Sunday, January 17, 2021

What is exactly a Canadian?


What exactly is a Canadian? 


How can you define, in general terms, a country and its people having only been a country for the past 150 years?  On top of that, we are mainly a country of immigrants, multi-cultural, vast in area but low in population.  So how can we possibly have any kind of defining sense of who we as Canadians are?

Many wonder what makes us Canadians any different, for example, from our neighbours to the south who are also a country of immigrants, looking and sounding relatively much the same?


Girl holding the Canadian flag

A Canadian is Anyone and Everyone

For starters, Canada is a country made up of anyone and everyone.  Not only is Canada populated by the indigenous people of the First Nations and the Inuit, people from all over the world immigrate here, making Canada their new home for various reasons; usually in hopes of having a better life.

Out of many reasons given, overall Canada is politically stable, the job market is relatively good, our education system is well developed, and we have a good healthcare system.  As you may or may not know, unlike our southerly neighbours, Canada is governed by the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms  giving all Canadians these fundamental freedoms (along with many guaranteed rights):

Freedom of conscience and religion

Freedom of thought, belief, opinion and expression, including freedom of the press and other media of communication

Freedom of peaceful assembly

Freedom of association


Different from our “melting pot” neighbours who are asked to drop their former culture at the border and integrate into one common culture, Canadians are encouraged to retain their former culture and celebrate their origins, to become part of a diverse cultural mosaic.


Group of guys of different ethnicities

A Canadian is Polite…sort of

Many people say that one thing about Canadians is that they are, in general, polite.  However, I have heard some people question the genuineness of this politeness, placing it more akin to a Victorian form of fake politeness.  Perhaps being a country of so-called “newcomers”, we all have this feeling of being the new kid in the class, so hoping to avoid ruffling any feathers we err on the side of politeness, whether or not we truly believe in what we are saying or agreeing to.  But what of third or fourth generation Canadians?   Surely, they don’t feel new to a country they were born in.  Perhaps it’s some sort of instinctual survival technique, after all, Canada is an extremely large country with an extremely small population in comparison.  Imagine if you’re driving the 12-hour drive from Vancouver to Edmonton through the vast forests of the Canadian wilderness and your car gets a flat at -30C in the winter.  If we were a country of impolite people, how many passers by would be so inclined to stop and help us out knowing their kind gesture might get responded to with a “mind your own business”.  Maybe over the years, with our low population and multiculturalism, we have learned that it is perhaps in our own interests to not be so much as polite but more along the lines of a grin and bear it society, attempting to avoid confrontation at all costs.  And yes, our politeness can come across as fake, and perhaps it is at times, but after all, Canadians are peacekeepers.


A Canadian tends to be Reserved

Canadians, in general, tend to be reserved.  Unlike our outgoing, extroverted southern neighbours, we as a people tend to be a little more on the quiet side.  In warmer climate countries, people spend much of their time out and about, mingling in the markets and squares for most of the year whereas us northerners are driven inside to our separate residences due to our cooler winter temperatures.  Now of course this doesn’t apply to all Canadians, and even for those of us who are more on the reserved side, we are for the most part a warm and welcoming people.


A Canadian is Accepting

Canadians are generally an accepting people.  Whether it’s that we are truly accepting or feel more of a sense of indifference, we tend to keep our noses in our own business and expect others to do the same.  Again, this is probably due to us being a multi-cultural country, and we are not just multi-cultural.  We are also multi-lingual (officially bi-lingual), multi-religious and multi-gendered.  All this multi-everything combined with our tendency to be polite and reserved gives most of us an attitude of “live and let live”, in other words, you do your thing, and we’ll do ours.


A Canadian is Proud

Canadians in general are a proud people, proud of their choice to be Canadian, for unless we are of First Nations heritage, at some point either us or our ancestors chose to come to this country and become Canadian.  Being reserved, we do not express our pride unabashedly loud but with more of a loud whisper.  We acknowledge that we are not the biggest, the best, or the greatest and we definitely have dark spots in our past, but we are none-the-less proud of what we have become over the past 150 years and acknowledge that we have plenty of room yet for improvement.


So, What Exactly is a Canadian?

So, with all of this in mind, perhaps the best answer is “Hopeful”.  A Canadian is hopeful.  Hopeful for a new life, hopeful for acceptance no matter their differences, and hopeful for a better and peaceful future.



