Curious to know what is Canada known for? From being incredibly polite to knowing everything there is to know about ice hockey, here are 18 of the most famous Canada attributes to help you make the most of your visit.
As the world’s second-largest country by land area, Canada is well-known for its peak-filled national parks, beautiful snowscapes and winter sports ranging from skiing to ice hockey. It’s also famous for delicious delicacies such as poutine and maple syrup.
Given its unfathomable size, it’s no surprises that Canada’s friendly locals range from famously polite people to grizzly bears.
But apart from scenery, sports, snow and the frequent use of the word ‘sorry’, what else is responsible for having put Canada on the map?
Here are 18 attributes that have helped Canada earn the stellar reputation it enjoys today, from multicultural cities to national parks and everything in between.
What is Canada famous for?
Canada is easily one of the most famous countries in the world – but why? From politeness to picturesque wine regions, here’s why Canada is one of the most highly sought-after holiday destinations on the map.
Canadians enjoy a reputation the world-over for being uber polite. I’m not trying to suggest that their American neighbours to the south lack manners, but ‘sorry’ seems to be somewhat of a buzzword when travelling in Canada.
Rumour has it that Canada gained a reputation for politeness during WWII because of how the nation’s servicemen interacted with military personnel from other countries. Regardless of why the stereotype exists, Canada really is an exceptionally friendly nation – all the more reason to visit and communicate with as many locals as possible!
2. Ice hockey
In Canada, you’ll struggle to find a single local that doesn’t live and breathe ice hockey. Okay, not every Canadian is obsessed with this exciting winter sport. However, almost all Canadians follow the National Hockey League and know how to rock a pair of ice skates like a pro.
You’ll see outdoor and indoor hockey arenas in just about every town and city throughout Canada, all the way from the west to the east coast. You don’t need to rely on good manners to be an appreciated visitor in Canada – just strike up a conversation about the nation’s National Winter Sport.
3. Maple syrup
Of all the delicious delicacies that have put Canada on the map, none are sweeter than the delectable maple syrup. Ten species of maple tree are native to Canada. You’ve probably noticed the red maple leaf on the nation’s flag – that’s a testament to how fond of maple syrup most Canadians are.
In Canada, maple syrup is a core ingredient in dishes ranging from breakfast pancakes to glazed salmon. If visiting Quebec, head to a sugar shack to sample some delicious maple taffy, made by pouring boiling maple syrup onto snow, which is then twirled onto a lollipop (popsicle) stick.
This is one of the top things to buy from Canada to bring home.
While we’re on the subject of tasty Canadian bites, I need to give a quick mention to poutine, which traces its origins back to Quebec.
Poutine is a Canadian twist on cheese fries. Essentially, crispy French fries are smothered in squeaky cheese curds and covered in gravy. It might not be the healthiest dish, but comfort food in Canada doesn’t come much better than poutine.
5. National parks and the Rockies
Canada boasts a total of 38 national parks and an additional ten national park reserves, many of which call the towering Rocky Mountains their home.
One of the most spectacular national parks in the Canadian Rockies is the Banff National Park, where you’ll discover glacial peaks, alpine meadows, azure lakes and majestic mountains.
Also worth checking out is Jasper National Park. In between Banff and Jasper are the Columbia Icefields, which form a part of the Athabasca Glacier – truly a sight to behold.
6. Road trips
As Canada is the second-largest nation on the planet in terms of total land area, it comes as no surprise that this vast and diverse country is home to some of the most epic road trips on the planet.
It’s actually possible to drive all the way from the west to the east coast by simply following the Trans-Canada Highway. The total length of the route is just shy of 7,500 kilometres, assuming you don’t take any detours to natural wonders and charming towns along the way.
If you fancy a less enduring road trip, you can drive from Vancouver to Banff in just over nine hours. Along the way, you’ll hit at least six national parks as well as famous towns like Whistler and Squamish. If you want to spend some time at the highlights, I’d suggest setting aside at least a week to drive from Vancouver to Banff.
7. Canadian wildlife
It wouldn’t be fair to discuss Canada’s national parks without giving a shout out to the nation’s diverse array of wildlife. After all, it isn’t just friendly people that call the world’s second-largest nation home!
Some of the most impressive dry-land creatures in Canada include mountain lions, elk, moose, bighorn sheep and – of course – beavers. Slightly more intimidating but no less amazing are black bears, grizzly bears, and even polar bears in the far north.
Near the coast, you can spot ocean-dwelling creatures ranging from orcas to humpback whales. In fact, whale watching is among the most popular tourist activities in Canada.
Informally known as the ‘Mounties’, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police has been a bastion of public safety, law and order since the 19th century. On top of being adept horse riders, the Mounties are known for their distinctive red Serge uniforms and flat-brimmed Stetson hats. While this dress code is now reserved for formal occasions and ceremonies, the image is still synonymous with Canada.
9. CN Tower in Toronto
Home to over 2.6 million residents, Toronto is the most-populous city in Canada. And the most iconic building here is the CN Tower, which towers over the city at a height of 553 metres.
The CN Tower looks staggering from ground level, but the best views are to be had from the tower’s observation decks. The main deck, the LookOut Level, resides at a height of 346 metres, while the SkyPod sits 33 floors higher at a height of 447 metres.
Check out my weekend itinerary for Toronto, to see how to fit in the best of the city.
10. Francophone culture
We all know that both English and French are widely spoken in Canada – but did you know that Canada is home to the highest number of native French speakers of any other country outside of France?
