Major Cultural Differences You Need To Know If You Want To Move To The Land Of The Free Healthcare, And The Home Of The ‘Eh?’

Lifestyle | Rick Lax & Friends | 8/31/18

For a long time, Canada was like America’s quiet cousin who showed up at Christmas dinner but kept to themselves and didn’t bother anyone with their strong political opinions. Things changed once we elected Trump as President. A lot of unhappy American’s began to claim they were going to move to Canada. It’s been two years since then, and while controversy brews down south, Canada is up north, biding their time, tapping their maple trees, and waiting patiently for the hoards of Americans to come.

If you do decide to pack up and leave, keep some of these things in mind, or you’ll stick out like a moose in a Tim Hortons. If you don’t know what that means, then definitely read on.

No Shoes, No House Service

Whether or not to wear shoes inside is quite the debate between Americans and Canadians. Up north, it’s an unspoken rule that you take off your shoes in someone’s home, and there are no exceptions. Canadians don’t understand why Americans want to trek in dirt and water around a strangers house, and in all honesty, I get it.

Yes, the shoes complete the outfit, but is having to constantly vacuum and mop your floor worth it? No, it’s not.

Prepare To Be Slaughtered By The Mobile Phone Companies

Yes, Canadians pay more for just about everything that Americans do, but it’s usually a difference of a buck or two. Where Canada takes it too far is with their mobile phone plan prices. Canadian phone plans on average cost about twice as much as phone plans around the world.

For example, Americans can pay about $20 a month for a bare-boned plan, while Canadians pay around $44 for the exact same thing. Why, Canada, why?

Goodbye Milk Carton, Hello Jiggly Milk Bags

Toss out your paper milk cartons and plastic gallons, and say hello to the strangest way to store milk ever. Milk cartons are still available up north, but they’re much more expensive than buying bags of milk. Not to intimidate you, but opening a milk bag is not an easy feat, and there is a specific way to do it.

So if you move across the border, make sure to befriend a Canadian so they can teach you the intricate techniques of opening the milk bag.

Don’t Expect To Tailgate A CFL Game

Don’t get me wrong, by all accounts Canadians love to drink beer just as much as Americans, but they stray away from full-blown tailgating for football games. You’ll see some people drinking in parking lots before a Toronto Argos or Saskatchewan Roughriders game, but it’s more of a social gathering than tailgating party.

If you do decide to switch to loving Canadian football, then make sure to learn the different rules between the NFL and CFL, because they make a big difference.

Thanksgiving Is In… October?

Canadian Thanksgiving takes place more than a month ahead of American Thanksgiving because they follow a different tradition. Instead of feasting to celebrate the Pilgrim’s first harvest in the new world, Canadians follow the tradition of feasting in October that happened in Europe long before they crossed the ocean.

It may seem weird to feast in early October, but if anything, it means you have the opportunity for two Thanksgivings a year.

Good Luck Streaming Anything Good

Canada has some strange streaming restrictions. It was only within the last few years that Spotify became available, but Pandora is still out of the question. You’ll also be stuck with Canadian Netflix, which has most of the best shows but is lacking on some of the better films and TV series.

On top of all that, good luck watching back an NBC or ABC clip on YouTube. A lot of American entertainment companies restrict their online viewership to the United States.

There Are Two Languages, But Don’t Worry Too Much

A lot of Americans moving north worry because they don’t know any French. Even though French is the second official language of Canada, you will only find bilingual signs and business in certain parts of the country. Road signs will be in both French and English near the border, in the nation’s capital city Ottawa, and in their only officially bilingual province New Brunswick.

Except for Quebec (where everything is French), everywhere else will be all English.

They Make Money Move (And Colorful, And Waterproof)

Sorry, we should say that their money is colourful. At first glance, Canada’s money looks like Monopoly money because the bills are green, red, purple, and blue. The bills are also waterproof because Canadians were sick and tired of ruining their hard-earned cash in the washing machine.

All of these little things about their money is probably meant to make the population feel better about the fact they have to pay more for just about everything.

Student Debt Isn’t As Bad

Yes, students can end up with high amounts of debt from going to university or college, but not on the same levels as Americans. If you attend a university in your province, the average cost for one year of tuition, room, and board is about $15,000.

Compare that to about $38,000 per year for college in America. There are also many government programs that provide school loans that don’t get sold off to debt collectors.

Get Ready To Learn The Metric System

Over and over, America gets reminded that we’re the weird ones that refuse to use the metric system. If you go north of the border, you’ll have to cave to the pressure and learn the metric system.

