The American/ Candian border is one of the longest shared borders in the world and they have one of the richest trading histories together. They are great friends and neighbors, but there is so much about the Great White North that the United States doesn’t understand, and some of it they may think is downright silly, but it’s part of Canadian culture. From sports to food, to how they treat each other, some people may think Canada is a funny country, but perhaps they are just misunderstood, and their customs are actually pretty interesting when you get to know them.
This list explores those misunderstandings and shares some details about our friends to the North. They aren’t just America’s hat, but friends that we should get to know more about. Considering they are the second largest country in the world land wise, and always a swore friend, ready to defend the United States, it’s best we become closer and learn about what we don’t understand. So take a look at these 25 things that we don’t understand about our neighbors, which actually could start with the fact that they spell neighbor with a U, neighbours.
25 They Are Obsessed With Hockey
While America has football and baseball, Canada is known to dominate the hockey world. Even if only seven of the NHL’s 31 teams are located in Canada, the largest group of players in the league are Canadians. According to the NHL, last season there were 446 Canadians in the league, representing 45.3% of all league players. Of the 9,045 points scored, Canadians scored 45.1% of them. Many in America don’t understand their love for hockey, but in Canada, people identify by which hockey team you cheer for, and the country shuts down during large international games.
24 They Apologize A Lot
Canadian’s have a reputation for saying sorry a lot, even when they don’t do anything wrong. It’s not uncommon for both people to apologize for something as simple as blocking a path. It’s even part of the legal system in Canada, as according to the CBC, the Apology Act was passed in 2009, which allowed for apologies in court, but those couldn’t be taken as an admission of guilt. Our neighbours to the North are just polite people who take ownership of their mistakes.
23 They Are So Nice
The largest stereotype of Canadians is that they are just nice people. According to Global News, the stereotype comes from Canada’s more peacekeeping role in the world, as Canada doesn’t generally insert itself into other people’s affairs and they play the role of peacekeeper more often. Considering it’s winter half the year, it would have many people wondering why they are so nice and not miserable because of all the snow and coldness they have to deal with on a daily basis.
22 Their Funny Money
One thing people from the United States don’t understand is why Canadians have colored money. This ‘funny money’ is often called Monopoly money after the classic board game because of the different colors for each different value of money. According to Buzzfeed, the money is also made of plastic, so you can’t rip it or wash it. Canada isn’t the only country with colored money, and many European currencies are colored as well, making American money the oddball for being one single color.
21 They Love Curling
Is there anything more Canadian than curling? A sport that has players sliding around on the ice, throwing rocks into rings to get closest to the center line. That just has Canada written all over it, and many in America can’t understand why they love it so much. According to TSN, each year Canada has two major curling championships, the Brier for the men’s and the Tournament of Hearts for the women, with the winner representing Canada at Worlds. Canadian men have won Worlds 36 times, and women 17 times, the most titles for any country.
20 They Call It A Bunny Hug
Most people in the United States call it a sweater or a hoodie, but in Canada, specifically Saskatchewan, they call it a bunny hug. America wouldn’t understand why they do so, but according to the National Post, the theory that started it was that there was a bunny overpopulation in the province and their pelts were turned into a wrap that resembles a hoodie. It sounds silly to call it that, but that was the way of life in the prairie province of Saskatchewan.
19 Nicknames For Their Coins
Canada has more coins than America does, as they turned their one dollar and two dollar bills into coins. According to the Mint of Canada, the one-dollar coin was introduced in 1987 and has since been called a ‘loonie’, because of the loon bird on one side of it, a common bird in Canada. When the two-dollar coin was introduced in 1996, it was given the nickname the ‘toonie’, despite the fact that a polar bear was on the back.
