The climate in Canada varies across the country, and according to the season. There are four distinct seasons in all regions, but actual temperatures and humidity vary.
The greatest variation of temperatures is to be found in the mountains. Mountain temperatures average from -16°C in the winter to 24°C during the summer. However, when visiting the Rockies, be sure to have layers of comfortable clothing available in case of a sudden change in weather conditions (in the mountains, even summer evenings tend to be cool).
If you are planning on walks or hikes, bring sturdy shoes and a warm jacket. If you plan to visit the Rockies in the winter, come dressed for snow – make sure your outer clothing is warm and wind/water repellent.
The currency used in Canada is the Canadian dollar. Canadian bills are accepted in denominations of $100.00, $50.00, $20.00, $10.00 and $5.00. Coins are in denominations of $2.00 (called a “toonie”), $1.00 (called a “loonie”), $0.25 (called a “quarter”), $0.10 (called a “dime”), and $0.05 (called a “nickel”). One-cent ($0.01) coins (called a “penny”) are no longer used in Canada. When paying with cash, the cost is typically rounded to the nearest $0.05.
We recommend carrying Canadian dollar travalers cheques, as they are accepted as currency at most hotels, stores and restaurants. Most major credit cards are widely accepted across the country – principally Visa, Mastercard and American Express.
Currency and travelers cheques can be exchanged at airports or foreign exchange services, but the best exchange rate is to be found at any of the Canadian chartered banks. The major banks are: Bank of Montréal, Bank of Nova Scotia, Royal Bank, CIBC (Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce), and Toronto Dominion Bank. Minimum hours of operation will be from 10 AM to 3 PM, Monday to Friday. Extended hours can be found in some cities.
Automated teller machines (ATMs) are common throughout Canada, and as well as being located at banks, they can be found in some grocery stores, gas stations, variety stores, shopping centres, bus depots, train stations and elsewhere.
Electricity is supplied at an alternating current of 110 volts. Plugs in Canada are either two flat, parallel prongs, or one cylindrical and two flat parallel prongs.
A regular-sized letter or postcard mailed within Canada costs $0.85, to the United States $1.20, and $2.50 to other international destinations (subject to change). International mail can take up to two weeks for delivery from Canada.
Advance notice and details of any disability will ensure the best possible assistance from airlines, hotels or transport companies. Many cinemas and restaurants are happy to assist although not all can cater for several disabled people or wheelchairs.
Most new buildings provide wheelchair access. Many of the national and provincial parks have accessible interpretive centres and some of the shorter nature trails and/or boardwalks have been designed with wheelchairs or self-propelled mobility aids in mind.
Guides to facilities for the disabled are available from the Canadian Paraplegic Association. The National Office is located in Ottawa. For further information, please contact directly by phone: 613.723.1033 or 1.800.720.4933 or by fax: 613.723.1060.
Goods and Services Tax (GST): The Canadian Government applies a Goods & Services Tax (currently 5%) on the sale of all products and services in Canada. There are allowable rebates of the tax on all short-term accommodations provided to non-resident guests. Please inquire with your Travel Agent.
Provincial Sales Tax (PST): In almost every Canadian province an additional Provincial Sales Tax (PST) is applicable. It is added to the advertised price of consumer goods, restaurant meals and drinks in bars. It appears as a separate item and is not a service charge or gratuity.
Harmonized Sales Tax (HST): A single, blended combination of the PST and GST which is used in British Columbia, Ontario, and the Atlantic provinces of New Brunswick, Newfoundland and Labrador, and Nova Scotia.
Meter-operated taxicab service is available in all major cities and towns; at transport terminals; major hotels, and can be hailed in the street. Refer to the Yellow Pages of the telephone directory. Fees include a minimum charge and then a charge for the distance travelled. It is customary to tip taxi drivers 10% to 12%. Passengers must wear seatbelts.
All international visitors must clear Canadian Customs and Immigration at the arrival airport. Visitors will receive customs documents from in-flight personnel to complete before landing. Once on the ground, retrieve luggage and follow the directions to the Customs Hall. Visitors will be required to state what articles they are bringing into Canada, country of origin, their Canadian destination and their duration of visit in Canada.
When leaving Canada, the regulations of the destination country will apply. Check with the airline customer service desk if uncertain about any of these regulations. Pre-clearance facilities for United States-bound travellers are available at Calgary International Airport, Edmonton International Airport, and other major international airports across Canada.