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Everything You Should Know About Canada

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Canada is situated in the continent of North America. If you are travelling from London, a non-stop flight would take around 8 hours 15 minutes to get to the city of Toronto. If you are coming from New York, you can either go by air or by land. If you choose to board a plane, it would take you an hour and 11 minutes to get to Toronto. And if you decide to drive, you can cover the distance of 490 miles in 7 hours and 44 minutes.

Canada is known to be the 2nd largest nation in the world, behind Russia, and the largest on the North American continent. To date, it’s estimated population is 36.95 million, with population rank of 38th in the world in 2018.

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Weather

Canada’s weather conditions vary, given the geographical area of the country. If you are along the British Columbia coastline, spring starts in February. But across the central and southern parts of the country, spring usually begins in May. Late May through September is Summer, with July and August as the hottest months.

Winter in Canada is cold and long, and can be worse at times. In some parts of the country, commonly the central provinces and plains, the daily average temps in winter are near 5°F, with daily lows near -20°F; significantly lower on occasion. In these places, snow can cover the ground almost six months of the year, while in the far-north, it not unusual for nine months of snow cover, or more.

When to go

The summer tourist season in Canada starts Mid-May to Late-June. During these months, the nature is in full bloom. This is a great time to visit Canada. Prices are reasonable as there are not a lot of tourists yet, as most travelers arrive towards the end of June. So you are still likely to find lower transportation and hotel costs.

But the ideal time to visit the country are within the months of September and October , or during Fall, as most days are cool and enjoyable. They call these months, “Indian Summer”, where the forests show its full brilliance. It is also the months where there is less tourists, fall festivals are happening and travel prices are considerably low.

Famous and emblematic elements:

Maple Leaf – The Maple Leaf is the national symbol for Canada. It began to serve as the Canadian symbol for nationality and freedom as early as the 1700s. It was in 1834 where the maple leaf was made as the emblem of the first St. Jean Baptiste Society in North America.

Tim Hortons – Tim Hortons originated in Hamilton, Canada. Its first branch was built in 1964, and became a household name ever since. It is Canada’s largest national restaurant chain. They have 2,200 stores across the country, and has several branches overseas. They are famous for the coffee and donuts.

Ice Hockey – If football is popular in the US, in Canada, it is Ice Hockey. The sport is very huge in the country, and considered as Canada’s national pastime. The first professional ice hockey league before the NHL was the Coloured Hockey League – an all-black ice hockey league which featured teams across the Maritime Provinces. Founded in Nova Scotia in 1895, it lasted until 1930.

And there are a lot greater things to Canada, these are just sneak peaks!

Where to go

Toronto – Toronto is the capital of the province of Ontario and the largest city in Canada by population. It offers top tourist attractions and a variety of entertainment options.

Some of the most famous places are:

  1. Toronto’s CN Tower – Located in Ontario, the CN Tower is considered to be one of Canada’s famous landmarks. Its height is 553 meter, making it one of the tallest structures in the world. Not only it offers a view of the city – through the Lookout and the Glass Floor – you also get to experience fine dining in 360 or the revolving restaurant.
  2. Royal Ontario Museum – Also known as ROM. Royal Ontario Museum is one of the premier museums in Canada and very popular in the international scene. It is the home of a great collection from different periods all over the world.
  3. Rogers Centre – Located adjacent to CN Tower, Rogers Centre is a domed sports arena that can accommodate thousands of spectators and a great venue for sports and concerts.
  4. Art Gallery of Ontario – An art museum located in Toronto, Ontario which houses more than 90,000 works of arts covering the first century to the present day.
  5. Casa Loma – Casa Loma, which means “Hill House” in Spanish, is a Gothic Revival style mansion and garden in Midtown Toronto. Constructed in 1911 to 1914 as a residence for Sir Henry Pellatt, Casa Loma is now a famous historic house museum and landmark.

Niagara Falls – The Niagara Falls is famous for its beauty and grandeur. Located in the border of Ontario, Canada, and New York, US, it is considered as Canada’s top tourist attraction. Its iconic scenery is what attracts millions of visitors each year. The Niagara experience is not limited to the beauty of its waterfall, as the area offers a lot of other things like food, people, museums, and parks. A must-visit destination indeed! Best months to visit: June to August

Montreal – Montreal is a municipality in Quebec, a province in Canada. It is the most populous municipality in Quebec and the second-most populous municipality in the whole of Canada.

Some of the most famous places are:

  1. Old Montreal – Old Montreal is the oldest area in Montreal municipality. One of the area’s major tourist attraction, housing buildings erected in the 17th century.
  2. Mount Royal Park – Mount Royal Park is one of Montreal’s largest greenspaces. The Park contains two architectural structures, or belvederes. One of which is the Kondiaronk Belvedere, a semicircular plaza with a Mount Royal Chalet overlooking Downtown Montreal.
  3. Basilique Notre Dame – Basilique Notre Dame is a basilica in Old Montreal. It has the Gothic Revival Style and is highly decorated. The church contains hundreds of wood carvings and religious statues.
  4. Saint Joseph’s Oratory – Saint Joseph’s Oratory is a basilica on Mount Royal in Montreal. It is Canada’s largest church and known to be one of the largest domes in the world.
  5. Botanical Garden – The Montreal Botanical Garden is a 75-hectare thematic gardens and greenhouses.

There are much more places to visit around Canada, and we can go on and on. However, we no longer have time for more cities, so:

Transport

Knowing your way in and around Canada is equally important as knowing how you move from one destination to another.

