How to travel in Canada and be charming to Canadians

Begin the generalizations! Canadians are a rather reserved people. I don’t know if it’s because we let our neighbours to the south do all of the loud shouting or if we just keep it bottled up until beer o’clock, but we tend to mind our business, be pleasant enough, and apologize if you bump into us. The last one isn’t a stereotype, it’s the truth.

Here is something that isn’t a secret or a generalization, we are fiercely proud of our home towns, cities, provinces, and country and we want you to enjoy the best of everything here.

It is a fallacy that Canada is always cold. In fact, the central part of the country can be downright gross, weather-wise, in the summer. Destinations in the North and on the coasts tend to be cooler (and, in my opinion, are awesome).

In terms of practical advice for visiting Canada this summer, it’s quite simple:

Bring this Don’t bring that
A sweater A parka
Layers Mittens
Sunblock Long underwear
Light rain gear Skis

Don’t bother with an umbrella, it’ll likely be destroyed.

The following sentence is odd, but bear with me: Canada has a lot of weather.

Canadian weather, mystery location #1

When traveling abroad, one of the things that originally confounded me, then amused me, was the utter lack of weather in other countries. It could be “fine” or “nice” for days on end. When I was in Spain last year, my only weather-related task was to check whether the temperature would peak at 35C or 36C each day.

For visitors to Canada, I’m going to let you in a secret that will help you understand what we do here: we are a country united behind our vast amounts of weather.

Canadian weather, mystery location #2

To render yourself friendly to your Canadian hosts, check the weather and be prepared to discuss it. This weather happened in Halifax in March, we talked about it for weeks:

Halifax weather in March 2012

If you want to take it even further, check both The Weather Network and Environment Canada, as each offers a slightly different perspective on the weather. This is also a topic of conversation.

To render yourself impossibly charming to your Canadian hosts, do the following:

If the weather is nice, credit the person you’re talking to or the community you’re visiting for providing it.

Canadian weather, mystery location #3

Sample comment: “I love it here it in [PLACE NAME], you sure did give me great weather for my stay!”

If the weather is terrible, apologize for bringing it with you.

Canadian weather, mystery location #4

Sample comment: “Rain again? I’m so sorry, I think I brought it with me from [PLACE YOU’RE FROM]!”

You’re welcome.

Update, January 18, 2013: Thanks to travel blogger friends Matt and Caro of Passport and a Toothbrush for bringing this video to our attention. It’s funniest if you’re Canadian, but is a pretty on-the-nose shot at our collective fascination/obsession with the weather.

Fact: Except for the screenshot from March, all of these images are from real forecasts for the same week in different parts of Canada. From top to bottom: Ottawa, ON; Halifax, NS; Yellowknife, NT; Nunavut, NU. 



    • Thanks! It’s amazing to me how often the same conversations play out over and over again. They’re not just encouraged, they’re expected.

    • I have such difficulties dealing with weather talk, you see, I am a weather specialist/forecaster and cannot stand listening to (never mind participating) in the conversation while in the queue at the grocery store. Don’t get me wrong, I am passionate about my work and will volunteer time to go speak to special interest groups.


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