Wednesday, December 30, 2020

10 Words You Will Only Hear in Canada: From Canuck to Poutine

 10 Words You Will Only Hear in Canada:  From Canuck to Poutine

Bunny hug

If you think that a Bunny hug is something you get from the Easter Bunny, well, you’d be mistaken.  Like many others, most of us Canadians call a hooded sweatshirt with pockets on the front, a “Hoodie”, just like the ones Ryan Reynolds often wears.  But if Ryan Reynolds was from Saskatchewan and not Vancouver, he would be wearing a “Bunny hug” instead.  Go figure!


Simply put, a Canadian is a Canuck.  There are regular Canucks like me and my friends and there are famous Canucks like Seth Rogen and Jim Carrey.  Michael Bublé is a Canuck as well.  And, how about the Vancouver Canucks Hockey Team!  Even Chris Hadfield, the famous Astronaut is a Canuck!  


Ever been to Calgary, Alberta?  Well, if you were there in the winter and one minute the weather was cold and freezing and an hour later you were ready to put your shorts and flip-flops on, then you experienced a Chinook!  A Chinook is a warm dry westerly wind that blows from the mountains and over the prairies in the winter, primarily around the area of Calgary, Alberta.  Chinook is a native word meaning “snow eater” and it’s no wonder as it can raise those cold Alberta winter temperatures by nearly 20C in only an hour’s time!    


If you happen to venture into Alberta and see a Dodge Ram truck with a flat tire on the side of the road, in stopping to help out that cowboy, you may hear him say, “Well, that’s it, I’m hooped!”  Hooped is a western Canadian slang word meaning, “out of luck” or “in a bad situation”.  So, the next time you hear someone from western Canada say, “I’m hooped”, they’re not talking about hula-hoops unless they’ve gotten themselves stuck in one!


Canada is filled with loonies, after all, they don’t call us “crazy Canucks” for nothing!  However, the type of loonie I’m talking about is the gold-coloured loonie, a one-dollar Canadian coin.  The loonie got its nickname from the image it has of the Canadian water diving bird, the Loon, depicted on its back.  Did you know that not only is Canada filled with Loonies, it also has its share of Toonies as well?  The Canadian Toonie is similar to a Loonie, but it differs by being both silver and gold-coloured and equal to not just one but two Canadian dollars.  

So, the next time someone comes up to you and asks if you’ve got a "Loonie”, they’re not asking about your friend, they’re probably a Canadian!


If you’re going to a party with a Canadian and they ask if you’re bringing along a “mickey”, they’re not talking about Mickey Rourke, they’re asking about a 375ml bottle of hard liquor, like a “mickey” of Grey Goose Vodka, that will fit into your coat pocket.  Canadians give names to other sizes of liquor as well, for instance a case of 24 beer (ever heard of Molson Canadian?) is known as a “Two Four”, and a “twenty-sixer” is a 750ml (or 26 oz.) bottle of hard liquor such as Canadian Club Rye Whiskey.  So, next time a Canadian invites you to a party, remember to bring “mickey” along with you!  


Most everybody loves French fries and Canadians are no different.  We love French fries so much that we created our own version called Poutine.  Poutine is a French-Canadian snack dish made up of French fries topped with cheese curds and gravy.  Poutine was first served in Quebec sometime in the 1950’s but became popular across Canada in the 1990’s.  In Quebecois, the word “poutine” is slang for “mess”.  And a mess it is!  Poutine can be found on menu’s in both Fine Dining restaurants as well as Food Truck vendors.  I tried Poutine myself for the first time a couple of years ago from a Food Truck vendor on Canada Day in Vancouver, and while I enjoy eating French fries with gravy, I think I’ll take a pass on the cheese curds that are synonymous with Poutine.  But just like Canadian actress Shay Mitchell (from the show Pretty Little Liars) who shared her dish of Poutine on her July 23rd, 2020 Instagram post, you may just love it! 


Every year many Canadians, usually retired, head south to warmer climates for the winter, and these people are referred to as “Snowbirds”.  A few of the more traditional destinations for Canadian Snowbirds to migrate to are Florida, California, and Arizona however some are now spending their winters in places much farther away such as Mexico, South America, and even as far away as Australia or New Zealand.  Some of them own condominiums, some own part of a time-share property, while others have R.V.’s there year-round and fly down as soon as the cooler weather of late autumn hits then return to Canada in the spring.  So, if you find yourself living in Canada and suddenly begin longing for warmer winter temperatures, you may want to follow the words of Canadian singer Anne Murray’s song “Snowbird” and “spread your tiny wings and fly away…” at least for a few of those cold wintry months.


