1. Victoria, British Columbia is experiencing a baby boom – of orca whales.
There have been nine calves born to the Southern Resident Orcas in the last 12 months, the largest number of births since the 1970s. The Southern Resident Orcas are actually made up of three pods, with family sub-pods centred around older females, usually grandmothers or great grandmothers. Granny, the matriarch of ‘J’ pod, is the world’s oldest known orca, estimated to be over 100 years old. www.tourismvictoria.com
2. Land-locked Calgary is a burgeoning surfing destination.
Most famous for the Calgary Stampede, the annual rodeo festival held every July, Calgary now boasts river surfing too. Following floods, which changed the contour of the Bow River bed, a permanent wave suitable for riding can be found under the 10th Street Bridge. For more river surfing action, head about an hour west of Calgary to Kananaskis where the group Surf Anywhere has built a permanent wave by placing boulders in the Kananaskis River to form a channel. www.visitcalgary.com
3. Edmonton has the largest Fringe Festival outside Edinburgh.
As well as world-renowned artists, 30 percent of performers are non-professional, so you could witness the start of someone’s stellar career (or not). The best thing is tickets are all $20 or under. Edmonton has a wealth of other festivals too, from craft beer to dragon boats. www.exploreedmonton.com
4. Toronto has one of the largest shoe museums in the world.
A whopping 13,500 shoes and footwear-related exhibits are housed in the purpose-built Bata Shoe Museum. Items span the centuries, from 4,500 year-old Egyptian wooden sandals to contemporary celebrity footwear. There’s an extensive collection of Native American and circumpolar footwear too. www.batashoemuseum.com www.seetorontonow.com
5. Vancouver International Airport is an art gallery in itself.
It has the largest collection of Northwest Coast art on public display, with a focus on First Nations art. The thematically linked art, architecture and interior design are integrated to reflect a theme of land, sea and sky. Artworks include sculptures, paintings, weaving, ceramics and glassware. So take some time at the airport to appreciate this vast collection. www.yvr.ca www.tourismvancouver.com