Destination Information Canada

Your stay abroad in Canada

General information

Canada

Canada is surely one of the world’s most popular travelling countries, not only because of its unique natural landscapes and untouched wild but also due to its open-minded and multicultural spirit. Despite the fact that Canada is the second largest country in the world, its number of inhabitants counts only 36 million people which mainly live in big cities. Thus, large areas are hardly impacted by human civilization. It is an ideal place to spend a unforgettable time full of adventures and nature experiences.


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Geography

Geography

The term “Canada” is derived from the Iroquoian word kanata which means village or settlement. The word established in 1535 when the indigenous people of Québec Province used the word kanata to explained to the French explorer Jacques Cartier how to get to the village of Stadacona. From that day on Cartier used this term to describe the whole province of Québec and later for the whole country. Depite its original meaning, Canada does not really appear as a village. Nowadays it is the second largest country in the world and the cities of Toronto, Montreal, Ottawa and Vancouver are metropoles. The capital of Canada is Ottawa.


 

The state of Canada consists of ten provinces and three territories. These subnational units can be divided into geographical regions. West Canada comprises the province of British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba. The two most populous provinces Ontario and Québec are part of Central Canada. New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island and Nova Scotia in the very East are known as sea provinces; together with Labrador and Newfoundland they are called Atlantic Provinces. The three territories Yukon, Northwest Territories and Nunavut are located North of latitude 60° and West of Hudson Bay.

Canada is relatively sparsely inhabited by only 36 million people. It is about 28 times as big as Germany, but its population not even half of Germany’s population. That is why there are large areas which are hardly inhabited. When doing a hiking tour it is possible to meet not a single person for days.

The United States of America in the South and in the West are Canada’s only neighbor. Besides that Canada shares borders with the Pacific Ocean in the West, the Atlantic Ocean in the East and the Arctic Sea in the North. Far East of Canada there is the autonomous territory of Greenland which belongs to Denmark.

 

Geomorphology/Geology

Early and eroded mountains are the geological main part of eastern provinces. The Canadian Shield, which is also called Laurentian Plateau, is the geological core of the North American continent and consists of stones which are several billion years old. The Canadian Shield is surrounding the Hudson Bay and covers more than 50% of the country’s area. The landscape is rather flat or hilly. On the South side of the shield there are boreal coniferous forest growing. The West of the country is dominated by the famous Rocky Mountains and the Cascades. The Cascades have a volcanic origin. They are running along the West coast of North America, from the USA to British Columbia. Parts of the Rocky Mountains, the so called Folded Mountains are reaching over 5.000 km from Mexico and the US to Canada and Alaska. The Columbia Mountains on the Canadian Pacific coast are also part of the Rocky Mountains. Mount McKinley with a height of 6.194 m is the highest summit of the Rocky Mountains; it is located in Alaska. Canada’s highest mountain is called Mount Logan with a height of 5.959 meters. Mount Logan is part of Saint Elias Range in the Southwest of Yukon, which is also part of the Rocky Mountains. The 2.800 m high Mount Edziza is part of Canada’s second largest volcano complex in British Columbia. From time to time volcanic eruptions can be observed in this area. The most important elevation in the North is Ellesmere Island, the Arctic Cordilleras as well as the Tongart Mountains in Québec, Newfoundland and Labrador.


Flora & fauna

Flora and fauna in Canada

Around 70% of Canada’s territory is covered by natural areas, especially tundra and mountainous regions. More than 50% of Canada’s forests are still jungles. The northern timberline runs from the east coast of Labrador, along the eastside of Hudson Bay to Alaska in the Northwest. North of the timberline, in the midst of tundra areas, there is hardly any fertile ground. The vegetation of southern tundra areas mainly consists of low shrubs and grasses. The most northern parts are characterized by moss which is typical especially in polar deserts. From Alaska to Newfoundland, south of the timberline, there is one of the world’s largest coniferous forests. In the East there are mainly mixed forests, the West is dominated by spruces, pines and Douglas spruces, in the highlands there are American poplars and yellow pines growing. The Pacific coast is characterized by Douglas pines and hemlocks. The prairie country in the centre is too dry to send out forests; there are only some single trees. The wide grassland gave way to Canada’s well known wheatbelt.

