Pre-departure guide for international students

5. Fun activities

5.1 Entertainment and media

Like all large metropolitan areas around the world, Canadian cities offer a range of entertainment options. No matter where you plan to live in Canada, you will find many activities to suit your personal tastes. The following is a list of entertainment suggestions and the relevant contact information.

Cinema

Canadian movie theatres are typically large and modern, featuring stadium-style seating. Given the close proximity to the United States, Canada tends to receive new movies immediately following their release dates. A standard adult admission costs approximately CAD 13, though most theatres offer reduced prices on designated nights and student rates are generally available if you show your student card.

Repertory cinemas are often older, smaller venues that show second-run movies at discount prices.

Theatre

Most Canadian cities have wonderful theatres showing a range of musicals and theatrical performances. Broadway shows, such as Cats, Phantom of the Opera and Mamma Mia! circulate through the larger cities such as Vancouver, Toronto and Montréal. Tickets for such productions can be quite expensive.

Major cities usually have a very active amateur theatre community. For those who enjoy drama, theatre is an excellent way to get involved in the local scene and meet new people. Shows are often advertised in local newspapers and tickets for the productions are reasonably priced. Contact your local playgroup or theatre for more information.

More information on major events

Television and radio

There are a number of television and radio stations in Canada catering to a variety of tastes.

The major Canadian TV networks in English:

Canada’s major Francophone TV networks are:

Newspapers

Newspapers, particularly their entertainment sections, are a great way to find out what is going on in a city.

Canada’s two national daily papers:

Leading French language newspapers in Canada are:

Visit the Canadian Newspapers Association web site to see a list of daily newspapers in the cities that interest you.

You can buy newspapers at convenience stores and other retail locations, as well as from boxes on streets and campuses.

Alternative newspapers offer a unique perspective on local happenings, featuring classified ads, inexpensive things to see and do, and stories relevant to young people. Look for these publications in the Canadian city where you will live.

5.2 Sports and recreation

Canadians love playing and watching sports. Popular sports include hockey, cross-country and alpine skiing, snowboarding, swimming, baseball, tennis, basketball, golf, soccer and curling.

Professional sports

Canada has a number of high-profile sports teams competing in various Canadian and North American leagues. Going to see a live sporting event is a popular pastime for many Canadians. Tickets can be costly.

Major professional sport leagues in Canada include:

For more information on tickets to major events visit: Ticketmaster.

Recreational sports

Many Canadians play sports in recreational or competitive leagues throughout the country. Most universities hold their own house leagues for a variety of sports. Joining a sports league is a great way to get involved in university life and stay fit. For information on how to get involved, contact the Sport and Recreation Office at your Canadian institution.

Skiing and snowboarding

Skiing and snowboarding are both popular Canadian pastimes—give it a try!

Canadian ski resorts are renowned worldwide for their quality and beauty and are generally quite accessible from major cities. For example, there are three local mountains within a half-hour drive from Vancouver—Mount Cypress, Grouse and Seymour, while world-famous Whistler-Blackcomb is about two hours away. Quebec boasts excellent skiing at Mont Tremblant, Mont Sainte Anne and others. Collingwood’s slopes are popular in Ontario, just a three-hour drive from Toronto.

The ski season tends to run from early November to April, depending on weather conditions.

Full-day, half-day and night ski lift tickets are available and, although prices vary from resort to resort, they all offer special rates for multiple days pass. For a full-day adult pass expect to pay anywhere from CAD 45 (Mount Seymour) to CAD 90 (Whistler-Blackcomb). All established resorts offer equipment rentals and lessons. Contact the resorts you plan to visit for more detailed information.

Note that proper ski attire will be required to stay warm and enjoy this fantastic winter activity.

More information

Hiking

Hiking is a popular sport in Canada, particularly in the southwest of British Columbia where the climate is conducive to this activity virtually year-round.

The Trans Canada Trail, as the name implies, is a recreational trail connecting every province and territory in Canada. It is open to all cyclists, joggers and cross-country skiers in winter. The trail covers a large part of the country and is constantly being expanded.

Visit the local tourist office in Canada for help choosing hiking trails. Local bookstores sell trail guides that are good sources of information. For your own safety when hiking, let others know when and where you are heading and do not trek into unknown territory. Many universities have hiking clubs, which offer a safe and fun way to explore the Canadian wilderness with knowledgeable guides in a supervised environment.

More information

Canada has been a great cultural experience. Much like New Zealanders, Canadians love the great outdoors. Canada is a very active country. Its continental climate means that in winter it is a superb place to embrace classic Canadian pastimes like ice skating, cross-country skiing, snow shoeing and, of course, ice hockey. In the summer, the weather is warm and sunny. The opportunity to learn and talk French on a daily basis has also enriched my experience here.

Dr. Richard Beal - New Zealand
Recipient of the Canada Post-Doctoral Research Fellowship, 2010.
Researcher on next-generation solar cells at the University of Ottawa’s SUNlab research centre in collaboration with the high-tech industry and the Canadian Space Agency

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