Get To Know Canada

Happy Canada Day, to those who celebrate. Canada turns 153-years-old today, so we’re going to need a cake that can hold that many candles. I don’t make the rules.

If any of you are confused, Canada Day is basically the Canadian version of America’s Independence Day.

Today, I figured I’d take it upon myself to teach all of you a few things about Canada. Consider this a crash course. I won’t cover everything, just the things that I think of off the top of my head.

I will be consulting Google to ensure I get things as accurate as possible. If I get anything wrong, I’m sorry.

Let’s get the dreaded political stuff out of the way first, so we can have some uninterrupted fun the rest of the way.

Politics
The leader of Canada is called the Prime Minister. The current PM is Justin Trudeau. He lives in a house that actually looks like a house.

Parliament Hill, located in Ottawa, is like a huge Hogwarts-looking building. That is where the federal government does its thing (for lack of a more appropriate phrase).

The main political parties are: Liberals, Conservatives, New Democratic Party, Bloc Quebecois, and Green Party. Each party elects their own leader.

On federal election day, there are 338 seats up for grabs. Each seat represents an electoral district.

So, on election day, the ballot we receive lists the candidates running in our local district. The ballot does not list the candidates running for Prime Minister.

Whichever party wins the most seats/electoral districts – their party leader is named Prime Minister.

It may sound confusing, but it’s quite simple.

Geography
Canada is made up of 10 Provinces and 3 Territories. The Capital of Canada is Ottawa.

The 10 Provinces and their Capital Cities:
British Columbia (Victoria)
Alberta (Edmonton)
Saskatchewan (Regina)
Manitoba (Winnipeg)
Ontario (Toronto)
Quebec (Quebec City)
New Brunswick (Fredericton)
Nova Scotia (Halifax)
Prince Edward Island (Charlottetown)
Newfoundland and Labrador (St. John’s)

The 3 Territories and their Capital Cities:
Yukon (Whitehorse)
Northwest Territories (Yellowknife)
Nunavut (Iqaluit)

Language
Canada has two official languages – English and French.

Canadian English seems to be a combination of British English and American English.

We like to throw a “u” in words, like: Favourite, Humour, Colour, and Honour.

We spell Centre and Fibre, not Center and Fiber.

I promise you, we don’t say “Eh” as much as you think. Every stereotypical parody of a Canadian has us saying “Eh” at the end of every sentence. We don’t. We hardly ever do.

“Eh” is a sound that means we are asking for something to be repeated or explained, or we’re looking for someone to agree with us. It can also be used as a substitute for, “Huh”.

Example: “Nice weather, eh?” “Yup.”

In school, we call it Grade 1, Grade 2, etc.

In university, it’s First Year, Second Year, etc. I never referred to myself as a Freshman, or Sophomore. I’m sure some Canadians do, but I never did, and I never heard others use that terminology, either.

I call it a Washroom, sometimes a Bathroom, but mainly, Washroom.

We call it a Postal Code, not a ZIP Code.

Knapsack, not backpack. (Many say backpack, but I prefer knapsack).

Pop, not soda.

I found this one while doing research – do Americans know what an eavestrough is? It’s a gutter, but we call it an eavestrough. I didn’t know this was a (potential) difference.

Money
We no longer have a penny because they cost 1.6 cents to make. We save $11 million a year, as a result. They stopped being produced in 2012 and were no longer distributed as of 2013.

Loonie: A gold-coloured, one dollar coin.

Toonie: A two dollar coin. The outside ring is silver, and there’s a gold circle in the middle.

I’m convinced these coins are an ode to the Looney Tunes, but I only thought of that connection right now, so who knows.

Yes, we also have nickels, dimes, and quarters. Queen Elizabeth II is on the face of each coin. She is Canada’s Head of State. You can Google this to learn more because it’s still confusing to me.

Our bills are plastic, colourful, and see-through in one section! We get wild up here. I also think the material of them (synthetic polymer) makes it impossible (near impossible?) to rip. I haven’t tried it, but they definitely don’t tear.

Five-dollar bills are blue.

Ten-dollar bills are purple.

Twenty-dollar bills are green.

Fifty-dollar bills are red.

One-hundred-dollar bills are brown.

Sports
Lacrosse is the national summer sport of Canada, while Hockey is the national winter sport. Those are official things.

