Basic Facts About Canada

“Hi. So you are thinking about visiting Canada. Welcome!”

According to a Canadian Government website, Canada is well regarded throughout the world. It is a nation of immigrants, one of the safest countries in the world, with its share of natural beauty, and with accessible and excellent healthcare and educational systems. The OECD lists Canada as the world leader in acceptance and tolerance of minorities. As a society, we hope we are open to and respectful of various cultures and ideas.

Basic Facts

  • Includes ten provinces and three territories
  • Second largest country in the world (9,984,670 square kms)
  • Population: 36,350,000 (2016)
  • Six time zones (over 4.5 hours), east to west
  • Bilingual: English and French; only official bilingual province is New Brunswick. The official language of Quebec is French, and the rest are English.
  • Cultural mosaic: new Canadians are encouraged to maintain their cultural traditions
  • Three levels of government: federal, provincial, municipal
  • Temperate climate; seasonal: winter (November-March); summer (June-August)
  • Metric measurements

Visitor To Canada Information

  • Canada is a big country. It takes a full day to fly, or about six days to drive along the Trans-Canada highway, from west to east coast.
  • Canada is a diverse country. Each province or territory, region, city, town, and community has its own cultural and historical features, often with local traditions, food, and special events.
  • Depending on travel time, the best way to see Canada is to focus on one or two areas. There is much more to Canada than large cities. Check out provincial travel offices (such as Travel Alberta, Tourism PEI, Destination BC) for maps, guidebooks, and recommended cultural or special activities during your visit.
  • Have the proper documents to enter Canada. A passport is required. Visit Government of Canada Immigration and Citizenship website.
  • Consider the seasons. Winter is very different from summer, especially away from coastlines. Many smaller tourist places are seasonal. Driving winter roads can be challenging. Clothing needs vary. Summer (June-August) is festival and vacation season and can be very busy. Off-peak months (September/October and April/May) can be less hectic.
  • Hitchhiking is not advised; it is not allowed on some major highways.
  • Taxes: There are taxes (extra money) charged on some food items and most non-food items.
  • Tips: Offering extra money (a tip) for good service is expected in most restaurants, taxis, and other personal services.

Major Canadian Holidays

  • New Year’s Day: January 1
  • Easter: Good Friday: mid/late March or early April
  • Easter: Easter Monday: mid/late March or early April
  • Canada Day: July 1
  • Labour Day: first Monday in September
  • Thanksgiving: second Monday in October
  • Halloween: October 31
  • Remembrance Day: November 11
  • Christmas Day: December 25
  • Boxing Day: December 26

Canadian Customs

  • Canada is a very clean country.
    • Use trash and recycling bins to dispose of waste.
    • Remove your shoes on entering a house unless told not to.
  • Canadians are very friendly.
    • A warm handshake is a welcoming custom; occasionally hugs.
    • Smiles in public places are genuine.
    • First names used more often than not.
    • Gestures commonly accompany conversation.
    • Often in Francophone communities, goodbyes sealed with a kiss to both cheeks.
  • Clothing is casual but clean.
  • Dinner (Francophone “le souper”) is the evening meal, usually around 6pm.
    • If invited to dinner, bring a small gift, wine, flowers, or sweets.
    • Promptness is important.
    • Leaving much food on your plate is considered wasteful.

Canadian Diversity

Canada is diverse – in its peoples, many cultures, and its climate, history, and geography.

  • Francophone cultures of Quebec, Manitoba, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia (Acadian)
  • First Nations history and culture of the Northwest Territories and the Yukon
  • Metis cultures of Manitoba and Saskatchewan
  • Diverse Inuit cultures of Nunavut
  • Unique island narratives, music, and history of Newfoundland & Labrador
  • Long-established Black Canadian ancestry in the Maritimes
  • The Rocky Mountains ranging between British Columbia and Alberta
  • National and provincial parks; rugged and isolated coastlines; open prairie with pioneer farming and ranch lands; Great Lakes; rocky Canadian shield and northern forests
  • Influx of thousands of immigrants settled across the country over Canada’s 150 years of nationhood