For centuries, the Japanese have appreciated the fleeting, poetic beauty of delicate and fragrant petals carpeting spring grass, and now the rest of the world has caught on. Here’s where to take in Canada’s ephemeral cherry blossoms in springtime. The window is just three weeks in April or May depending the region, so get ready to capture the moment on digital!
Mild West Coast Vancouver is Canada’s best city for cherry blossoms, thanks to a generous 1930s gift from Japan: hundreds of trees as a thank-you to Japanese-Canadians who served in WWI. April is the time to see the 40,000 trees: Queen Elizabeth Park, Stanley Park and downtown’s Burrard Skytrain Station, where the pale-pink blossoms delight passersby, and the Vancouver Cherry Blossom Festival.
What makes viewing in this West Coast provincial capital is the popcorn-like buds against the backdrop of turn-of-the-century Victorians. Top spots are James Bay, Beacon Hill Park, Fairfield, South Turner Street, Moss Street and the Victoria Clipper Ferry Terminal.
Catch cherry blossoms a bit later in May in Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario’s fertile wine region between Lakes Eerie and Ontario, when blue skies set off the showy display. Take a self-guided bike tour or road trip, consulting the Niagara Parks “What’s in Bloom” calendar.
Alberta is filled with farms and orchards, and vintners have started making high-quality fruit wines just like the pioneers. Alberta’s capital city blooms, too, in May, with cherries at their peak at the Fairmont Mac Courtyard, George F. Hustler Memorial Plaza, the French Quarter, the Victoria Promenade and the Alberta Legislature grounds.
In Canada’s metropolis, you can dine, shop, go to the art museum and see a musical, then stroll through the blossoms and enjoy a picnic. The best places in late April and May are Toronto’s High Park, especially the Hillside Gardens area, and the Toronto Islands with a grove of 30 trees, accessible by ferry for a day trip.
If you’re in Canada’s capital, find a bench, walk or cycle at Central Experimental Farm National Historic Site’s Arboretum along the waterway, home to many fruit tree varieties including cherries and crab apples (known for bright blossoms), plus Dow’s Lake and wide open spaces. Stroll the green Ottawa River Valley, too, bursting with color in May.