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Holidays in Canada

Understanding Canada

Canada is a land of vast distances and rich natural beauty Economically and technologically, it resembles its neighbour to the south, the United States, although there are significant differences between the two countries Canada became a self-governing dominion in 1867 by an act of the British parliament, and is a member of the Commonwealth of Nations By 1931 it was more or less fully independent of the UK Though a medium sized country by its population, Canada has earned respect on the international stage for its strong diplomatic skills as a kind of "Switzerland of North America", while certainly not as neutral in its international alignment Domestically, the country has displayed success in negotiating compromises amongst its own culturally and linguistically varied population, a difficult task considering that language, culture, and even history can vary significantly throughout the country In contrast to the United States' traditional image of itself as a melting pot, now also falling out of use, Canada prefers to consider and define itself a mosaic of cultures and peoples Canadians are used to living and interacting with people of different ethnic backgrounds on a daily basis and will usually be quite friendly and understanding if approached in public You will never look out of place or feel like an unusual sight while traveling Canada, although this will be less so in rural areas such as the Saskatchewan countryside Canada is very much a multi-cultural nation and Toronto may very well be the most multi-cultural city on the planet! The information below will get you started, but be sure to check the specifics for given regions and cities

Time zones

The Canadian Sir Sandford Fleming first proposed time zones for the entire world in 1876, and Canada, being a continental country is covered coast to coast with multiple zones Quebec uses the 24-hour clock system

  • GMT-8 Pacific Time Yukon, British Columbia
  • GMT-7 Mountain Time Alberta, Northwest Territories, Nunavut
  • GMT-6 Central Time Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Ontario
  • GMT-5 Eastern Time Ontario, Quebec
  • GMT-4 Atlantic Time Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island
  • GMT-35 Newfoundland Time Newfoundland and Labrador


Canada's official measurement is metric, however many people except already fully metrified francophone Quebec, especially those 40 and over, will still use the imperial system for many things One of the most common holdovers from the imperial system is the use of feet and inches for measurement of distances and heights, and you will still hear older Canadians use the term 'mile' when referring to informal distances, and may also give temperatures in fahrenheit All weather forcasts will be in °C

Trying to distill the climate of Canada into an easy-to-understand statement is impossible, given the vast area that this country occupies Much of southern Ontario has a climate similar to the northeastern United States On the other hand, Iqaluit, the capital of Nunavut, is just south of the Arctic Circle and remains very cold for most of the year

However, as most of the Canadian population resides within a few hundred kilometers of Canada's border with the United States Edmonton and Calgary being the only major cities that aren't, visitors to most cities will most likely not have to endure the weather that accompanies a trip to the northern territories In fact, summers can be hot in parts of Canada Summer temperatures over 35°C 95°F are not unusual in extreme Southern Ontario and the southern Interior of British Columbia, with Osoyoos being the hot spot of Canada Toronto's climate is only slightly cooler than many cities in the northeastern United States, and summers in the southern parts of Ontario and Quebec are often hot and humid In the BC British Columbian Interior, Alberta and Saskatchewan, the humidity is often low during the summer, even during hot weather In the winter, Southern Ontario is only slightly cooler than the northeastern United States, but temperatures under -20°C 14°F are not uncommon

The climate in Canada also depends on how close to the coast you travel Many inland cities, especially those in the Prairies, experience extreme changes in weather Winnipeg, Manitoba also colloquially known as 'Winterpeg' has hot summers that can easily exceed 35°C 95°F, yet experiences very cold winters where temperatures around -40°C -40°F are not uncommon The hottest temperature in Canadian ever recorded was in southern Saskatchewan, at 45°C 113°F Conversely, southern coastal cities in British Columbia are generally milder year-round and get little snow The Atlantic Provinces are usually not as mild as the Prairies and the Territories although they constantly experience temperatures below zero in the winter The Atlantic Provinces are also well known to experience many blizzards during the winter season In British Columbia, Vancouver and Victoria are temperate and get very little snow, and seldom experience temperatures below 0°C or above 27°C 32-80°F

Apart from having usually milder temperatures year-round than the interior areas of Canada, coastal areas can have very high rainfall Areas such as coastal British Columbia get some of the highest rainfall in Canada, but it can be very dry in the southern BC Interior due to the Coastal Mountains acting as a rain shadow It is also popular with the highest tourists The wind can be a big factor on the Canadian Prairies because there are wide open areas not unlike those in the Midwest states of the US, and makes for unpleasant windchills during cold weather in the winter The average temperature is typically colder in Canada than in the US and Western Europe as a whole, so bring your jacket if visiting between October and May, and early and later than this if visiting areas further north The rest of the year, in most of the country, daytime highs are generally above 15°C 60°F


In addition to most western holidays Christmas, New Year's, Good Friday, Easter, Labour Day, Canada has the following national holidays that aren't celebrated elsewhere:

  • Canada Day—July 1
  • Victoria Day—Last Monday in May before May 24
  • Thanksgiving—Second Monday in October
  • Remembrance Day—November 11


Canada is formally a constitutional Monarchy, headed by Queen Elizabeth II, represented in her absence by the Governor General Michaëlle Jean from September 27 2005 Canada is a separate Kingdom from the UK but happens to share the same person as the Sovereign; as such when that person is in Canada, or acts for as happened during the reopening of the Vimy Ridge Memorial he or she is the King or Queen of Canada, alone This method of sharing the monarch confuses many people, including Canadians, don't worry In the actual running of the country is completed by the Government of Canada, whom neither the Queen nor the Governor General attempts to influence

