Backpacking Canada

Looking for important travel information while backpacking around Canada? Here you will find information on working in Canada, entry visas, Canada hostels, and much more.

Table of Contents

Facts About Canada

Canada has long links with British and French traditions as well as with its American neighbours. This makes Canada’s culture truly unique with some of the most approachable locals in the world. You will find Canada similar to the US in terms of standard of life and services available but you will find the pace of life a little more relaxed in Canada and the scenery in the rural parts is some of the most spectacular in the world. A great country to travel in itself it also makes an excellent addition to any American tour.

  • Currency: $ Can (Canadian Dollar) 100 cents to the dollar
  • Time Zone: Spans 6 time zones from GMT-3.5 to GMT – 8
  • Language: English, French in some regions
  • Telephone Services: Country code is +1, the international dialling code is 011
  • Emergency Numbers: 911 or 0 depending on province

Climate

Summer tends to be warm and sunny but winter can be very cold indeed, especially further north. In some particularly bad areas of the Rockies snow and ice can build up rapidly preventing road crew from keeping up with road cleaning and snow can accumulate to several centimetres. When driving during these conditions you will be required to use winter tyres or snow chains on your tyres. In fact any road in Canada can suffer from this condition during the numerous winter storms but the Rocky Mountains are particularly unpredictable from September to May.

Things to see and do

Canada can offer pretty much anything you want to do but some highlights include such wonders as a coach ride onto Glaciers in the Rockies. After loading into a heavily modified (read spiky wheeled, 4 wheel drive) coach you are taken out onto a glacier and even get to drink from a glacial spring. These glaciers are high enough to be ice even in the summer so you can go on this extraordinary experience any time.

Many travellers are drawn to Banff to its incredible natural hot springs which local rumour has it prolongs youth, others prefer to go in winter where resorts like Whistler give arguably some of the best snow sports in the world.

Outdoorsy adventurous types will find plenty to cater for their tastes such as white water rafting, husky rides and an amazing array of water sports at locations such as Lake Louise and Lake Ontario. And of course everyone should see the famed Niagara Falls at least once!

Travel

Travel is cheap and affordable in Canada, Greyhound offer extensive point-to-point coach routes and hire cars are readily available. Train travel is an alternative although you may have trouble getting to some locations by train. Most provinces have a local train operator and Canadian National run a service which covers a large portion of Northern USA and Canada.

Accommodation

Cheap Accommodation is easily available, motels are generally available in any town and the standard compared to for example Eastern Europe is very high. You should find it quite easy to find Motel rooms and spaces in Youth Hostels on the day but if you want to book locally you will find literally hundreds of motels/hotels have online booking service.

The Hostel Handbook for the USA and Canada is a great resourse for backpakcers in North America. The list includes HI locations and all independent hostels. It’s updated every year so the information is current. It includes a great section on travel tips and budget travel resouces. A new print version comes out every February but you can order the book or browse the information on their website.

Health

In general the health service is very good in Canada and easily competes with that of Western Europe. You will however need to have comprehensive travel insurance to cover any medical attention you may require.

No shots or injections are required to travel from Western Europe to the UK.

As of 2 July 2003 the World Health Organisation has taken Canada off the list of SARS affected countries.

Useful Links

Canada’s High Commission in the UK

Canada’s Tourist Commission can provide detailed advice for tourists.

Canadian National is the most extensive rail operator in the area.

The Canadian branch of Greyhound, offers good value travel passes for their extensive network of point-to-point bus routes.

Toronto Pearson International Airport – all you need to know about this airport, whether it’s your final destination or a connection airport. The site lists airport details, services, updates and customer reviews.

Entry Visas for Canada

A valid passport is required for the duration of your stay and a return ticket is required. For short stays, EU passport holders will not require a visa but for more extended stays or for working in Canada you will need to contact the Canadian High Commission to obtain the correct documentation. More details can be found at the Canadian High Commission�s website.

Addresses

The Canadian high commission can offer you detailed information on Visa and entry requirements and is the place to apply for visas.

Canadian High Commission
38 Grosvenor Square
London
W1X 0AA.
Visas and Immigration: Tel: (020) 7 258 6600
General Enquiries. (020) 7258 6601
Immigration & Visas. Fax: (020) 7 258 6333.

