For those inspired by incredible scenery Canada takes some beating. Grab a map and be wowed. Canada is a super friendly, multi-cultural, economically developed and thriving country blessed with some of the world’s most iconic natural landscapes and jaw dropping scenery.
On the Pacific Coast, there’s British Colombia a vast province home to cosmopolitan Vancouver and the world class ski resort of Whistler. It’s possible to surf and ski in one day here; throw on a thick wetsuit at Tofino and then ski at Mount Washington. On the East Coast, the provinces of Nova Scotia, Quebec and Newfoundland are battered and sculpted by the cold Atlantic ocean. In between, there is a lot of landmass! Canada is a huge expanse populated by three distinct cultural identities of indigenous native American tribes, French settlers and also a marked British influence.
Ontario is home to Ottawa (the political capital) and Toronto, the largest city which has lots of opportunities for gap year/seasonal work in office based positions and a pulsing bar and restaurant scene. Add in the northern frontier of the Yukon territory (not for the faint hearted explorer), Alberta with Banff and Calgary providing more winter sporting options, Saskatchewan and the almost inhospitable Nunavat enclosing the northern shores of Hudson Bay and you’ll realise just how much there is to explore. In all seriousness, you may need a couple of gap years to fully experience Canada, the world’s second biggest country!
For those taking a gap year in Canada, it could mean teaching people how to ski in the Rockies, Banff or Whistler or helping out in the hospitality industry. Many of the Gapify providers offer 1 to 2 month Ski Instructor courses so you can take your CSIA Level 1 and Level 2 qualifications, become a qualified Ski Instructor in Canada and stay for longer.
Despite Canada being an English speaking mother tongue nation, there are good opportunities for TEFL jobs in Canada, especially in the bigger cities of Toronto and Vancouver which is host to a huge amount of international students. Simply select ‘Teaching English as a Foreign Language in our search box above and browse the available teaching placements on offer.
With regards to working in Canada on a gap year, the placement provider will be able to advise on the correct visa to apply for. If you would like to research the options you have yourself, then please visit this Work in Canada page.
For official advice on visa requirements do check the Canada section of the Foreign & Commonwealth office but for short trips, holders of a British passport do not need a visa to visit Canada. However, but you'll need to obtain an Electronic Travel Visa (an eTA) to enter Canada by air, it only costs $7 CAD and you can apply for one via the Canadian government’s official website.
As a first world country, with a very stable economy and universal health care for all, the Canadian society is relatively safe compared to other countries in the world. There are no instances of nasty diseases or illnesses and unless you’re specifically working with animals, there are no vaccinations required to visit Canada. On the crime front, to be realistic, there are areas of any city in the world to avoid, ask at your hostel, hotel or with your gap year provider, but in the main exercise the same diligence you would in any UK city and you will be absolutely fine. In actual fact, the biggest risk to any overseas volunteer, backpacker or student visiting Canada is that posed by mother nature herself. Turning up with the wrong clothing in Canada could be dangerous, especially in the winter months. Also take care in the summer months if hiking or visiting places at altitude, mountain resorts can experience sudden changes in weather so a waterproof and appropriate cold weather clothing should be packed on a ‘just in case’ basis. Like a good boy scout, just be prepared.
1. Kayak in to the middle of Lake Louise, the turquoise, glacial lake near Banff, Alberta. Stop paddling, look up and soak in the majesty of your incredible surroundings. Then hike up to the Lake Agnes Tea House for a different perspective on the lake. It’s the stuff travel photography is made of!
2. Get sprayed by the misty clouds at Niagara Falls, just 2 hours from Toronto. A world famous horseshoe shaped waterfall which drops 167 ft as the Niagara River, leaves Canada in to the New York state of the USA. Despite all the pictures you’ve seen beforehand, nothing compares you for the real thing.
3. See a grizzly bear in the wild. If you have never seen a grizzly, padding around in the wild before, with nothing separating you from these fabulous beasts then it’s got to make it on to your must-do list. Head for Vancouver Island around September when the salmon runs begin and you won’t be disappointed.
4. Head to Manitoba, pack your very warmest down jackets and see the Polar Bears. The little town of Churchill is the stopping off point for Polar Bear safaris. It’s not just the bears either, there’s a good chance you will see beluga whales, caribou and arctic foxes.
5. Be cool in Vancouver. It’s a city that has it all, just a short drive from Tofino on the British Columbian coast where the surf is usually up. Inland make sure you brave the Capilano Suspension Bridge before engaging in some top mountain biking around Vancouver Island and then when you’ve ramped down the slopes, kick on in to the smaller hours with Vancouver’s absolutely raging nightlife in Gastown.