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Things I Didn't Know About Canada Before Moving Here

by Tonya M. - July 22, 2015


is a professional publisher and owner of a small trade book publishing house from New Westminster, BC. Currently she worked as a freelance writer for trusted Canadian pharmacies.

Things I Didn't Know About Canada

So you’ve decided to move to Canada from the United States? Awesome. As you probably already know, there are certainly some expected cultural and political differences between the two countries. And, depending on where you choose to relocate, you’re likely to find the climate a bit more extreme−unless you’re moving from Michigan to Ontario or Washington to British Columbia, of course. But if you’re changing cities, say Boston to Vancouver, you’re in for some fantastic weather because, um, West Coast. Vancouver is rainy in the winter, no doubt. It goes hand-in-hand with the whole lush, gorgeous rainforest deal. But there are few places on this planet where you can ski and go to the beach in the same day. Vancouver is one of them.

SEE ALSO: Tips on How to Order Drugs from Canada Pharmacy Online

Okay. So your paperwork’s in order, you’ve crossed the border, your visa is secured, and you’ve found a place to stay. Life above the 49th parallel can be amazing. (Noting here, of course, that parts of Vancouver Island and Eastern Canada are actually below the 49th parallel. Just saying.)

So here are a few very good things about emigrating from the US to Canada:

1) You can exchange your US driver’s license for a Canadian drivers license, without having to retake written exam and/or driving test. You can visit a provincial Driver Services location, fill out the appropriate form(s), pay the fees, and get your Canadian driver’s license. In some cases, a temporary license may be issued until the official license can be mailed to you. This applies to all state licenses, as well as licenses from DC and Puerto Rico. If you decide to return to the States, you’ll likely follow the same process in reverse. Good thing? Yes.

2) Once you have secured a work visa or a Permanent Resident Card, you will be issued a SIN (Social Insurance Number), which is kind of equivalent to a Social Security number. Once you have a SIN, you will be issued a Health Card or Care Card, which means you’re eligible to receive your provincial health care benefits. There are no out-of-pocket costs for most basic services. In Canada, health care is a right, not a privilege. This is a great thing.

3) There is a penchant for politeness here, which is more-than-terrific if you really think about it. It translates to people being generally more kind to each other. Not always and not everyone. Nothing on this planet is an absolute. But on average you’ve going to hear more “I’m sorrys" or “excuse mes" when someone bumps into you on the street. And when you’re driving, other drivers are more likely to let you and your car merge into a lane. In Vancouver, BC, when a city bus isn’t taking passengers, the “destination bar" at the front and sides of the bus will read “Sorry. Out of Service." Even the busses are polite. So if you’re moving from NYC, Philadelphia, or LA, it may take a minute or a month to adjust to The Nice. But it’s worth it. Good thing? You bet.

4) We Americans are very used to having an incredibly vast selection of stuff to choose from when we shop. You’ll find that in Canada you may only have 10-15 brands of toothpaste instead of 35 from which to choose. And the hair product aisle may be only half the size of most US retail stores. Don’t get me wrong, if you need to get your Walmart or Costco on in Canada, you can do so. And there are quite a few Canadians who regularly head south to engage in the Buy-More-Stuff situation. But spending less time selecting 1 of 35 toothpaste brands and more time doing anything else is a good thing, right?

5) No pennies. That’s right. There are Toonies (2 dollar coins). There are Loonies (1 dollar coins). There are quarters, dimes, and nickels. But the Royal Canadian Mint began phasing out pennies in early 2014, saving the Canadian taxpayer an estimated $11 million per year in not having to deal with pennies. Very savvy. Very cost-efficient. Just our, um, two-cent’s worth.

6) The metric system! Sometimes. There’s an interesting mix between the use of the metric system and the imperial system used in US. There seems to be consistency in using imperial measurement for height and body temperature, but distance, weight, and climate temperature tend to be measured in metric. But not all the time. Remember the “Schoolhouse Rock"-esque bit on the metric system? Yaaaassss.

7) Every place you visit will have it’s own specialty dish or take on a dish from somewhere else. So be on the lookout for Canada-centric food and snacks like Poutine. Ah, Poutine. Where do we even begin? It’s a mouth-watering blend of fries, cheese curds, and gravy. Seriously folks: There is nothing wrong with this combination. A Donair is kind of like a Gyro, but beef instead of lamb, and a seriously good garlic sauce. And then there are the potato chips. There are ketchup-flavoured chips. There are steak-flavoured chips. There are even dill-pickle-flavoured chips. I have not tried the chips, yet. Although the idea of a steak-flavoured chip is certainly intriguing…. There are so many Canada-centric foods to sample, and no reason to be shy!

8) The Queen of England, Elizabeth II, runs the show in Canada. Her day-to-day representative is the Governor General at the Federal level, who is appointed by the Queen after being recommended by the Prime Minister. Each of the 10 provinces also have a representative of the Queen, a Lieutenant Governor. Yes, the Royal Family and all of its dealings is a pretty big deal here.

From the Great Bear Rainforest, with its elusive Spirit Bears to the Bay of Fundy and the world’s highest tides, Canada is a breathtakingly beautiful country filled with rich history, memorable landscapes, and fantastic people. It’s also a wonderful place to settle in and call home. Enjoy.

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