British representation in Canada is very good and you can find the British High Commission at:

British High Commission
80 Elgin Street
Ottawa
Ontario
K1P 5K7
Tel: (613) 237 1530
Fax: (613) 237 7980

In addition Consulates can be found in Edmonton, Halifax/Dartmouth, Montreal, Quebec City, St John’s, Toronto, Vancouver, and Winnipeg.

Foreigner Work Permits in Canada

EU nationals can enter and reside in Canada as tourists for up to six months. Those intending to find work need to apply for Employment Authorization from the Canadian High Commission or Embassy whilst still in the UK. Canadian employment laws are particularly strict and if you are found working without authorisation you are highly at risk of deportation. If you are a gap year student it is worth looking into BUNAC’s ‘Work Canada’ programme. As part of this scheme you are permitted to live and work in Canada for a year, as long as you can show funds of about CAN$1000 (approx. �452), or less if you have already found a job for your arrival in Canada.

Seasonal Work

Resorts in the Rocky Mountains provide some opportunities for work in hotels. Wages will vary depending on the type of work, and deductions are usually made for the provision of food and accommodation. Despite the casual nature of most jobs of this kind it is still vital to have a work permit as strict regulations mean that checks are often made on employees, often in places that attract a lot of international workers. See the later section on the World Challenge Expeditions organisation for more opportunities in this type of work.

Agricultural Work

The Okanagan valley, British Columbia, and Ontario are home to some of the most promising fruit-picking jobs. Between July and September peaches, apples, pears, and cherries etc. reach their harvesting seasons. Pickers are usually paid depending on how much they can collect. As long as you have authorisation to work in Canada it is worth contacting the Agricultural Employment Service for information relating to jobs and harvests in the Canadian agricultural sector. Alternatively, AgriVenture recruits workers for five to fourteen month work placements throughout the world, including in Canada. Workers are paid for their labour and are provided with accommodation and food. Those wanting to work with AgriVenture need to be able to fund their own travel and insurance, and require a full driving licence. WWOOF is a voluntary organisation, placing volunteers on organic farms in various countries.

Nannying

Canada also has strict employment regulations with regards to childcare positions. Most people wanting to find a placement as a nanny or mothers’ help will need to show qualifications or substantial experience in the field and should expect to dedicate themselves to a family for at least one year. Vacancies can be found in local newspapers. Nannies should anticipate working for up to 45 hours a week, and pay can be as much as CAN$880 (approx. �398) for a month’s work, but this is usually less.

World Challenge Expeditions

Work with World Challenge Expeditions is sometimes paid, but is mostly voluntary. Workers are expected to fund their own travel expenses but the 12 month return ticket provided covers six months of work and a further six months of travel. There are currently opportunities for work at the Banff National Park in the Rockies, and the Jasper National Park. These vacancies are in hotels and ski resorts. Workers in hotels help with cleaning, housekeeping in chalets, waitering, and kitchen work. In ski resorts you can find work as housekeepers, kitchen helpers, and janitors. Depending on the busyness of the resort employees are expected to work between 20 and 50 hours per week, and should fund their own accommodation.

GAP Activity Projects Ltd.

GAP run projects across the world for placements of up to eleven months. Volunteers are expected to pay for insurance and registration fees, but are provided with accommodation, food, and pocket money. Placements in Canada take place in Independent Schools, in Toronto, Vancouver, and Victoria amongst others where positions include teaching assistants and general classroom helpers. There are many opportunities to help with sports classes and outdoor excursions. There are also projects in L’Arche care communities helping residents, or outdoor placements such as on summer camps. See the GAP website for more details of placements available.

Bunac

The British Universities’ North America Club is a job organisation specialising in placements for gap year students. The types of work available vary, but include working on holiday camps with children, as a counsellor for example. Those wanting to join BUNAC are required to pay a registration fee, flights, and insurance etc. but can expect to receive a wage for the work they do.

Internships

CIEE (Council on International Educational Exchange) offers work placements in Canada. For gap year students who can show proof of an unconditional offer from a university for the following year the CIEE’s ‘Internship Canada’ is ideal experience in a Canadian workplace. Internships last for up to twelve months and vary considerably in place, content, and payment. However, all internees are required to fund their own living, travel, and insurance, and to pay a �150 registration fee to CIEE.

