1. You get Tim Hortons withdrawals.
Canadians love Tim Hortons. Every one of us that’s outside of Canada has Tim Hortons withdrawals, and it’s always undoubtedly the first stop on the way home from the airport after visiting a foreign country. Every time a friend from another country visits, we bring them to Tim Hortons and make them order a double-double (two creams, two sugars). When they take their first sip, we anxiously await their response — and get incredibly offended when they shrug and say, “It’s just…coffee.”
Fine, so the coffee’s average, but Tim Hortons is still a Canadian cultural staple and one we take VERY seriously. The commercials are probably half the reason why — they’re 30 seconds of nostalgia, and kids playing hockey, and just general pulling-at-our-Canadian-heartstrings. When living abroad, I actually looked up the commercials on YouTube just to get a little taste of home. And I know I’m not the only one.
You can bet that every good Canadian on a road trip in Canada has downloaded the Tim Hortons app. I know I want to know exactly how far I am from a Tim’s at any point, in case I need my coffee-and-a-donut fix.
2. Your definition of Canadian is “not American.”
There’s absolutely no way to piss off a Canadian better than to call them an American. While it’s an incredibly easy mistake to make in light of the very similar culture and accent, we take it personally when people don’t automatically know we’re Canadian. We feel you should just be able to tell, somehow, due to our mannerisms and the Canadian sayings (eh?).
When asked what defines Canada as a country, our response is always along the lines of “we’re nicer,” “we have free healthcare,” or “we’re colder” — all direct comparisons to our neighbors south of the border. We may watch American television, use American products, and wear American clothes, but we’ll always still insist we are visibly very different, dammit!
3. It’s still a shock to see cereal boxes in only English.
Because of the Official Languages Act, virtually every single label in Canada is written in both French and English. This includes everything from shirts to soup to shampoo. Every single child in the country began learning French by reading the backside of the cereal box, picking up words like “honey,” “sugar,” and “free” (miel, sucre, and gratuit).
For most people, this is all they ever learn — and yet it’s still surprising to most Canadians to see an all-English cereal box. Seeing products in both English and Spanish practically stops my heart.
4. You use the metric system…sort of.
Canada converted to the metric system in the 1970s, and yet there is still widespread use of the imperial system everywhere.
While we love to make fun of Americans for not converting to the metric system like the rest of the world, we have yet to fully convert ourselves. We still measure height in feet and inches and weight in pounds. Pool, oven, and body temperatures are measured in Fahrenheit, while air temperature is Celsius.
It seems we’re still in a state of mid-conversion, with no signs of ever fully using the metric system in the near future.
5. You grew up with every chocolate bar imaginable.
Canada has the best chocolate — and yes, it is a chocolate bar, not a candy bar.
We are the middle ground between American (Nestlé) and British (Cadbury) chocolate companies, so we get all the goods. Americans don’t get to know the joys of Dairy Milk, Caramilk, Aero Bars, and the real Smarties (candy-covered chocolate, kind of like M&Ms), while 3 Musketeers, Baby Ruth, Butterfinger, Oh Henry!, and Skor aren’t available outside North America. And then we have our exclusively Canadian brands, such as Coffee Crisp, Crispy Crunch, Jersey Milk, and Wunderbars.
You know you were born and raised Canadian if you got the biggest selection of any other country on Halloween.
6. You measure distance in time.
When people ask where I’m from in Canada, I tell them I live about two and a half hours from Toronto, and it almost always results in a blank stare. Canadians rarely have any idea how many kilometers it is to the next town — they only know how long it takes to drive there.
Driving is the main (and frequently the only) way to get around Canada, so it makes sense that we like to know how long it will take to get somewhere. Ask us how many kilometers it is from Toronto to Montreal, and we’ll give that blank stare right back to you. This has happened to me a few times, and you’d think I’d have figured out the mileage by now, but it just doesn’t seem to matter. 5½ to 6 hours makes way more sense than 542km ever would.
7. Every conversation begins and ends with the weather.
If you want to pique a Canadian’s interest, just start talking about the weather. Canadians love to talk about the weather. Hot, cold, rainy, sunny, snowy, icy — it doesn’t matter. We’re fascinated by the weather. It might have something to do with the fact that our weather changes so frequently. It can be 15°C (60°F) one day, and -15°C (5°F) the next.
One thing you can be sure of, though, is that if it’s winter, we WILL be complaining about the weather, regardless of what it is. If it’s a beautiful, sunny winter day, it’s still too cold. If it’s snowing, we’ll complain that we have to shovel later. God help us if it’s raining in winter — it isn’t cold enough if it’s raining!
We absolutely love to complain about the weather, and it’s a sure sign you aren’t a real Canadian if you actually like the snow.