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  • planxty's Profile Photo

    Hit the road Jack (planxty in this case) Part 1

    by planxty Updated Mar 27, 2015

    Favorite thing: Canada is a country I had often thought of visiting but only really in abstract terms. My problem is that it is so vast that public transport is not really an option and I do not drive a car so transportation was always going to be an issue. Certainly there are organised tours utilising buses and / or trains but that type of trip would be total travelling Hell for me and so I had put the whole idea on the back burner whilst I travelled elsewhere, mostly in Asia.

    It was something of a windfall opportunity therefore when VT member Ravenswing aka Lynne offered me the chance of a road trip in a campervan (or RV as they are called in North America) in the summer of 2014 and one which I naturally jumped at and I am so glad I did as it turned out to be one of the best trips in a life that has been fortunate enough to have made a few.

    A campervan (or RV as they are called there) is an ideal way to see this beautiful country although again with the caveat that I only saw a small proportion of it namely Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island with an all too brief couple of days in New Brunswick. I am constructing this tip primarily to suggest some resources for anyone that may wish to "hit the road" in this way.

    Firstly, there are two main ways you can do this. You can either buy, beg, borrow or steal (only joking) an RV or else hire one. We were lucky enough to have our own, a venerable 33 year old Glendale body on a Chevyvan chassis. Sadly Glendale are no more having filed for bankruptcy in 2010 by which time they had been building RV's for 60 years but Chevrolet seem to be going strong. It is a shame about Glendale as they built some lovely rigs and we certainly saw plenty of them on our travels. Ours was 23 feet C class which was more than adequate for our needs and could theoretically sleep six, two in a bunk above the cab, two in a pullout settee in the rear and another two in a bunk which was made by folding down the dining table although that wasn't too long and would only have been good for kids. I think six would have been pretty cramped and I should explain that a Class C is the type of RV based on a truck chassis with a "cabover" profile although I didn't know any of this until I started the trip.

    If you cannot get your own RV then the other option is renting and there are plenty of companies offering the service although from my experience the largest by far seems to be Canadream but this is certainly not cheap. An RV similar to ours although slightly longer (they start at 24 feet) would cost an eye-watering $8330 to recreate our journey in 2015 although admittedly they are very well appointed. We bought our old beauty for a fraction of that and even though it blew up and died on the last day we saved ourselves a fortune.

    Once you have secured your vehicle you then have two options as to where to spend the night. The first and most obvious option is to go to one of the many RV / Campgrounds available and which I found to be of a uniformly good standard with varying levels of facilities like swimming pools, kids playgrounds, shuffleboard, volleyball courts, the list is endless. In a Class C of our length you can expect to pay between $30 and $50 per night although obviously the longer your vehicle the more you pay.

    A quick primer here for the uninitiated (as I was) about some of the jargon associated with campgrounds. As the name suggets a pull-through is a pitch where you drive in and drive out forwards again without the need to reverse and I have to say I would not like trying to reverse some of the monster rigs we saw.

    An unserviced site is merely a piece of ground where you park up for the night and you have the opportunity to use the onsite facilities but you need to be self-sufficient for water and electric. A two way site provides both of these and a three way site provides both and also a sewage pipe to empty your sewage tank. Electric generally comes in either 30amp or 50 amp supply. With 30 amp you can only run a limited number of appliances in your rig but a 50 amp will allow you to run anything you want although obviously it is more expensive.

    A very limited number of sites are now even offering an additional service of a cable TV hook up on your pitch.

    The second option and one which amazed me when I first saw it is that of parking in the carpark (parking lot) of a shopping centre or supermarket and Walmart seems favourite for this. Obviously you need to be self-sufficient to do this so it was not an option for us as we had no leisure batteries and only had running water when hooked up but plenty of people seem to do it. Indeed in one Walmart carpark we saw about half a dozen rigs all pulled up together in what was obviously "RV Corner". They had the awnings out, chairs and tables and even barbecues out and I could not believe my eyes as in the UK you would be moved on in no time flat. Lynne explained to me that the supermarkets don't mind as you are not costing them anything and on the very reasonable assumption that you may well stock up on whatever you need from their premises and / or use their catering faclilities if you don't feel like cooking yourself. I suppose there is the added benefit that the very visible presence of people may deter crime at night so everyone's a winner. Lynne and I are currently looking for another RV for summer 2015 and beyond and have decided that it needs to be "Walmart compliant" as I have dubbed it.

