After the disintegration of the former Soviet Union, Canada has become the world’s largest country. It extends from the Northern Ice Sea, to the Atlantic Ocean and the Pacific. Its total area is 9,970,610 square kilometres. The maximum distance from east to west is 5,500 km. And the
longest north-south distance is 4,600 km. It is a country with a great variety of natural beauty. You will find mountains there (the Rocky Mountains), as well as lakes, rivers, vast prairies and forests. This greatly affects weather conditions, and there are consequently great climatologic differences in Canada. Due to its many different climates, Canada’s flora and fauna is of unparalleled richness. Canada consists of 10 provinces and 3 territories. The country is a member of the British Commonwealth, and though the Queen of England is its formal head of state, it is in practice an independent nation in practice. Provincial governments assist the Federal Government of Canada and are mainly concerned with matters directly affecting their own population. Provincial authorities are in charge of income taxes of individual persons and companies, as well as of provincial sales taxes and land-transfer taxes.The majority of Canada's approx. 33 million inhabitants live near the southern border. This is also where the principal Canadian cities are such as: Montreal, Toronto, Calgary, Vancouver and Ottawa (capital city). 70% of the Canadian population live in urban centres. The Canadian population is a mix of various nationalities as a result of the influx of a large number of immigrants. Of the Canadian population, 50% originate from Western Europe. The indigenous Canadians are the (First Nations) Indians and the Inuit. There are strong parallels between Canadian and American society regarding clothes, food, housing, and cultural manifestations; and partly because of the fact that the Canadian economy is rather dependant on the United States (U.S.), “Americanization” is still increasing. Yet, there are also important differences. For one thing, Canada is a much more socially-minded country that the U.S., where privacy and private initiative are so highly regarded that a large part of the population has hardly any access to the “American dream”. Canada is different; as a result of government interference, it has a good social security system without the kind of impoverished circumstances and harsh contrasts between rich and poor that exist in the U.S.
Canada, too, has a social security system jointly funded by employees and employers (each a 50% share). In general, benefits are lower. • Family Allowance Those entitled are Canadian residents with children under eighteen in their own care. In Alberta and Quebec, child benefits are age-dependent. In Quebec, the benefits are taxable income. • Unemployment Insurance Those entitled are people who have worked for over 15 hours per week and are below the age of 65. The duration of the benefit depends on the individual’s employment history and on regional unemployment rates, though there is a maximum of 70 weeks. The benefit is 60% of the average last-earned income. This benefit may also be granted in the vent of long-term illness, pregnancy, the period after childbirth, or a training-course subject to an unemployment project. • Old-age pension Every 65-year-old resident who has lived in Canada for at least 10 years prior to his pension application is entitled to an old-age pension. This benefit is not dependent on income or employment history. The maximum amount is $658 (2010) for a single person or somebody whose partner is under 65, and $1,092 (2010) for a married couple if both spouses are 65 or older. • Employee insurance schemes (Canada Pension Plan) These may be subdivided into: - Old-age pension. The contributions are 4.6% and are jointly paid by the employee and the employer on a fifty-fifty basis. Self-employed persons pay the full contribution of 4.6%. - Occupational disability. This scheme stipulates that you have paid contributions in at least two out of the last three years, or five out of the last 10 years. - Surviving dependant’s pension. This pension is intended for the partner of the deceased contribution payer. It stipulates that you have paid contributions for at least three years.
All residents in Canada are automatically insured against health costs. These costs exclude the costs for ambulance transport, medicines, dental care, glasses, and contact lenses, for which it makes sense to take out a supplementary insurance policy. Health care is funded from federal and provincial taxes. Only in British Columbia and Alberta, everybody is obliged to pay for supplementary insurance. The package offered is fairly comprehensive, and with regard to matters not covered by it, people can take out a supplementary insurance policy. Every resident is insured, but new residents will have to register with the Provincial Healthcare Office immediately on arrival. After registration, immigrants will be insured straight away, except in the Provinces of Ontario, New Brunswick, Quebec, and British Columbia. In these provinces, there is a 3-month waiting-time.
Canada had full religious freedom. The three main religious denominations are: the Roman Catholic Church, to which about 45% of the population belongs, the United Church of Canada, with 18% of the overall population the largest Protestant denomination, and the Anglican Church of Canada, with about 12% of the population. There are several other religious denominations as well.
The Canadian school-system, as are the curricula, is geared to the (North American) continent. After “elementary school”, everybody goes to “high school”, which in turn is subdivided into “junior high” (ages 12 to 15) and “senior high” (ages 15 to 18). Year-groups (classes) are numbered consecutively throughout. So, a grade-11 student is in the second year of “senior high”. At high school you can choose from various programmes. An “academic course” gives access to college or university. At school, there is a lot of focus on sports. After high school, you can try and find a job, or you go to college or university. Obviously, in rural areas, the school is situated in the centre of the community. And its students will come from far and wide. Students need school transport, and the authorities provide for that. At 8am, the school bus arrives. The bus drives from one farm or home to the next and picks up all school-going children – from kindergarten to high school. At about 3 or 4pm, the bus takes the children home again. Publicly maintained primary and secondary education is generally free. In most provinces, people have to pay for their private education.
