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People, Culture, Lifestyle, Traditions and Customs in Canada

You’re moving to Canada. Here’s what to expect.

Canada is famous for its pristine landscape (especially its vast mountain ranges), rich history and diverse blend of people and cultures.

It’s the second largest country in the world, and extends from the U.S. in the south all the way to the Arctic Circle in the north.

Canada is made up of ten provinces and three territories; the capital city is Ottawa, but you might also be familiar with other major cities like Vancouver, Toronto and the French-speaking Québec and Montréal.

Canada is bilingual, with English and French being the two official languages, but most people speak English at home. You might hear some common Canadian slang such as loonie (a dollar coin), chinook (a warm wind that comes over the mountain in mid-winter) and Hog Town (nickname for Toronto).

Indigenous culture

There are three different groups of Indigenous people in Canada - First Nations, Inuit and Métis.

The First Nations people settled in Canada over 15,000 years ago and developed many different communities, each with their own customs, culture and character. Today there are 634 recognised First Nations governments or groups across Canada, mostly in the provinces of British Columbia and Ontario.

The Métis are descendants of unions between First Nations peoples and Europeans, mainly French traders. While the Métis mainly speak English today, you may hear some Michif, or Métis French as people increasingly take more interest in traditional languages and culture.

The Inuit are the descendants the Thule culture and live in the Arctic regions of Greenland, Canada and Alaska.


When you think of the weather in Canada, you might think of extreme cold and snow, but this isn’t always the case. The weather in Canada is as varied as its landscape.

Generally you’ll experience the following weather conditions in each season:

  • Summer (June to August) - the weather is usually warm to hot, with daytime temperatures between  20°C and 30°C or higher
  • Autumn (September to November) - the weather starts to get colder and there is often a lot of rain
  • Winter (December to February) - winters are very cold, with temperatures often staying below freezing all day long
  • Spring (March to May) - the weather starts to get warmer and days are typically very pleasant.

You’ll need to remember to wind your clock forward by one hour on the second Sunday in March, as that’s the start of Daylight Saving Time in most parts of Canada. Daylight Savings lets you make the most of the warmer weather in spring, summer and autumn, as you get more daylight in the evening.

Politics and government

Canada is a constitutional monarchy, which means all decisions are made by the government and a democratically elected Prime Minister. Canada’s head of state is the Queen of the British royal family, who is represented by the Governor-General.

There are three levels of government in Canada:

  • Federal – headed by the Prime Minister, the federal government deals with national and international matters like national defence and foreign affairs
  • Provincial or territorial -  this level of government has the power to change laws and manage their own public lands
  • Municipal (local) – this level governs individual cities, towns or districts and is normally responsible for things like roads, emergency services, public transportation and some local health and social services.

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Money and living expenses

Knowing how much you need for living expenses is a great starting point, but keep in mind the cost of living may be higher or lower depending on where you live.


Shops and restaurants

You have plenty of options for where to shop and eat in Canada, but opening hours can be totally different depending on where you live (or visit).


If you live in one of Canada’s bigger cities, you might prefer to walk, cycle or catch public transport rather than worry about potentially more expensive (and less convenient) private travel options.


Places to visit

If you like to explore new places then you’ll love Canada; it has countless interesting, exciting and beautiful destinations to spend your study breaks.

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