Majestic mountains, wicked adventure sports, top hiking trails, cultured cities, a vibrant arts scene and some of the friendliest folk you'll find in the world make Canada a top destination to visit all year round.
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Articles on Canada
How to use your power for Earth Hour
Posted on Wed, 12 Mar 2014 by Jane Crouch
Everyone has power to make real change and impact in the world. Including you. Join in this years Earth Hour on 29 March, and you will be part of the [...]Read more
Intrepid believes half the fun of experiencing a new country is getting there, and getting around once there! Where possible, Intrepid uses local transport options and traditional modes of transport - which usually carry less of an environmental impact, support small local operators and are heaps more fun.
Depending on which trip you're on while in Canada, you may find yourself travelling by:
Travelling with Intrepid is a little bit different. We endeavour to provide travellers with an authentic experience to remember, so we try to keep accommodation as unique and traditional as possible.
When travelling with us in Canada you may find yourself staying in a:
At a glance
- Trips Available:
- Capital city:
- Ottawa (population 808,000)
- 34 million
- English, French
- Time zone:
- (GMT-05:00) Eastern Time (US & Canada)
- Type A (North American/Japanese 2-pin) Type B (American 3-pin)
- Dialing code:
Best time to visit Canada
Canada's vast land mass makes for varying climate conditions, but generally, Canada gets quite cold - sometimes extremely! December - February are the coldest months and can make travelling difficult at times, although the snow is brilliant for snow-sports enthusiasts.
June, July and August are the warmest months, and are perfect for summer outdoor activities like rafting, hiking, camping and canoeing. Due to the warmer temperatures, tourist spots and other popular places will be busier than other months. The months of May and September, while not typically as warm as the summer months, still offer great conditions for travelling and sightseeing, minus the crowds.
Culture and customs
Large cities like Vancouver are a cultural melting pot of nationalities, and attitudes towards different ways of life are generally quite liberal. This can be seen in the variety of cuisines, shops and people that populate the city.
Known for loving the outdoors and enjoying adventure, both city-dwelling and rural-living Canadians typically remain active with hiking, cycling, canoeing and snow boarding all popular past times, no matter where they live.
The Eastern side of Canada has a decidedly different quality to the West Coast, and retains much of its colonial heritage with the French language being widely spoken and French-influenced food and music being popular.
Canada is also home to native people, with the people of the First Nations and the Inuit in the north calling Canada home. Like many indigenous people and tribes around the world, the people of the First Nations have an ongoing struggle in retaining and protecting their customs and heritage. Modern influences have had a negative impact on their culture and lifestyle, yet despite this, many still actively live and promote a traditional way of life, through the making of tribal music, handicrafts, art and clothing.
Eating and drinking
Intrepid believes that one of the best ways to experience a country is by eating! Whether you're sampling street food, savouring a cheap eat or indulging in a banquet, there are endless options to choose from wherever you are in the world.
Things to try in Canada
French fries topped with a gloriously messy mix of gravy and cheese curds may not be for everyone, but Poutine is a true Canadian classic… and the perfect hangover cure!
If visiting the West Coast, Vancouver is known for having one of the best restaurant scenes in the world, and seafood is almost always on the menu. Feast on a fresh seafood banquet, try some inventive fusion-cuisine or grab some sushi for a quick bite.
3. Boutique Beer
Over the last few years, microbreweries have been popping up all over Canada. Whether you visit a microbrewery that brews chocolate-flavoured beer or eat at a restaurant that has a local beer menu, a Canadian boutique beer is worth trying.
4. Maple Syrup
It comes as no surprise that maple syrup is popular in Canada! So be sure to dose up your pancakes with loads of the stuff… and include a side of bacon too, as the locals do.
Geography and environment
Sitting in between the Atlantic and the Pacific Oceans, Canada shares a long land border with the United States in the South, and Alaska (US) and Greenland in the North. Mountains, forests and woodlands feature heavily throughout the country, with relatively flat prairies and plains dotted around also, providing arable land. There is much ice and tundra in the Arctic North, with only a few communities choosing to live there.
