Culture in Canada
Canada is known for its friendly locals proud of their history, so you are bound to find some interesting people during your tour.
The information below will help you know a little more about the country before you arrive including the products to buy that are truly Canadian, what tipping is expected of you and the taxes you will need to pay.
The Canadian dollar is made up of 100 cents. Currency can be purchased in advance from your bank or from bureaux de change. Travellers Cheques in Canadian dollars can also be bought in advance from your bank. All major credit cards are recognised in Canada. Cash machines are found at banks and in retail areas throughout Canada. Most cash machines accept UK-issued Visa and MasterCard cards. We recommend credit cards and travellers’ cheques as the best way to pay for your purchases. You must carry at least one major credit card with you in order to leave a deposit with the motorhome hire company.
Usual banking hours are Monday to Thursday 9.30am-4pm, with many banks open to 6pm on a Friday. Some banks or specific branches may be open later on weekday evenings and some may open on Saturdays.
British Columbia is eight hours behind Greenwich Mean Time, Alberta is seven hours behind, Ontario is five hours behind and Nova Scotia is four hours behind.
As service charges are not normally added to bills, a tip of about 15 per cent on the pre-tax total is standard practice in restaurants and bars (both at the bar and at the table) and for taxi drivers, barbers and hairdressers. At the customer’s discretion porters, room service and doormen at hotels and airports generally get $1-$2 per baggage item carried.
It is a very good idea to take some currency in small bills with you to cover tips on arrival.
It is also standard practice to tip tour guides, so you might like to have some small bills to hand as you leave excursion buses.
Canada has excellent shopping, particularly enjoyable in markets and at native craft shops. Many stores open from 9-10am to 6pm, seven days per week. City stores and suburban shopping centres are often open until 9pm on several weeknights, particularly on Thursday and Friday. There is also a growing number of shops which are also open on Sundays. Vancouver and Toronto, particularly, are a shopper’s paradise. Whether you are looking for fashion items, native arts and craft, antiques, ceramics or simply souvenirs, you’ll find everything you want there. You will also see plenty of other items to take your fancy when you are on the road. Shopping for food and drink is easy, with supermarkets that are very similar to home. You may also find that fresh produce is often sold at roadside stands in fruit and vegetable growing areas.
Mineral water can be bought, but all tap water is drinkable unless marked otherwise.
GST (goods and services tax) is a 5% federal tax applied to most goods and services provided in Canada. In all provinces except Alberta, an additional provincial sales tax (PST) of between 5-10% also applies to purchases and financial transactions; but territories do not add PST. HST (harmonized sales tax) is a 13% tax that replaces the PST and GST in the provinces of Newfoundland & Labrador, Nova Scotia and New Brunswick. GST or HST may be either included in prices, or added separately. You may be entitled to a rebate of local taxes you pay during your holiday.
For more information, please visit www.cra-arc.gc.ca/visitors.