Canadian culture: 10 things you need to know about Canadians

In 2017, there's another good reason to visit Canada: this year marks the country's 150th birthday, and celebrations are planned for the entire 12 months. Events such as Saint-Jean-Baptiste Day (June 24), Canadian Multiculturalism Day (June 27), and Canada's national day (July 1) will provide something extra for visitors.

But here are 10 things you need to know about Canadians before you visit.

They're not American

Although  their country boasts some truly beautiful scenery, most Canadians' favourite geographical feature is the border that separates them from the US. Canadians are different to Americans, and they don't enjoy being mistaken for their southern neighbours.

They're extremely friendly

Stand around looking confused in any Canadian city for a few seconds and someone will offer to help you. You'll see strangers striking up conversations on public transport. You'll find you walk into a bar and immediately have friends. Canadians are like that.

They love hockey

"Hockey" in Canada means ice-hockey, and it's a national passion that eclipses any other facet of life. Yes, it's confusing that such polite, peaceful people are obsessed with one of the most brutal sports on the planet, but ice-hockey is the game of choice. 

They're multicultural

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Though you might assume most Canadians are of either British or French origin, the fact is the majority now descends from other parts of the world. In Toronto, more than 140 languages are spoken, and almost 50 per cent of the population was born outside of Canada.

They're progressive

When Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced his cabinet in 2015, it was a first for the country: an equal number of women and men. There were also two aboriginal members, and three from the Sikh community. 

They're outdoorsy

You'll find most Canadians seem to have at least one passion that allows them to enjoy the great outdoors, from skiing and snowboarding to hiking, mountain-biking, rock-climbing, camping, canoeing and snow-shoeing.   

They're prone to frequent apologies

One of the cliches you'll hear about Canadians is that they're forever apologising – and it has some basis in truth. There's something very charming about having someone tell you they're sorry, even though it was clearly your fault. 

Their coffee is terrible

There's an increasing focus on good, locally sourced food in Canada via the "100-Mile Diet"; however, their coffee is uniformly terrible. Canada's most popular coffee shop is Tim Horton's, a chain founded by a former ice-hockey star that dishes up a very average brew.

Their capital city is Ottawa

In a similar way to the fact most people don't seem to have ever heard of Canberra, many are taken by surprise when they discover Canada's capital: Ottawa. It's not exactly a tourism hub, but it will be popular during Canada's 150th birthday. 

They're just like us

One of the most important things you notice about Canadians is that, essentially, they're just like Australians: similar values, similar traditions, similar history, similar ideals. It makes Canada a very easy place to visit. 

See also: How Canada can now trump America as a tourist destination

See also: Why this Canadian city is the new New York

Listen: Flight of Fancy - the Traveller.com.au podcast with Ben Groundwater

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