Volunteering

Camphill Communities run volunteer placements throughout the world, including Canada. Volunteers work in communities with adults with special needs. You will be expected to work for 6 days a week and it is usually preferred that you stay for at least one year. Accommodation is provided for the duration of your stay, but you will have to fund your own meals. WWOOF, already mentioned, is an organisation placing volunteers on work projects on organic farms.

Useful Links

  • Island.net provides information about the Agriculture Employment Service in British Columbia.
  • Agriventure help you organise a working holiday on a variety of different agricultural sites such as farms and orchards
  • Wwoof.org gives information of voluntary work available on organic farms.
  • GAP are by far the most popular organisers of year abroad schemes
  • Bunac organise working holidays, mostly on childrens camps throughout the North American continent
  • CIEE help thousands of students each year to seize the opportunity of working abroad
  • Callan Projects provides a database of links to various Camphill communities around the world

How to Say Common French Phrases

Meeting People

English
French
yes
oui
no
non
thank you
merci
you are welcome
de rien
please
s’il vous pla�t
excuse me
pardon
hello
bonjour
goodbye
au revoir
good morning
bonjour
good night
bonne nuit
I do not understand
Je ne comprends pas
Do you speak…?
Parlez-vous…?
English
anglais
French
fran�ais
What is you name
Comment vous appelez-vous?
Nice to meet you
Enchant� de faire votre connaissance
How are you
Comment allez-vous?
Good
bon
bad
mauvais

Directions

English
French
map
carte
left
� gauche
right
� droite
straight on
tout droit
far
loin
near
pr�s

Methods of Transport

English
French
Where is…?
O� est…?
How much is the fare?
Quel est le prix du billet?
Ticket
billet
A ticket to…, please
Un billet pour…, s’il vous pla�t
Where are you going?
O� est-ce que vous allez?
Where do you live?
O� habitez-vous?
Train
le train
bus
un autobus
underground
le m�tro
airport
un a�roport
train station
la gare
bus station
la gare routi�re
underground station
la station de m�tro
departure
le d�part
arrival
une arriv�e
parking
le parking

Time

English
French
What time is it?
Quelle heure est-il?
Today
aujourd’hui
yesterday
hier
tomorrow
demain

Accommodation

English
French
hotel
un h�tel
room
une chambre
reservation
la r�servation
Are there any vacancies?
Avez-vous des chambres disponibles?
No vacancies
Complet
Passport
le passeport

Places

English
French
post office
la poste
bank
la banque
police station
le poste de police
hospital
l’h�pital
chemist
la pharmacie
shop
le magasin
restaurant
le restaurant
museum
le mus�e
church
une �glise
square
la place
street
la rue

Shopping

English
French
How much does this cost?
Combien �a coute?
I will buy it
Je le prends
I would like to buy…
Je voudrais acheter…
Do you have…?
Avez-vous…?
open
ouvert
closed
ferm�
postcard
la carte postale
stamps
des timbres
little
un peu
lot
beaucoup
all
tout

Meals

English
French
breakfast
le petit d�jeuner
lunch
le d�jeuner
dinner
le d�ner
vegetarian
v�g�tarien
cheers!
� votre sant�
the bill please
l’addition, s’il vous pla�t

Drinks

English
French
drink
la boisson
coffee
le caf�
tea
le th�
juice
le jus
water
l’eau
beer
la bi�re
wine
le vin

Food

English
French
meat
la viande
fish
le poisson
vegetable
le l�gume
fruit
le fruit
potato
la pomme de terre
salad
la salade
dessert
la dessert

Buy phrasebooks online at Amazon.co.uk

Canada Hostels

Hostels are a cheap form of accomodation, and so they are essential to backpackers and other budget travellers. We have compiled a list of hostels in Canada to help you plan your journey. If you are looking for a hostel in Canada, you’ve come to the right place.

Alberta
Montreal
Ontario

There you have it, the ultimate Canada backpacking guide. We hope you have found all the information you need for backpacking around Canada.

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