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is bound in the west by the Pacific Ocean and Alaska, to the east by the Atlantic
Ocean, to the north by the polar ice cap, and in the south by the United States
It is a country renowned for its stunningly beautiful scenery
and love of the outdoors. Even the cities have been carefully
designed to preserve metropolitan green belts and parklands,
ensuring that Canadians are never far from their natural
heritage. The country has a French and British colonial heritage,
which is reflected in its cuisine, culture and customs, mixed
in with the legacy of the country's own enigmatic aboriginal
First Nations history.
In the south the Rocky Mountains intrude into Canada across
the border with the United States, separating Canada's two
main tourist provinces, British Columbia and Alberta. The
mountains abound with winter sports resorts. Throughout the
nation the most popular venues for outdoor pursuits, year
round, are the country's huge national parks. There are more
than 41 of these, one of them, Wood Buffalo National Park
in Alberta, being larger than the country of Switzerland.
Canadian national parks are unique in that they have cities
and towns inside the protected areas, which provide comfortable
bases for exploring the natural and manmade attractions of
Time: Canada covers six time zones, from GMT 8 in the west
to GMT -3.5 in the east.
Electricity: Electrical current is 110 volts, 60Hz. American
style flat two-pin plugs and one with a third round grounding
pin are standard.
Money: The currency used is the Canadian Dollar (CAD), which
is divided into 100 cents. One-dollar coins are also known
as loonies (due to the picture of a loon, a type of bird, on
the coin), and two-dollar coins as toonies. Banks and bureaux
de change will change money and travellers cheques, as will
some hotels, but the rate will not be as good. Major credit
cards are widely accepted and ATMs are plentiful. US Dollars
are largely accepted, though due to fraud, larger notes might
not be and change is usually given in Canadian dollars.
Language: The official languages are English and French (predominantly
Health: No vaccinations are necessary for travel to
Canada. The West Nile virus, spread by mosquitoes breeding
in stagnant water, poses a threat during summer months in rural
areas, so insect-repellent measures are advised for those visiting
the countryside particularly in Saskatchewan, Alberta, Ontario,
Manitoba, and Quebec. Rabies is a problem and can be spread
by a bite from small animals such as racoons and bats. Medical
care is excellent, but expensive, so medical insurance is advised.
Tipping: There is no service charge added to restaurant bills
in Canada and staff expect a tip of around 15%. Hairdressers
and taxi drivers are also usually tipped at the same rate,
while bellhops, doormen, porters and similar service providers
at hotels, airports and stations are generally paid $1 per
item of luggage carried. Tour guides and bus drivers generally
receive $3-$5 per day.
Information: Most visits to Canada are trouble-free.
The country is politically stable, but does share the common
international risk of terrorism. There have been no recent
terrorism events. The crime rate is low, but travellers are
advised to take sensible precautions to safeguard their belongings
as they would anywhere. Canada is prone to tornadoes between
May and September.
Customs: Smoking bans have been implemented in Canada
in enclosed public places such as restaurants, bars and shopping
Business: Vancouver, Toronto, Calgary and Montreal are the
main business centres. English is the language of business
except in French-speaking Quebec, where all written material
and business cards should be in French as a result. Business
cards are not traditionally exchanged during an initial meeting,
but at some appropriate time thereafter; it is best to wait
for the host to offer theirs first. A firm handshake is used
by way of greeting, and meetings begin on time so punctuality
is taken seriously, as is appearance, which should be conservative
and smart; business suits are the norm. Gifts can be given
in conclusion to celebrate a deal, but should be understated;
taking someone out for a meal is a popular way to conclude
business dealings. Hours of business are usually 9am to 5pm
Monday to Friday.
Communications: The international access code for Canada is
+1. The outgoing code is 011 followed by the relevant country
code (e.g. 01144 for the United Kingdom); the outgoing code
is not necessary for calls to the US and the Caribbean. The
area code for Ottawa is (1)613, and (1)416 for Toronto. Internet
cafes are widely available. Most international mobile phone
companies have roaming agreements with Canadian operators,
however it may be cheaper to buy a pay-as-you-go SIM card if
visiting the country for long periods.
Free: Travellers to Canada are allowed to enter the country
with the following items without incurring custom duties: gifts
to the value of C$60 per recipient (excluding advertising material,
tobacco and alcoholic beverages); 200 cigarettes, 50 cigars
or cigarillos and 200g of tobacco or 200 tobacco sticks; 1.14
litres of liquor or wine or 24 x 355ml bottles or cans of beer
or ale. There are strict regulations governing the import of
the following: explosives, endangered animal and plant species,
items of heritage, fresh foodstuffs and weapons. The plant
Qhat (Khat) is illegal in Canada and prison sentences are heavy.
USA Entry Requirements
requirements for Americans: US travellers should
have a valid passport if departing
from the USA, otherwise a government-issued photo
ID, such as a driver's license, as well as proof of
such as a birth certificate, is recommended or
a Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative (WHTI) compliant
A visa is not required for a stay of up to six
requirements for UK nationals: UK nationals
must have a passport valid for the period of intended
stay. A visa is not required for passports endorsed
British Citizen, British Citizen (Overseas), British
Overseas Territories Citizen and British National (Overseas).
