Canada is often stereotyped as a country full of friendly and polite citizens, and it has a largely unrestricted internet infrastructure. In fact, Reporters Without Borders ranked Canada 18th out of 180 countries in terms of its freedom of speech and press. Unlike many other countries, Canada doesn’t censor and block web content.
Even so, you may find that access to some of your favorite websites is blocked while traveling or working in Canada. Despite the fact that Canada doesn’t explicitly block much web content, some streaming multimedia services and websites block connections from foreign Internet Protocol (IP) addresses, so it’s often necessary to use a Virtual Private Network (VPN) tunnel to gain access to blocked content.
In my view, however, I’d say that the more important reason to use a VPN tunnel in Canada is to prevent unknown third parties from spying on your internet activities. The US is notorious for invasions of privacy, surveillance, and wiretapping by the National Security Agency (NSA), but Canada isn’t exactly blameless and pure either.
Let’s dig into it and take a look at the five best VPN services for Canada in 2017.
List of the Five Best VPNs for Canada in 2017
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Best Canadian VPNs
ExpressVPN is my first choice for Canadian users for two reasons. First of all, it’s based in the British Virgin Islands. Secondly, it’s one of the most well-rounded, quality VPN services, and is known for offering fast and reliable VPN connections.
To date, ExpressVPN hosts servers in 94 countries around the world, in 145 locations. It seems to be in a state of constant expansion, and I imagine it will continue to grow and expand its network as dictated by customer demand. In addition to permitting peer-to-peer (P2P) traffic through its servers, the ExpressVPN software client comes with a kill switch to protect downloads.
Users can connect up to three devices simultaneously, which is great if you have multiple devices, or friends and family with whom you wish to share your account. Hoewever, the service isn’t perfect. The largest drawback is that it costs more than the average provider (from $8.32 per month), though it does have a generous, 30-day money-back guarantee.
ExpressVPN has plenty of Canadian-hosted servers to choose from in Montreal, Vancouver, and Toronto.
- 30-day money-back guarantee
- Canadian servers in Montreal, Vancouver, and Toronto
- Servers in 94+ countries
- Based in the British Virgin Islands
- Three simultaneous connections
- No free trial
- A little pricey
IPVanish is the next best alternative for users in Canada. This provider hosts two servers in Montreal, 12 servers in Toronto, and two in Vancouver. Furthermore, it provides access to over 750 servers and 40,000 IP addresses, scattered across 60 countries.
Even though I like IPVanish, there’s one thing that I really don’t like – IPVanish is based in the US. To be fair, it doesn’t keep any logs of user data. Instead, it only logs standard metadata, such as the aggregate quantity (but not contents) of bandwidth that passes through a server in a given period of time. Logging that type of information helps VPN services plan for future capacity constraints.
IPVanish is moderately priced, at neither the high end nor the low end of the spectrum. You can get their service for as little as $6.49 a month, which is significantly cheaper than ExpressVPN.
- Servers in Montreal, Toronto, and Vancouver
- Up to five simultaneous connections
- 750+ servers in 60 countries
- No BitTorrent bandwidth throttling
- Socket Secure (SOCKS5) web proxy service, OpenVPN, Point-to-Point Tunneling Protocol (PPTP), and Layer 2 Tunneling Protocol (L2TP)
- Based in the US
Buffered is another attractive option for Canadian users. It is based out of Hungary – well outside the US and other Five Eyes surveillance nations. It doesn’t limit P2P or BitTorrent traffic like some of its competitors, and it has a great no logging policy. However, Buffered does log some metadata, though the data is pretty standard among VPN privacy policies and innocuous enough (aggregate bandwidth statistics, server connection timestamps, and so forth).
The bottom line is that Buffered won’t log any of your downloads or online activities. Like ExpressVPN, Buffered has a 30-day money-back guarantee. It’s also extremely competitive with ExpressVPN in terms of pricing – with an annual subscription plan, Buffered costs $8.25 a month.
Buffered users get up to five simultaneous connections, which should accommodate most users’ needs. Right now, Buffered has servers in 37 countries around the world, including Canada and other popular geographic areas.
