Immigrating to Canada: General Facts about Canada
Its ten provinces and three territories extend from the Atlantic to the Pacific and northward into the Arctic Ocean. It covers 9.98 million square kilometers (3.85 million square miles), making it the world’s second-largest country by total area, second to Russia. Canada occupies roughly the northern two-fifths of the continent of North America.
Canada shares a 5,525-mile- (8,890-km-) long border with the United States (including Alaska)—the longest border in the world not patrolled by military forces—and the overwhelming majority of its population lives within 185 miles (300 km) of the international boundary. Although Canada shares many similarities with its southern neighbor—and, indeed, its popular culture and that of the United States are in many regards indistinguishable—the differences between the two countries, both temperamental and material, are deep.
Immigrating to Canada? Canada is populated sporadically.
The majority of its land area being dominated by forest and tundra. Its population is highly urbanized. Eighty percent of its population is usually in large and medium-sized cities. And 70 percent of citizens residing within 100 kilometers (62 mi) of the southern border. Canada’s climate varies widely across its vast area, ranging from arctic weather in the north, to hot summers in the southern regions, with four distinct seasons.
Canada became a self-governing territory in 1867, while retaining ties to the British crown. Canada repatriated its constitution from the UK in 1982, severing a final colonial tie.
Economically and technologically, the nation has developed in parallel with the US, its neighbor to the south across the world’s longest international border. Canada faces the political challenges of meeting public demands for quality improvements in health care, education, social services, and economic competitiveness, as well as responding to the particular concerns of predominantly francophone Quebec.
Canada also aims to develop its diverse energy resources while maintaining its commitment to the environment.
Geography & Climate
If you’re immigrating to Canada, of course you will want to know about its geography and climate. Can you withstand their weather? Canada occupies much of the continent of North America, sharing land borders with the adjoining United States to the south, and the U.S. state of Alaska to the northwest.
Canada stretches from the Atlantic Ocean in the east to the Pacific Ocean in the west; to the north lies the Arctic Ocean.
Greenland is to the northeast and to the southeast Canada shares a maritime boundary with the Republic of France’s overseas in totality of Saint Pierre and Miquelon, the last vestige of New France.
By total area (including its waters), Canada is the second-largest country in the world, after Russia.
By land area alone, however, Canada ranks fourth, the difference being due to it having the world’s largest proportion of fresh water lakes. Canada has thirteen provinces and territories, but only two of them are landlocked which are Alberta and Saskatchewan. The other eleven all directly border one of three oceans.
Canada is geologically active.
Average winter and summer high temperatures across Canada vary from region to region. Winters can be harsh in many parts of the country, particularly in the interior and Prairie provinces, which experience a continental climate, where daily average temperatures are near −15 °C (5 °F), but can drop below −40 °C (−40 °F) with severe wind chills.
Because of its great latitudinal extent, Canada has a wide variety of climates.
Ocean currents play an important role, with both the warm waters of the Gulf Stream in the Atlantic and the Alaska Current in the Pacific affecting climate.
Westerly winds, blowing from the sea to the land, are the prevailing air currents in the Pacific and bring coastal British Columbia heavy precipitation and moderate winter and summer temperatures.
Inland, the Great Lakes moderate the weather in both southern Ontario and Quebec. In the east the cold Labrador Current meets the Gulf Stream along the coast of Newfoundland and Labrador, cooling the air and causing frequent fog.
The northern two-thirds of the country has a climate similar to that of northern Scandinavia. It has very cold winters and short, cool summers. The central southern area of the interior plains has a typical continental climate—very cold winters, hot summers, and relatively sparse precipitation.
Southern Ontario and Quebec have a climate with hot, humid summers and cold, snowy winters, similar to that of some portions of the American Midwest. Except for the west coast, all of Canada has a winter season with average temperatures below freezing and with continuous snow cover.
If you are immigrating to Canada, you need to know about their laws so you won’t get in trouble. Canada is a nation governed by laws, and the Canadian legal system is the means through which those laws are written, organized, enforced, and interpreted.
As a country founded by England, the vital principles of Canadian law are not appallingly different from those governing the legal system of Great Britain, the United States, or any other country with a history of British rule.
This English tradition states that laws must be clear and rational, that all accused persons are innocent until proven guilty, that incriminating evidence must meet very high standards, and that the law’s power over the individual is limited by precedent and the Constitution.
The Canadian constitution is the set of rules that define the powers of the government and the rights of the people.
It says how we want to govern ourselves and structure our society. The constitution includes the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. The Charter lists Canadians’ most important rights and freedoms.
The constitution, which includes the Charter, is the highest law in Canada. This means that governments must respect it whenever they pass a law, make a policy, or have day-to-day dealings with us.
