Day: July 3, 2014

Driving in Canada: The Rules of the Road

Driving on the Right Side:

Here is the good news, Canada drives on the right side of the road. There is nothing worse than trying to drive in a country that hasn’t figured out that the right side just works better. Canada might be the only Commonwealth country to drive on the right side and the Queen doesn’t know since she will never drive in Canada. I doubt anyone  is going to tell her.

Why did Canada break with the English Empire when it comes to driving on the right side? I’m pretty sure it is because Canadians wanted to buy American cars and we were not about to put the steering wheel on the wrong side of the car. (Yes, I realize that there are places where American cars have the steering wheel on the wrong side and I believe that is why Detroit is such a mess today.)

This is what a Canadian road looks like.

This is what a Canadian road looks like.

The Metric System:

Next, Canada is one of those countries that blindly followed everybody else in the world down that rabbit hole called the metric system. Here is what irks me about the metric system: everything is shorter and if there is one thing that is universally accepted it is that bigger is better. (A kilometer is shorter than a mile, a centimeter is shorter than an inch, a yard…okay a meter is longer than a yard but I will not be limited by facts in this guide to Canada.)

Why is it important to know that Canada is on the metric system when you are driving? 1. Listed speed limits are in kilometers (which is slower than miles per hour, another reason that kilometers are inferior). 2. Distances on signs are listed in kilometers (which are shorter than miles). So when you see that the speed limit is 80 that does not mean that you get to go 80, it means that you can go 50. If that is too confusing let me give you an easy mathematical guide to figuring out how fast to go: 1 mph = 1.6 kph, so if the posted speed limit is 100 kph, get out your Texas Instruments calculator that you last used in 7th grade and divide 100 by 1.6 and that will give you the correct mph. (I think you can do this while on the road because there is no law prohibiting the use of calculators while driving.)  Or if your eyesight is really good you can use those little numbers on your speedometer. (Those little numbers are actually kph, funny huh? Solving life’s little mysteries is what I am all about.)

What if your eyesight is bad and you don’t have a calculator? Should you just follow the flow of the traffic? No, no, no, no, no. Why not? Because Canadians don’t follow the speed limit. They are either driving 500 kph over the listed speed “limit” or they are diving 20 kph under the speed limit. Does anyone follow the speed limit? Yes, Americans who don’t want to get a ticket.


Do Canadians who drive too fast get tickets? It depends. If you are driving in British Columbia and have BC license plates you can drive as fast as your car will take you, but if you are in British Columbia and have Alberta plates, well then that is a different story.

English: British Columbia license plate França...

BC plate means go fast in BC…do not follow these people if you are from outside the province.

If you are from Quebec, then stay in Quebec because all of Canada hates you. (Quebec is like Texas for Americans. This is not a joke. There are three things that are not laughing matters in Canada: Don Cherry’s jackets, hockey, and Quebec wanting to be its own nation.)

How Far is 45 kilometers?

When an American sees a sign that says a place is 45 miles away we know instinctively that it will take about 40 minutes to get there (45 if you drive the speed limit, which in the United States is 5 mph over whatever the sign says it is). Well how long does it take to drive 45 kilometers? I have no idea and neither does anyone in your car. You could do some math to figure it out, or if you are tired of all the math, which if you are American happened as soon as you drove five miles and the speed limit changed three times, you can choose one of two speeds to drive. If you drive the same speed as the distance on the sign then you will arrive in exactly one hour. For example, if the sign says Whistler is 50 kilometers away you can just drive 50kph and you will arrive in Whistler in one hour. This can be a problem if you are driving a long distance or a short distance, but that isn’t your problem when someone asks how long until we get to Edmonton, just press on the gas pedal take it up to 350kph and say, “We’ll be there in an hour.”

You can also chose to drive 100kph. This method will get you to any location in the time it says on the sign. So if it says Whistler is 45 kilometers away, it will take 45 minutes to get there driving 100kph. Again, there are flaws in this technique, but if you are like me you just want a definitive answer when someone asks, “How much longer?”

There you go, that is everything you need to know about driving in Canada. If you have any questions please don’t hesitate to ask because, as you can tell, I am practically Canadian.


What Makes You an Expert on Canada?


Images in this picture are larger than they appear.

I can see Canada from my house.

No, this is not a picture from my house, I can’t afford to live up on this hill, but if I stood on a really tall ladder on top of my house (a 200′ ladder maybe) I could see Canada across the Strait of Juan de Fuca. Vancouver Island, home of Victoria BC and lots of trees, is a stone’s throw (a George Washington stone’s throw) from the humble village I call home.

Satellite image of the Strait of Georgia, Stra...

See? The only thing between me and Canada is water, and a few laws preventing me from rowing my kayak over there on weekends. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I have also pretended to be Canadian when I travel so that people don’t think I am an American jerk. (This has never been successful because I am not polite enough, don’t speak a second language, and think Celine Dion is overrated.)  I have practiced talking like a Canadian and have even adopted a few Canadian mannerisms like saying, “Sorry” frequently (pronounced sOOOry in Canadian).

Now that we have established my bona fides, on to the guide.