Culture is at the very heart of a nation. As countries become more economically integrated, nations need strong domestic cultures and cultural expression to maintain their sovereignty and sense of identity. Canada is often characterized as being very progressive, diverse, and multicultural. Canada’s federal government encourages multicultural ideology because of its public emphasis on the social importance of immigration.
What is Canadian Culture?
Because Canada is so diverse historically and ethnically, there is no single national culture. Unlike the melting-pot ideal of our American neighbours, Canadian culture is more of a cultural mosaic. In this sense, cultures are put together, like salad ingredients, but do not merge into a single homogeneous culture. Each culture keeps its own distinct qualities. This idea has become more politically correct due to the controversy of the “melting pot,” suggesting that cultures won’t be able to preserve themselves as a result of assimilation.
British and American influences are strongly felt in Canadian daily life in English-speaking portions of the country. Quebec’s French culture is perhaps the most noticeable through its distinctive architecture, music and cuisine. Dishes popular in French areas are poutine (fries with gravy and cheese curds) and tourtieres (tender and flaky meat pies), whereas a more typical English meal would include a roast-and-potato supper, and French fries with gravy or malt vinegar or butter tarts, doughnuts and coffee, as favourite snacks Quebec is also among the world’s leading producers of maple syrup, and sweets laced with maple sugar are common throughout the country.
Both French- and English-speaking Canadians are likely to enjoy pizza, Indian cuisine, or Asian cuisine as much as any presumed national dish. This is part of what makes Canada such an attractive place to live — you can keep your homeland close to your heart, while living in a new land.
The best way to experience Canadian culture is to dive in and join a community group. At WISA, we can recommend some of the top community groups and ethnocultural organizations to suit your social needs. Joining a local community group is a good way to feel more comfortable in Canada. You can also meet people with shared backgrounds, traditions and languages.
Canadian Social Life
In general, Canadians have a reputation of being friendly, unpretentious people who value honesty, sensitivity, empathy and humility in their relationships with friends and strangers, as well as having respect for the privacy and individualism of others. Such values provide the essence of “good manners” in mainstream Canadian society.
Canadians enjoy many outdoor activities such as camping, cycling, canoeing, kayaking and hiking. Some of the top-rated hiking trails from around the world are found in Canada, including the Long Traverse in Newfoundland, Banff National Park in Alberta, and the West Coast Trail in British Columbia.
And of course, Canadians love their sports — both playing and watching them. Popular sports include ice hockey, figure skating, bowling, football, soccer, baseball and curling. You can’t get any more Canadian than curling!
Canadians also enjoy listening to music in concert settings, and playing musical instruments. Some of the most popular musical instruments are the guitar, piano and the violin.
Some of the most famous contemporary musicians have come from Canada. For example, Bryan Adams, Justin Bieber, Celine Dion, Shania Twain and more.
Sculpture and handicrafts have existed since Canada’s earliest history, though it was only in the 20th century that museums and scholars began to take note of important works of art such as the stone carvings of the Inuit and the totem-pole carvings of the Northwest Coast Indians. Indigenous art, such as stone and bone sculpture, carving and basket making were also popular.
Since the 1930s, Canadian painters have developed a wide range of highly individual styles and painted in different regions of Canada. Landscapes have historically been the influence for Canadian painters. The Group of Seven, also sometimes known as the Algonquin School, was a group of Canadian landscape painters from 1920 to 1933. Believing that a distinct Canadian art could be developed through direct contact with nature, the Group of Seven is best known for its paintings inspired by the Canadian landscape, and initiated the first major Canadian national art movement.
If art is your passion, Canada has a number of art organizations, galleries, exhibits and clubs for you to join/frequent, such as the Mississauga Arts Council. Our team can provide you with more information on request.