On 10th November 2011, we moved to Canada. Initially, we planned to be here a year, maybe two. Now that it has turned into five awesome years, here are a few things I have learned over the last half-decade in Canada.


  • Moose are actually HUGE (bigger than the average car) but are somehow pretty elusive
  • The bald eagle should be Canada’s national animal, not the USA’s. So. many. bald. eagles. everywhere
  • Beavers surprisingly crafty with their dams – we had to portage our canoe over one once
  • You’re far more likely to see the back end of a bear running away from you than the rest of it
  • Canada has four species of native rattlesnakes

50 Things I've Learned About Canada in 5 Years - Moose crossing Alaska Highway in BC


  • Canadians are indeed some of the most polite people in the world
  • French is not just limited to Quebec and New Brunswick, there are French speakers all over Canada
  • Yukon Territory is home to only 30,000 people in an area the size of the UK
  • Vancouver has one of the largest Chinese populations outside of China
  • There are so many famous Canadians (actors, writers, musician) but they mostly live in the US

50 Things I've Learned About Canada in 5 Years- Acadian lighthouse in Shippagan

The Great Outdoors

  • Canada has the longest coastline in the world
  • What would be a mountain in Britain, is a small hill in Canada
  • There is true wilderness, the no-one-within-a-thousand-kilometres kind of wilderness
  • Canada is home to rainforests, huge lakes (with tides!), deserts, glaciers, tundra, plains and more…
  • It takes about 60 hours to drive from the West Coast to the East Coast, all 7,000km+ of it.

50 Things I've Learned About Canada in 5 Years-vancouver island della falls hike

Canadian Life

  • No need to park when you can almost drive-thru everywhere; the pharmacy, bank, liquor store and more
  • Alcohol is still restricted to liquor stores only in most provinces (psst, it’s also pretty expensive too!)
  • Hockey is everything
  • Superbowl afternoon is a great day to go shopping (SO QUIET)
  • The price you see is not the price you pay as taxes are added on when paying (taxes vary between provinces)

50 Things I've Learned About Canada in 5 Years-big white snowshoeing 2015 dec

Food and Drink

  • There is a big wine industry in Canada, with hundreds of wineries and thousands of vineyards
  • Canadians eat more Kraft dinner (boxed macaroni and cheese) than any other nationality in the world
  • 65% of the world’s lentils grown in Canada
  • Maple syrup, bacon, lobster and poutine flavoured EVERYTHING (separately…)
  • Sugar is king. There are more doughnut shops per capita than anywhere else

50 Things I've Learned About Canada in 5 Years-therapy vineyard okanagan naramata bench


  • “A gong show” refers to a something that went really wrong. Sometimes wrong in a funny way, sometimes not
  • A double-double is a coffee with two cream (never milk) and two sugars
  • Being “stoked” (very excited) is the opposite of “choked” (upset or mad)
  • “Give’r” is a common saying meaning to go for it or to put more effort in
  • A toque is a (usually woolen) beanie hat, washrooms are toilets, mickeys are small bottles of hard liquor

50 Things I've Learned About Canada in 5 Years-banff mountains view with canadian flag


  • There are places in Canada that get hot. Really hot. Like 40c+ hot
  • There are places in Canada that do not really get very cold and snow is a novelty
  • It’s quite normal to plug your car in overnight in places with extreme cold to keep the engine block and oil warm
  • Don’t go outside with wet hair when it’s -20c or below – it freezes
  • -40c isn’t actually as freezing as it sounds, not when it’s a dry cold

50 Things I've Learned About Canada in 5 Years-vancouver downtown fall 2011 canada place bc

Strange but true

  • $100 bills smell of maple syrup
  • The modern state of Canada has technically only existed since 1982
  • Santa’s address is North Pole, H0H 0H0, Canada
  • $1 coins are called Loonies (they have the loon bird on them), $2 are Toonies
  • Canadians are called also called Canucks, a word in use since the early 1800’s

50 Things I've Learned About Canada in 5 Years-JR Tombstone Rake Mountain view


  • There is a named public holiday almost every month
  • Thanksgiving is in October and while it is similar to the US holiday, it tied more to harvest traditions
  • Halloween is kinda a big deal
  • Canada Day is an awesome day to just celebrate and appreciate where you live
  • The start of the summer season is marked by Victoria Day (Patriotes Day in Quebec), the third Monday in May

50 Things I've Learned About Canada in 5 Years-vaseux lake okanagan valley bc

And a few more, for the road

  • Canadian immigration is SLOW, even for spouses and partners of citizens
  • Driving two hours (or across the border) to go somewhere for dinner or a movie isn’t a big deal
  • For such a relatively ‘young’ country, Canada has a lot of interesting history and culture (First Nation, French settlement, war with the USA, gold rush-era, building of the trans-Canada railway, Chinese immigration etc)
  • People really do use the infamous red cups at parties, just like in the movies
  • Canada may be one of the most beautiful and safest countries in the world and I am happy to call it my home

Let me know if you too have learned some interesting facts and quirks of living in Canada!

50 Things I've Learned About Canada in 5 Years-vancouver autumn fall 2011 bcThe above photo was taken the week we moved to Canada in 2011


One half of a Canadian/British couple currently based in New Brunswick, Canada. Gemma is happiest with a kayak/canoe paddle in her hand, on the trail or planning the next big adventure.

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