GETTING AROUND IN CANADA

Whether you are coming for a short-term holiday or perhaps you’re moving to Canada, it’s always a good idea to be familiar with the local transportation system prior to your arrival.

In Canada each province offers its own network of public transportation which includes train, bus, subway and airport.

If your destination is a city, then the subway is certainly your best choice. Major cities have very busy streets and getting around with a car can take much longer.

If your choice is to stay somewhere outside the urban area or, if you want to explore the beautiful natural landscapes that surround the cities, then you can count on car rental agencies (you can visit the website Rentalcars.com ).

North America is famous for its long distances and if you’re not a big fan of air travel, you may opt to take the train or even consider a road trip by car.

But before we go into detailed instructions, let’s discover some surprising facts about driving in Canada…

Canadian Road Signs

If you are a newcomer driving on Canada’s roads, you’ll notice some unique and surprising quirks. Some traffic laws are peculiar and many of the road signs are just plain bizarre.

A bed and an egg…

This funny road sign could probably mess with your head, right? But the meaning behind this peculiar picture is very simple…the sign stands for Bed & Breakfast.

The halfway…

It may look like a cigarette or a leopard-print road but this sign is simply warning you that the pavements ends at a certain point.

The happy family that live in the countryside…

There once was a cheerful cowboy who lived in a bizarre farmhouse…Don’t let this sign fool you. The actual meaning is: Agri-tourism.

Please, let me offer you this jar…

This road sign leaves just the right amount to the imagination and I bet you’ll never guess what it actually means. It seems like someone wants to give you a flowerpot but the sign just stands for: local artisans nearby.

Now, if you find these road signs unique then you will love to read about some Canada’s weirdest driving laws.

  1. In Prince Edward Island drivers are supposed to honk before passing other vehicles. You won’t get in trouble if you don’t abide but once you see how steep some of the roads are, this law will not seem as weird.
  2. Dear European drivers, you’ll be glad to know that in Ontario you may turn right at a red light. Just remember that you must make a complete stop prior to proceeding with your turn, unless the sign indicates otherwise.
  3. This will sound pretty obvious but Canadians like to make it clear. According to Section 240(1) of Saskatchewan’s Traffic Safety Act: “No person on a highway shall directly or by any attachment hold onto a moving vehicle other than the one in which the person is riding.” So if you were thinking about attaching your skateboard onto a truck, you may wish to reconsider whether it is a good idea.
  4. Lastly, a very funny one. In Canada it is completely legal to drive barefoot, since there is no law that forbids it. But, if being barefoot can compromise your driving, it is a good idea to wear shoes otherwise you can risk receiving a hefty fine or worse if you cause an accident.

Ok, let’s get back to getting around in Canada.

If your destination is: Ontario

In the province of Ontario you have the busy metropolis of Toronto and of course the charming city of  Ottawa which is Canada’s capital.

TTC is the public transportation system that covers the entire city of Toronto and uses a subway and a bus network ( TTC Toronto Transit Commission ). The main airport is the Toronto Pearson International Airport (YYZ). It’s located just 35 minutes away from the downtown core and it can be easily reached by taxi or by the railway line Union Pearson Express .

As for Ottawa, the main airport is the Ottawa Macdonald-Cartier International Airport (YOW). For further information about airport’s and downtown’s travel you can visit the websites International Airport Authority and  OC Transpo .

If your destination is: British Columbia

In British Columbia you will find the charming city of Vancouver. Here, transportations include also the SeaBus: a service of small ferries used by people to get around the canals of the city. To know more about the Seabus, bus and subway system (here called SkyTrain) you can visit the website TransLink . Meanwhile, for the Vancouver International Airport (YVR) you may check YVR  website.

If your destination is: Quebec

On the shores of the St. Lawrence river, there’s the picturesque city of Montreal. For more information about getting around the city please visit the STM website (Société de transport de Montréal). While for the Pierre Elliott Trudeau International Airport (YUL), you can visit the website Aeroports de Montreal .

For those who are staying in the beautiful and old-style Quebec City, you may check the link for the website RTC , Réseau de Transport de la Capitale.

Can I drive in Canada with a foreign license?

If you have a valid license from your home country, you’ll probably be able to use this to drive in Canada for a short time after you arrive. But if you plan to use a foreign driver’s license for a long period of time, you should get an International Driving Permit (IDP) in your home country. An IDP will give you a translation of your license into French and English.

Check the Government of Canada website to know more about the transportation department of each Canadian province.

What do I need to rent a car?

  • Meet the renting location’s minimum requirements (usually, 25 years old)
  • A valid driver’s license
  • A Credit card , in driver’s name only
  • A valid ID

Important: not all car rental’s agencies accept a foreign license. Some of them require an international driving permit. It’s always better to ensure that all your documents meet the requirements of the car rental company you’ve chosen.

Can I buy a car in Canada?

Yes, you can. But before you proceed with the purchase, it is a good idea to contact the local Ministry of Transportation, as in Canada, the requirements can change from a province to another.

Important information for buying a car? You must:

  • Have a valid driving license (check province’s regulations)
  • Buy a Car Insurance
  • Register your vehicle (you will get a vehicle permit, license plate and license plate sticker). You have to register your vehicle in the province where it was purchased.

Although we have only mentioned a few of the major cities, you will find that many Canadian cities are well organized, and information is easily accessible for whichever mode of travel you choose.  Come and explore!

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