Government is run through the Westminster System British style parliamentary similar to the UK, Australia and New Zealand Parliament is comprised of two chambers bicameral: the Senate and the House of Commons

The Senate is made up of 105 Senators, appointed by the Governor General on the advice of the Prime Minster

There are five main parties on the country's political spectrum: the Conservative Party right of centre, the Liberal Party centrist, the New Democratic Party left of centre, the Bloc Quebecois a party that promotes separation of Quebec from Canada - rather disliked in many areas outside of Quebec, and the Green Party environmentally oriented Only the Conservatives and more often the Liberals have ever been the national government, though the NDP have governed various provinces The Bloc do not participate in provincial politics, but another separatist party, the Parti Quebecois, have governed Quebec The Greens though regularly attracting ~10% of the popular vote have yet to win a seat in parliament Compared to American politics, all of these parties are more liberal

The Conservative Party currently holds more seats than any other party in the House of Commons, and therefore forms the government However, they do not have a majority of seats which would be 50% + 1 or 155 of 308 seats, so they are what is known as a minority government This means it needs the support of at least one other party to pass legislation Since the current government is a minority government, it can be defeated in a "vote of non-confidence" in the House of Commons, which would result in a country-wide general election It is extremely rare, if not unprecedented for a minority government to last its full term of 5 years, so don't be surprised if you arrive in Canada in the midst of a general election campaign

The current Prime Minister is Stephen Harper, leader of the Conservative Party The Official Opposition is the Liberal Party, which holds the seconded highest number of seats; their leader is Michael Ignatieff, who represents part of Toronto in Parliament The last federal election was October 2008

Each province and territory also has its own legislative assembly These are also Westminster style legislatures, which elect their own Members of Provincial Parliament MPPs, also known as Members of the Legislative Assembly MLAs in some provinces Two of the three territories' legislative assemblies Nunavut and the Northwest Territories are peculiar, as they are non-partisan - no political parties are represented

Talking in Canada

English and French are the only two official languages in Canada All communications and services provided from the federal government are available in both languages Many Canadians are functionally monolingual, although some parts of the country have both English and French speakers Over a quarter of Canadians are bilingual or multilingual Many people in Montreal are at least conversationally bilingual

English is the dominant language in all regions except Québec, where French is dominant and actively promoted as the main language However, there are numerous francophone communities scattered around the country, such as:

  • the national capital region around Ottawa,
  • some parts of eastern and northern Ontario,
  • the city of Winnipeg and areas to the south,
  • many parts of the Acadian region of Atlantic Canada, scattered across Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island and the French Shores of Newfoundland

Likewise, there are anglophone communities in Québec, such as some of the western suburbs of Montreal

Canadian English uses a mixture of British and American spellings, and many British terms not usually understood in the United States like "bill" instead of "check" are widely used in Canada Certain words also follow British instead of American pronunciations

Atlantic Canada is reported to have the greatest variety of regional accents in English-speaking North America, largely as a result of the isolated nature of the fishing communities along the Atlantic coastline prior to the advent of modern telecommunications and transportation A visitor to the Atlantic provinces may have some difficulty understanding strong local accents rich in maritime slang and idiom, particularly in rural areas From Ontario westward, the accent of English Canadians is more or less the same from one region to another and is akin to that spoken by those in northern US border states

English-speaking Canadians are generally not required to take French after their first year of high school, and thus many citizens outside of Québec do not speak or use French unless closely related to someone who does, or have chosen to continue French studies out of personal or professional interest Education in many other languages are available, such as Spanish, German, Japanese, etc However, these are rarely taken and most immigrants are required to learn English or French as opposed to being able to get by speaking in their native tongue

In Québec, one can usually get by with English in the major tourist destinations, but some knowledge of French is useful for reading road signs as well as travels off the beaten path, and almost essential in many rural areas It may also be useful to know at least a few basic French phrases in the larger cities, where some attempt by travellers to communicate in French is often appreciated The French spoken in Québec and the Acadian regions differ in accent and vocabulary from European French Some Franco-Europeans have difficulty understanding Canadian French

Vancouver, Toronto and Montreal are home to large Chinese migrant populations, and Cantonese is commonly spoken in the Chinatowns in these cities

There are also dozens of aboriginal languages spoken by many Canadians of aboriginal descent In Nunavut more than half the population speaks Inuktitut, the traditional language of the Inuit

See also: French phrasebook

Buying stuff in Canada

Canada's currency is the Canadian dollar symbol: $ proper abbreviation is CAD, commonly referred to simply as a "dollar", or "buck" slang One dollar $ consists of 100 cents ¢ In the 1970s, the Canadian dollar was worth more than the US dollar, but it slipped to about 66 cents US by the mid-1990s Currency traders made jokes about the "Hudson's Bay Peso" In late 2007, with the US dollar falling against most major currencies worldwide, the Canadian dollar was briefly worth slightly more than the US Dollar again As of October 2009, it is down to about 96 US cents

Canadian coins are of 1¢ penny, 5¢ nickel, 10¢ dime, 25¢ quarter, 50¢ rarely seen/never used, $1 loonie and $2 toonie The penny, nickel, dime, and quarter match their US counterparts in size, shape, and colour, but not in metallic composition Canadian notes come in $5 blue, $10 purple, $20 green, $50 red and $100 brown denominations The $1,000 pinkish bill has not been issued since 2000 as part of the fight against money laundering and organized crime Although it remains legal tender, banks have been taking them out of circulation In addition, the $1 green/black and $2 terra-cotta bills no longer circulate but are still considered legal tender

