Canada – A great working holiday destination

Canada is a vast country stretching across the top of the North American Continent from the Pacific to the Atlantic. It is known for its wild and spectacular scenery, wildlife, ski resorts and vibrant cities. And now you are looking to go there on a working holiday.

Canadian Working Holiday Visa Program

The Canadian Working Holiday Visa program is managed by a section of Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada (DFAIT) called International Experience Canada (IEC).

Every year they agree a quota of visas with each country that holds a working holiday agreement with Canada. The visa itself allows you to live, work and travel in Canada for 12 months (more for certain countries).

If you want to apply for one of these you will need to be between the ages of 18 and 35 (depending on the country) and be from: Australia, Belgium, Chile, Costa Rica, Croatia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, France, Germany, Greece, Hong Kong, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Korea, Latvia, Lithuania, Mexico, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Poland, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Taiwan, Ukraine or the UK.

You can apply directly to your nearest Canadian Consulate or through an agency such as SWAP.

Things to do when you arrive

When you arrive Immigration will stamp your passport with an authorisation. Then you will need do a number of things:

  1. Register for a SIN (Social Insurance Number).
  2. Open a bank account.
  3. Find somewhere to live.
  4. Find a job.

Accommodation in Canada

There is plenty of short-term accommodation in hostels and hotels available for your initial stay. We suggest you book short-term accommodation for your arrival. At least 1-2 weeks so you can sort out any legalities (opening bank account, SIN, etc.), get your bearings, find a job and longer term accommodation. Hostels are a great place to begin your journey as they are often full of other travellers doing similar things to yourself. Click on the link of Hostel World to start the process of finding somewhere to stay. If a hostel isn’t your scene click on the link to find something that suits you and your budget.


Work options in Canada

Most English speakers find work in the English speaking provinces of British Columbia and Alberta on the West Coast and Ontario and Quebec on the East Cost. The French speaking provinces don’t bring much employment unless you are proficient in speaking French.

Many find work in the major cities such as Vancouver as this city offers many opportunities including office based work and hospitality work. There is also work in the ski fields and in the agricultural areas.

Work in the ski fields

Canada is known for some of its world-famous ski resorts and you could find yourself working in one. Large numbers of travellers find work in the Rocky Mountain ski fields in Alberta where you will find the resort towns of Banff, Jasper and Calgary.

The main ski season is from November/December to March/April but it does depend on the white stuff. The resorts though are mostly open year-round as during the warmer months the mountain bikers arrive. This means the resorts are on the look out for staff all year round.

Types of work available include: snow sport instructors, hospitality staff in the cafes, bars and lodges, maintenance staff, ski lift ticket sellers and child carers to name a few.

Many find work in the resorts by simply turning up and asking however, you could do your research by picking up ski brochures or checking out resort websites and applying to the resorts directly.

Fruit and vegetable picking

The Okanagan Valley in British Columbia stretches over some 200km and supports nearly 30,000 acres of orchards where peaches, pears, plus, cherries, apricots, apples and grapes are grown. Major growing areas are Armstrong, Vernon, Kelowna, Peachland, Summerland, Penticton, Okanagan Falls, Oliver, Sooyoos and Keremeos.

Harvesting dates vary from area to area but begin around June and can end as late as November. So if you don’t mind hard work, early mornings, working in a variety of outdoor conditions then this may be for you.

The AES (Agricultural Employment Service) has offices in major centres of this area and offers very good advice on fruit picking. You may find work through one of their offices by turning up around 7.00am. You could contact the growers directly.

Another area to try is in the province of Ontario around the Niagara area where there are peaches, pears, plums and cherries plus a major tomato harvest. The season starts in mid-August and lasts around 2 months.

Nanny/Au Pair

Like kids? Then you may find a position with a Canadian family as a nanny or au pair to look after them. This is a good option as most positions are live-in meaning you will have your own room within the house so this takes care of finding accommodation and work in the one go.

No matter what type of work you find, Canada is a fantastic place to live, work and play.

About the Author:
Sharyn McCullum ( spent many years travelling the world as a single working holiday maker. She still travels regularly with her family. She currently calls Melbourne, Australia home. She writes the LiveWork&Play series of working holiday ebooks.

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