    I suppose carpark RVing all depends on what you want to do. We basically travelled all day and only wanted somewhere to stop at night, use the washrooms and perhaps the laundrette and that was it. If you want to stop for a day or two in pleasant surroundings, fish, go for a swim or avail yourself of the other leisure facilities then RV parks are the way to go. I know supermarket carparks are not exactly the most scenic of places but you can save a lot of money if you are literally just looking for somewhere to spend the night. I should mention that just parking up in the countryside somewhere is not permitted in Nova Scotia. I cannot speak definitively for PEI or New Brunswick but I would be surprised if it was any different. You are OK in the carparks as it is private property.

    If you have decided to use an RV site, how do you know which one to use? Actually, there is a wealth of information available and we almost exclusively used two particular guides. The first was one that Lynne had picked up from free the Canadian Automobile Association (CAA) as she is a member and the other was Woodalls. Woodalls are an American company but do very comprehensive guides to Canada as well as operating the Good Sam scheme which attracts discounts at participating sites and Lynne's CAA membership also scored us a few discounts.

    Another good source of information are the various Provincial tourist boards which I found to be extemely helpful and with a good range of literature including their own RV site guides. You can check here for Nova Scotia, here for Prince Edward Island and here for New Brunswick. All three websites are excellent although I am a bit low-tech and was quite happy just to use to good old-fashioned brochures.

    As I have written a considerable amount about this I have exceeded the 10,000 character limit and so shall continue this tip in a Part 2.

    Fondest memory: I do not wish to sound overblown about this but my fondest memory of Canada is every single day I spent in that wonderful old van with a dear friend travelling round one of the most beautiful places I have ever been.

    RV living, Canada. RV living, Canada. RV living, Canada. RV living, Canada. RV living, Canada.
    Related to:
    • Road Trip
    • Family Travel

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  • planxty's Profile Photo

    Hit the road Jack (planxty in this case) Part 2

    by planxty Updated Mar 27, 2015

    Favorite thing: This is a continuation of Part 1 on this page which was too long to fit on one tip. Please read that first if you have not already.

    So that is the technical side of the matter but why did I include RVing as my favourite thing about Canada? Well, it is frankly. I had always fancied the idea of an RV trip and this certainly did not disappoint. In the same way as I love canal narrowboats in the UK it is the idea of complete independence and the ability to go or stay at will. I mentioned at the top of this tip that an organised tour would be my idea of Hell so I suppose that with RVing being the complete antithesis of that then this must be my idea of Heaven. When we were discussing this trip Lynne asked me what out our plans were and I told her there weren't any. In fact, it became something of a standing joke between us, "No Planning"! I realise that she was not entirely happy with this arrangement but very gamely allowed herself to go along with it and I think she is much more comfortable with it now. It is how I always travel and I would not have it any other way.

    I have mentioned above about the fairly basic facilities in our RV and to me this only added to the appeal of the whole trip as it took on the feel of an adventure rather than a holiday. Obviously some of the rigs now, especially the rental rigs are completely luxurious with every conceivable comfort like microwaves, plasma TVs and Heaven knows what else but why bother?

    Basic or not, I found our van really comfortable and I even had the joy of cooking on a gas cooker which is a pleasure denied to me at home where I have to use electric due to building regulations. To explain this a bit further Lynne did all the driving and mechanicing (there was a bit of that to be done!) and I did the navigating and cooking in what may seem like something of a traditional gender role-reversal. I don't drive and know less than nothing about vehicle maintainance and Lynne detests cooking while I love it so it worked perfectly although it did cause the odd raised eyebrow when we spoke to people about it.

    I think I have waxed lyrical about this subject quite long enough and so I shall end this tip here. I fully appreciate that this style of travelling is not for everybody and far be it from to to tell anyone how they should travel but I hope that if you have not considerd RVing as an option that you may do so and if you have considered it that the information in this tip may be of some assistance to you.

    I apologise for my ugly feet in the main image but to me that it encapsulates entirely what I have been writing about. Bare feet up on the dash in an RV on an open, empty road with nowhere specific to go and complete independence. That is my idea of travelling.

    Fondest memory: I do not wish to sound overblown about this but my fondest memory of Canada is every single day I spent in that wonderful old van with a dear friend travelling round one of the most beautiful places I have ever been.

    RV living, Canada. RV living, Canada. RV living, Canada. RV living, Canada. RV living, Canada.
    Related to:
    • Road Trip
    • Family Travel

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  • kenHuocj's Profile Photo

    Miscellaneous, writers, trees, timmies etctra

    by kenHuocj Written Jul 10, 2013

    2.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    Favorite thing: Old and new, what was trendy are now dog eared and yellow, the glue has dried and spine broken, sometimes a page or two missing, but is was in the 5 for $ bin, or whatever, bringing about some moments of pleasant reading and escape from the ravages of consumer society.

