Free (or Cheap) Volunteer Work in Canada
We have surprisingly few listings still to add from our short list but if you are having trouble finding cheap places to volunteer the help exchange websites will have a great many projects to browse through.
Grassroots Volunteering in Canada
The organisations listed below have either got in touch with us to add their details to this or another of our websites, or we otherwise have reason to believe they are actively looking for international volunteers and charge reasonable or no fees to join in, live and work with them:
Churchill Northern Studies Centre
Founded in 1976, the Churchill Northern Studies Centre is an independent, non profit research and education facility providing accommodations, meals, equipment rentals, and logistical support to scientific researchers working on a diverse range of topics of interest to northern science. Volunteers assist at selected times of the year, including ‘polar bear season’ in October and November. Typically volunteers work for 36 hours a week, helping out in the kitchen doing general cleaning and dishwashing duties, sometimes augmented with office tasks, working in the gift shop, and light housekeeping. The volunteer commitment ranges from four to six weeks on average. Minimum age is 19, and fluency in English is a requirement.
Where: Near Churchill, Manitoba.
Accommodation & Costs: Meals and accommodation in dormitory style bedrooms with bunk beds are provided. Other amenities include a dome viewing room where you can look out over the landscape or the night skies through a 360 degree warm ‘bubble’ on the second floor. There is a C$25 membership fee payable upon arrival.
Critter Care Wildlife Society
Cleaning cages, laundry, food prep, washing dishes, washing animal carriers, and disposing of garbage are among the chores assigned to volunteers by CCWS, a wildlife rehabilitation centre for Canada’s native mammal species. The work can be dirty and smelly and there is limited or no contact with animals in these positions. Other roles include maintenance and landscaping. There are also internships available. Interns are encouraged to come for at least a two month stay and work more closely with the animals.
Where: British Columbia.
Accommodation & Costs: Volunteers should be self funding. Interns get a bunk in a cabin and basic food.
Festival Volunteering in Canada
Typically the rewards of volunteering at a festival are a free ticket and a better camping pitch.
Edmonton International Fringe Festival
Hostel Work Exchanges
Many hostels use help exchange networks (see below) to find volunteer staff but the following either advertise on their websites or are particularly noted for taking on volunteers:
Up The Creek
Up The Creek offers travellers and adventurers the chance to stay longer by helping out with the various tasks required to run the business. Work is expected for four hours per day (six hours from a couple staying), for five days per week. Duties will include cleaning, gardening, building maintenance, lawn care, painting, planting, pruning, chopping/stacking firewood, fruit harvest, bike cleaning, and various related projects. Accommodation is provided in a 14 foot travel trailer in the garden, with access to all lodge common areas and amenities. This opportunity is available year round in Roberts Creek, British Columbia, but is only available to people with an off-Coast residential address.
Volunteer work is available all across Canada through Hostelling International, who encourage you to drop by your local hostel to learn more about the volunteer activities they have available. They can also help with internships in hostels in Germany and Belgium.
More Hostel Work Exchanges
A brief, old post on their blog mentions a web developer from Australia joining Cape Breton Island’s Bear on the Lake’s volunteer team. She started as a guest but was taken on once her skills became known. At the other end of the country, another island caught the attention of Sheldon and Donna. They quit their jobs and the city to live the good life opening Earth Club Factory Denman Island, a guesthouse and a cafe that transforms into any number of things. They’ve sometimes needed someone to clean, water the garden and chat with their guests.
Tofino Trek Inn provides a job seeker package for those looking for paid work about town but have had use of a helper to give three hours’ cleaning help per day in exchange for a place to live. Perhaps they still do. The page on casual work with Ocean Island Inn, in Victoria, was blank when we took a look but that might be due to current events. Previously we had written: “casual work earns a bed and credit towards food and drinks, internet time, laundry, etc. The amount of work you do depends on the type of job you’re doing. Some jobs may be three and a half hours per day, others might be 40 hours a week: it depends how much time you have and how much money you want to save. An average worker spends most of their time in housekeeping, working about six hours a day, five days a week. A valid Social Insurance Number is required though.”
Judging from the reviews, it sounds like your free bed at Backpackers on Dundas, in Toronto, will come with added bugs. The good news is if your job involves cleaning you can pretty much relax and do nothing just like previous people in that role seemed to do. It’s possible this place has closed but we thought that when we first wrote this and they still seemed to be limping along years later.
Other Opportunities to Volunteer in Canada
Spare a couple of weeks to help preserve Ontario’s natural heritage. Past volunteers with Ontario Nature have conducted wildlife surveys, restored and enhanced habitats, and reduced human impacts in sensitive natural areas. No special skills are required.
Help Exchange Networks in Canada
Other Ways to Travel or Stay for Free in Canada
Stay for free in return for caring for local residents’ homes or pets. Join Trusted Housesitters to live rent free as a house sitter (Americans may prefer this link). You can also get a free Airbnb credit from us here.
Volunteering and Yoga in Nelson B.C. – Chelsea and Andrew head to Awesome View Road to work on Chuckleberry Farm.
Toronto Veg Food Fest: My Experiences as a Volunteer and Visitor – After attending the Toronto Veg Food Fest for a few years Lauren decided that it was about time she volunteered for the event.
WWOOFing Canada – Essential Tips From A Host – Whether you will have a positive WWOOF experience will depend a lot on your background, what kind of life you are used to and your attitude. To have a fun and unforgettable time Yrene Dee believes the main thing is to keep an open mind.
My New Adventure – Rachel starts a Christian gap year course called Soul Edge in Saskatchewan, Canada, that will involve three months of leadership training and two months of mission outreach to the First Nations people living in Pelican Narrows.
* not all these volunteer experiences are with grassroots NGOs or low cost organisations
Image courtesy NWFblogs