Canada one of the treasures of this earth.
Even though Canada is next to the US and most of both country’s populations originated from Europe there exists many differences in language, customs & habits although these are mostly subtle.
Canada, since the demise of the Soviet Union, is the largest country land mass wise in world.
Although at 35 million we have one of the smallest populations compared to our size. Canadians are generally very polite and friendly. When visiting If you need assistance don’t hesitate to ask, you will most certainly make a new friend.
Canada has two official languages, English and French and another unofficial language spoken mainly in Newfoundland, called Newfanese. If you ever visit this island, about 200 miles off the eastern coast, you will not understand most of what the Newfoundlanders are saying, although it is supposed to be English.
When visiting a French speaking area of Canada, mostly in Quebec, it is customary to try to use some French words when greeting a French person. Especially if you wish to procure some kind of assistance, like ordering food for example. Even a very feeble attempt at French will help the process greatly.
Canada consists of ten Provinces mostly arranged in an east to west orientation, and 3 Territories encompassing the north. The east was settled first so naturally it enjoys the most historical exhibits.
The Maritime Provinces are very picturesque with harbors, bays, islands and ocean.
The eastern Provinces where most of the population resides is hilly with many lakes and rivers.
The central plains, prairie Provinces are the bread basket of Canada with great oceans of wheat flowing in the breeze.
The west has the most diverse landscape of Canada from the rolling ranch lands of Alberta to the Rocky mountains on the border of British Columbia.
BC is by far the most beautiful with towering snow capped mountains, lakes of all sizes filled with sports fish and rivers that run for thousands of kilometers to the Pacific Ocean.
Ninety per cent of the province is covered with pristine forests teaming with wild life.
Even though the summers are short and the winters longer than most places in the US the people are very active outdoor enthusiasts enjoying all the seasons.
While our summer activities are similar to the US, winter offers some great sports including, of course our national sport ice hockey, skiing, snowmobiling and ice fishing to mention a few.
For major professional sports other than hockey (NHL), there is the CFL Canada’s answer to football, the same as the NFL except only 3 downs. There is professional soccer but no MLB except for the Blue Jays, and the Toronto Raptors of the NBA.
Canada offers some great golf courses although not as many as our southern neighbors.
The Metric System
Canada like most of the world uses the metric system. It was started many years ago when I was a kid, it was a challenge to switch. The metric system makes perfect sense, every unit is a multiple of 10, for instance 1 kilometer = 1000 meters, 1 meter = 1000 centimeters, and 1 centimeter = 10 millimeters.
Fluid is measured in liters, temperatures in Celsius, weights in kilograms and speed/distance in kilometers.
A quick conversion-
1 US gallon = 3.78 liters (our fuel is sold by the liter, so when you see the sign at a gas station reading $1.25 i’ts per liter not gallon.)
Celsius (temperature) 0 = 32f, 22 = 70f
Kilometers (speed/distance) 50 kph = 30 mph, 80 kph = 50 mph (don’t make the mistake our friends from the US and traveled at 80 mph instead of 80 kph the officer was understanding)
1 Kilogram = 2.2 lbs.
Canada has a rainbow of currency, literally, each different denomination of bills is a different color, $5 is blue, $10 purple, $20 is green, $50 is pink, and $100 is brown. We have the “Loonie” a one dollar coin, and the “toonie” the two dollar coin.
Of special note – the US dollar is usually worth more than the Canadian counter part, so you may be in for a bonus.
In Canada you will find many of the same stores although less. There is Walmart and Safeway although many areas have there own generic stores.
Canadian tire and Lordco are good automotive parts stores and we do have Napa. Most clothing stores will not be familiar, although we do have Sears, and many smaller chain stores.
Most small towns have many mom and pop operations, you will probably find them very helpful.
Buying booze can be an issue if you are not prepared. It is not as readily available as in many states. In some provinces hard liquor is only available at government stores and the hours are restricted, beer and wine are sold at private stores with longer hours.
Pubs are a popular place to eat and enjoy a pint of strong Canadian beer and you will usually find some familiar US brands.
Canada does have most of the top fast food franchises although not as many.
However, Canada does have many fine restaurants and much of the food in smaller towns is home made.
Traveling in Canada is pretty much the same as the rest of the world with multi- lane super highways complete with tolls, although once away from the main centers the sizes and choices of highways drop drastically. Public transit is tolerable in the cities but almost non existent in the rural areas. You can usually get a greyhound bus between towns, and there is some train service, mostly between major cities.
I have heard it mentioned that Canada is just ice, snow, Eskimos and Igloos. Nothing could be farther from the truth, we have a fantastic climate for the most part. It may be cold in the winter but at least you can dress for it, try dressing for the southern US heat and humidity. You can only take off so much clothes.
The best times to visit most areas of Canada is July and August.
Except for coastal BC, most of Canada endures harsh winters with cold, snow and wind. In some northern areas winter can start in Sept and continue for 7 or 8 months…Yuk. However most other areas don’t turn cold till November and spring arrives in March or April.
Before traveling to Canada check the climate for the particular area you plan to visit, for instance Newfoundland has a relatively short summer around the last couple of weeks in July and the first couple of weeks in August for the warmest temperatures, although the highs may only reach the high teens Celsius (high 60’sF).
BC is the warmest province with spring in Vancouver starting in March and winter not starting till late November. Summer usually beginning in July and lasting through Sept. with temperatures in the 30’s (80’sF).
The best times to visit is July and August, however June and Sept can be pleasant and less crowded.
One delightful difference in Canada the farther north you travel the longer the summer sun will shine. Where we live, close to the 49th parallel (US border), in the middle of summer dusk doesn’t appear until after 10 pm.
Unless you are a criminal………..All Fire arms are illegal in Canada unless you possess several permits and licenses, so do not try bring weapons across the border. You could be looking at hefty fines, confiscation of the weapon, and vehicles, RV as well as jail time. Even some types of knives are banned in Canada.
I hope this article gives a slight glimpse into Canada. If you have any comments or questions I would love to read them.
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