I don't know what season you're planning on coming to Canada...but that could determine a lot. Seeing as winter is such a big deal here there are likely lots of festivals and events going on in celebration of it (Winterlude in Ottawa is an international deal, and the canal is the world's largest skating rink). However travelling in winter could be more uncomfortable (there are times when you just don't go outside in this country--too cold and messy!) If you're althetic though, the skiing/snowboarding/skating etc is tops!
The best time to come (in my opinion) is May/June. Certain cities are as brutally hot as they are cold, but this seems to be the most moderate time, weather wise. Ottawa has a lot going on in the summer (July 1st is Canada Day...PARTY!!!!) The hostel in Ottawa actually used to be the old jail...it's kinda spooky (some of the dorm rooms are converted cells with the bars still on the doors as a joke! People say the parking lot was built over the cemetary). The place is very cosy ironically and I think there's a kitchen/lounge in the basement.
One thing about Ottawa is that it's more touristy than most other cities (cuz it's the capital i guess). It's worth a short stay though to see some of this country's founding landmarks...get a little background history. Montreal (culture capital) is 2 hrs by bus so you could easily lump them together if you wish. OH! and i almost forgot...Hull (casino town) is just over the bridge from Ottawa (like 15 min). So you can do as the under-aged of Ottawa do: go drinking in Quebec (18 y.o.) and return to Ontario to sleep.
You'll love your trip to canada, make sure to go to vancouver island, it is a must!!!
You have to go through the rockies too, some beautiful places to see is going through waterton/pincher creek area, beautiful scenerey, very reasonable prices. I think greyhound still has those passes that will take you across canada, which is very reasonable.
I live in kamloops, many beautiful places around here, close to the shushwap, which is absoloutley gorgeous, if you are around in skiing season sunpeaks here is a beautiful and very reasonable place to go, you will find kamloops people very friendly and much cheaper then going to whistler.
i can give you some more info if needed, just let me know..
ps...drinking age in bc is 19, alberta is 18
It is very smart of you to save to come to canada, as it is an enourmous country, I've been living in toronto for the past 1.5 year and I absolutely love it. Canada is a very very friendly country, people here are incredible. Definatelly don't miss Victoria, you can spend a couple of days there, Vancouver is stunning, just didn't like the quantity of drug users that I saw there - quite depressive, T.O. - toronto is awsome, so culturally diverse, montreal is beautiful and you have loads of things to see and do there, and you should also go to Quebec City, very very european, you might have a little more trouble if you don't speak french there, but they are quite patient - out of montreal and quebec you definatelly will have a bit of a hard time if you don't speak french!
You are going to love it! I agree with all of what has been said in this forum. I live in Ottawa and traveled out west last summer. There are a lot of Australians out there so you will certainly feel at home. I think they even call Whistler Aussieville. You should not stop your trip in Toronto. Eastern Canada has alot to offer. I have been to every major Canadian city and by far my favuorite is Quebec City. The history and the culture are tops in Canada. If not North America. Montreal follows closely behind.
Yeah I would definitely say to stop by Montreal. Quebec City is a lot more of the old french style while Montreal has a mix of french and english styles because of it's bilingual status. And if it's a french feel you want you have just to head on down to the more prominently french speaking areas of montreal to experience that! I know your trips not for a while but if you ever want any advice on places to hit in Montreal don't hesitate!
The rest of Canada is a natural beauty, as everyone else here has mentionned. Although the northern parts of Canada are not very populated or popular (we all know how people don't favour cold climates including myself!) a dream of mine has been to go up north and see the aurora borealis, a.k.a. Northern Lights. You can see these in the Northwest Territories (Fort Smith), Yukon (Watson Lake), and Alberta (For McMurray). The lights can be seen any night during winter apparently. I'm not too sure if you can see them in the summer as well, but I imagine it would be well worth the cold weather!
"About how much money (US$) will I need?"
Nice - i think youll have enough money saved by 2008 - that you can BUY canada!
all jokin aside - its a cheaply travelled country.
Canada is the most amazing place on earth! (No offense to anyone else . . . and I admit, I am a very biased Canadian). The reason you got different answers about the drinking age is because it is different in different provinces.
I agree with others on sights to see . . . here are some "musts"
BC: Vancouver-Victoria, go fruit picking in the Okanagan Valley, go hiking in Banff-Jasper-Lake Louise
AB: Calgary stampede, go shopping at West Edmonton Mall (the worlds largest)
SK: pretty . . . but flat
ON: Toronto, Niagra falls
QU: Montreal, Quebec City
Maritimes: Just cool place!
Enjoy! If you get a chance, you could also check out the Territories, but on 2-3 months, you might run out of time!
I noticed in your replies that nobody recommended you visit the East coast...I highly recommend, that if you have enough time, you visit Nova Scotia and Newfoundland, especially if in the summer. It's significantly less populated, but so beautiful, and if you enjoy the outdoors and appreciate scenery, you'll have a great time. Plus, the pubs are busy and friendly, with mostly live entertainment.
Lately, there's been an influx low fare airlines, with return airfare from, say, Toronto to Halifax, from anywhere as low as $150 return (all fees and taxes in, though admittedly, that's a lucky find). Toronto to Halifax is about 2,000 kilometres. And just FYI, the Canadian dollar is just about on par with the Australian, give or take a little bit. I use www.xe.com to convert, it works with current exchange rates. And again, to give you an idea of how our prices compare, a beer in Canada will cost approximately $4.25, give or take a bit, around the country. If you plan ahead and look for sales, on things like car rentals (some companies have a compact for $9.99 a day), or buses (Greyline offers 2 for 1 sometimes, as does the train), you should save a bit. As well, there are hostels in all the major cities. Worth it to rent a car though, a lot of hidden gems not accessible by mass transportation routes. Good luck!! You'll have a great time. Plan for the summer though, the weather can be crap the rest of the year.