Once the ski resorts have closed and the snow has melted from many mountaintops in the Rockies, tourism in Canada surges. Winter may have an abundance of outdoor activities and spectacular scenes, but summer is—without a doubt—the Great White North's busiest time of year.
The season doesn't last long, though. One may only be able to go without a coat during the months of June, July, and August. Peak season also means higher prices and more crowds than what you would find in the off-season, of course, so prepare to pay a bit extra and to share the cities and trails.
The official start of Canadian summer is June 21, when the powder is still disappearing from the country's famed high-altitude peaks. Temperatures during this time of year linger in the low 60s F in coastal areas like St. John's, Newfoundland, or get up into the mid-70s F in Ottawa and Toronto. July is generally warmer and also the most touristy time. Afternoon highs in the peak of summer tend to be in the 70s, while nighttime lows can drop to 50 F or lower.
West Coast summers are moderate with low humidity and chilly evenings, whereas northern regions err on the cooler side, predictably. Although the official start of autumn isn't until September 21, signs of fall can crop up early in the month, especially in higher-altitude towns like Banff, Revelstoke, and Jasper.
How to Pack
Any Canadian will tell you: Layers are your best friend. The temperatures can be unpredictable, even during summer, so it would be wise to pack a coat and perhaps even some winter accessories in your suitcase. Sweaters, pants, and closed-toed shoes are a typical uniform for most summer days, while the rare heat wave might allow for occasional tank tops and sandals. Bug spray and rain gear are also necessities, especially if you plan to do much hiking.
Canadian and international travelers alike spend their summer vacations in the more remote parts of the country. The lakeside cottages and resorts that adorn the mountains are surrounded by outdoor adventure of every form: biking, canoeing, water sports, and camping, all popular activities with this nature-loving crowd.
More urban destinations like Toronto, Montreal, and Vancouver host music festivals, food fairs, and other gatherings during the summer months. Major events that draw hordes of tourists include the Shaw Festival in Niagara-on-the-Lake and the Stratford Festival, both in Ontario.
Travelers come to shop in Toronto, ride scenic trains through the Rockies, whale watch off the shore of Quebec, and indulge in the French food of Montreal all the same. The beauty of Canada, after all, is its diversity.
Summer events in Canada range from large and lively city celebrations to small cultural events. Among the biggest festivals are:
- The Calgary Stampede, held every July
- Caribana, an annual celebration of Caribbean culture in Toronto
- The Just For Laughs Montreal Comedy Festival in July
- The world-renowned Montreal Jazz Festival in June and July
- The Vancouver Celebration of Light, which is the largest fireworks competition in the world, held over three nights every summer
- The Toronto International Film Festival in September