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Canada Guide & Travel Advice

Getting there

From London Heathrow, Air Canada fly direct to Calgary, Halifax, Montreal, Ottawa, St John’s, Toronto and Vancouver and British Airways provide non-stop services to Calgary, Montreal, Toronto and Vancouver. From London Gatwick, Air Transat fly to Toronto and Vancouver and WestJet fly direct to Calgary and Toronto. Both have seasonal services that include Calgary, Edmonton, Halifax, Vancouver and Winnipeg. There are also indirect flights from a range of airports all over the UK.

Flying times from UK

Direct flights from the UK take between 6 and 11 hours depending on the destination. Flights with stops en-route take between 9 and 14 hours.

Time zone

Canada has six different time zones. Pacific Standard Time, which includes Vancouver, is -8 hours GMT, Mountain Standard Time is -7 hours GMT and Central Standard Time, which includes Winnipeg is -6 hours GMT. Eastern Standard Time, which covers Toronto is -5 hours GMT, Atlantic Standard Time is -4 hours GMT and Newfoundland Standard Time is -3½ hours GMT.

Visa requirements

All UK citizens arriving in Canada by air need to obtain an Electronic Travel Authorisation online prior to arrival in the country. The eTA is only needed for those travelling by air and is not required if arriving in the country by land or sea. Your passport should be valid for the duration of your stay and, preferably, have more than 6 month’s validity remaining.

Do’s and don’ts

Try and catch a Canadian ice hockey game when you’re in one of the cities, the energy and atmosphere is captivating!

It is easy to get caught out by the weather in Canada. This is especially true if you are travelling across provinces as climates can vary considerably from region to region.

Bears can be found throughout national parks in Canada and especially during the summer months. Do be conscious of this and keep in mind that they can be a potential threat.

Do not swim on your own either in the sea or in fresh water lakes as there are often strong undercurrents or hidden rocks that could cause you harm.

Wildlife roams wild and free often crossing roads. In remote areas always be aware when driving, particularly at night.

If you are travelling in eastern Canada do remember to speak a little French – it will help you greatly and add to your experience.

Money

The currency of Canada is the Canadian Dollar (CAD) and comes in notes and coins. Exchanging money is easy and can be done at international airports, most hotels and banks. It is also a good idea to ask for some small denomination notes. ATMs are common and reliable across the country and credit or debit cards are widely accepted. It is advisable to carry cash with you when travelling around national parks since you will not find an ATM until reaching the next town.

Tipping

Tipping is not compulsory in Canada, however, those providing a service such as waiters and porters usually expect gratuities and in many cases rely on these to support their basic wage. It is usual practice to give a 15% tip at restaurants, bars and in taxis. In some restaurants, you may find that a service charge has automatically been added to the bill so always check before paying. Chambermaids will appreciate $1.00 per person per day and airport porters $1.00 per bag.

Food and drink

Thanks to the country’s multicultural influences, Canada offers a varied array of cuisines for you to enjoy. From rustic burger joints and contemporary Asian fusion food to freshly caught seafood and fine dining, the options are endless and the quality high. Maple syrup, an iconic Canadian product, is harvested from the maple forests that grow in the regions east of Manitoba and is a popular and common condiment found in the majority of restaurants and homes. Canada’s main wine producing regions are the Niagara Peninsula in Ontario and the Okanagan Valley in British Columbia. On the whole, the wine produced in Canada is of a high standard.

Holidays, festivals and celebrations

Canada has a wide calendar of events and festivals held throughout the year. Aside from the main public holidays popular celebrations include the Quebec Winter Carnival which is held in January, Winterlude in Ottawa in February, Canada Day held on 1st July, the Vancouver Celebration of Light and the Calgary Stampede – both of which also take place during July. In August there is the Edmonton Folk festival and, in early October, the Celtic Colours International Festival which is held in Nova Scotia.

Shopping

Quintessentially Canadian souvenirs such as maple syrup, woodcarvings, First Nation artwork and sports memorabilia are readily available throughout the country. There are also a wide variety of malls and shopping complexes throughout the country. Additionally, there are many Canadian brands that sell high quality outdoor clothing and equipment. It is also worth noting that there are three different types of sales tax throughout the country which are only added at the point of purchase, however, most sales assistants will be more than happy to check the total cost of the item you wish to buy before you commit.

Suggested reading

Footprint, Rough Guides and Lonely Planet all have excellent and comprehensive guide books. Lonely Planet also have guides specifically for British Columbia and the Canadian Rockies. Marco Polo and National Geographic also provide detailed and up to date maps of the country. For further reading material, below is a selection of suggested literature on Canada:

‘A Concise History of Canada’ by Margaret Conrad

‘The Penguin History of Canada’ by Robert Bothwell

‘A Little History of Canada’ by H V Nelles

‘Canadian History in 50 Events’ by James Weber

‘Anne of Green Gables’ by L M Montgomery

‘Volkswagen Blues’ by Jacques Poulin

‘Sunshine Sketches of a Little Town’ by Stephen Leacock

‘Green Grass, Running Water’ by Thomas King

‘The Golden Dog’ by William Kirby

‘Canada’ by Mike Myers

‘Alone Against the North’ by Adam Shoalts

‘Great Lakes’ by Pierre Berton

‘The Native Trees of Canada’ by Leanne Shapton

Health

Your doctor is the best person to advise you on staying healthy whilst abroad. For current information on health advice you may wish to visit the Medical Advisory Services for Travellers Abroad (MASTA) Web Site on www.masta.org. The NHS ‘Fit for Travel’ website (http://www.fitfortravel.nhs.uk/home.aspx) is also a useful resource.

Travel advice

For current information on Canada the best resource is the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice) which is a comprehensive resource and updated regularly. We would also recommend visiting the Safer Tourism Foundation website (https://safertourism.org.uk/) before you travel and will be happy to address any questions or concerns you may have.

Canada Holiday Ideas

USA & Canada Holiday Review

We’re home after an amazing holiday. All went well with flights etc., the hotels were lovely and very good locations in both Toronto and New York.

We loved Niagara Falls and in Toronto the CN Tower was really good and would recommend the hop on hop off bus tour which included a boat trip around the islands giving a good view of the city skyline. We also went to a baseball game at the nearby Rogers centre.

In New York we used the airport super shuttle bus which worked well. We did all the sights including 9/11, water taxi hop on hop off including Brooklyn Bridge and Statue of Liberty. Loved Central Park, Top of the Rock and Empire at night and loved grand central station. Did a radio city tour which was great and also saw Kinky Boots, again fabulous. Walked everywhere and the high line was lovely.

Many thanks for your help and recommendations. It has been a truly memorable trip.

JD - USA & Canada - June 2018

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