Can You Travel Canada Like a Local?


By: Ian Fortey

7 Min Quiz

Image: swissmediavision/E+/Getty Images

About This Quiz

Canada is a land of many wonderful things, and any tourist would need months to pack it all in. But is that the Canada you want to see? The tourist version of Canada? Think about your town. How often do you go to the tourist spots? If you've ever gone to them at all, it was probably one time, and you have never gone back. The tourist version is not the real version and not necessarily the most fun version.

The people who live in a place know all the best spots to go — the coolest things to see, the best places to eat, the fastest ways to get around. Canada is no different. Whether you're going to kick your feet up by Lake Okanagan or rip down the Glissades de la Terrasse, there are plenty of great ways to get to know the real Canada. If only someone could help you figure it all out.

Whether you're a tried and true Canadian doing this quiz with poutine in one hand, or you've never set foot in the Great White North in your life but have a passion for all things Canuck, let's see if you know how to travel Canada like a real Canadian.

Since Canada is so big, a lot of road travel is involved in seeing it. What road would any Ontarian advise you to avoid?

If you don't have to get on a 400 series highway, particularly the 401, don't get on a 400 series highway. It looks like a direct slice across most of Southern Ontario, which can get you all the way from Detroit to Toronto, but the traffic on a bad day could tie you up for hours and hours. Take the back roads!


Theater lovers don't need to go to Broadway or even put up with Toronto crowds. What town has some world-class theater?

Stratford, Ontario, is home to the Stratford Festival which runs from spring to summer ever year. The town has a population of about 30,000 and plays in the 2020 season include "Hamlet," "Spamalot," "Chicago" and more.


Where did 92% of Canadians visit for a coffee in 2016?

The Canadian love of Tim Hortons is not a stereotype. Statistics say that 92% of Canadians ht up a Timmies at least once in 2016. The most famous order is probably a Doube Double - a coffee with two creams and two sugars.


Canada is biingual. Where should you avoid if your French isn't very good?

Most of Canada speaks English but French is the second official language, and if you head to Quebec, you'd do well to speak it. In a city like Montreal, you could get by in English, but in the small towns in rural Quebec, you must speak French if you want anything done.


In which province are you going to find some extensive hot, humid, sandy beaches in the summer with temperatures in the mid-90s?

Southwestern Ontario turns into an absolute tropical climate at the height of summer. It's not uncommon for temperatures to crack 100 degrees Fahrenheit in the summer, and there are hundreds of beaches surrounding the entire area thanks to Lake Huron, Lake Erie and Lake Ontario.


Banff is beautiful for skiing but very tourist-heavy. What's a less busy choice?

If there's one thing Canadians can do it's ski. Banff is a huge ski town, but it's way out in Alberta. Mont-Tremblant in Quebec, Kicking Horse in BC, Lake Louise in Alberta and Blue Mountain in Ontario are great alternatives.


Where should you be if you're a seafood lover?

You can go to a Red Lobster anywhere, right? If you want the best seafood you'll find in Canada and maybe anywhere in the world, you need the East Coast. Newfoundland, New Brunswick and Nova Scotia all have the freshest most amazing seafood and about 1,000 restaurants cooking it up.


Why would a local head to the Royal Ontario Museum on the third Monday of the month?

The Royal Ontario Museum is one of the best museums in Toronto and a must-see spot for tourists and locals alike. But if you're in Toronto, you know to hit up the third Monday of every month when the ROM has a free admission night.


What's a potential advantage to paying with cash only in Canada?

Canada has banished the penny and as a result, a nickel is the lowest denomination coin in Canada. Why is that an advantage? If something costs $5.02, you're only paying $5 for it. Of course, it's worth noting if it costs $5.04 you have to pay $5.05 with cash. Canadians have learned to navigate between cash or plastic to make the most of the lack of pennies.


What's the best place to go in Canada if you're a fan of multiculturalism and exotic foods, art and so on?

Toronto is arguably the most multicultural city on Earth. If you want some samosas and spices, hit up Little India. Maybe souvlaki? Greektown. Bulgogi? Koreatown. Jerk chicken? Little Jamaica. There are dozens of multicultural neighborhoods full of food, culture and more that many tourists miss out on.


