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10 Things You Should Know Before Vacationing in Canada

Updated on January 5, 2018

Canada is the second largest country in the world.

Canada covers five time zones from one coast to the other..

Canada has 10 provinces and 3 territories.

Provinces: British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Ontario, Quebec and Newfoundland, Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island are the Maritime Provinces. The territories are north of the provinces: the Yukon, the Northwest Territories and Nunavut.

The capital of Canada is Ottawa, Ontario.

We celebrate Canada Day on July 1st.

Canadians speak English and/or French.

Travel Videos from Canada

Bring Your Passport

Previously the border crossing did not require much (if any) paperwork. That changed due to US government restrictions on travel. As of 2009 you do need a passport to cross the border and travel in Canada mainly because the US border will require your passport to let you back in.

Top Ten Things to Know Before Travelling in Canada

There are a lot of differences in culture and traditions and laws between Canada and the US. Most are not so noticeable in everyday life. Things like Canadian spelling won't be an issue unless you want to work in Canada or stay a lot longer than the average vacation. This top ten list are the things a tourist from the US needs to know.

Many things are the same too. We tell time the same way, the clocks in Canada tell time the same as the US. We drive on the same side of the road as you do in the US.

Read on for more:

  1. Currency - Canadian money comes in coins and bills but we have coloured money and our one dollars (loonies) are in coin. We also have the two dollar coin (toonie). Our paper money is steadily being replaced by plastic money so you will still see a mix of bills in paper and plastic.
  2. Metric System - You will manage with the old Imperial system but in Canada we use the Metric system: Mainly you will notice Celsius for temperature. (weather) and kilometres measuring distance when driving on the roads and highways.
  3. Language - Canada is bilingual. This means there are two official languages: English and French. However, we do not all speak French. English is spoken across Canada, even in Quebec and the Maritime provinces where you are most likely to hear French. In Quebec, French is the official language of the province.
  4. Politics - The main Canadian political parties are Liberal, Conservative and NDP. There are smaller parties like the Green Party but what you really need to know is Canada is not a communist country.
  5. Smoking/ Cigarettes - You can not smoke in a public area in Canada. This includes indoors at restaurants. No one will ask if you want smoking or non-smoking because it is all non-smoking. Outside you need to stand far enough from public buildings and entrances to avoid having cigarette smoke entering the premises.
  6. Littering - Canadians can get upset about littering. Sure there are some messy areas but, litterbugs are not okay in Canada. Many people will get upset with someone who litters.
  7. Shoes Off - When coming into someone's home Canadians remove their shoes at the door. Even if they say it is okay to leave your shoes on, should you ask, it really is customary to take them off. I wouldn't have known about this difference in customs but for my Mother living in the US half the year. She noticed it.
  8. Climate and Weather - Canada and the US have seasons at the same time of year. You won't need skis in July, no matter how far north you go. Canada is not the land of endless winter. Summer can be humid and hot.
  9. Wild and Natural - Canada is not one big, wilderness. True, most of the population lives in cities along the Canada/ US border. But, it does not become a vast, unpopulated wilderness once you leave the cities.
  10. Canada is Big - By land mass Canada is bigger than the US and you can not fit Canada inside of Texas, or Alaska or any other US state. You can not drive across Canada in a day. You can not even drive across most of Canada in one day, even if you take a shortcut around the Great Lakes.

What keeps you from travelling to Canada?

See results

© 2014 Laura Brown

Have you got great vacation photos from a trip to Canada?

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    • That Grrl profile image

      Laura Brown 

      4 years ago from Barrie, Ontario, Canada

      Some of the points in your survey are not true of Canada or Canadians at all.

    • Seasons Greetings profile imageAUTHOR

      Laura Brown 

      4 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      @RinchenChodron: The border crossing is much more dramatic (and usually takes a lot longer) than it used to. I wonder if it will ever go back to being simple again.

    • profile image


      4 years ago

      Great overview! I did have a passport issue when traveling in 2010 to Canada, you are right we used to just jump in the car and drive on up there with no passport. No More!


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