A Canadian’s Guide to Canada Day

| June 30, 2013

The national day of Canada is celebrated every year on 1 July. Laura Ballantyne, a Canadian living abroad, provides an overview of all things Canadian – eh to z.

Before I dive into what makes Canada Canada, it is important to start with a history lesson. On 1 July 1867 Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and the Canada province joined to become Canada. Originally referred to as Dominion Day, each year Canadians commemorate the confederation with a statutory holiday, fireworks, barbeques and cottage weekends.

While Canada is not necessarily known for its culinary delicacies, this does not mean we don’t know our way around a kitchen. One dish many Canadians cannot live without is poutine. Hailing from the province of Quebec, poutine combines french fries, gravy and cheese curds into one of the most mouthwatering late night snacks. Then of course there is Canadian Beer like Molson and Labbatt, maple syrup, Canadian bacon and boxed macaroni and cheese affectionately referred to as “KD”. Canada doesn’t fall short in the dessert category either with butter tarts, Nanaimo bars and beaver tails.

My personal favourite and frankly one of the Canadian things I miss the most, is not a food but a drink. Caesars, invented by a bartender in Calgary, Alberta, combine vodka, hot sauce, salt and pepper, Worcestershire sauce and Clamato juice – blend of tomato juice and clam broth – into one of the most delicious and hearty cocktails.

Last but certainly not least is an iconic coffee chain that has most Canadians willing to sit in long drive-thru lines to order “double doubles” or “Timbits”. Tim Hortons, named after a former Canadian hockey player, can be found on almost every street corner in cities across Canada and even on several Canadian Forces bases.

While I am on the topic of great things from Canada, it is important to note that Canada is the birthplace of some pretty well known names. From funnymen Jim Carrey and Mike Meyers to songbirds Celine Dion and Michael Buble, sports icons like Wayne Gretzky and Sidney Crosby and actors like Ryan Gosling and Rachel McAdams, Canada has no shortage of famous citizens.

When discussing Canadian culture it is essential to debunk a few myths and maybe even confirm a stereotype or two. As a Canadian living abroad, I feel that it is my duty to touch on the following:

  1. Canadians do not live in igloos.
  2. While the country as a whole does live and breathe ice hockey, shockingly lacrosse is the national sport.
  3. The Canadian dialect does include “eh” and “aboot”.
  4. Canadians are notoriously polite and will apologize when complete strangers bump into them.
  5. Contrary to Michael Moore’s research, Canadians do in fact lock their doors.

While living abroad on my nation’s birthday is not ideal, luckily there are plenty of ways to experience a bit of home in Australia.  Network Canada, a professional and social networking group, exists as a forum to connect Canadian expatriates living in Sydney. In honour of Canada Day, Network Canada hosted the largest Canada celebration in Australia complete with poutine and Caesars. Visit networkcanada.au for information on upcoming events.