Eight ways to experience Canada without breaking your wallet

#Managing your money

Here are eight budget-friendly options for you and your family to get to know Canada up close

If you’re a new Canadian, you may be experiencing a range of emotions and logistical challenges as you embrace your new home. 

The process of settling in can be overwhelming as you adjust to an unfamiliar environment (and a dash of extreme climate) while juggling your finances, career path and family priorities. 

The good news is this friendly country is not only known for its ethnic and cultural diversity and quality of life, but also for its natural beauty and a variety of travel destinations. Here are seven ways you can explore its rich landscape and culture without putting your budget under too much strain.


1. Enter the heritage door:

If you live in Ontario or happen to be visiting the province between April and October, take advantage of the Doors Open events and activities held in different cities. The Ontario Heritage Trust works with communities across the province to open heritage buildings and sites to the public free of cost. From historical houses to modern architectural wonders, Doors Open Ontario has something for everyone. Explore farms and family wineries, churches and armouries during these weekend events.


2. Eat poutine:

It’s safe to say that your Canadian-ness is incomplete until you’ve sampled some poutine. The dish, a native of Quebec but enjoyed Canada wide, is an inexpensive and delicious way of enjoying Canadian cuisine. Disregard calorie worries and dig into French fries slathered with gravy and cheese curds. 

Average cost: $20 for two.


3. Get Niagara sprayed:

For many new Canadians, a trip to the Niagara Falls is akin to making a pilgrimage. The magnificence of the falls is awe-inspiring, of course, but if you wanted to take your Niagara experience to the next level, the Hornblower Cruise would be just the thing for you. The boat tour allows you to brush past (literally so) the falls, awakening your senses to their thunderous roar and refreshing mist. 

Approximate cost: adults $26; children (ages 5-12) $16.


4. Visit the Canadian Museum of Immigration:

Canada is a land of immigrants, who form the foundation of this vast country. At Pier 21 in Halifax, one million immigrants landed between 1928 and 1971. This makes it an appropriate location for the Canadian Museum of immigration. Visit the museum to learn about the experiences of immigrants as they arrived in Canada and their contributions to the country’s culture, economy and way of life. Bonus: If you remember the names and approximate arrival times of your ancestors, you can even see their immigration cards and signatures. 

Approximate cost: adults $15; children (ages 6-16) $10.


Taking time out to discover the Canadian way of life can help you feel at home.
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5. Make friends with winter:

There’s no getting away from the fact that you’ve come to live in a cold country. So you may as well cozy up to the winter season. And there’s hardly a better way to do that than to participate in Winterlude in Ottawa or Quebec City’s traditional Winter Carnival. Get ready to skate, watch outdoor hockey games, and take part in other activities (many of which are free) as you gulp mugs of hot chocolate.


6. Discover the great outdoors:

Quebec is packed with nature sites where you can enjoy camping, hiking and other outdoor activities at little cost. In addition, several events, celebrations and festivals are held all year long across the province. Hydro-Québec, Québec’s large electricity utility, offers free visits to its generating stations, dams and other facilities – an outstanding industrial and technological heritage.


7. Go sledding or skating:

While on the winter theme, other fun and inexpensive ways to enjoy the great Canadian outdoors during the cold months include sledding and skating. You can get a variety of sleds in hardware and toy stores; or you could go ice-skating at one of the many free public skating rinks across Canada. For first-timers, you can buy your own skates and helmets or borrow from friends as you try out the activity. 

Approximate cost: $20-$100.


8. Walk among treetops:

The Capilano suspension bridge is 230 feet above the Capilano River in British Columbia. Treetops Adventure, a series of seven suspension bridges is attached to eight 250-year-old Douglas-firs. Built in 2004, the innovative Treetops Adventure was designed to accommodate the continuous growth of the trees. The viewing platforms are attached to an adjustable and moveable tree collar system that makes it unlike any canopy walk in the world. 

Approximate cost: adults $45.


Whether you’re on your own or with your family, taking time out to discover the Canadian way of life can help you feel at home. Talking to a financial security advisor can help you plan your budget so you can create new memories by taking part in these Canadian adventures.

The information provided is based on current laws, regulations and other rules applicable to Canadian residents. It is accurate to the best of our knowledge as of the date of publication. Rules and their interpretation may change, affecting the accuracy of the information. The information provided is general in nature, and should not be relied upon as a substitute for advice in any specific situation. For specific situations, advice should be obtained from the appropriate legal, accounting, tax or other professional advisors.


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