Algonquin Park is a massive provincial park that campers love. What's a less-traveled alternative to the west?

Killarney Provincial Park is far too often overlooked by tourists, but it shouldn't be. Crystal clear lakes with no algae whatsoever, amazing kayaking and canoeing, fishing, hiking and some of the most gorgeous landscape in the country can be found in this park.


Tourists love checking out the local cuisine, but you might want to give Canadian fast food a try. Why?

Fast food in Canada doesn't taste quite the same as fast food in America or Europe. The spicing in a burger, for instance, is different, and menus can vary drastically. Burger King and McDonald's will sell you poutine, and Taco Bell has the incredible Fries Supreme. It may not change your life, but it's worth checking out at least once in your travels.


Folks in Manitoba can wander back and forth across the U.S. border at their leisure in one spot only. Where is that?

The International Peace Gardens in Manitoba straddles the Canadian and American border and features about 150,000 flowers to keep you cool and serene. Hiking, picnicking, and simply appreciating nature and the friendship between America and Canada is all right here.


If you want to travel like a Canadian, you need to be ready for the weather. What's the coldest place in Canada, on average?

Remember, by area, the only country on Earth larger than Canada is Russia. The temperatures in Canada can range from -30 degrees Fahrenheit to +90 degrees Fahrenheit and beyond, depending on the place and time of year. On average, Nunavut is the coldest territory. Eureka, Nunavut, has an average temperature of -3.5 degrees Fahrenheit for the year.


What city has the youngest population and, therefore, the most fun things to do to appeal to a millennial crowd?

Calgary has the youngest population of any major Canadian city, statistically speaking. The result is several cool nightspots and an emphasis on fun, engaging activities that many other cities aren't on par with. If you want to have fun like a Calgarian, there are dozens of options, many of which cost next to nothing.


Why would you want to hit up the Kananaskis River in Alberta?

California is known for surfing, and there's even some up the West Coast of Canada. But if you want inland surfing, which is something no one ever knew they wanted, Kananaskis River surfing is pretty incredible. The river features an engineered wave that's one meter high and five meters wide.


Why would you want to go to the Thomas Fisher library?

The idea of tourists going to a library seems lame, but the Thomas Fisher Rare Book Library might change your perception. Located at the University of Toronto, this place doesn't just have rare books, it has hand-written manuscripts, Shakespeare's first folio, the Nuremberg Chronicle from 1493, and a Babylonian cuneiform tablet from 1789 BC.


What's your best bet for traveling across large sections of Canada?

If you're visiting more than one city, you need a car. Don't fly; don't take the bus, and don't consider taking the train. A rental car is the only way you'll be able to cover the massive distances in Canada while still having the control to go where you want without dealing with the irregular path of buses or trains. Not to mention, the price of a bus or train is remarkably high, relative to renting a car. Canadians drive. It's just easier.


What's 110% necessary to make a proper poutine?

If poutine doesn't have curds of cheese on it, it's not poutine. Many people will try to shark you with shredded cheese on fries, but that's not authentic poutine so much as a lazy version of the real deal, and every Canadian knows it. If you're stopping for poutine, make sure it's made with curds.


Why do nature lovers want to hit up Witless Bay in Newfoundland?

Witless Bay in Newfoundland is home to North America's largest population of puffins, about 600,000 adults. It also has a massive kestrel population. It's pretty much the best place in Canada to go if you have any interest in checking out birds.


Where can you find the Cambie Climbing Tree?

Most tourists would never think of this, but the locals who know about it know the Cambie Climbing Tree in Vancouver is one of the most weirdly cool places in the country. What is it? It's an actual tree decked out with a tire swing, a hammock and the most amazing panoramic view of the area. What makes this tree unique is the bizarre way the branches grew, making it a natural ladder that almost anyone can climb.


What's a sugar bush?

Maple syrup comes from a sugar bush, which is essentially a forest of maple trees that are tapped and drained of sap before it is made into syrup. You can buy syrup in any store, but a Canadian will tell you that a trip to the bush is a much better experience, especially when you get fresh syrup on fresh snow.