18 They Eat A Lot Of Poutine
Ask a Canadian what their signature food is, and they will tell you, the poutine. It shouldn’t be hard to understand why this is so famous in Canada, as who doesn’t love French fries with cheese curds, covered in gravy? According to Macleans Magazine, a national poll of Canadians favorite food revealed that poutine was the top choice, with 21 percent of people saying so. The province of Quebec is generally considered the home of it, and it’s custom to use real cheese curds, and not just shredded cheese.
17 Year Long Maternity Leave
Mothers in America probably don’t understand why Canadians get long maternity leaves, as it isn’t custom in the United States to get longer than a couple of weeks after childbirth. But according to the Globe and Mail, new mothers in Canada can now take up to 18 months off and be paid a percentage of their yearly earnings. This was updated in 2017, as it was just a year before, but new laws added an additional six months on, which means new mothers get to spend even more time with their babies.
No one in America would understand what a double-double is, but if you’re a Canadian, you know exactly what that means. It means a coffee, with two sugars and two cream or milk. In fact, the term made it into the dictionary in 2004, according to CBC, because it has become so common in Canadian society to say. And it generally means a coffee from Tim Horton’s the country's leading coffee shop. The chain represents 76 percent of baked goods sold in Canada.
15 Nanaimo Bar
Nanaimo B.C. is a beautiful place on Vancouver Island, but if you said that name in Canada, you probably wouldn’t understand why they love it so much. It’s not because of the city, but rather, the dessert square that is loved in Canada, the Nanaimo bar. According to the Food Network, it’s yellow custard between a chocolate ganache and a coconut-graham crust and it first appeared in 1952. But it isn’t a year-round treat unless you make them homemade, as boxes only go on sale during Christmas.
14 Rockets And Smarties Candy
If you asked for Smarties in Canada, you wouldn’t understand the candy given to you. That’s because, in Canada, Smarties are a candy-coated chocolate, like an M&M, while Smarties are actually called Rockets in Canada. According to the CBC, they were called Rockets so as not to confuse the two candies, which are made by different company’s. They got their start in America, but since coming to Canada in 1963, they have had to go by a different name due to that other candy.
13 College And University
In the United States, post-secondary education is often referred to as simply college. In Canada, however, they are called universities, while colleges represent what America would know as a community college. Canadian’s earn a ‘university degree’, whereas at college, they earn a diploma. Colleges are generally two-year programs in Canada, while universities are four-year programs. According to the government of Canada, there are 96 universities in Canada, with the oldest being Laval University in Quebec City, which started in 1663. So if you are from America and say you are going to college, it means an entirely different level of education.
12 Out For A Rip
A pure Canadian viral hit happened in 2013 when, according to the Huffington Post, a Canadian made a comedy song called ‘Out For a Rip”, which turned into a national catchphrase that meant going out on a sled, snowboard, out for a drive in a truck, or pretty much anything Canadian involved transportation. It was such a viral hit that it had over 12 million views on YouTube, and even had companies like Coke stealing it to use in ads. No one in the United States would understand what it means if a Canadian asked if you wanted to go out for a rip, but it generally means, go out in the wilderness for some fun.
11 They Have Their Own Football League
In the United States, the National Football League is king. It’s the top sport in the country, and between the NFL and college football, it is cemented in their culture. But fans from America wouldn’t understand the Canadian Football League, especially with the different rules the sport has, such as three downs instead of four, and a 110-yard field, instead of 100. There are many differences between the two games, but it should be noted that the Canadian championship, known as the Grey Cup, has been defended double the amount of times the Super Bowl has been played, as according to the CFL, they just held their 106th game this past season.
10 Free Health Care
Many in America don’t understand how Canada can afford to have free health care, but that is exactly what you will find in Canada. Canadians can go to their doctor or go into the hospital and not walk out with a massive bill, as health care is free. According to the University of British Columbia, Canadian Tommy Douglas lobbied the government to set up free health care and have it covered by the federal government. By the 1950s, Canada had free health care, and today, Douglas is considered one of the greatest Canadians of all-time because of it.
