontario. The vertical drop of 50m makes it a valuable source of hydro electricity. Then we’ll take the boat cruise under the falls.
Another short walk away is Niagara Park Floral Conservatory with orchids, succulents, tropical plants and birds. In summer the surrounding gardens are spectacular.
Next stop is Niagara Parks’ Botanical Gardens, an outdoor classroom for students attending the Niagara Parks School of Horticulture. It was established in 1936; 40 hectares of beautiful gardens; perennial borders, formal parterre garden, shade, herb and vegetable plantings, rose garden and Butterfly Conservatory.
We’ll travel back to Toronto with a few interesting stops. First is Niagara on the Lake (Ontario) a paint-box pretty town with colourful houses, flower baskets, flower carpets, great shops and galleries.
Next stop is Burlington and the Royal Botanic Gardens. We’ll be ready for lunch in the Tea House after we stroll through the various gardens.
Check in to our Toronto hotel for the next three nights. After dinner we’ll take a short orientation walk around our hotel.
At 100 years old the picturesque conservatory at Allan Gardens keeps plants happy through the cold Toronto winters. Next stop is Toronto Botanic Gardens.
Lunch today at Casa Loma Gardens the extraordinary endeavour of Sir Henry Pellatt with ‘medieval’ castle, electricity and telephone exchange in its day. After his death much of the land was sold but what remains has been revived and restored as a coloured floral mosaic.
Let’s dance our way through Yo-Yo Ma’s exquisite suite of garden spaces on the Toronto waterfront, before dinner.
We’re following the shoreline around to Oshawa this morning to visit Parkwood Estate, one of Canada’s last grand estate gardens, a showcase of outstanding early 20th century design. Glimpse the lavish lifestyle of Canadian auto baron Samuel McLaughlin who founded General Motors in Canada. His family lived here from 1917 to 1972. We’ll take a guided tour through these exquisite interiors and then admire the grand design & complex gardens that great wealth and a large staff could command. We’ll explore the art deco/moderne Formal Garden1935, and we’ll have lunch by the fountains. Free time this afternoon to explore.
We’ll take highway 401 to Montreal this morning with a stop at Thousand Island Rideau Canal. Their Garden Trail is in full swing with a mix of private and public gardens. Check in to our Montreal hotel for the next 3 nights, located in the downtown area near the old city.
A morning stroll through Vieux-Montréal (Old Montreal) where the city was born. Its architectural heritage has been preserved and restored with shops, boutique hotels, galleries, cafes, bars and apartments. We’ll finish on the waterfront of the Old Port that stretches 2 km along the St Lawrence River. It was used as early as 1611 by French fur traders. Now it’s been redeveloped and a hive of activity. The afternoon is free.
Lace up your walking shoes for a tour of one of the world’s great Botanic Gardens. There are nine greenhouses open and 20 themed gardens We’ll have coffee here before we leave. The afternoon is free to explore this exciting city.
Travelling today to Quebec City with a stop at Daniel A Sequin Garden, a large floral park that is a teaching garden for horticultural students. We’ll have coffee here then travel on to Sainte Croix and Domaine Joly-de-Labotiniere for lunch.This garden is well sited on the southern shore of the St Lawrence River with shady walks and exuberant borders.
Arrive at our hotel in the heart of this lovely old French Canadian city. Settle in then take a stroll to get our bearings.
A walking tour this morning of first the lower town, UNESCO World Heritage Site and revitalized Old Port then the Upper Town… what a beautiful city. The afternoon is free.
A horticultural gem waits this morning as we travel north to La Malbaie to visit Francis Cabot’s Quatre Vents, one of Canada’s finest gardens. This ‘Arts and Crafts’ garden is a series of garden rooms with potager, white garden, rose garden, stream garden, formal allees, deep herbaceous borders and glorious glades of primulas. Overlooking the lower and tidal reaches of the St Lawrence River, the original garden has been expanded and embellished with a series of remarkable features; French pigeonnier, Chinese moon bridge, Indian Gate, Swedish music pavilion, Greek Temple. It’s stitched together and anchored to the landscape with conifer hedges and avenues of silver birch. Swans glide on the lake, highland cattle graze in the outlying fields … it’s a remarkable 20th century masterpiece.
What a wonderful finale to our tour and we’ll celebrate tonight at our Farewell Dinner.
Fly via Vancouver this morning to connect with our Sydney flight.
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