For Canada’s chapter of the famous things across the globe series, we collaborated with our fellow travel blogger Alisson Browne of “Dreamer at Heart” to discuss What is Canada famous for?
Canada, the second biggest country in the world, is divided into ten provinces and three territories. Can you name them all? Canada’s 9.98 million square kilometers stretch from the Pacific Ocean in the west to the Atlantic Ocean in the east and northwards to the Arctic Ocean. It is hard to imagine such a vast country!
This gorgeous nation is vast yet sparsely populated. Canada’s population is relatively small, 37.59 million.
Canada is known for its wide-open spaces, stunning landscapes, and cold weather, but other than that, what is Canada known for? Let’s explore!
18 Things Canada is Famous and known for
When was the last time you picked a Canadian out of a crowd? Usually friendly and reserved, Canadians are known for the ultimate polite behavior. Stand around in a crowd and pick out the Canadian by whoever is apologizing for the most. “I’m sorry.” “I apologize.” “Sorry.” and “Please, forgive me.” are the classic Canadian giveaway!
So, what is Canada famous for? Politeness. It’s more than an urban legend. It’s real… Canadians genuinely are that polite!
Hint: here is another clue if you are trying to differentiate between Canadians and Americans. Canadians are famous for using “Eh” at the end of just about every sentence, while Americans pepper their conversations with “Huh?”
#2 Multicultural Canada
A big part of Canadian identity is that we are a multicultural nation. Canada is a culturally diverse country where people from diverse racial and ethnic backgrounds make up the population.
Canadians pride themselves on the national values of unity, diversity, and cultural understanding. Canada officially became a multicultural country in 1971.
#3 Ice Hockey
What is Canada Famous for? Hockey, for sure! Hockey is Canada’s National Winter Sport. But hockey is immensely more important to Canadians than its title designates. Most Canadians live and breathe hockey. In fact, it binds Canadians together as a nation. Canadians often discuss hockey stats and updates from the National Hockey League, North America’s professional ice hockey league.
Every small town and large city has indoor and outdoor hockey arenas from the East coast to the West. Take a stroll on a winter’s evening through a Canadian neighborhood, and the hollow thunk of a hockey puck against the boards will indeed be ringing out.
#4 The Canadian Rockies
Canada’s Rocky Mountains soar between the two western provinces of Alberta and British Columbia. Glaciers, glistening mountain lakes, ski hills, hiking trails, and impressive wildlife are reasons enough to visit.
Banff National Park was Canada’s first National Park, created in 1885. Its small bustling town sits amidst the Rocky Mountains, and elk stroll the sidewalks. Do some shopping and then head to the mountains to ride the gondola, ski, snowshoe, or hike. The views from atop are breathtaking.
Lake Louise, a 40-minute drive from the Banff townsite, is a shimmering lake where the color blue takes on a different meaning. Rent a canoe and paddle around the lake (the lake is glacial fed…so the water is C O L D!) or hike up to a teahouse that has existed since 1905.
Stop at the Columbia Icefields, part of the Athabasca Glacier, as you make your way to Jasper in Jasper National Park. The scenery, here again, is outstanding. Snow-capped mountain peaks are reflected in azure blue lakes.
#5 Canadian Wildlife
Let’s talk about Canadian wildlife. Canada is fortunate to be home to an incredible assortment of bears, including polar bears, grizzly bears, black bears, and the elusive spirit bear. Cougars, mountain lions, moose, elk, and bighorn sheep roam the mountains, and whale species, including humpbacks and orcas, grace the oceans. In fact, whale watching is one of the most popular activities in Canada.
And there are plenty of beavers, Canada’s national animal.
Depending on where you live in Canada, seeing these wild creatures, while always a thrill, is not 100% unusual. Just remember when you visit Canada that these are wild animals. Too often, tourists get far too close to these creatures in National Parks.
#6 Maple Syrup
It is no surprise that Canadians love their maple syrup. Canada grows ten species of maple trees, and the red maple leaf is front and center on the Canadian flag!
Under the correct weather conditions, the maple sap drips in the spring, and producers tap the trees to collect the sweet sap. Maple syrup is used in recipes such as maple-glazed salmon and, of course, drizzled over pancakes for breakfast.
But the most delightful experience of all is “sugaring off.” Head off to a sugar shack in Quebec and taste some maple taffy made by pouring boiling syrup onto fresh snow and twirling it onto a popsicle stick. It’s divine!
New England states in the USA are also famous for Maple Syrup, particularly Vermont, New Hampshire, and Maine.
#7 Vancouver, British Columbia
Vancouver, Canada’s third-largest city, has a stunning location. This west coast city is a beautiful mix of mountains, sea, and urban life. Vancouver is a mecca for partaking in an active lifestyle, with its beaches, mountains, and the sea right at your doorstep.
Walk, hike, and stand-up paddleboard all in one day! Vancouver also delivers when it comes to funky restaurants, ecological living, and cultural activities. Its weather is milder than the rest of Canada – you just have to be ready for the rain.
#8 French and English
Canada is officially a bilingual country, but the main language spoken is English. Most of the French-speaking population lives in the province of Quebec. Many Canadians are bilingual, but it is not unusual for Canadians not to know one word of French. The government and courts of law operate in English and French, and check out our bilingual labeling on products for sale!
Did you know that Canada has the largest Francophone population outside of France?
