Canadian Culture

Canada is a desired destination for many emigrants thanks to its high level of GDP per person and a high quality of life. Yet, some people assume – wrongly – that the Canadian state is blank and there is no history behind it, since it was, after all, just a colony of the European states. However, does it really appear to be so? This article is aimed to, definitely, refute this thesis and present you the exceptional Canadian culture. Enjoy!

The history of the Canadian state

Indeed, the Canadian territories had been populated by the aboriginal people long before the country’s colonization by the European superpowers. In the 15th century, the British and French expeditions explored these lands and then started to compete for these territories, leading to a number of bloody wars.

In 1534, France founded the colony of New France, yet it had been under the constant pressure of British troops that tried to gain some of the Canadian territories. In 1759 and 1760, shortly before the succession of these territories to the United Kingdom, the Brits captured the cities of Montreal and Quebeck. However, it was the astonishing defeat of France in the Seven Years’ War that led to the succession of the Canadian territories, according to the Treaty of Paris signed in 1763. All that was left to France is a couple of islands and the rights to fish near the Canadian shores. However, the British rulers agreed to give the Canadian people (known at that time as Canadiens) the right to be live under the French civil law, also known as Quebec law, and stick to the Catholic Church.

The 17th century was characterized by a large number of rebellions against the British rule, which resulted in the formation of the Dominion of Canada, i.e. the confederation of the self-governed Canadian territories of the British Empire. The British North America Act, adopted in 1867, is considered to be the first document, signifying the sovereignty and independence of Canada. Right after adopting that act, Canada started to implement its own policies, independent from the colonial rule.

Visual Arts

It is not a surprise that the Canadian culture had been quite suppressed under the French and British rule, which resulted in the fact that there are not so many great artists as in the European countries. Though, it may be connected with the fact that there was no such tradition of art in Canada – one should not consider the paintings of aboriginal people of Canada in this context, since those people had been largely marginalized during the period of colonization.

canadian culture

Cornelius David Krieghoff is a famous Canadian painter who portrayed the lives of ordinary Canadians

However, there have been quite a few outstanding artists in Canada that portrayed the life of people in Canada. For instance, Cornelius David Krieghoff, who was born in the Netherlands, mostly portrayed the lives of ordinary Canadian citizens of that time (the middle of the 19th century). Paul Kane, an outstanding, self-educated Canadian painter who was born in Ireland, fancied to portray the life of the aboriginal people. While working at his office in Toronto, he created more than a hundren of oil pictures, which are considered to be a significant contribution to the Canadian culture, nowadays. However, there had been no particular Canadian style of painting at that time and the Canadian artists followed the European styles and patterns.

However, a group of painters known as the Group of Seven developed the first Canadian painting style at the beginning of the 20th century. Despite the group’s name, there were 10 artists who were the members of this group and 2 artists who were associated with it but did not join officially. The artists painted mostly the Canadian sceneries and wilderness, depicting large scenes with great, perfect coloring, which has been considered to be the Canadian style of painting since those times.

culture of canada

The majority of houses in Canada are designed in the Cape Code Style

Architecture does not occupy that much important place in the Canadian culture as in any European country, but one is able to spot the architecture trait of this country: the majority of the buildings are designed in the Baroque or Cape Cod styles, thus representing the mix of the European and American cultures. As for the present time, edifices in Canada are being built in a modern, minimalist style.

The place of literature, music, and theater in the Canadian culture

In view of the country’s history, it does not come as a surprise that its literature is typically divided into French- and English-speaking. Actually, its literature borrowed all the most important traits from the French and British literature. Typically, the works of the Canadian authors, such as Catherine Parr Traill or Bliss Carman, are Canada-centristic, focusing mostly on the Canadian culture and the place of the Canadian state in the world.

In the middle of the 20th century, the Canadian authors started to develop the Canadian way of writing instead of mimicking British, French, or American writers. The list of the outstanding Canadian writers includes Hugh MacLennan, Alistair MacLeod, Michael Ondaatje, Margaret Atwood, and Yann Martel. One of the most distinguished writers and an outstanding novelist Arthur Hailey is also considered to be a Canadian.

Canada culture

Theatres, without any doubt, play an important role in the Canadian culture

Music has developed in Canada since the early 16th century, and the country’s musical heritage is characterized by a mix of different cultures, including the songs of the aboriginal people. Though, it led to a positive impact on the Canadian culture, allowing the country to develop the necessary infrastructure to the development of its music.

Though, one of the key components of the Canadian culture is, definitely, theaters, since the country offered fertile ground for the development of theaters since as early as the beginning of the 18th century. Even now, one is able to spot this feature in Canadian movies and TV series. Cirque du Soleil, which is known across the entire world nowadays, also derives from Canada and combines theatrical performances with circus tricks.

Steteotypes about the Canadian people

Stereotypes are usually just the generalization of common traits about the people from a certain country, and that is the reason why stereotypes about the Canadians may help us to understand the Canadian culture better.

First of all, the majority of Canadians are tolerant and polite, though they are also very conservative. In the Canadian culture, it is important to be focused on your community. While being in Canada, you may notice how important is taking part in various gatherings and meetings of local communities – it is considered to be far more important than the country’s elections.

Also, boasting your wealth is not a good trait in the eyes of the Canadian citizens, since most of them value public humility. During the communication with the Canadian people, it is important not to “invade” someone else’s personal space, since it is highly valued in Canada.

How to deal with the Canadians

In the Canadian culture, there are certain traditions that you have to stick to:

  1. A common form of greeting in the Canadian culture is handshaking with an eye contact and a strong grip.
  2. You have to use the titles and names appropriately – you can call a person solely with a first name if that person is your close friend or a relative.
  3. If you were invited to someone’s house, don’t forget to buy high-quality wine, chocolate, and flowers.
  4. Avoiding touching someone during a conversation as much as possible – you must not bother the personal space of your interlocutor.

Useful sources

If you want to find out more about the Canadian culture, you might consider the following sources useful:

Information about Canada


10 Best Canadian Theaters
10 Best Canadian Theaters

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