Resource from CCSQ
Canada has a long history of welcoming people of different cultures and nationalities. In Toronto, more than 140 languages are spoken and nearly 50% of the Canadian population was born abroad. Renowned for their warm attitude, Canadians are always happy to adopt new cultural practices from those who move here from abroad: from st. Patrick's Day to Labor Day weekend. But make no mistake: although Canadians celebrate Thanksgiving and carve pumpkins for Halloween, don't confuse us with our southern neighbors. There are also many wonderful Canadian traditions that are unique to the country, as welcoming and warm as the nation itself.
Cottage and Chalet Culture
The cottage by the lake, the cabin in the woods - the weekend at the cottage is an essential part of the Canadian national tradition. In Ontario in particular, the term "chalet" evokes memories of summers spent on lakes, filled with crackling campfires, picturesque sunsets and afternoons filled with boat rides and water sports. There are burgers and milkshakes and spending all day on a lakeside dock listening to music with friends. Search Google 'Muskoka sunsets' or 'Muskoka chairs' to get the mood.
Cottages aren't necessarily a status issue either - of course, there are a few Hamptons-style cottages in Canada, but for most of the country, it is an opportunity to leave behind the business of the cities and spend time relaxing in nature.
Pronounced the "MayTwo-Four", also known as Victoria Day, is a public holiday in Canada, celebrated on the last Monday before May 25. It was originally intended to celebrate Queen Victoria's birthday, but has since been celebrated as the official birthday of the Sovereign of Canada. For many Canadians, May 2-4 is considered the beginning of summer. And yes, chances are it is the first weekend Canadians will spend at their cottages in the country, opening the summer home where they will spend most of their weekends sipping cold drinks on a deck.
Canadians celebrate Thanksgiving on the second Monday in October (which makes it a more reasonably-timed holiday than American Thanksgiving in November, considering it’s proximity to another turkey dinner at Christmas). Canadian Thanksgiving is closely linked to the harvest festival, which is why it takes place in mid-fall, and is a very casual holiday. There are no parades or floats, but there is the warmth of your Canadian friends who have invited you to fill your stomach with turkey, sweet potatoes and pumpkin pies.
Before you worry, dear reader, know that Canadians do not actually eat tails of real beavers. In Canada, beaver tails are giant and fried sweet delights. A ball of dough is stretched into a long flat oval, fried in oil and served in a paper sleeve.
For purist, the beaver tail is coated with a mixture of sugar and cinnamon, but there are more involved options such as maple cream, cookies or a chocolate spread. It is a particularly tasty snack when you have spent the evening on an ice rink or pond. Head to the Nathan Phillips Square ice rink the next time you're in Toronto during the cold season or enjoy one at the Old Port in Montreal any time of year.
St. Patrick's Day Parade in Montreal
Canada's oldest parade (uninterrupted since 1824), the St. Patrick's Day Parade (source in French) is one of the biggest parties in Montreal. Depending on the weather (and sometimes even in March, the weather is nice), the crowd can range from 250,000 to 700,000 people, who see hundreds of floats, marching bands and artists on St. Catherine Street (one of the city's main thoroughfares).