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A British guide to surviving Canadian etiquette

By July 31, 2014 3 Comments

Going on holiday can sometimes be a problem for us Brits, especially when we have to adapt to other customs. Cue moaning.

Canada, renowned for its politeness, can be a particularly troublesome destination. We thought we were polite, but a trip to Canada will cement our suspicions, that we’ve got a long way to go yet.

But before that puts you off and you opt for a weekend in Skegness, here’s our quick guide to surviving in Canada, for even the most British among us.Canadian-Etiquette_503x503-v1

Street Talk

No, you don’t have to throw on your best hip-hop impression on the street. But whereas Brits will cross the road to avoid a conversation with our own mother, it’s not unusual for Canadians to stop and talk to you on the street. So before you freak out just remember to be friendly and try to smile.

Try to be sincere

‘Well isn’t that wonderful’

Translation: ‘I couldn’t care less’

Yes we do love a spot of sarcasm here on the British Isles, but the rest of the world doesn’t tend to use it in every other sentence. So if someone compliments you in Canada; an acid tongued response to ‘you look nice’ isn’t required. Chances are the sarcasm would be lost in translation too.

Emotions are fine

Leave that stiff upper lip at home and revel in the fact that you have emotions. It’s a bit of a foreign concept to us we know, but give it a try. If everyone’s being emotional about something, whether it’s falling in love or Canadian Idol give it a try. Preferably without the help of six pints.


As a nation we can be modest, we talk down our achievements all the time. Comments like ‘oh it was nothing’ whilst secretly thinking ‘I know, I’m fabulous’ have become common place. But in Canada modesty is almost second nature, how can you be that polite without being extremely modest. So just take it in your stride and don’t push the flattery; not that we’re well known for this kind of behaviour anyway.


We love a good moan here in the UK. It could be the best day of our lives and we’d still find an issue with it. But please try to refrain during your holiday, because just like sarcasm it could get lost in translation, and you don’t want a sad Canadian on your hands do you?

Being Polite

Strangely the British are also well known for their politeness. But as we know, this often comes with a mental sarcastic commentary. I mean who’s offered the last biscuit to someone and truly wanted someone else to eat it? No one, that’s who. So remember to retain this outwardly politeness in Canada, but don’t have an internal breakdown when people are being genuinely polite. Just take the biscuit.

There is however a beacon of hope when it comes to visiting Canada, you don’t get in many places, one that may get you to shed some true emotion. And that is ….


That’s right everyone, Canada knows the importance of the orderly queue; praise the lord. How many times have you been on holiday and not known where to queue? Or had to unleash your loudest ‘tut’ when someone queue jumped? Well not here, because Canadians in all their politeness know just what to do when it comes to being served, and are almost as passionate about it as us Brits.

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