In comparison to the United States, Canada tends to be more expensive with some things costing almost double as to what they would in the United States Be aware that Canada sells fuel gasoline, diesel, etc in liters, as opposed to gallons However, as of August 2009, many of the goods on sale in Canada have a price equivalent to that of the United States when the exchange rate is taken into account American prices have surged due to the world economic crisis, and most US products are far more expensive than they were a year ago A sweater on sale in the United States that costs US$40 will typically be valued at C$50, which is approximately the same When you factor in cross border duties and taxes, the sweater will actually be cheaper in Canada While many Canadians are under the impression that shopping south of the border is less expensive, as of late, it has been cheaper to shop in Canada Beer is much more expensive, although some of it is only available in Canada,


Bargaining is extremely rare in ordinary retail shopping in Canada and attempts to talk a retail worker down in price will result in nothing besides testing the employee's patience This is rarely a problem, as most retailers in Canada price their items fairly and do not look to extort their customers due to the highly competitive market and well-off economy For larger-ticket items, especially high-end electronics and vehicles, many employees work on commission, so bargaining is possible for these items, and sales-people may offer you a lower price than what is ticketed right from the get-go Some large retail stores will offer you a discount if you can prove to them that one of their competitors is selling the same product for a lower price However, in certain establishments such as flea markets, antique stores, farmer's markets, etc, you may be able to negotiate a lower price, although it is, again, often unnecessary to put forth the effort

Currency exchange

In all cities and towns, it is possible to convert between Canadian dollars and most major currencies at many banks In addition, most retailers in Canada will accept US currency either at par or at slightly reduced value All Canadian banks provide currency exchange at the daily market value In some areas, private exchange bureaus will give better exchange rates and lower fees than banks, so if you have time during your travels to look one up It might save you some money on the exchange both when you arrive and before you leave, because Canadian dollars may not be worth as much in your home country, particularly the coin

Private businesses are under no obligation to exchange currency at international rates Even in the most rural areas, converting between Canadian and American dollars should not pose a problem, although travelers expecting to convert other currencies at a Canadian bank may need to be patient In fact, most tourist destinations will accept American dollars as such, and are most likely to give a very good exchange rate This is particularly true of regions that rely on tourism as a cornerstone of their local economy

As Canadian Banks cash Canadian dollar travellers cheques free of charge, almost all businesses will do the same This makes travellers cheques a safe and convenient way to carry money in Canada

Many businesses across Canada accept US Currency based on their own exchange rate for general purchases Bills are taken with the current exchange rate US and Canadian coins, however, are similar in size, so they are used interchangably; it is quite common for change to be given in a mix of Canadian and US coins Almost all automatic vending machines will reject US coins

Credit cards

Credit cards are widely accepted, with Visa and MasterCard being accepted in most places, American Express somewhat less frequently and Diner's Club only in the more upscale restaurants and hotels Discover is usually accepted at places geared towards Americans such as hotels and car rental agencies Generally, using a credit card also gets you a better exchange rate since your bank will convert the currency automatically at the prevailing daily rate

Electronic banking/purchasing

The banking system is well developed, safe and technologically advanced ATM usage in Canada is very high There is a safe and widespread network of bank machines ATMs where you may be able to use your bank card to withdraw money directly from your account at home, but the fees involved can be more than for credit cards If possible, try to use chartered bank ATM machines as the fees are often cheaper than the independent ATM machines All Canadian banking institutions are members of the Interac international financial transaction network Most retailers and restaurants/bars allow purchases by ATM card through Interac, even if they do not accept major credit cards, and many Canadians rarely use cash at all, prefering electronic forms of payment Other ATM networks, including PLUS are widely supported and will be indicated on the ATM screen


No more GST rebates

Until 2007, travellers to Canada could claim back their GST on leaving the country, but this is no longer possible

Be aware that in contrast to other countries where what you see is what you pay and so called "hidden costs" are forbidden by law you will almost always pay more than the prices displayed They usually exclude sales tax and any number of very inventive extras and/or more or less mandatory tips So don't get your dollar ready when you to the cashier in a thrift shop, because he will ask you for 112

Taxes will be added on top of the displayed price at the cashier Exceptions where the displayed price includes all applicable taxes are gasoline the amount you pay is as it appears on the pump, parking fees, liquor bought from liquor stores, and medical services such as eye exams or dentistry

A Goods and Services Tax GST of 5% is applied to most items In addition to the GST, most provinces charge an additional Provincial Sales Tax PST on purchases The Atlantic Provinces of Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, and Newfoundland and Labrador have joined or "harmonized" the PST and GST In these provinces, instead of being charged two separate taxes on a purchase, consumers will see one tax called the Harmonized Sales Tax HST

While the GST and PST or HST are charged on most goods and services, some items are currently exempt from taxation While this list can vary by province and tax, some common examples are: basic groceries not prepared, prescription drugs, residential housing, medical and dental services, educational services and certain childcare services

The sales tax rates as of 2008 are:

  • Alberta - no PST, GST total only 5% total
  • British Columbia - adds 7% to the total taxable purchases plus the GST total 12% total
  • Manitoba - adds 7% to the total taxable purchases plus the GST total 12% total
  • New Brunswick - adds 13% to the total taxable purchases as the Harmonised Sales Tax HST 13% total
  • Newfoundland and Labrador - adds 13% to the total taxable purchases as the Harmonised Sales Tax HST 13% total
  • Northwest Territories - no PST, GST total only 5% total
  • Nova Scotia - adds 13% to the total taxable purchases as the Harmonised Sales Tax HST 13% total
  • Nunavut - no PST, GST total only 5% total
  • Ontario - adds 8% to the total taxable purchases plus the GST total 13% total
  • Prince Edward Island - adds 10% to the total taxable purchases plus the GST total 15% total
  • Quebec - adds 75% to the total of taxable purchases and the GST - the GST is taxed 12875% total
  • Saskatchewan - adds 5% to the total taxable purchases plus the GST total 10% total
  • Yukon - no PST, GST total only 5% total

