Top 15 Unique Things about Canada: Cultural Learnings of Canada from a newcomer’s perspective

20 Nov

Every country (and city) is unique and has things that you will come across sooner or later if you’re not a local person there. From the moment I came to Toronto I’ve started making a list of things on my phone that kind of shocked me or at least gave a surprised look on my face. I guess it’s the time I share it with everyone…so far, I’ve got only 15 of those things but I am sure the list will get longer and will make it to another post or two!

1. Sexy cops

I completely blame it on their uniform, which, in comparison, to Lithuanian one looks so much better! Decide for yourself:

Canadian Cop

Canadian Cop

Lithuanian Cops

Lithuanian Cops


2. Having a bank account is rather a luxury

Banking here is expensive. They charge you for every transaction you make…some banking packages include 15-30 transactions per month but even that is different from what we have in certain European countries (UK, LT), where you can use your card as much as possible and won’t get charged!

3. No alcohol in a grocery store

That was a big disappointment to me. I used to go to a grocery store, grab my food and some alcohol on the way. Not anymore. Want alcohol? Go to a liquor(LCBO) store or a beer boutique (for beer). There a few exceptions though, I’ve seen grocery stores selling wine in Montreal, but haven’t really seen it in Toronto yet. Regardless of that, no spirits in grocery stores for sure.

4. Internet has data usage limits

So, if you’re one of those big Internet users, who download stuff every day – Canada is probably not the best destination for you…For example, one of the biggest Internet providers, Bell, gives you 125 GB a month on one of its best plans. Rogers (another big provider), on the other hand,  gives you 250 GB a month. Some claim they offer ‘unlimited internet’ but in the end they still ask you to pay if you go over the ‘hidden’ limits.

5. Streetcars stop in the middle of the street

During my first days in TO I had a hard time figuring out how to get into one of those streetcars…because they stop in the middle of the street!

People getting into a streetcar

6. Taxes are not included in the price

You go to the counter and voila…after taxes are added you shirt of 25$ has jut turned into a shirt of $28.25 (usually, 13% are added but then again it depends on the products/province etc. e.g. food is not taxed)

7. Plaid shirts for men is  a BIG thing

What Can I say? Cowboys is not a myth! Pubs are full of men wearing old type of plaid shirts…niiiiice!

8. Size 0 in clothing stores

I was more used to wearing clothes of the size 6-8 or XS-S but now I have to buy size 0…the number 0 makes me feel weird, am I really zero-sized person?! The whole clothes sizing system starts from 0 and then goes up accordingly.

9. They say ‘eh’ a lot!

No comments needed, eh! They say eh so often that I think companies making keyboards should make a special Canadian edition with an ‘eh’ button!

10. Ice hockey!

Ice hockey in Canada is like basketball in Lithuania or Football in the UK.

11.Poutine & Maple syrup

Poutine for lunch..waffles with maple syrup for breakfast! For those who have no idea what I am talking about, poutine  is a dish of French fries and fresh cheese curds covered with brown gravy sauce.

Looks gross - tastes surprisingly good!

12. People order double cheese burgers, large fries, and a diet coke.

Diet is important. “I am on diet. I will have a diet coke AND (the most important part) double cheese burger and large fries” – people are obsessed about the diet coke yet not about the diet food.

13. There is a cocktail named after salad (or most likely Dictator Julius Ceasar)

That is correct. Ceasar cocktail is pretty a big thing here, and to be honest I quite like it – although it really depends on the place. For those, who don’t know what I’m talking about (again), Ceasar is: a cocktail that typically contains vodka, Clamato ( a proprietary blend of tomato juice and clam broth), hot sauce and Worcestershire sauce and is served with ice in a large, celery salt-rimmed glass, typically garnished with a stalk of celery and wedge of lime.

Ceasar Cocktail

Ceasar Cocktail

14.They leave their cars worth thousands of dollars in the driveway and put useless junk in the garage

That’s what garages are for…

15.You get milk in bags as well as cartons and plastic jugs.

Yes. Milk in bags. Never would have thought. And it’s not necessarily a bad idea, I guess that way it’s better for an environment… is it? I don’t find it convenient but then again what do I know?!





8 Responses to “Top 15 Unique Things about Canada: Cultural Learnings of Canada from a newcomer’s perspective”

  1. J. November 21, 2011 at 8:25 am #

    In the normal world Ceasar’s coctail is called a bloody mary 😀

  2. pioneeringventures November 21, 2011 at 1:47 pm #

    Bloody Mary contains Tomato juice, Ceasar – Clamato. 🙂 A little yet important difference!

  3. K December 8, 2011 at 2:13 pm #

    are you sure about the canadian internet?

    • pioneeringventures December 8, 2011 at 2:22 pm #

      Well, I live in Toronto. Tried to order what you suggested and the only city which it was available to was Chatham-Kent. So yeah, it might work in a small city like that one but don’t think there is anything similar in Toronto. Most of the time even if it says ‘unlimited’ you get a letter saying you’ve used it too much…Plus, I was more talking about the main providers, which represent the whole industry better.

  4. K December 8, 2011 at 2:29 pm #

    and .

    • pioneeringventures December 8, 2011 at 2:52 pm #

      Again, I was more talking about ‘the tendency’ not about every single provider that country has. For instance, you would have hard time finding “Internet” that would still have data limits in some of the countries in Europe – it is considered to be as an old practice. And again, I know a person who’s got ‘unlimited’ internet here, however she got a letter saying she’s used it too much (yes, she’s been downloading a lot of stuff and also shared “internet” with 4 other housemates), so hidden limits still exist.
      On the other hand, I do acknowledge the fact that for a huge country like Canada is nearly impossible to have the same Internet options/speed etc as some of the tiny European countries can have.

  5. L April 2, 2013 at 10:18 am #

    different provinces have different liquor laws – ontario has the lcbo and beer store as the only licensed sellers, whereas quebec allows it to be sold in grocery/corner stores.

    • pioneeringventures April 2, 2013 at 7:57 pm #

      This is true although I remember when I was in Montreal – grocery stores only sold beers/wine and not stronger liqueurs, such as whiskey, rum, vodka or something like that. Am I wrong? It was quite a few years ago, so things might have changed since then.

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