May 22, 2024 | Eul Basa

30 Things Only Canadians Will Understand


Canada, eh?

What was it like to grow up in Canada back in the day? Honestly, you just had to be there—but if you weren't, this article should give a pretty good gist of the Canadian experience in the '80s through to the '00s.

Ordering a "double-double"

Ordering a "double-double" in Canada means asking for a coffee with two creams and two sugars. Pretty much every coffee shop in the country understands this order.

A Tim Hortons special #Canada150 coffee paper cupCoastal Elite, CC BY-SA 2.0, Wikimedia Commons

The joy of ketchup chips

Ketchup chips are a unique potato chip flavor that is exclusive to Canada. They are loved nationwide and beyond. Sometimes, Americans will even cross the border to get their hands on some.

Close-up Photo of Ketchup Potato Chips placed on a market rackJimmy Emerson, DVM, Flickr

Coloring in a map of Canada

Some kids love to do it, some kids don't. Those of the latter group may complain about having to fill in all the islands of Nunavut or squeezing "Saskatchewan" into its tiny designated region on the map.

A Girl in the Classroom Sitting at the Desk with Colored PencilsMikhail Nilov, Pexels

The agony of being a Leafs fan

Being a fan of the Toronto Maple Leafs is both a blessing and a curse. While it's incredible to be part of such a close-knit community, it's hard to see the Leafs lose it all in the playoffs (and to the Bruins, no less).

Players of Toronto Maple Leafs Hokey TeamJenn G from Seattle, CC BY-SA 2.0, Wikimedia Commons

Any positive Celsius is shorts weather

Some Canadians will whip out their summer clothes the moment CP24 says that temperatures will be in the positives. It's not an uncommon sight to see people out and about in shorts and a T-shirt in 10-degree weather.

Two women standing next to each other and smilingSergei Bachlakov, Shutterstock

Our milk comes in bags

Bagged milk may be a provincial thing, but Canadians who have experienced this will know the struggle of cutting the hole too big or too small. As with anything, practice makes perfect.

Close-up Photo of a Bagged milk placed on a wooden tableAndrea R, Flickr

The constant urge to say sorry

There's a stereotype that Canadians are some of the nicest people around. Perhaps part of the reason why that stereotype exists is because we have a tendency to say sorry—for everything and anything.

Group of young people with Canada flag in background.ESB Professional, Shutterstock

Ending our sentences with "Eh"

It's very common to hear Canadians end their sentences with "Eh." In Canada,  "Eh" is used a linguistic tool to elicit  agreement or understanding. It just rolls off the tongue so naturally.

Pictures of people enjoying the Canada Day celebrations wearing Canadian jerseys and Canadian bandanasGarry Knight, Flickr

The original "Roll up the Rim"

Back in the day, "rolling up the rim" meant physically unfolding the lip of a Tim Horton's cup. The company switched to an app version in 2021, and honestly, it's just not as satisfying.

Close Up Photo of Tim Hortons roll up the rim winMorgan, Flickr

Feeling rich with Canadian Tire money

One of the simple joys of a Canadian childhood was collecting Canadian Tire money. As kids, it made us feel rich—even though the bills themselves carried little value.

Close Up Photo of Canadian Tire Money wheel placed on a wooden tableCabin 12 Restaurant, Flickr

The learning curve with drinking Caesars

The Caesar is a Canadian drink that includes vodka, Clamato juice, hot sauce, and Worcestershire sauce. It is typically  garnished with celery and served with a salted rim. It's a drink that takes some getting used to for sure.

Close Up Photo of Caesar Cocktail placed on a wooden tableRuth Hartnup, Flickr

Beavertails on a chilly day

Beavertails are a popular Canadian treat made of fried dough shaped like a beaver's tail and served with sweet toppings. There's nothing like a good Beavertail after a long day of hitting the slopes.

Close Up Photo of Person holding a BeaverTails TreatNorio NAKAYAMA, Flickr

Those iconic public service announcements

Canadian PSAs use danimated characters like "House Hippo" or "Talking Trash" to educate about safety, health, environment. They must have worked, considering that many Canadians today can still remember them in detail.

Screenshot from the House hippo (2019) a public service announcement (PSA)MediaSmarts, House hippo (2019)

Celebrating Bonhomme in the winter

Every February, schools across Canada would put on a winter carnival in honor of the Quebec City tradition. Bonhomme, the jolly snowman of Quebec's Winter Carnival, embodies the festive spirit of Canadian winters.

Bonhomme giving free hugs during the Calgary Stampede BreakfastJamie McCaffrey, Flickr

The desire to visit West Edmonton Mall

Canadian kids who didn't grow up in Edmonton would hear about West Edmonton Mall, the largest shopping mall in North America. It had everything a kid could want, from an indoor waterpark to a Hasbro-themed amusement park.

