8 (weird) things only Canadian backpackers will understand

January 22, 2024

Canadians are known best for our polite mannerisms, gravy-soaked poutine, French-Canadian culture, and love for all things maple-flavored. But if you really get to know us, you'll start picking up on the lesser-known quirks that make Canadians so uniquely, well, Canadian. Want to know the best way to spot an authentic Canuck in the wild? Look out for these eight things that nobody will ever say or do unless they’re truly Canadian.

Canadian math = explaining why cold weather isn't actually cold

By most people’s standards, anything near or below 0 degrees Celsius is… well… cold! Canadians, on the other hand, will tell you that such weather isn’t cold because they regularly experience much colder temperatures like -10, -15, or -35. They’ll also throw in extreme examples of all that they’ve had to tolerate (even though absolutely no one asked them to). Think 2 degrees Celsius is cold? Try playing hockey outside all day with a frostbitten face! Try not being able to feel your hands for hours as you wage war on your friends in a snowball fight. Stuff like that.

Frozen freezing

Their outfits don’t make any sense

It doesn’t matter if you’re in Finland in the winter, high altitude in the Andes, Jasper during shoulder season, or Japan to catch that fresh powder snow. If you are with a Canadian, you’ll see them wearing something weird. We don’t mean out-there radical sartorial style. What we mean is flip flops in the snow, t-shirts when others are in puffy jackets, or sun dresses on cool, grey days. Honestly, don’t worry about it. Our skin is fleece-lined.

They stitch a Canada patch on every bag

Even their lunch bag if they are die-hard enough. That little red and white flag and maple leaf emblem means a lot to Canadians—both at home and abroad—and most backpackers will show it. It’s a point of pride and we must.

They’re weird about geese and all goose-like creatures

Normal people: “Wow, a puma/bear/tarantula/cobra/lion! I’m a bit afraid…”

Canadians: “Think that’s scary? Have you ever seen a freaking GOOSE!???”

Goose what

Canadians come prepared for the outdoors

If you’re backpacking with a Canadian travel buddy, don’t be at all shocked if you notice that they have a tool or trinket for basically everything. Spork? Check. Waterproof jacket? Always. Bear spray? Probs. Since so much of Canadian culture is outdoor-focused, we generally amass handy tools like these after having already found out the hard way. We know what makes #TravelLife easier.

They bring weird snacks

Canadian food is about so much more than poutine and maple syrup. It’s about ketchup chips, all-dressed chips, Twizzlers, and Timbits. Sure, these may seem a little weird but yes, we know what we’re doing. Try it! If you don’t like it, fake it bud and say you do!

They may request a Shania Twain song at the bar

Ok. Something that you need to know if you’re hostel hopping with Canadians (especially if it involves partying!) is that they may start requesting songs by Shania Twain, The Tragically Hip, or Celine Dion at the bar. If this happens, your Canadian has gone rogue and is about to put on a God-awful performance. It’s best to just let them get it out of their system…


They talk about something called “mini sticks”

*Sigh.* At group games night has your Canadian travel friend ever mentioned something called “mini sticks?” Have you heard this term during a day of outdoor adventure or playing a team sport with other backpackers? My friend… make sure you’re sitting down for this one.

Alright. So, there’s ice hockey which you play on the ice. Then there’s road hockey which you play on the road. We have pond hockey which is hockey specifically played on a frozen pond. We also have field hockey which is a completely different sport even though that makes no sense.

Then we have mini sticks. Mini sticks is miniature hockey. We play it on our knees with miniature nets and… you guessed it… mini hockey sticks. This sounds like a parody of Canada but unfortunately, it is not. We tore up our knees playing this sport. We ripped holes in our jeans and permanently damaged our kneecaps. Embarrassing as it is, this is totally a real thing. If a group of international travellers were to play this together at a hostel, you’d all make Canada very, very proud.

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