    Farley Mowat, Pierre Berton, Wayson Choy, Stuart McLean, and others tahn are around the house. where ????

    Fondest memory: Once it was the CBC vinyl Cafe and Tim Hortons ambience, which has undergone too many supposedly progressive customer driven changes, now ( as of MMXIII-7) it is not being able to meet up with Canadian friends, whether it is to whine over politicians at all levels, the weather, price of gas aka petrol or whatever, the local library for it's almost free service and having to pay fines for books returned late . . . . . .alas. . .
    the picture of red maples leaf flag waving, the knowledge that the Boreal Forests are real and surviving against the intrusions of of industrialisation and multinational corporations, oft disguised otherwise . . . . the country will eb around when i return . . . .
    if ...... ...... ..... if . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

    Maple Leaf at Sens hockey game, Alfie gone . . but Poutine for Alfred - en route to Montreal Knights of Columbus oldies @ Cndn Blood Srvce tea N america's largest welcome into Ottawa's Chnatwn good past time at LCBO or SAQ
    Related to:
    • Historical Travel
    • Adventure Travel
    • Photography

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  • jasper

    by ltt Written Nov 22, 2011

    Favorite thing: boy, you sure sound like you aren't looking forward to your travel. your uupset you have to stay in winnipeg for 3 nights, your upset you have to stay in jasper for 3 days. if you dislike via so much, maybe you better get use to flying or deal with greyhound. i hope you have a good time.
    3 days in jasper is heaven. hopefully you can rent a car or book some tours. you can easily spend one days just waundering around town. hotels are very expensive in jasper these days. book early to try to get the best deals.

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  • Twan's Profile Photo

    Canada route

    by Twan Written Oct 20, 2011

    Favorite thing: I know only the Canadian part, think it is a great route you'll follow. Jasper-Banff-Calgary is very nice. We followed this route which was great, Vancouver-Victoria-Tofino-Campbell River-Port Hardy-Prince Rupert-Jasper-Banff-Calgary. In which it is better to replace Port Hardy-Prince Rupert, with Whistler-Kamloops.

    Succes and have a nice trip, Canada is fantastic any way!

    Fondest memory: The very best was Canada day 1st of July in Banff and then the Calgary Stampede after that. If you plan smart you can have both as well.

    RV
    Related to:
    • National/State Park
    • Road Trip

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  • Basaic's Profile Photo

    Great People

    by Basaic Written Aug 22, 2011

    2 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    Favorite thing: My first trip into Canada was NOT fun. The only places I have been in Canada so far are Goose Bay and Vancouver. I have made some good friends from Canada though.

    Fondest memory: So far, my best memory involving Canada (or Canadians) is probably wandering around Tombstone with Ed (Kaspian) or my time with a French Canadian girl named Sylvie. Too much alcohol to remember much of my trip to Vancouver.

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  • sheherezad's Profile Photo

    Bringing in > CAD10K

    by sheherezad Updated May 27, 2011

    Favorite thing: I was asked to go to the Cashier's Counter by the Immigration officer at YVR, upon arrival, to make a formal declaration, since I had indicated on my arrival/customs form that I had > CAD10,000 with me in various denominations (CAD, MYR, USD, Japanese ¥) - I had to show my bank draft for CAD8,000 to the cashier (thanks to the warning by VTers on bringing in a bank draft for CAD10,000, which would trigger a FINTRAC alert when I try to deposit it into a bank account, which might get my bank draft held for an indefinite period of time, perhaps even 6 months, longer than my period of stay in Canada!) and to just give the list of different currencies, their equivalent in CAD (which I had worked out in the plane) and everything was a breeze after that! She just wrote OK on my immigration/customs declaration form and the customs guys waved me on! :-)

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  • sheherezad's Profile Photo

    How much currency you can bring into Canada?

    by sheherezad Written May 27, 2011

    Favorite thing: If you are bringing into Canada more than CAD10,000 worth of currencies in any denomination, just declare it on the Immigration/Declaration form. You will be asked by the Immigration Officer to go to the Cashier's Counter at the airport, upon arrival, to make a formal declaration, whereby you will be asked to show any prepaid financial instrument like a bank draft that you might have with you and to give the list of different foreign currencies that you have with you and their equivalent in CAD and everything will a breeze after that! The cashier will just wrote OK and roughly how much you are bringing into Canada, on your immigration/customs declaration form and the customs guys will just wave you on! They/FINTRAC are on alert for CASH of more than CAD10,000, not legitimate financial instruments like a bank draft issued by a legitimate foreign bank, which can be in any amount!

