Canada has incredible natural landscapes, diverse cultures, and friendly people. It is a safe and welcoming place to visit, but be aware that there are some significant cultural nuances and laws you should abide by. Here are some things to never do to help you make the most of your Canadian adventure.
Commenting on French-English Regulations
Canada is a bilingual country; French and English are the official languages. Most provinces have laws to ensure that both languages are used equally in public. This system is a part of Canadian culture and identity, so commenting about it can be offensive to Canadians.
In Canada, it is customary to tip at least 15-20% of the bill for servers, bartenders, taxi drivers, and hairdressers. Exceptional service deserves a tip above 20%, while poor service warrants a tip below 15%. Remember that tipping is common there, so be prepared to factor it into your expenses when you’re out and about.
Not Return an Apology
Canadians are known for being polite and friendly; apologizing is part of their culture. But the twist is when they apologize for something, an apology in return is expected. It’s a sign of respect and politeness deeply entrenched in Canadian culture. When next you are in Canada and someone apologizes to you, reciprocate the apology with a smile to remain in their good books.
Feeding wildlife is an absolute no-no in Canada. Not only can it be dangerous, but it disrupts the balance of nature and affects the health of animals. This act also encourages the animals to become dependent on humans for food and water, which can lead to aggressive behavior. Moreover, it can be illegal depending on the animal, so when admiring Canada’s wildlife, leave snacks out of it.
Not Respecting Privacy Laws
Privacy is a priority in Canada, and the government has implemented many laws to protect it. Canadians are very protective of their privacy, so never share personal information without permission or exploit others’ information for your benefit. Also, be aware that some apps and websites may not be allowed there.
Underestimate the Mountain Weather
The Canadian Rockies are home to some of the most stunning mountain views in the world, but they can be deceiving regarding weather. The mountains have unpredictable weather, and sudden and drastic changes can occur. Always pack adequate summer and winter supplies when going to the mountain regions. Also, know the forecast before venturing out into the wild.
Be Bear Unaware
Bears are common in Canada, so be aware of your surroundings and protect yourself. Make noise when hiking and carry bear spray if venturing into the backcountry. If you see a bear, never approach or feed it. Stay at least 30 meters away from them, speak in a low voice, and move away slowly. Don’t be loud or aggressive; this can make them angry and endanger you.
Littering is not only unsightly, but it also harms the environment. Littering is a serious offense, and there are strict laws against it, which if broken, results in hefty fines or imprisonment. Dispose of your garbage correctly by always using designated trash receptacles or taking rubbish with you for disposal later.
Not Being Respectful of Aboriginal Culture
The history of Canadian Aboriginal people is long and complex. As such, be respectful when visiting places that are of cultural or spiritual significance, like sacred sites or archaeological ruins. Show respect by not disturbing the area and only taking photographs if allowed. Also, seek permission before entering private lands owned by Aboriginal people or participating in any traditional activities they may offer.
Go Out on a Glacier Without a Sunscreen
Canada’s glaciers are some of its most beautiful natural wonders but stay safe when exploring them. Exposure to the sun can be dangerous, and sunburns can occur in as little as 15 minutes on a glacier. Protect yourself from the UV rays by wearing sunscreen and appropriate clothing like long-sleeved shirts and hats. Also, bring plenty of water as dehydration is a risk due to extreme temperatures.
Canada has many signposts for many reasons, including regulations and public safety warnings. Ignoring signs can put you in harm’s way, so always pay attention and follow the instructions. In parks, for example, abide by all posted restrictions. Don’t pick wildflowers or take shortcuts that may have restriction bans for your safety.
Pick Flowers or Rocks at National Parks
The national parks in Canada are some of the most spectacular places on earth and you must respect them. It is illegal to pick flowers or remove rocks from National Parks as it can disrupt the delicate ecosystem and cause permanent damage. You can take photos but must stay on designated trails and leave everything exactly as you find them.
Assume Everyone Will Take Your Currency
Traveling to a new country means exchanging your currency when paying for goods and services. In Canada, the Canadian Dollar (CAD) is the official currency, but some establishments may accept American Dollars or other forms of payment. Check with each place before assuming they will take your currency.
Make Jokes Using ‘Eh’ and ‘Aboat’
Canadians are known for their charm and sense of humor but avoid making jokes about their accent. Yes, indeed, Canadians often say “eh” and their pronunciation of the word “about” can be mistaken for “aboat,” but these topics can be sensitive to them. Be mindful when using words like these in conversation.
Not Showing Up on Time
Time is of the essence in Canada, and punctuality is an expectation there. Show up on time for work, meetings, social gatherings, or any other event, as being late is rude. Plan to allow sufficient travel time and if you know you will be running late, call the host in advance and apologize.
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