By Jade Johnston
This post, inspired by WorldNomad’s “Blog your Backyard” campaign will hopefully give some insights on what to definitely do, and definitely not do, if you visit the mother country. (Canada)
1- Do try to experience all THREE aspects of the culture : French, English, and Native American
Canada prides itself on being a mosaic culture – as opposed to the US’s melting pot. We are supposed to embrace all cultures and the different ways in which other cultures can enrich our own (in theory). Despite encouraging new comers to retain their own heritage – we are still made up of three major groups. French, English, and Native American. A great place to learn about Native American history and culture is the Canadian Museum of Civilization in Ottawa/Hull. And make sure to try some Native American specialties such as bannock. Quebec and the metropolis of Montreal is an obvious stopping point if you want to experience from French Canadian flair, but it’s not the only place with joie de vivre. Spend some time getting to know the locals in the various Acadiene communities on the east coast and you will meet some of the friendliest people on earth. And well, as for us anglophones, we dominate the rest of the major cities so you shouldn’t have any trouble meeting a few of us.
2- Do experience the country by road or rail
Canada is huge, huge, huge. We are the world’s second largest country – but don’t let that phase you. Most of us live within 200 km’s of the 49th parallel (AKA the US border). Which means we are less of a huge country to visit, and more of a just really really long one. But fear not! We have made it super easy for those who want to embark on epic road trips – Highway 1 stretches from end to end.
Being the massive country that we are, we invariably have a lot of different landscapes on offer. From the rocky Canadian shield, to the never ending sky in the prairies, to the Rocky Mountains – the scenery is always changing and always dramatic. Who would want to fly over that?
3-Do eat at Tim Hortons
The coffee is pretty substandard (but fresh), and the doughnuts will clog your arteries, but the Tim Horton experience is an absolute MUST. Toasted bagels and cream cheese are a great lunch time meal and come in at just under 2 dollars. Just beware of the Tim Horton regular customer – they can be spotted by their tacky t-shirt slogans such as “Just give me my Timmy’s and no one get’s hurt.” Not even joking. And definitely get an Iced Capp – even if it is winter.
1- Don’t take on winter unprepared
I am from Winnipeg, Manitoba – AKA “Winterpeg”. Which means I am allowed to whinge and complain as much as I like about winter. But seriously though, winter is part of the Canadian experience, so you should really give it a go if you have the opportunity. Partake in winter sports such as skiing, snow shoeing, or dog sledding. Or check out some of the great winter festivals like Quebec’s Winter Carnival and Festival Du Voyageur in Winnipeg. But DON’T come unprepared. Winter is unforgiving here, and you will need to have the proper outdoor clothing, especially if you plan to be outside for extended periods of time. It can get to -40 Celsius with the wind chill, so make sure you have a WARM jacket, mitts, and hat. And watertight boots, cause snow melts, and the last thing you want is to have wet feet when its more than thirty degrees below centigrade.
2- Don’t only go to one or two major cities
Toronto, I’m looking at you. Please, please, please, If you are going to Canada, please go to more than just Toronto. I mean, if you want to marvel at impressive urban sprawl, then by all means go to Toronto. (I’m sorry Toronto, but as a non-Torontonian I am bound by sacred law to not really like you) If you can, get out of the cities all together and explore some of Canada’s jaw dropping scenery – like Banff in Alberta of Churchill in northern Manitoba. But if you must stick to the urban centres, definitely consider adding Ottawa, Montreal, and Vancouver to your list.
3- Don’t forget to meet some locals
We don’t bite, eh!
What are the Do’s and Don’t for YOUR country? Let me know in the comments!