    Just two more notes to those who might be interested/need to know for future advice to VTers who might post an enquiry on this subject matter: -

    1) I went deposit my CAD8,000 bank draft into my new Canadian account and enquired from the teller about being red-flagged if I were to deposit a $10,000 bank draft (as per a Canadian VTer's warning on my post on how much cash to bring with me into Canada) and was advised that is simply NOT TRUE! In fact the manager, herself, advised me I can even deposit a $100,000 bank draft and it would be OK!

    That the reporting to FINTRAC only applies to CASH deposits of CAD10,000 or more, not a prepaid financial intrument like a proper bank draft (like mine, with all the correct codes printed on it and drawn on a Canadian bank) or a wire transfer. That even for CAD10,000 or more cash deposits, which students are prone to bring with them, there's no problem with their access to it once deposited! The bank has to only report to FINTRAC. While the bank has to only hold a bank draft till it is cleared, in my case for only 10 working days!

    2) The problem outlined by one VTer about her sister's CAD check being held back for 6 months in the US, to quote the Bank Manager, this is because "the US banking system is archaic", unquote, and they don't know how to clear a foreign check and need to send it back to Canada, for clearance.

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  • traveldave's Profile Photo

    Montreal

    by traveldave Updated Apr 15, 2011

    3.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    Favorite thing: Montreal is the largest city in Quebec, and, with over 3,770,000 inhabitants in the metropolitan area, is the second-largest French-speaking city in the world, after Paris.

    The islands on which Montreal was founded were first visited by French explorer Jacques Cartier in 1535. He was led to the top of a hill on one of the islands by members of the local Hochelaga Indian tribe. He was so impressed by the view that he christened it un mont réal, or "a royal mountain."

    Later, in 1642, Paul Chomedey de Maisonneuve led a group of French Roman Catholics to the convergence of the Saint Lawrence and Ottawa rivers to establish a Christian community and port. They named their settlement Ville-Marie de Mont-Réal. The small settlement quickly grew to become Canada's first great trading center.

    Nowadays, Toronto has overtaken Montreal as Canada's most important economic, commercial, and financial center. However, Montreal is more a cultural city, with the French-Canadian culture and language making Montreal seem more like Europe than North America.

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  • amandajayne81's Profile Photo

    Forum Answer

    by amandajayne81 Updated Nov 20, 2010

    Favorite thing: This was an answer to a forum question asking about the best sights in Vancouver and Calgary (posed by a fellow Aussie).

    I haven't been to Vancouver but many people I know have really enjoyed it. We were in Calgary last month (and I have been lazy and NOT put any tips or photos up yet-sorry).I must say that whilst Calgary is a very friendly city as far as attractions go it definitely doesn't rate highly on my list. I hope I haven't offended anyone it is just my opinion. We did like the Calgary Zoo and the views of the mountains but... why just enjoy the views? It is only an hour and a half or so to Banff and it is really stunning in that area, lots of scenery and wildlife not to mention nearby towns like Lake Louise and Canmore. Or if you are not a mountain person head East to Drumheller. It is very interesting out there-weird and a bit freaky but interesting. Feel free to ask me for more info. We had 10 days and flew in and out of Calgary doing a loop up the Rockies to Edmonton and back down. Enjoy Canada the people are awesome and so like Australians in many ways.

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  • traveldave's Profile Photo

    Toronto

    by traveldave Updated Oct 26, 2010

    3.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    Favorite thing: Toronto is a pleasant city located on the north shore of Lake Ontario. It is consistently rated as one of the most livable cities in the world. The population is a cosmopolitan mix of over 100 ethnic groups, and 49 percent of the population was born outside of Canada, making it one of the world's most diverse cities. The city is also Canada's financial, commercial, and cultural center, and is one of the top business centers in the world.

    The area that would one day become Toronto was originally occupied by the Iroquois Indian tribe. Its name probably derives from the Iroquois word, ktaronto, which means "place where trees stand in the water." The Iroquois were later displaced by the Huron tribe.

