Canada / Travel

23 Things you May Be Surprised to See in Canada!

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Last Updated on 1st February 2018 by Sophie Nadeau

If you’re visiting Canada for the first time, then there are a few things you should know about this North American country before your trip. Here are 23 Things you May Be Surprised to See in Canada!

Here are some of the things you may be surprised to see in Canada:

  1. Poutine (cheese curd, chips and chicken gravy). A national favourite; this was one of my favourite dishes before I became vegetarian…
  1. There are infinitely more saloon cars than hatchbacks. #ugly.
  1. Everything is just big. The rivers, the mountains, the lorries… Yep, I could continue on with this list all day!
  1. Cars are almost all automatic. The driving licenses here are issued in the same whether you take your test on an automatic or manual car. Perhaps this may be a little dangerous?!
  1. You can turn right on a red light (apart from on the island of Montréal)!
  1. Incredible extremes of temperature. In the winter temperatures can plummet to -40, whilst in the summer months, it isn’t rare for them to go above +30. Maybe English weather isn’t so bad after all?
  2. If you’re from the UK, people often ask if you’ve met the Queen! Funny story, I was stuck in traffic next to her once…
  1. It’s actually acceptable to be afraid of bears. I mean, they’re huge and they could tear you to shreds. Bear safety 101: always try and make yourself appear bigger than the bear to scare it off. Unless it has a cub, and then I’m not sure…


  1. There are two types of taxes; one provincial and one federal. Try calculating that in your head!
  1. Canadians drive on the right hand side of the road; so pretty much like the rest of the world…
  1. CHEESE IS SO EXPENSIVE (and there’s nearly no cheddar *sniff sniff*)!
  1. The architecture is… just different. Think wooden houses, big barns and staircases outside of houses.


  1. Roundabouts are pretty non-existent in Canada. Instead, you have these weird 4 way crossings. Whoever reaches the crossing first gets priority.
  1. It’s not unusual to see a road sign saying beware of moose!
  1. Chipmunks. Everywhere. (In the countryside of course…). The best bit about this is that they love food and if you’re eating a picnic, they’ll come over and sit on your lap just to have a chance at grabbing some grub.
  1. The doughnuts in Tim Horton’s may be the best in the world! They bake every flavour of donut imaginable from ‘glazed maple’ to ‘apple fritter’.


  1. The boot of a car is called a trunk. Funny story: my Mum once saw someone driving out of a car park with his boot open and tried to tell him ‘your boot is open’. He replied to this with “I’m not wearing boots” until my Dad had to go over and explain to him what  she was talking about.
  1. It’s not unusual to be bilingual. Pretty much everything in Quebec comes with signs in both French and English.
  1. Tax isn’t included in marked prices. Be wary of this or face paying more than you bargained for at the till, stupid pun intended!
  1. The tube in Montréal is called the metro and there are only four lines; with one of those only having three stops. Er, can I have the Londontube back please?
  1. In French Canada, you don’t drive your car. Instead you drive your cart; #throwbackto1800.
  1. Montreal has staircases outside its houses. This is something unique to the city and can rarely be seen anywhere else in the world. The origins for this are unknown. Considering it gets down to -40 C in the winter, you’d have thought the architects may have designed something a little safer!


23.  I’ll leave this one up to you. Is there anything that you found surprising when you visited Canada? What were you surprised to see in Canada?

things you may be surprised to see in canada


About Author

Sophie Nadeau loves dogs, books, Paris, pizza, and history, though not necessarily in that order. A fan of all things France related, she runs when she's not chasing after the next sunset shot or consuming her weight in sweet food. Currently based in Paris after studies in London, she's spent most of her life living in the beautiful Devonian countryside in South West England!


  • Veronica Marois
    22nd May 2020 at 1:51 pm

    Cheddar is available in EVERY grocery store. Not sure why you couldn’t find it.

  • Janice Armstrong Dent
    27th January 2019 at 6:16 pm

    Did you only go to Montreal? Vancouver(where I live, originally from Merseyside) is one of the most beautiful cities in the world , we rarely get snow(only on the mountains) have great beaches and awesome summers , lots of people go camping here, no end of provincial parks and off grid camping…some of the best fishing in the world(fresh and saltwater)…..and, …we also have stairs on the outside of our homes 🙂

  • Jane
    12th May 2018 at 8:41 pm

    So a few things from a Canadian. Stairs up to the front door is pretty normal across North America. It is actually more rare to just walk in off the street. The bilingual thing is mostly in Quebec, not much of that going on in English Canada. Where were you shopping that you couldn’t find Cheddar cheese. We very much have it at all the grocery stores. Roundabouts are becoming more popular actually we have quite a few in Kitchener Waterloo.

  • Julia
    22nd February 2018 at 10:06 pm

    Always amusing to hear other people’s thoughts on Canada. 🙂

    – Someone in Ontario, Canada


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