With arctic lands, forests, mountains, lakes, a small area of desert, and more coastline than any other country, Canada has one of the most typographically diverse landscapes in the world.
JST CITY GUIDES:
There are six time zones in Canada. Below are the time zones for a few of Canada’s biggest cities in accordance with Universal Time Coordinated (UTC):
Eastern Standard Time (UTC-5)
Pacific Standard Time (UTC-8) – Vancouver
Central Standard Time (UTC-6) – Winnipeg
Atlantic Standard Time (UTC-4) – Blanc-Sablon
Mountain Standard Time (UTC-7) – Edmonton
Newfoundland Standard Time (UTC- 2:30) – St. John’s
For a more detailed list of Canada’s time zones, click here.
All visitors need proper identification such as a passport to enter Canada. The following travelers need an Electronic Travel Authorization (ETA) to board their flight to Canada, however, these travelers do not need an ETA if entering by land or sea (for instance, driving from the U.S. or coming by bus, train, or cruise ship).
Visa-exempt travelers include:
- Great Britain
- United States
Visa-required travelers include:
- Dominican Republic
- South Africa
(For full lists and details, click here).
Canada has more than 500 airports, about half of which have scheduled commercial flights and the other half are relatively small.
Here are the four biggest international airports in Canada that have easily accessible transportation to and from one’s desired location. (Uber and Lyft are also available to and from airports).
- Toronto Pearson International Airport: Being the only designated international airport serving Toronto and its surrounding region, Toronto Pearson is the biggest airport in Canada by aircraft movements and passengers. With this said, however, this airport is relatively easy to navigate.
- Vancouver International Airport: Located in Richmond, British Columbia, Vancouver International Airport is the second busiest airport in Canada. This airport is very open and spacious, making for a less stressful flight.
- Montréal-Trudeau International Airport: Located in Dorval, Quebec, Montréal-Trudeau is the biggest airport in the Quebec province and is just a 20-minute drive from the Montréal City Centre.
- Calgary International Airport: This international airport is at the center of Calgary, Alberta, and has a great variety of restaurants, shops, and cafes.
If you are visiting more remote regions (Northern British Columbia, Yukon, etc.) these areas often have smaller, regional airlines only.
Public transit is available in most major cities and suburbs. Rideshare options like Uber and Lyft are typically much cheaper than buses or taxis, especially in cities like Toronto, Montréal, or Vancouver.
Canada is one of the best places to explore by car. If you decide to plan a road trip, be generous with driving times in your itinerary, as the distances are long and there are plenty of scenic stops along the way. Car rental prices vary by season and demand, so we recommend comparing prices on car rental sites. Renting an RV or campervan is also a fun mode of transportation if you are planning a camping trip with some friends or family.
If you are not interested in renting a car, regional buses are the way to go as they connect much of Canada’s towns and cities and are the cheapest and most practical way of transport between provinces.
Greyhound is the biggest bus operator in Canada, with routes in nearly every territory and province. STA Travel offers a hop-on-hop-off bus service and provides great flexibility at a reduced cost. Megabus is another service known for its low prices but can be unreliable are arrival and departure times are not always consistent.
Canada’s railway has one of the most amazing and impressive train routes worldwide, as tourist and commuter routes are mainly operated by VIA Rail. This offers glass roofs with full visibility to Canada’s spectacular wildlife, forests, and mountains.
Canada is known to be one of the safest destinations in the world as crime rates are low, and police are quick to respond and easy to contact. With this said, common sense is an important part of your personal safety while traveling, regardless of where you are. This includes protecting your valuables, not leaving your personal belongings unattended, and having the contact information of your nearest embassy or consulate handy in case you have an emergency that requires their intervention.
Canada is beautiful year-round and ultimately planning a trip here should be based on what you want to see as each season has its own unique foods, adventures, and festivals.
- Fall (September – November): Fall is definitely one of the best times to go as this season is famous for the spectacular leaf color changes that occur as the temperatures begin to drop. You may even see a polar bear! Temperatures range from 30 – 66 degrees Fahrenheit, so pack layers for those slightly chillier days.
- Winter (November – February): Winter in Canada is really cold, but the landscapes of mountains, rivers, and forests covered in snow are breathtaking. The west coast tends to have milder, rainier winters, and winter temperatures can get as low as -40 degrees Fahrenheit, so if you go during this time, bundle up and bring a heavy winter coat and some nice wool socks.
- Spring (March – June): Spring is bloom time and often has far less tourists. Spring brings a lot of rain but also allows for the spotting of Canada’s 10,000-year-old glaciers and Vancouver’s Cherry Blossom Festival. Temperatures range from 50-66 degrees Fahrenheit (10-19 degrees Celsius). Spring can have its cold days so bring a heavier jacket or layers just in case.
- Summer (June – September): Summer highlights include great wildlife spotting while camping or hiking, kayaking, canoeing, and music, art, and food festivals. Temperatures range from 70-80 degrees Fahrenheit (20 – 27 degrees Celsius) in some regions. While humidity is at its peak in summer, it’s still very comfortable.
English is the most commonly spoken language in Canada. French, the country’s other official language, is the second-most commonly spoken language in Canada – specifically Quebec. Most French Canadians speak and understand English but prefer to use French. Mandarin, Cantonese, and Punjabi are three other common languages popular throughout various towns and cities.
