- Canada is the second largest country in the world.
- Canada and the United States share the longest undefended border in the world.
- Canada has 10 provinces: Alberta , British Columbia , Manitoba , Newfoundland , Nova Scotia , Ontario , Prince Edward Island , Saskatchewan and Québec.
- Canada has 3 territories: Northwest Territories , Nunavut and Yukon .
- Canada has 6 time zones.
- Western Canada is recognized as the best place in the world for salmon fishing.
- Newfoundland has the largest concentration of moose in North America .
- The CN Tower in Toronto was the tallest free-standing structure in the world for 31 years. On September 12, 2007 the CN Tower was surpassed in height by Burj Khalifa.
- The historic district of Québec City is the remnant of the only walled city north of Mexico .
- Montréal is the second largest French speaking city in the world after Paris .
- Wearing seat belts is compulsory for the driver and passengers, except in Yukon and in the Northwest Territories .
- The legal age for drinking is 19 in all provinces and territories except Alberta , Manitoba and Quebec where it is 18.
- Your appliances will need a converter and an adapter.
- You can drink tap water anywhere in Canada .
- The emergency number is “ 911” . Otherwise, you can also dial "0".
- A valid passport is required to enter Canada . Depending on your citizenship, a visa may also be required.
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-A.D. 986: Bjarni Herjolfsson, while sailing from Iceland , misses Greenland and is believed to be the first European to view the Canadian coast.
-1000: Leif Ericsson is leading an expedition to Vinland and settles on the site of what is now L'Anse aux Meadows in Newfoundland.
-At the time of the first contacts with explorers and European fishermen, in late fifteenth century, Canada 's Aboriginal peoples were scattered in the six major regions of the northern continent. The origins of Aboriginal Canadians are still a mystery and theories abound. Until recently, most experts thought that the first men arrived in America some 12 000 years ago, but recent archaeological discoveries tend to indicate that the first migrations rather took place more than 40 000 years ago. Coming from Siberia, they would have crossed the Bering Strait , then frozen, and populated the entire American continent. The different groups spoke more than 50 languages. It's not easy to precisely determine how many they were in Canada before the Europeans arrived. Historians generally estimate their number to less than 300 000 (while they were about 1.7 million on the current territory of the United States ).
-In the fifteenth century, a wave of European explorers, sailing in search of the Moluccas and Asia, landed on North America 's coasts.
-1497: John Cabot, sailing for England 's Henry VII, discovers the east coast of Canada and its rich fishing grounds.
-1534: Jacques Cartier lands in Gaspé and claims it in the name of François 1st, King of France.
-1535: Jacques Cartier sails up the St. Lawrence River and reaches Hochelaga, the current site of Montréal. He then called the vast territory he has discovered Canada , from the Iroquoian word Kanata (settlement).
-1608: Samuel de Champlain founds the settlement of Québec and begins an 8 year exploration of the interior of this vast new country, reaching Georgian Bay .
-1610: Henry Hudson discovers Hudson 's Bay.
-1642: Ville-Marie, now Montréal, is founded by the Sieur de Maisonneuve.
-1666: Jean Talon, New France's first business manager arrives in Québec City and conducts a census. 3215 Europeans were then living there.
-1670: Prince Rupert founds the Hudson Bay Company which is given title over the vast Hudson Bay watershed. The company, which still exists today, has always been intimately intertwined with the history of fur trade in Canada . There was then a fierce competition between France and England for the fur trade control in North America .
-1713: France surrenders (Treaty of Utrecht ) to Britain any claim to the Hudson Bay region, Newfoundland and Acadia (including parts of today's Nova Scotia , New Brunswick , Prince Edward Island , southeastern Québec and eastern Maine ).
-1714: To protect what remains of New France , Louis XIV ordered the construction of the Louisbourg fortress.
-1755: The Acadians (settlers of French descent) who refuse to swear an oath of allegiance to Britain are expelled from Nova Scotia .
-1758: Louisbourg falls to the British.
-1759: General Wolfe defeats the Marquis de Montcalm on the Plains of Abraham outside Québec City . This defeat marks the end of France as New World power.
-1763: France and Spain cede to Britain all territory east of the Mississippi River, except the Island of Saint Pierre and Miquelon .
-1778: Captain Cook lands on Vancouver Island and claims the Pacific Coast (north of 48th parallel) for Britain .
-1811: The Red River settlement, the first in Western Canada, is founded near present-day Winnipeg by Lord Selkirk and 12 000 Irish and Scottish pioneers.