To thoroughly enjoy those winters of the Canadian Great White North, you might want to take a ride on a toboggan just like Macaulay Culkin did in the film “Home Alone”, only I would suggest going outside in the snow instead of down a set of stairs!  A toboggan is a long sled that curves up and back at the front and is usually made with narrow pieces of wood.  A toboggan was traditionally used by the Innu and Cree of northern Canada as a means of transportation.  Today a toboggan is used primarily for having fun sledding down hills of snow…outside Macaulay…outside…


If you’re planning on spending winter in Canada, you may want to buy a Toque or a Tuque or a Touque.  Actually, they’re all the same thing.  A “Toque” (that’s how I spell it), is a soft knit winter hat with a narrow brim or no brim at all, sometimes topped with a pom-pom and usually made of wool.  Unlike other countries where people wear winter caps, or beanies, in Canada we wear a Toque, or a Tuque, or a Touque.


So the next time you run into a “Canuck” and they ask you to “Put on your Bunny hug, grab your toque and we’ll go get a mickey and a couple of poutine for a few loonies before we head out tobogganing”, you’ll know exactly what they’re talking about! 



Tuesday, December 29, 2020

Top 10 Canadian Christmas Traditions

 Top 10 Canadian Christmas Traditions


Merry Christmas!  Joyeaux Noel!!

Canada is not only a bilingual country (English and French) but it is also multi-cultural, so winter holidays celebrated here are as diverse as the many cultures of the people who live here.

But if you’re wondering what an authentic Canadian Christmas is like, here are 10 Canadian Christmas Traditions you may want to know:


1.     Send Christmas Cards


Starting in December, many Canadians send Christmas Cards to their friends and relatives.  The pictures on the cards can be plain, glittery, artistic, traditional, modern or comical.  Most have wishes for a happy Christmas printed inside the card while others are left blank for the sender to write their own personalized message. 


2.     Write Letters to Santa

Before Christmas, Canada Post has a special address where children can mail their letters to Santa Claus (be sure to include a return address):  

Santa Claus

North Pole, Canada

H0H 0H0

Both Santa and his Postal Elves reply to each and every letter he 


Thanks Santa!


3.     Look at Christmas Lights


Canadians enjoy viewing Christmas lights and in Edmonton, Alberta, there is an area dedicated

to viewing Christmas Lights called “Candy Cane Lane” ( ).

Spreading over a few city blocks, practically every home owner has created an elaborate light display for all to enjoy, including bonfires, sleighrides, and carolling, all free of charge however, a donation to the Edmonton Food Bank in one of the many bins set up along the route is most appreciated.


If you would like to have your city or town’s Christmas light display

mentioned in our blog, please add it in the comments below and 

be sure to include it here.



4.     Christmas Trees


Most Canadians put up a Christmas tree with some opting for a real tree.  Tree lots are available in most cities and towns and have quite a variety of trees to choose from.  However, some of the more adventurous choose to venture out into that vast Canadian wilderness of ours to get their tree.  In order to do this, you usually need to get a permit first.  For example, in British Columbia you can purchase one online ( ) depending upon the district in which you want to go before you venture out in search of the perfect Christmas tree.  Some of us put up and decorate our trees early, around the beginning of December (or even earlier) while others wait until Christmas Eve to do this.


5.     Christmas Eve Celebrations


Christmas Eve begins and Canadian news stations start reporting on Santa’s progress as he makes his way from the North Pole to the homes of Canadians and children everywhere.

In our family, we usually spend a quiet evening at home eating appetizers, drinking some wine and watching Christmas movies.  Some Canadians go out to partake in church services while others stay in.  Some choose to spend part of the evening driving around or walking with a Hot Chocolate or Mulled Wine touring all the pretty Christmas lights on display.

6.     Christmas Stockings 


Children and adults hang up Christmas stockings for Santa Claus to fill with “stocking stuffers”.  Usually, these stocking stuffers consist of tiny gifts, candies, chocolates and one big juicy orange.  Just like in the poem, “The Night Before Christmas” by Clement C. Moore, the stockings are often hung by the fireplace, but for those of us without a fireplace, a stair railing or even the back of a chair will suffice.


7.     Set out Milk and Cookies

Most children set out milk or eggnog and cookies for Santa to eat on Christmas Eve as a thank you for dropping off presents.  Some children also leave a few carrots for the reindeer!  


8.     Open One Gift Christmas Eve


Christmas Trees are decorated and await Santa’s visit for gifts to be placed under them.  Some people open gifts and stockings after midnight while others wait until Christmas morning to see what’s in their stockings and open up gifts.  My family’s tradition was to open one gift Christmas Eve and then the stockings and other gifts Christmas morning.  We usually try to guess each gift before opening it.  I seemed to have a particular talent for guessing what was inside so one year, my friend thought she had me fooled for sure as I could not figure out what it was until I decided to try smelling the beautifully wrapped package…bingo!  Bath products!!  