#9 CN Tower, Toronto, Ontario
The CN (Canada’s National) Tower soars over the Toronto, Ontario, skyline at 533.3 meters high. This iconic tower, finished in 1976, was the world’s tallest freestanding structure until 2007. Take a high-speed elevator to the lookout level at 326m above ground and see how brave you are to walk on the glass floor.
The Skypod, even higher up, is the highest observation platform in the world. If you are looking for extreme activities, try Edgewalk, where you walk along the edge of the CN tower at 356 m above ground (yes, you are safely strapped in). Or you can choose to dine at the revolving restaurant, 360.
The CN tower is one of the most famous landmarks in Canada.
#10 Niagara Falls, Ontario
Canada has many waterfalls. With its rugged mountains and spring runoff from the melting snow, waterfalls are not that uncommon. But Niagara Falls is in a class all of its own! Niagara Falls is on the American border. There are three waterfalls by Niagara Falls. Two are in the United States, but the most famous is Horseshoe Falls on the Canadian side.
The enormous roar of the water tumbling over the cliff edge and the cool misty spray is remarkable. There are plenty of activities to get close to the falls, such as taking a boat ride below the falls (be prepared to get wet!), journeying behind the falls, standing on Rainbow Bridge, and taking a helicopter over the falls to name a few.
#11 Totem Poles
The Pacific Northwest of Canada is known for its totem poles carved from cedar trees by the First Nations people. All across this vast country, First Nations groups lived in harmony with nature and had to adapt to difficult weather conditions.
In British Columbia, colorful, hand-carved totem poles represent the First Nations culture. Totem poles were used to tell ancestral stories and record essential events through animal and human representations. Be sure to visit the Royal BC Museum in Victoria, British Columbia, to see the indigenous collections.
#12 Fall Colours
Canada is known worldwide for its dramatic fall foliage. Maple trees, tamaracks, and red oak trees laden with verdant green leaves in the summer turn a glorious, deep, and unforgettable red color in the fall.
Ontario, Quebec, and the Maritime provinces in Eastern Canada are the prime provinces to view breathtaking autumn colors. The peak time to experience the fall foliage is the end of September and early October. However, this can change each year depending on weather factors such as an early frost.
Western Canada also has fall colors. Alberta, known for its larch and aspen forests, produces gorgeous hues of yellow foliage. If you travel in British Columbia, orange, yellow and red foliage is also sure to please.
#13 Severe Winter Temperatures
Canada is known for its absolutely frigid winter temperatures. Along with the polar temperatures in the winter, Canada is famous for its snow. Ice, freezing temperatures, and snowfall is an integral part of life in Canada.
Canadians talk a lot about the weather, especially when it’s cold. And the wind chill always makes its way into the conversation. It is not unusual for temperatures to reach minus 33 degrees Celsius with a windchill, making it feel like minus 40 degrees. We bundle up, and Canadian life continues on.
#14 Winter Sports
Living in a cold environment, Canadians make the most of it. There are plenty of outdoor skating rinks in Canada, and in Ottawa, the nation’s capital, there is ice skating along the frozen canal.
Canada is snowboarding and skiing heaven. Canadians hit the slopes from Whistler Blackcomb Ski Resort in the west to Mont Tremblant in the east! Snowshoeing and other classic winter sports like cross-country skiing, dog sledding, and curling are also very popular. There are many summer sports in Canada, too, but we are defined by our harsh winters.
Have you heard of poutine? Poutine is a dish that originated in the province of Quebec. Think steamy french fries topped with cheese curds and beef gravy. If you are in Canada, you need to try it.
#16 Quebec City
Quebec City, the capital of the Quebec province, is Canada’s only walled city. Founded in 1608, it is one of North America’s oldest settlements. A designated UNESCO World Heritage Site, wander in the old town exploring the maze of cobbled streets and ancient buildings, and you may feel like you are in Europe. Quebec City is famous for its “Winter Carnaval” but is an outstanding year-round destination and arguably Canada’s prettiest city.
#17 Northern lights
Canada is also known for being one of the best places to enjoy the best light show on earth: the northern lights, also known as the aurora borealis.
Every northern country is famous for being home to this fantastic natural spectacle. Still, sometimes people forget that Canada is an excellent choice, as much of the country is within the auroral oval (the zones where the lights are visible.
So, you don’t need to go to Alaska, Finland, Iceland, or Norway to see the vibrant green, yellow and red lights dancing in the sky at night.
Some of Canada’s best places to see the northern lights include Yellowknife in the northwest territories, Whitehorse Yukon, Torngat Mountains National Park, and Northern Saskatchewan. But there are many others! Just remember that you have to go between September and March when there’s enough darkness at night to see them.
#18 Road Trips
Remember how huge Canada is? If you are planning a trip to Canada, try to focus on one part of the country. Note that although Canada has two of its own airlines, it is expensive to fly from one coast to the other. For Canadians, it is often cheaper to fly to Europe than it is across our own country.
One of the best ways to experience Canada is to take a road trip. Be prepared… you can drive all day and still be in the same province! Planning a road trip and camping in Canada is one of the most Canadian things you could do.
Many Canadians love to camp in tents or a motorhome. It’s a fabulous way to connect with the country, its people, and its landscapes. You might also be lucky enough to see some incredible wildlife.
And there you have it! Seventeen things that Canada is famous for, but of course, in a country of this size, there are at least 117 more!
Alison, from the travel blog, Dreamer at Heart, is an over-50-something solo female traveler. She is following her dream of exploring the world through slow travel and house-sitting. Chatting in the local language (or trying, at least!) is a passion for Alison, as connecting with the locals is a priority wherever she lands.
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