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Exploring Canadian Culture - Tips And Quips

By Edited Mar 11, 2015 9 13

Our culture is as varied as our terrain

I'm still learning...

Canadian Landscapes - 2014 Calendar
Credit: From cover of Canadian Landscapes - 2014 Calendar (on Amazon)
One of the most common lifelong ambitions I hear people say is, "I want to travel and see the world."
Which tells me one of three things: a) they are bored to tears with their lot in life b) they can't stand the people in their social circle or c) they haven't explored Canada.
What's to know?
Well, depending on which province you visit, you'll most likely feel like you are in a different country (or even on a different planet).
To illustrate cultural differences in various areas of Canada, I am featuring short YouTube clips (nothing is over 3:37 seconds) in this article. The written word just cannot convey the nuances (nuisances?) of our cultural differences (nor our weird accents).

For no particular reason...

I figure I'd work my way across Canada from the east coast to the west coast. In my 20s, I briefly dated a guy from Newfoundland. I didn't understand many of his phrases, but I think the most baffling one was, "You be alright."

Whenever I'd compliment him, he'd quip, "You be alright." When I asked him what he meant, he explained: "When you are puffing me up [flattery], back home we say that. It's like saying you are nuts to think I'm so good. You [you'll] be alright means you are nuts, but you will be okay."

How To Speak Like A Newfoundlander

Actor, writer, producer Allan Hawco on Strombo explains:

Next up, Quebec

I haven't been everywhere in Quebec, but I will say this: the drivers (in Montreal) are crazy and there are lots of smokers. There is definitely an artistic feel to most touristy spots. People seem to ooze sensuality. 

In this next video, Robin Williams discusses Canadians and French people (in general). One point I wish to stress: in Quebec, locals seem to appreciate any effort you make to speak French. Give it a go and wait for them to "give you the okay" to speak English. (Usually, this happens within 20 seconds).

Robin Williams

Canadian-French jokes

Ontario is next (my home province)

Here's the need to know about folks from the GTA (Greater Toronto Area):

1) Everyone seems to be in a rush.

2) You need to learn how to use automated machines (not just at the bank).

3) An unspoken rule on escalators is this: if you are standing still, keep to the right and let people pass you on the left.

4) When in line, don't complain loudly (it just brings down everyone's mood).

Comedian Ron James, who is from Nova Scotia, stars in this next spoof about the self checkouts prevalent in almost every large grocery chain both in and around Toronto.

From The Ron James Show

Self Checkout

Yes, Rob Ford is still our Mayor

One of the things Canadians in Ontario (at least in the four cities I've lived in) are known for is complaining about taxes.

Rob Ford is someone you've probably heard about already - and he is in no way "the typical Canadian." So why is he still our Mayor? I honestly don't know - I guess we are too polite. And seriously, 99.9999% of our population would've resigned a long time ago.

He's an anomaly really - and we Canadians like to study anything different or peculiar. But media star Rick Mercer's explanation (next) makes perfect sense to me.

RMR: Rick's Rant - Rob Ford

If I may speak for the women of Toronto

We're self-sufficient and want Husband Day Care:

For fun, I typed in "Canadian souvenirs"

These magnets came up (also available singly too):

All 13 Canadian Map Outline Magnets *Complete Set*
Credit: Amazon.com

For those of you who want the whole collection

(About $1 a province or territory):

All 13 Canadian Map Outline Magnets *Complete Set*
Amazon Price: $23.99 $13.00 Buy Now
(price as of Mar 11, 2015)
Beware that the magnetic map board is NOT included in this set. Each magnet measures about 2 inches x 1.25 inches. These magnets are made in the U.S. (and are obviously "not to scale"). But - get this - they ship for free to U.S. residents. I suppose Canadians need to pay for shipping.

Manitoba & Saskatchewan

Both my father and my brother went to university in Winnipeg, Manitoba. It's cold, not much to do - so it's a great place to study.

Oh, but they do celebrate holidays as much as possible there. What's the latest claim to fame? Winnipeg has been as cold as Mars.[1] The truth is: the highest estimated temperature on Mars is 27 C (80.6 F).[3] But the polar lows on Mars can be -153 C (-225 F).[2] So, on one particular day, Mars reached a high of - 29 C (-20 F) while Winnipeg reached the same low.

Newsworthy? Meh, but I think it went viral on Facebook or Twitter.

My sister lives in Saskatchewan. It's a great place to live if you suffer from claustrophobia. The song by the Dixie Chicks "Wide Open Spaces" always reminds us of Saskatchewan. I visited her over 10 years ago and I remember loving the early morning sunrise there.

