25 Major Cultural Differences Between The US And Canada (That All Tourists Should Know)

Canada and the United States might just be a bridge apart, but the two nations have much less in common than most of us think. While some have already dubbed the culture in Canada as just a Northern version of the great United States, before taking a visit it’s helpful to know they are two completely different countries, in geography and in music, art, literature, and other customs. While they have the capacity to get along like twin brothers, the difference in culture could actually make them more like first cousins. But hey, still family, right?

A plus side is that you can actually have fun getting to know the culture of Canada while you’re there, especially since the country is so close to the United States and take notes on just how different the two are. From the huge love for hockey in Canada compared to America’s affection for football, to the major cheese fries versus Poutine argument, and its pride of celebrating Thanksgiving a month earlier than the United States, to see the differences in a side-by-side capacity is pretty cool to say the least. If anything, it can help us appreciate the cultures of America and Canada as we enjoy their differences.

25 Kick Off Your Shoes In My Home

Via: AliExpress

So apparently, it’s an unspoken rule to take off your shoes in someone’s home in Canada. Well, not that unspoken because everyone talks about it. But it’s definitely an unwritten and unofficial one. But still a serious one nonetheless. Apparently, people in Canada think it’s just rude to wear your outdoor shoes in someone’s home. While it’s not a rule in America, it’s certainly polite considering shoes can trek all kinds of dirt throughout the house. Canada might be on to something with this one.

24 Canada’s Maple Syrup Is The Best

Via: xiaoEats

There’s a reason Canada is known for its amazing maple syrup. And as great as syrup from US institutions like Crackle Barrell are, there’s nothing like good, old maple syrup from Canada. No matter how bad the fun feud gets between the countries, this is something we can all agree on for sure. It’s so popular in Canada that instead of selling it by the bottle, it’s sold in huge cans, and it’s super cheap. Canada is certainly on to something.

23 You Can’t Stream Pandora

Via: Lifewire

Before you plan on having Pandora serve as the soundtrack for your trip to Canada, you might want to think of a few other alternatives. Apparently, Pandora aren’t licensed in Canada. It might help to do a little research to see which streaming services are allowed in the country, if any. Just beware, if you try Pandora, you’ll most likely receive an error message that reminds you those services only work in the US, New Zealand, and Australia.

22 Many Places In Canada Do Away With The Milk Carton

Via: BuzzFeed

Who knew they drink milk out of a bag in many places in Canada? Toss out the milk cartons and gallons because they’re not needed in the Great White North. You can probably guess the reason why. Not only are bags healthier for the environment compared to milk cartons, they also don’t cost as much to make. Still, even people from Canada probably can’t deny that opening a milk bag is much tougher than a carton. But clearly that’s not enough to switch up the whole system in certain places.

21 Thanksgiving Is In October

Via: People

Another idea that people in Canada pride themselves on is not having Thanksgiving and Christmas so close together. We have to admit, it’s probably a better idea to split up the two holidays where people from America tend to fatten up the most. Plus, it seems like it’s really cool to also extend the holiday season for as long as possible. Still, Thanksgiving isn’t too far off in Canada as it’s celebrated in October, only a month earlier than the states. Either way, tis the season!

20 Canada Prides Itself On Two Languages

Via: MindMeister

The United States’ love for the English language has some countries thinking it’s the only language the country speaks. Meanwhile, Canada has two official languages: English and French. The cool part is that the nation caters to residents who speak one or both of the languages. Many of its websites provide a version in English and French, and business owners can even register their website with accented characters. This is definitely taking the bilingual culture to a new level and we’re here for it.

19 Canada Is Much Colder

Via: National Post

Seriously, it’s in the north so we can only expect that Canada has colder temperatures than the United States. But we’re not even sure you could brace yourself for the cold that Canada brings. And it’s more than just a cold front. Temperatures are in the negatives more often than not, and summer only seems like a dream until it breezes by as if people haven’t been waiting for it all year long. And unlike the US, where you can go live or vacation to enjoy the warmer weather, a large part of Canada experiences cold winters.

