Walkable Cities in Canada

Mar 28th, 2005, 08:34 AM
  #1  
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Walkable Cities in Canada

Are there any cities in Canda where you can just walk every where like New York and San Francisco?
I know all cities have walkable downtown areas, like Chicago, but you need a car to get any where else, again like in Chigaco!

I've only been to Niagra falls and Toronto, and Toronto has a very nice walkable downtown area, but you need a car to get around the city.
carlvictors is offline  
Mar 28th, 2005, 09:30 AM
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Actually In Toronto (where I live) I would recommend taking transit to get around rather than a car. The old part of Quebec city is quite walkable.
Victoria (except for outlying areas) can be walked around. Downtown Ottawa is easy to walk around but there are museums in Hull that one would want to go to that would necessitate a bus ride. I would think that for most cities of any significant size unless you were just sticking to a small downtown area, one needs transportation of some sort. Most Canadian cities have pretty good transit systems which is what I would recommend. Unless you like climbing hills a lot you cannot walk everywhere in San Francisco (I used the trollies extensively when I was there.)
semiramis is offline  
Mar 28th, 2005, 10:17 AM
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Montreal is a great city for walking. Although it is a fairly big city, if you enjoy walking you can stroll thru the old city, Chinatown, the Euro feeling St. Denis area, and the funky Mt Royal area, all in a few hours. For the less athletic Montreal has an excellent Metro system. Unless you are planning to explore the far reaches of the city, foot exploration starting from the downtown can keep you busy for many many days. Montreal is also very bicyle friendly.
zootsi is offline  
Mar 28th, 2005, 10:17 AM
  #4  
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In the New York spirit of things -- which allows a subway ride or two, or a few minutes in a taxi, or even a bus once in a while...

BIG CITIES:
Vancouver
Toronto
Ottawa
Montreal

MEDIUM CITIES
Halifax

SMALL CITIES
Victoria
Quebec City

You might want a car everywhere, for some special treats, like driving north out of Vancouver up the coast and into the mountians at Whistler. Or from Toronto, to go to Niagara Falls. In Montreal, therre's a great railway museum that's a lot easier to get to with a car, or a visit to the Laurentian Mountains. In jhHalifax, a car gets you out of town to Chester and Peggy's Cove.

But in all these cities, you could have a very enjoyable visit of a week or so in the big ones, two or three days in the smaller ones, simply by picking a central hotel and wearing comfortable shoes. (Plus investing in a few subway or bus rides)

ON THE OTHER HAND -- I'd want a car in Calgary and Edmonton and Winnipeg and Regina and Saskatoon.

BAK
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Mar 28th, 2005, 11:42 AM
  #5  
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Thank you so much everyone! Canadian cities look amazing, but I can't decide between Montreal/Quebec city and Vancouver/Victoria !!
carlvictors is offline  
Mar 28th, 2005, 12:11 PM
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I guess I am here to give a plug to Vancouver as a suitable city for walking everywhere in the downtown region. Hills are not major and the area is compacted by mountains and water on most sides. You can tell by all of the apartments on the skyline that the only place to go is "up".

If you are speaking of "doing all of the tourist things", then yes, you would probably want a car for a few of them.

I suspect you can take public transit conveniently to the bottom of "Grouse Mountain", then take a gondola up the side of a mountain, and be 4000 feet high before long. The bottom of this tourist attraction is surprisingly near to the downtown area. There is also an impressive taste of nature in Stanley Park adjacent to downtown Vancouver.

The walkability of Vancouver comes from the general lack of hills, the compactness of the downtown area, AND the relative safety vs. places like NY and San Fran.

For years I've been struck by the fact that Vancouver has decent people walking the streets at all hours moreso than any other place I've ever been. (emphasis on "decent")

Toronto's sheer size and imposing weather for much of the year may make the car seem needed. I contend that the general flat-ness of the T.O. area suggests that the city should sprawl out to the north, west, and east. Vancouver is surrounded by nature that just doesn't allow that to T.O.'s extreme.

