Visiting Canada

 

Visiting Canada

Is this your first time visiting Canada? Here are some handy tips to help you prepare for your upcoming vacation!

Currency
Canada deals in Canadian dollars.
Canadian bills are clearly marked and come in a rainbow of colours. $20 = Green; $5 = Blue.  The colourful arrangement gets referred to as “Monopoly Money”.
Dollar Coins are referred to as “Loonies” (because of the Loon design). Loonies look like a Gold Coin.
Two Dollar Coins are referred to as “Toonies” (because it rhymes with “Loonies”). Toonies look like a Silver Coin with a Gold Center.
25 Cent Pieces (“quarters”), 10 Cent Pieces (“dimes”), and 5 Cent Pieces (“nickels”) are much the same size and weight as US coins, with one crucial difference: Canadian coins are magnetic, US Coins are not magnetic. US coins will not work in Canadian machines. And any Canadian knows that US Currency is worth 20-25% more than Canadian Currency, so they will happily give you a Canadian Quarter for a US Quarter.
Pennies are no longer in circulation – Cash Transactions are rounded to the nearest 5 cents.  They make for a nice souvenir because they have a Maple Leaf insignia, so take some home with you.  Canadians won’t miss them.

Voltage
120 volts and 60HZ.

Official Languages
English and French. Alberta is predominantly English speaking.

Customs and Immigration
Check out the Government of Canada website.

Driving
Canadians drive on the right side of the road. Click here for the basics of driving in Alberta.
Pedestrians have right of way at all times. Please make sure you stop at all intersections so they can cross. 

From the end of May to the end of September we use all-season tires on our cars. From October to May we use winter tires on our cars. If you plan on visiting from October to May and want to rent a car, we suggest requesting winter tires as rental companies don’t always provide them.

Etiquette
Ever heard of the Canadian standoff? It happens when two Canadians approach a door and offer for the other person to go first, it can go on for quite some time. It can also happen at 4 way stop signs, in shops and when passing each other on the sidewalk. Canadians are known for having pretty outstanding manners and are generally being polite. It’s common courtesy to open the door for one another, to help and assist one another and to take your shoes off before entering someone’s home. Learn more on Canadian Etiquette and tipping.

Cold Weather
So Canada gets pretty cold, eh? Have you ever experienced -20C (-4F) or colder? If not, no stress! The colder weather is actually very beautiful, especially here in sunny Alberta. As we northerners like to say, “there’s no such thing as bad weather, just bad clothes.” Canada is well equipped for cold and snow. Dressing for the cold is quite subjective, you will see some people in down jackets at +15C (60F) and others in shorts at -20C (-4F).

All of our homes and buildings are well heated and insulated. Normally it’s around 18 degrees or warmer indoors. Outside? Well, that’s up to mother nature! Even in the summer, it’s smart to keep a small light toque and gloves in your pack if you are out hiking as weather conditions can change rapidly. It can snow at the any month of the year (most likely at higher elevations, but even in the townsite, too).

For those more prone to having cold feet you can buy little heat packs ‘Hot Hands’ for feet and hands. They last at least 5 hours and go in your boots and gloves. They are a great idea when skiing. You can get them from the Rockies Rentals Store.

When looking at the weather forecast, always look at the windchill, it’s a game changer. If it is -20C (-4F) but with the windchill, the ‘feels like’ temperature is -30C (-22F). The wind and the sun really make a big difference at low temperatures.  Check out this handy Windchill Chart.