Soccer is a popular youth sport. So is baseball, softball, basketball, and tennis. I’m probably missing a bunch. There is also football, though I’ve personally never seen a youth football game or practice, or anyone hanging around a field in football pads, for that matter.

Hockey is big, obviously. Learning how to skate when you’re a kid is like getting a haircut for the first time. It’s just something you do.

Backyard rinks are a thing in the winter.

Road Hockey was popular when I was growing up. I don’t really see kids playing in the street anymore.

Canadian Football 
We have our own football league – Canadian Football League – made up of nine teams. They are: BC Lions, Edmonton Eskimos, Calgary Stampeders, Saskatchewan Roughriders, Winnipeg Blue Bombers, Toronto Argonauts, Hamilton Tiger-Cats, Ottawa RedBlacks, and Montreal Alouettes.

The field is 110 yards, goal line to goal line. Each end zone is 20 yards deep. The field is 65 yards wide.

By comparison, the NFL is 100 yards, goal line to goal line. End zones are 10 yards deep. And the field is 53 yards wide.

There are only three downs in the CFL, as opposed to four in the NFL.

Each team must have a certain number of Canadians on the roster – I believe the minimum is 21.

College Athletics
Our version of the NCAA is called, U SPORTS.

That’s its newest name, as of 2016. Before that it was Canadian Interuniversity Sport (CIS). Before that, it was the Canadian Interuniversity Athletics Union (CIAU).

Any way you twist it, it sounds a bit clunky.

My university didn’t have a football team, neither did my high school. Other schools do have a football team.

Money is not poured into college athletics in Canada the way it is in America. Our post-secondary “stadiums” are probably what Americans are used to in high school.

Outside of championship games, they aren’t televised, and don’t receive much media attention.

The Canadian version of March Madness (for the non-North American reader, this is basketball) is called, Men’s Final 8/Women’s Final 8. As you can guess, it’s an 8-team single-elimination tournament.

On the men’s side, one school – Carleton Ravens – has won 15 of the last 18 National Championships. You would never see that happen in the NCAA.

Food
Tim Hortons is a popular coffee chain. Tim Horton was a hockey player.

You may know them as donut holes, or munchkins, but we call them Timbits because THAT IS THE LOGICAL NAME FOR THEM.

All-Dressed Chips are a Canadian delicacy. Their flavour is a combination of all the chip flavours. Hence, “All-Dressed”. I only figured this out a few years ago.

We also have Ketchup Chips, which I find disgusting.

We are known for our poutine – fries, gravy, and cheese curds. Again, I find it disgusting.

There are Beaver Tails, which is just fried dough in the shape of a beaver’s tail. Creative, eh?

In Ontario, our milk comes in a plastic bag. It also comes in cartons, don’t worry, but predominately bags. It’s not a big deal. You put the bag in a specially-made milk pitcher, cut the corner off the top, and pour.

What are known as Smarties in America, we call Rockets.

In Canada, Smarties are just a wider, and chocolatey-er (?) version of M&M’s.

We like maple syrup, but doesn’t everyone? Why is this a Canadian thing?

Sports Television
The Canadian version of ESPN is called, TSN – The Sports Network. You have SportsCenter, we have SportsCentre. TSN is owned by Bell Media.

Throughout the day, we’ll receive ESPN programming on TSN, like First Take, Highly Questionable, Around The Horn, and Pardon The Interruption.

We also have another sports network called, Sportsnet. We’re just oozing in creativity up here. Sportsnet is owned by Rogers Sports & Media (they just changed their named from Rogers Communications).

So, it’s TSN (Bell) vs. Sportsnet (Rogers).

Rogers owns the Toronto Blue Jays and keep all the games on Sportsnet.

Rogers also owns the broadcast rights to the NHL and is currently in the middle of a 12-year deal that expires in 2025-26. They purchased the rights for $5.2 billion. It has not been worth it.

This has left TSN with (about) half of Toronto Raptors games, a few regional NHL broadcasts, and some weekly NFL games as sources of major league programming.

TSN has exclusive rights to the CFL, and the marquee events in Curling, but still. Hockey is king.

I mentioned NFL games. Of course, we get Thursday and Monday Night Football.

Every Sunday, we can watch games on CBS, FOX, CTV, and TSN. CTV is a Canadian station that falls under the Bell Media umbrella with TSN.

