Managing your money

Seven ways to say “Oh Canada!” without breaking your wallet

Here are seven 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. As the country celebrates its 150th anniversary of Confederation, here are seven ways you can explore its rich landscape and culture without putting your budget under too much strain.

1. Paddle the Rideau Canal:

Get your feet wet, literally. Canoeing is as Canadian as it gets (when European settlers first arrived in North America, they found the First Peoples using the canoe as their only means of water transport), and the Rideau, stretching over 200 kilometres from Kingston to Ottawa, has some of the best paddling opportunities in Canada. In honour of Canada’s 150th, Parks Canada is offering free lockage throughout 2017. The flatwater paddling is easy for beginners, and within the space of a few kilometers, the landscape can change from rural, to cottage, to urban. A World Heritage site, this historic waterway is the only canal in the world boasting this blend of landscapes. You can bring your own canoe or kayak or rent one.

2. Drive the Cabot trail:

This near-300 kilometre paved loop on the Cape Breton Island in Nova Scotia is considered one of the most enchanting destinations in the world with its breathtaking ocean vistas, virgin forests, prehistoric rocks on which glaciers have left impressions, and the stunning Cape Breton Highlands. Entry to the Cape Breton Highlands national park is free in 2017. Head for the Skyline Trail, the Cabot Trail’s most popular hike. A spectacular headland cliff overlooks the coast from the end of this fairly easy and level trail. The view at the end is unforgettable. Pack some snacks and don’t forget your camera.

If you can’t make the trip to Cape Breton, entry to all of Canada’s National Parks, Historic Site and Marine Conservation Areas is free for 2017. Order your Discovery Pass to gain admission here.

3. 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.

Taking time out to discover the Canadian way of life can help you feel at home.

4. 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.

5. 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.

6. Relive history at Riel House:

The Riel House in Winnipeg is where Louis Riel, the founder of Manitoba is commemorated as a person of national historic importance. Learn about his fight for defending Métis (the Aboriginal peoples native to the region) rights. Take a self-guided tour with interpretive panels. Based on the traditional Métis river lot system, the Riel family farm extended from the Red River to the Seine River in the 1880s. You can still find evidence of the settlement practices of the French that provided settlers access to both rivers and their neighbours. Admission: free in 2017

7. 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. Get out there and make the most of #Canada150!