In general, Canadians take etiquette more seriously than Americans. Here are a few tips:
- Greeting and Meeting: Shake hands and introduce yourself when meeting a Canadian for the first time. It is considered extremely rude to not shake hands with someone after they extend their hand to you. Maintain eye contact and use last names and appropriate titles until your Canadian colleague or host invites you to use their first names. Kissing on the cheeks in the French manner is also common.
- Body Language: Maintaining a certain amount of personal space is important. Take off your hat or sunglasses while talking with someone. Do not sit with your legs apart or with your feet propped up on tables or chairs, and it is considered inappropriate to speak with your hands in your pocket.
- Gestures to avoid include thumbs down, middle finger raised, elbows on the table while eating, pointing or staring at strangers, and yawning.
- Dining and Food: Before-dinner drinks include Pernod, champagne, and vermouth. The host normally offers a toast before drinking so wait until everyone is served and a toast is proposed to take a sip. Eating while walking or standing on the streets is considered bad form.
- Gift-Giving: Giving gifts is rare in Canada unless the person in question has done some favor or you are a guest at someone’s home. Bring local flowers, bread, or perhaps a bottle of wine.
- Time: Punctuality is important and lateness of more than 15 minutes is considered rude.
- Conversation taboos include religion, sex, and politics. These topics are rarely discussed openly in public and depending on the circumstances should not be brought up.
Canada uses their own currency, the Canadian dollar (CAD). ATMs can be found throughout the towns and cities, and credit cards can be used as well, however, cash is preferred at local venues.
Tipping: When dining at any “sit-down” restaurant, it is expected to tip extra money to your waiter/waitress at the end of the meal. The bare minimum expected is 15% of the total price of the bill, but over-tipping in the case of exceptionally good service is common. Not tipping the waitstaff is considered rude and will be noticed. Taxi and delivery drivers, bellhops, hairdressers, tour guides, and house staff expect tips as well.
(* In general, Canadian tipping etiquette is fairly the same as that of the United States as American tipping manuals are often used for reference in Canada).
There are two plugs used in Canada – types A and B. Plug type A has two flat parallel pins. Plug type B has two flat parallel pins and grounding pins.
Voltage: Canada operates on a 120 voltage and 60 Hz. (*For reference, this is the same as in the United States).
Plugs A and B look like this:
Canada is one of the more environmentally friendly countries in the world. The country does face air and water pollution, rising temperatures from climate change, and road salt pollution, so it is always important to be aware of the environment and be as eco-friendly as possible while traveling. Check out this list of eco-friendly hotels in Canada here.
Water taken from the tap is generally safe to drink in Canada, however, we recommend filtering the water if possible or just sticking to bottled water depending on where you are.
Wi-Fi is available in most public places throughout cities and towns. The majority of the shops, hotels, cafes, and museums will have internet, but it may not always be free or reliable. If you are traveling to or through rural areas, plan ahead if you need access to the internet as Wi-Fi may not be available. Purchasing a SIM card is not necessary.
Uber and Lyft are available, but if you are outside a major city or traveling through a rural area, you might want to consider getting a rental car because rideshare options may be scarce.
Although same-sex marriage was made legal throughout Canada in 2005, depending on where in Canada you are (there are more conservative regions than others), same-sex partners and public displays of affection (PDA) are looked down upon. Forms of PDA like passionately kissing, hugging, or cuddling is a debated topic in Canada as some find the displays easy to ignore while in areas, it is considered inappropriate.
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The Proto-Mongolian are North America’s first settlers followed by the Inuit and Icelandic Vikings, who establish coastal settlements in Newfoundland and Labrador.
John Cabot arrives on Canada’s east coast, claiming the land for England.
Explorer Jacques Cartier is one of the first Europeans to enter the Gulf of the St. Lawrence River. The name ‘Canada’ appears on the 1547 Harleian world map indicating land north of St. Lawrence.
Samuel de Champlain finds Québec, which becomes a fortified trading post across the country. Paul de Chomedey de Maisonneuve finds Ville-Marie, the future city of Montréal. Hudson’s Bay Company, the world’s largest fur trading company, is founded, and a fur trade rivalry between the French, Dutch, and English begins.
The Seven Year’s War begins. The Treaty of Paris is signed, in which France formally cedes Canada to the British.
The British North America Act was passed, which joined the colonies of Canada, Nova Scotia, and New Brunswick in one federal union.
The Klondike Gold Rush begins when gold is discovered on Bonanza Creek and at least 100,000 people rush to the goldfields
The Winnipeg General Strike, the largest strike in Canadian history, occurs, with more than 30,000 workers leaving their jobs. Although the strike does not immediately improve job conditions, it unites Canada’s working class.
The Co-operative Commonwealth Federation (CCF) is founded, which was the first major democratic socialist movement in Canada.
The British House of Commons approves the Canadian Bill of Rights. Although it does not bind the provinces, it obliges the federal government to guarantee and protect civil rights and freedoms to all Canadians.
A new national flag of Canada is adopted. The new flag, with its red maple leaf and sides, was officially raised and flew in 1965.
The Canada Act of 1982 is passed, which ended British legislative jurisdiction over Canada.
Canada introduces and legalizes liberal social policies. Medical marijuana is legalized in 2001, and by 2005, the whole country legalizes gay marriage, becoming one of four nations to do so at this time.
The 2010 Winter Olympics (XXI) are held in Vancouver.
Canada is ranked as one of the most eco-friendly and sustainable countries in the world, with over 40 national parks, and many policies geared towards reducing greenhouse gas emissions.