Other British passport holders are advised to check
on visa requirements for entry to Canada. Visa exemption
is for a stay of up to six months.
requirements for Australians: Australians must
hold passports valid for period of intended stay. A
visa is not required for a stay of up to six months.
requirements for South Africans: South African
nationals must be in possession of a passport valid
for the period of intended stay. A visa is required.
requirements for New Zealanders: New Zealanders
require a passport valid for the period of the intended
stay. No visa is necessary for stays of up to six months.
requirements for Irish nationals: Irish nationals
must hold a passport valid for the period of intended
stay. A visa is not required for stays of up to six
Note:All visitors must hold a valid passport. Visitors
are recommended to hold onward or return tickets, all documents
needed for the next destination and sufficient funds to cover
the period of intended stay. As part of the Western Hemisphere
Travel Initiative (WHTI), all travellers travelling between
the United States and Canada, Mexico, Bermuda, and the Caribbean
region are required to present a passport or other valid
travel document to enter or re-enter the United States. If
departing from the USA a valid passport will be required
by immigration authorities.
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an abundance of things to see and do within its vast borders.
After all, few countries are blessed with such
a rich endowment of natural splendour and astounding physical
attractions. Complementing these are world-class cities such
as the west coast gem of Vancouver, vibrant metropolis of Toronto,
and elegant Montreal.
Park - Pride of Vancouver’s network of parks and
gardens, Stanley Park, covering 1,000 acres (405 hectares),
is one of the largest parks in any urban centre
in North America.
- Gastown -
The fascinating little historic enclave of Gastown, in the
central core area of Vancouver alongside Chinatown, transports
visitors back in time to envision the city in days of old,
with its cobbled streets, antique gaslights, Victorian
architecture and maze of narrow alleys, courtyards and passages
hide boutiques and restaurants.
Tower - Standing 1,815ft (553m) high, Toronoto’s landmark CN
Tower is the world’s tallest building, a celebrated
icon, an important telecommunications hub and the centre
Falls - Straddling the Canadian-United
States border and sited between the province of Ontario
and the US state
of New York, the awesome
Niagara Falls attracts about 12 million tourists a year.
of Fine Arts - During the past 140 years the Montreal
Museum of Fine Arts has assembled one of North America's
finest encyclopaedic collections,
totalling more than 30,000 objects.
National Park Reserve - Centred on the river valleys in the southwest
of the Northwest Territories, and accessible
only by air, is the 1,840 square
mile (4,766 sq km) Nahanni National Park, an outstanding
example of northern wilderness with rivers, canyons, gorges
Columbia Parliament Buildings -
Built in 1893, the British Columbia Government Parliament
Buildings were initially criticised as an unnecessary expense,
now form a major tourist attraction in Victoria, as well
as serving as the legislative centre for the province.
Gables House - Nestled in the Prince Edward Island National
Park in Cavendish
is the charming and picturesque Green Gables House that,
in the early 1900s, inspired author Lucy Maude Montgomery
to create her much-loved story about a precocious red-headed
orphan Anne Shirley, entitled Anne of Green Gables.
- Jasper - Affectionately known as the 'little town in the big park',
Jasper lies in the middle of Canada's largest mountain
park, the Jasper National Park, and makes a delightful base
which to explore the lakes and mountains. The town is 233
miles (373km) from Edmonton and lies among pristine wilderness,
surrounded by a necklace of green lakes and majestic waterfalls.
Besides exploring the surrounding premiere national park
there are one or two attractions in the town itself.
Islands - Tucked in the Strait of Georgia, in between Vancouver
and the mainland, are the picturesque Gulf Islands. More
than a dozen of these long, thin islands, and numerous
islets, can be found on Canada's West Coast and each island
own character and beauty, making them well worth a visit.
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Events in Canada
For ten exciting days each July the Wild West wins the day
in Calgary when the city comes alive with a celebration of
true western hospitality and rousing fun.
Jazz Festival -
Montreal's annual jazz festival is one of the best in the world,
just celebrating its 25th anniversary. Superstars of jazz,
like Oscar Peterson, feature on the programme, which offers
more than 400 concerts over about 10 days each summer.
F1 Grand Prix - For more than a quarter of a century the world's top
racing drivers have been meeting at the demanding Gilles-Villeneuve
Circuit to battle out an important race in the Formula One
of Lights -
Toronto's festive season officially kicks off at the end of
November each year with the brilliant illumination of Nathan
Phillips Square with more than 100,000 lights, spectacular
fireworks and a massive Christmas tree, heralding a month
of merry-making and fun events in the city centre.
International Jazz Festival -
As one of the biggest musical celebrations in the world, the
International Jazz Festival is the most popular cultural
event in Vancouver, with performances by more than 1,000
blues and jazz artists from around the world.