The only other countries that use our weird measurements are Liberia and Myanmar, and I doubt any of us could even pick out those countries on a map.The good news is that it’s surprisingly easy to pick up.

Canada Has Figured Out Much Easier Ways To Take Your Money

Even if you take a day trip to Canada, you’ll likely end up at a restaurant to eat, and you’ll notice that instead of taking your card from you, the server will bring you a wireless banking machine.

The machines have buttons to add a percentage or dollar amount for a tip, rather than make you whip out your iPhone calculator and add it to the total. They were also years ahead of us moving from the swipe card to the chip reader.

Think Grizzly Bears, Not The Right To Bear Arms

If you’re a strong supporter of America’s second amendment and open-carry laws, then Canada is really not the place for you. To get your hands on a gun in Canada, there’s a much more rigorous background check and firearm restriction laws. You also have to go to a registered seller.

That means you can’t go to your local Walmart and buy an assault rifle. Sorry, not sorry. Still, 22% of Canadian households own a gun, but in 95% of those households, they are long guns for hunting, not handguns.

Yes, The Bacon Is Better

By all accounts, Canadian bacon is supposed to be so much better than traditional bacon. People have done studies on the bacon to see what the difference is. Canadian bacon is supposedly tastier, leaner, and healthier. Canadians also sweeten their bacon with maple syrup. There is no downside.

The United States does import and use Canadian bacon, but it’s mostly used on pizza and burgers rather than as a side for your eggs and toast.

The Chips Can Get Wild

You might think that potato chips aren’t that big of a cultural difference, but you’ll feel differently once you try some of the wild flavors they have up north. The two most common potato chip flavors that Americans long for are the infamous Lays Ketchup Chips and the all-too-delicious Ruffles All Dressed Chips.

If you move north, you’ll have to get more adventurous though. Consider trying their poutine, maple bacon, or Swiss Chalet sauce chips.

The Stronger The Beer, The Better The Country

In the immortal words of country singer Tim Hicks, “you may have a stronger army but man up here, we got stronger beer.” Statistically, it’s not that much stronger. Canadian beer averages 6.1% alcohol by volume, while American beer averages 5.9%. If you forget about the big players like Molson Canadian and Labatts, Canada also has a huge craft brewery scene.

They technically have fewer craft breweries than America, but more per capita. The more, the merrier!

Ice Hockey Is Life

The top sports for Americans to watch and play are football, baseball, and basketball. While Canadians love all three of those sports, they live and die on the ice hockey rink. Nearly every kid owns a pair of skates, and many create their own ice hockey rinks in their backyards.

The Stanley Cup even originated in Canada in 1893. Considering it’s cold as heck for half the year up in Canada, it makes sense why they love their winter sports so much.

The Mosaic Versus The Melting Pot

On the surface, it may sound like the same thing, but the way that Canada and America welcome new residents is very different. Canada is viewed to be a mosaic because new immigrants are welcomed to assimilate and take on Canadian culture, but they maintain their traditions as well.

America, on the other hand, is a melting pot because they expect new immigrants to strip their culture and thoroughly blend into American society.

You Have More Choices In Politics

We’re not going to get into the nitty-gritty here, but if you move up north, you’ll quickly learn to shed your “Democrat” or “Republican” label. In Canada, there are three major political parties: The Conservatives, The Liberals, and the NDP. There are also multiple smaller parties that can all vie for your vote.

It’s even more common for people to cross the aisle and switch political parties in their lifetime. Overall, Canada also tends to be more left-wing. Canada’s Conservative Party is closer to America’s Democrats.

It’s As Cold As You Think, But Warmer Than You’d Expect

Americans always joke about how cold it is up north as if Canada doesn’t have summer. This joke probably comes from the fact that unlike America, every part of Canada has the chance to get some snow during the winter. Even though there isn’t one specific area of Canada that is a tropical paradise year-round, they can still get stinking hot summers.

The city of Victoria in British Columbia averages 60 degrees Fahrenheit year-round but broke records in 2017 with temperatures reaching 96 degrees Fahrenheit.

Sorry, But The Taxes Are Higher

Look, you can’t get all these great things and expect not to give back. Canada does indeed pay higher taxes, but no one really seems to be complaining about it. Yes, it’s a talking point at every election, but the debate is usually about what to use the money for, not to take it away.

Canada also has higher income taxes, but once again, people seem relatively okay with it. That may be due to the “tall-poppy” syndrome that argues Canadians tend to distrust people who stand out as being wealthy.