Air Transport

Given that Canada has a large size, one of the options you have if you want to visit the country’s major cities is by airplane. There are several airports in Canada from where you can book a flight – Toronto Pearson International Airport, Vancouver International Airport, Montréal-Pierre Elliott Trudeau International Airport, to name a few.

Bus

Taking a bus is the cheapest and the only way to smaller towns if you are travelling without a car. You can acquire bus tickets by calling or visiting a local bus station. Greyhound is a company that provides routes inter city, so that makes it the top choice if you decide to ride a bus for your trip.

National Trains

For long-distance travels, you can board a train. VIA Rail Canada runs the Canadian long-distance trains. This is a great way to see the whole country, especially if you will be visiting one city after another. You can book online for the tickets. You do not need to book for the whole journey, you can buy tickets in between stations.

Rapid Transit

Rapid transit is also available in Canada – three heavy rail and three light rail rapid transit systems. There is the Toronto Subway, Montreal Metro, and Vancouver SkyTrain. Light rail systems include the once in Calgary or the CTrain, Edmonton or the Edmonton LRT, and Ottawa or the O-train.

Of course, depending on the distances you are traveling, there are many ways to go around the country. But if you are to go in between cities, the most used are air transport and national trains.

Food

Canada’s food is a mix of multicultural influences – Asia, Europe, Carribean, Britain, and France. And these influences are evident in every regional cuisines in Canada, which makes their food unique in it’s own way. Some facts about Canadian Food:

  • A very popular dish in Canada is Poutine. A Canadian dish made up of French fries topped with cheese curds and gravy. It originated in rural Quebec snack bars in 1950s, and became widely popular in Canada during the 1990s. Poutine is believed to have originated from the word “Pudding” which typically describes a “messy” mixture of various foods. In Quebec, the word “Poutine” is known as a slang for mess.
  • A traditional homestyle Canadian breakfast typically includes eggs, toast, meat, and pancakes. In contrast, a continental breakfast is something that does not require much cooking, like toast, pastries, oatmeal, and juice.
  • Most Canadians typically follow an American/Western diet. They are big on processed grain and dairy products. They eat beef and chicken, cooked or fresh vegetables and fruits. Salt and sugar are parts of the recipe.
  • Canadians are known to be “bacon-lovers”. These are cured pork products that can be prepared in so many ways. They eat bacon usually during breakfast, together with eggs and French toast.
  • Butter Tarts are a big thing in Canada, and highly regarded in Canadian cuisines. It is also considered as one of Canada’s classy treat.

Money

The currency in Canada is Canadian dollar. It uses the dollar sign $, or sometimes Can$ to differentiate them from other dollar-denominated currencies.

How much will cost a trip to Canada?

Considering the size of the area and the travels you need to take in between places, Canada could be more expensive compared to other countries.

Without the cost of the fare of going to Canada, an estimate of CAD$ 1,500 can keep you going for a month of travelling in Canada. If you want to know more about this, watch our short video about it.

Tips on how to save money on the whole Canada trip:

  • Consider taking the Megabus. Megabus runs in Ontario and Quebec, with connections into the US. If you book in advance, you can find the most affordable trip between Toronto and Montreal, or even into America. You can find tickets for as low as $1.
  • When travelling within the major cities, you may use ride-sharing services like Couchsurfing, Kangaride, and Craigslist. You can tag along with groups that are travelling in your direction, and you can share the cost of the gas.
  • Try Canadian’s street food for lunch. There are a lot of street vendors selling sausages and hotdogs for as low as CAD$ 2.50.
  • Book your weekend in hotels catering to travellers. Busy days for these establishments are from Monday to Thursday. They usually lower down their rates on weekends so they can attract leisure travellers.
  • Some general tips:
  • Tipping, in general, is customary in Canada. When in restaurants, consider giving a tip at least 15-20% of the final bill. Similarly, in hotels like valet, it is a good idea to leave a tip.
  • Learn a little about Canada geography, climate, and language. Given that Canada is composed of several cities and provinces, it would be easier to travel if you have at least a little understanding of the place you are visiting.
  • When you hear someone says “Thank You”, reply with “You’re welcome”. In Canada, it is considered rude not to acknowledge a person showing appreciation.

Don’ts in Canada

  • Punctuality is highly regarded. Give importance to each other’s time. Canadians value your time just as much they value theirs. Avoid being late.
  • Refrain from eating while walking in public. It is inappropriate as viewed by the Canadians. Stop by a restaurant, or a park, or anywhere you can finish your food while seated.
  • Avoid being too familiar or being too touchy. Canadians are more reserved and polite, and really takes etiquette seriously. Observing personal space is highly important.
  • Smoking has been banned in most public areas in Canada, so avoid smoking in public areas.
  • Avoid, as much as possible, using the word “Indian”. In most places in Canada, the word is considered offensive.

Unusual things in Canada

  • Milk by the Bag – Who would drink milk in bags? Yes, you are right! Canadians do! Milk by the bags have been a practice in Canada ever since 1960s. Drinking milk in bags is actually popular in cities like Ontario, Quebec, and Maritimes.
  • Abundance of Maple syrup. Canada is known to have abundance in maple trees and maple syrup. In fact, Quebec – one of the cities in Canada, is the largest producer of maple syrup in North America. Quebec is providing 75% of the world’s maple syrup.
  • Canadians love ketchup flavored chips. They have been patronizing ketchup flavored chips for decades already.
  • Canadians followed some aspects of British spelling. For instance, Canadians use the word “zed” to describe the last letter of the alphabet. They keep the “U” in words like honour, and colour.

Overall, Canada is a great country to visit. With its rich culture and heritage, you will never be bored. But always remember, plan your trip ahead. Consider all the points you’ve learned from this video, and for sure, you will never go wrong.

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