Canada is massive-bigger than the USA, in fact, with just 10 per cent of its populace and better roads. This makes for quality driving as the roads are less congested and Canadians tend to be more respectful behind the wheel. The country is also home to stunning countryside, especially in BC, and is hugely multicultural.
Some visitors plan a countrywide tour. It is doable, but just bear in mind that at the extremes it is 5,000kms coast to coast. British Columbia (BC) has the nicest driving by recreational vehicle in Canada. Despite protestations from French Canadians, BC is also widely regarded as the most beautiful province. It plays host to part of the Rockies and also borders Alaska and Yukon in its northwest.
Despite the size, the Canadian government has invested billions on its road network and both the coverage and quality of road surfaces is excellent, while safety is also good. There are thousands of self-contained van sites across Canada, from simple campgrounds to high-end RV parks. Some of these, such as Calgary West Campground, have excellent facilities to include electric hook-ups, swimming pools and WiFi internet.
With the vastness of this great nation comes a varied climate. Due to deep inland regions, you get extremes in temperature-the Prairies, for instance, can be boiling in summer and positively frigid in winter. The north also freezes for much of the year, while British Columbia is relatively mild owing to the proximity of the Pacific Ocean. However, Canada is on the whole slightly cooler than the USA and Europe, with the best season for RV travel June to September, or from November for skiers.
The main city in BC is Vancouver, where many RV tours begin and requires at least a week. Though a large, busy metropolis, it is surrounded by places of interest. You can easily make a visit to Victoria on Vancouver Island, along with Okanagan for wineries or Whistler for skiing. Be sure to carry snow chains if touring by RV between October and late April.
Destinations in Alberta are often incorporated on trips from BC, namely to the stunning mountain town of Banff as well as wealthy Calgary. Be sure to take in the nearby Dinosaur Provincial Park, it only takes up half a day, including the driving. Note: Calgary has an international airport if you want to arrive direct.
The busiest province is Ontario, nestled between Hudson Bay and the Great Lakes. It is home to Toronto, a vast city noted for cool landmarks, a pretty waterfront and great shopping. The world famous Niagara Falls is an easy 90-minute road trip from Toronto, with the Canadian side having the best views and town area.
Country capital Ottawa is another popular drive from Toronto, also being quite close to multicultural Montreal. It is one of Canada's most visited cities, boasting a unique skyline and riverside setting and a fantastic cafe culture. Use Montreal as a springboard for Quebec City, or to the beautiful Mount Tremblant National Park. Note: signage in Quebec is French only. Consider one or two days for Toronto, a day for Niagara and a day or two each for Montreal and Quebec City.
The Northwest Territories, the Atlantic Provinces and the Prairies also have smashing potential from the wheel of an RV, plus the roads are even quieter and RV sites more available. Many visitors also make side trips into the USA for New York or Seattle. If you plan on doing this, just check with your hire company that you can take the RV into the States.
Always observe speed limits and traffic lights as traffic police in Canada are very watchful. Have your license and RV rental paperwork to hand. Use park and ride facilities in the bigger cities, especially in Toronto and Vancouver as it's always harder to drive here. Driving is on the right (same as the US), but speeds are in kilometres and limits vary by province.
- Speed limits in the city: 30-50kph.
- Speed limits on national roads: 100-110kph.
- Help number: 511 (911).