34 seconds sums up these provinces


Anyone I've ever met from Calgary (aka Cowtown) raves about it. While Edmonton is the capital city of Alberta, I never hear much about it - except for the West Edmonton Mall. If you are into skiing, you'd probably find Banff spectacular. 

Similar to how Americans listen to Oprah, we listen to David Suzuki (who has great abs, by-the-way). The Alberta Tar Sands is something you'll hear about often. Here's a quick blurb:

David Suzuki, environmental activist

Known for The Nature of Things (and thingies)

Possibly saving the best for last

British Columbia

I've visited Vancouver and it rained every day I was there - except on the day I left. No one seems to mind the rain there, either. I felt like the only one who noticed it.

The mountains were breathtaking to view while I sipped my morning coffee. Oh, and the flowers and foliage seemed so lush (compared to Toronto).

I can certainly understand why B.C. appeals to the outdoorsy-types.

People also seemed to be more health conscious, less stressed out (generally), and more outgoing. (Although, I was on vacation when I visited).

Next, enjoy how to become a Vancouverite, a must-see:

How to be a Vancouverite...

A 16-Month Calendar of Canada's beauty

My intro photo is from the cover.

Canadian Landscapes - 2014 Calendar
Amazon Price: $4.89 Buy Now
(price as of Mar 11, 2015)
This picturesque calendar looks stunning in any home or office - and matches any decor. Sure, you might find our culture somewhat challenging (I still do, and I'm Canadian). No words are needed, though, once you see our gorgeous country for yourself.


Mar 7, 2014 12:46pm
Addendum: Roberto Luongo was traded from the Vancouver Canucks to the Florida Panthers.
Mar 10, 2014 12:45am
Oh Rose, I love your take on Canadian culture. People in Nova Scotia are really friendly. We love to have conferences there before. Come June, I will again be a Torontonian if our condo gets done. If not for Rob, Canada would never be in the news here in Hanoi.
Mar 12, 2014 4:00am
I agree, the hospitality in the east coast provinces of Canada is incredible. I think Reader's Digest did an experiment to find out "the most honest cities" in Canada (dropping wallets and recording where they were most often returned). Nova Scotia (and the maritime provinces) came out ahead.
Apr 5, 2014 2:29pm
Yes BC does appeal to outdoorsy people. That's why I moved here. By the way, Victoria does not get nearly as much rain as Vancouver. Over the period of a year, Victoria normally gets a lot less rain than many other cities in Canada. Great article about our home country.
Apr 6, 2014 4:46am
Next time I visit, I'll be sure to check out Victoria. Thanks so much for dropping by and commenting. Take good care, Rose
Apr 25, 2014 12:36pm
Great article. I think I remember reading somewhere, a suburb of Vancouver that is ranked in like the top 20 places to live.
Apr 29, 2014 3:11pm
Yeah, I wonder what suburb that is - Vancouver is considered "the most liveable city in North America" (however, it also has the second least affordable housing in the world). It's a fabulous place to visit - just expect it to rain a lot. Thanks so much for dropping by and commenting.
May 17, 2014 8:11pm
I've been to Canada once, for about an hour. I was living in West Branch, Michigan and drove north to Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario. I walked around the mall and that was it. If I ever can, someday I hope to visit national parks - since I much prefer nature over cities.
May 17, 2014 9:50pm
Well, we certainly have plenty of national parks - hope you and your family can visit more areas of Canada someday. Thanks so much for dropping by Tano. Take good care, Rose
Mar 12, 2015 11:15am
The escalator "stand on the right" rule goes here in the US, too, but most Americans are too fat to do that. Thumb.
Mar 14, 2015 11:29am
HA, we have that problem here in Canada too. Thanks for dropping by and commenting Vic. It's always a pleasure to see you.
Mar 12, 2015 7:24pm
This was a fun read, Rose. I live in BC and have never been further east than Manitoba, but hope to one day ....
Mar 14, 2015 11:36am
Hmm, if you venture further east than Manitoba, you'll encounter: stressed out people (Ontario), a taste of Europe (Quebec) and some of the sweetest people on the planet (Newfoundland and the Maritimes).

If you smile and greet Torontonians, some peeps might be wary of you. If you fail to smile and greet east coast folks - they'll think you are being rude. Adjust your friendliness accordingly. Thanks so much for dropping by and commenting.
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  1. "Winnipeg deep freeze as cold as uninhabited planet." cbc.ca. 01/01/2014. 6/03/2014 <Web >
  2. "Mars Facts." quest.nasa.gov. 6/03/2014 <Web >
  3. Bartley Kives "Cold inaccuracies get silly with chilly." winnipegfreepress.com. 07/01/2014. 6/03/2014 <Web >

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