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Canadian Culture, Customs, Traditions, and Facts for International Students

Last updated: 2 June 2023 Student Experience Study in Canada

In 1971, Canada introduced a policy of multiculturalism, and currently, many of its cities are among the most multicultural in the world. This is just one aspect that attracts thousands of students from various parts of the world. Canada also has a rich and diverse cultural heritage reflected in its customs and traditions, and experiencing these traditions can be an exciting and enriching experience for someone new to the country. Canadians celebrate their unique cultural identity from coast to coast while embracing the multiculturalism that defines the country.

One of the most striking things about Canadian customs and traditions is how they unite people. Whether it's a national holiday like Canada Day or a local festival celebrating a particular ethnic group, these events allow people to unite, share their traditions and cultures, and celebrate their common identity as Canadians. At the same time, Canadian customs and traditions are often rooted in history and passed down from generation to generation.

Are you interested in experiencing the various cultural traditions in Canada as an international student? Book a free consultation with SI-Canada to start a unique journey to a bright future. 

canada customs and traditions international students

Study in Canada Culture: Customs, Traditions, and Facts

Indigenous Culture

The Indigenous culture in Canada has a rich heritage dating back thousands of years. Today, there are over 600 First Nations in Canada, each with its own unique traditions, languages, and customs. Many Indigenous communities in Canada celebrate powwows, which are events that bring together people to dance, sing, and celebrate their culture. Powwows often include traditional Indigenous music, food, and art. National Aboriginal Day is celebrated on June 21st, recognizing and celebrating Canada's Indigenous peoples' diverse cultures, traditions, and contributions.

Canada Day 

This is Canada's national day and is celebrated on July 1st. The day commemorates the anniversary of the enactment of the British North America Act in 1867, which united the three separate colonies of Nova Scotia, Canada, and New Brunswick into one dominion within the British Empire. Canada Day is now celebrated with parades, fireworks, and other festivities across the country.

Canadian Thanksgiving

Canadian Thanksgiving is a holiday celebrated on the second Monday in October each year and is the time for Canadians to give thanks for the blessings of the past year and to celebrate the harvest season. Although it shares some similarities with the American Thanksgiving, there are also some distinct differences. While celebrations across the border involve football games and parades, Canadian Thanksgiving is typically a quieter affair. Many Canadians gather with family and friends for a large feast, which traditionally includes roasted turkey, stuffing, cranberry sauce, mashed potatoes, and gravy. Other popular dishes include pumpkin pie, apple pie, and other seasonal desserts.


Hockey is often considered Canada's national sport. It's a fast-paced game played on ice with two teams of six players each. Canadians take hockey seriously, and it's a big part of Canadian culture. Many communities have their own local hockey teams, and every year, the country gets swept up in the collective excitement of the Stanley Cup playoffs.

Tim Hortons

Tim Hortons is a popular Canadian coffee and doughnut chain that has become a cultural icon. Founded in 1964 by former NHL player Tim Horton, the chain has over 4,000 locations across Canada. Many Canadians usually start their day with a Tim Hortons coffee, and the chain's signature Timbits (bite-sized doughnuts) are a favourite treat for many.

Maple Syrup

Maple syrup is a great natural sweetener and an iconic Canadian tradition. Canada is the world's largest maple syrup producer, often served with pancakes, waffles, and other breakfast foods. Many Canadians enjoy maple syrup year-round, and it's used as a beloved sweetener in cooking and baking. The sweetener is deeply ingrained in Canadian culture and is often considered a symbol of Canadian identity. It is celebrated annually with the Maple Syrup Festival, which takes place in many towns and cities across Canada and typically features maple syrup tastings, pancake breakfasts, and demonstrations of traditional maple syrup production methods.


Poutine is a beloved Canadian dish that originated in Quebec in the 1950s. It basically consists of French fries, cheese curds, and gravy and has become a staple food in Canada. Poutine has even become popular outside of Canada, with many restaurants worldwide serving their own versions of the dish. But for Canadians, poutine is more than just a tasty snack – it's a national symbol.

Quick Canada Facts

Top Three Universities in Canada

1. University of Toronto

The U of T is Canada's top-ranked university and among the leading research institutions in the world. Founded in 1827, the university has over 90,000 students and a faculty of over 14,000. The university's acceptance rate for undergraduate degree programs is around 43%.

2. McGill University

McGill University is located in Montreal, Quebec and is among the most prestigious universities in Canada. Founded in 1821, McGill is renowned for academic excellence and research innovation. The acceptance rate for undergraduate programs at McGill University is around 41%.

3. University of British Columbia

UBC is located in Vancouver, British Columbia, and is among the top-ranked universities in the country. With over 70,000 students and a faculty of over 15,000, UBC is a leading research institution offering various undergraduate and graduate programs. The acceptance rate for undergraduate degree programs at UBC is around 52%.

Living in Canada as an International Student

Deciding on the kind of housing you will take is one of the most important decisions while studying in Canada. Multiple housing options are available to students and can be explored before you finalize something. Here are some of the most popular accommodation options:

- On-campus housing

Many universities in Canada offer on-campus housing options for international students. This can be convenient and affordable, with costs ranging from $4,000 to CAD 10,000 per academic year.

- Off-campus housing

Off-campus housing options include renting an apartment, sharing a house or apartment with roommates, or homestays with a Canadian family. Costs for off-campus housing vary depending on the location and type of accommodation, with average monthly rents ranging from $600 to CAD 2,000.

- Homestays

Homestays are popular for international students, particularly those new to Canada. Students live with a Canadian family and have the opportunity to practice their English language skills. Homestay costs vary depending on the location and level of services provided, with average monthly costs ranging from $800 to CAD 1,500.

- Hostels

Hostels are a budget-friendly option for short-term stays, such as during orientation or seeking more permanent housing. Hostel costs vary depending on the location and level of services provided, with average nightly rates ranging from $20 to CAD 50.

Cost of Living in Canada

The cost of living in Canada varies greatly depending on location and other factors. According to a recent survey by Numbeo, the average cost of living in Canada for a single person, including rent, is $2,731 CAD per month.

However, this can vary significantly depending on the city. Let's particularly talk about the most expensive city in Canada for international students. Vancouver is often cited as the most expensive due to its high housing costs, and the average cost of living can be around CAD 3,200. However, other cities such as Toronto, Montreal, and Victoria can also be expensive depending on the location and type of accommodation. It is crucial, then, that you carefully research the housing options and budget accordingly before making a final decision.

Study in Canada

Want to join the thousands of other Canadian students by studying in Canada? Arrange a free consultation with SI-Canada today.

Universities featured in this article:

  • University of Toronto
  • McGill University
  • University of British Columbia
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