I really have no right replying to this thread since I won't be able to add to any of the information or insight provided by the above posters....but I just wanted to give you all the Canadian perspective on applying to college/university.
First, lower population=less schools=fewer choices to make so I really only had to choose between 2 universities. I basically picked the one closest to my hometown, filled out an application (which took less than 30 minutes if I recall correctly...no essays or letters required) and sent it off in the spring of my senior year. Less than a month later I was accepted in to the college of my choice. Four years later I decided to do a masters...closed my eyes and pointed at a map of Canada and emailed the administration of the university closest to where my finger landed (OK, it wasn't quite THAT random, but I put in very little research and was at a point in my life where I just needed a change and I didn't really care where it came from). I was put in contact with an incredible advisor in my area of interest who offered me a graduate student position. I was extremely lucky to fall into such a great program.
Now that I'm wrapping up my PhD and hoping to get a faculty position, I'm starting to look at options in the US and am amazed at the huge number of great schools with incredible programs in my area of interest. So I may be going through "The College Process" myself (from a different angle) in the next year or so.