9.     Christmas Dinner

Christmas dinners in Canada are as diverse as its people.  Some celebrate a traditional Victorian/North American dinner by having turkey, cranberries, yams, mashed potatoes with gravy and Christmas Cake or Plum Pudding.  Others celebrate with a more traditional French-Canadian dinner including Tortiere, which is basically a meat filled pie mixed with cloves and spices and end with Buche de Noel, which is a chocolate jelly roll cake, rolled up to look like a log of wood and filled with whipped crème, cherries, etc.  The log is usually covered with chocolate icing and lined with a fork to mimic bark, then decorated with little mushrooms made from meringue or marzipan.  And don’t forget the wine!  Canada produces its own wines with some of the best coming from the Okanagan Valley in British Columbia.  To help digest that big Canadian Christmas dinner, treat yourself to some of the best Icewine in the world!  Canada is home to top award winner Inniskillin ( ) … delicious!


10.       Boxing Day

Boxing Day in Canada is usually spent visiting friends and relatives that you missed Christmas Day, going to see the latest movie just released at the Theatre, joining in some outdoor sports or you guessed it… shopping.  Visits with friends and relatives often consist of eating, drinking and playing board games.  If you’d rather join in some of the outdoor sports, there’s plenty of ice skating, skiing, snowboarding, cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, tobogganing, street hockey, jogging, snowmobiling, and hiking.
This year’s Boxing day most of us will be watching our movies at home on Netflix, Amazon Prime, or HBO, visiting our friends and relatives through Zoom, Skype and WhatsApp, participating in outdoor sports such as walking, jogging and running (gotta get those extra Christmas calories off somehow!) and shopping online ( ).
However, there’ll still be plenty of food, wine and games to go around!


So, there you have the Top 10 Canadian Christmas Traditions!  


From our house to yours, we wish you a very Merry Christmas!!!

Monday, December 28, 2020

The Top 10 Canadian New Year’s Resolutions

 The Top 10 Canadian New Year’s Resolutions:


1.     Lose Weight

Canadians typically resolve to lose weight in the new year.  Not that we’re a hugely overweight country of people, however, we’re not exactly a skinny bunch either, so after all that indulging over the holidays, well, most Canadians figure they could do with shedding a few pounds.  Fortunately, we have plenty of healthy options to help.  Even the Canadian government has created the Canada Food Guide with lots of great tips, resources and recipes to help.


2.     Get in Better Shape (Exercise More)

A lot of us Canadians are fitness fanatics.  There is probably one gym, fitness, or yoga centre situated at least every 2 blocks in Vancouver alone.  Many condo buildings include gyms and even swimming pools to help us out in our fitness quests.  Then there are all the various sports many Canadians partake in…ice hockey, street hockey, ball hockey, skating, hiking, biking, kayaking, jogging, and the list goes on, and on, and on.  Many towns and cities have their own public recreation centres where you can go swimming, play tennis or join one or more of the various fitness classes they offer.  Some (like the one near me) even provide personal trainers you can hire by the hour to help you out with your fitness goals.  So needless to say, a lot of Canadians enjoy their exercise and resolve to exercise even more.  


3.     Spend Less

Considering that the average Canadian has a TON of personal debt, (apparently Canadians owe $1.75 for ever $1 they make in disposable income) a lot of Canadians resolve to be more frugal in the new year.  According to the latest statistics, one good thing that has come out of the global pandemic of 2020 is that Canadians have been spending less.  The debt-to-income ratio in 2020 fell to $1.58 per household.  Even though much of this frugality was forced upon us, perhaps shopping, and eating out less often is one way to work on this new year resolution.

4.     Travel More

A lot of Canadians love to travel, myself included, even within our own country.  It’s no wonder as there is just so much to see here!  With 10 provinces and 3 territories, well, our country is as diverse as it is huge.  Islands, coastal waters, lakes, prairies, mountains, and tundra all encompassing 9.985 million square kilometers, now that’s a lot of country to see!  To get around, we have many options.  Planes, trains ( ), cars and buses (mainly in Ontario and Quebec ( ) are all available as well as Ferry services to the coastal islands (such as and ).  Bon voyage!! 