Canada has 6 different climate areas: Yukon, North-West Territory, Nunavut :These areas, together with the northern parts of the Prairie Provinces and the north of Ontario and Quebec, have an Arctic climate with winter temperatures down to 50 or 60 degrees below zero (centigrade), and with summer temperatures (for a few months) not rising above 10 degrees. British Columbia: Climatologically, this area bears the closest resemblance to the climate in Great Britain. The coastal area of this area has the mildest winters in the whole of Canada. Due to air blown in from the Pacific and forced up against the Rockies, British Columbia has high levels of precipitation (between 100 and 140 cm per annum), most of which falls in spring and winter. Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba :These provinces are characterised by a typically continental climate: severe winters and warm summers. The fairly limited amount of precipitation mainly falls during the growing-season, which is favourable to crops. The spring season starts late because of the frequent occurrence of night frost. A common prairie phenomenon, especially in Southern Alberta, is the Chinook: a dry, warm, westerly wind that may cause temperature fluctuations of up to 25 degrees (centigrade) in a matter of hours. Ontario, Quebec: Due to warm-air concentrations transported in from the Mexican Gulf, the southern parts of these provinces may have oppressive summers. Autumns tend to be enjoyable, partly because of the beautiful colouring of the trees (Indian Summer). In winter, the north-western part of these provinces has cold air blown in from the prairies and the Hudson Bay. Hence, winters will be quite long, with lots of snowfall. Summers are generally fairly warm. Precipitation is evenly distributed over the seasons. Especially in the south of Ontario, the climate is such that practically all crops can be cultivated there. New Brunswick, Newfoundland and Nova Scotia: Though these areas are situated along the Atlantic Ocean, the climate is continental rather than maritime. This is caused by the prevailing north-easterly winds carrying cold air from the Arctic. The area is characterised by a fair amount of fog, rain, and gale winds. Prince Edward Island :End of May, early June is when Prince Edward Island is full of colour, while temperatures may vary between 8 and 22 degrees. Summers are warm, though rarely humid. Day temperatures are typically around 20 degrees, with top temperatures of up to 32 degrees. The autumn weather is nice and bright. The end of September may still be warm, but the evenings are cooler. Temperatures then vary between 8 and 22 degrees. Winters are chilly but bright. Winter temperatures fluctuate between -3 and -11 degrees.
The agricultural area of Canada is 730,000 km2, which is nearly 8% of its total area. Approx. 400,000 km2 of this is intensively cultivated. The rest is grassland of highly variable quality. The types of soil are: clay, clay-loam, sand, and sandy loam. Large tracts of land have a fair quantity of stones on them, which makes their cultivation considerably more difficult. The countryside varies from practically flat to very hilly. Moreover, there are parts that can not be fully cultivated due to the presence of woodland areas or of low, wet, and boggy sites. The division of land varies from area to area. In the “older” areas (Eastern Canada and British Columbia), land divisions are fairly arbitrary, and farms come in all sizes. Land prices are expressed in dollars per hectare. In the “newer areas”, the Prairie Provinces, all roads as well as the streets in towns, run from north to south and, at a right angle to these, from east to west. In the rural areas, you will find a road at every mile, and the parcels of land enclosed by these roads, i.e. one square mile each, are called “sections”. These sections may in turn be divided into four “quarters” (each approx. 64 ha.), which are generally the smallest units to be bought. The qualification-system of the Canada Land Inventory (C.L.I.) describes the quality of farm-lands on the basis of seven classes. Land-classes 1 to 3 (large parts of the Prairie Provinces and Ontario) are used for arable farming; land-classes 4 and 5 tend to be used for livestock, while land-classes 6 and 7 are not suitable for agricultural purposes.
Dairy: In Canada, there are currently approx. 16,970 dairy farms in all. That is a relatively low number. It shows that there is much more space in Canada for operating a dairy farm. On average, there are 72 dairy cows per farm in Canada. The dairy market in Canada is divided into a market for liquid milk (i.e. drinking milk) and industrial milk. Industrial milk is for the production of cheese, butter, yoghurt, etc. Of all the milk produced in Canada, 33% is liquid milk, 60% industrial milk, and 7% is used as livestock feed. For each province, percentages may vary strongly, though. For instance, 17% of total milk production on Prince Edward Island, and 62 % in New Brunswick, is intended as liquid milk. Market regulation for industrial milk takes place nationally, while market regulation for liquid milk is a provincial affair. Milk quotas in Canada are freely marketable and therefore not tied to land. In general, the transaction is made as follows: dairy farmers wishing to sell quota submit a quantity of “fluid milk” or “MSQ” to the Milk Marketing Board at a minimum asking price. The sale will proceed if the set indicative price equals or exceeds the asking price. The reverse applies for buyers of quotas. They register a quantity of milk at a maximum bid price. The sale will only proceed if the established indicative price equals or is below the bid price.