18 The Sun Is Still Up At 10 PM In The Summer

Via: Pinterest

Maybe this one is kind of a trade for the colder weather? If people in Canada have to experience freezing weather for much of the year, it’s at least nice for it to still be light outside well into the evening during the warmer months (maybe not as nice for parents trying to put their little ones to bed). Talk about enjoying the summer sun to the fullest. It looks like this is just one of the many good things about residing in the upward latitude.

17 Poutine v. Cheese Fries

Via: Serious Eats

Let’s settle this once and for all. The United States doesn’t tout poutine and Canada couldn’t care less about cheese fries. While they might have similar ingredients, please don’t mix up the two. Apparently, that’s a huge no-no. As for Poutine, it’s French fries topped with none other than gravy and cheese. Word is that’s an ideal combination. And we all know cheese fries are just that. Even though we like to get a little fancy with chili cheese fries. Whoa, nelly!

16 Currency From The North Is Pretty

Via: The Canadian Encyclopedia

So pretty, some people think it’s fake at first glance. The CAD currency is extremely colorful and it almost looks like upgraded Monopoly money. Even the animation and drawings on the paper cash is appealing. Instead of the face of a deceased President or Founding Father, the bills actually have different faces and features. One five dollar bill in Canada actually features a group of skiiers. And you probably already guessed it’s not green. Nope, it’s actually a really pretty blue color.

15 No Yelp For You To Put Your Reviews

Via: Yelp Reservations

If you want to see others’ experience about an amazing or horrible restaurant in Canada, unfortunately you can’t use Yelp to do it… unless you’re in Ottawa. Interestingly enough, Ottawa just got Yelp not too long ago. But it still isn’t a go-to because there aren’t enough reviews on there to really make a decision. The other downside is that you can’t put your own reviews on there either. But since Ottawa is on board, maybe other areas will be too soon, and everyone will be able to share their peace.

14 Online Shopping Isn’t As Easy In Canada


Fortunately for US shoppers, purchasing that item that they now can’t live without can literally be done with a click of a button. Unfortunately for internet shoppers from Canada, it isn’t as simple. The difference is that for starters, most companies don’t have as much of an online presence in Canada. Even Amazon Canada doesn’t offer as nearly as many products as it does in the US. Plus, the internet costs much more in Canada, so a digital presence isn’t as big of a deal there.

13 Spelling Differences

via: crasstalk.com

It’s no secret that English is a prominent language in both the United States and Canada. But the spelling differences are certainly culture variations that should be noted. You might have already noticed Canada’s love for the letter “u” in words where it can’t be found in the United States. A couple examples of this is, “labor” in the United States compared to “labour” in Canada. Yes, they have the same meaning, and even pronunciation, but the spelling just isn’t the same. Gotta love the English language.

12 Middle School Is Less Common In Canada

Via: Corporate For Public Broadcasting

Well, here’s a fun fact – middle school is less of a thing in Canada. Yes, unlike the United States where students get a rite of passage from elementary school to middle school and high school, Canada sometimes skips that middle step. Instead, students stay in elementary school until seventh grade. After that, they go to high school until they graduate. Another difference is that students in Quebec go to vocational school after 11th grade for two years, then college. And their students seem to be doing just fine with this method.

11 You Can Find Horse, Ostrich, And Camel Meat At Certain Grocery Stores In Canada

Via: Kellys B's BBQ

Move over steak and turkey burgers and make room for horse and camel meat. At least that’s how it is in Canada. Just the thought of horse and camel meat here in the states can either disgust you, upset PETA, and/or make you feel like it’s an unheard of cuisine. Well in Canada, it’s so common that most grocery stores sell it right in the freezer section. This is said to be in part because of the French culture that is so strong in the country.

10 Canada Uses The Metric System

Via: AsphaltPlanet

The United States might have pushed the metric system to the side, but Canada is still holding on to it strongly. And it doesn’t look like the country or its residents care to let go of it anytime soon, especially because the issue of conversion isn’t a thing with the metric system. If there is no other reason to keep the metric system going strong, it’s said to help using a recipe for things like baking a cake much, much easier. This is a major difference between the US and Canada, but many other countries still use the metric system.

