There’s a lot to know about Canada and some of the facts about this big and beautiful frozen country might surprise you. Here are 13 things you should know before you make the move to Canada.
1. Canada is a bilingual country
Canada has two official languages - English and French. Both languages are not spoken in every province, but approximately 17.5% of Canadians are able to carry on a conversation in both English and French.
New Brunswick is the only officially bilingual province and Quebec is primarily French speaking. If you don’t speak French don’t worry too much; you’ll get by fine unless you are travelling in small villages in rural Quebec.
2. Toronto is not the nation’s capital
3. 20% of the world’s freshwater is in Canada
As you drive through the Canadian landscape you will see lake after shimmering lake - in fact there are more lakes than every other country in the world combined.
20% of all the freshwater in the world comes from Canada, which is why it is so important to protect the natural ecosystems here.
4. Canada is the second largest country in the world
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Canada is the second largest country in the world - the largest being Russia. However, it is the 8th least dense country in the world. In fact, without immigration the population of Canada would probably be shrinking.
5. There is a Polar Bear Prison in Manitoba
In the remote town of Churchill, Manitoba you can find the world’s only polar bear prison - which keeps the town safe from pesky bears who want to break into their homes in search of food.
Churchill is known as the Polar Bear Capital of the World, and sometimes the amount of polar bears passing through the town can be more than the number of residents.
The polar bear prison is a place to keep the bears who get too close for comfort to the town. Also, it is a generally accepted practice for locals to leave their cars and houses unlocked in case people passing by need to use them as a place to hide from polar bears.
6. The name of the country means “village”
The name of the country - “Canada” - comes from the Iroquois word “Kanata.” The Iroquois are a native tribe who lived in Quebec in the 16th century and the word Kanata meant settlement or village.
The story goes that when Jacques Cartier arrived in 1535 he spoke to two native youth who told him about the route to Kanata. They were speaking about the nearby settlement of Stadacona, but Cartier misunderstood and thought they were referring to the entire area.
7. It’s maple syrup heaven
Did you know that 80% of the world’s maple syrup is made in Canada? That’s a lot of the thick and flowing sweet tree nectar! 91% of Canadian maple syrup is made in the province of Quebec.
Other major maple syrup producing regions include Ontario, New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island and Nova Scotia. This delicious syrup is a major part of Canada’s cultural identity.
8. Politeness is important
Canadians have a reputation throughout the world for being polite and etiquette formalities are very important in the culture here. Saying “please” and “thank you” is very important and Canadian communication is often sugar coated and indirect rather than straightforward and harsh.
If this is different than the cultural norms of your home country it will take some time to adjust to the ways Canadians interact with each other and learn to read between the lines.
9. Tipping is expected
When it comes to tipping in Canada it is expected in most service industries such as taxis, restaurants, hairdressers and bars. The typical amount is 15%, although sometimes more is given for great service.
Source: Flickr | Sara Long
Not leaving a tip is considered to be inappropriate (see #8 about politeness) and would only be done as a blatant protest against terrible service. Keep this in mind if you are not used to leaving tips in your home country, as failing to do so in Canada could cause your server to think they have deeply offended you.
10. Animals are wild - and dangerous
While exploring Canada’s wilderness you might be lucky enough to spot amazing wild creatures such as polar bears, grizzly bears, polar bears, elk, moose, cougars and much more.
These animals are beautiful and incredible to behold - but also very dangerous! Do not get out of your car if you come across one while driving, just take pictures from the window and keep the doors locked. Before hiking in the forest talk to a local park guide so that you can learn about wildlife safety and what to do if you encounter a wild animal.
11. Canadians are well educated
Canada is the world’s most educated country, according to a study conducted by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development. More than half of Canadian residents have college (university) degrees.
If you are looking to study abroad in Canada, this country offers an incredible array of high quality colleges and universities to choose from British Columbia to Quebec.
12. Toronto is full of underground passageways
Underneath the city of Toronto is a widespread connected network of pedestrian walkways called “Path” that connect 1200 different restaurants and stores as well as 50 office towers, five subway stations, 20 parking garages and a railway station.
With 30 km of walkways, it is the largest underground shopping complex in the world. The fact that you can do most of your shopping errands completely underground is a great relief in the bitter cold of winter or the heat of the summer.
13. No smoking in public
Notice how fresh the air is here? In Canada it is illegal to smoke in public places, including offices, stores, restaurants, hospitals and other places of employment.
This also means that you cannot smoke in the shared areas of any rental complexes or apartment buildings. The only place where you are permitted to smoke is within your own home, your vehicle or out in the great outdoors.
Now that you know these facts about Canada, impress your friends when they ask you about where you’re moving to!