Additional taxes have been placed on some goods such as alcohol and gasoline and vary by province; however, these taxes are often included in the displayed price of the good

Food and eating in Canada

English Canadians may be mystified if you ask where you can get Canadian food Although you will find some regional specialties, especially at the Eastern and Western edges of the country, in English Canada there isn't much food known as "Canadian" except for maple syrup, nanaimo bars chocolate-topped no-bake squares with custard or vanilla butter filling and crumb base, buttertarts tarts made with butter, sugar and eggs, beaver tails fried dough topped with icing sugar, fiddleheads curled heads of young ferns, and a few other examples They are an important, if somewhat humble, part of the Canadian culinary landscape In other respects, English Canadian cuisine is very similar to that of the northern United States Canadians may be unaware that they even have national dishes, especially in the more urbanized areas, such as Toronto, and if you ask for a beaver tail or fiddlehead, you may receive nothing but a strange look or a polite giggle That being said, there is a rising trend among Canadian chefs and restaurateurs to offer locally-produced ingredients, and most major cities have bistros which specialize in local cuisine This can even include game meat dishes such as caribou, venison, moose, grouse or wild turkey prepared in a variety of European styles

French-Canadian cuisine is distinctive and includes such specialties as tourtière, a meat pie dish that dates back to the founding of Quebec in the 1600s, cipaille meat and vegetable pie, cretons mince of pork drippings, ragoût de pattes pigs' feet stew, plorine pork pie, oreilles de Christ fried larding bacon, poutine, a dish consisting of French fries, cheese curds and gravy its popularity has spread across the country and can be found from coast to coast, croquignoles home-made doughnuts cooked in shortening, tarte à la farlouche pie made of raisins, flour and molasses, tarte au sucre sugar pie, and numerous cheeses and maple syrup products Staples include baked beans, peas and ham French-Canadian cuisine also incorporates elements of the cuisines of English-speaking North America, and, unsurprisingly, France

One peculiar tradition that you may notice in nearly every small town is the Chinese-Canadian restaurant A lot of the reason for this is the role Chinese immigration played historically in the early settlement of Canada, particularly in the building of the railroad These establishments sell the usual Chinese cuisine marketed towards North American Fast Food customers In Toronto and Vancouver, two large centres of Chinese immigration, one can find authentic Chinese cuisine that rivals that of Hong Kong and Shanghai In Toronto, visit the Chinatown area of Spadina-Dundas; if north of the city, consider a visit to the Markham area, which has recently seen an influx of newer Chinese immigrants

Montreal is well known for its Central and Eastern European Jewish specialties, including local varieties of bagels and smoked meat In the prairie provinces you can find great Ukrainian food, such as perogies, due to large amounts of Ukrainian immigrants

If you are more adventurous, in the larger cities especially, you will find a great variety of ethnic tastes from all over Europe, Asia and elsewhere You can find just about any taste and style of food in Canada, from a 20oz T-Bone with all the trimmings to Japanese sushi indeed, much of the salmon used in sushi in Japan comes from Canada Consult local travel brochures upon arrival They can be found at almost any hotel and are free at any provincial or municipal tourist information centre

Americans will find many of their types of cuisine and brands with subtle differences, and many products unique to Canada, such as brands of chocolate bars and the availability of authentic maple syrup

National franchises

You will find that many American chains have a well-established presence here

Canadian chains include:

