September is the first month of fall in Canada. Temperatures start to drop but are still comfortable and stay quite warm in many southern areas. The changing colors of the trees from mid-month add extra incentive to explore outdoors, whether that's in a city park or a national park. However, it can be quite a wet month, so be prepared for showers. As a large country covering many different climatic zones, it's impossible to generalize about Canadian weather in any month. Typically, it's warmer in southern regions and wettest on the coast, while the further north you travel, the colder the climate.
The biggest cities, which also all happen to be quite far south, see similar temperatures in September. For example, eastern Québec City, which isn't far inland, has a minimum of 52°F (11°C) and a maximum of 66°F (19°C). A bit further inland, on Lake Ontario, Toronto is a little warmer, with a minimum temperature of 55°F (13°C) and a maximum of 68°F (20°C). On the other side of Canada, Calgary is colder overnight but similarly warm during the day, with a minimum temperature of 43°F (6°C) and a maximum of 64°F (18°C). Coastal Vancouver is similar to the eastern cities, with a minimum of 52°F (11°C) and a maximum of 64°F (18°C).
Crowds & Costs
September is generally a shoulder-season month for travel to Canada, sandwiched between the busy summer and the ski season. You might find some good end-of-summer discounts on accommodation in resort towns, especially those that will be changing gears before the ski season.
The exception is Toronto, which is very busy in September when it hosts the Toronto International Film Festival. One of the biggest film festivals in the world, it attracts a huge number of visitors, so book accommodation well in advance if you're traveling to the city during or around the festival dates.
Where to Go
Film lovers should head to Toronto in September to attend the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF)—just make sure you secure your accommodation well in advance! Running for 11 days early in the month, TIFF presents a great opportunity to learn more about Canadian film and watch international films (as well as spot celebrities). Between 300 and 400 films are shown each year, so there should be something to suit any taste.
Before or after film screenings, get out and explore Toronto in the lovely fall weather. Canada's largest city is set on the northern shore of Lake Ontario. It has eclectic art, dining, and fashion scene. Head to the top of the CN Tower for great views of the city and lake, browse the Art Gallery of Ontario and other top-notch galleries and museums, and eat your way through the diverse city's various neighborhoods. To get out of the city on a day trip, check out Niagara Falls and Niagara-on-the-Lake on the other side of Lake Ontario (about a two-hour drive).
Leaf peepers might want to visit Canada's largest provincial park, Ontario's Algonquin Provincial Park, a beautiful forested expanse between Toronto and Ottawa. From mid-September, the fall colors can be seen in all their glory. Maple trees are the most colorful in September, with other trees becoming colorful later in the season.
Chat with a local specialist who can help organize your trip.
What to Do
Food and wine enthusiasts can plan culinary adventures in various parts of Canada in September. Ontario's Niagara region is home to around 100 wineries. The small city of St. Catharines, on the southwestern side of Lake Ontario, hosts the Niagara Grape and Wine Festival in September. While you're in the vicinity, you can also head over to pretty Niagara-on-the-Lake for a walk around the charming historic town and perhaps even a horse-and-buggy ride.
Over on the other side of the country, British Columbia's Okanagan Valley is beautiful at this time of year and is recognized for its wines. Winery tours and tastings run out of the town of Kelowna, which also hosts the Kelowna Fall Wine Festival in late September/early October, around harvest time. Visitors can also enjoy farm tours, visits to lavender farms, and local farm-to-table meals in the Okanagan Valley's top-rated restaurants.
September is also a good time to embark on a road trip before winter descends, making road conditions more hazardous. Canada's a huge country, so hone in on one area rather than try to cover too much ground. A Calgary to Vancouver trip can be done in around 10 days (or less if you're short on time) and will take you through the beautiful Rocky Mountains, the Kootenay Rockies, and the Okanagan wine country before ending on the coast of British Columbia in Vancouver.
Events in September
Toronto International Film Festival, Toronto. This star-studded festival in September is one of the world's largest film festivals. Nearly 500,000 people visit Toronto for this special occasion to attend screenings and chance encounters with famous film actors.
Niagara Grape and Wine Festival, St. Catharines. Ontario's wine region hosts this festival of Canadian-produced wine over several days in mid-September. Sample local wines and attend wine-focused events.
Oktoberfest, Kitchener-Waterloo. After Germany's version, Canada hosts the second-largest Oktoberfest in the world. The Bavarian celebrations are abundant in September with music, dance, traditional clothing, and food.
Kelowna Fall Wine Festival, Kelowna. British Columbia's Okanagan Valley is famous for its wines, and the town of Kelowna hosts a fall wine festival around harvest time (late September/early October). Enjoy great food and drink in a beautiful setting.
Traveling to Canada in September? Check out these great itineraries
Pacific Rim Adventure: Vancouver to Tofino Road Trip - 6 Days. Starting and ending in Vancouver, this road trip takes you to the rugged coastline of Pacific Rim National Park. Base yourself in a wilderness lodge or cozy B&B along the coast and spend three days exploring the beaches and rainforest around Tofino and Ucluelet, as well as the remote islands of Clayoquot Sound.
Okanagan Valley Road Trip: Wine & Outdoors - 8 Days. Experience the best of the Okanagan Valley, visiting newer and more established wineries. From Vancouver, you'll drive through the coastal mountains toward the drier interior of the Okanagan Valley and spend time between Kelowna and Osoyoos.