9 Why It’s A Great Place To Live
Canada is a great place to live, and while America doesn’t understand what is so great about cold and snow, the rest of the world has a great idea. According to Global News, Canada ranked seventh on the World Happiness Report, out of 156 countries. People just love to live here because Canadians are friendly, polite, have health care, and are very welcoming people. Canada is always in the top 10 in the happiness rankings and life in Canada is pretty simple.
8 Love Maple Syrup
Maple syrup is considered Canadian gold, as it is one of the country’s biggest exports. Canadians find unique ways to eat it, and people from America won’t understand how delicious maple syrup on snow tastes unless they come up to see their neighbor in the north. According to the Quebec Maple Syrup Producers, they have a supply of over 220,000 barrels of maple syrup in reserve, just in case there is a national shortage. That should explain how popular it is in Canada when you need that much in reserve.
7 They Have More Holidays
Everyone enjoys holidays, but America won’t understand why their neighbors get more than they do. The United States has 10 federal holidays, while Canada has 11 of them. That’s because, in 2007, many of the provinces in Canada added Family Day to the list of holidays, according to the CBC. One reason is that there was no holiday in that month, while January had only New Year’s Day at the start of the Month, and March has no holiday as well, so it was three months of no time off for Canadians to spend extra time with their families.
6 Have Two Official Languages
If someone from America came to Canada, they may not be able to read some of the signs. That’s because Canada is a bilingual country, and they have two official languages, English and French. According to the Government of Canada, the Official Languages Act was passed in 1969 and required the government to write everything in both English and French so that everyone could read it, as Canada has a very large French population. So even things like stop signs have to have the French version on it, or the English version if you are Quebec.
5 Bagged Milk
Even some in Canadians don’t understand it, but definitely, those from the United States won’t understand why Canadians bag their milk. Instead of buying large jugs, milk comes small bags inside a larger bag. According to the Food Network, Canadians have been bagging milk since the 1970s, and it equals four liters of milk total. About 50% of milk across Canada is bagged, while 80% in Ontario is, which helps to keep refrigerators clear of massive jugs or the need to have multiple cartons.
4 Low Population For A Huge Country
Canada is the second-largest country in the world by landmass, as only Russia is larger. But if you look at the population of Canada against the rest of the world, Canada is the 38th most populated country. It’s hard to understand how a place so massive has so few people, but Canada’s population of 37 million, according to the last census, mostly leaves near the southern part of the country, as the northern part is too cold, rocky or full of trees that getting housing material there is not an option.
3 Pineapple On A Pizza
This one has many people scratching their heads, as pineapple on a pizza has been heavily debated. But according to Time.com, the original Hawaiian pizza, which is pineapple and ham, began in a pizza joint in Chatham, Ontario in 1962. The odd thing is, there is nothing Canadian about it, as pineapple is not grown in Canada, Hawaii is a state in America, and the maker of the pizza was Greek, but it’s still available at nearly every pizza place in the country and is extremely popular.
2 Call It Kraft Dinner
Mac N’ Cheese is a favorite in the southern United States, and Canadians love it as well, except they don’t call it mac n’ cheese, but rather, they refer to it as Kraft Dinner. That’s because the company Kraft, who makes the boxed macaroni and cheese, called it Kraft Dinner on the box and it has stuck as the official name for mac n’ cheese ever since. According to Walrus, Canadians eat on average three boxes of Kraft Dinner each year, which is 55% more than people from the United States do.
1 Celebrate Thanksgiving In October
Thanksgiving in the United States falls on the fourth Thursday of November every year. It’s generally a day where football is on all day, and turkey is served. Canadians, however, celebrate Thanksgiving in October, on the second Monday of the month. The reason for the difference in dates, according to City News Toronto, is that Thanksgiving is a harvest celebration, and because Canada is further north, their harvest comes much earlier than those in the United States, so they celebrate it sooner. They even get football, as the Canadian Football League plays their only Monday games on that day.