Since the 17th century, Quebec City has been the heart of Francophone culture in the new world. While exploring Quebec, the city’s architecture, art, traditions and – of course – the language will encourage you to indulge in the ‘joie de vivre’. Taste a tarte au sucre (a pie made with brown sugar and maple syrup) to enjoy a delicious French-Canadian delicacy.
11. Niagara Falls
An abundance of rugged mountains and melting snow make Canada home to a myriad of magnificent waterfalls. But when it comes to mesmerising cascades, Niagara Falls is in a league of its own.
Straddling the United States-Canada border, Niagara Falls is composed of three otherwordly waterfalls, but the most famous of the cascades – the Horseshoe Falls – are situated in Canada. There are all sorts of ways to see the falls from a unique perspective; you can take a boat ride right up to the mist, fly above the cliffs on a helicopter, and soak up the view from Rainbow Ridge. It’s even possible to journey behind the falls.
We went to Niagara Falls on our babymoon when I was six months pregnant. One of the best decisions we made was to pay the extra to stay in an incredible hotel room overlooking the falls. Check out the view on my Instagram post, it was amazing!
12. Totem poles
While we might commonly refer to Canada as being a part of the ‘New World’, let’s not forget that this incredible nation has been inhabited by a diverse range of First Nations groups for millennia. Many totem poles dotted throughout the Pacific Northwest of Canada pay homage to First Nations peoples, their traditions, history and culture.
Head over to Stanley Park in Vancouver to see a selection of colourful and intricate totem poles that have been gathered from across British Columbia. There’s also an incredible Totem Pole in Whitehorse, in the Yukon.
READ MORE: Top Things to Do in Vancouver
13. Autumn colours
A truly wonderful place to visit year-round, Canada becomes a playground of colour during autumn (fall), when the verdant green leaves of tree species such as tamaracks, oaks and maples transform into hues of red and orange.
Following summer, you’ll see bright red leaves throughout Canada, particularly in the east’s maritime provinces such as Quebec and Ontario. Alberta and British Columbia in the west also showcase a variety of orange, red and yellow foliage in the fall season.
READ MORE: The Best Places in Canada in Summer
14. White winters
The Canadians are no stranger to freezing temperatures and thick blankets of snow during winter. Temperatures of minus 30 degrees Celsius are far from rare in many Canadian provinces. Coupled with chilly winds, those low winter temperatures in Canada are not for the faint-hearted.
But faint-hearted the Canadians are not! The snowscape makes Canada look like a winter wonderland – and provides plenty in the way of outdoor entertainment.
When snow covers Canada’s slopes, skiing and snowboarding become immensely popular pastimes. Expect to see plenty of outdoor ice-skating rinks pop up in the major cities when the cold takes over for the season.
If you visit places in the North, like in the Yukon, the minus temperatures reported here are insane. Be prepared!
15. The walled city of Quebec
On top of being the hub of Canada’s Francophone culture, Quebec is the nation’s only walled city. Established all the way back in 1608, Quebec is one of the oldest settlements on the continent.
Today, Quebec’s UNESCO-listed walled old town remains characterised by its ancient buildings and maze of cobbled streets. Visit in February to experience the parades, parties and ice sculptures of the Quebec Winter Carnival.
16. Northern lights
Fancy watching the most awe-inspiring natural light show on Earth while exploring Canada? Visit between September and March for a chance to see the Northern Lights (aurora borealis) take over the night sky.
You may not be able to see this striking performance in the major cities near the United States-Canada border, but the northwest territories frequently double up as a stage for the Northern Lights. Some of the best destinations at which to watch the spectacle include Northern Saskatchewan, the Torngat Mountains National Park and Whitehorse Yukon.
READ MORE: The Most Interesting Facts About Canada
17. Musical stars
Many of the best-known musical prodigies and celebrities of today and yesterday hail from the great nation of Canada. Depending on your generation, Bryan Adams might be the biggest name in music associated with Canada. If you were born in this millennium, you might be more familiar with names like Justin Bieber.
Besides pop-industry legends, famous names from Canada include Keanu Reaves, Ryan Reynolds and Ryan Gosling. Heart throbbers aside, Canada has given birth to world-renowned comedians like Seth Rogan and Jim Carrey.
There are some great festivals in Canada to enjoy, try timing your trip with some of these.
18. Wine and craft beer
Canada is home to a plethora of well-established and up-and-coming wine regions – plus well over 1,000 breweries and microbreweries that produce everything from lager to IPA.
Grand Pré Wines is one of the oldest wineries on Canada’s Atlantic side. Here, you can sample red, white and sparkling varieties while taking in views of Cape Blomidon and the Bay of Fundy.
My personal favourite might have to be the wine region of the Annapolis Valley in Nova Scotia. What’s not to love about wine sampling with stunning coastal views?
What is Canada known for?
Above is a far-from-exhaustive list on all the things that Canada is famous for. But they’re just a few of my favourites – let’s face it, the list could’ve gone on forever! If you want to experience life like a local while exploring this vast nation, visit the national parks, look out for amazing wildlife, take part in some epic winter sports and – of course – don’t forget your Ps and Qs.
Have I missed anything that Canada is known for that deserves a mention in this article? Let me know by leaving a comment below.
Quick list of what Canada is famous for
- Ice hockey
- Maple syrup
- National parks and the Rockies
- Road trips
- Canadian wildlife
- CN Tower in Toronto
- Francophone culture
- Niagara Falls
- Totem poles
- Autumn colours
- White winters
- The walled city of Quebec
- Northern lights
- Musical stars
- Wine and craft beer