Story Ideas

Discover rare and wild ecosystems in Canada.

Canada’s biodiversity is a photographer’s dream, with habitats ranging from arid fossil beds and swaying prairies to pingos in the Arctic.

12 August 2015

Suggested tweet: Discover Canada’s many scenic and unique ecosystems —habitats to delight any photographer #explorecanada

Canada has many scenic and unique ecosystems. Focus on any of these unique biomes and impress your family, friends and followers with photos of rare and biodiverse Canadian habitats.  

Garry Oak meadow ecosystems: On BC’s Gulf Islands and southeastern Vancouver Island, hear the whistle of recently reintroduced Western bluebirds in meadows ringed by native Garry oak trees. In spring, bees produce a constant hum among carpets of purple-blue blooming Camas lilies, cultivated centuries ago in these natural parklands by First Nations people who harvested the wildflowers for their edible bulbs. The Garry Oak Ecosystems Recovery Team is committed to preserving these fragile habitats, home to nearly 100 species at risk. Visit the Cowichan Garry Oak Preserve during the In Bloom Flower Festival to photograph shooting stars, buttercups and camas.

Canadian Badlands’ fossil fields: Tour an arid moonscape of dinosaur bone beds, coulees and prehistoric history layered in spiraling sandstone hoodoos in the Canadian Badlands. At Alberta’s Dinosaur Provincial Park, the fossil fields and three ecosystems—the badlands, prairie grasslands and a riverside cottonwood habitat—are protected under a Natural Preserve designation. See prickly pear cactus in bloom here in June. At dusk, listen to the eerie cry of nighthawks, imagining the immense dinosaurs that once ruled this land.

Tall grass prairie preserves: A former rippling sea, swaying tall grasses covered 6,000 sq km (2,317 sq mi) of prairie in Manitoba’s Red River Valley. At the Manitoba Tall Grass Prairie Preserve, more than 2,000 hectares (4,942 acres) of tall grass prairie have been preserved, providing a home for vital pollinators such as monarch butterflies and the tiny Poweshiek skipperling that emerges in late June in search of nectar in blooming black-eyed Susans. This is the only place in Canada where the endangered, globally rare Western prairie fringed orchid can still be found. 

The primeval Canadian Shield: A walk on Precambrian rocks in the Canadian Shield means you’re stepping on parts of the earth’s crust that’s almost four billion years old. The famous Group of Seven painters found their muse among the rocky outcrops, lakes and woods in Ontario’s portion of the Canadian Shield. Discover your own artistic inspiration among the wildly changing habitats of Georgian Bay Islands National Park of Canada, from the brilliant fall colours of the sugar maples to mossy bogs to shorelines of stunted pines and bedrock tinted through ancient time into unusual shades of black and pink. Watch out for the warning rattle of the endangered eastern Massasauga Rattlesnake; it’s protected here.
The North Cape Breton ecosystem: Black spruce “pruned” by icy winds and barrens formed by fire create the unconventional beauty of the taiga, one of the forest ecosystems managed at Cape Breton Highlands National Park of Canada. View restoration areas along the Skyline Trail, where Parks Canada is planting 30,000 trees in a former boreal forest turned to grasslands by grazing moose. On a Skyline Sunset Hike, move through boreal forest, meadows and wetlands to the highlands plateau and gaze down at the vast marine habitat of the Atlantic Ocean, home to grey seals and whales. 
The Arctic Archipelago: In 1845, The Franklin Expedition disappeared in the Canadian Arctic Archipelago, an ice-covered aquatic eco-zone of 36,563 islands divided by a series of northwestern passages. Photogenic wildlife populates this northern clime, including polar bears, walrus, orcas, narwhals and belugas. Arctic tundra is revealed when the ice melts during brief summers. Permafrost remains below the surface, forming odd volcano-like pingos. The Pingo Canadian Landmark protects eight iconic pingos in Northwest Territories.

Looking for more visual inspiration from Canada’s unique nature? Browse our Brand Canada Library for thousands of images and videos from all over Canada.

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