In the collective mind, Canada is often compared to the great wilderness, with its endless forests, its countless lakes, its snowy expanses during winter and its welcoming citizens. Although it’s true to have these images of this huge North American country, it would not be fair to confine ourselves to them. First of all, in terms of LGBTQ+ rights, Canada is a forerunner and has one of the most advanced legislations in this area. Which country can claim to have a prime minister as gay-friendly as Canada? As a reminder, Justin Trudeau, Canada’s sitting prime minister, has appeared on the front lines of gay prides in Montreal, Toronto and Vancouver. In addition, each of these three major cities has a gay district with many LGBTQ+ establishments. It should be noted that members of the gay community are fully integrated into Canadian society and that gender and sex discrimination is not tolerated.
Secondly, Canada boasts an incredible list of places of interest and activities of all kinds, no matter the season. A dog sledding trip in the middle of winter, a kayaking excursion on the St. Lawrence River in the spring, lounging with friends by a lake in the summer or enjoying a romantic stroll in a national park to take in the colours of autumn, you guessed it, many perspectives can be yours depending on your wishes. Canada is a first class destination whatever your expectations, and Canadians will greet you with a warm welcome!
Canada covers more than 10 million square kilometres, making it the second largest country in the world after Russia. Its landscapes are spectacular and nature is still wild on a large part of the territory. It has a population of about 37.5 million inhabitants living mainly in the south of the country, on the border with the United States. The most populated provinces are Ontario with its metropolis Toronto (Church Street gay district), Quebec with its metropolis Montreal (Village gay district) and British Columbia with its metropolis Vancouver (Davie Village gay district). The least populated province is the Yukon, with just over 38,000 inhabitants in an area almost as large as Spain. The winters are harsh but Canadians are equipped and used to these extreme conditions. If you love snowmobiles, frozen lakes or would like to spend the night in an ice hotel, Canada is for you. Conversely, summers can be very hot and you can then enjoy nature in a completely different way by going swimming in one of the country’s many lakes. Spring only really starts around mid-April and then summer quickly takes over. September is often very pleasant with a real Indian summer. Canada undergoes a radical change with autumn and its forests that are covered in colours that go as far as the brightest red. Check out the Gay Guide to Canada’s Cities for a complete summary of each destination and the perfect time to visit if you want to combine sightseeing with great LGBTQ+ events.
Canada has a strong international presence in protecting people’ s rights, particularly LGBTQ+ people. The government is actively engaged in defending these rights in multilateral fora including the United Nations, the Organisation of American States, the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe and the Coalition for Equal Rights. Same-sex marriage has been recognized since 2005 (second country in the world to have authorized it after the Netherlands) and adoption has been legalized for a very long time. Gender reassignment is legal as is LGBTQ+ participation in the country’s armed forces. The country is also beginning to roll out non-generic identity documents. Canada’s role is important because it is one of the few countries to be so involved in this area.
In addition, Justin Trudeau, the current Prime Minister of Canada, has participated in all of the country’s major pride marches and was also the first leader to go to a gay bar, in July 2019. In 2017, the federal government eliminated all discrimination based on gender expression and identity and in the same year, at a sitting of the House of Commons, Justin Trudeau, along with the leaders of the two largest opposition parties, issued a formal state apology to LGBTQ+ people for past government actions towards the community.
The currency used in Canada is the Canadian dollar, not to be confused with the American dollar. For 1 Euro you get about $1.50 CAD. There are plenty of exchange offices on site, so there’s no need to change your currency at the airport, where it’s usually less advantageous (and more expensive!). Also check with your financial institution before you leave, as partnerships exist between certain banks (e.g. if you are with Crédit Mutuel in France, you can withdraw money free of charge at Desjardins branches in Quebec).
The tourist visa is valid for a maximum of 6 months, but this remains at the customs officer’s discretion following a strict control on arrival. European countries are visa-free, but it is nevertheless mandatory before your departure to apply for an ETA (Electronic Travel Authorization) which costs 7$CAD per person. Ask for it on the official Government of Canada website and not through a third party as they will charge you extra for the same service. Here is the link to the official government website: ETA – Canada.