  • Tim Hortons 25 franchises are spread across the country Started by a hockey player as a chain of doughnut shops, their coffee has become an obsession for many Canadians, and are actually starting to make inroads in the United States, particularly border states such as New York and Michigan A common joke holds that if a Tim Hortons was placed on every corner of every street, there would still be a lineup out the door Even though coffee is what they are famous for, their menu is worth considering, offering a variety of very inexpensive sandwiches, soups, bagels and baked goods Tim Hortons is so popular that visitors from other countries are often shocked and amused by the Tim Hortons franchises and coffee cups found nearly everywhere You will probably find it very hard to avoid a Tim Hortons while in Canada, however they are somewhat less prevalent in the west Order a 'double double' if you want your coffee sweet and creamy – two cream and two sugar
  • Boston Pizza 26 was founded in Edmonton, Alberta Pizza and Pasta Casual family dining BP's lounges are usually a popular local watering hole
  • Earls 27 is a chain of casual full service restaurants found only in BC, Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba although there are also two locations in the western United States Like Boston Pizza, it also opened its first restaurant in Edmonton
  • Harvey's 28 is a fast food chain, common in Ontario and found in almost every province, that features made-to-order hamburgers and other sandwiches
  • East Side Marios 29 are American Italian restaurants with a New York theme
  • Swiss Chalet 30 sit down restaurants are operated by the same company that runs Harvey's They specialize in rotisserie chicken and ribs
  • The Keg 31 steak houses, usually with tables and booths for 4-6 people Apart from the steaks they also have good salads and starters The Keg Mansion in Toronto is worth a visit
  • Kelsey's 32 provides casual family dining, very similar to Applebees or TGI Friday's in the United States
  • Lick's Homeburgers & Ice Cream 33 is a restaurant chain famous for its fresh, thick, juicy burgers, which are called "homeburgers"
  • Second Cup34 serves coffee and cakes This chain is very similar to Starbucks, in terms of atmosphere and product offerings
  • Timothy's World Coffee 35 aka Timothy's is the third-largest Canadian-owned chain of cafés, behind Tim Hortons and Second Cup
  • mmmuffins 36 is a coffee, muffin and doughnut retailer Currently owned and operated by Timothy's World Coffee Inc as an independent brand
  • Country Style 37 is a chain of coffee shops operating in Ontario, which serves donuts, soups, sandwiches, salads, and coffee
  • Coffee Time 38 is a chain of fast-serve doughnut restaurants The company claims to be the main competitor of Tim Hortons chain in the Greater Toronto Area
  • White Spot 39 offers burgers, pasta, and "west coast style" cuisine, but only in British Columbia and some locations in Alberta
  • Montana's 40 is a family oriented, outdoor wilderness themed restaurant Montana's promises hearty portions of home-style cooking and friendly, efficient service in a lodge setting
  • Lone Star Texas Grill 41, started by a Texan who played pro football with the Ottawa Roughriders, offers Tex-Mex food and now has locations in Toronto, Ottawa, Etobicoke, Kingston, Pickering, Richmond Hill, Sault St Marie, Halifax, and Moncton Lone Star is famous for fajitas served on a sizzlin' skillet and makes fresh homemade tortillas throughout the day The menu also offers other Tex-Mex classics and American favourites
  • Mary Brown's42 can be found in Alberta, Nova Scotia, Ontario and Nunavut in addition to Newfoundland, where they can be found in nearly every community Offering unique chicken and famous for its taters, it would be considered a fast-food restaurant "Mary Brown's got the best legs in town"
  • Humpty's 43 specializes in its all day breakfasts but also serves dishes for lunch and dinner as well, and is one of the few chain restaurants to feature pirogies Mostly in Alberta, but also some locations in the other 3 western provinces; many are open until after midnight, some 24 hours
  • St-Hubert 44 is a French-Canadian restaurant with a cuisine similar to that of Swiss Chalet, popular for its roasted chicken and coleslaw It has many locations throughout Quebec, and a small number of locations in Ontario and New Brunswick You can also buy their sauce mixes in some grocery stores
  • Jimmy the Greek 45 is a quick service restaurant franchise serving Greek cuisine which has 37 locations in Alberta, British Columbia and Ontario
  • La Belle Province 46 is one of the most popular fast-food restaurants in Québec, especially among teenagers and young adults They serve cheap hot-dogs, hamburgers, poutine etc
  • A&W 47 Found all over Canada; although unrelated to the American A&W, many menu items are similar if not identical It's targeted mostly to the boomer demographic, and as such has offerings of an arguably higher quality than most American chains, but prices can approach those of cheaper sit-down restaurants, with a combo meal a "trio" in Québec usually setting one back no less than $7
  • Mr Sub 48 is a submarine sandwich store chain
  • New York Fries 49 is a fast food restaurant that mainly serves french fries and hot dogs There are locations in all ten provinces throughout Canada
  • Pizza Pizza 50 is a chain of pizza restaurants mainly located in the province of Ontario Other locations operate in western Quebec, in western Canada chiefly Alberta under the name "Pizza 73", and in non-traditional locations such as university campuses and movie theatres throughout Canada It has over 500 locations, including over 150 non-traditional locations Pizza Pizza is well-known in Toronto for it's phone number, 967-11-11, which most Torontonians have memorized
  • Yogen Fruz 51 is a leading frozen yogurt chain featuring Probiotic frozen yogurt, which was founded in Canada in 1986 Yogen Fruz is a staple in malls all over Canada
  • Cora's 52 started in Quebec, and is expanding across the country Cora's serves only breakfast and lunch If you want a hearty, North American style breakfast that makes you feel that you started your day right, Cora's is the place to go
  • Reginos Pizza 53 A small but emerging pizza chain located in the Greater Toronto Area

Drinking in Canada

The drinking age in Canada varies from province to province In Alberta, Manitoba and Quebec the age is 18, while in the rest of the provinces and territories it is 19 A peculiarity of many Canadian Provinces is that liquor and beer can only be sold in licensed stores and this usually excludes supermarkets In Ontario alcoholic beverages can only be sold in licensed restaurants and bars and "Liquor Control Board" LCBO stores that are run by the Province; although you can also buy wine in some supermarkets in a special area called the "Wine Rack" Supermarkets in other Provinces generally have their own liquor store nearby Québec has the least restrictions on the sale of alcohol, and one can usually find alcohol at convenience stores depanneur, in addition to the government-owned Société des Alcools du Québec SAQ stores Alberta is the only province where alcohol sales are completely decentralized, so many supermarket chains will have separate liquor stores near the actual supermarket Prices may seem high to Americans from certain states, bringing alcohol in to Canada up to 1l of hard liquor, 15l of wine, or a 24 pack of beer, is advisable American cigarettes are also quite popular to bring in as they are not sold in Canada

Canadian adults enjoy beer and other alcoholic beverages quite often Watching sports, especially hockey, is a popular time to consume these type of drinks


