Ten things that are uniquely Canadian

Categories: Canadian Travel


  1. Poutine. Imagine cheese curds and gravy over a bed of French cut fries. At least that’s how this dish, born in French Canada, originated. Now, it comes with a tremendous variety of fixings, in quantities one should never devour in a single sitting. Heart attack on a plate. But, oh, so good! Everyone should try it at least once. Make it your authentic Canadian experience when in Montreal!
  2. A leaf on a flag. Canada didn’t even have its own flag until it was nearly a hundred years old. When it did, the powers that be (meaning the governing party of the day) decided to do something unique: we’re the only flag in the world with a maple leaf. Americans have been known to discredit the symbol when Canadians are too vocal at their sporting event; to wit, “We rake up and compost your national symbol.”
  3. Tim Hortons (without the apostrophe). It started as a donut shop, grew like bamboo, became a coffee shop specializing in donuts, added sandwiches and soup, etc. Now it’s in a dead heat competition with McDonald’s in Canada’s fast food industry (though they serve almost nothing the same), prime (and in Canada, larger) competitor to Starbucks in the coffee industry and a dividing cultural force (“Are you a Timmy’s or a Starbucks kind of person?”) Who was Tim Horton? A professional hockey player who died in a car crash a couple of years after starting the chain with his friend.
  4. Eh! We’re known to frequently end our sentences with this word, raised in pitch a few semi-tones. It’s a way of turning a statement into a bit of a question, or at least inviting the other party to add their confirmation. But it also serves a very useful purpose: Suppose one is making a bold brash statement and, right in the middle you realize you may have to defend it, or take it back. No problem! You just carry on and add then eh? at the end. You’re off the hook. Pretty neat, eh?
  5. Eatmore candy bars. We call them chocolate bars but there’s really no chocolate in them. Which is why they survive forever in your backpack, despite all manner of heat, cold and rain, and are as fresh, if somewhat mangled, when you finally eat them several years later. I swear, they’d survive a nuclear holocaust. Filled with nuts, they’re actually very nutritious, as well. I live in an earthquake zone. Yup, they’re in my survival kit.
  6. We say “please,” “thank you” and “I’m sorry” to a fault. Or, so they say. Okay, I’m fine with the first two. Can’t see why anyone would deride us on that. But, it’s true, we apologize for our accomplishments, if you can imagine! I’m sorry we beat you in the world hockey championship final (every year). No, I’m not!
  7. We cheer for losers! Maybe it’s related to #6, I don’t know, but get this: By far the biggest sports franchise in the country, the Toronto Maple Leafs, haven’t won a thing since 1967 (when Tim Horton still played for them). But they’re revered across the country and the darling of the Canadian media. Then, there’s the Saskatchewan Roughriders, a professional football team (of the 3-down variety) that’s won a grand total of four championships in its 105-year history (and that’s in a nine-team league—you do the math). Yet, they sell as much merchandise as all other eight teams combined and, in visiting games, their fans sometimes outnumber the hometown crowd (despite the nearest other team being a six-hour drive away). Okay, I’ll admit, I’m a member of this tribe, too.
  8. The Nanaimo bathtub race. Started fifty years as Nanaimo’s Centennial event, the first year saw close to 200 ‘tubbers’ racing a 36-mile course in converted bathtubs. Forty-eight finished. Today, the high-performance “bathtubs” cover the 90-minute course the last weekend of July, as part of the weekend-long Nanaimo Marine Festival, which includes a Bathtub Parade.
  9. The Kermode bear. Also known as the spirit bear, this sub-species of the black bear can be completely white. But it is in no way related to the more common Polar bear, and is found only along the middle and northern coastal areas of British Columbia.
  10. We speak on behalf of Santa Claus. It’s thanks to thousands of kind Canadians that kids around the world get answers to their letters and emails to Santa each year. Canada Post volunteers have answered more than 1 million letters in 30 languages (including braille). They ask that you don’t include cookies, but do include the postal code: HOH OHO.

And a bonus:

  1. Celine Dion, is Canadian. I refuse to add commentary . . .

Did you know?

There are six overpasses and 38 underpasses for animals to safely cross the Trans-Canada Highway in Banff National Park.


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