One of the games on CBS always features the Buffalo Bills because they think we care. A lot of people do, but come on, Buffalo? The New York Jets are also shown a lot.

Sometimes, CTV will also decide to show the Buffalo game, and I hate it. The last thing I need is two channels showing the exact same thing.

I feel like FOX always shows the Dallas Cowboys, New York Giants, or another big market team.

CTV and TSN are normally pretty good at showing marquee teams, if CBS and FOX don’t. As a fan of the Kansas City Chiefs, I got to see almost all of their games last year.

Of course, outside of this, we can order the NFL Sunday Ticket package and watch every game.

Other TV
We don’t have a Canadian channel akin to CNN, that talks about politics and devastating news stories all day. We just have CNN.

In Southern Ontario, we have CP24 (City Pulse 24), which is an all-day news station, that always has the weather on the right side of the screen, news stories cycling through at the bottom, and an anchor in the upper left quadrant reading stories off a teleprompter, as footage is shown.

It’s not a debate platform with people on a panel. Opinionated people are not sitting there, critiquing political figures all day.

If you were to ask me, I’d say I probably know more about American politics than Canadian politics, just because I’ve seen and listened to more of it on TV.

We get America’s news stations. We watch their Late Night talk shows. We watch their election process, which is way too long.

We are well-versed in American culture. I don’t think the opposite is necessarily true.

“When America sneezes, Canada catches a cold” is a phrase most Canadians have probably heard, if not all.

Weather
Yeah, it gets cold here.

From the perspective of Ontario – January, February, March, November, and December are cold. April and October are fringe months, where you have no idea what season you’re going to get each day. May can also be like that.

June, July, and August are hot. September has comfortable, warm weather.

Up north, in Nunavut, the temperature can get to -30C in the winter, and sometimes worse. That’s -22F.

In Toronto, it’ll get to -20C. Personally, I don’t know if it’s that much different from winter in New York, Boston, Chicago, or Detroit, but I’ve only experienced Detroit and it was the same as here.

In the summer, it gets up past 30C. That’s 87F.

Drinking Age
The legal drinking age is 19 across Canada, except in Alberta, Manitoba, and Quebec, where it is 18.

Other Things
Moose and beavers are not house pets. They are family members.

We say “sorry” a lot, especially when we do nothing wrong, or someone tells us to stop apologizing.

Going to university and college is a lot cheaper than in the US.

We use the metric system, which means we measure distance in kilometres and not miles.

Why do Americans call it a 5K race? Shouldn’t the distance be listed in miles? Do you guys secretly want the metric system, but are too lazy to adopt it? You can tell me.

I like to think that Canadians are friendly and polite, but that definitely doesn’t apply to everyone. We’re not a perfect a country.

We still have Toys R Us stores.

END

I feel like I covered a lot, but this only scratches the surface. Hopefully, you found this post educational, entertaining, and enlightening.

If you have any questions, or would like to add some things that I missed, leave a comment down below!

About Paul

I think of my blog as an all-you-can-read buffet. There's something for everyone and complimentary mints at the door as you leave.
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29 Responses to Get To Know Canada

  1. James says:

    Never been but always thought I’d probably like Canada. The All-Dressed chips and the continuing existence of Toys-R-Us have consolidated that impression.

    Liked by 4 people

  2. You forgot that our military is just Bob, John, and Joe who are the keepers of our polar bear unit. That’s all we need. 😉

    Happy Canada Day, Paul!

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Wow! I’m Canadian but I learned something here! 🇨🇦

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Bill says:

    First of all … any change you can smuggle in some Americans? Maybe we’ll just never leave your gala.

    Secondly, I remember watching a story on “The National” (yup, I’ve watched it, Peter Mansbridge is the greatest anchor ever created) about Canada’s election and they were aghast that it was so long. I believe it was six weeks, and one of those was the week between Christmas and New Year’s.

    Liked by 3 people

    • Paul says:

      The gala has some tables with tablecloths that go down to the floor, really easy to hide under there, if needed.

      That sounds about right. I think a recent election campaign was just under two months long. It helps that each party elects their own leader and that person normally stays leader for a few years, even if they lose their bid to be Prime Minister. I can’t imagine having the US election schedule here. It’s a year and a half of nonstop talk. How do you do it?

