Dear Cam2248, No. You do not need a provisional patent application to the benefit from the Australian, Canadian and US grace periods. Each of these twelve month grace periods end when the first non-provisional patent application is filed in each country. Here is is a link to a page of my firm's site with more on the Australian patent grace period. I'll leave it to US and Canadian patent attorneys to comment on the nuances of their countries' grace periods. The relevant laws differ from country to country, and the America Invents Act made significant changes to the relevant US law in 2013. It's worth repeating that as a general rule to get valid patent protection for an idea, the idea must be kept secret until an initial patent application is filed. Most countries do not have grace periods, and even in the few countries that do have grace periods you improve your prospects of obtaining effective patent protection by keeping the invention secret until a suitable patent application has been filed.