NorthwestMale is offline  
Mar 29th, 2005, 09:07 AM
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I vote for Vancouver ... you can do Montreal next year

Vancouver is just so nice. I am going back next year and I can't wait!!

In Vancouver, DO go on a whalewatch. It will be one of the highlights of your life! The whales come so close. (and I was in a small 12 person speedboats - not those big multi-passanger whale watching boats!!)
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Mar 29th, 2005, 01:19 PM
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Heya

How did Halifax become a medium city and Quebec City a small one? Quebec City is twice the size of Halifax (just giving a hard time LOL). Every Canadian city I've been to so far is carless friendly... and that is Montreal, Quebec City, Ottawa, Toronto, and Halifax. I'm doing a trip soon to Kingston, Ontario without a car... I'll let you know how it goes.

DAN
Daniel_Williams is online now  
Mar 29th, 2005, 05:59 PM
  #9  
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Re>How did Halifax become a medium city and Quebec City a small one?<

Inspired by the foregoing, I went to my atlas and saw population figures. These are usually semi-useless because we don't know what adjacent places are included. St. Foy in Quebec? Dartmouth in Halifax?

Anyway, 113,000 for Halifax and 164,000 for Quebec City. My original medium / small was based on what parts of these places I've ever noticed. There must be a lot of Quebec City that's out of sight, or the houses are a lot closer together.

But now, as I type, I remember going to QC a million yeqars ago to do a story about a subdivision, so I'm remembering that conventional-style suburbs do exist. It's just that ever since, I've been in the interesting parts of the city, and these interesting pieces are pretty compact. and well worth an on-foot visit.

BAK
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May 11th, 2005, 07:46 AM
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I promised I'd report back (see my earlier post) and I can definitely add Kingston, Ontario (BAK's SMALL CITY category)to the list of Canadian cities that are great to visit on foot. Once I'd hopped off the Kingston Transit bus from the train station (stops by the Confederation Park/ Farmer's Market), I discovered many attractions were easily accessible on foot. Fort Henry apparently is a bit of a trek, but is also visitable with perhaps a 40-minute hike from Confederation Park.
Daniel_Williams is online now  
May 12th, 2005, 10:40 AM
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I am going to stick to the issue at hand, regarding walkable cities

I am a resident of Victoria, and former resident of Vancouver. I have also been a visitor myself to both Montreal and Quebec City. So I hope I have something useful to offer you!

In choosing between these cities...
Montreal vs. Quebec: both were beautiful cities, and I would see either again given the chance. I suppose it depends what you are seeking in your holiday, since they are quite different in many ways. If you want excitement and entertainment, pick Montreal ~ it is lively and exciting, both day & night. Lots to do & see, shopping, dining, and the nightlife is fantastic. It is also culturally rich and historically fascinating, but... Quebec City wins hands-down for me in the historical beauty aspect. Seeing QC is like travelling to any beautiful old European city, right here in the heart of North America. The city is beautiful, and very walkable. I saw it all by foot myself, and loved discovering all the hidden treasures of this gorgeous city. And oh my, the food!

As to choosing between Victoria and Vancouver... every person from Vancouver will tell you pick it, and every person from the island will tell you to choose Victoria lol. Generally, these cities appeal to distinctly different people, and the other's appeal is totally lost on them. Vancouver is fabulous for having lots to see and do, and it is lovely for a city. However, if you are from another big city, those charms may be lost on you, and you may find it disappointing by comparison to other cities of its size for culture & entertainment. It is often criticized for lacking a cultural heartbeat ~ I think this is an unfair characterization, but not totally without basis. That being said, I love it, and don't think any visitor would find disappointment in it. It is very widely spread out though, and that could be exhausting and trialsome for a foot-tourist with limited time there.

