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From coast to coast, Gayle Macdonald reports on destinations that will help you fall head over heels in 2024

Romance can be many things to different people. So when tasked to come up with some of the most romantic destinations in this beautiful country we threw the net wide. We settled on nine unique locations – some perfect for cold wintry days, others ideal for summer sunsets and lots in between to appeal to anyone looking to spark a new romantic fire, pop the question or reignite a long-term relationship.

Take your pick from a mountain in B.C. that’s ideal for the thrill-seeking couple, a cozy log cabin in Quebec for nature lovers, a lodge in the Northwest Territories made for viewing the Northern Lights or a picnic spot in Newfoundland where ocean meets sky as far as the eye can see.

Luckily for us, Canada is replete with locations that simultaneously steal your heart and take your breath away, places that were made for romance. And by staying in your own backyard, you can save on your carbon footprint, too.

Trout Point Lodge, Nova Scotia

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Trout Point Lodge's barrel saunas.TROUT POINT LODGE/Trout Point Lodge

Trout Point Lodge is tucked away in the heart of the Tobeatic Wilderness, the largest protected area in the Maritimes. Highly coveted by couples who love its serenity and seclusion, its remote locale, on 120-acres of wooded estate, means it is also perfect for stargazing, which you can do from the privacy of your room in front of a crackling fire, from the wood-fired hot tub or a special platform built specifically for nature’s light show. (Trout Point Lodge was the first certified starlight hotel in the world).

Patrick Wallace, who has owned the hotel for the past seven years with his wife, Pam, says most people come to the 13-room lodge for at least two nights, which gives ample time to sample the gourmet food and wine (the lodge has been a recipient of the Wine Spectator of Excellence award the past 12 years), canoe, kayak, swim in the Tusket River, do yoga, forest bathe, or wrap up in a blanket in their room, with a good book, and just be.

Open from May to December, the lodge’s most popular package is Romance in the Wilderness, which starts at $2,500 per couple for two nights and includes daily breakfasts, lunch, a romantic picnic lunch (the second day) with chilled French Champagne, tea-time cake and pastries, and candlelit four-course dinners. When you leave – and most people, judging from reviews, are loath to drive away – Wallace recommends stopping at the Oxalis, an intimate restaurant in Dartmouth (3.5 hours away), which is run by Trout Point Lodge’s former chef Andreas Preuss and his partner, Sophia Gruber. As Wallace attests: “Nicer people you will not meet – and the food is exceptional too.”

Lighthouse Picnics, Ferryland, Newfoundland and Labrador

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Ferryland lighthouse.Handout

You know you’ve arrived in a special place once you begin the 30-­minute walk along the isthmus to the red and white lighthouse, which has stood as a beacon to mariners at the tip of the Avalon Peninsula for last 154 years. Along the gravel pathway, which is surrounded by sea on both sides, you breathe in the salty fresh air of the Atlantic, hear the seabirds and bask in a view that seems to go on forever.

Once you arrive at the historic lighthouse – and because you’ve had the foresight to reserve your picnic lunch ahead (reservations are a must) – you are handed a wicker basket filled with homemade goodies prepared by the local women of Ferryland, who bake bread daily (the oatmeal molasses is a favourite) and offer a mouth­watering menu that includes chutney­-glazed ham and brie or sweet curried chicken sandwiches, salads, rosemary-scented lemonade (served in mason jars) and desserts (from carrot cake with cream cheese icing, to marshmallow brownies, ginger molasses cookies, and chocolate ganache cake). Lunch is approximately $30 to $35 a person and gluten-free and vegetarian options are available.

Then the only thing left to do is find a quiet spot on the grassy meadow that slopes down from the lighthouse, spread out your blanket and take it all in – the cobalt sea, the azure sky, the whales, the pods of porpoises, puffins, the odd seal and, if you’re lucky, a majestic iceberg.