 

Canada’s nutritious arctic sea provides enough food for whales, walruses, seals or polar bears. The tundra is home to musk oxen, caribous, polar wolfs, polar foxes, polar hares and lemmings. Besides that there are millions of migrating birds such as auks, ducks, gulls and terns which spend the summer along the Canadian coasts. The thick coniferous forests are home to lynxes, black bears and brown bears. Also beavers, martens and American eagles can be observed. Canada’s flora and fauna is protected in more than 44 national parks and thousands of provincial parks and nature reserves. The largest protected area is the 44.802 km² large Wood-Buffalo-National Park in the North of Alberta and the Northwest Territories. It is inhabited by many endangered species. Very special about this place is the world’s largest population of bisons, which counts more than 6.000 individuals. 92 bird protection areas with a total area of 110.000 km² were created in cooperation with the USA.


Climate

Climate in Canada

There are different climate zones in Canada. The North is characterized by polar climate conditions, the South is rather temperate. The major part of the country has a boreal climate with long and cold winters and short, hot summers. The West coast (Vancouver) is characterized by a maritime climate with a high rainfall rate due to the fact that humid airmass which dam up at the western mountains. The central provinces of Saskatchewan, Alberta and Manitoba often suffer from long dry spells because rainfalls do not reach these regions. In Ontario and Quebec there are clearly defined seasons: Winters are quite cold, springs are rather moderate and summers humid and hot.


Social geography

Social Geography

Population

Canada has a population of 36 million people who mainly live along the 350 km long belt along the US-American border. 4/5 of Canadians live in cities. The north of the country is mainly uninhabited. Canada is an immigration country. The largest populations groups are migrants from Great Britain, France, Germany, Italy and Ireland. In the recent years Chinese immigrants become more and more important. Around 3.8 % of Canadians belong to the group of indigenous people. The indigenous people can be divided into so called First Nations, Inuit and Metis, which are basically descendants of European immigrants who were in a relationship with Amerindian women.

Language

Canada’s official languages are English and French. More than 20 % of Canadians indicated that they speak neither English nor French as their native language. Besides English and French there are plenty of European, Asian and indigenous languages in Canada.

Economy

Canada is one of the richest countries in the world. Regarding the gross domestic product (GDP) Canada gets tenth place. The main economic sectors are services, resource- and automobile industries and agriculture.

Political situation and security

Canada is a parliamentarian monarchy. As part of the Commonwealth of Nations the head of the state is Queen Elizabeth II., represented by the Canadian governor-general. Canada is a constitutional state. Law and security standards are widely implemented, so that the country can be considered safe.

Religion

The main percentage of Canadian people is Christians. There are around 43.2 % Catholics, 29.2 % Protestants and 16.5 % without any confession. Other religious groups are Muslims, Jewish, Buddhists, Hindus and Sikhs.


Travel Tips and Trivia

Time Zone

In Canada there are six time zones:

  • Pacific Standard Time (UTC−8)
  • Mountain Standard Time (UTC−7)
  • Central Standard Time (UTC−6)
  • Eastern Standard Time (UTC−5)
  • Atlantic Standard Time (UTC−4)
  • Newfoundland Standard Time (UTC−3:30)

In all time zones there are daylight saving time changeovers

Currency

The currency in Canada is Canadian Dollar (CAD). For the current exchange rate please visit www.oanda.com

Units

All units accord to the metric system.

Electricity

In Canada the standard voltage is 120 Volt at a frequency of 60 Hertz. Generally the plug types A and B are used.

