There is little need to take a lot of traveller’s cheques as there are cash points at almost all banks, supermarkets and Malls that are accessible 24-hours a day and accept most cash cards. Major credit cards (MasterCard, VISA, American Express, Diners Club, and En-Route) are universally accepted however small general stores and shops in remote areas may demand cash. Canadian dollar traveller’s cheques are accepted in most large stores and restaurants. Banks generally open between 10am – 4pm Monday to Thursday and 10am – 6pm on a Friday in rural areas.
Taxes and Rebates
There is a 13% Harmonized Services Tax (HST) in Ontario, which is applied to almost every Canadian purchase. (i.e. you will actually have to pay C$3.39 for an advertised C$3.00 item) Taxes are included in the listed price of gasoline, liquor and beer. Some groceries and certain children’s items may be exempt. You are eligible for a GST (5%) rebate when you leave Canada but the following restrictions apply – individual receipts must be greater than C$50.00 and the total must exceed C$200.00. You will also need to supply your boarding card, so make sure you keep this in a safe place.
Duty and Tax Free
Any visitor to Canada over the age of 19 is permitted to purchase tax and duty free alcoholic beverages and tobacco up to the following amounts –
- 14 litres(40 oz) liquor or wine and
- 200 cigarettes or 400 gms tobacco or 50 cigars
Duty and taxes will be charged on quantities exceeding these amounts.
Travel Hint – Duty-free is often cheaper on board the aeroplane but the selection may be limited. Canadian duty free prices are much cheaper than British ones.
Shopping and Dining Out
Basically Canadian prices in C$ are similar to UK prices in £s, so as a result of the current exchange rate most things are about 30-35% cheaper. But be aware that the Canadian equivalent of VAT (HST @ 13%) is added to the advertised price when you go to pay, even small items such as a paper or a pack of gum.
- Dining Out for 2 with wine at a mid-range restaurant costs around £35 (10-15% tip is expected for good service)
- Casual clothing – T-shirts, sweatshirts, shorts, jeans, jumpers are excellent value.
- Footwear – runners, sandals and casual shoes are also a good buy.
- A 24-bottle case of domestic beer costs around £20.00 depending on brand and you get a £1.35 back for the empties!
The minimum age in Ontario to purchase or import wine or beer is 19. Unlike the UK, beer, wines and spirits cannot be purchased from supermarkets and are only available from government licensed Beer and Liquor stores – The Beer Store and LCBO. These stores are widespread but are generally closed on Sundays and public holidays although in some locales extended opening times are becoming more common. Beer stores only sell domestic beers and foreign beers whilst wines, spirits and a limited selection of beer can be obtained at LCBOs.
In many cottage country areas you’ll find general stores that are licensed to operate as an LCBO/Beer store – there will be information at the cottage as to where you can find them.
Supermarkets & Food Shopping
Most cottage country towns will have a decent sized supermarket, but it is worthwhile checking before you embark on the trip from the airport. It’s no fun arriving at your destination after a long flight and drive, to find you need to travel another hour to stock up on groceries. Check with your agency or cottage owner to find out where the nearest supermarket is located.
Supermarkets are similarly stocked to a UK grocery store, with bakeries and butcher departments so you won’t see much difference. Most large supermarkets have international sections so if you have to have Heinz baked beans, and Jaffa Cakes, you may well find them too!
Farmer’s Markets & Local Goodies
For local produce, you can’t beat a farmer’s market and there are plenty of them. In summer they abound with fresh veg, corn, peaches, fresh picked berries, tomatoes and of course, maple syrup which is harvested in the spring and sold throughout the year. Check our page on A Taste of Ontario for some more ideas on what you can buy to cook up a storm on the BBQ.