“You can brag that you’ve eaten at the most easterly restaurant in all of North America,” says Jill Curran, who started Lighthouse Picnics in 2004. The great granddaughter of John Will Costello – lighthouse keeper from 1905 to 1927 – she calls Ferryland Head Lighthouse, an hour’s drive from St. John’s, “one of the most romantic places in the world. I’ve travelled a lot and this spot still takes my breath away. It is simply majestic. It’s nature uninterrupted.”

Quebec City, Quebec

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Quartier Petit-Champlain in Quebec City.Marion Desjardins/Llamaryon

Just below the fortifications of Old Quebec, at the base of Cap Diamant, is the beautifully preserved neighbourhood of Quartier Petit-Champlain, a fairy tale setting steeped in history, with tiny boutiques, charming restaurants and galleries galore.

This time of year, with the cobblestone streets covered in snow and illuminated by street lamps, it’s no wonder the UNESCO World Heritage site has been described as stepping into a Christmas card. It’s worth stopping at a patisserie for a French Canadian tradition, pouding chomeur, a gooey upside-down cake topped with hot caramel. A short walk away, in the upper town of Old Quebec, is a little gem of a hotel, Hotel du Vieux Quebec, that offers visitors a boutique experience in the heart of the old city. With only 45 rooms, (five have fireplaces) the hotel is known for its attention to service, which includes a breakfast dropped off each morning at your door by 8 a.m. with assorted croissants, pain au chocolate, house-made jam, local cheeses and fruit. (Rooms range from $200 to $350 per night).

Right next door is the 70-seat Bistro Hortus, a favourite of locals and hotel guests, who come for chef Stephane Roth’s “Ferme a la Table” menu. Most of the year, he cooks with fresh vegetables and herbs he grows on two rooftop gardens. He also makes honey (there are beehives on the roof, too), which he uses as a sugar-alternative in many of his dishes. A must try? A yellow pike tartar with a black-currant grain mustard, made from scratch (as all the sauces are).

Parc Omega, Quebec

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Parc Omega, in the Outaouais region of Quebec.Laure Poiret/Handout

Originally conceived in 1985 as a place to discover the wildlife of North America, the 2,200-acre park in the Outaouais region of Quebec has expanded beyond nature attractions in recent years to offer guests a truly unique travel experience – sleeping with the wolves.

There are several rooms to choose from but the ones best-suited to couples are the wolf accommodations (cabin, chalet, lodge), which offer wood burning fireplaces and comfy beds that face out onto the wolf habitat. It might not be the most restful night – wolfs do howl, after all – but being that close to these incredible canines makes for memories guests never forget. The cabins, which start at $549 a night, are popular for honeymoons, wedding anniversaries and, yes, marriage proposals.

Guests can request Champagne and charcuterie boards (as well as other appetizers) be sent to their room from Omegabon, a fine-dining restaurant located in the park. If you choose to dine in person, the restaurant, with tables overlooking Bird Lake, is perfect for intimate meals. (Note: it is only open Wednesday through Saturday.)

During the winter season, Omegabon offers a delicious cheese fondue with white wine and shallots. Prices vary according to the choice selected. The quaint village of Montebello is also a short drive away, with lots of authentic gastronomy to choose from, including Le Café Entre Amis (wonderful breakfasts) or Napoleon (for their mussels and fries).

Alive Sky Lodge, Saskatchewan

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Alive Sky Lodge is about an hour’s drive southwest of Saskatoon.ALIVE SKY LODGE

Endless sky, bird song and total privacy in a bucolic setting. These are just three attributes that make Alive Sky Lodge, in the heart of the Canadian Prairies, the perfect escape for those who want to reconnect and recharge.

The owners of this working farm offer different accommodations, however the most popular for couples are the grain bins, which have been converted into boho chic rooms with two fireplaces in each, heated floors, clawfoot tubs and a wraparound deck with hot tub – the latter being the perfect place to watch the sun rise or set across a vast panorama of field and sky.