    In 1720, the French established a fur-trading post at a place that would one day be downtown Toronto. The French built Fort Rouillé at the site of the trading post in 1750, but abandoned it in 1759. In 1763, Canada came under British control. During the American Revolutionary War, there was an influx of British settlers into what is now Ontario as Loyalists fled the United States. Some began to form a settlement on the former site of the French trading post and fort. In 1793, the settlement was established as York, in honor of Prince Frederick, Duke of York and Albany. Fort York was built at the same time to protect the settlement and the strategic harbor on which it was located. During the War of 1812, American troops captured and plundered York in 1813. Fort York was also burned. In 1834, the City of Toronto was incorporated. The growing town increased in importance economically and politically. It was the capital of Canada twice: between 1849 and 1852, and between 1856 and 1858.

    Nowadays, Toronto is the provincial capital of Ontario, and is Canada's largest city, with over 6,330,000 inhabitants in the greater metropolitan area. Its built-up area covers 230 square miles (630 square kilometers).

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  • joiwatani's Profile Photo

    Travel in the north first and then the south

    by joiwatani Written Jan 2, 2009

    Favorite thing: I love Canada because of its diversity. I love the the multi-ethnicity of both the north and the south. I also loved the mixture of the English and the European culture in their food, architecture, etc.

    Canada's parks are well-maintained and it remain one of the cleanest country I have visited. Their government is also very efficient that makes their people more relax and trusting. The people are warm and loving. They always promote peace, equality and equal opportunities!

    Fondest memory: I love the ying-yang of its culture. I love the European-ness of the South and the Englishness of the North. I also love that the country open its gates to a lot of foreigners that make it more exciting to visit since these foreigners bring in their culture, traditions and beliefs!

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  • room and board in exchange for a few hours work

    by twinpope Written Nov 23, 2008

    Favorite thing: On a day in July I was blessed with a ticket to Canada from my Family for 6 months. Now I always found myself drawn to the road but never had the courage or know how to start. So with the opportunity to start my travels in Canada for six months this seemed to be a perfect place to start.

    The only problem being income, I mean it's great having a ticket to a place I could have only dreamed of visiting but how could I afford to stay there for so long? so I started my search for cheap accommodation and by accident came across a website that offered room and board in exchange for 4-5 hours work a day. Which seemed fair, so I posted an ad and within 24 hours had a reply from a host willing to take me in so I accepted. and my dream became a reality as I could now have a place to stay and not having to worry about rent and food in my expenses (which helped a lot).

    So now thanks to this website http://www.helpx.net/ I have managed not only to see most of the east of Canada but also I am now planning to see the world using this program as without the expense of room and board I can literally go and see the whole world and learn new skills at the same time while seeing countries that I could only of have dreamed about all thanks to help exchange it really helped as I had a base in Canada which I could return to at any point knowing there will always be a roof over my head and food in my belly. Which takes the worry away from certain aspects of my journeys Also i have learned how to build fences paint houses and learned about the real culture of Canada away from all the tourist traps and everything like that
    This is not an advertisement just a way to provide fellow travellers with the same information as i have learned!!!

    Fondest memory: my fondest memory of Canada was on my first night downtown was when I walked into a bar and was instantly made to feel welcome and felt like one of the family I now go to this bar quite frequently and talk to the guys I now call friends. Now my first ever time travelling alone on a country where your the foriegner these guys went above and beyond the call of canadian hospitality, Iwas invited to not 1 but 3 different thanksgivings!!!! The guys in that bar made my stay in Canada much more enjoyable. One of them even taught me to Play ice hockey!

    Related to:
    • Budget Travel
    • Family Travel
    • Work Abroad

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  • driving

    by whitso Written Oct 21, 2008

    Favorite thing: Thank you to all the people who answered re the driving conditions in March
    We are also visiting Canada in March 09 drinving from Vancouver to Calgary We have driven this route before but in September. We were thinking of renting 2 people movers as there are 9 of us. Would people mover be a suitable choice of vehicle if it had winter tyres on it.
    Thank you

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  • davecallahan's Profile Photo

    MPH vs KPH

    by davecallahan Updated Oct 4, 2008

    2 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    Favorite thing: Most American cars now have concentric scales on the speedometer. One is for MPH (miles per hour) and the other is KPH (kilometers per hour). When you are in Canada and the speed limit sign says 60, that is in KPH and that is about 40 MPH (120kph is 75mph).
    When the local police are doing radar checks on the highway, believe me, that KPH to MPH conversion makes a big difference between getting a ticket and not getting one. ("Sorry officer, I was looking at the wrong scale" doesn't work at all with the Canadian police).

    Related to:
    • Seniors
    • Road Trip

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