Canadian mass-market beers eg, Molson's, Labatt's are generally a pale gold lager, with an alcohol content of 5% to 6% This alcohol level may be higher than popular beers in the US or Great Britain, so it pays to be careful if you're a visitor Like most mass-market beers, they are not very distinctive although Americans will notice that there are beers made by these companies that are not sold in the States, however, Canadian beer drinkers have been known to support local brewers In recent years, there's been a major increase in the number and the quality of beers from micro-breweries Although many of these beers are only available near where they are produced, it behooves you to ask at mid-scale to top-end bars for some of the local choices: they will be fresh, often non-pasteurized, and have a much wider range of styles and flavours than you would expect by looking at the mass-market product lines Many major cities have one or more brew pubs, which brew and serve their own beers, often with a full kitchen backing the bar These spots offer a great chance to sample different beers and to enjoy food selected to complement the beers


The two largest wine-producing regions in Canada are the Niagara Region in Ontario and the Okanagan in British Columbia Other wine-producing areas include the shores of Lake Erie and Prince Edward County in Ontario, and the Similkameen valley, southern Fraser River valley, southern Vancouver Island and the Gulf Islands in British Columbia There are also small scale productions of wine in southern Quebec and Nova Scotia

Ice wine, a very sweet dessert wine made from frozen grapes is a Canadian specialty, with products made by Inniskillin vinery 54 in particular found at airport duty-free stores around the world In contrast to most other wine-producing regions in the world, Canada, particularly the Niagara Region, consistently undergoes freezing in winter and has become the world's largest ice wine producer However, due to the tiny yields 5-10% compared to normal wine it's relatively expensive, with half-bottles 375 ml starting at $50 It is worth noting that Canadian Ice Wine is somewhat sweeter than German variety

Distilled spirits

Canada is famous in other countries for its distinctive rye whiskey, a beverage too common locally to be much appreciated by Canadians In addition to the plentiful selection of inexpensive blended ryes, you may find it worth exploring the premium blended and unblended ryes available at most liquor stores One of the most-recognized unblended ryes is Alberta Premium, which has been recognized as the "Canadian Whiskey of the Year" by famed whiskey writer Jim Murray

Canada also makes a small number of distinctive liqueurs One of the most well-known, and a fine beverage for winter drinking, is Yukon Jack, a whiskey-based liqueur with citrus overtones It's the Canadian equivalent of the USA's Southern Comfort, which has a similar flavour but is based on corn whiskey bourbon rather than rye

Other beverages

You can find most nonalcoholic beverages you would find in any other country Carbonated beverages referred to as "pop", "soda" and "soft drinks" in different regions are very popular Clean, safe drinking water is available from the tap in all cities and towns across Canada Bottled water is widely sold, but it is no better in quality than tap water, so you'll save a lot of money by buying a reusable water bottle and filling it up from the tap Furthermore, while tap water may contain fluoride a natural chemical that strengthens enamel, bottled water does not Tap water is actually more beneficial to drink than its bottled counterpart

A non-alcoholic drink one might drink in Canada is coffee Tim Horton's is the most ubiquitous and popular coffee shop in the country Starbucks is massively popular in Vancouver and becoming more so in other large centres such as Calgary where it is larger than Tim Hortons, and Toronto There is a Starbucks in most every city, along with local coffeeshops and national chains such as Second Cup, Timothy's, mmmuffins currently owned by Timothy's Coffees of the World but operated under original trade name, Country Style, Coffee Time Tea is available in most coffeeshops, with most shops carrying at least half dozen varieties black, green, mint, etc

Accommodation in Canada

Accommodations in Canada vary substantially in price depending on time and place In most cities and many tourist areas, expect to pay upwards of $100 or more for a good hotel room If inquiring always ask if taxes are included, because some offer it with taxes included, some not

Hotels play an integral part of Canadian history, with some of the country's most well known landmarks being hotels The Canadian Railway Hotels are a series of grand hotels that were construced in major cities Vancouver, Calgary, Edmonton, Regina, Saskatoon, Winnipeg, Windsor, Toronto, Ottawa, Montreal, Quebec, St John's and Halifax in the early 1900s Most of these are still standing and owned by corporations such as Fairmont Hotels & Resorts The Grand Railway Hotels are all four star franchises, with prices ranging from C$150-C$400 a night depending on the city and the size of the room These hotels are architecturally stunning and sumptously decorated, and in addition to being exceptional places to stay, are tourist attractions in their own right Even if you are not staying in a Grand Railway hotel, it would be more than worth it to explore the main lobby or dine at the hotel restaurant

In rural areas, motels short for "motor hotel" are small, simple hotels where you might pay as little as $40-$60 for a night's accommodation especially in the off season In many areas, a B&B bed and breakfast is a nice option These are normally people's homes with suites for guests The price - anywhere from $45 a night to $140 a night - usually includes a breakfast of some kind in the morning Try 55 for listings

Other options include cottage rentals on the lakes and in the countryside and apartment rentals in the cities Prices compare to hotels and motels and this type of lodging provides some comfort of home while you are traveling

Youth hostels are a good choice, offering lodging in shared dorms $20-$40 or private rooms $45-$80 Some useful resources are Hostelling International Canada 56, Backpackers Hostels Canada 57, SameSun Backpacker Lodges 58 and Pacific Hostel Network 59 which also covers Alaska and the Northwestern United States Most hostels in Canada meet very high standards

Some universities will rent their dormitory more commonly called "residence" or "rez" rooms in the academic off season -May- August Check university websites for more information

Finally, there is a huge number of campgrounds in Canada These range from privately owned RV parks to the publicly operated campgrounds in national and provincial parks, and are almost always well-kept and generally very beautiful

