Traveler’s Guide To Understanding Canadian Culture

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Traveler’s Guide To Understanding Canadian Culture

By understanding the following cultural elements of Canada, visitors can gain a greater appreciation for the experiences and opportunities this remarkable country has to offer – irrespective of their method of arrival, be it through a visa or an eTA.


Canada, a North American country sharing a boundary with the United States, has a name that originates from one of the indigenous languages and means “village” or “habitation”. The capital city, Ottawa, in turn, has a name that signifies “trade”.

The national flag of Canada is white with a red maple leaf, an emblem that has come to represent the nation. With a population exceeding 37 million, Canada is a federal parliamentary democracy and a member of the Commonwealth of Nations. This means that while Canada is an independent country, the Queen of England still plays a symbolic role. That country’s cultural influences stem from its dual heritage of both French and British colonization.

Canada offers amazing ethnic and language diversity

In Canada, both linguistic and ethnic diversity contribute significantly to the richness of the cultural landscape. With two official languages, English and French, both exercising a significant influence, the country also boasts over 60 Indigenous languages.

On top of that, a high rate of immigration has made Canada a home for people from all over the world, leading to a diversity of languages such as German, Italian, Spanish, Punjabi, Tagalog, Cantonese, and Arabic being spoken.

The country’s population comprises a mix of Aboriginal peoples, those with French and British heritage, and immigrants from Europe and South Asian countries like Pakistan and India. This diversity is reflected in Canada’s many religious communities, including Buddhism, Christianity, Islam, Hinduism, Judaism, and Sikhism.

Popular Culture in Canada

Canada is often associated with various iconic features that have become synonymous with the country in popular culture. These include:

  • Maple syrup – Canada produces 80% of the world’s supply of maple syrup.
  • Ice hockey – the country’s official winter sport that enjoys the same level of popularity as sports like football and cricket in many other countries.
  • The Northern Lights – a breathtaking natural light display visible in Canada and other countries like Finland, Iceland, and Norway.
  • Exotic forms of wildlife, like polar bears.
  • World-renowned national parks preserve the country’s fauna and flora.
  • Scenic mountain ranges.
  • Beautiful beaches along its long coastline
  • Natural wonders like Lake Ontario and Niagara Falls.

The country is also known for famous figures like actors Ryan Gosling and Ryan Reynolds, and renowned author Margaret Atwood. Additionally, Canadians are often touted as some of the most polite people on earth, which while a stereotype, is widely agreed with by visitors who have met them.

The national symbols of Canada

Canada has quite a few symbols that are often displayed during both unofficial and official events and that are considered to be national cultural symbols. The three most notable symbols associated with Canada are beavers, hockey, and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP).

The beaver is admired for its hardworking nature and ability to create elaborate nests from mud and twigs. This docile animal is also known for its peacefulness and its reputation as a diligent, humble, and non-predatory creature.

Hockey is recognized as a national sport that instills pride in Canadians and signifies the cohesiveness and unity of the many different communities within the country. The Canadian national hockey teams for both women and men have won 20 Olympic medals, including 13 gold medals, since 1920.

The RCMP embodies the values of cooperation, hard work, patience, politeness, and cooperation, all of which are important to most Canadians. Its insignia features the Canadian maple leaf, which as mentioned above, can also be considered a symbol of Canada, and a buffalo head.

Interesting Canadian customs

When visiting Canada, some customs that travelers should keep in mind include tipping restaurant and bar staff 15-20% and service providers, like hairdressers and taxi drivers 10%; practicing French customs in French-speaking regions, for example, using the formal “vous” instead of “you” when meeting somebody new; greeting with a kiss on both cheeks; and bringing flowers or a bottle of wine to a dinner party. Otherwise, traditions and customs are often very similar to those in the United States of America.

Business and Economy in Canada

The Canadian economy is one of the biggest in the world. It is a blend of agriculture, manufacturing, and services. With abundant natural resources and a long history of farming and agriculture, Canada is a major producer of natural forest products, automobiles, oil, minerals, food, and animal products. The service sector, however, dominates the Canadian economy, making it one of the world’s wealthiest nations.

Canada also thrives in international commerce and is considered one of the most globally integrated economies, ranking among the top trading nations.

Visitors to Canada must know the eTA (Electronic Travel Authorization) requirements for entering the country. The eTA Visa Waiver can be conveniently obtained online.

The amazing food of Canada

The Canadian food culture boasts a rich diversity, although it lacks a significant number of traditional dishes. Despite this, Canadians take pride in their world-renowned maple syrup. The absence of distinctive national cuisine can be attributed to the country’s multicultural makeup, where immigrants from different nations all brought their own unique recipes, in the process expanding the food landscape. The availability of restaurants that offer a wide range of cuisine in cities big and small is a demonstration of the nation’s diversity and open-mindedness.

What you should know about local etiquette when visiting Canada

If you’re not used to saying “I am sorry,” you might sometimes find Canada a challenging place. Canadians are well-known for their polite and tranquil demeanor, placing a high value on the comfort of others in public spaces. Disruptive behaviors, such as loitering, jumping lines, causing a disturbance, public drunkenness, and catcalling, are not well tolerated by most Canadians.

Despite this, Canadians generally avoid confrontations and are very tolerant. When you unintentionally upset someone, they tend to keep their distance rather than directly address the issue. Apologizing, even when not strictly necessary, is a common practice among the population.

The weather in Canada and how it affects the culture

Canada experiences four clear-cut seasons. Winter weather can be frigid and is marked by snow and ice. Temperatures during the summer are generally warm, with peak summer months rarely reaching above 80°F.

Winter offers opportunities to join the locals in outdoor activities like skiing and snowboarding, while spring and summer are popular times for activities such as biking and hiking. During your visit to Canada, you can also enjoy a relaxing trip to the beach in June, July, and August. In spring, you will get to admire the beautiful blooming flowers, and in autumn, you can observe the leaves slowly changing color.

Gender equality in Canada

Canada places a high value on equal treatment for all genders. It’s one of the few nations that allows its citizens to identify themselves as transgender by describing their gender on their passports with an “X”. The country is also one of a small list of nations that have legalized same-sex marriages.

The bottom line

Canada offers many stunning rural and urban landscapes to explore. And the diversity of its people, its food, and its culture all help to create a remarkably alluring environment that will make you want to come back again and again.