10 things you should know before living in Canada


So you’re going to study in Canada, eh?  Great choice!  Not only is it a beautiful country filled with abundant natural wonders- it’s home to even nicer people!  Here are a few fun facts about Canada that students should know before visiting.

1. The name “Canada” originated from a linguistic misunderstanding

In 1535 Jacques Cartier, a French explorer, had a bit of a misunderstanding with two Indian youths.  The young natives told Cartier about their “kanata,” which is the Huron-Iroquois word for “settlement” or “village.”  Cartier misunderstood, and thought that was the name of the area.  The name slowly morphed into Canada, and more and more of the area adopted the name.  If you’re going to make a mistake, go big or go home, right?

2. Canadians can get a bit loonie and toonie

Canada has some funny money!  While its bills are bright and colorful, the smallest Canadian note is the five-dollar bill.  There are, however, one dollar and two dollar coins, aka loonies and toonies!  The one-dollar coin pictures a loon on one side, which is how the coin adopted the name “loonie.”  The two-dollar coin then followed suit with the nickname “toonie.”  So if someone asks you for a spare loonie, don’t worry!  They’re not crazy, they’re just asking for some spare change!

3. Canada has two official languages

English and French are both considered the official languages of Canada.  While majority of the population speaks English daily, both languages are used for all government services.  Majority of the French speaking population resides in Québec on the East Coast. 

4. Canada consists of 10 provinces

Canada is pretty huge.  Like, it’s a really big country, so it’s divided into 10 different provinces and three territories: Alberta, British Colombia, Manitoba, New Brunswick, Newfoundland and Labrador, the Northwest Territories, Nova Scotia, Nunavut, Ontario, Prince Edward Island, Québec, Saskatchewan and the Yukon.  Each province has its own Parliament and administration.  Most foreigners might not know there are 10 provinces, let alone be able to name all of them.  If you study up and memorize them all before arriving, it’s a sure way to impress your new Canadian friends!

5. Canada is a member of the British Commonwealth

Canada is currently one of 53 countries that is included in the Commonwealth.  Most Commonwealth nations have historical ties to England, which is the case with Canada.  Many people are surprised to learn that Canada is technically a parliamentary democracy and constitutional monarchy with Queen Elizabeth II as Sovereign.

6. It’s basically required to go to Tim Hortons daily

I’ve never seen an angry Canadian.  They are some of the nicest, friendliest people out there.  The only way to anger a Canadian, in my experience, is to show a lack of respect for Tim Hortons, a famous coffee and donut chain.  The locals take their love for Tim very seriously, and it’s a staple in any major Canadian town.  Any students studying in Canada will quickly learn to love Tim!  But remember, even if you’re not a fan of the Timbits (which you definitely will be,) show due respect!

7. The North Pole is actually in Canada

Have you ever wanted to write a letter to Santa Claus, but were unsure of his address?  Well, he officially has one, and it’s in Canada!  Children from around the world write letters to Santa every year addressed to him at  “SANTA CLAUS, NORTH POLE, H0H 0H0, CANADA.”  YES.  I just shared with you Santa’s address at the North Pole.  You’re welcome.  Send him a letter, and you’ll get a response from one of Santa’s elves at the North Pole Post Office!  Just remember to include your return address so you can get a letter back!

8. Canada is like, really beautiful

If you’re into hiking, camping, rafting or any other outdoor activities, Canada is definitely the place for you!  At present, there are 44 National Parks in Canada.  This incredibly lush country has 10 percent of the world’s forests.  In addition, there are numerous mountains and lakes around the country for some fun outdoor adventures!  Banff National Park in Alberta is one of Canada’s most famous with beautifully snow-capped mountains, crystal clear lakes and dense forests- a must-see site for any nature lovers!

9. Canada is the second largest country in the world

Did I mention that Canada is really big?  Because it is!  Canada is the second largest country in the world, after Russia.  However, 90 percent of its population lives within 200 km of the border with the United States.  If you like your alone time, that means there is a lot of wide-open space and wilderness for you up north!

10. The famous red and white flag is fairly new!

Canada’s most famous symbol is definitely its striking red and white flag with the maple leaf.  This flag, however, was only inaugurated on February 15, 1965.  Considering this is fairly recent, this symbolic flag is already world famous and represents a truly kind and beautiful country!