Working in Canada

Canada is generally a good place to work The minimum wage varies by province, from $850/hour in New Brunswick and $880/hour Alberta to $1025/hour in Ontario As with most of the developed world, the economy is shifting from one dominated by manufacturing to one dominated by services Thus, factory and manufacturing work is becoming scarcer every year and are highly sought, with most factories requiring a high school education or trade certificate Minimum wage jobs are becoming more common every year, however with the housing market booming there is still a fair amount of good construction jobs to be had

Hiring practices are similar to those in the US

Cities in Canada

abbotsford  acton  acton vale  airdrie  aklavik  albanel  alberton  alexandria  alfred  alliston  alma  almonte  altona  amherst  amherstburg  amos  amqui  antigonish  armstrong  arnprior  arthur  asbestos  ashcroft  assiniboia  athabasca  atikokan  attawapiskat  aylmer  ayr  bagotville  baie-comeau  baie-saint-paul  banff  barraute  barrhead  barrie  bassano  bathurst  bay roberts  beamsville  beauceville  beaupre  beausejour  beaverlodge  beaverton  bedford  belleville  beloeil  berthierville  berwick  betsiamites  biggar  black diamond  blackfalds  blairmore  blenheim  blind river  bobcaygeon  boissevain  bolton  bon accord  bonaventure  bonavista  bonnyville  botwood  bow island  bracebridge  bradford  brandon  brantford  bridgetown  bridgewater  brighton  brockville  brooks  brownsburg  buckingham  burgeo  burns lake  cabano  cache creek  caledon east  caledonia  calgary  calmar  campbellford  campbell river  campbellton  camrose  canmore  cannington  canora  cap-aux-meules  cap-chat  capreol  caraquet  carberry  carbonear  cardinal  cardston  carleton place  carlyle  carman  carnduff  caronport  carstairs  casselman  castlegar  catalina  causapscal  chandler  channel-port aux basques  chapais  chapleau  charlottetown  chase  chatham  chemainus  chesley  chester  chesterville  chilliwack  chute-aux-outardes  clairmont  claresholm  clermont  clinton  clyde river  coaldale  coaticook  cobourg  cochrane  cochrane  colborne  colchester  collingwood  contrecoeur  cookshire  corner brook  cornwall  courtenay  cowansville  crabtree  cranbrook  creemore  creston  crossfield  crystal beach  cumberland  dalhousie  dalmeny  danville  dauphin  davidson  dawson creek  deep river  deer lake  delhi  deloraine  desbiens  deseronto  devon  didsbury  digby  disraeli  dolbeau  donnacona  drayton valley  dresden  drumheller  drummondville  dryden  duncan  dunnville  durham  east angus  edmonton  edmundston  edson  eganville  elk point  elliot lake  elmira  elmvale  enderby  englehart  erin  espanola  essex  esterhazy  estevan  eston  exeter  fairview  farnham  fenelon falls  fergus  ferme-neuve  fernie  flin flon  foam lake  forest  forestville  fort erie  fort frances  fort nelson  fort saint james  fort saint john  fredericton  fruitvale  gambo  gananoque  gander  gaspe  georgetown  geraldton  gibsons  gimli  glace bay  glencoe  goderich  golden  granby  grand bank  grand bend  grand centre  grande prairie  grande-riviere  grand falls  grand forks  grand valley  gravelbourg  gravenhurst  grenfell  grimshaw  guelph  gull lake  hagersville  haileybury  haines junction  halifax  hamilton  hampton  hanna  hanover  hantsport  harbour breton  hare bay  harriston  harrow  hastings  hauterive  havelock  havre-saint-pierre  hawkesbury  hay river  hearst  hebertville  hensall  high level  high prairie  high river  hinton  hope  hornepayne  houston  hudson bay  humboldt  huntingdon  huntsville  indian head  ingersoll  inuvik  invermere  inverness  iqaluit  iroquois falls  iroquois  irricana  jasper  joliette  kamloops  kamsack  kanata  kapuskasing  kedgwick  kelowna  kelvington  kemptville  kenora  kensington  kentville  kerrobert  killam  killarney  kimberley  kincardine  kindersley  kingston  kirkland lake  kitchener  kitimat  labelle  lac-au-saumon  lac du bonnet  lachute  lac-megantic  lacolle  lacombe  ladysmith  lake cowichan  lakefield  la malbaie  lamont  langenburg  langham  lanigan  la ronge  la sarre  la tuque  laurentides  lavaltrie  leamington  leduc  les escoumins  lethbridge  lewisporte  lillooet  lindsay  liniere  listowel  little current  lively  liverpool  lloydminster  london  longlac  louisbourg  louiseville  lucan  luceville  lucknow  lumby  lumsden  lunenburg  macamic  macklin  madoc  magog  magrath  malartic  manitouwadge  maniwaki  maple creek  marathon  marieville  markdale  marmora  marystown  maskinonge  matagami  matane  mattawa  mayo  meadow lake  meaford  medicine hat  melfort  melita  melville  merritt  metabetchouan  middleton  midland  mildmay  millbrook  millet  milton  milverton  minnedosa  mitchell  moncton  montague  mont-joli  montmagny  montreal  moose factory  moose jaw  moosomin  morden  morinville  morrisburg  morris  mount forest  murdochville  nakusp  nanaimo  nanticoke  nanton  napanee  napierville  neepawa  nelson  new glasgow  new richmond  new waterford  nicolet  nipawin  normandin  norman wells  north battleford  north bay  norwich  norwood  notre-dame-du-lac  okotoks  olds  oliver  omemee  one hundred mile house  orangeville  orillia  ormstown  oromocto  oshawa  osoyoos  ottawa  outlook  owen sound  oxbow  oxford  paisley  palmerston  pangnirtung  papineauville  paris  parkhill  parksville  parrsboro  parry sound  peace river  peachland  pemberton  pembroke  penhold  penticton  perth  petawawa  peterborough  petrolia  picton  pictou  pierreville  pilot butte  pinawa  pincher creek  plaster rock  plessisville  ponoka  pont-rouge  port alberni  port-cartier  port dover  port elgin  port hardy  port hawkesbury  port hope  portneuf  port perry  port stanley  powassan  powell river  preeceville  prescott  price  prince albert  prince george  prince rupert  princeton  princeville  provost  quebec  quesnel  rawdon  raymond  red deer  redwater  regina  renfrew  revelstoke  richmond  richmond  ridgetown  rigaud  rimbey  rimouski  rivers  riviere-au-renard  riviere-du-loup  roberval  roblin  rockland  rocky mountain house  rodney  rosetown  rossland  sackville  saint-agapit  saint-alexandre  saint-ambroise  saint-andre-avellin  saint andrews  saint-anselme  saint anthony  saint-augustin  saint-cesaire  saint-denis  saint-donat-de-montcalm  sainte-adele  sainte-agathe-des-monts  sainte-anne-des-monts  sainte-claire  sainte-julienne  sainte-marie  sainte-martine  sainte-thecle  saint-fabien  saint-felicien  saint-felix-de-valois  saint-gabriel  saint-gedeon  saint-georges  saint-germain-de-grantham  saint-henri-de-levis  saint-honore  saint-hyacinthe  saint-jacques  saint-jean-de-dieu  saint-jean-port-joli  saint-jerome  saint john  saint-jovite  saint leonard  saint-marc-des-carrieres  saint marys  saint-michel-des-saints  saint-pacome  saint-pascal  saint paul  saint-pie  saint-prosper  saint quentin  saint-raphael  saint-raymond  saint-remi  saint-sauveur-des-monts  saint stephen  saint thomas  saint-tite  salaberry-de-valleyfield  salisbury  salmon arm  salmo  sarnia  saskatoon  sault sainte marie  sayabec  seaforth  sechelt  selkirk  senneterre  sept-iles  sexsmith  shaunavon  shawinigan  shawville  shediac  shelburne  shelburne  shellbrook  sherbrooke  sicamous  simcoe  sioux lookout  slave lake  smithers  smiths falls  smithville  smoky lake  sooke  sorel  souris  souris  southampton  south river  spirit river  springdale  springhill  spruce grove  stayner  steinbach  stephenville crossing  stephenville  stettler  stirling  stonewall  stony mountain  stony plain  stratford  strathroy  sturgeon falls  sudbury  summerland  summerside  sussex  sutton  swan river  swift current  sydney mines  sydney  sylvan lake  taber  tavistock  teeswater  temiscaming  terrace bay  terrace  the pas  thessalon  thetford mines  thompson  thornbury  three hills  thunder bay  thurso  tilbury  tilsonburg  timmins  tofield  torbay  toronto  tottenham  trail  trois-pistoles  trois-rivieres  truro  tuktoyaktuk  tweed  two hills  ucluelet  unity  uxbridge  valcourt  val-david  vallee-jonction  valleyview  vancouver  vanderhoof  vankleek hill  vegreville  vercheres  vermilion  vernon  victoria  victoriaville  viking  ville-marie  virden  vulcan  wabana  wadena  wainwright  walkerton  wallaceburg  warman  warwick  waterford  waterloo  waterloo  watford  watrous  wawa  wellington  wembley  westlock  west lorne  wetaskiwin  weyburn  wheatley  whitchurch-stouffville  whitecourt  whitehorse  white rock  wiarton  wilkie  williams lake  winchester  windsor  windsor  windsor  wingham  winkler  winnipeg  wolfville  woodstock  woodstock  wynyard  wyoming  yamachiche  yarmouth  yellowknife  yorkton  