-1837: Rebellions in Upper ( Ontario ) and Lower ( Quebec ) Canada will lead to the Durham Report which recommends self government and the union of the two Canadas .
-1841: Canada 's first parliament convenes in Kingston .
-1857: The Queen Victoria chooses Bytown (now Ottawa ) to become the capital of Canada .
-1867: On July 1, Nova Scotia , New Brunswick , Québec and Ontario unite to become the Dominion of Canada. Sir John A. Macdonald becomes the first Prime Minister of Canada.
-1870: Agreement between the Dominion of Canada and the Métis of the West. Creation of the province of Manitoba .
-1871: British Columbia joins Canada.
-1873: Prince Edward Island joins Canada .
-1885: The transcontinental railroad arrived at Craigellachie in British Columbia .
-1896: Gold is discovered in the Klondike . This discovery leads to the last great gold rushes. The Northwest Territories are created.
-1900: The Canadian economy is booming. Thousands of Europeans accept the Canadian government's offer of free land out West.
-1905: Creation of Alberta and Saskatchewan .
-1914: Oil is discovered at Turner Valley , near Calgary .
-1949: Newfoundland and Labrador becomes the 10th province of Canada .
-1967: French President Charles de Gaulle visits Montréal and declares "Vive le Quebec libre!»
-1969: Canada adopts the metric system.
-1970: The FLQ (Front de Libération du Quebec ) poses bombs and kidnaps the Quebec minister of labor. His lifeless body is later found in the trunk of a car. Prime Minister Trudeau declares the War Measures Act and 500 persons are eventually arrested.
-1976: Montréal hosts the Olympic Games. The Parti Québécois, which advocates independence for Québec, wins a majority in the National Assembly.
-1980: A referendum on independence is held in Québec. 60% of Quebeckers vote to remain in Canada .
-1982: Canada gains a new Constitution, the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
-1988: Calgary hosts the Olympic Games.
-1995: A second referendum on independence is held in Québec. Only 51% of Quebecers vote to remain in Canada .
-1999: Creation of Nunavut , the easternmost of Canada 's three territories. The Nunavut Territory was created to recognize the traditional homeland of the Inuit who have lived here for millennia.
-2010: Vancouver hosts the Olympic Games.
Sources: Canadian Tourism Commission, Library and Archives Canada
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International visitors to Canada must carry a valid passport and, if required, a visa. Citizens from the United Kingdom , France , Germany , Mexico , Japan , the Republic of Korea , Australia and others do not require a visa to enter Canada . Visit the Citizenship and Immigration Canada website for a complete listing of countries whose citizens require visas to enter Canada ( http://www.cic.gc.ca/english/index.asp ).
All other visitors should contact their Canadian consulate or embassy to learn what documents are required. Contact information for Canadian embassies around the world can be found at the Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada website ( http://www.international.gc.ca/ciw-cdm/embassies-ambassades.aspx?lang=eng ).
Source: Canadian Tourism Commission
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Self-guided driving holidays are ideal to explore the great Canadian outdoors. Our country has a vast number of scenic roads and traffic is usually low when compared with that of most other countries.
A regular driver's licence from your home country or an International Driving Permit (IDP) allows you to drive in Canada . The Highway Code is similar to that of Europe . The speed is limited to 100 km/h on highways ( 110 km/h on certain highways in Alberta and Nova Scotia ), 90 Km/h on main roads and 50 km/h in urban areas. The police do road checks on a regular basis; the fines for speeding are rather high. You can also be fined for not wearing your seatbelt or for driving under the influence of alcohol. The highways are free (except one in the Toronto area), usually in good conditions and rest areas with services abound.
There are a few rules that might be different from what you are used to:
Provided it is safe to do so, you may turn right on a red light unless indicated otherwise. Please note that the right turns on a red light are always forbidden on the Montréal Island .
If you come to an intersection that has no signs or traffic lights regulating the right of way, cars may proceed, after having come to a complete stop, in the order they arrived at the intersection.
It is recommended to leave the lights on at all times.
Traffic in both directions must stop when school buses have their red lights flashing. It means that children are getting on and off the bus.
Parking near fire hydrants is prohibited.
Parking fees may be charged by some of the hotels (mainly in the bigger cities) and at public parking areas. In urban areas such as Vancouver , Toronto or Montréal, the daily parking fee may be as high as $ 20. In rural areas, there is usually plenty of free parking.
