As in America, Canadians come from a wide variety of backgrounds. Most, with the exception of the People of the First Nations, immigrated there in the last five centuries. Originally colonized by the French, then taken over by the British, many Canadians are bilingual, reflected in the fact the country has two official languages, French and English. Canadians are as diverse as their heritage, and are justifiably proud of their backgrounds and their country.
Canadian English and Canadian French are the two official languages spoken in Canada.
The majority of Canadians are Catholic, with other Christian religions following. Different worldwide religions are also represented in smaller numbers.
The people of Canada have been greatly influenced by British traditions, and so are more formal than Americans. It is customary to shake hands when greeting friends or being introduced, only close friends would be greeted with a hug. Canadians are generally soft spoken, patient and tolerant of cultural differences.
Canucks, as the Canadians are known, love hockey, their national game and a cultural symbol of the country. They also nourish a thriving live theatre culture, with theatre festivals and internationally respected touring companies. Art is also an important aspect of the culture, as is music, which has been influenced by the People of the First Nations, the French and the British.
Canada's cuisine is distinct to each of its provinces, influenced by local products and traditions. And each region has its own favorite dishes.
Western Canada's choice for a sweet treat is Nanaimo Bars, three layers of rich chocolate and vanilla goodness. Beef, corn and Saskatoon berries are also popular here.
Ontario is famous for maple syrup, blueberries, strawberries and raspberries, plus it has some fine dairies which manufacture cheddar cheese. Canadian bacon, called peameal bacon or back bacon in Canada, is produced here as well.
In Quebec, look for Montreal bagels, Grand-Peres a L'erable or Maple Grandfathers, French-Canadian pea soup and sautéed fiddleheads (a fern).
With their location on the Atlantic Ocean, Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island are known for seafood including salmon, scallops, lobsters, oysters and mussels. Blueberries, apples, potatoes and fiddleheads are also part of the local harvest.
National favorites? Try poutine, a concoction comprised of French fries, brown gravy and curd cheese, or butter tarts, a little pastry with a flaky crust and a filling of butter, syrup, sugar and eggs, plus the cook's choice of raisins, walnuts, pecans, currants, and more.