So I’m back in Canada for a summer holiday with the whole fam jam and I’m happy to report I’ve already done a ton of “very Canadian things”:

Celebrated Canada Day? ✔ Went camping in the woods?✔ Ate Spitzs and S’mores by a camp fire? ✔ Hiked in bear-country? ✔Sipped Caesars? ✔ Ate Ketchup and all-dressed chips? ✔ Brunched on Canadian back-bacon and maple syrup? ✔✔

Canada is and will always be my home, but since I’ve lived in the Netherlands for so long now (12 years, holy crap!) I can’t help but notice all the weird and wacky “stuff that Canadians like” every time I come back. Canadians are a unique breed with some fairly odd behaviours …and you thought I only spoke that way about the Dutchies! hah!

Here’s the top 5 weird and wonderful things I’ve noticed about Canadians these past 3 weeks:

#1: Why hello there:
Canadians – especially Winnipeggers – are so darn friendly. Now, now Dutchies, I hear ya already: “But it’s fake! It’s not real.” Well, I’m here to tell you this just ain’t so, at least in these parts. Canadians, like their American counterparts are a really friendly genuine folk. I always forget how chipper Canadians are and how they strike up small-talk with strangers just about anywhere. It’s definitely up there with the things I miss most.

#2: Service with a smile:
Ahhh…..nothing warms my heart like kick-ass customer service. Helpful, efficient and friendly, who could argue with that? But don’t forget to tip! I’ve sure noticed that the added 15-20% gratuity does make for some pricier meals than in the Lowlands. Good service (at a price) vs the basics (with a savings): which would you pick??


#3: Activewear overload:
You knew it was coming right? It couldn’t be all rainbows and sunshines here in Canaidia. Ok friends, so things are much more laid-back here; no multi-lane highway traffic jams, no overwhelming crowds and no cramped quarters. I totally get that the wide open spaces and big skies make for relaxing times, but what’s with all the activewear?? Do you need to be that comfortable and relaxed all the freakin’ time?! Or is it that you are all constantly en route to some 24-hour gym?? The moment I stepped off the plane, I immediately noticed the fashion (or any many, cases lack-there-of): t-shirts, yoga pants, runners, hoodies and sweats.

Canadian ladies: I get it. It’s comfy. It’s easy. It’s practical. And for the most part you seem to be doing it with style. [ I can’t lie. There is something so darn tempting about all this comfiness….and it appears to be somewhat contagious. Perhaps I found myself out for a dinner at a nice restaurant last week in yoga pants and a t-shirt. And perhaps I liked it. Perhaps.] Who am I to judge?

Canadian Men:We need to talk. Yep, you. And you. And YOU. Can you try just a little harder? (Or at least pretend to?)  Do you have to wear those ‘Dad-jeans’ and that over-sized t-shirt with the chicken-wing stain from yesterday, again? And what’s with all the facial hair and baseball caps? It’s going a bit far. Don’t you agree? We know you invented lumber-sexual, but it’s time for a visit to the barber shop. Ok?  


#4: Stuff, lots and lots of good ol’ stuff:

TORONTO, ONTARIO - October 3, 2011. Canadian Tire on Lakeshore Blvd. in Toronto on October 3, 2011. Photo by Colin O'Connor for Maclean's.

Canada certainly is the land of plenty. Everytime I’m back I’m amazed by the sheer amount of goods. The local grocery store we’ve been shopping at is literally  TEN TIMES the size of the largest Albert Hein I can find in Amsterdam. There are rows upon rows of stuff. Big stuff, little stuff, food stuff, clothes stuff, home stuff, useful stuff and useless stuff. For an occasional shopaholic, it always gets my heart racing and feet pounding the aisles. Maybe I need this. And this. And ALL THIS. Yes, I seem to need ALL THE THINGS when in Canada.