Owners April and Darryl Anderson say guests first come to their lodge, which has been open for almost 10 years with the mandate of offering travellers a quintessential Prairie experience, not quite knowing what to expect. Invariably they return because, in addition to having every creature comfort they could want (a comfy bed, fine linens, a fully stocked kitchenette) they find their time in the wide open landscape helps them not only totally relax, but also recalibrate. “It’s so quiet here that you can actually hear the air passing under waterfowl as they complete a fly pass,” says April, who delivers a farm-to-table homemade breakfast (fresh fruit parfait, eggs in a potato nest, homemade muffins) in vintage coolers to the rooms each morning. (The two-person bin is $247 a night, including breakfast).

About an hour’s drive southwest of Saskatoon, Alive Sky Lodge is open year-round and offers bikes and farm tours in the summer, and groomed trails for snowshoeing in winter. They now have a private pet-friendly accommodation -- a western-themed Cowboy Bunkhouse with an outdoor water mister and cold pool for those hot prairie days. Many guests paint, sketch, read, enjoy music but most are content to do very little. They find a bench or a hammock and let nature remind them of the simple joys of the countryside.

Bugaboos Lodge, British Columbia

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Bugaboos Lodge is in eastern British Columbia.John Evely/CMH British Columbia

Nestled between Golden and Radium Hot Springs in eastern British Columbia, “the Bugs” as the mountain range is known, are a magical year-round playground for heli-skiers and heli-hikers who come to experience mounds of untouched powder in winter and scale peaks above the treeline in summer.

This particular location - one of 11 alpine adventure destinations that fall under the CMH Heli-Skiing and Summer Adventures banner –– is special because it’s where the company’s founder, Hans Gmoser, pioneered heli-skiing in Canada, at the base of the soaring Bugaboo Spires in the Columbia Mountains. When Gmoser arrived in the early 1960s there was nothing here but an abandoned lumber camp. Awed and inspired by the mountains, he built a simple lodge, which over the years, has been transformed into a year-round, 32-room log-hewn retreat where guests hike, snowboard or ski – and at night – swap adventure stories, sip wine and dine in front of a roaring fire.

The only way into the lodge is by helicopter, usually from Parson, B.C., and when the pilot departs, the quiet is so complete it’s almost eerie. “The stillness and quiet immediately settles over you,” says Salina McNamara, CMH communications manager. “And you feel like you’ve been transported to the top of the world.”

Given the natural splendour, it’s hardly surprising that the Bugaboos have been the backdrop for many proposals and small weddings, with staff making sure there is Champagne on ice and a roaring fire in the hearth when the couple returns.

The lodge, which runs on generators, has all the amenities including a masseuse to work out your aches and pains after a day playing in the wilderness, a 50-foot climbing wall, hot tub and sauna. Meals are wholesome family-style and it’s de rigueur for guests to become fast friends before their stay is over. “It’s all part of the magic of the back country,” McNamara says. “You come as a stranger and you leave like family.” A three-night, four-day trip is $4,995, all-in (excluding massage and alcohol).

Oceanfront glamping at Fossil Beach Farm, Hornby Island, B.C.

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Fossil Beach Farm on Hornby Island.Handout

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Fossil Beach FarmHandout

Located on the sunset side of Hornby Island is 95-year-old Fossil Beach Farm, which has been in the same family for four generations. The 80-acre working farm sits on a beach that stretches one mile directly toward the summer sunsets. It is truly where farm meets sea.

Four years ago, the family decided to expand their operations and set up seven luxury tents, nestled between trees and perched on the high bank of Fossil Beach, all with oceanfront views. Three of the tents have been designated adult-only, an area that fourth-generation owner Aileen Fearman calls “our romantic zone – we have at least two proposals in one of these tents every season.” (Tip: Call ahead and Fearman will leave some cider – made on premises – in an ice bucket in your tent. One couple decided to elope after they arrived and were married in a simple ceremony at the cidery).

From the comfort of a queen-sized bed, guests can see and smell the ocean, hear eagles calling to their mates and listen to the seals smack the water as they play in the ocean waves. Guests have access to a large communal outdoor kitchen (with fridges, ovens and BBQs), and showers and washrooms. The price, depending on the size of the tent, ranges from $250 to $350 a night.

