12 Habits You Can’t Help Picking Up If You Live in Canada

The crowd at a Canadian hockey game | © IQRemix / Flickr
The crowd at a Canadian hockey game | © IQRemix / Flickr
Photo of Hayley Simpson
Writer16 August 2017

The Great White North is known as a very multicultural country, with immigrants from around the world calling it home. When you live in Canada for an extended amount of time, it’s inevitable that you will pick up a few things from the locals. Here are 12 Canadian habits that will instantaneously rub off on you.

Coffee culture

Canadians love their coffee, but more importantly, they love to take away their coffees from Tim Hortons and Starbucks. It’s not common for Canadians to sit, sip, and enjoy their coffees like some European countries. Instead, they take their perfect blend in a disposable cup and drink it on the way to work, or while out doing errands.

You will also pick up on the double double slang immediately, and adjust to enjoying your coffee with cream—if you’re from a country where this option doesn’t exist.

Tim Hortons order | © Morgan / Flickr


Canadians are known for being very apologetic people—some would even say too much so. But once you have lived in the country for a while, you will undoubtedly say sorry immediately when you accidentally bump into someone or walk in front of them scanning the aisles at a grocery store. It would seem impolite not to!

Staying on the right side

Although Canadians are too polite to say anything, don’t walk on the left in Canada! Don’t worry, though, because sticking to the right is a habit you will pick up instantly. It won’t take long for your body to realize it’s walking against foot traffic or getting in people’s way on escalators.

Descending... on the right side | © Ian T. McFarland / Flickr


Alongside apologizing, Canadians are extra polite in all instances, which extends to smiling at strangers, saying thank you too often, replying with “you’re welcome,” and greeting people by asking how they are, not just with a simple hello. Europeans are known for being more abrupt, which is why this politeness can be such a shock to some people.

Eating KD

Kraft Dinner’s (KD) packaged macaroni and cheese is the unofficial national dish of Canada. Out of the seven million boxes sold worldwide every week, Canadians purchase 1.7 million of them. They actually eat 55% more than Americans. It won’t take long to jump on the KD bandwagon and have a box stashed in the cupboard for food emergencies.

Mac and Cheese | © Meal Makeover Moms / Flickr

Being okay in a basement

Canada is home for many Australians and Brits, where basements are basically unheard of. Living in a basement sounds like residing in an underground prison, but many homeowners rent out their basements for supplementary income. Basements also have windows and are only half-underground, so it’s okay to live in one.

Snowy sidewalks

If you don’t pick up this habit when living in Canada, the authorities could give you a fine! That’s correct—snowy sidewalks are serious business in the Great White North. Although by-laws differ between cities, and provinces and territories, it is usually the homeowner’s responsibility to clear their sidewalks following a snowfall. In Vancouver, property owners must clear the snow by 10 am, while in Edmonton, they must remove the snow from the sidewalks within 48 hours after a snowfall. If you don’t, you can receive a fine.

Snowy sidewalks in Quebec City | © Brad Fagan / Flickr

Drinking in public

Forget about drinking in public in most of Canada. Although it’s common in many European countries, it’s against the law to drink in public here. It is also illegal to have an open container of alcohol in a public place. However, if you’re in Quebec, the rules are a little different, but nonetheless strict. For example, in Montreal, you can drink in a park, as long as you are also eating a meal and the park has picnic tables.

Card is king

Canadians rarely carry cash; it’s all about credit and debit cards in Canada. There’s also seldom a minimum charge, so Canadians regularly purchase their $2 coffee with their card. Speaking of cash (if you ever have it on you), loonies and toonies will become your new dialogue, instead of one- and two-dollar coins.

All the credit cards | © AKuptsova / Pixabay

Visiting the washroom

This habit is also a reference to Canada’s politeness, but Canadians strictly refer to bathrooms and toilets as washrooms. It only takes a couple of unusual looks to have you remembering to say washroom like everyone else.

All about hockey

It is inevitable that you will start to enjoy watching hockey when you live in Canada, and instead of calling it ice hockey, you will simply refer to it as hockey—like Canadians do. It will become common to spend a fortune on game day tickets and to spend your afternoon at a bar watching the local team. Hockey is life in Canada.

The crowd at a Canadian hockey game | © IQRemix / Flickr

Waiting for your wage

This habit isn’t exactly one that you pick up. It’s a habit that you have to get used to when living and working in Canada. But most employers pay staff every two weeks (bi-weekly in Canada/fortnightly in UK English). In many other countries worldwide, it is common to receive your pay every week.

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