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.
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.
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)
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:
Northwest Territories (Yellowknife)
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?
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.
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.
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.
The legal drinking age is 19 across Canada, except in Alberta, Manitoba, and Quebec, where it is 18.
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.
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!