Wednesday, July 16, 2014

My thoughts on Canada

Though my friends and I were only in Ontario for a short time, and for a wedding nonetheless, leaving us with very little time to explore the area, we did walk away from the experience with a number of impressions stuck firmly in our minds.  With this post I don't intend to step on any international feet, offend anyone, judge an entire country based on a very short trip or otherwise feed stereotypes or risk insulting anyone.  I just want to share some over our overall observations and impressions from our short time in Canada, more for the sake of discussion and for memories than as a means to analyze and evaluate an entire country and it's people.

So, what were my overall thoughts and impressions after my trip?

1.  Canadians are SOOOOO nice.  It's just unbelievable really.  The stereotype about Canadians being extremely polite is definitely true, at least in my experience.  Laura, Delaware and I were just floored by how welcoming, open and kind everyone was.  They didn't even know us and were willing to bend over backwards to make us feel comfortable and at home...lending us their phones and GPS when we needed to find a supermarket, their homes for impromptu pool parties, running out to the store to pick up burgers, beer, etc, letting Delaware borrow some items he had forgotten, always checking to see if anyone else needed a drink or anything else, worrying about our experience with border control, making every effort to talk to us and make sure we were having a good time in their country.  The list just goes on and on.  It was amazing!  Canadians must be the nicest people on earth.  Makes me kind of ashamed to be American; we are not nearly as warm, welcoming and friendly as our neighbors up north.

2.  The border crossing was much easier than I expected.  Just goes to show you can't believe everything you hear.  I had no issues driving into Canada despite the fact that I couldn't even correctly answer the first question the border control officer asked me.  He asked where I lived and I said Ohio (because that was where I was coming from) then had to correct myself to France.  And rather than harass me because of it he just asked a few other questions (how long I was staying, why I was coming, what I was bringing with me) and let me go on my way.  Very simple and straightforward and the entire process, from getting into line to driving away only took about 5 minutes.  On the way back out we got a few more questions, but it was also very quick and painless (and I remembered where I lived that time).

3.  While Americans are known for being perhaps overly patriotic and displaying American flags nearly everywhere (and much of the rest of the world likes criticize us for this), I did notice quite a few Canadian flags (though nothing like in the US) like this one at the entrance to the supermarket:

Seems they might have a bit of patriotic pride as well!  Though not as overwhelmingly so as Americans.

4.  I love that everything is in French and English!  It is so much fun and I find myself, as an American, being somewhat jealous of that bilingual tradition.  It was just really cool to see street signs, labels, products, almost everything in both languages.

5.  Canadian roads are very nice to drive on and much more similar to the US than Europe.  I was much less stressed than I am driving in France, and after making it through Windsor I was able to just sit back and cruise along without a worry.  Everything is well indicated, the roads are in good condition, the drivers aren't crazy.  It was just nice.  Except the speed limit - 100 km/hour is far too slow for highway driving!  Especially for such a large country!

6.  Canada is more expensive than the US.  I was surprised by the cost for a number of different things.  Gas overall cost more (not surprising), but not nearly as much as in Europe, but various foods and drinks were more than I expected.

7.  Tim Horton's literally is everywhere!  Trying to get into the Canadian spirit, I stopped at one in Michigan for dinner before crossing the border, but as soon as you step foot into Canada you can't help but find a Tim Horton's.  And they really do love that place!  We ended up stopping at the Tim Horton's near Marybeth's for coffee before heading back to the US.  We just felt obligated to go at least once while we were there.

8.  All Dressed/AssaisonnĂ©es chips are incredible.  And that is what happens when you set three Americans loose in a Canadian grocery store.  They make discoveries.  Once we saw the bag we just had to buy them out of curiosity.  And they are very, very good and extremely dangerous.

9.  Everyone really does say "eh."  All the time.  It's kinda adorable.

10.  I like that the culture, while similar to that of the US, is still quite different in many ways.  I was afraid that everything would be like in the US and so was pleasantly surprised that there are quite a few differences, more than I expected.  It was just enough to make it quite clear that we were not in the US, while also not being overwhelming.

All in all my impressions were quite positive, as I expected them to be, and I hope to have the opportunity to return to Canada one day to do some more exploring and visit with friends.


  1. I miss Tim Horton's! I'm from Michigan but I've always felt a tiny bit Canadian (my paternal grandmother's family is French-Canadian), and I absolutely love Toronto and Montreal and Quebec. We used to be able to use Canadian coins in Michigan too - in addition to having Tim Horton's, so we are more Canadian than most other states. :) I really want to visit Canada again now...

    1. We have Tim Horton's in Ohio as well, but it isn't nearly as popular or prevalent as in Canada. And in Ohio we often use Canadian coins as well...they just get mixed in with the US ones.