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Winter and early spring are the skiing season, but not every region offers skiing. Large cities, like Montreal, Toronto and Vancouver, have enough indoor facilities museums, art galleries, theatres and shops to entertain the winter visitor. Smaller cities have fewer amenities to keep the winter tourist engaged.
In most of the southern part of Canada, where the majority of the population lives, spring, summer and autumn are good seasons for road trips. The Rocky Mountains are the exception. The mountain lakes thaw only at the end of May, and a few of them look their turquoise best only after the first week of June. So the season for touring in the Canadian Rockies is shorter than it is in places that are at a lower elevation.
The summer months of July and August are best for camping and for visiting the Far North.
There are many festivals throughout Canada during the summer.
In much of Canada, the peak tourist season starts with Victoria Day (the third Monday in May) and ends on Labour Day (the first Monday in September). In the Canadian Rockies, the peak season starts on Canada Day (July 1st) and ends on Labour Day. Of course, peak season also means peak pricing! Be sure to budget accordingly.
Although there are fewer crowds in the spring and autumn, some tourist-oriented attractions are closed during the shoulder months.
This is only a very general outline, and it does not address specific activities that take visitors to places at what might appear to be unlikely times of the year (e.g., winter storm watching in Tofino, British Columbia). If you are planning to visit Canada, it would be best for you to look up the specific destination here at TripAdvisor's Inside Pages and find more detail on it.
If you are an overseas visitor who will be traveling in both the United States and Canada, it is best to travel from south to north in the spring and from north to south in the autumn. Places that are located further south start warming up earlier in the spring, and places that are further north start cooling off earlier in the autumn.
If you want to travel across a large swath of Canada, you need to think about the weather in a variety of Canadian destinations and try to coordinate them in such a way that you are likely to encounter pleasant conditions at each stop.
If you will be visiting British Columbia, the Alberta Rockies, Ontario and Quebec in the fall, it is best to start in Vancouver and travel towards the Rockies. It would be beneficial to visit the Canadian Rockies by the end of September, and certainly by Canadian Thanksgiving (the second Monday in October and the same day as Columbus Day in the United States). Some attractions in the mountains start closing around the beginning of October. Certainly summer-oriented amenities shut down by the middle of October. At the eastern end of the journey, in Ontario and Quebec, the autumn colours usually start to look pretty in early October and typically peak in the middle of October.
In the spring it would be good to travel in the opposite direction. You could start in Quebec and Ontario in May, and work your way westwards so that you reach the Canadian Rockies in June.
If your trip will involve only the coast of British Columbia and the Canadian Rockies, keep in mind that the coast warms up much earlier than the mountains do. Conversely, in the autumn the coast remains warm longer than the mountains.
In planning your trip, it helps to know not only the average temperature at your destination at a given time of year, but also the highest and lowest temperatures that you may encounter. You can use Environment Canada's Climate Normals and Averages to find out the range of past weather conditions. If you want to view temperature data in Fahrenheit, you could consult Weather Base.
It is not only temperature that affects your vacation experience, but also the number of hours of daylight. In Canada winter days are short and summer days are long. You can use the Customized World Clock to look up the sunrise and sunset times at your destination at the time of year that you'll be traveling.