Although a sparsely populated country, the cities of Canada are well-populated and built-up, although not overly crowded or busy. Expect skyscrapers, malls, the odd traffic jam and all the modern conveniences expected of contemporary cities. Parks, trees and public-art beautify most cities in Canada, and provide sweet relief to travellers and locals alike. Smaller communities exist in more remote areas, with quaint villages on both coasts relying on fishing, tourism and agriculture as main sources of income. Expect a slower pace of life, low-density housing and much less buzz than when in the city.
History and government
Canada has been occupied for centuries by different native tribes (some nomadic), who lived their lives with a strong connection to their ancestors and the earth. These people have recently become known as First Nations people. Living by hunting, gathering and fishing, the ability of First Nations people to live in a traditional way was greatly diminished once the French and British settlers arrived in Canada in the late 1500s. With colonisation, many First Nations people became dispossessed, with loss of land to development and the widespread hunting of bison creating food and land shortages.
France and England fiercely competed for Canadian territory over the years, with the lucrative trade of fur being a commodity worth fighting for. After hundreds of years of fighting, the Treaty of Paris was signed in 1763, making Canada officially a British Territory.
The British North America Act was passed in 1867 and with this, Canada became a self-governing state. After suffering major loss of troops in World War I, Canada was granted relative independence from Britain in 1931. Currently, Canada is still a member of the Commonwealth but the British monarch only retains a ceremonial role in the running of the country. More recently, Canada has continued to flourish as a nation, with wide-scale immigration leading to increased multiculturalism and a resource boom strengthening the economy. Playing host to the 2010 Winter Olympics, Canada is increasingly becoming known as a liberal, tolerant nation - home to legalised gay marriage, universal health care and some of the most liveable cities in the world.
Top 10 Outdoors Experiences in Canada
1. Beautiful Bears
Seeing polar bears in their natural habitat will take your breath away. Get out and explore the outskirts of Churchill in a tundra vehicle to get up close to these magnificent creatures.
2. River Rafting
The Kicking Horse River is an amazing channel of churning white water. For a dose of adventure, try whitewater rafting on this formidable force of nature.
3. Sensational 'Snowscapades'
Make the most of Canada's abundance of snow by getting out there and having fun in it! Channel your inner child and make snow angels or have a snowball fight with friends.
4. Majestic Mountains
The Rocky Mountains of Canada are well-known for a reason - their imposing beauty is unforgettable. Take in the epic landscapes while hiking and don't forget to have a camera handy to capture the best panoramas.
5. Cycle Adventures
Hop on a bike for some two-wheeled fun and pedal through stunning scenery in Whistler. Tear it up by racing a friend or go slow and take in the amazing views.
6. Stanley Park Perfection
A walk around Vancouver's Stanley Park will see you taking in gorgeous scenery, interesting sculptures, historic totem poles and beautiful birdlife. Stanley Park provides a slice of nature close to the city.
7. Enchanted Camping
Nothing beats getting away from it all to camp among the quiet stillness and natural splendour of the pristine Canadian wilderness.
8. Animal Encounters
Keep watch for deer, moose, caribou, bald eagles and timber wolves while hiking through the wilds of Jasper National Park in Alberta.
9. Giant Glaciers
Be astounded by the immense size and cool beauty of Canada's gigantic glaciers. Perhaps take a thrilling ride on an ice mobile to experience it all up close.
10. Hit the Hot Springs
Take a refreshing soak in the Yukon Territories Hot Springs. Immerse yourself in the soothing waters of this outdoor haven and feel your aches and pains melt away.
Canada may be home to one of the world's largest malls but the shopping experience certainly doesn't end there. The diversity of Canada's population is reflected in the eclectic mix of boutique stores stocking unique artisan wares, modern art, eco fashion and pop culture objects.