5.     Quit Bad Habits (or lessen them)

Not that Canadians are huge drinkers, but most of us love having a frosty cold beer on a hot summer day and yes, many of us have a “brewski” here and there in the winter as well.  Besides the big iconic Canadian brewing companies, various Craft Breweries have popped up in many cities all over Canada each with their own versions of the liquid amber.  As well as beer, Canadians also love their wine, and many wineries exist right here in British Columbia as well as Ontario.  Canada is known for its Ice Wine and is perhaps the biggest producer of Ice Wine in the world.  Due to the lower yields and complexity of processing, Ice Wines tend to be a bit more expensive than table wines, but the taste is well worth the cost.  So, while we may not want to quit this indulgent habit all together, we could perhaps resolve to cut back (just a little!).

6.     Spend more time with Family and Friends

Canadian families are as diverse as its many cultures.  Some of us have very small families while others have huge families.  Some of us have many children, a couple of children, no children, and some of us our furry children (like my dog, Gracie!).  For some of us, our friends are our family.  For some Canadians our family lives close and for others, they live far away, sometimes even in another country.  But nowadays with WhatsApp, Skype and Zoom, our family and friends are as close as our phones and computers.  One thing that 2020 has taught us is that nothing can replace the precious time that we get to spend with our family and friends, even if they drive us crazy from time to time.

7.     Learn Something New

Most Canadians love to learn.  Schools, lessons, classes, workshops and demonstrations of all sorts and kinds abound in many topics including, Art, Music, Languages, Sports, Cooking, etc. and they are found all over the place in towns and cities everywhere.  If going out to a class or school isn’t your thing, you can find teachers and tutors who will teach you online as well.  A friend of mine recently decided to begin learning German, so she started using Duolingo ( ) and gives a report on her progress every few weeks. Not only does it help you to learn many different languages, but it’s free as well!  No matter what it is you want to learn, you can find someone here to help whether it’s joining in on a class or learning online.   You can even find classes for your dog! 


8.     Read More

Reading is something a lot of people are fond of all over the world and Canada is no exception.  With all the popular Canadian authors around, finding a book to read won’t be a problem at all.  One of the most famous authors in Canada is Margaret Atwood.  Her award-winning book “The Handmaid’s Tale” was made into a film in 1990 starring Natasha Richardson and Robert Duvall, as well as a television series starring Elizabeth Moss beginning in 2017. Other famous Canadian authors include Mordecai Richler (The Apprenticeship of Duddy Kravitz and Jacob Two Two), Farley Mowat (Never Cry Wolf), Michael Ondaatje (The English Patient), and Yann Martel (Life of Pi).  If you’re resolving to expand your children’s love for books, some Canadian authors you may want to check out are Phoebe Gilman (Something from Nothing), Paulette Bourgeois (The Franklin the Turtle Series), and of course Robert Munsch, author of the much beloved tales of The Paper Bag Princess, Love You Forever, and a pile of others.  With all these great stories (and more!), this is one New Years Resolution that shouldn’t be a problem.

9.     Get Organized

Just like many others at this time of year, Canadians too vow to get organized and stay organized.  To get organized, many Canadians will sell or donate their unwanted objects.  There are online markets such as Facebook Marketplace and Craigslist that help a lot when it comes to finding someone to sell your stuff to for a minimal price.  Canadians also like to donate unwanted items and there are many thrift shops and charity organizations such as the Salvation Army and the S.P.C.A. located all over who are happy to take them.  For many of these places all you need to do is give them a call, book a day and time then place your items outside with the organizations name on them.  They will send a truck to where you are located and pick up your donation.  To make donating even more convenient, sometimes you need to look no farther than the nearest corner as some of these organizations have set up donation bins to make dropping your items off as simple as possible.  They are usually item specific and mainly for either clothes or books.  If you have household items or electronics that are either broken or in poor condition, there are recycling stations set up all over where you can take them and drop them off.  With this new year’s resolution, you’ll not only get organized, but you can help out other less fortunate people and the environment as well.

10 Change Jobs or Careers

For some Canadians, the new year seems as good a time as any to change jobs or careers that they are no longer satisfied with.  Some have been long time office workers who wish for the freedom of entrepreneurship, and some are just tired of the same old, same old, and begin looking for a fresh start at something new.  If looking for a new job is your new year’s resolution, there are plenty of online resources to help you out in your search.  

The government of Canada has a great website listing many jobs and piles of information to help you out in your search.  

As well, each province provides its own job search website such as:  British Columbia , Alberta , and Ontario to name just a few, as well as other popular job search sites such as Indeed and Workopolis .  


So, there you have the Top 10 New Year’s Resolutions Canadians pledge to uphold in the coming year.  We often start the New Year off with good intentions and while some of us stick with our resolve for the entire year, others…well…it’s the thought that counts, right?


Happy New Year!!!