      Liked by 1 person

      • Bill says:

        A year-and-a-half would be an improvement. The next presidential election usually starts about six months after the last one ends. In fact, if the result is clear on election night, they may talk in the late hours or the small hours of the next morning of who will be next for the losing party.

        Liked by 1 person

  5. Pingback: Get To Know Canada — The Captain’s Speech | Ups and Downs of Family History V2.0

  6. peckapalooza says:

    This was very informative, thank you! Up until now, everything I ever knew about Canada came from Dudley Do-Right and the character of Robin Scherbatsky from How I Met Your Mother.

    I have a theory about the metric system. We learn all about it in elementary school. I’m thinking I had the concepts down by 4th grade at the very latest. I think there was an attempt to introduce the metric system into our daily lives at some point in American history, but there were probably a bunch of people who claimed that converting the mileage signs on the highway to kilometers infringed on personal freedoms. It’s the descendants of these people who now complain about being asked to wear masks when they go grocery shopping.

    Liked by 3 people

    • Paul says:

      Glad you found it informative! I think TV shows really play up our stereotypical characteristics and make us seem like very different, though I guess they do the same with Americans too.

      That’s really interesting they taught you the metric system in school. Were they just trying to confuse you? We never learned the imperial system here.

      It sounds like people claim their personal freedom is being infringed upon a lot. Is that a regular thing?

      Liked by 1 person

      • peckapalooza says:

        I’ll be honest… I don’t watch the news much lately because I think it’s a lot of the same and is mostly depressing. I kind of think, though, that this whole “personal freedom” is a recent development and is just the latest excuse for people to complain about not being allowed to do whatever they want whenever they want.

        Liked by 1 person

  7. I once again Paul, an extremely informative post! I love poutine, it’s delish, yes way down here in Texas, all……whatever chips, does not. I’ll leave the everything to the bagels. And ketchup chips? Oh the humanity, lol. Maybe because I don’t care for ketchup. I vote for changing the 5K to a 3 mile run, it’s going to be on a ballot…..somewhere.
    I happen to love hockey, my favorite team are the Pittsburgh Penguins, yes, the penguins. I don’t understand why candies that are made from the same maker, have different names in different countries, go figure.
    Months are in reversed down here, it hardly gets cold in Texas…..hardly ever….ugh. I’m with Bill, if you could smuggle some Americans in, we’d have one gigantic gala, a party not the apple. 🤣😝😂

    Liked by 2 people

    • Paul says:

      So much going on in this comment, I don’t know where to begin lol. If you look up Canadian Rockets, there’s a picture of them right next to a packet of American Smarties. It’s the exact same thing. I vote for changing it to a 3 mile run too, it sounds shorter even if it isn’t. The Penguins! A nice cold weather mascot.

      Hahaha “A party, not the apple.” Well my previous blog post was a Blog Distancing Gala and I specifically said it was not a party lol but I get what you mean! I get the sense more than a few Americans would love to come over here right now.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. LMFAO! I love this! A complete explanation of Canada! Happy Canada day Paul! I’m fireworks hunting today! Let me know if you find any in your area. Mine had nada!

    Liked by 2 people

    • Paul says:

      Happy Canada Day, my fellow Canadian!! (This still counts a day later). I heard a few fireworks here but definitely not as many as I normally do.

      Like

  9. What an enlightening post! One of my best friends was born in Hamilton and married an American so lives here in the states now, but I’ve had a basic Canadian education!

    Liked by 2 people

  10. Becky says:

    I feel personally attacked and think that you took all of the answers from my dumb Canada questions and put them in a post.

    I can also explain the CBS/FOX football thing: CBS carries the AFC games and FOX carries the NFC games, so I’m always watching FOX since the Giants are in the NFC.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Paul says:

      Haha please don’t feel attacked. If anything, you were an inspiration for a few components of this post.

      Ohhhhhh that explains a lot. I was wondering why each station seemed to have their favourites. I like how that one time the Giants game was on in Canada and yet you couldn’t see it.

      Liked by 1 person

  11. Authoress51 says:

    I find the money colors interesting. That would be a lot easier and more fun to deal with. I wonder if those are the same as Monopoly Money colors.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Paul says:

      They aren’t the same colour, except for the $100 bill. Having them colour-coded is so much more convenient. Whenever I’ve been to the US and handled money, it’s been a bit more difficult since they all look alike, or maybe I’m just not used to it.

      Like

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