Information & Facts
Canada has an abundance of things to see and do within its vast
borders. After all, few countries are blessed with such a rich
endowment of natural beauty and astounding physical attractions.
Complementing these are world-class cities such as the west coast
gem of Vancouver, vibrant metropolis of Toronto, and elegant
Canada is certainly a year-round destination: the warm summer
months are perfect for sightseeing and overland travel, while the
admittedly icy winters provide for some incredible skiing and
snow-covered vistas. Visitors to Canada generally choose to focus
on one particular region, as there are major distances to travel if
you want to see everything.
Canada's attractions are as diverse as the travellers they
appeal to: sporting enthusiasts flock here for the skiing and
back-country hiking, families for the laid-back charm and warm
welcome of the urban centres.
Vancouver, Toronto, Calgary and Montreal are the main business
centres. English is the language of business except in
French-speaking Quebec, where all written material and business
cards should be in French as a result. Business cards are not
traditionally exchanged during an initial meeting, but at some
appropriate time thereafter; it is best to wait for the host to
offer theirs first. A firm handshake is used by way of greeting,
and meetings begin on time so punctuality is taken seriously, as is
appearance, which should be conservative and smart; business suits
are the norm. Gifts can be given in conclusion to celebrate a deal,
but should be understated; taking someone out for a meal is a
popular way to conclude business dealings. Canadians are reserved
and frown on emotional outbursts. Business is based on facts and
figures rather than relationships, so it is best to be as prepared
as possible for meetings. Hours of business are usually 9am to 5pm
Monday to Friday.
Being such a large country, Canada's climate varies depending on
which area one visits. It also has very distinct seasons. The
warmest months are July and August, and in winter (December,
January and February) it is very cold with heavy snowfalls in most
provinces. Autumn is a beautiful season with crisp air and
brilliant fall foliage, while in some areas spring brings the
emergence of carpets of wild flowers.
The international access code for Canada is +1. The outgoing
code is 011 followed by the relevant country code (e.g. 01144 for
the United Kingdom); the outgoing code is not necessary for calls
to the US and the Caribbean. The area code for Ottawa is (1)613,
and (1)416 for Toronto. Internet cafes are widely available. Most
international mobile phone companies have roaming agreements with
Canadian operators, however it may be cheaper to buy a
pay-as-you-go SIM card if visiting the country for long
Smoking bans have been implemented in Canada in enclosed public
places such as restaurants, bars and shopping malls.
Travellers to Canada are allowed to enter the country with the
following items without incurring custom duties: gifts to the value
of C$60 per recipient (excluding advertising material, tobacco and
alcoholic beverages); 200 cigarettes, 50 cigars or cigarillos and
200g of tobacco or 200 tobacco sticks; 1.14 litres of liquor or
wine or 24 x 355ml bottles or cans of beer or ale. There are strict
regulations governing the import of the following: explosives,
endangered animal and plant species, items of heritage, fresh
foodstuffs and weapons. The plant Qhat (Khat) is illegal in Canada
and prison sentences are heavy.
Electrical current is 110 volts, 60Hz. American style
flat two-pin plugs and one with a third round grounding pin are
No vaccinations are necessary for travel to Canada. The West
Nile virus, spread by mosquitoes breeding in stagnant water, poses
a threat during summer months in rural areas, so insect-repellent
measures are advised for those visiting the countryside
particularly in Saskatchewan, Alberta, Ontario, Manitoba, and
Quebec. Rabies is a problem and can be spread by a bite from small
animals such as racoons and bats. Medical care is excellent, but
expensive, so medical insurance is advised.
The official languages are English and French
(predominantly in Quebec).
The currency used is the Canadian Dollar (CAD), which is divided
into 100 cents. One-dollar coins are also known as loonies (due to
the picture of a loon, a type of bird, on the coin), and two-dollar
coins as toonies. Banks and bureaux de change will change money and
travellers cheques, as will some hotels, but the rate will not be
as good. Major credit cards are widely accepted and ATMs are
plentiful. US Dollars are largely accepted, though due to fraud,
larger notes might not be and change is usually given in Canadian
All visitors must hold a valid passport. Visitors are
recommended to hold onward or return tickets, all documents needed
for the next destination and sufficient funds to cover the period
of intended stay. As part of the Western Hemisphere Travel
Initiative (WHTI), all travellers travelling between the United
States and Canada, Mexico, Bermuda, and the Caribbean region are
required to present a passport or other valid travel document to
enter or re-enter the United States. If departing from the USA a
valid passport will be required by immigration authorities.
Most visits to Canada are trouble-free. The country is
politically stable, but does share the common international risk of
terrorism. There have been no recent terrorism events. The crime
rate is low, but travellers are advised to take sensible
precautions to safeguard their belongings as they would anywhere.
Canada is prone to tornadoes between May and September.
Canada covers six time zones, from GMT 8 in the west to GMT
-3.5 in the east.
There is no service charge added to restaurant bills in Canada
and staff expect a tip of around 15%. Hairdressers and taxi drivers
are also usually tipped at the same rate, while bellhops, doormen,
porters and similar service providers at hotels, airports and
stations are generally paid $1 per item of luggage carried. Tour
guides and bus drivers should generally receive $3-$5 per day. It
has become more common for places with counter service to display
'tip jars', but in such cases tipping is not necessary.