Canada Pavilion Tour, Part 1

by Brian Bennett, contributing writer
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The Canada pavilion in World Showcase provides great examples for several of the Disney Imagineer's tools of the trade. Making great use of theme, visual tricks such as forced perspective, and some of Walt Disney World's best examples of landscaping this part of Epcot is a feast for the senses.

The pavilion's main landmark is the Hotel du Canada, a structure that was modeled on the Chateau Laurier in Canada's capital city of Ottawa, Ontario. The architecture is French Gothic in style with an exaggerated Mansard roof…


The Hotel du Canada is one of the tallest buildings in Epcot's skyline. Photo by Brian Bennett.

…but the roughly hewn buildings and totem poles toward the front of the pavilion lock the location of this building firmly in Canada.


This steep set of stairs provides access to the upper levels of the pavilion from the World Showcase promenade. Photo by Brian Bennett.

The Northwest Mercantile building looks like it would be quite at home if it was located in Whitehorse, in the Yukon or Yellowknife in the Northwest Territories, rather than here in Central Florida.


The Northwest Mercantile stands at the top of the stairs.

The exterior of the building is decorated with snowshoes, skis, and a dogsled on one side of the doorway…


Snowshoes, skis, and a dog sled mounted to the wall of the Northwest Mercantile. Photo by Brian Bennett.

…and lumbering tools on the other.


Lumbering tools are mounted to the wall of the Northwest Mercantile. Photo by Brian Bennett.

Outside the building, a trio of totems guard the upper areas of the pavilion.


This totem pole stands just to the right of Northwest Mercantile. Photo by Brian Bennett.

Incidentally, this middle totem originally had a background color of light gray before it was changed to the current muddy brown in more recent years.


This totem pole guards the path to Hotel du Canada. Photo by Brian Bennett.

I think the little guy in the middle must be into luge, the winter Olympic sport with the tiny little sled on the bobsled-like track.


This totem pole is the rightmost of the three poles on the shop level of the pavilion. Photo by Brian Bennett.

Beyond the Mercantile is an even rougher trading post building. Actually, both the Mercantile and Trading Post are one combined building inside, but outside they depict both the settlers and the natives that now live in the harsh Northern parts of North America's largest nation.


The Trading Post provides a native facade for the far end of Northwest Mercantile. Photo by Brian Bennett.

Inside the Mercantile is a wide selection of Canadian logo products. The white maple leaf on red background is a very common sight.


Canadian logo products are popular purchases at Northwest Mercantile. Photo by Brian Bennett.

Also, if you look at that little chalkboard above the blue sweatshirts…


A small sign challenges shoppers to find a hidden Mickey. Photo by Brian Bennett.

The challenge of finding a hidden Mickey is given.

“Have you seen our hidden Mickey?
It's really quite a dish,
If you cannot find it,
Keep an eye out for the fish.”

Never one to wilt at a challenge, I decided to search the shop to find that hidden Mickey.

About 10 minutes later, with my beavertail between my legs, I finally asked a cast member for help. But before she actually told me where the hidden Mickey was, just as we were walking back toward the chalkboard sign, though, I finally spotted THE FISH!


The fish is found! Photo by Brian Bennett.

Once I'd caught the fish, the hidden Mickey was easy.


A closeup view of the fish that sports the hidden Mickey! Photo by Brian Bennett.

I continued my walk through the shop and noticed a lot of Northwest atmosphere… Pelts, lanterns, and tools were a common sight.


A view of the interior decor of Northwest Mercantile. Photo by Brian Bennett.

Heaters and stoves are frequently found, too. It's not surprising that a common theme in this part of the world is “keeping warm."


Dry goods and heaters stored on the upper shelves of the Northwest Mercantile. Photo by Brian Bennett.

But gorgeous pottery and can be found, too.


Porcelain products for sale at Northwest Mercantile. Photo by Brian Bennett.

I wasn't at all surprised to find some bookshelves filled with books about hockey and Gretzky.


An essential part of every Canadian library is a book on the Great Gretzky. Photo by Brian Bennett.

Galvanized pails, carvings, and kegs of dry goods and other supplies are scattered around the store.


Carvings and paintings decorate the walls of Northwest Mercantile. Photo by Brian Bennett.

More totems and skins decorate the area above the Trading Post door at the far end of the shop. As I strolled out, the cast member that I'd spoken to earlier said that there was another hidden Mickey outside.


More totems and pelts hang on the walls of the Trading Post end of Northwest Mercantile. Photo by Brian Bennett.

This one was easier to find for some reason. I just started looking up the totem and spied the familiar ear shape up toward the top.


The totem sports a hidden Mickey, too! Photo by Brian Bennett.

It's a little easier to see in this view.


The totem's hidden Mickey close up. Photo by Brian Bennett.

Well, being pleased with myself, I decided to move on to see the rest of the pavilion. Turning around from the Trading Post, I was greeted with a gorgeous view of Victoria Gardens. In my opinion, there isn't a garden in all of Walt Disney World that compares with the gorgeous Victoria Gardens here in the Canada pavilion.


Victoria Gardens viewed from the Trading Post level. Photo by Brian Bennett.

Victoria Gardens were inspired by the famous Buchart Gardens on British Columbia's Vancouver Island. The Buchart Gardens were created by Mrs. Jenny Buchart from the abandoned limestone pits left behind by her husband's cement company, and opened in 1904. I must admit, having actually had the privilege of visiting Buchart Gardens, Victoria Gardens provide only a small taste of the original. However, even if the portions are on two ends of the scale, the gorgeous results are very much the same. The horticulture department of Walt Disney World should be very proud of Victoria Gardens. They are, in my opinion, the crown jewel of the landscaping domain that they maintain.

For those of you that live on the East Coast, I can also recommend the gorgeous Royal Botanical Gardens in Hamilton, Ontario. These gardens are just as gorgeous as Buchart Gardens, but are quite a bit closer.

This view is from the access ramp toward the front of the pavilion.


Victoria Gardens viewed from the access ramp in the front of the pavilion. Photo by Brian Bennett.

The next photograph, also taken from the access ramp, shows the stone bridge that spans the stream that runs through the pavilion.


The stone bridge spans the stream on the Trading Post level. Photo by Brian Bennett.

The next photograph of Victoria Gardens was taken from that perch, high above the garden floor.


Victoria Gardens viewed from the Trading Post level access ramp. Photo by Brian Bennett.

Turning on my heels, I am faced with one final set of stairs that will take me to the upper level of the pavilion.


The stairs from the Trading Post level to the upper level of the pavilion. Photo by Brian Bennett.

We'll make that little climb and look around the rest of the pavilion next week.

In the meantime, I wish you and your family a very Merry Christmas!