Rights and Freedom
A person’s rights and freedoms are very important to Canadians. All Canadians have some important freedoms. In Canada, you can:
- …practice your Freedom of Speech
- …believe in any religion or no religion.
- …live and work anywhere in Canada.
- …participate in peaceful political activities.
- …meet with or join any group, except a terrorist organization.
All Canadians are equal
Equality is one of the most important values in Canada. Canadians are equal under the law. Laws in Canada apply to all people, including the police, judges, and those who work for the government.
In Canada, women can have the same jobs as men and all the same responsibilities. You cannot get better job in Canada because of your social class or gender.
Everyone in Canada has legal rights. Some of your important legal rights are:
- they have the right to be thought of as innocent until proven guilty,
- the right to have a fair trial in court, and
- right not to suffer cruel or unusual punishment.
In Canada, human rights are protected by federal, provincial and territorial laws. Canada’s human rights laws stem from the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
Canada’s human rights laws protect you against unfair discrimination when you:
- use public services,
- buy or rent a home,
- look for a job, or
- deal with any government agency.
Discrimination is Against the Law in Canada.
To discriminate against someone means to treat him or her different from other people in a way that is unfair.
The law says that no one can discriminate against you because of your:
- race or birthplace,
- sexual orientation (gay, lesbian, bisexual, transsexual or straight),
- marriage or family status (single, married, or living common-law), or
- mental or physical disability.
For example, it is against the law to discriminate against women. Women in Canada are equal to men. They are equal partners in the family, in business, in law, and in government.
Racial discrimination is illegal in Canada. It is against the law for anyone to discriminate against you because of the color of your skin, or the country you or your ancestors came from.
Social Customs, Culture, and Traditions of Canada
Canada’s culture has been influenced by European throughout its history especially by the British and French culture and traditions. Over time, elements of the cultures of Canada’s immigrant populations have become incorporated to form a Canadian cultural mosaic.
Naming in Canada is similar to those of the United States and Britain in that the child is given a first name, a second name (although this is not always given) and the last name which is the surname and usually that of the father. It is not uncommon, however, for the mother’s name to be used or for the parent’s names to be conjugated.
Workplace, Meeting & Greeting:
- Last names and appropriate titles should be used until otherwise invited to be less formal.
- In Quebec, it is usual to kiss once on each cheek as they do in France.
- Some older men may even kiss a lady’s hand.
- Canadian business people often begin relationships in a reserved manner which may become less formal once people are more familiar with one another.
- Canadians appreciate politeness and expect others to adhere to the proper protocol for any given situation.
- Shake hands with everyone at the meeting upon arrival and departure.
- Maintain eye contact while shaking hands.
- Men may offer their hand to a woman without waiting for her to extend hers first.
It is difficult to specify any national trait in terms of communication in Canada due to its regionalism and cultural diversity. However, there are some basic communication styles that are fairly standard across the country. For example, business people are generally polite, easy-going and somewhat informal.
In general, communication is moderately indirect perhaps reflecting an amalgamation of both North American and British tendencies. Although most Canadians can disagree openly when necessary, they prefer to do so with tact and diplomacy. Their communication style is essentially pragmatic and relies on common sense. If you come from a culture where communication is very direct, you may wish to relax your demeanor and tone so as not to appear threatening.
Communication styles vary most between Anglophone and Francophone parts of the country.
- Francophones are generally more indirect than Anglophones, although less so than the French. They also tend to be more exuberant than Anglophones. Anglophones do not generally interrupt someone who is speaking. They consider it rude not to let a person complete their thought before entering the discussion. Francophones are more likely to interrupt another speaker.
- Canadians communicate more by the spoken word rather than non-verbal expressions. Non-verbal expressions are only really used to add emphasis to a message or are part of an individual’s personal communication style.
- Canadians like their personal space and prefer to be at an arm’s length when speaking to someone.
- Canadians are reticent to discuss their personal lives with business associates.
- They expect people to speak in a straightforward manner and to be able to back up their claims with examples. They do not make exaggerated claims and are suspicious of something that sounds too good to be true.
- In general, Canadians give gifts for birthdays and Christmas.
- If invited to someone’s home for dinner, take a box of good chocolates, flowers or a bottle of wine.
- In Quebec, sending flowers in advance of the dinner party is the correct protocol.
- In Quebec, if you give wine, make sure it is of the highest quality you can afford.
- Do not give white lilies as they are used at funerals.
- Do not give cash or money as a present.
- Canadians usually open their gifts right away when they received it.
- Do not point at people
- Don’t confuse Canada with the US. Canadians are not just like Americans but speak differently. Don’t go there.
- It is best not to initiate discussions in respect to Quebec separatism, politics or religion
- Don’t talk about any aspect of religion unless you are sure the people you are with are receptive. Most people will not be receptive and will try to getaway.