West Edmonton Mall, Edmonton, AlbertaGoToVan, CC BY 2.0, Wikimedia Commons

Making sugar shack candy

Sugar shack candy is essentially maple taffy and maple sugar candy made from pure Canadian maple syrup. Pouring the hot maple syrup onto freshly-fallen snow is a true Canadian experience.

Close-up Photo of some persons hand holding Maple syrup popsicleJaime Walker, CC BY 2.0, Wikimedia Commons

The struggle of drawing a maple leaf

Drawing a maple leaf from scratch is not easy. Many of us butchered our drawings of Canadian flags in art class because we just could not get the maple leaf to look right.

Portrait Photo of a Child in a red t-shirt drawing on a tableAnna Nekrashevich, Pexels

Loonies and toonies

Before the days of contactless payments and e-transfer, we had cash and coins. Those who had loonies and toonies at school were the lucky ones because they could buy drinks at the vending machines.

Close-up Photo of Canadian one dollar coin called Loonie placed on a red leafTom Magliery, Flickr

The "Win/Gagnon" of the lotto scanners

Lotto scanners in Canada display a "Win/Gagnon" message to indicate a winning ticket in both English and French. You'll hear this sound anywhere where there's an OLG booth—at gas stations, corner stores, and supermarkets.

Photo of Variety Store with OLG Lottery Boot in frontPaul Gorbould, Flickr

When -40°C meant indoor recess

Recess would often be held indoors when the weather was -40°C or lower. It wasn't such a bad thing, either—it was a nice change to get play board games with friends all day.

Three Persons in Black Pants Sitting on Floor Playing board Gamecottonbro studio, Pexels

The pain of Rogers outages

Given that a large proportion of Canada's population relies on Rogers for internet connectivity, there's nothing more frustrating than a Rogers outage. During the last one that occured in July 2022, it was a good day to be a Bell user.

Photo of a Rogers Store ExteriorOpen Grid Scheduler, Flickr

Learning French from a talking pineapple

Telefrancais! was a Canadian French children's TV series created by TVOntario from 1984 to 1986. The show follows the adventures of two kids named Jacques, Sophie, and a talkative pineapple named Ananas.

Screenshot From the children's television series Téléfrançais! (1984-1986)TVO, Téléfrançais! (1984-1986)

Knowing Kim Campbell was our first female PM

There used to be a time when we were kids and we knew all of the former Canadian PMs by heart. We may have forgotten most of their names now, but we'll always remember Kim Campbell.

Portrait Photo of Kim Campbell in a black outfitSimon Fraser University, CC BY 2.0, Wikimedia Commons

Timbits for your whole class

It was always a great day when someone would bring Timbits for the class, usually to celebrate their birthday. It made your classmates' birthdays something to look forward to.

Close-up Photo of Pumpkin Spice Timbits from Tim HortonsCalgary Reviews, Flickr

Poutine counts as a full meal

It's probably not the healthiest meal, but sometimes a bowl of poutine (french fries, gravy, and white cheese curds) is all you need to get you through your day. Some school cafeterias even served poutine as part of their menu.

Close-up Photo of Poutine in a white plate placed on a wooden tableJoe Shlabotnik, Flickr

Wishing for a visit from the "House Hippo"

The "House Hippo" is a Canadian legend. Even though the PSA was meant to warn us about the dangers of misinformation and to not believe everything we saw on TV, we secretly hoped the "House Hippo" was real.

Screenshot from the House hippo (2019) a public service announcement (PSA)MediaSmarts, House hippo (2019)

MuchMusic shaping our music tastes

MuchMusic was basically MTV for Canadians. It covered every era of our adolescence, from our Avril Lavigne phase to "Bieber Fever," and we're eternally grateful for it.

Marianas Trench at Muchmusic Video AwardsVervegirl Canada, CC BY-SA 2.0, Wikimedia Commons

Living through "Bieber Fever"

Speaking of "Bieber Fever," the world has Canada to thank for introducing one of the greatest generational talents of our time. He may have had his rough moments, but there's no denying his impact on pop culture history.

Portrait Photo of Justin Bieber at the 2010 White House Easter Egg rollDaniel Ogren, CC BY 2.0, Wikimedia Commons

Thanksgiving in October

Unlike our American neighbors, we celebrate Thanksgiving in October, on the second Monday of the month. Like our American neighbors, its a time when we share a hearty meal of turkey, mashed potatoes, gravy, and pumpkin pie with loved ones.

Roasted Turkey on White Ceramic PlateKarolina Grabowska, Pexels

Universal healthcare being a two-edged sword

Universal healthcare is great because we can see a doctor anytime we want. Unfortunately, wait times are ridiculous, and sometimes we're stuck waiting hours to get seen.

A Doctor and a Nurse Attending a Female Patient in BedRDNE Stock project, Pexels


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