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. Our love of meat—especially bacon
Somehow, the subject of Canadian bacon always comes up with tourists, and we’re not just talking peameal. With a statistic that says Canada produces five strips of bacon for every person on the planet, it’s obvious outsiders just can’t get enough either. Beyond bacon, we’re also world-renowned for our game meats, Montreal smoked meat, and salmon production.
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. Our currency
Now that we’ve had our no-fold, plastic, rumoured-to-be-syrup-scented, rainbow-coloured bills in circulation for a while, it’s hard to remember what Canadian cash looked like before it. The Canadian Mint was made fun of when it unveiled the latest, “Monopoly money,” but our current bills are only the most recent example that our country enjoys making money fun. From an outsider’s perspective, it’s a bit comical that an entire nation legitimately accepts and uses the names “Loonie” and “Toonie” for their currency.
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. We’re really sorry, even if you run into us
It has happened to any true Canadian: you’re walking along, someone runs into you, and you find yourself saying “sorry”—even when you’re not sure why. The apologetic Canadian is a fairly accurate stereotype. But you’ve ever travelled to another country and experienced someone step on your foot, nudge you out of the way, or cut in line without batting an eye, you realize that the Canadian way is much more attractive than the alternative.
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. Our ability to get sick and still stay out of debt
Canadians are generally regarded as really nice people, which may have something to do with the fact that we take care of ourselves and one another. We have all heard arguments about how Canadian healthcare could be improved with privatized systems or super-inclusive social services like those in Northern Europe, but the bottom line is that in most situations, Canadians can walk into a healthcare facility, receive treatment, and not have to go into debilitating debt because of it. Regardless of the debate, Canada has one of the highest life expectancy rates and lowest infant mortality rates in the world, so we must be doing something right.
9. Our accents and distinct dialect
There are lots of fun words that you’ll only hear in Canada, like two-four, toque, and toboggan, and according to our neighbours from the south, we over-pronounce words like “about” and “roof.” But because of Canada’s sheer size, there are several accents within the country that generally depend on geographic location. In fact, Newfoundlanders have such a strong heritage that they have a language that’s all their own.
10. Our acceptance
More than a decade ago, Canada became the fourth country to legalize same-sex marriage, which has since allowed milestones like World Pride 2014 to take place in Toronto where a record-breaking 120 couples from less liberal countries were married in unison. We also boast multiculturalism. In 1971, Canada was the first country in the world to adopt multiculturalism as an official policy. What does that mean? Officially, “multiculturalism ensures that all citizens can keep their identities, can take pride in their ancestry, and have a sense of belonging.”
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.
(Credit: EF Blog, CottageLife, Guardian Travel)