Destinations » North America
» Continental North America »
name Canada comes from the Iroquois word kanata, which means "village"
or "settlement." This name was first used by French explorers in reference
to the village of Stadacona (in modern day Quebec), then was later expanded to refer
to the entire region around Stadacona, the lands along the St. Lawrence, and expanding
further until the entire country adopted the name in 1841.
Canadian culture begins with the First Nations people,
but today has little link to these people and their former way of life. These people
lived on the land, but never believed they owned it, a concept in complete contradiction
to the Europeans who arrived in the 1400s and 1500s.
The traditional way of life was almost wholly lost as the Europeans,
primarily the French and English,
arrived and settled the land. Their diseases and spread west killed many of the
locals, although in other cases the local people had their lives changed by the
arriving Europeans as they became the hunters in the fur trade, leading to wars
and the destruction of many people as guns were introduced. In some regions the
locals and the Europeans intermarried, but even the children of these couples exchanged
the aboriginal life for European-styled existence.
Canada grew slowly compared to their southern neighbor
and tensions in Canada remained high as the ethnic French
and English never seemed to get along. This was
further magnified at the conclusion of the American War of
Independence (late 1700s), which led to a massive immigration of British-supporting
Americans (Loyalists) to find refuge in Canada. Despite the ethnic tensions, the
people shared a common way of life as trade with Europe
dominated the economic situation and most people continued to live difficult lives
outside of the cities in the cold frontier.
Since independence in the late 1800s Canada has struggled to find a unified identity.
The French Canadians in Quebec retain numerous aspects of their past as the
French language, food, and religion, Catholicism, are dominant. The English
part of the country has opened its doors to economic progress, welcoming more immigrants
and, in the 1970s, taking most of Quebec's businesses to rule the country economically.
Despite this division, the unity of the people is still great and is best represented
in numerous cultural phenomenons. Despite the over-use of the stereotype, hockey
is not just Canadian, it is what brings the people together
in so many ways from entertainment and recreation to socialization and unity in
international tournaments. Hockey is also the greatest example of Canadian culture,
not in the sport, but in the culture surrounding the sport, in fact even the country's
most famous restaurant, Tim Horton's is named after (and formerly co-owned by)
a hockey player by the same name. Canada's culture and way of life today, like
hockey, is competitive, but ends with friendly banter and a beer. The people are
easy going and about as far as one can get from pretentious. They are welcoming
to visitors and immigrants alike as kindness and extending a helping hand are generally
considered greater qualities than power, money, or fame.
The Canadians are aware of their place and reputation
in this world as they are often overshadowed by their neighbor, the
United States. Although Canadians may argue, this relationship greatly affects
the Canadian people as their way of life is similar in technology, entertainment,
culture, and work to the Americans, but more importantly this relationship changes
Canada in their continuous need to be different and unique. Canadians are proud
of their nationality and the small differences that distinguish themselves from
the Americans and this leads to great competition and hard work, but also at times
leads to emphasizing their differences as local restaurants and cultural phenomenon
are magnified. Most of the time the Canadians are only focused on their daily lives,
not concerned with anyone else, although they remain always aware of the world around
Canada continues to be a land of opportunity as immigrants
regularly arrive; some of whom become wholly Canadian culturally, while others maintain
their cultural roots and way of life. All of these people, both local and immigrant
alike, have taken to the digital age as technology takes on a larger and larger
role in society today. The people have also used these advances to move forward
on numerous environmental initiatives, particularly in large cities, as this is
where the overwhelming amount of the population lives.
Learn More About Canada:
Map of Canada:
Start your trip to Canada with our free Travel Planner: