A country that stretches from sea to sea, from the quaint fishing villages of the Maritime Provinces to the magnificent vistas of the Pacific northwest, and the unimaginable expanses of the Arctic North, Canada is a country bigger than the imagination. The Old World charm of the Gallic cities and towns of Quebec contrast with the modern-day metroplexes of Toronto and Vancouver. The great expanses of the wheat belt end in the stunning peaks and glaciers of the Canadian Rockies. Canada offers something for everyone, and its people, notorious for their tolerance and laissez faire attitude, make every journey there a friendly one.
The second largest country (in land mass) in the world after Russia, the Dominion of Canada lacks for almost nothing when it comes to appealing to travelers.
If you like Old World cities with a European vibe, Canada has them in Montreal or Quebec City. If you prefer more modern metropolises with all the present-day bells and whistles, try Canada: Toronto, Vancouver, Calgary.
Like the great outdoors, with fishing, hiking, biking, climbing, golfing, or camping? Canada is the place to go. Seasides? Canada has the lovely Eastern destinations of Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island, and Newfoundland…every bit as scenic and quaint as any New England seaport. On the Pacific Ocean side, there are Victoria Island, Vancouver and other British Columbia ports to explore. Rocky Mountains? Canada has its own brand, complete with glaciers and trumpeting herds of elk. Great Lakes? The northern shores of all of ours lap against the shore of Canada.
Although Canadians themselves hate to admit it, many parts of their country are very similar to many parts of the United States. You may be away from home, but it doesn’t often feel like it.
No question that the biggest difference between the two North American neighbors is the Canadian people themselves. Though they are every bit as diverse as the U.S.A. in race, creed, color and national origins, most Canadians seem to have been blessed at birth with the “nice” gene. Active, easy-going, pleasant, relaxed and even-tempered, Canadians are almost universally welcoming.
Americans tend to take their northern neighbors for granted. Big mistake. It’s a country big enough for a lifetime of exploration and filled with experiences and adventures of every kind.
English and French are the official languages of Canada. Road signs and official material contain both languages throughout the country. French is used as the everyday spoken language mostly in Quebec Province, but most people there also speak and understand English as well. Indigenous tongues are found in the northern provinces.
The currency in Canada is the Canadian dollar. It currently exchanges at CAN$1.00 = US$0.78. Canadian bills are denominated in $5, $10, $20, $50 and $100 bills, and $1 coins, known popularly as “the loonie” after the image of a loon engraved on one side.
The electrical current is the same as in the United States: 120v, 60Hz, AC.
Internet connections and WiFi spots are found throughout the country. Most major hotels provide good accessibility.
Residents of the United States do not require a visa to enter Canada. A valid passport is required. Citizens of other countries may usually obtain an Electronic Travel Authorization to fly to or transit through Canada. Citizens of other nations may require a visa to enter the country. For information, see http://www.cic.gc.ca/english/visit/index.asp.
Tap water is considered safe for drinking, cooking and washing throughout Canada.
Canada has six time zones: (east to west) Newfoundland Time Zone, Atlantic Time Zone, Eastern Time, Central Time Zone, Mountain Time Zone, and the Pacific Time Zone.
Canada’s seasons parallel those of the United States. Summer is generally considered the high tourism season, although ski areas in the Canadian Rockies and Pacific Northwest and the Laurentians in Quebec host the bulk of their visitors in the winter.