About Canada

Canada's culture is a funny thing. Many people in Canada maintain that Canada doesn't really have a culture at all, but borrows heavily from French, British and American culture to create our own sense of identity. Being polite and courteous to a fault (and often beyond) is something that is attributed to Canadians. We also have a reputation for being level-headed thinkers, and we certainly love peace and would prefer to argue than fight physically.

What we do have is multiculturalism. We are willing to take in any culture and make it part of our own. We are a country of immigrants and that is our culture. In Canada, just about every language in the world is spoken. We have television channels and newspapers devoted to any cultural group that has a large enough market to support them. In a city like Toronto, Vancouver or Montréal, you could have world-class dim sum for breakfast, kim chi for lunch and butter chicken for dinner and the next day have Belgian waffles and crêpes for breakfast, Yorkshire pudding for lunch and jerk chicken or kitfo for dinner. The possibilities are endless.

Geography + Climate

Canada is the world’s second-largest country by land area, measuring 9,984,670 km². That's almost the same size as the whole of the continent of Europe and about a third the size of Africa. You could fit the United Kingdom into Canada almost 40 times! Canada’s population is just over 35 million people, with about 85% of them living within 300km of the US border. Canada is divided into 10 provinces and 3 territories. Its capital city, Ottawa, is located in the province of Ontario.

There are many climatic variations in Canada, ranging from the permanently frozen ice caps north of the 70th parallel to the lush vegetation of British Columbia's west coast. On the whole, however, Canada has four very distinct seasons, particularly in the more populated regions along the US border. Daytime summer temperatures can rise to 35°C and higher, while lows of -15°C are not uncommon in winter. More moderate temperatures are the norm in spring and fall.

Education System

Each province or territory has its own way of organizing education, but there are some generalizations that one can make about Canadian education. In Canada there is a division between where you would go to school to prepare yourself for certain types of work when choosing between university and college, though the line between the two are starting to blur.

It used to be that if you wanted to become an electrician, a police officer or a plumber, or take on some other kind of hands-on trade or career, you would attend a college to receive a diploma. If you wanted to become a professional, such as a doctor, lawyer or teacher, you would attend a university to attain a degree.

Those same basic rules still apply, but many people in areas traditionally reserved for university graduates, such as business, are starting to obtain those positions with the help of college degrees. Colleges are handing out degrees and universities are handing out diplomas. Some schools have been specially formed to give students the opportunity to graduate with both a degree and a diploma.

Cost of Living

Here are some typical costs for items and services in Canada. Please note all figures are in Canadian Dollars (CAD). You can find a currency converter here.

Rent - Bachelor Apartment (one room apartment, one month, large city) $700 - $1,100
Rent - Bachelor Apartment (one room apartment, one month, small city/town) $500 - $700
Cell Phone Package (one month) $40-60
Internet Connection (high speed, one month) $40
Groceries for One Person (one month) $200 - $300
Fast Food Meal (hamburger, soft drink, french fries) $4 - $6 per person
Average Restaurant Meal $10 - $25 per person
Coffee from Specialty Coffee Shop $1.70
Gas/Petrol $1.15 - $1.50 per litre
Movie $11.50 - $13

Visas + Work Permits

International students interested in studying in Canada should ensure that they are familiar with the rules and processes involved in coming to Canada to study. The best and most accurate source for information is the Canadian federal government. The federal government runs Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) - which links immigration services with citizenship registration and is responsible for and admitting immigrant, foreign students, visitors and temporary workers.

The department of the federal government responsible for Culture, Education and Youth is Foreign Affairs Canada (FAC).