What do you think about Canada?

How expensive is Canada?
(1 CAD = 0 USD)
Meal in inexpensive restaurant11.7 CAD
3-course meal in restaurant (for 2)57 CAD
McDonalds meal9.43 CAD
Local beer (0.5 draft)5.51 CAD
Foreign beer (0.33 bottle) 5.7 CAD
Cappuccino4.14 CAD
Pepsi/Coke (0.33 bottle)1.8 CAD
Water (0.33 bottle)1.59 CAD
Milk (1l)2.23 CAD
Fresh bread (500g)2.48 CAD
White Rice (1kg)4.18 CAD
Eggs (12) 3.26 CAD
Local Cheese (1kg) 11.41 CAD
Chicken Breast (1kg) 13.84 CAD
Apples (1kg) 3.5 CAD
Oranges (1kg) 3.28 CAD
Tomato (1kg) 3.89 CAD
Potato (1kg) 2.16 CAD
Lettuce (1 head) 1.72 CAD
Water (1.5l)2.24 CAD
Bottle of Wine (Mid-Range) 14.85 CAD
Domestic Beer (0.5 bottle)2.91 CAD
Foreign beer (0.33 bottle) 3.23 CAD
Cigarettes10.23 CAD
One way local bus ticket3.32 CAD
Monthly pass for bus80.5 CAD
Taxi start3.41 CAD
Taxi 1km1.72 CAD
Taxi 1hour waiting35.8 CAD
Gasoline (1 liter) 1.39 CAD
Utilities for a "normal" apartment175.08 CAD
Tennis Court Rent (1 Hour on Weekend) 18.92 CAD
Apartment (1 bedroom) Outside of Centre 748.69 CAD, your travel companion

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