12 Things to Know Before Coming to Canada

If there is one thing for certain no matter where I go, it’s that Canada is my favourite country. Polite, friendly folks? Maple syrup? POLAR BEARS? Yes please. Legit, Tourism Canada should hire me as their Lead Marketer. As well as Tourism Kelowna (and Tourism Poland) but we’ll get to that in a later post. Canada is just such a diverse country and there is something for everyone. Wineries, ski resorts, an attractive Prime Minister, the most beautiful National Parks your eyeballs will ever see, a giant sculpture of a Ukrainian-style Easter egg. It does not get better than Canada. Before I travel somewhere, I like Googling the norms of a place and the things I should know. This pre-travel prep is what taught me not to speak about the King when in Thailand (side note: I still don’t know why you’re not supposed to as the Thai citizens adored him). Since I have found these blog posts so helpful, I have decided to curate one for my own country – Canada. These are all things one should know before coming to Canada!

1) Tax isn’t included in the shelf price

Yes I know it’s weird and yes we are annoyed by it as well. When you see something on a shelf in a store priced at 8.99$, what you really pay is 8.99$ then tax. Depending on what province or territory you’re in or what the item is you pay more or less tax. In British Colombia, we have the Provincial Sales Tax (PST) at 7% and the Goods and Services Tax (GST) at 5%. If you’re buying sunscreen in BC at 8.99$ you’re going to pay 12% tax on it for a grand total of 10.07$. If you decide to go to a hip spin studio on your Canadian holiday with a drop in rate at 20$, you’re going to pay 5% tax on it for a total of 21$. Please check the tax rate in the province or territory you’re visiting before telling the cashier at the store she overcharged you.

2) Tipping is the norm at 15-20%

Restaurants, bars, cabs.

3) Canada is HUGE

If you’ve ever looked at a map of Canada this should be obvious. But I’d really like to emphasis this point. Once, when I was in university, it took me 5 (five!!) flights just to get from Ontario to BC. In Europe, 5 flights could get you to 5 different countries.

4) Wildlife isn’t roaming the highways as frequently as you may think

I mean yah, you’ll definitely see some while road tripping within Canada but 26 years in this country and countless road trips later and I have yet to see a grizzly bear in Canada.

5) The legal drinking age in Canada is 18 or 19

It’s 19 in BC, New Brunswick, Newfoundland and Labrador, Northwest Territories, Nova Scotia, Nunavut, Ontario, PEI, Saskatchewan, and Yukon. It’s 18 in Alberta, Manitoba and Quebec.

6) Also, you can’t drink in public

7) Also, alcohol isn’t as widely available as other countries

Typically you’ll have to go to a designated liquor store to buy beer, wine or liquor. Alcohol isn’t sold at the majority of grocery stores or any gas stations. The exception would be Quebec. Please research accordingly.

8) We don’t have pennies

We got rid of them in 2012. Bye Felicia.

9) You will never have to pay to use the bathroom

Sure, sometimes a business will keep the bathroom for paying customers only but at mall or convenience store, you will NEVER have to pay.

10) Texting and driving is illegal

With the exception of Nunavut. Although you shouldn’t be doing it anywhere. Please do your own research if going to Nunavut as laws may have changed since this post was written.

11) Statutory holidays in Canada differ province to province

In BC, most customer service based organizations are still open on stat holidays (with reduced hours). However, in Ontario, most businesses are closed. In BC, November 11th is a stat holiday. But in Ontario it only is for federal employees. This may impact your holiday plans so it’s best to do a little digging as to when the stat days are and what is or isn’t open.

12) Businesses are open on Sundays

In Canada it’s not the norm to have businesses closed on Sundays, if anything, they may just have reduced hours.

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