The truth is, at home in Amsterdam, I can only ever purchase what I can physically carry on a bicycle. Yes, my groceries choices are limited to how much I can peddle home with. Here in the land-of-large, I have a whole SUV I can stuff to the brim with useless crap. Of course, once I’ve filled my overflowing cart I always have that same sinking realization: shite, I’ll never fit all this in my suitcases.  And so I abandon ship (or in this case cart) to roam the aisles once more, admiring all.that.stuff and wondering how I’ve managed to live without it all for so very many years…

#5: Very public toilets:

piblic toilets
Where o’ where do I even start on this one? Canadians: you deserve better. You deserve more. You deserve the right to not  have to pee in public, in stalls that have massive gaps and cracks that allow dozens of eyes to peer in. Take a look at your European neighbours, they don’t suffer the same. In Europe you get your very own little closest with a toilet, not some rickety stall that with your head peeking out on top and your legs peeking out at the the bottom with no huge gaps and cracks between the doors and walls.

image1 (2)

My daughter used the toilet in the Edmonton airport and immediately shouted “Mom, why do Canadians all pee together with their pants around their feet? I can HEAR everyone!” Yes, daughter, “Yes, you can! Why, or why? ” The internets tells me it’s “economical” and “easier to measure doors that don’t reach the ceiling”. Really? REALLY? Is this shocking lack of privacy simply because some guy wanted to save a few pennies and couldn’t be bothered to measure all the way to the ceiling. I seriously hope not. Rebel Canadians! Fight for your rights! Demand better public toilets now!




8 Responses

  1. Leny Vanderjagt

    I’m Dutch Canadian. I have never once seen someone peeking through the gap in the toilet stalls. These washrooms are all built to code and not because they are cheaper. There IS a reason although I can’t remember what it is. Despite all the Dutch ‘saunas’ and nude beaches, could it really be that Dutch people are more uptight that what was previously assumed. Yes, I think so. I went to a sauna for the first time in Holland and it took me all of two minutes to feel perfectly comfortable. Except when I almost opened the door to the restaurant without my robe.

    About football or soccer,I wish I had an orange flag to hang next to the Dutch and Canadian flags. I love Nederland, having been born there and later working there and dragging my very willing husband-to-be to Canada. I have never seen Dutch people so excited at becoming Canadian citizens after five years of being a landed immigrant. (It’s now only 3 years).

    This past Canada Day, on Canada’s 150th birthday, there was never a more patriotic Canadian than myself. My husband and parents have all passed away. The little maple leaf stickers on my white car look great, and I’m planning to leave the Canadian flag hanging from my car window. I have 150 year sweats, t-shirts, socks and pj’s sporting MY flag.

    I don’t drive in Nederland but if I did, there would be a Dutch flag on my white car! Along with an orange one, if that’s allowed. They also have coolest Royal Family, and I personally greeted Queen Beatrix quite a few years ago in Calgary. Oh, those beautiful flowers and her friendly hi, how are you, will never be forgotten. I could go on and on, but must leave space for the next person. Next spring I will be there again. Wearing my Canada/Holland pin! And I should bring my 150 year red sweatshirt, because of course it could be quite cool walking on the beach in stormy weather, in my opinion the best time to go for a walk!

  2. Marcela

    Lived in Edmonton for four years, and now live in the Netherlands. I think on the daily routine it’s not all that politeness and smiles on shops and services, that never caught my attention when I lived there. But the size of supermarkets (Costco!) are indeed unbelievable and pricey! My grocery bill is much cheaper here than it was in Canada.
    But I thought I was the only one that cared about the baseball caps! They all wear it, most with sunglasses on top of it (they do that in the US too). It’s interesting what the foreigners’ eyes see.
    But Canada is beautiful and great to go back for visits.

  3. Judy de Lang

    Hilariously witten with a “knipoog ” to reality! ??

  4. Gerrit

    “Canadians, like their American counterparts are a really friendly genuine folk.”…..CORRECT!… Me, a retired Canadian living in Thailand (Immigrated from Nederland at age 9) can attest to the truth of that statement……Here we encounter expats from all over…….and there is a stark difference between Canadians/Americans and Europeans. The latter being more stand-offish, and less-friendly by far, while Canadians/Americans display the traits referenced in above quote.

  5. Steph

    Couldn’t agree more! My husband also want to physically measure the parking spaces so we can compare them to Dutch spots. We’re estimating they’re about a metre larger.

  6. Suzan

    Pretty accurate! Loved reading this as a Dutchy living in Calgary. Especially the friendly part. So even if it is not genuine all the time, it is so much nicer to be greeted with a “Hi, how is your day going and how can I help you” then “wat wil je, ik heb niet de hele dag te tijd” (with eyes rolling up). A little ‘friendlyness’ goes a long way!

  7. Bert Sw

    At least there are public toilets.
    Try looking for them in a Dutch shopping area


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