5 of Canada’s Greatest Wildlife Migrations

A Humpback whale breaching close to the shoreline in Newfoundland—the world’s largest population of humpbacks migrate here

Home to an impressive array of wildlife, vast landscapes, and diverse ecosystems, Canada plays host to some of the most awe-inspiring migrations on the planet. Every year, millions of animals traverse great distances, showcasing the wonders of nature and captivating the hearts of travellers. In this blog post, we will explore five of the country’s greatest wildlife migrations and highlight their incredible journeys.


No traveller could fail to be enthralled by the wonder of Canada’s polar bear migration. A magnificent display of nature’s grandeur, this mesmerising event unfolds every year, between late September and November, in the vast, icy expanses of the sub-arctic. As the chill of winter descends upon Churchill, Manitoba, the pack ice begins to form over Hudson Bay, and the bears make their way back to their frozen homeland after the summer melt.

Watching these powerful and graceful polar bears traverse these landscapes from the comfort of your tundra buggy, their fur glistening like freshly fallen snow, is an unforgettable experience. The lucky few travellers also return from the tundra with a polar bear kiss: when a polar bear walks up to the vehicle and looks inside.

Polar bears have made Churchill famous, and led to it being dubbed the “Jewel of Manitoba,” and also the Polar Bear Capital of the World (c) Travel Manitoba

With climate change on a fragile footing, this extraordinary migration is a testament to the resilience and adaptability of Canada’s wildlife and it reminds us of the delicate balance of the world’s ecosystem. Churchill was listed by TIME magazine on its third annual list of the world’s greatest places, and our tours are undertaken by local operators who specialise in sustainably minded tourism.


The longest land migration on planet earth is also based in Manitoba. Stay at a private tundra camp in the Barren Lands, the adventurous travelling here in the hope of catching sight of the Central Barren Ground caribou and the Qaminurjuaq caribou herd. As autumn approaches, the herds, who number around 35,000, make their way across the wastelands of the north on a route stretching roughly 2,000 miles.

Witness the migration of the Canadian ‘central barren ground’ caribou in the barren lands—a mix of other arctic wildlife found in the same area (c) Gerardo Gonzales

The sight of these graceful creatures navigating the challenging terrain, guided by ancient instincts, is nothing short of magical. Head out on foot and by boat, to track loose strings of caribou, and other wildlife, the herds closely followed by their predators including wolves, the tundra below carpeted in red leaves. On this arctic safari you will also have access to an acclaimed National Geographic photographer for tips and inspiration on topics such “blue-hour” photos and capturing the Northern Lights. Contact us for more information.


Canada’s rivers play witness to one of the most incredible marine migrations—British Columbia’s salmon run. As travellers we can only marvel at the sheer determination of the fish as they leap against the current, where the combination of rushing water and splashing tails, sometimes interspersed with a grizzly bear or two, makes for powerful photography. Swimming upstream, they overcome formidable obstacles like waterfalls and rapids to reach their final destination.

Driven by instinct alone to make this annual pilgrimage, they travel from the vast Pacific Ocean, to the very streams where their lives began.  A real life and death journey, their trip is essential for the survival of both the salmon species and the ecosystems they inhabit, as they bring nutrients from the ocean back to the freshwater and enrich the entire food web. For the best place to spot the salmon head to the Campbell River on Vancouver Island which is known as the “Salmon Capital of the World,” the exciting event usually running from September until early December.


Every autumn, millions of monarch butterflies set off on an expedition from Canada to Mexico: one of the world’s longest migrations. A remarkable feat, monarchs are the only insects known to make such an extensive journey—the butterflies covering distances of up to 2,845 miles. One of the best points to watch the butterflies rest and cluster before they make their long journey south is Ontario’s Point Pelee National Park, the park located at the southernmost point of Canada, on the shores of Lake Erie.

Millions of monarch butterflies rest briefly in Ontario’s Point Pelee National Park as the annual fall migration makes its way to Mexico (c) James Wheeler

The insects collect their strength here before they begin their long trip across the lake, with Point Pelee allowing the butterflies to make the shortest journey across the water due to a small chain of nearby islands. While the national park is actively restoring their savannah habitat, overall numbers remain low, and in 2022, the monarch butterfly was placed on the international endangered species list.


Canada has the longest coastline in the world, and its whale-watching experiences are considered some of the best anywhere on the planet. Of course, there is no set schedule when it comes to show time, and there’s always an element of luck when it comes to wildlife viewing. To maximise your chances of seeing a whale, visit Newfoundland and Labrador.

The many species found here include pilot whales, fin whales, blue whales, minke whales, sperm whales, and the world’s largest population of humpbacks—around 12,000 migrate here yearly to forage for small fish and krill.

Two humpback whales participating in a rare double breech are sighted at St. Vincents, Newfoundland (c) Dylan Furst

Between May and September, you can watch them feed, frolic, and breach from your boat or kayak, or if you’d rather stay shoreside, from a beach trail or even a craggy cliff. For travellers, there are plenty of standout locations for whale watching in the Happy Province, including Bay Bulls, St. Anthony, St. Vincent’s, Trinity Bay, Bonavista, and Cape Spear, among others.

Contact our specialists about crafting your own tailor-made wildlife adventure as we would be delighted to help you plan the Canada holiday of a lifetime.

For more information on the holidays we offer at Frontier Canada, and to book, call us on 020 8776 8709 or email us at canada@frontier-travel.co.uk. ATOL PROTECTED No 5405 ABTA W3207.