Transport

  • The populous provinces Québec and Ontario provide a dense road network, mostly along the Saint Lawrence River. Also the western part of the country has a well-developed road network. The North is basically less developed. A rental car is a convenient way to explore the neighborhood. As a tourist and entering the country for up to 6 months allows you to rent a car with a German driving license. To make sure that there are no problems occurring you should apply for an international driving license in advance. Travelers from other countries but Germany should gather information whether they can use their national driving license in Canada (e.g. at their Ministry for Foreign Affairs).
  • The well-developed bus network can be used to travel long distances within the whole country.
  • Despite the fact that the railway traffic becomes less and less relevant, going by train is a convenient way to travel between big cities and experience amazing landscapes at the same time.
  • In all larger cities there are airports. Over 75 airlines offer plenty of national and international flights.
  • Unlike the USA the public transport in big cities is well developed, especially in Toronto, Montreal and Vancouver. In Vancouver there is even a sky train.

Holiday

January 1: New Year's Day

February 14: Valentine's Day

February 20: Family Day

March 17: St. Patrick's Day

April 14: Good Friday

April 17: Easter Monday

May 14: Mother's Day

May 22: Victoria Day

June 18: Father's Day

June 21: National Aboriginal Day

June 24: National Holiday of Quebec

July 1: Canada Day

August 7: August Civic Holiday

September 4: Labour Day

October 9: Thanksgiving

November 11: Remembrance Day

December 25: Christmas Day

December 26: Boxing Day

Dos and Don’ts

  • The Canadians are open-minded and hospitable people. That’s why you should also be open to new people. A handshake is an appropriate way to say hello in Canada.
  • In Canada it is common to address people by their first name. This also applies if they meet another person for the first time.
  • Whenever you visit provincial parks or national parks, you should obey the current rules of behavior, since their main function is the protection of flora and fauna.
  • Do not try to explore whole of Canada within just one travel. The distances are too long. Better take your time and visit single places you would like to see properly and not in a rush.
  • Canadians love celebrating. You should visit one of the festivals that take place all over the year. That’s the best way to get to know the people and their culture.
  • In Canada there are two official languages: English and French. The province of Québec is mainly francophone. Even if most people speak English well there, the Québecers like it if tourists speak at least a few words of French.

Highlights Must-see places in Canada

Our top recommendations for you

Highlights

Highlights

Die Rocky Mountains (British Columbia/Alberta)

The Rocky Mountains are the most famous mountains of North America. Located at the border between Alberta and British Columbia, they cause a desire of going out into the nature and experience a wildlife adventure. The four national parks Banff, Yoho, Kootenay and Jasper are perfect places to start a hiking tour or to go kayaking. It is also possible to enjoy the landscape on one of the journeys by train right through the Rocky Mountains.

 

Vancouver (British Columbia)

Vancouver is considered as one of the cities of high life quality. Here you can find beaches, skiing spots, hiking sites and a vivid and diverse nightlife. Vancouver offers pretty much anything a city can provide. Hollywood glamour meets casual subculture in this multicultural place.

 

Niagara Falls

Even if the Niagara Falls are crowded by tourist, it is impressive to experience this natural spectacle. Regarding the water flow this cascade is North America’s largest: Every second the volume of more than one million bathtubs falls down into the valley.

 

Montréal (Québec)

Montréal is Canada’s cultural center. Especially the music scene of Québec’s francophone provincial capital is internationally well known. Every year the famous Montréal Jazz Festival takes place in the city and provides the best jazz and blues musicians of the world. When ambling along the old town of Montréal, watching all the magnificent buildings and small cafes, you can clearly feel the French spirit of the city.

 

Bay of Fundy

The Bay of Fundy is a unique place in Canada and the world. Despite plenty of fishing villages and lighthouses this bay is not a normal one. Due to its special geography one of the world’s strongest tides can be observed in this area. Every day the sea changes its level more than 21 meters! That’s why you can find many tidal power plants in this area. Apart from that the Bay of Fundy provides ideal life conditions for different whale species like blue whales and hunchback whales. Do not miss one of the popular whale-watching tours.