- BitTorrent friendly
- High-quality customer support
- P2P permitted
- 30-day money-back guarantee
- Five simultaneous connections
- A little pricey
- Fewer global server locations than some VPN providers
NordVPN is a great option for Canadian users who want a service that’s more affordable than services like ExpressVPN and BufferedVPN. Surprisingly, even though it costs less, NordVPN is still packed with enticing features. With an annual subscription, you can get this service for only $5.75 per month.
I absolutely love the fact it allows users to connect up to six devices at a single time. Like many other providers, NordVPN also has a 30-day money-back guarantee, which basically serves as a way to test out its VPN servers risk-free for a month. BitTorrent and P2P downloaders don’t have to worry about restrictions either.
NordVPN has more global connection options than Buffered. Currently, NordVPN has servers in 57 countries and counting. It’s based in Panama, well outside the US and Canada, and has a favorable no logging policy. All in all, NordVPN offers a low-cost alternative with plenty of simultaneous connection and geographic connection options.
- Costs as little as $5.75 per month
- 600+ servers in 60+ countries
- Six simultaneous connections
- Based in Panama
- P2P and BitTorrent friendly
- Not the fastest speeds
Last but not least is VPNArea, which is even cheaper than NordVPN. You can get a VPNArea subscription for as little as $4.92 a month, and still connect up to six devices to a tunnel at the same time. (In fact, as with any other provider, you can connect an unlimited number of devices if you terminate the VPN tunnel at your router.)
VPNArea takes care of BitTorrent users by allowing P2P traffic through its network. That network size is roughly the same as NordVPN, since VPNArea has servers in 68 countries around the world. This provider is ideal as it is based in Bulgaria rather than Canada or another Five Eyes surveillance country. VPNArea won’t log any user activities, and provides Domain Name System (DNS) leak protection, Internet Protocol version 6 (IPV6) leak protection, and anti-Web Real-Time Communication (WebRTC) security features.
Furthermore, the software client comes with an integrated VPN kill switch to halt downloads in the event of a disconnect. Lastly, VPNArea hosts nine unique servers in Canadian locations, including Saint Laurent, Montreal, Ottawa, Toronto, and Kitchener.
- Servers in 68+ countries
- Fantastic extra security features
- Seven-day money-back guarantee
- Six simultaneous connections
- BitTorrent permitted
- Logs metadata (but so do most other providers)
All things being equal, I think I would rather use a VPN provider that is based in Canada over one based in the US. However, Canada does take part in international governmental surveillance agreements, such as the Five Eyes (FVEY) intelligence agreement between the UK, US, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand.
Many people fear wiretapping by the United States NSA, as well as Five Eyes members sharing surveillance data with other nations. After Edward Snowden blew the whistle on the NSA (and other governmental endeavors), the public realised that the NSA had coerced domestic IT companies and digital services to divulge sensitive customer data.
For that reason, many people want to use a VPN provider that’s based in a country outside of the Five Eyes program. While I tend to agree, there are a few exceptions to the rule of only using off-shore VPN providers.
Best VPNs for Canada in 2017: Conclusion
Even though I’m a fan of ExpressVPN, I was particularly impressed with NordVPN and VPNArea. I think the fact that both providers allow up to six simultaneous connections is generous, especially considering that each service is so reasonably priced. On the other hand, I do see a lot of merit in selecting ExpressVPN, since it has fast and reliable servers, and servers in more countries than most other providers.
In any case, I strongly encourage you to take advantage of a free trial period. Personally, I think everyone should use a VPN tunnel, but residents and travelers in Canada need to take extra precautions due to the Five Eyes program and the growing threat of governmental surveillance. If it hadn’t been for Edward Snowden, I may have dismissed such claims as the ramblings of conspiracy theorists, but the ugly truth is that governmental surveillance is real…and growing more sophisticated with each passing month.
If you don’t want big brother looking over your shoulder every time you fire up a web browser, take advantage of VPN and encryption technologies. In most cases, the additional overhead is so nominal that you won’t notice a difference for the majority of your internet traffic. The alternative – forgoing encryption and being spied upon by the government, hackers and Internet Service Providers – is no longer an option!