Last year, the owners also added a new accommodation, the rustic Quadra Bunkie, outfitted with a queen bed, table and battery powered lighting, it has a covered private porch that looks out over a vast expanse of oceanfront at low tide, while from the back of the cabin you have a prime view of the iconic Mount Geoffery.

The onsite cidery offers food, live music (on Sundays) and of course cider, made from the apple trees that pre-date the farm. Each tent has a private deck and beach chairs are scattered along the waterfront for tide-viewing. At low tide, the water goes out more than one kilometre, which is prime for beachcombing (when Fearman was a child, dinosaur fossils were discovered on the property).

Open from the May long weekend though to mid-September, Fossil Beach Farm also provides paddle boards, which they recommend guests take out at “golden hour” when the coastline literally glows.

The Post Hotel, Alberta

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The Post Hotel is surrounded by Canadian pines.Erik McRitchie/Handout

Surrounded by Canadian pines, with stunning views of the Rockies in every direction, the Post Hotel is a 94-room luxury retreat known around the world for its exceptional cuisine and a 20,000-bottle wine list, which has been a recipient of the Wine Spectator Grand Award for 22 consecutive years.

The Post, to put it simply, is an epicurean’s dream. Guests – who tend to return year after year – come for the food and bubbly, to be sure, but they also come to be pampered by the staff, which puts comfort, attention to detail and service first. From the moment guests walk through the front doors of the Relais & Châteaux property there is someone on hand to make sure a stay at the Post has that highly personalized touch.

A short walk from Lake Louise village, the Post has many different dining options, including the formal dining room with a four-course table d’hôte menu led by executive chef Hans Sauter; the small, cozy Fondue Stubli (which features traditional Swiss fondues including cheese fondue, fondue “bourguignonne” and fondue “Chinoise”); Sir Norman Lounge (perfect for après-ski or, on weekends, to hear the pianist play); and the Outpost, an English-style pub with a burger (AAA Alberta beef, of course) that may rank as the best you’ve ever tasted.

The hotel rooms are lovely, but for couples craving privacy there are four cabins, small but luxurious, that are nestled beside the Pipestone River. Laze in your room while enjoying breakfast in bed, then grab snowshoes or cross-country skis to explore groomed trails. Before dinner, hit Temple Mountain Spa for a massage or dip in the plunge pools – and then it’s off to partake in yet another exceptional meal.

The romance package starts at $1,732 and includes two nights accommodation, one four-course dinner for two, two spa treatments, breakfast each morning and Champagne and chocolate-covered strawberries delivered to your room.

Southampton Beach, Ontario

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The Beach Motel.Niamh Barry/Handout

More than 25 beach communities dot the Ontario shores of Lake Huron, but one small town, Southampton, holds a special place in the hearts of vacationers, who become instantly smitten by the area’s natural charm – the sand dunes, the breathtaking sunsets, the soft sand beach, the quaint shops – and the Sunset Piper (aka local Michael Smith), who for the past 20 years has piped down the sun each summer evening under the Big Flag at the bottom of Main Street.

Most people come for the beach, where they spend endless summer days building sand castles, diving through the cresting waves and admiring (just off shore) Chantry Island lighthouse, which has stood sentry since 1859, warning sailors of dangerous shoals that lurk just below the frothy churn.

A stone’s throw from the Big Flag is the 17-room Beach Motel, a boutique property of Scandinavian design that offers couples the perfect place to put up their feet, enjoy a cocktail on the rooftop deck, and listen to waves lapping on the shore. There are several good restaurants, a short walk away on Southampton’s main street, to try for dinner (The Walker House, Highview Food & Drink). However, those guests eager to stay put might want to try the farm-to-table menu offered at The Sandbar, a cozy little eatery onsite, led by chef Carrey McLellan, that seats 20 people. (Reservations are recommended.) Currently, The Sandbar is only open on weekends. The Beach Motel room rates, which include breakfast, start at $129 in winter, and $359 in summer.

And no stay in “South” is complete without a walk down the boardwalk (in summer) to Gerry’s Fast Food, which serves hand-cut fries in cardboard boxes, perfect for the beach. Word of warning: The seagulls will dive bomb you.

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