Thursday Thirteen #6


Since moving to Canada, I’ve been surprised many times by the differences between Canada and the United States. I admit, I’m an ignorant American! Not by design. In high school I was appalled that I couldn’t take a course in Canadian History. I went to a large high school, in a large city (which informs every impression I ever make), so as a history major, I expected to find a course about our nearest neighbors. No such luck. Canada drops off the American radar the day the two countries split. The end. So then all we Americans are left with is the stuff we see on TV. So we know that all Canadians like hockey, sing along to Queen, drink lots of beer and say “eh”. Oh, and that it’s cold up here. So here are some things I’ve noticed as a stranger in a strange land (and I’m making no claim that they are exactly correct. This is a huge, complex country and I’ve only been to three of the provinces so far. I live in the most conservative politically. I have so very much more to learn.)

  1. Canadians are very polite. This is pretty much based upon my observations of the people in only one province, which is predominantly rural.
  2. Dealing with governmental employees is easy! There are no lines (immigration and passports are the current exception that proves the rule), no crowds, and the employees are friendly and happy. This remains a constant source of amazement to me. I was not aware how tense I used to become before having to interact with any governmental agency employee until I moved up here. I’ve since realized that I used to gear up for battle before any interaction of this type, but have now found that this lovely collective Canadian politeness actually works in my favor. My wubby always laughs at my dumbfounded amazement after these experiences.
  3. Polite does not always translate into kind! I come from a large city where people are outright rude if they feel the occasion warrants it. I’ve come to understand there are subtleties to politeness. I’ve begun to liken it to what I’ve read about society in the American South (another place I’ve never been.)
  4. Canadian politics are hilarious to watch on television. For all their politeness in everyday life, they certainly drop the gloves when they get elected. It seems almost the opposite of the way things were back home. At home the officials become very polite, in order to be re-elected. I’m still learning about politics up here, as so many things are very different.
  5. Canadians really do have a different accent than people down South. This was clearly brought home to me when attempting to teach our foster daughter the ABCs. I say ‘a’ incorrectly! Not only that, but I pretty much mess up every other letter of the Canadian alphabet (never mind Zed.) Who knew? Her teacher had to make me a phonetic chart so that I wouldn’t muddy her pronunciation!
  6. If you don’t like hard rock or country, you are SOL.
  7. Mexican food is non-existent up here. They don’t even sell corn tortillas so you can make your own. We have to have friends send us beef chorizo and corn tortillas.
  8. Food up here tastes different. I remember this phenomenon from living in Australia. The animals are fed differently. Hence the milk, meat and cheese have a different flavor. The pepperoni is different. We’ve looked everywhere for “American” pepperoni so we can make our own pizza. But they also use different produce to deal with the differing climate. So if you order KFC cole slaw, you don’t get what you were expecting!
  9. The ketchup is very sweet. We are Heinz connoisseurs. We assumed that if we went with the same brands, we’d be safe. You know what they say about assumptions! lol Oddly enough, after we’d acclimated to the ketchup up here, when we went down South for a visit, we found the ketchup to have a strong vinegary flavor.
  10. My darling Wubby swears the peanut M&M’s and Dr. Pepper are different. I take her word for it.
  11. Pharmaceuticals are NOT cheaper up here. I don’t know what has prompted this rumor. We actually buy things like aspirin and other over-the-counter meds when we are in the States because it is so much cheaper. We have not noticed any difference in the prescribed drugs we’ve had the misfortune to need (and I was uninsured for a long time after we got here, so we’d be in a position to know.)
  12. I was shocked when the first drink I ordered up here came without ice! Then we went to the gas stations so I could get a fountain drink with ice and they didn’t serve fountain drinks! This is probably more to do with living in a rural province than anything else (I’m guessing.)
  13. The air is fresh and clean and the sky is blue. No orange discoloration of the sky at night. You can see stars and the aurora borealis.

It seems that most of my observations are about food! lol There is a great deal more that is different, so maybe I’ll have to do this again sometime and add to the list. Overall, I’d say Canada is a darn cool country and the people are fun, friendly, intelligent and forward-thinking. They’ve also been welcoming to me and my family, which was never true at “home”. What a nice change that has been.

~ by byrningbunny on February 21, 2008.

13 Responses to “Thursday Thirteen #6”

  1. Interesting list…didn’t realize that life was so different in Canada…very enlightening!

  2. I’m a canadian! Happy TT! 🙂

  3. I loved that posy– I grew up in Ohio and now live in TX we used to go to Buckhorn lake in Ontario many summers in my teen years so I have a vested interest in many of your observations — I do love the cleanliness, but food is soooo different we had Spaghetti that tasted like pumpkin pie when we first went

  4. Bunny, who says we’re not polite here in the States, huh? huh? Also no ice in drinks? that’s a Europism…ice is practically non-existent in Italy, France. I’m surprised that drugs are not cheap…have to look into that rumor. Hows the universal medical insurance…? Loved your post! 😀

  5. I have lived abroad and traveled quite a bit. Products are always different in other countries. At least you are open to the experiences. I know so many people who refuse to travel because it means stepping outside their comfort zone. I remember when I was in Canada and I ordered french fries. I had never had poutine before and was quite bewildered as to why my fries were covered in cheese stuff. Great TT!

  6. Funny huh, how people are different?
    Even in a little country like Belgium, we are all so different!
    Thx for visiting!
    I wonder what could be wrong at the TT home page?

  7. What an interesting post. No ice? Maybe they’re all cold enough! We spent our honeymoon in Winnipeg and really loved the city. Of course, we were there in JUNE! I’m sure February is different.

    I’m a gov employee….I hope I’m nice to people! 🙂

    Thanks for stopping by.

  8. Thanks for visiting Small Reflections today and leaving comments on my Wordless Wednesday and T-13 posts. I wish I could take credit for the Spring Flowers and the Origami but I simply found and shared both this week.

    I’m wondering how long you’ve lived in Canada and what prompted your move? I’ve got Canadian relatives and friends, but I’m not sure I’d want to leave Southern California.
    Hugs and blessings,

  9. Awesome list, Susan notices alot of that when she comes up to visit.

    -We are politer.
    -No we cant find good mexican food here.
    -You must of gone to A&W thats the only place I know that doesnt give ice in their drinks.
    – I think Dr Pepper is an American drink, I dont know many here that like it, Susan loves it.
    -She was amazed at the blue/green water in our rivers, and the taste of our water.
    – I remember flying to texas and thinking ewww all the water is brown.
    – Im a Heinz ketchup person all the way.

  10. Hi! I just discovered you blog and am really enjoying it. I’ve visited Canada and known many Canadians. As a whole, I’ve found them to be very polite and helpful. I’m orginally from New England and now live in Florida.The people down here are friendlier and more accepting. This is a big city as opposed to a small town, but if you get sick in public or have car trouble, people will stop to help.,That wasn’t true up north.It’s funny how human behavior changes with geography.
    I have a blog, but it’s written from my cat’s point of view.
    Stop by and see us.

  11. Excellent post! I’ve really loved my short trips to Canada, but I didn’t get all in depth as you do living there. Great list, and thanks for visiting mine, too!

  12. Wow no chorizo or tortillas, good luck. Happy TT.

  13. I love Canada and my Canadian friends! 🙂

    Thank you for visiting my TT and commenting on my Adoption post.

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