Seat belts – All persons traveling in the vehicle are required to wear seat belts except in Yukon and in the Northwest Territories .
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From luxury hotels to stylish country lodges and wilderness cabins, Canada offers you a range of holiday accommodation choices for every taste and budget.
Our classification system operates on a 1 to 5 star scale (we do not have any 1 star property):
Comfortable hotel offering some services and amenities.
Very comfortable hotel offering several services and amenities.
Hotel offering a superior comfort and a wide range of services and amenities.
Hotel offering an outstanding level of comfort and services, a high-end design and a wide selection of amenities.
Bed & Breakfast (B&B):
This category includes private residences whose owners are operating as lodging establishment. This type of properties features a maximum of 5 rooms and the price includes a breakfast served on the premises. At least, we'll offer a property considered as “Comfortable and good quality B&B” (classified 3 suns in Québec), but we'll sometime come up with superior or high-end properties depending of the availability. Bathrooms are usually shared (communal), but you can obtain a private bathroom if you ask for it in your quote request.
Some of our packages (especially the short packages) offer the opportunity to sleep under a tent. We usually offer this type of accommodation because it allows our guests to live a unique experience in the heart of the Canadian wide open spaces. In some remote areas, it's even the only type of accommodation available! You'll hence have to sleep under a tent if you decide to live the exhilarating experience of such tours as our canoe camping, our rafting camping, our kayaking camping, etc. Most of the packages include the sleeping bag as well as the complete camping equipment.
In Canada , the cabins are usually located in the great outdoor, in the heart or close to the National Parks and the Wildlife Reserves. Staying in such a property represents a fantastic opportunity to explore the Canadian wide open spaces. You'll be comfortably accommodated in well equipped chalets which are advantageously located (often in the heart of the forest and near a lake). Bathrooms are usually shared and the equipment may vary from one region to another.
Some of our self drive routes (budget travel) features youth hostel accommodation. All these properties are recognized hostels in Ontario and Québec.
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Canada has four distinct seasons, although their arrival times vary across the country. The single most significant factor in climate is latitude. As a rule of thumb, it gets colder the further north you go, so it's no accident that the warmest areas in the south are also the most populated. The western and eastern coasts are both very wet, though much of the rain falls during winter. In Saskatchewan , Manitoba and eastern Alberta the prairies are fairly dry all year. Canadian winters are long and hard: in more than two-thirds of the country, the average January temperature is a shivering -18°C ( -0.4°F ). July and August are the warmest months, when temperatures in the south are usually in the upper 20°Cs (low 80°Fs). In the summertime, bring light clothing, sunglasses, bug spray, and jackets for night time.
Canada stretches from the Atlantic to the Pacific oceans, sharing the southern latitude of Rome and reaching all the way up to the Arctic . Across such a vast landscape temperature and climate varies dramatically. In May alone, you can ski the Olympic-caliber mountain terrain of the west coast or attend the world's largest tulip festival in central Canada . For current climate and weather conditions by province and territory, visit the Environment Canada website ( www.ec.gc.ca/ ) .
Spring arrives as early as late February on the west coast. In the rest of Canada , temperatures warm up in early April and the pleasant spring weather extends to June.
Summers across Canada bring warm to hot weather from late May to late September. The hot summer months arrive in June and carry on through August, with July often the hottest summer month.
Fall months bring cool, pleasant temperatures, particularly in September and October. It's the best time of year to catch the spectacular autumn leaves in eastern Canada , enjoy long hikes in the crisp air or visit world-class museums and galleries.
Much of the Canadian landscape is blanketed in snow in winter, with snowfall beginning in late October and temperatures generally going below the freezing point. However, winters are much milder on the west coast, where if any snow falls, it doesn't stay long, and golfers have been known to hit the links year-round.
Source: Canadian Tourism Commission
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Canada is one of the safest destinations in the world, with a relatively low crime rate, few endemic diseases and a first-class healthcare system. However, we recommend you observe the same precautions with your personal safety and your possessions as you would in any other country or at home. No vaccinations are required to visit Canada , but it is still advisable to be updated for the basic vaccinations (Diphtheria, Tetanus, Polio).
Canada provides a high level of treatment in its hospitals. However these services are not free for foreign visitors. It is therefore strongly recommended that you have your own private health insurance.
To call the police, firemen or an ambulance in case of emergency, dial 911. Most Canadian areas use this number. If it doesn't work where you are, dial 0, and you will be given an emergency number to call for help.