Major cities like Vancouver have an abundance of interesting boutiques and galleries stocking literature, bespoke items and vintage posters while smaller towns are great for locally-produced gourmet food, wine and quirky kitsch souvenirs. The China Town areas of major Canadian cities offer a great shopping experience and are generally excellent for top-value market-buys, cheap eats and interesting sights. Choose to snap up bargains and major labels from chain stores and malls, but head for independent shopping strips, boutique shops and markets to find unique treasures and support local artists and creators.
It's also a good idea to check with your local customs officials to ensure that you are able to bring certain items back into your home country. Australia and New Zealand generally have strict quarantine laws.
Things to buy in Canada
Festivals and Events in Canada
This 10-day hoedown in the Rocky Mountains features rodeos, parades, barbecues and more cowboy hats than you can poke a stick at.
Montreal International Jazz Festival
More than 3,000 performers from over 30 nations entertain millions of travelling and local hip cats in this annual celebration of jazz.
No matter where you are in Canada, come July 1 you'll know that it's Canada Day! Canadians celebrate this national holiday with parades, fireworks, parties, concerts and barbecues. Be sure to get in the spirit and celebrate with the locals.
FAQs on Canada
Local bus fare = 2.25 CAD
Budget takeaway meal = 5 CAD
Restaurant meal = 20 CAD
For more information on insurance, please go to: Travel Insurance
Mar 29 Good Friday
Mar 31 Easter Sunday
May 20 Victoria Day
July 1 Canada Day
September 2 Labour Day
October 14 Thanksgiving
November 11 Remembrance Day
December 25 Christmas Day
December 26 Boxing Day
Please note these dates are for 2013. For a current list of public holidays in Canada go to: http://www.worldtravelguide.net/canada/public-holidays
Australia: Not required
Belgium: Not required
Germany: Not required
Ireland: Not required
Netherlands: Not required
New Zealand: Not required
South Africa: Yes - in advance
Switzerland: Not required
United Kingdom: Not required
Health and Safety
Intrepid takes the health and safety of its travellers seriously, and takes every measure to ensure that trips are safe, fun and enjoyable for everyone. We recommend that all travellers check with their government or national travel advisory organisation for the latest information before departure:
From New Zealand?
Go to: http://www.voyage.gc.ca/
Go to: http://travel.state.gov/
Go to: http://www.fco.gov.uk/en/
The World Health Organisation
also provides useful health information:
Go to: http://www.who.int/en/
Canada Travel Tips
Intrepid is committed to travelling in a way that is respectful of local people, their culture, local economies and the environment. It's important to remember that what may be acceptable behaviour, dress and language in your own country, may not be appropriate in another. Please keep this in mind while travelling.
Top responsible travel tips for Canada
1. Always dispose of litter thoughtfully, including cigarette butts.
2. Please ask and receive permission before taking photos of people, including children.
3. For environmental reasons, try to avoid buying bottled water. Fill a reusable water bottle or canteen with filtered water instead.
4. Canadian cities generally have excellent public transport options. When sightseeing, try to use buses, trains or monorails - or even better, walk.
5. When camping or visiting national parks, refrain from feeding native animals or leaving food out.
6. Shop for locally made products. Supporting local artisans helps keep traditional crafts alive.
7. It’s not uncommon to encounter bears within campsites and national parks. Intrepid leaders have been trained for these situations and will inform the group on how to 'bear proof' the camp. There’s no reason to be alarmed as it is extremely rare for bears to attack humans. In this case, follow the instructions of your leader at all times.
|Sacre Bleus: An Unsentimental Journey Through Quebec||Taras Grescoe|
|Burden of Desire||Robert MacNeil|
|The Golden Spruce: A True Story of Myth, Madness, and Greed||John Vaillant|
|The Vancouver Stories: West Coast Fiction from Canada’s Best Writers||Intro by Douglass Coupland|