Lantern Festival -
Basking hippos, floating fish, dragons and fairies come alive
at the annual Illuminares Lantern Festival at the picturesque
Trout Lake Park in Vancouver.
Winter Carnival -
The world's largest winter carnival was first held in 1894,
when French colonists started holding a rowdy get-together
before Lent to eat, drink and be merry.
The Vancouver Pride Week is a colourful, vibrant affair, celebrating
the city's Gay, Lesbian, Bi-sexual and Transgender (GLBT)
community and its many supporters in a variety of shows,
festivals, parties and the ever-popular Pride Parade. Each
year, a special team comes up with a theme and specific image
for the Pride Week, and in recent years, the focus has been
on issues and battles faced by the GLBT community, but in
a more celebratory than political manner.
International Film Festival -
Toronto's famous film festival is the largest film festival
open to the general public. Unlike Sundance and Cannes which
see a number of independent features and world cinema, the
Toronto International Film Festival has the glamour of Hollywood
coated all over it, and is considered by many filmmakers
and studio bosses to be a successful launching platform to
begin the crazy award season that eventually climaxes with
the Academy Awards in March.
WinterCity festival offers a two-week, city-wide celebration
of Toronto's incomparable diversity of spirit, including
delicious culinary experiences, live bands, skating parties
and activities throughout the city.
a large country, Canada's climate varies depending on which
area one visits. It also has very distinct seasons.
The warmest months are July and August, and in winter (December,
January and February) it is very cold with heavy snowfalls
in most provinces. Autumn is a beautiful season with crisp
air and brilliant fall foliage, while in some areas spring
brings the emergence of carpets of wild flowers.
Canada is a vast country and therefore the climate
is varied according to region. In general though Canada has
four very marked seasons, with a big extreme of temperatures
between winter and summer. The hottest months are July and
August, when shirtsleeves are the order of the day, while in
the depths of winter, December, January and February, it can
be bitterly cold with blanketing snowfalls. Autumn is a lovely
time to travel to Canada, the country-side decked in colourful
leaves, the lakes sparkling in the crisp air. Springtime in
Canada is also magnificent as the snow melts away revealing
new blooms and carpets of wild flowers.
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Provinces of Canada
Canada Driving Information
licences are very frequently used as means of identify (ID)
in various contexts in the USA and Canada, for example when
checking into a motel or when using a traveller's cheque. They
are almost universally required to be shown if you are stopped
by the police while driving.
An international permit is required if your licence is not
readable to Canadians (i.e. not in English or French). If your
licence clearly states the class of your licence, birth date,
expiry date and conditions of your licence, you may use it
in Canada for up to six months. An international driving permit
may be used for up to one year as long as you do not set up
residency in Canada.
- In contrast to the other Commonwealth countries,
Canadians drive on the right-hand side.
- Seatbelt-wearing is compulsory throughout the country.
- Each province enforces a point system whereby certain
driving offences result in the loss of a specified amount
of points from a base amount.
- Speeding is a big problem in Canada where impatient
drivers take advantage of the wide, open roads. There have
been numerous graphic advertising campaigns
launched as an attempt to point out the tragic results of speeding. Nevertheless,
it continues to happen and there are stiff fines for those who are caught.
If you are used to the imperial system, it might take some time to get used
metric system employed in Canada. Don't make the mistake of interpreting
a sign that says `90' to mean 90 mph! The speed limit on
highways is usually
(60 mph) and in cities and towns it is usually 50 km/h (30 mph) or less.
- Unlike in some countries, where at unmarked crossways
pedestrians run hurriedly to get out of a car's way, Canadians
take their time crossing a road. It's
not because they're trying to provoke you; it's because pedestrians have
- Most U.S. safety precautions apply. Seat belts and
child safety seats are required by law.
- Canada requires
daytime running lights. Turn your headlights on whenever
you hit the road, regardless of the time of day.
no right turn on red in some locations, notably Montreal
and Quebec City.
- DWI offenses are severe in Canada, and
the country takes offenders seriously. If you have a DWI
record in the U.S.,
you will need to apply for a special waiver to enter Canada.
The process takes a few weeks, so contact your nearest Canadian
consulate and plan ahead.
If you break down or get into a traffic accident, remember
your U.S. insurance and motor-club memberships. Call the
local authorities, your insurance providers, or, in the event
of a serious accident, your nearest U.S. consulate. 911 works
for emergency assistance as well, just like in the States.
Take special caution if you travel Highway 401 between Detroit
and Montreal. This is one of the busier thoroughfares on
the continent, and it's subject to rapid changes in weather.
Add all of the commercial traffic, and you can see why the
401 has been subject to some horrific accidents in the recent
Fuel types available in Canada
- Unleaded Petroleum (gasoline)
- Check carefully before filling whether your rental
car uses petrol or diesel. If you make a mistake do not
start the vehicle as severe damage may result
and you will be liable for repair costs. Inform service station staff
who will assist in arranging for the tank to be drained
and refilled with the correct
- Gas stations are generally open 24 hours a day and most
are self-service. Times vary particularly in rural areas.