- Learn something about the culture before you arrive.
- They don’t have Indians; they have First Nations Peoples.
- The term Eskimo is offensive to the Inuit.
- Don’t talk loudly.
- Do not talk loud about money.
- Don’t do a negative comparison in a loud voice.
- Do not refer to people by skin color or what you perceive is their ethnic background.
- The immigrants and refugees are not a problem; they are an asset.
- Be polite to everyone, especially people working in service industries.
- They disapprove ostentatious displays of wealth. If you insist on having a sprawling house or a fancy car, or wear a lot of jewelry, that might go over in some places, but not in Canada.
- Don’t ever say anything negative about Tim Hortons.
- Do not ever insinuate that the Toronto Maple Leafs are a good hockey team.
- Don’t forget to apologize when someone does you an injustice, no matter how great or how obvious it is that you were not at fault.
Dining & Food
- Table manners are relatively relaxed and informal in Canada.
- Quebec does see a little more formality.
- Table cutlery manners are generally Continental, i.e. the fork is in the left hand and the knife in the right while eating. The tines of the fork should face down.
- Wait for them to show your seat.
- Do not begin eating until the hostess starts.
- Don’t rest your elbows on the table.
- Leaving a small amount at the end of the meal is generally acceptable.
- In formal situations, the host gives the first toast. An honored guest should return the toast later in the meal. Women may give toasts.
Canadian Foods and Cuisine
What foods and cuisine will you expect if you will be immigrating to Canada? In a multi-ethnic, restaurant-heavy country like Canada, it can sometimes be a bit of a challenge to define what exactly counts as “Canadian food.” In general, most Canadians eat a largely “western” diet broadly similar to the diet of Americans and Europeans, with a heavy focus on processed grain and dairy products, farm-grown beef and chicken, certain cooked or fresh fruits and vegetables, and questionable amounts of salt and sugar.
Canadians are like the other nations that usually eat three standard meals a day — breakfast, lunch, and dinner — each of which is quite distinct.
Breakfast is eaten first thing in the morning to provide fuel for the day ahead. Unfortunately, most Canadians are rushing in the morning and they can’t give the meal much effort, so usually, they skip it. Traditional breakfast foods in Canada are eggs, fried pork sausages or bacon, fried or deep-fried potatoes, toasted bread, pancakes (or egg-battered French Toast) and syrup, cereals, or hot oatmeal.
Lunch can often be a light meal as well. It’s traditionally eaten on or around noon, a time when most Canadians are still at work. Traditional Canadian lunch foods are usually instant foods and easily to make such as sandwiches or salads.
Dinner is almost always the largest and most well-prepared meal of any Canadian’s day, something one looks forward to enjoying after a long day of labor.
Canadian dinners will usually feature a large meat entrée of some sort, such as chicken breast, steak, pork chop, hamburger, or ground beef, cooked vegetables (most commonly carrots, peas, green beans, cauliflower, broccoli, or corn), and a grain or starch-based “side” such as rice, pasta, potatoes, or bread.
Provinces and Territories
10 Provinces of Canada
Alberta is a province in Western Canada. Its landscape encompasses mountains, prairies, desert badlands, and vast coniferous forests. It has more than 600 lakes and rich mineral deposits. In the west, the Canadian Rocky Mountain Parks have glaciers in the Columbia Ice fields.
British Columbia, Canada’s westernmost province, is defined by its Pacific coastline and mountain ranges. Nature areas like Glacier National Park offer hiking and biking trails, as well as campgrounds.
Manitoba is a Canadian province bordered by Ontario to the east and Saskatchewan to the west. Its landscape of lakes and rivers, mountains, forests and prairies stretch from northern Arctic tundra to Hudson Bay in the east and southern farmland.
New Brunswick is one of four Atlantic provinces on the east coast of Canada. According to the Constitution of Canada, New Brunswick is the only bilingual province. About two-thirds of the population declare themselves anglophones, and one third francophones.
Newfoundland and Labrador
Newfoundland and Labrador form the most easterly province of Canada. On Newfoundland island, the Norse archaeological site L’Anse aux Meadows is the reputed settlement of Viking explorer Leif Erikson. Gros Morne National Park, on the Gulf of St Lawrence, has cliffs, waterfalls and glacial fjords. Southeastern capital city St. John’s is known for the 17th-century Signal Hill citadel, with a hillside walking trail.
Nova Scotia is one of Canada’s three Maritime Provinces, and one of the four provinces that form Atlantic Canada. Its provincial capital is Halifax. Nova Scotia is the second-smallest of Canada’s ten provinces.
