Head for the ski resort of Tremblant (or Mont Tremblant) with its colourful, traffic-free centre built in the style of a historic French town. It's very convenient for British families skiing in Canada and has low mountains that won’t give kids altitude problems. Enjoy more than 260 hectares of skiable terrain and nearly 80km of trails, roughly a quarter of them beginner, a third intermediate and half expert. The north side of the resort has the best runs. Experienced snowboarders and skiers have access to a large extreme Snow Park, or there's a snow-tubing park with eight trails. Everything is within an easy stroll, and the ski school provides GPS armbands so you know exactly where the kids are, with their daily movements charted on a website. Other winter activities include snowshoeing, dog-sledding, snowmobiling, horse-riding across snow-covered fields, and ice-skating. The year-round Aquaclub La Source has indoor and outdoor pools and hot tubs.
Alternatively, come to Tremblant for a summer activity holidays, when the lush surroundings – including the outdoors paradise of Mont Tremblant National Park with its watersports and cruises, quad-biking, calèche rides, via ferrata, canoeing, hiking and camping – make for amazing views. Try alpine luge, take the gondola up for wonderful views of the Laurentians, play at the Pirates Water Park, have a round of mini-golf, hire bikes or mountain-bikes, raft down the Rouge River and ride horses through the Laurentian Mountains. There’s also bungy-trampoline, paintball playgrounds, an aerial forest adventure, and two very good golf courses, and you can take a panoramic helicopter ride to see the Diable River, Lake Ouimet, Gray Rocks, Iroquois Falls and other local scenery.
Wander the cobbled streets of Quebec City in its wonderful position beside the great St Lawrence River. This is the only walled city in North America and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. As you stop for a croissant and café au lait and listen to little old ladies talk French, you could be forgiven for wondering which continent you’re on. Stroll along the Terrasse Dufferin, a wide, buggy-friendly boardwalk beside the river, lined with shops and ice-cream parlours, and through the Lower Town with its elegant historic houses and sights.
Head just out outside Quebec City's old walls to reach the historic battlefield of the Plains of Abraham, within the child-friendly Battlefields Park dotted with old artillery pieces and martello towers that you can discover on numerous walking trails. Also a short trip outside Quebec City, the Village Vacances Valcartier (home to an ice hotel; see Where to Stay) is Canada’s largest water-park, transformed into a winter-sports resort in the colder months.
Spend time in Montreal, founded in 1642 as a fur-trading centre and retaining its fascinating historical centre and old ports, which you can explore on foot, by bike or by guided tour – the latter gives you a sense of the struggle the early settlers had, and tells of the people who were here before Europeans got involved. Other highlights of Montreal with kids are the Montreal Science Centre – wonderful for budding geeks – and the fantastic Montreal Biodome with its walk-through reconstructions of American eco-systems, complete with animals, including penguins in the Antarctic. The Biodome is in Montreal's Olympic Park, which is also home to the Montreal Tower – the world’s tallest inclined tower, leaning out at a 45° angle and accessed by funicular cable-cars – a stadium and a vast sports complex. Shopaholics, meanwhile, find heaven in the Underground City, a 30km subterranean maze linking office buildings, hotels, restaurants and shopping malls under the city centre.
Explore Gatineau, home to the Canadian Museum of History, which contains the Canadian Children’s Museum, with permanent displays, temporary exhibitions and special events. Note that Quebec is part of the National Capital Region together with neighbouring Ottawa in English-speaking Ontario. Gatineau-dwellers love to ski in Ottawa's Gatineau Hills and skating on the two-kilometre-long Skateway on the UNESCO World Heritage listed Rideau Canal.
Further afield, experience Tadoussac on the St Lawrence – a village steeped in history, featuring a reconstruction of Canada’s first French trading post that allows a glimpse of what Canada was like at the time of the earliest settlers. Most people come here for the whale-watching, but you can also sea-kayak, cruise on the awesome Saguenay Fjord, snow-mobile and more.
For something a little more rugged, head for Canada’s Atlantic Coast –the Gaspé Peninsula, where the Appalachian Mountains fizzle out. This is a lovely area of forests, cliffs and old fishing villages, with some great trips out to sea.