Canada and Canadians are known for their friendliness, politeness and welcoming nature so anybody travelling to this vast and exciting country will be in for a treat, but to help make the trip even more wonderful we’ve collated some tips on Canada’s customs, geography and history so that you can slip seamlessly into local culture.
One country, several cultures
An important thing to note before any trip to Canada is the vast differences from province to province. Each has its own character and history, so if you’re exploring the small maritime province of Nova Scotia, you’ll find a more coastal charm, small town, seafaring way of life than if you visit the bustling and vibrant British Columbia with its dramatic landscapes.
Similarly, Quebec has its very own identity that is Québécois as well as Canadian, and their connection to their French roots is very evident. There are a few general rules such as tipping (more on that below) which are pretty much universal across the country, and the predisposition for exceptionally good manners is national, but it’s good to acquaint yourself with the peculiarities of your destination province before you travel.
Often thought of as the USA’s more liberal neighbour, Canada is very open-minded and welcomes diversity. You’ll also find that the country acknowledges its indigenous, First Nations population and history with a deep respect, both formally in government and in museums and galleries across the country.
As with many Western countries, food and drink is at the centre of social life in Canada. You’ll find bars and restaurants offering up a huge array of local dishes as well as international flavours - particularly in Vancouver which is known for its Asian-fusion vibe - and although the US and South America may be better-known for their wine, Canada does have its fair share of both wineries and breweries. The legal drinking age in Canada is 19+ (18+ in Quebec province) and they are very strict and will likely check ID if you look younger than 30. They are also very strict about drink driving, so be sure to plan your journey home and hop in a taxi if needed; it’s much easier to grab a cab than say no to the excellent Canadian hospitality.
Tax in Canada
Another quirk to be conscious of when travelling in Canada is tax. Similarly to the USA, you’ll often find that your purchases - including food and drink - have an additional cost on the final bill. The percentage varies from state to state. Tipping is also expected, with 15-20% the norm in restaurants and bars; 10% for taxis and drivers; 10% for guides and $2-$5 for porters and valets etc.
Finally, you need to be conscious of the climate and size of the country so travelling in winter requires special winter tyres and caution on the road. Spaces between cities and towns can be huge so you may find yourself on a long drive to do prepare for this.
- If travelling as a larger group, be conscious that it can be hard to find interconnecting rooms
- Breakfast isn’t always included in hotel room rates