As to Victoria... what can I say. It's my home, and it's paradise. I have left it many times to see other places in this world, and have lived in cities from one coast to another in Canada, and it is unparalleled as a place to live. It is also a tourist's paradise, with plenty to see and do for a city of its size, and perfectly set up for a visitor hoping to see it on foot. You can spend several days simply walking around the harbour area and seeing the tourist sites in the downtown core. The whole city is built around the Inner Harbour, which serves as the heart of Victoria, with everything radiating out from that centre in every direction. What can't be reached on foot is easily reached by bus or ferry. Definately slate a day out at the Butchart Gardens in Brentwood Bay on your list ~ there are tons of buses that go take visitors exclusively, and a super-cheap city bus that will drop you there also. You can catch a ferry to Seattle or the smaller & beautiful Gulf Islands from here also, if you have the time. Victoria is a tourist town, with 100s of thousands of people coming through every year, and playing host to a parade of cruiseships passing through in recent years en route to Alaska. It is built to please visitors, and I have yet to meet one that wasn't inclined to want to live here after a day or two!

My parents came to visit when I was a baby, and fell in love with it, swearing one day they would be back for good. It took them 11 years to make good on that, but they have been living here happily for 21 years now.

Enjoy your holidays, and have a safe journey, whereever it may take you.
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May 13th, 2005, 09:24 PM
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Vancouver is a very walkable city. Vancouver has avoided all the freeway hassles of other big cities. The pedestrian is king. A great resource for walking in Vancouver is www.walkvancouver.com
David_II is offline  
Jul 26th, 2005, 08:46 PM
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I grew up in Vancouver, but have lived in Montreal for the past 16 years. Both are excellent and walkable cities; it’s unfortunate that they’re on other sides of the continent, because both are well worth the trip.

This is Canada, so don’t expect superlatives – that is, cities are best experienced by pretending to be a resident and checking out neighbourhood life, rather than trying to cram your day with sightseeing and museums.

That said, Vancouver is breathtaking and truly one of the most beautiful cities in the world – mountains, beaches, ocean, and everything is so clean and green! (It helps that it rains all winter, of course Actually, it’s not a very pretty city architecturally – quite boring in fact – but your eyes will be on the mountains all the time anyway. It is walkable, but interesting neighbourhoods are separated from each other with great expanses that are better bussed through. Vancouver simple screams nature – everyone is just so darn healthy! In 20 minutes, you can go up the mountains, or simply to Stanley Park, and feel like you’re in the middle of nowhere, surrounded by lush temperate rainforest. Very refreshing for the soul!

Montreal’s surroundings are less impressive despite the size of the Saint Lawrence, but it more than makes up for it in the exuberance of its very urban lifestyle. Sidewalk cafés, nightlife until the wee hours, restaurants galore, a beautiful old town… it’s architecturally the most interesting city in Canada, and just so darn livable. It’s chic and fashionable, but strangely uncritical – people really do it for fun, not to impress. Montreal is more dense and walkable than Vancouver. I’d suggest you buy the walking tour booklet of Old Montreal from the tourist info centres – it’s very well done, and gives a great sense of the history of this city. If you really want a hit of nature, you can go to the islands in the river (accessible by metro, impressive view of downtown) or walk up the hill that Montrealers insist on calling a mountain.

As for the other places you’ll visit (either Victoria or Québec): Victoria is charming and pretty, but it pretends to be a English village and comes out smelling rather fake; Québec doesn’t have to pretend: it’s French and it’s for real. Very impressive and walkable and drenched with history. Of course, we’re still talking North America, where history means anything that’s more than 100 years old!
TristanRyan is offline  
Jul 31st, 2005, 03:08 PM
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Victoria is so walkable that my wife and I commute to our jobs in the city centre from our house in Fairfield via a one half our walk each way. Our car is used on weekends for groceries and bimonthly visits to mil in Parksville.
icithecat is offline  
Jul 31st, 2005, 03:19 PM
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Oh yeah,
"Victoria is charming and pretty, but it pretends to be a English village and comes out smelling rather fake;"
I agree.
So stay away.
The 3.5 million tourists that visit this smelly place every year are driving us nuts.
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