A Little Introduction to Life in Canada

by Jules on November 29, 2013

So, you’re considering moving to Canada? It’ll be an exciting adventure, but the ice-cold winters won’t be the only thing to shock you. In fact, you’ll spend years adjusting to all of the little differences. Here’s a (slightly stereotypical, tongue in cheek) guide to a few of the many Canadian intricacies:

Oui, We Speak English

If you move to Canada, it’s very likely that you’ll have no trouble communicating. A majority of people speak English. However, it’s also worth noting that in parts of Canada (particularly in Quebec) there are whole neighbourhoods where people speak only in French. If you’re planning to live in one of these areas, then you should prepare by learning at least a few basic French phrases to make your transition easier.

Tim Hortons

An alternative to Starbucks, Tim Hortons is a coffee shop chain in Canada. Some people prefer Starbucks coffee, and some prefer Tim Hortons coffee, but you’ll find that a Tim Hortons hot chocolate is a drink that everybody loves.

Maple Syrup

A Canadian staple, maple syrup is added to both sweet and savoury dishes. Start your day with maple syrup on pancakes, add it to your drinks and end the day with maple syrup mashed potato. Delicious.


Canadian people love hockey like British people love football. If you’re looking for a topic for your water-cooler conversation, then be prepared to have something to say about an NHL team. For your own safety, don’t criticise the Toronto Maple Leafs when you’re within the Toronto border.

Loonie Toonie

The Canadian one-dollar coin is called a loonie, because it features the image of a loon (a diving bird). Following on, they call their two-dollar coin a toonie. If you go to Echo Bay in Ontario, you’ll see the Big Loonie – a large statue of a loonie coin. The Big Toonie is in Campbellford, in case you were wondering.

The ‘I Survived’ T-Shirt

If you live in Canada, you don’t just exist through winter. If you make it out of the other side, then you’ve ‘survived’ it. People in Canada are proud of the fact that they live through their own winter season, and it’s no surprise given the dramatic temperatures that you’ll face. If you’re chatting to a Canadian and comment that you love their winter weather then you’re likely to get laughed at.

Potluck Parties

Once you’re living in Canada, you’ll probably get invites to potluck parties. Don’t be alarmed – they’re not parties that might turn out to be terrible. Everyone invited to a potluck party brings along some food. They’re feasts, and everyone contributes. Sometimes potluck parties are themed, but mostly they’re a complete free-for-all.

Mind Your Ps and Qs

Canadians are famous for their manners. They’re considered to be particularly polite, and you’ll fit in well if you know how to apologise for everything and to say ‘please’ and ‘thank you’ often. A majority of Canadians are particularly proud of their mild-mannered reputation.

“Oh, the top bit of America?”

People from Canada might love the fact that you consider them to be polite, but they generally hate being compared to Americans. Be prepared to run for the mountains if you make the mistake of telling someone from Canada that they’re ‘just like an American’.

Have you been to Canada before? Are you Canadian? Would you like to add a tongue-in-cheek fact to our list? Comment below, and share your thoughts.

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