Everybody loves Canada. Maybe it’s the stunning nature or the friendly cities, including Toronto and Vancouver, or maybe it’s the humility, humor and generosity of the local people. The locals aren’t just easy-going either, they also have an uncanny ability to turn a statement into a question (by adding ‘eh?’ to the end of every sentence), making striking up a conversation with them particularly easy.
Here are our top 10 (+1) reasons to love Canada and head over this year (or any other).
1. Maple Syrup – put it on everything
Maple syrup is one of nature’s most glorious and delicious phenomenons. Every spring, Canadians take part in a tradition called “tapping,” when maple trees are selected and fitted with small tubes (taps) inserted into their trunks. As the trees thaw from the cold Canadian winter, the tree sap rises and escapes through the tap, collecting in buckets hung on the trees. From there, they cook the sap, reducing it down to the sweet, nutty maple syrup we all know and love. It takes about40 liters of sap to create one liter of pure maple syrup. That’s a lot of maple tree sap and a big reason for why Canadians treat the sweet golden nectar with such loving affection. They drizzle it over waffles, bacon, steak, chicken, eggs, salads and pretty much anything else they can get their hands on.
2. Poutine – a national institution
Walk down any street in Montreal and you would be hard-pressed not to see someone chowing down on a plate of poutine. The high-calorie, artery-clogging dish is comprised of french fries topped with cheese curds and smothered in brown gravy. Not only is poutine delicious, it’s also a national institution available everywhere from movie theaters to gourmet restaurants. Want to sound like a local? Just remember when you order to pronounce it “poo-tin,” not “poo-teen.”
3. Natural wonders – around every corner
As the second largest country in the world, Canada has dedicated a significant amount of its land to conservation. With over40 national parks and national park reserves, covering 300,000 square kilometers, there are more lakes, rivers, mountains, forests glaciers and coastline there than you will ever have the time to explore (.)
4. Outdoor recreation – paradise for nature freaks
Outdoor recreation sports like skiing, hiking, biking and climbing are an integral part of the Canadian identity. Topping the BBC’s list ofgreat cities for outdoor adventures isVancouver, British Columbia. Located just 115 kilometers from the world-class skiing resort ofWhistler-Blackcomb, a short drive from epic rock climbing in Squamish and covered in a web of mountain biking trails, Vancouver is one of the best places in the world to get your nature fix while having some serious fun.
5. Diversity – it’s in the DNA
When thinking about Canadians, many picture a (Caucasian) lumberjack cutting down trees in the forest. In reality, that image couldn’t be farther from the truth. Canada is one of the top 20 most diverse countries in the world, placing it far ahead of the US and the UK. Arecent study showed that one-fifth of Canada’s total population was born elsewhere – the highest proportion of any G8 country. Additionally, with two national languages, English and French, and a high percentage of foreign-born residents, thebilingualism rate in Canada is 17.5 percent. InToronto – recently declared the world’s most diverse city by BBC Radio – more than 140 languages are spoken and almost 51 percent of the population was born outside of Canada.
6. Friendliness – it’s in the water
Stand on the street corner of any Canadian city with an open map and you can count on somebody coming to help you. Canadians are THAT nice. Now, while there is no empirical evidence studying Canadian friendliness,studies have found that Canadians often use “hedge words” such as “could be” or “not bad” to reduce tension when discussing controversial or potentially offensive topics. Oh, did I mention they don’t honk in traffic and tend to apologize profusely for even the slightest transgression? Maybe it’s the water (which is delicious right out of the tap)… or maybe Canadians are just that nice.
7. Hockey – born and bred
It’s slightly strange that people known for being so friendly could be so obsessed with a sport as brutal as hockey. Then again, maybe it makes perfect sense… That anger has to go someplace, right? For Canadians, hockey is a national passion that eclipses any other facet of life. It is the lifeblood of every small community and the reason for gatherings big and small. Kids grow up with skates on their feet and sticks in their hands. A hockey scene is even pictured on the Canadian five-dollar banknote. Oh, and the Canadian men’s national team are legendary, as are the women: Men have won nine Olympic medals in total – the most in the world – while the women have dominated the last four Olympics, winning gold each time.
8. Trailer Park Boys – Canada’s #1 export
While Canada is the world’s largest exporter of maple syrup, it’s second greatest export (in my humble opinion) is the hit television programTrailer Park Boys. Full of unapologetically crude, crass and politically incorrect humor, the mockumentary series, which started in 2001, follows the misadventures of a group of trailer park residents as they look for their next big money-making opportunity. Watch before you visit and enjoy a hilarious perspective on life in Canada (not representative of the whole population, of course).
9. Hawaiian Pizza – the only thing controversial about Canada
Does fruit belong on pizza? Ask this question at any party and the answers will inevitably be strongly divided between “yes” or “no.” There is simply no middle ground when it comes to fruit on pizza, or more specifically, what goes the so-called “Hawaiian pizza”: pineapple. The debate recently even made it into the political sphere when the president of Iceland, Guðni Th. Jóhannesson, called for a ban on“pineapple as a pizza topping.” So, how did this whole thing get started? Well, unfortunately for the Hawaiians, credit for the divisive pizza topping goes to Sam Panopoulos, a Greek immigrant to Canada, who created a pizza with tomato sauce, Canadian bacon, pineapple and mozzarella cheese in 1962. The rest is (controversial) history.
10. Bunny Hug – the cutest thing about Canada
The last and maybe the most lovable thing about Canada comes from the northern province of Saskatchewan. There, a hooded sweatshirt is called a “bunny hug.” Seriously!? Is that not the cutest thing ever?
A bonus reason to go this year? It’s Canada’s 150th birthday and the country will be in an even more celebratory mood than normal. There’s no better time to go than now.