• Traveling to Canada: clearing up a few misconceptions

    Vicky Laflamme
    Sometimes facts about Canada are confused with misconceptions about the wonderful country I call home! We are here to help you sift through the misnomers and offer some helpful information as you plan your next trip to Canada!

    Canadians do not speak “Canadian.” The two official languages are English and French – French is predominately spoken in Quebec; however, when traveling to places like Montreal it’s easy, most speak both English and French!

    Toronto is not the capital of Canada. While Toronto is sometimes called the ‘centre of the universe’ by Canadians, Ottawa, Ontario is the nation’s capital.  Ottawa is the home to the Ottawa Senators and Winterlude.  While there you can watch the changing of the guards and visit our Parliament Buildings.


    But the simple fact that Toronto is not the capital should not stop you from visiting.  Toronto is the home of the Toronto Maple Leafs and the Toronto Blue Jays. It’s where you can visit the famous CN Tower, or come in September to the Toronto Film Festival and look for Hollywood’s stars (many of whom are Canadians!).  Make sure that you make time to explore the many ethnic communities and enjoy the wide range of restaurants that Toronto has to offer.

    And while we’re on the topic of destinations not to be missed, Kitchener-Waterloo is the home to the largest Oktoberfest celebration outside of Munich, Germany.  Definitely worth the visit.

    “So… it’s—like—cold there, right?” Oh yes, it can get cold, but we don’t live in Igloos!  Admittedly, Ottawa has the coldest average temperature of any capital city in the world.  But winter sports enthusiasts will find world class skiing in wonderful destinations like Whistler, home of the 2010 winter Olympics.

    But for me, it’s the summer months that cannot be beat.  On the east and west coasts, average high temperatures are generally in the low 20s °C (70s °F), while between the coasts, the average summer high temperature ranges from 25 to 30 °C (77 to 86 °F), with temperatures in some interior locations occasionally exceeding 40 °C (104 °F).

    Canadians love technology – In 2009, 80% of Canadians aged 16 and older, or 21.7 million people, used the Internet for personal reasons.  Rates were highest at 85% in both British Columbia and Alberta, followed by 81% in Ontario. Canada is also the home to Research In Motion (RIM), based in Waterloo, Ontario.

    Driver’s License or… what do I need? – The Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) has been securing Canada’s border for more than 135 years. One of the earliest mandates was to patrol the frontier and suppress the whisky trade. Canada and the USA enjoy the longest border in the world – 8,890 miles long.  Today 80% of Canadians live within 160KM of the U.S. border.  Canadian RCMPs and the U.S. Customs and Border Protection work together to patrol and share the same common goals and values.  Since 9/11, together we have had to implement measures to protect one another.  As a traveler by air, car, train, or even by bus, be sure to check before traveling regarding what documentation you need based on your own citizenship: more information is available here: http://www.cic.gc.ca/english/visit/apply-who.asp.  It’s easy to go back and forth between the United States and Canada, but a driver’s license won’t cut it anymore!

    Canadians welcome our friends from the USA – check out http://us.canada.travel for more great travel information when coming to Canada.

    See you soon….eh?!

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