Eat like a Canadian by picking up which of these uniquely Canadian treats?

For reasons unknown, the Canadian snack market is vastly different than the rest of the world's market. Nanaimo bars are like a brownie cookie with a custard filling and chocolate on top, Crispy Crunch is a candy bar made of a peanut flake center coated in chocolate and all-dressed chips are alleged to be all flavors on one potato chip but taste nothing like that and are delicious.


What location did National Geographic once say was the best summer vacation destination in the world?

If you want to vacation in Canada, why not vacation where Canadians vacation? Muskoka cottage country is gorgeous. It's not too far from Toronto, not too far from provincial parks, lakes forests, and everything you could ever need for a perfect summer getaway.


Drumheller, Alberta, has managed to mix something educational with something awesome. What's there?

Drumheller, Alberta, is a town of about 8,000 people. But it's also in the Alberta Badlands and home to some of the most amazing paleontological finds on Earth. Not only is there the Royal Tyrell Museum of Paleontology, but there's also the world's largest dinosaur, an 86-foot tall T. rex.


Where will you go to find the Cabot Trail?

The Cabot Trail is on Cape Breton Island in Nova Scotia and is one of the most beautiful trails you'll find in the world. It's one of the favorite destinations for cyclists and motorcyclists, plus there's camping and golf as well.


What's a Diefenbunker?

Formally called CFS Carp, the Diefenbunker is Canada's Cold War Museum. If that sounds boring, it's because you haven't checked it out. Named for Prime Minister John Diefenbaker, who authorized its creation, CFS Carp was a military base that featured a nuclear bunker meant to protect Canada's leaders in the event of nuclear war. This museum is located deep underground in a Cold War-era bunker, and that is pretty cool.


What's one of the best food tour destinations any Canadian could point you to?

Lake Okanagan has so much food, there are week-long tours you can take around the area just to eat. There are dozens of wineries, artisanal shops, restaurants, inns and more making the most cutting edge and top quality foods you'll find in the entire country.


If you want to see as much of Canada as possible, where are you traveling?

The TransCanada Highway is nearly 5,000 miles long and stretches across all 10 provinces in the country. It was built starting in 1950 and opened officially in 1962. At the time it was finished, it was the longest highway on Earth.


American theme parks are huge draws for tourists. Where are Ontarians going when they don't want to leave the province?

Canada's Wonderland is a 33-acre theme park near Toronto and is the most-visited seasonal amusement park in North America. It has 17 roller coasters, ranking it second in the world. Nearly 4 million visitors head there every year.


Where do many of BC locals head every year on vacation?

Kelowna, British Columbia, is part of the Okanagan Valley and is a massive tourist spot for the rest of the province thanks to the food, the outdoor sports, the camping, and more. Tourism in Kelowna, a town with a population of fewer than 200,000 people, brings in more than $1 billion per year.


Niagara Falls is a massive tourist trap full of haunted houses. What haunted spots will locals point you to?

In Niagara Falls, there's a place called Clifton Hill that's full of wax museums and haunted houses, but they're very gimmicky and geared for the tourist market. You can check out "real" haunted places like old Fort Erie, the Prince of Wales Hotel in Niagara on the Lake, and the Screaming Tunnel to see real historical sites alleged to be haunted.


The Fruit Belt is a region of Ontario known for what?

The Niagara Peninsula is also known as the Fruit Belt and is pretty famous for the fresh produce you can find there. No need to spend your summer days in a grocery store when you can hit up roadside stands or pick your own peaches, cherries, blueberries, raspberries, strawberries, apples, pears and more.


What's the Glissades de la Terrasse?

If you're in Quebec City and you don't hit up the toboggan run called the Glissades de la Terrasse, or the Dufferin Terrace Slide, you wasted your trip. It's a 500-foot toboggan run that's the most fun you'll ever have going downhill.


How many lakes are there in Canada, give or take?

Canada has just over 31,752 lakes that are larger than three square kilometers. That means Canadians have made the most of fishing, canoeing, swimming, kayaking, ice fishing, hockey and a dozen other things you can do on freshwater.


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