9 National Parks Are Free In Canada

Via: Lakwatsera de Primera

Yep, you read that correctly – free. Could you imagine if a national park in the US was absolutely free? I mean, it makes sense, right? While America is charging fees for its residents and tourists to enjoy some of the most beautiful scenery it has to offer, Canada simply isn’t. Still, Canada just got on board with this and offered free admission into its national parks this year. Maybe the US will get on board and the two won’t be so different after all.

8 Paying At A Restaurant Is Easier In Canada

Via: The Jobs Menu

So instead of having to give your waiter or waitress your card so they can run it through a machine, in Canada, they actually bring the machine to you, giving you the authority to put in your own PIN. You can also simply select the percentage you want to tip, rather than having to pull out the calculator app on your phone to decide what’s fair. And, restaurants in Canada automatically split your bills, unlike in the US where you have to break it down for the waiter.

7 In Canada, It’s Pop Not Soda

via: flagstore.ca

Even though the United States is nearly divided when it comes to whether a soft drink is called pop or soda, Canada has come to a consensus that it’s pop. This could be why nearing states like Michigan call it pop too. Nonetheless, pop is a thing, and soda isn’t. While the origin of calling it pop or soda is still a question that inquiring minds might not ever know, it’s interesting that the nation has reached an agreement. Just remember that when you’re ordering in Canada.

6 Hockey v. Football

Via: Richard Lautens/Toronto Star via Getty Images

This one pretty much goes without saying. It’s no secret that Canada has a love for hockey that cannot be explained. Still, the only way to explain it is to think about America’s love and admiration for football. While both countries are clearly fans of men playing aggressively in uniforms, the sports are just as different as the nations are. Still, America has obviously embraced hockey with the NHL and all. But it’s safe to say its championship as a long way to go before it’s on the same level as the Super Bowl.

5 The All-Dressed Pizza In Canada

Via: Fatty's Pizza

It’s amazing! But you have to know what you’re getting when you order it. Picture this: a pepperoni and sliced mushroom foundation with a mozzarella cheese on top with green peppers. While it doesn’t have as many ingredients as the supreme pizza here in the United States, it’s what you get, and it’s pretty popular. Still, can we just go back to the idea of having pepperoni in the foundation of pizza with cheese on top? Hopefully the US will embrace that one soon.

4 The Penny Means Nothing In Canada

Via: Reader's Digest

While America prides itself on the value of a good, old dollar, Canada is so unbothered in this category. And it has been since 2013 when it united forces with other nations and admitted the notion that a penny costs more to make than it’s actually worth. So, it took a big step and got rid of it. Meanwhile, a penny still means something here in the states. For starters, it can give a kid a great pony ride at the front of a grocery store.

3 The Real Difference Between Bacon From US And Canada

Via: Rose Packing

Ok, let’s talk about this for a second. Have you ever wondered what the difference between bacon from the US and Canada is? The kind of bacon you get in Canada is even a thing in the states as it’s offered on pizza and burgers. So, what’s the big idea? Well, glad you asked. Not only is bacon from Canada said to be even more delicious, it’s also healthier and leaner. A major difference is that it’s sweetened with that infamous maple syrup, so it’s kind of hard to beat.

2 People In Canada Are Statistically Greener

Via: About Tech Info

The idea of drinking milk out of a plastic bag isn’t the only way people in Canada have managed to be eco-friendlier compared to America. Research has proven that Canada is generally a greener country than the United States. For specific numbers, 44 percent of citizens in Canada think the environment is a global issue, compared to 23 percent of people from America. More people from Canada also think taking care of the environment should take priority, even if that means a decline in employment. It’s safe to say a number of people disagree.

1 Pronunciations For Words Like “About”

via: thestar.com

If you haven’t heard, in Canada they actually say “aboot” instead of “about,” and “soory” instead “sorry.” And we can’t forget about the beloved, “eh” that people in Canada have made a global phenomenon. You can thank teen hit series Degrassi for revealing this pronunciation years ago. Even though we don’t hear our favorite famous people from Canada like Justin Bieber, Jim Carrey, and Drake speak this way, it’s actually pretty prominent in Canada. Still, America touts pretty unique accents too from Southern and Midwestern to East Coast.

References: Narcity, The Odyssey Online, Bustle, Thrillist, The Things, Valley Fair Dental, Pew Global Research, All Women’s Talk

More in Destinations