During your stay in Canada , you will most likely spot a variety of wild animals. Among other species, Canada has a big population of black bears and there are also grizzly bears (in western Canada ). It is recommended to get information at the local visitor centres if any bears have been sighted in the area recently and on how to behave if you encounter a bear. If you are out in the wild, the most important rule to keep in mind is to make a lot of noise so any bears that might be around know that you are coming. Most bears, as other wildlife as well, will go out of your way. Bear bells, by the way, are a nice souvenir but they might not be loud enough.
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Canada is officially bilingual (French and English), but the use of both languages is far from being uniformly distributed throughout the country. Actually, French is mainly spoken in Québec although Montréal is a bilingual city. The rest of Canada is mainly Anglophone although New Brunswick is the only officially bilingual province. The federal territories ( Northwest Territories and Yukon ) are officially bilingual although English dominates largely. In Nunavut , Inuktitut / Inuinnaqtun is also considered an official language along with French and English.
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The currency used is the Canadian dollar, where $1.00 = 100 cents. Paper currency comes in denominations of five (blue), 10 (purple), 20 (green) and 50 (red). The brown C$100.00 bill and larger bills are less common and can be difficult to change.
Canadian coins come in denominations of one (penny), five (nickel), 10 (dime) and 25 (quarter) cent pieces. There are also the gold C$1.00 (loonie) and C$2.00 (toonie) pieces. The gold-coloured loonie features the loon, a common Canadian water bird, while the two-toned toonie is jauntily decorated with a polar bear.
You will find ATMs in many grocery stores, malls, airports and so on, and most are linked to the international networks, the most common being Cirrus, Plus, Star and Maestro. You can also grab cash from an ATM if you use a major credit card although this method tends to be more expensive because, in addition to a service fee, you'll be charged interest immediately.
Be aware that shops and businesses rarely accept personal checks, but credit cards are widely accepted (except perhaps in remote, rural communities where cash is king). Still, you'll find it hard or impossible to rent a car, book a room or order tickets over the phone without having a piece of plastic.
There are 3 types of sale taxes in Canada : the provincial taxes, the federal tax (GST) and the harmonized sale taxes (HST). All the provinces, except Alberta , have a provincial tax or a harmonized tax. Yukon , the Northwest Territories and Nunavut don't have any provincial tax. As in Alberta , only the GST (5%) applies. The HST is used in some provinces in order to merge the provincial tax with the GST. The rate of this tax is 13% in New Brunswick , Newfoundland and Nova Scotia . A separate provincial tax is added in British Columbia , in Saskatchewan , in Manitoba , in Ontario , in Quebec and in Prince Edward Island .
||Combined rates provincial / federal (%)
- There's no provincial tax in Alberta
- Officially known as « Social Service Tax »
- Alcohol is taxed at 10%
- The provincial tax is usually at 8%, is at 5% on lodging, 10% on leisures, alcohol and restaurants, and at 12% on alcohol sold in the retail stores.
- The provincial rate is officially at 7,5%, but since it also apply on the 5% GST, the actual rate is 7,875%.
|Prince Edward Island
- The provincial rate is officially at 10%, but since it also apply on the 5% GST, the actual rate is 10,5%.
Normal tipping is 10% to 20% of the bill (before tax). Tips are usually given to the waiting staff in restaurants, taxi drivers and hotel service staff. In restaurants, you may just leave the tip on the table (in cash) when you leave the restaurant. If you pay by credit card, you can add the amount of the tip to the total amount charged to your credit card.
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Canada operates on 110 V. If you would like to use your own appliances, such as razors and hairdryers, you should bring a plug adapter (it is best to buy it at home as they can be difficult to find in Canada ). Otherwise, these can be purchased in some large department stores such as Sears, The Bay, Canadian Tire, Home Hardware, etc. Make sure that your appliance can be switched to 110 V.
Canada adopted the metric system in 1969. Metric units (e.g., centimetres, metres, kilometres, litres) replace the traditional imperial units common in the US (e.g., inches, feet, yards, miles, quarts).
Local calls: For a local call, just dial the area code (e.g. 514 in Montréal) followed by the 7-digit-number. At a pay phone, a local call is always 50 cents (2 quarters).
Long distance: For long distance, always dial 1 first, then the area code. If you call from a pay phone, the operator will tell you how many coins you will need for the call.
