Someone I met while traveling had the audacity to tell me that they’ve seen more of Canada than me because they have been out to Western Canada and I haven’t yet. That person was from England.
Let’s just see here for a second. You can fit about 50 England’s into Canada.
I think people forget just how huge Canada is:
- Its landmass is a staggering 9, 984, 670 square kiliometres
- Canada touches three oceans: the Pacific, the Arctic, and the Atlantic
- At 243,000 km, the shoreline of Canada is the world’s longest. A journey along the shoreline, at a pace of twenty kilometres a day, will take around 33 years to complete
- Canada has more lakes than any other country – about 3 million
- The province of Ontario alone contains about a third of the world’s freshwater, spread over 250,000 lakes
That’s pretty big.
For most Canadians, we drive. We drive and we drive and we drive. We stop at rest stop after rest stop, all looking identical to the last. After hours on end of rest stops, you’d think they’d spice one up every so often with new restaurants or even the same restaurants but just jumbled in a new location. Or perhaps this consistency is intentional – they know people stagger in completely sleep-deprived and haggard, navigating their way seamlessly from gas station to washroom to restaurant on autopilot.
So, yes, Canadians drive. We drive for hours on end between major cities and even through provinces (which are double, triple, even quadruple the size of most countries). Toronto to Ottawa is a 6 hour drive. Toronto to Montreal is an 8 hour drive. Toronto to Quebec City is a 10 hour drive. Toronto to Vancouver is a 55 hour drive, taking about 3-4 days to get out of Ontario, another 3-4 days to get to Calgary, and another 2-3 days to get through the mountains to Vancouver. And that’s only driving through half the country.
When I was young, my parents took my sister and me on a journey via motor home through Ontario, Quebec, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island, and New Brunswick. It was a three-week trip, and back then it was considered an efficient and effective way to travel. These days however, the cringe-worthy price of fuel makes such cross country trips far less ideal.
Of course we could just fly, you say.
Well, we could, and that would be terrific. But it isn’t. You see, flying in Canada is so very expensive. Most flights within Canada are more expensive then a flight to the US, Mexico, or Western Europe! Everyone wants to feel that satisfaction of getting more bang for their buck, and what that means to a traveler is more distance covered. So, from Toronto, 500 bucks can get you only so far as Winnipeg, or, it can get you all the way to England. To a new country. On a new continent. Across the entire Atlantic Ocean.
So, it’s difficult to travel within Canada, as flights are not cheap, fuel is expensive, and traveling the vast distance is quite time consuming.
What about trains or buses you ask?
As for trains, it doesn’t get cheaper there, unfortunately. Driving plus fuel costs pretty well balances out with the premium of not having to drive in regards to taking the train.
And as for buses . . . *shudder*
The coach bus may very well be the most affordable form of transit in this country. However, upon selecting this mode of transportation you are thereby subject to the following symptom: wanting to slit your wrists. That may sound overly dramatic, but take it from me as someone who has been on a coach bus for an unnecessarily long 12 hour, painful, maddening, excruciating, I’m-going-to-strangle-someone bus ride . . . no money saved is worth this. Whatever the ticket states for duration of journey, multiply that by 10. Be prepared for your driver to get lost, ask the passengers for directions, and circle endlessly around random cities. Watch fellow passengers disappear at rest stops or collect their belongings as slowly as a herd of turtles wading through peanut butter before finally getting their ass off the damn bus.
It’s your call! You get what you pay for.
I love living in Canada and being Canadian – I really wouldn’t want to live anywhere else. But let me tell you, Canada is huge. Sometimes I even forget how huge. Until there comes a time when a road trip ensues . . . that never ending road trip . . .
Luckily, Canada is a very beautiful country. It isn’t called the Great White North for nothing. Canada has much of the world’s most iconic scenery such as Niagara Falls, the Rockies, the Prairies, the Arctic, the Great Lakes, the Badlands, etc. We have so many different cultures, different people, different topography, and different languages. There are so many places you can go where nobody has been before (or that’s barely influenced by people).
Canada is an incredible country and I will strive to continue seeing more and more of it, driving, flying, rest stops, and all. But no busing.