Photo: Tyler Olson/Shutterstock

6 Signs You're Still a Tourist in Canada

by Marie-Louise Monnier Feb 26, 2014

So you bought a red plaid shirt, you trained yourself to say “washroom,” and you hum Neil Young songs all day long — but, despite your efforts, you still stick out like a sore thumb in Canada. Here’s why.

1. You love the weather.

You can’t get enough of the weather here. When every Canadian is freaking out because of a snowfall warning, frantically checking the forecast for some better news, you’re rubbing your hands in anticipation. What’s not to like about walking in the snow, hearing it crunch under your boots, and realizing yours are the only footprints out there? Well, according to the locals, the correct responses are: “Driving conditions are horrible,” “I hate shoveling,” and “I can’t wait for all that crap to melt.”

Even when the temperatures are well below zero, you remain excited (but you keep your mouth shut in case those around you decide to cut off your supply of maple syrup). The hell with slippery sidewalks and frostbite — Canadian weather rocks your world!

2. You’re baffled by the national sport.

You’ve watched a few games to make your friends happy, but really, you’re not a fan. Hockey is one of Canada’s biggest obsessions, and you hate it with equal passion. You always want to laugh at how ridiculous players look when they proceed to swiftly strip down for the purpose of beating each other with their bare knuckles, but you keep quiet for fear of triggering a Vancouver-style riot.

The game is brutal, but everyone seems proud and inspired by those toothless beasts on skates! When you see kids watching that kind of violence, you want to change the channel to lacrosse…a good ole friendly Canadian tradition.

3. You believe in bilingualism.

The idea of speaking French in Canada gets you excited. Isn’t it amazing that people actually speak French that far away from France?! Upon arriving, you thought you could just go for it and babble on in French to the uncomfortable customs officer at the airport (who lets you through without asking any further questions for fear of crushing your bilingualism dreams).

You’ve learnt your lesson the harsh way, and you no longer believe that every Canadian person speaks French, but you haven’t been here long enough for this to curb your linguistic enthusiasm! You plan on speaking French to everyone who should be able to do so: mail carriers (“Merci pour les factures Monsieur le facteur!”), flight attendants (“Pourrais-je parler au pilote?”), and Tim Horton’s servers (“Un beignet bien gras, s’il-vous plaît!”).

4. You have no clue what’s happening up North.

When you think of Canada, you visualize the northern lights, the pristine lakes, and the ecological wonders of the country…. Boy oh boy, you are so very naïve. You’ve never heard of Fort McMurray, and some Canadians would like you to remain in this state of ignorance because it really is damaging the country’s reputation.

The Canadian North, especially northern Alberta, is a hub for oil and natural gas extraction, and a centre for forestry that’s turning indigenous territories and the boreal forest into incredibly polluted wastelands. Nowhere in your guidebook did they talk about that, did they?

5. You’re terrified by the wildlife.

Where you grew up, the craziest thing you could encounter in the forest was a wild boar, and frankly they’re not very scary. Since you set foot in Canada, you’ve got a whole lot more dangerous creatures to worry about, but strangely, you seem to be the only one who’s freaking out.

The locals have a very relaxed attitude towards wildlife, and they expect you to do the same. With all the bears (including grizzlies), the cougars, the black widows, and the wolverines hanging around, you’re seriously having second thoughts about that lovely camping trip you were planning…

6. You’re still in love with Canada.

You can’t believe people get tired of living in such a beautiful place. Hockey, environmental disasters, even the scary wildlife isn’t enough to turn you off — you wake up in the morning, and all you see are big mountains, the enormous forests that sit on top of them, and the beautiful lakes. You feel grateful for the natural wonders that surround you and wish you’d never have to leave.


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