11 summer activities that are quintessentially Canadian

June 22, 2022

Summer is undeniably one of the best times of year in Canada. The days grow longer, the temperatures heat up, and the shores—of the Pacific, Atlantic, and everywhere in between—become places for beach parties, bonfires, and lazy sunbathing. This is the time of year Canadians wait for so desperately. If you’re new to Canuck country, the below activities are the best ways to get the most out of the summer months—as a real Canadian would!

Eating sweet corn on the cob

A Canadian might be hard-pressed to define the country’s cuisine but to a newcomer, the obsession with sweet corn in summer will be obvious. The juicy, sun-yellow veggie is a staple at any barbecue, afternoon party, or dock-side dinner during the summer months. Prepped with melted butter, salt and pepper, it’s one of the simple joys of summer in Canada. While you’ll be able to buy it at any grocery store, true Canadians will prefer to buy unhusked corn at country markets or road-side stalls.

Kicking off road trips with Tim Horton’s

It doesn’t matter if you’re heading off for a week of backcountry hiking in The Rockies or a weekend exploring a quaint corner in Quebec: the road trip doesn’t start until everyone has a cup o’ Tim Hortons coffee in hand. Classic Timmies orders might include an iced cappuccino (the perfect summer treat), a maple doughnut (when in Canada), the double-double (double cream, double sugar) or the good old bacon breakfast sandwich. The choice is yours, but don’t even think about calling it a Canadian road trip without a pit-stop at Tims first.

Tims

Sipping Canadian craft beer by the water

Canadians are big on their craft beers. Huge. The artisanal beer game in Canada comes second probably only to hockey. Whether you’re looking forward to an afternoon of fly-fishing somewhere in B.C.’s beautiful landscape or you’re relaxing oceanside in Nova Scotia, cracking a cold one from a local brewery is a sure way to cool down and relax on sun-kissed summer days. And hey, if the craft brews aren’t your jam, nothing wrong with the good ol’ Molson Canadian!

Jumping into cold lakes

Lakes across Canada may be thawed by late June, but that doesn’t mean that the water is warm… or even comfortable. Come early summer though, folks from the great white north have been waiting long enough for that first jump off the dock. They’ll do it despite the frigid temperatures. That’s what thick Canadian skin is for!

Lake Chills

Cooking with in-season ingredients

Ripe, juicy, market-fresh produce in summer tastes better than any double scoop of ice cream or hot dog sizzling from campfire flames. (And that’s saying something!) Ruby-red strawberries, tomatoes plucked from the vine, mouth-puckering cherries and crisp, cool cucumbers are just a handful of items that’ll take any summer picnic up a notch.

Buying fresh goods at the side of the road

People new to Canada may be baffled by the trusting folks in rural areas who sell things like eggs, corn, and berries at unsupervised stalls. If anything proves the stereotypes of Canadian politeness, it’s probably that. When exploring Canada’s incredible provinces in summer, this is where you get the farm-fresh ingredients. Plan on mornings with fresh strawberries for your granola, eggs for frying as you cook with your travel buds before the morning’s adventures, and corn when it’s your turn to cook group dinner. The price is there: simply leave what you owe, and take what you need.

Exploring idyllic rural towns

Canada’s roads stretch out longer than spaghetti noodles. That means it’s an explorer’s dream country. In summer months, Canadians are all about road trips to the serene and tranquil small towns that dot rural landscapes like a pebble skipping across a lake’s surface. These are the places that truly earn Canada’s reputation as being a home of the friendliest, most hospitable folks. Plus, the raw beauty and the calm, peaceful nature of these places is unbeatable!

St. John's Town

Barbecuing salmon

Summer afternoons spent grilling on the barbecue must be protected at all costs. The sound of hamburgers sizzling as they hit the iron-hot grill, the taste of perfectly-done red peppers and smoky baked potatoes… it’s all just… the perfect combination. To make the most of the outdoor grilling season though, let salmon take center stage. (Freshly-caught or wild are the best if you can get ‘em!) Salmon is such a staple when it comes to Canadian food and it’ll outshine hotdogs and hamburgers any day.

Canoeing

As much as this may seem like a purely stereotypical hobby, paddling in a canoe is very much a real pastime for many Canadians. While the brave may brace themselves to navigate the rapids during an afternoon of white-water canoeing, their travel buddies may opt for a simple day of paddling down lazy rivers while watching for loons and breathing in the scent of fresh pine.

Canoeing

Watching fireworks on July 1st

The sizzle and crack of fireworks is a signifier of Canada Day on July 1st. These fireworks that split the sky in sparkling, colourful explosions might cause your heart to skip a beat. (Perhaps due to the loud pop or perhaps out of excitement that the best days of summer are officially here.) Lay out a cozy blanket and get the snacks ready as you settle in for the ultimate show.

Snuggling in a Hudson’s Bay blanket after sunset

When the sun slips below the horizon and the salmon-pink skies turn navy, it’s time for star-gazing on weathered wooden docks. Night swimming is a must here: there’s nothing like taking the plunge into inky waters and floating underneath the big dipper. Sure, it’ll feel chilly but most folks from up north have a tolerance for that. Afterwards, warm up with a piping cup of cocoa and the wooly embrace of a Hudson’s Bay blanket (it’s a real Canadian symbol; so many households have them).

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