Arable: The provinces of Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba have been divided into five soil zones:brown, dark brown, black, dark gray, and gray. The types of soil may be characterised as follows. • On brown soil, you will find a large variety of crops and yields. This soil is more susceptible to drought. • In areas with black soil, average precipitation levels are higher and the soil is better capable of retaining moisture. Hence, the yields are higher and the soil is rarely susceptible to drought. • Gray soil can be found in the northern areas of the three provinces. This soil is characterised by more precipitation, colder temperatures, and a shorter growing season. The principal crops of Western Canada are: wheat, barley, oats, oilseed rape, and Timothy hay. In addition, lentils, peas, potatoes, and sugar beets are grown there.
Brown soil can be found in the semi-dry areas of south-eastern Alberta (Medicine Hat, Brooks, Oyen). Annual precipitation is approximately 300 mm. Grain production in this area is mostly limited due to soil humidity. Besides, wind erosion can be a big problem in this area as well. Land prices are approximately $700-$1000 per acre. Dark-brown soil (Lethbridge, Calgary, Stettler, Vermillion) has an average annual precipitation level of approx. 350 mm. Land prices here are approx. $1500-$2000 per acre.In the black-soil areas, soil humidity and precipitation levels in summer greatly affect crop yields. Black soil is located in a zone between Calgary and north of Edmonton. Annual precipitation levels in this area are between 450 mm and 600 mm. Land prices vary from $2000 and $3500 per acre. Gray soil is in central Alberta at the foot of the Rocky Mountains (Rocky Mountain House, Rimbey, Breton, Edson, Barrhead and Westlock) and in the Peace River area. Precipitation in this area is less restrictive than in other parts of Alberta, but the growing season is shorter. Annual precipitation in this area often exceeds 600 mm. Land prices in this area are around $1200-$2000 per acre.There are 13 irrigation districts in Alberta.
Approximately 1,300,000 acres are irrigated in Southern Alberta. This is 5% of all of Alberta’s farm lands, as against 12% of the total agricultural production of Alberta consisting of irrigated crops. Irrigation also sets the right conditions for growing a greater variety of crops. Irrigated lands in this area cost $3,000-$5,000 per acre.
Land prices in Saskatchewan are between $500-$2,000 per acre. In the south-west of Saskatchewan, you will find brown soil. This area is similar to the area in south-western Alberta. Land prices in the area around the town of Outlook are around $2,000 per acre, including irrigation. Dark brown soil covers the area between Saskatoon and Regina. The Regina Plains is an area with heavy clay soil. Surrounding the town of Melfort, you will find black soil. This area is characterised by an average annual precipitation of 650 mm. Land prices in the area are between $1200 and $1500 per acre.
Of the total agricultural area in Manitoba (19 million acres), 11.8 million is cultivated for arable farming. The average size of the farms is 785 acres. The main part of the agricultural area is in the black-soil zone. East of the capital city of Winnipeg, you will find good arable lands. In this area, there are also two potato factories, in Purtase and Carman. Land prices, including irrigation, are between $ 2500 and $3500 per acre here. South of Winnipeg the land prices are between $1500 and $2000. When you go a little more to the west in Manitoba, you tend to find more stones in the soil.
Ontario:In the south the soil consists of Fox sandy loam on which a great variety of crops is grown, including tomatoes, maize and vegetables, fruit orchards, grapes, and field crops for seed production, i.e. seed maize on a contract basis for seed operations. In the Learnington surroundings, there are many hothouses for tomatoes, cucumbers, and flowers. Land is expensive here at approx. $11,000 per acre (1 acre = 4047 m²). In Essex County, there is a clay area stretching along the north- and south shores of the lakes. Lighter soil is sold at approx. $4,000 - $5,000 per acre. Clay at approx. $3,500 per acre. The soil in Kent County consists of sand, sandy-loam, and clay-loam. This is used for growing beans, wheat, seed maize, and tomatoes. The Heinz plant is very popular in Learnington. Huron and Perth Counties are good farming areas with 2700-2900 H.U. These are regions with a lot of livestock farming, as well as soy beans, white beans, cereals, maize, wheat, and small grain crops (oats, barley, and canola). In addition, you will find pig-, dairy-, and poultry-farming there. The region has good soil, including areas with clay-loam, Perth clay, Huron clay, as well as loam. Land prices are $5,000 - $6,000 per acre, and in some areas even $8,000 per acre.
Marianna Westerkamp was born and raised in the Netherlands. 14 years ago she emigrated to Canada, Prince Edward Island. Purchases and sales of real estate is where she since 14 years has been involved with. In 2014, she started selling agricultural objects and
Cor van Gaalen
Cor Van Gaalen is born and raised on a cash crop and poultry farm in Southwestern Ontario, his parents emigrated to Ontario, Canada in 1989. Cor graduated from Olds College in Alberta, Canada in 2013 and received his Bachelor of Applied Science Degree in Agribusiness. Since then Cor has worked in the Agriculture sector
Ben van Dyk
I am Ben van Dyk first generation immigrant, co-managing /selling partner Real Estate Centre office selling rural real estate in Alberta & Saskatchewan.
Having been in agriculture for 50 years with farm & land ownership, farm real estate agent for more than 30 years currently managing a dairy farm, crop land, land holdings and investment corporations with land holdings and selling real estate.