Half my family lives in Canada, specifically Ottawa (in the province of Ontario) which is the capital. I visit quite often, and there are a couple of ways to get there. I have done them both - through the USA and through Vancouver – but whichever way I go, the staff at each airport are wonderful and full of happiness.
Ottawa is a ‘small town’ city full of parliament buildings and museums. Ottawa borders Quebec province and is just a bridge walk away. Being so close to Quebec and being the capital of Canada, the language is spoken is English, but there is a very strong French language appreciation and knowledge. Some family members of mine have gone to French schools and completed their schooling in French. Others choose to do French immersion courses, so that getting a job in Ottawa becomes easier.
Summer in Ottawa sees markets open and a restaurant and café culture emerges. Winter in Ottawa means ice skating, snow activities and Beaver Tails (crispy, doughy pancakes) with maple syrup. Delicious!
A town worth a visit in Ontario is Kingston. It is a short drive south from Ottawa and is the old capital of Canada. The town sits on Lake Ontario and has a lot of history to be explored. I like Kingston because there are plenty of antique stores, country style cafes and lovely parks.
Ottawa is only five hours away from Toronto, which in comparison is a big city, and it reminds me of Melbourne. The city is laid out much like a grid, so is quite easy to navigate. Toronto is home to the famous CN Tower, as well as great shopping and cafes. In winter Toronto has many snow-based activities on offer – there is even an underground shopping mall, so you can shop all year round.
Niagara Falls is two hours south of Toronto and the town itself is a quaint one, there just happens to be a massive, beautiful waterfall right next to it! This is not just any old waterfall though - it’s a must see for every Toronto visit. There is a boat trip called Maid of the Mist and it goes behind the curtain of water – it’s spectacular, but you’ll definitely need to bring a rain jacket.
Many travellers ask which the better side is to see the falls from; Canadian or USA. Without a doubt, the largest area of the falls is on the Canadian side. However, the falls can be seen from Buffalo in the United States.
The east coast of Canada is also home to Nova Scotia. This province is home to ‘Anne of Green Gables’, and you will find lakes and towns full of colour. It is exactly how you imagine t will be. The locals are friendly, and the flavours are great.
The eastern side of Canada will teach travellers of the culture and history of Canada. To describe this area very loosely, I compare it to a mixture of Canberra and the Northern Territory. Of course, the stunning scenery and views are amazing, but not like anything we have in Australia!
- Typical winters on this side of Canada can be as cold as -40°C. The summers, however, can reach 35°C.
- Canadians drive on the right-hand side of the road and are also on the metric system. They work in kilometres and Celsius, but then also use ounces and pounds for weights.
- Tipping is compulsory in Canada, especially in the hospitality industry and the currency you’ll need for your visit, is the Canadian Dollar.