10 Things Canadians Want You to Know Before Visiting Canada

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As a native Canadian, I am often astounded by how little others know about my homeland.

I've been asked everything from what it's like to live in an igloo (I don't; it seldom snows where I live in Vancouver) to how to see all of Canada in a week (as the world's second-largest nation, this would be impossible).

Here are some things you should know before arranging a vacation to the Great White North to help you make the most of your first visit.

1. Canada is too large to visit in a single trip

Canada is large, having a land area of about 10 million square kilometers. The nation is home to the world's longest coastline, as well as the second-highest mountain peak in North America (Mount Logan in Kluane National Park, Yukon) and the Pacific, Arctic, and Atlantic seas.

With ten provinces, three territories, and six time zones, it's fair to say that Canada is a nation full with opportunities.

It is preferable to arrange your trip to Canada around one province or territory. From British Columbia's lush green forests, seaside beaches, and snow-capped ski slopes to Ontario's dynamic and culturally varied cities to Nunavut's snow-and-ice-covered Canadian Arctic, each area has its own scenery, culture, and people.

2. The metric system is used in Canada

Distance is measured in kilometers, gasoline is measured in liters, and weather predictions are given in degrees Celsius. While many other nations do the same, it is often assumed that Canada uses the same measuring system as its southern neighbors. This is especially important for Americans who use the imperial measuring system.

3. Despite the fact that Canada is a bilingual nation, not all Canadians speak French

Canada is one of the world's most ethnically diversified nations.

While both French and English are official languages in Canada, many locations have individuals who only speak one of the two languages well. There are even parts of the country where neither language is spoken. The only province where French is the only official language is Quebec.

Regardless of the language spoken in each location, signs and packaging across the nation are normally in both English and French - a law in force since the Official Languages Act was passed in 1969.

4. It does not always snow in Canada

As a nation with a vast geographical variety, the climate varies greatly depending on where you travel. The West Coast of British Columbia, for example, enjoys a warm climate all year. Winter does not usually bring snow, and summer temperatures average 22°C (or 71°F).

The temperatures drop as you go farther north. Nunavut, on the other hand, has an annual average temperature of 20°C (or 3°F). Much of Canada's top half has just two seasons: brief summers and lengthy, frigid winters with significant snowfalls and freezing temperatures.

Check the climatic averages before you arrive and prepare for a variety of weather conditions, particularly on the West Coast, where it rains often.

5. Be mindful of animals

Canada is home to a diverse mix of flora and animals, from hefty black bears and spawning salmon in British Columbia to playful foxes and cheery piping plovers on Prince Edward Island.

It is unlawful to feed animals, and there are rules prohibiting humans from viewing wildlife in close proximity. When exploring outdoors, be vigilant and aware of your surroundings, and if you see any animals, maintain your distance.

6. Indigenous cultures are very important

Indigenous Peoples of Canada include the First Nations, Métis, and Inuit. Canadians acknowledge and value the rich and varied Indigenous cultures that are not only an important part of our past but are also prevalent throughout the nation today.

Certain words used to describe the indigenous inhabitants of the area overseas may not be allowed in Canada, so do your study before you visit to avoid using potentially offending language.

Consider integrating Indigenous experiences in your vacation itinerary to genuinely enjoy and respect Canada. Book a multi-day guided paddling tour with Indigenous-owned luxury lodges that provide rich cultural experiences. Hike across the country's most beautiful and pristine regions while learning about the environment from a cultural viewpoint. The experiences provided are likely to make an impression.

7. Be prepared for excessive politeness

The polite Canadian stereotype is very correct. We say "sorry" a lot in Canada, and not only after we've done something wrong. Also, don't be startled if someone holds the door open for you or if a stranger says "hi!" to you.

In formal encounters, "please" and "thank you" abound, and Canadians are especially kind on the road, flashing a cheerful wave when someone allows you in while changing lanes. Canadians are generally warm and accessible, but there are always outliers.

8. Always leave a gratuity

Tipping is typical in Canada, whether eating out or getting a haircut. For a meal or service received, an average of 18% of the total price is left as a gratuity. Tipping is considered impolite, and individuals will often tip over the norm if they believe the service to be extraordinary.

9. Don't forget to try some Canadian food

From poutine (fries topped with gravy and cheese curds) to beaver tails (hand-stretched fried dough pastries dusted with icing sugar), there's something for everyone. Don't worry, no real beavers are used), Canada offers some delectable delights that are a must-try.

Bannock (a traditional Indigenous bread) and butter tarts are two more Canadian delights (a small pastry tart with a sweet filling).

Certain places have their own specialties, such as Nova Scotia's delectable lobster rolls, Montreal's scrumptious bagels, or Vancouver Island's chocolaty Nanaimo treats.

10. The legal drinking age varies per state

The legal drinking age in Alberta, Manitoba, and Quebec is 18, whereas the age to buy, possess, and consume alcohol in the rest of Canada is 19.

In certain jurisdictions, such as British Columbia and Ontario, the government controls alcohol sale and distribution.
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