Canada

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Flag of Canada Canada
Information
Language: English, French
Capital: Ottawa
Population: 34,001,000 (2009 est.)
Currency: Canadian Dollar ($CAD)
Hitchability: <rating country='ca' />
Meet fellow hitchhikers on Trustroots or BeWelcome
<map lat='60.673178565817715' lng='-97.03125' zoom='2' view='0' float='right' country='Canada'/>

For specific information about provinces and territories, see the bottom of the page.

Canada is the northernmost country of North America and is comprised of ten provinces and three territories. English and French are the two official languages of the country. English, being spoken by 3/4 of the population, is the majority language in most provinces. French is the main official language in the province of Quebec, but also widely spoken in New Brunswick and some areas of Ontario, Prince Edward Island, Nova Scotia, and Manitoba. Inuktitut is the main language in Nunavut and has official status there but English is still widely spoken. For the convenience of the common hitchhiker the provinces and territories are discussed in detail, along with their capitals, in separate pages.

For a journey across the country, the Trans-Canada Highway is the main road crossing the country east to west. However, the highway system numbering system is specific to every province.

Car Number Plate

Just like its southern neighbour, the United States, every provinces are issuing their own specific car plates. For example, a car from Manitoba will have a specific Car licenses tagged as such.

Local attitude

Even if the country bears some similitude with its southern (and only) neighbour, the United States, the cultural and life outlook of the population is markedly unique.

The majority of the Canadian population lives in harmony within their vast country. The size of the country has allowed people to live using their own beliefs, languages or religion without being bothered by anybody else, in a 'Live and let live' motto. Therefore, hate crimes are mostly absent and major difference clashes even rarer, but may exist. It might be useful for a traveler to be aware of the current political situation to avoid getting into a discussion which may offend more than anything else. Sometimes, during such situations, it might not be helpful to hitchhike as a white in a First Nation reserve, or sound French in an English area, or visa versa. That said, Canadians are generally friendly and forget their stereotypes once they meet you in person.

The rural population will usually be keen to help if the traveler is making the first steps into breaking the 'stranger in the locality' image, as the split between country- and city-folk is also existent. The rural community feeling is usually pretty strong and when people believe you belong there and act more altruistic. However, some rural regions have large populations of urban commuters which has the tendency to bring a more individualistic mentality.

It is worth noting that in Quebec, the carshare website "AmigoExpress" is extremely popular. Worth checking out if a bit pressed for time and have a bit of cash to spare. There are more than 50 rides a day between Quebec and Montreal at costs of 10-15 CAD.

Winter hitchhiking

Be careful!

Canada is a vast country (the second biggest in the world) and many visitors do not realize its size or extremes in temperature prior to arrival. Certain northern rural regions are inhabited by few or even no permanent population, so it might not always be bright to adventure by yourself into some wild or less inhabited part of the country without the proper equipment or having registered yourself to some local authorities prior to such a journey. As a simple reminder, the density of population is about 3.2 habitants/km², and about 75 % of that population lives in the south, nestled by the US border. It is normal in some parts of the country to drive a hundred kilometres without any living soul.

With temperature often dropping beneath −30 Celsius, you should not stand outside more than 15 minutes. It's VERY important to make sure you wear the appropriate gear and take precautions to never be stuck anywhere outside without shelter.

In winter the roads can be icy or narrowed by the snowbank, so it will often be hard for cars to stop by and pull over safely. Drivers won't do it if they don't feel safe as the risk of causing an accident might be too high, and the driver would have to bear entire responsibility of it towards their insurance. It's even more important in icy conditions to make sure you find a hitching spot where there is good visibility and a safe place to pull over.

In some areas, especially in the northern territories, every citizen is bound by law to provide help and safety to every citizen in need from the hazards of temperature and nature. The reaction towards that will often differ, going from immediate support to a 'where have you left your brain!?!? being out by this weather!'. Your actions may be perceived as quite stupid and irresponsible to have dared outside without being prepared for the weather, as most locals prefer to enjoy the cosiness of their home in winter storms. For that reason, shops, restaurants, or gas stations usually won't kick you off their property in extreme weather. In the summer it's different, and you may be asked to leave if there is no danger from the outside elements.

Experiences

I have hitchhiked many thousands of miles through most of the provinces. Getting rides is usually slightly easier than the United States, but harder in some places. The cost of food makes travel here very expensive. Border crossing as an American citizen is incredibly frustrating! It usually takes four to six hours of intense interrogation of myself and violation of the privacy of other people in my life. The first time I was held and interrogated for over six hours and eventually turned away because I couldn't provide documentation proving that I had a reason to return to the states; they wanted me to buy a return bus ticket to prove I was only staying a short while, sorry, not happening! Well I got a little crafty with their requirements and subsequent attempts to enter have been easier, heh. You may have to get creative, but where there's a will, there's a way. Don't give up! This is a beautiful country! Thewindandrain (talk) 00:45, 5 June 2013 (CEST)

Resources

Check Nomadwiki for info on visa, accommodation, showers, food, internet access, public transport, busking, places to visit or Trashwiki for dumpsters .. and share your wisdom :)

Provinces and Territories of Canada