Ontario is a province in east-central Canada that borders the U.S. and the Great Lakes. It’s home to Ottawa, Canada’s capital, known for Parliament Hill’s Victorian architecture and the National Gallery, featuring Canadian and indigenous art.
Prince Edward Island
Prince Edward Island is one of eastern Canada’s maritime provinces, off New Brunswick and Nova Scotia in the Gulf of St. Lawrence. The large island is marked by red-sand beaches, lighthouses, and fertile farmland, and is renowned for seafood like lobster and mussels. Charlottetown, the capital, is home to Victorian government buildings & the modern Confederation Center of the Arts, with a theater and art gallery.
Saskatchewan is a Canadian province that borders the United States to the south. Grassland covers its southern plains, and to the north are the rugged rock of the Canadian Shield plateau, coniferous forests, rivers and lakes. Regina, the provincial capital, is home to the Royal Saskatchewan Museum, with exhibits on natural history and the people of Canada’s First Nations.
Canada’s three territories are:
The Northwest Territories of Canada include the regions of Dehcho, North Slave, Sahtu, South Slave and Inuvik. Their remote landscape encompasses forest, mountains, Arctic tundra and islands in the Canadian Arctic Archipelago. Dehcho’s Nahanni National Park Reserve centers around the canyons of the South Nahanni River and 90m-high Virginia Falls. The regional capital, Yellowknife, is on the north shore of Great Slave Lake.
Nunavut is a massive, sparsely populated territory of northern Canada, forming most of the Canadian Arctic Archipelago. Its islands have expanses of tundra, craggy mountains and remote villages, accessible only by plane or boat. It’s known for its indigenous Inuit people’s artwork, carvings and handmade clothing. Inuit art is displayed at the Nunatta Sunakkutaangit Museum in the capital, Iqaluit, on Baffin Island.
The Yukon, a territory in northwest Canada, is wild, mountainous and sparsely populated. Kluane National Park and Reserve include Mount Logan, Canada’s highest peak, as well as glaciers, trails, and the Alsek River. In the far north in Ivvavik National Park, with protected calving grounds for Porcupine caribou. In the south are numerous glacier-fed alpine lakes, including boldly colored Emerald Lake.
6 Largest Cities in Canada
Immigrating to Canada? Well you need to know that the most populated city in Canada is Toronto. Toronto is the capital of Ontario and located in the east-central region of the country. Nearly half of the population is made up of foreign-born residents. After Miami in the US, this is the second largest percentage of foreign-born residents in the world. Interestingly, no nationality holds the dominant position, making Toronto the most diverse city in the world.
If you are planning to immigrate to Canada, Montréal is one of the best city in our opinion. Montréal is the largest city in Canada’s Québec province. It’s set on an island in the Saint Lawrence River and named after Mt. Royal, the triple-peaked hill at its heart. Its boroughs, many of which were once independent cities, include neighborhood’s ranging from cobblestoned, French colonial Vieux-Montréal – with the Gothic Revival Notre-Dame Basilica at its centre – to bohemian Plateau.
Vancouver, a bustling west coast seaport in British Columbia, is among Canada’s densest, most ethnically diverse cities. A popular filming location, it’s surrounded by mountains, and also has thriving art, theatre and music scenes. Vancouver Art Gallery is known for its works by regional artists, while the Museum of Anthropology houses preeminent First Nations collections.
Calgary, a cosmopolitan Alberta city with numerous skyscrapers, owes its rapid growth to its status as the center of Canada’s oil industry. However, it’s still steeped in the western culture that earned it the nickname “Cowtown,” evident in the Calgary Stampede, its massive July rodeo and festival that grew out of the farming exhibitions once presented here.
Edmonton, capital of Canada’s Alberta province, sits on the North Saskatchewan River. Its past is recreated at Fort Edmonton Park, a living history museum with an 1846 fort and streets from 1885, 1905 and 1920.
Gatineau is a city in western Quebec, Canada. It is the fourth-largest city in the province after Montreal, Quebec City, and Laval. It is located on the northern bank of the Ottawa River, immediately across from Ottawa, together with which it forms Canada’s National Capital Region. The capital region of Ottawa-Gatineau is the sixth-largest city in the country. Ottawa-Gatineau has a population of 989,657 and is the capital of Canada. This city is located in the eastern region of Ontario. The major industries here are in public administration and the high-tech industry.
The question here is not to immigrate to Canada or not, it is when? The vastness of Canada’s natural beauty, from mountains and glaciers to secluded lakes and forests, is almost incomparable worldwide. But Canada’s appeal is not just the great outdoors. Canada has diverse cities that are clean, safe, friendly, and multicultural. In fact, Canada repeatedly is praised as one of the world’s most livable countries and yeah, one of the safest countries in the world. Whatever your interests are, Canada is the best place to go!