Operator: The operator can assist you in finding an area code or a telephone number. Just dial 0 to reach the operator. You may also call the operator if there is an emergency: tell your name, location and what happened. The operator will then inform the hospital, police or fire department accordingly.
Phone cards: For long distance calls, a phone card is highly recommended. Most visitor centres and gas stations sell them. If you call from your hotel room or if you use coins at a pay phone, it will usually be a lot more expensive than using a phone card.
International calls: Dial 011 first, then the country code and then the area code (omit the 0) and then the telephone number.
For calls from Canada to the United States there is no country code necessary. Just dial 1 for long distance, then the area code and then the 7-digit-number.
In Canada , phone numbers starting with 1-800, 1-877 or 1-888 and the codes 411 (information) and 911 (emergency) are free of charge.
Regarding mobile phones, check with your phone company before leaving home about international mobile roam facilities available in Canada .
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Canada encompasses six of the world's 24 time zones. From east to west, they are: Newfoundland Standard Time Zone, Atlantic Standard Time Zone, Eastern Standard Time Zone, Central Standard Time Zone, Mountain Standard Time Zone and Pacific Standard Time Zone. Some provinces and territories encompass two time zones within their borders. View the interactive map to show the six Canadian time zones as well as current times in all zones.
Pacific Time, Canada's westernmost time zone, is eight hours behind Coordinated Universal Time during the observance of Standard Time; it is seven hours behind during Daylight Saving Time. The easternmost time zone is Newfoundland Time, which is 4-1/2 hours ahead of Pacific Time.
Daylight Saving Time is in effect in Canada (except Saskatchewan) from the second Sunday of March to the first Sunday of November. Saskatchewan observes Standard Time year-round.
Source: Canadian Tourism Commission
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Shops generally open from 9 am to 6 pm seven days a week, and usually close a little bit later on Thursday, Friday and Saturday, closing their doors at 9 pm.
Supermarkets open seven days a week, from 9 am to 9 pm.
From now on, more and more Malls and shops are open on Sunday from 10 am or 12 pm until 5 pm. In case of necessity, you’ll always find an open "Convenience Store", which is a neighbourhood mini-market where you’ll find some food, beverages, and cigarettes. They are most of the time open until midnight, or even until 1 am. And some others located in big towns and gas stations remain open all night long.
Things to bring back from holiday:
In a country as large as Canada, the list of interesting things to bring home is obviously endless. Here are some of the must-haves: There is of course the famous maple syrup and the delicious products derived from it, which is particularly produced in Quebec and to a lesser extent in Ontario.
The ice wine and the ice cider are also some of the Canadian specialities, made from frozen fruits and resulting to a high concentration of sugar.
The Inuit artists create very beautiful objects, such as bear reproduction, carved out of soapstone, which you will find in specialist galleries. The American Indian artists also create colourful weaves, moccasins, and objects made of birch bark etc…
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Canada has a multicultural population of 33 million inhabitants spread out over its 10 provinces and 3 territories. Ontario and Quebec are the most populous provinces with 62.1 % of the total Canadian population, followed by British Columbia, Alberta and Manitoba, the only provinces with more than one million inhabitants. The three Northern Territories are sparsely populated.
English and French are the two official languages in Canada. According to the 2001 survey, the English language was spoken by almost 61% of the Canadian population whereas French was the second most spoken language by more than 22% of the population. However, the official languages are unevenly spread over the Canadian provinces.
Ontario (8.0 million) is the province with the highest number of English-speaking population, followed by British Columbia (2.8 million) and Alberta (2.4 million). Except in Quebec (8.0%) and the Nunavut (27.6%), the majority of the population speaks English in all of the provinces and territories. The majority of the French speaking population is found in Quebec, representing 81.2 % of the province’s population.
While the immigration waves during the 20th Century brought in Canada mostly a population of British people, today’s immigrant population comes from different part of the world. Between 1900 and 1960, people immigrating in Canada were at 90% from Europe. The 2001 survey reveals that the immigrants of the last decade are at 58 % from Asia (the number of Chinese people for instance have broken the one million barrier) and at 20% only from Europe.
For several years now, people from non European countries are referred to as “visible minorities” in order to differentiate them from European immigrants. 20 years ago, visible minorities represented 4.7 % of the whole population, whereas nowadays they represent 13.4 % of Canadians. It is expected that the visible minorities will represent 1/5 of the Canadian population by 2016.
In 1996 the native people of Canada reached the number of 799 010, which represented 2.8 % of the total Canadian population.
Source : SALIC
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