KacyC Blog on Canadian🇨🇦 Culture, Society, Values and Characteristics!

Canadian Society!

November 5, 2009

Canadian Culture consists of  its art, music, literature, politics and society influenced by British and French traditions.

Canada has a culturally diverse society consisting of immigrants coming from many different racial and religious backgrounds.

‘Canada is a country whose main exports are hockey players and cold fronts. Our main imports are baseball players and acid rain.’  – Pierre Elliott Trudeau

‘Canadians are an ambivalent lot — one minute they want to be peacekeepers, next minute they punch the hell out of each other on the ice rink.– Ken Wiwa Tuesday, July 1, 2003 – The Globe & Mail

‘Canadians are more polite when they are being rude than Americans are when they are being friendly.’ -Edgar Friedenberg

‘Canada is the only country in the world that knows how to live without an identity.’– Marshall McLuhan

Common Characteristics of Canadians

Canadians are

  • hard-nosed,  skeptical, hard working people
  • tolerant of risk and embrace the future
  • embrace each other, almost 90 times a year
  •  love trees and despise unfaithful lovers
  • reject institutions —both church and state
  • retain a quality of mercy for their fellow individuals faith and civility
  •  as a nation that believe in three values about who they are — peace, order and good government
  • peace loving and gentle people who have never started a war, although they’ve participated valiantly in many of them
  • described in so many ways in their evolution as a unique country with a set of values distinct from other nations in the world.

Customs and Etiquette in Canada


  • drive on the right and pass on the left – like, walking up the escalators, roads and streets.
  • formally, men do not wink or whistle at women. Most large companies have sexual harassment policies that govern acceptable conduct.
  • It is polite to wait for a third party to introduce you to others, but if it doesn’t happen for a few moments feel free to introduce yourself. At formal gatherings, wait to be seated, but if the host is not directing you, and other people are taking seats, follow them. It is quite okay to ask your host if you should sit at a particular spot.
  • “Hey” or “How are you?” are common forms of address that do not require an answer. It is just another way Canadians say “Hi”. It has often been observed by Americans that while Canadians are generally a polite people—even to a fault—they aren’t necessarily friendly.
  • When speaking to a Canadian, keep an arm’s length distance from the person. Maintaining personal space is important to Canadians.
  • Unlike Australians and Americans, Canadians do not give a lot of eye contact to people who are speaking with them. Why? It probably has something to do with our mania for politeness.
  • No back-slapping, shouting or calling attention to oneself is acceptable. Canadians tend to embarrass easily, so while Canadians are generally casual, they are not loud. On that note, Canadians do not generally express themselves with their hands. Moreover, touching, patting or hugging other men in public is considered socially unacceptable.  Your best approach to get along with Canadians is to remain exceedingly polite, modest, and unpretentious.

Meeting and Greeting

  • The most common greeting is a firm handshake, accompanied by direct eye contact and a sincere smile.
  • Wait until invited before using someone’s first name although Canadians tend to move to a first-name basis rapidly.
  • French Canadian friends may greet each other by lightly kissing on the cheeks (once on the left cheek and once on the right).
  • In general, Canadians give gifts for birthdays and Christmas.
  • If invited to someone’s home for dinner, take a box of good chocolates, flowers or a bottle of wine.
  • Do not give white lilies as they are used at funerals or cash or money as a present.
  • Gifts are usually opened when received.
  • Table manners are relatively relaxed and informal,  generally Continental, i.e. the fork is held in the left hand and the knife in the right while eating.
  • Wait to be shown to your seat and do not begin eating until the hostess starts.
  • Do not rest your elbows on the table.
  • Feel free to refuse individual foods or drink without offering an explanation.

Canadians Favorite Foods and Beverages

“The history of Canadian food can be traced back to our native people. They gave us food such as corn, beans, pumpkins, maple syrup, bison, caribou and dried salmon.”– CBC.

“Canadian food has no outstanding characteristic, none whatsoever – Colonel Harland Sanders.

Americans vs. Canadians vs. Brits
Canadians:Encourage immigrants to keep their old ways, and avoid assimilation.
Americans: Encourage immigrants to assimilate quickly, and dump their old ways.
Brits:Encourage immigrants to go to Canada or America.

What is a Canadian?
“Canadian political and cultural leaders have based this new national “identity” largely on an embrace of the lifestyles, customs, and traditions of Canada’s latest immigrant groups. But if Canada is to be defined by its multiculturalism —that is, by the cultures brought here from the outside, especially in the last few decades— then this implies that there is actually no such thing as Canadian identity and culture.” [French Canadians do have a distinct culture and want to maintain it. The rest of Canada does not and it’s culture is in transition.]

Canadian Values

Canadian History & Culture
“Canadians value: Peace, Justice, Tolerance, Loyalty, Humanity / Human Rights, Respect for Authority, Vision, Equality, Strength, Beauty, Spirituality, Non-Violence.

That’s what the True North, Strong and Free, means to me. We are a nation of nations, a community of communities, united in our diversities, with values of our own, and proud of it.”

Language Debate
“In my belief, rights are rights are rights. There is no such thing as inside rights and outside rights. No such thing as right for the tall and rights for the short. No such thing as rights for the front and rights for the back, or rights for East and rights for West. Rights are rights and will always be rights. There are no partial rights.” [Translation from French] –M. Clifford Lincoln, 1988 Québec´s National Assembly

The Great Canadian Identity Crisis
“We are a nation of contradictions floating helplessly in a sea of confusion with no framework for living, with no proper definition of justice and without a single philosophical clue as to how a nation of civilized men interacts and sustains itself.”

What are Canadians Like?
– play ice hockey ; talk a lot about the weather. Also, complain about it — but that’s just our way. In fact, we rather pride ourselves on the splendid variety of our four seasons and our ability to take each of them in stride!”

(http://www.haltonlinks.com/cdn_culture.html; http://www.executiveplanet.com; http://www.kwintessential.co)

Prof. Kacy Chohan , Applied Linguistics - TESL Canadian Accredited Trainer & Assessor IELTS Expert Trainer - CELPIP, CAEL, CANTEST CELBAN , Proficiency Examiner Toronto, Ontario, Canada.

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