There are many wonderful things about Canada which people talk about so often – the extreme climate, dramatic landscapes and iconic culture to name just a few. Whilst these are indeed amazing assets to the country, after living here for a month or two, I’ve noticed some other seemingly benign things which might normally go under the radar and people don’t normally point out. I’m going to highlight a few of these things which are largely unique to Canadian society, and that I find interesting.

Firstly, I cannot emphasise enough how big a role Tim Horton’s coffee plays in the functioning of Canada. They really are everywhere – I’ve done a few journeys on the motorway and there must be a “timmies” around every 5 minutes on the motorway. Obviously after seeing this I was excited to see what all the hype was about, but after trying the coffee itself I was a bit confused. Make no mistake, it’s good, but it’s nothing to write home about. What it is though, is cheap (£1.05 for a medium coffee). Along with its low cost, I think Canadians like it so much is because it is so iconically Canadian – It was co-founded by a legendary ice hockey player (Tim Horton), and it’s internationally recognised as Canadian, making people like it even more. I’ve struggled to find a close British equivalent. Imagine if David Beckham co-founded a chain which served mostly English Breakfast Tea and scones, that would be it!

Next up is Good Will. There’s not much to say about this, it’s basically a supermarket sized charity shop where you can get preowned clothes, electronics, sports equipment, toys – basically anything. This might seem like familiar territory as we have charity shops in England too, but the range of products here is so different. I’ve found vintage jackets which would cost the world in England but they’re very cheap here. I got a Seattle Seahawks windbreaker for £5.80, and there’s a very similar one listed on eBay for £90. Some of my friends have also purchased ice skates from here, which they use at the free ice skating which runs on weekdays. I’m really not exaggerating when I say there’s everything here – preowned dressing-gowns, coffee machines, gym equipment and a lot of other products which I’m not sure should be for sale preowned.

The final thing I want to note is the often absurd portion sizes when eating at a restaurant. I went to a place called ihop (meaning “international house of pancakes”) when in Niagara Falls. Some of my friends ordered pancakes priced at £7, expecting a small stack of American style pancakes. What arrived could’ve easily fed 2 people and left them satisfied. On the one hand, this is great value for money, but it also led to all of us eating far more than we actually wanted or needed and a lot of it we ended up wasting.

So there you have it – 3 very random, unrelated things which I’ve noticed since coming here. I’m not sure what you can do with this information, but hopefully its given you a little insight into Canadian society from an angle which you’re not used to seeing.

Tim Horton’s, Good Will, and Ihop

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