Project site

Our project site in Ontario

Ontario is Canada’s most populous province and the second largest one after Québec. Around 14 million people live here. The three biggest cities are Toronto, the capital Ottawa and Mississauga.

Geography

Ontario shares borders with the Hudson Bay and James Bay in the North, Québec in the East, the US-American states of Minnesota, Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania and New York in the South and the province of Manitoba in the West. Ontario’s southern border mainly consists of rivers and lakes such as the Lake of the Woods. Other lakes are Lake Superior, Lake Huron, Lake Erie and Lake Ontario. The Saint Lawrence River is located close to Cornwall. The Ottawa River is part of the border between Ontario and Québec.

Ontario can be divided into three main regions:

  • The Canadian Shield in the Northwest and in the center covers about half of the province’s area. It is characterized by rivers and lakes and rich in minerals. The ground is hardly fertile.
  • In the Northeast there is the swampy and woody lowland of the Hudson Bay. There are nearly no people living.
  • The rather temperate and fertile part of the province is located In the South of Ontario, along the larger lakes and the Saint Lawrence River, where agriculture, industries and settlements play an important role. Around 75 % of Ontario’s population and ¼ of Canada’s population live in this area. This Area, at the west end of Lake Ontario is also known as “Golden Horseshoe”

Geomorphology

Although there are no mountains in this province, the landscape is characterized by plenty of hilly chains such as the moraine of the Canadian Shield and the Niagara Escarpment in the South.

Climate

The territory of Ontario includes three climate zones. The Southeast and the southern party of the Golden Horseshoe is characterized by a humid and moderate, mostly continental climate, which leads to cold winters (which are attenuated by the surrounding lakes) and hot summers. The northern part of South Ontario as well as central Ontario and the East have got a rough, humid and continental climate. Summers here are rather short and winters long and cold. The North reveals a subpolar climate including short, warm summers and extremely cold and long winters.

Flora and Fauna

From the South to the Hudson Bay in the North Ontario is home to many different animals and plants. The high biodiversity includes sea divers, beavers, Canada’s national animal, wolfs, mosses and more than 400 bird species. In Point Pelee National Park a special phenomenon can be observed: hundreds of thousands of milkweed butterflies gather to rest during their travel from/to Mexico where they spend the winter. On a tour though Algonquin you should not forget your binoculars and taxonomy book: 53 mammal species, 272 bird species, 31 reptile and amphibian species, 54 fish species, more than 7000 insects and plenty of endangered plants can be found in this area.

Highlights

Toronto

Ontario’s captial and Canada’s biggest city is the economic center of the country. Architectural masterpieces, impressive office towers, subcultural hot spots and luxury quarter make the unique and diverse spirit of the city. Toronto’s main symbol is the famous CN Tower. With a height of 553 meter it is North America’s highest free-standing building.

Niagara Falls

Even if the Niagara Falls are crowded by tourist, it is impressive to experience this natural spectacle. Regarding the water flow this cascade is North America’s largest: Every second the volume of more than one million bathtubs falls down into the valley.

Algonquin Provincial Park

Algonquin Provincial Park is a nature paradise to any outdoor- adventure-fan. It is located between Toronto and Ottawa and Canada’s oldest national park. It is captivating due to its breathtaking crystal-clear lakes and old forests. The 60 km long highway 60 which runs right though the national park is a convenient way to explore the area. Animals like moose, black bears and beavers can be observed in high numbers.

Killarney Provincial Park

Everyone who is looking for loneliness and isolation in a wonderful landscape should visit Killarney Provincial Park in the center of Ontario. The landscape is characterized by crystal-clear, blue lakes, endless coniferous forests and many different animals like black bears, wolfs and moose. In the park there is only one official camping ground which is located at the Georgian Bay. A canoe tour is a convenient way to explore the giant network of lakes and rivers.

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