Part II: O Canada, Our Home and Native Land

Monday 17 June 2013

Since moving abroad, it's become blatantly obvious how little people know about our vast and awesome country.

The international community often assumes that we must be just like the United States and while we gladly share more than just a border, nothing makes a Canadian angrier than being told we're practically American.  (After all, you wouldn't tell a Norwegian they're no different than a Swede or a Scot that they have no culture apart from England.)  We know that we don't do a great job of shouting our accomplishments out to the rest of the world but don't let our quietness fool you, we are fiercely proud of our country.

Over the next few weeks, I've teamed up with some of my favourite Canadian bloggers, expats and travellers to share with you some things that are distinctly Canadian.

You can check out Part One here!

From me...
Performing at this year's Coachella, Canadian sisters Tegan & Sara have been respected Canadian artists for years.  Born in Calgary, Alberta, their first album was released in 1999 and their 7th album hit the waves this year.  They've toured with Jack Johnson, The Black Keys, Death Cab for Cutie, The Killers and fellow Canadians, Brian Adams, Rufus Wainwright and City and Colour.  In recent history, their music was featured on Glee and HBO's Girls and they performed on The Ellen Degeneres Show after having just earned their first Grammy nomination.  We are proud to have these twin sisters representing Canadian music.

While most people know of Australia’s Aborigine people and Native Americans in the USA they are less so aware of Canada’s Aboriginal people also know as First Nations.

Canada is a young country by European standards but First Nations people settled across Canada by 40000 – 10000 BC.  Their history is long, complicated and often contentious but the richness of their culture gives a richness to the fabric of Canada.

First Nations’s art, music, food, and dress is quite distinctive and so quintessentially Canadian but not well known abroad.  If you are visiting Ontario, there is an annual Aboriginal festival in Toronto where one can go to learn more of the culture.  It is also a good opportunity to watch a pow wow and see all the different styles of dance.
Freda Diessing (1925-2002)
Eagle with Salmon 

I’m delighted to be sharing a few fun facts about my home country with you today. I’m currently studying towards two (yes, I must be crazy) postgraduate degrees in marketing and I’m living, eating, and breathing cool brands. And I bet you didn’t know a lot of those cool brands hail from Canada! (Yes, we do export more than maple syrup and friendly expats.)

RIM (Blackberry): Although it seems to be dying a slow death (sorry, BB’ers!) Research in Motion (RIM) and Blackberry are proud Canadian brands.

McCain: You’re probably familiar with McCain French fries, but you may not know that McCain Foods was established in 1957 by four brothers in Florenceville, New Brunswick (that’s on Canada’s East Coast). Today McCain produces a mind-boggling one-third of the world’s frozen French fry products, consumed in more than 110 countries!

Bombardier (Ski-Doo!): You might have guessed that Ski Doo’s were born in Canada, country of eternal winter. But wait, there’s more! Joseph Bombardier, inventor of the Ski-Doo, and his namesake company also make many of the trains, planes and automobiles that many of you probably rode to work this morning.

Lululemon: When you think of Canadian sports and sport apparel you probably conjure up images of hockey players, snowsuits, and skis. But famous yoga brand Lululemon was born here too, in Vancouver, British Columbia, in 1998.

Joe Fresh: Joe Fresh is a fashion brand created by designer Joe Mimran. Joe recently packed up and moved this brand to America, with pop-up shops in NYC and a flagship store on Fifth Avenue. Joe also recently opened over 680 stores within JC Penney outlets throughout America. Not bad for a brand that is still based in grocery stores across Canada! 

More brands to come from Jess later in the series!

Melissa is a current Canadian expat in London.  Born in Jamaica, growing up in Toronto and travelling from a young age, she's constantly exploring the world and inspiring wanderlust amongst her readers as well as sharing some cool, lesser-known things to do in the UK.

Jess, of Mike and Jess in Malta fame, moved from Halifax on the East coast of Canada to Malta in 2010.  She just completed a double Masters degree, already having finished a degree in Art History and can often be found revelling in clever branding.  If that didn't make her busy enough, she's planning an ├╝ber-cool wedding to her counterpart, Mike, this year.  (She also designed that awesome graphic above!)


  1. I love this post! Boyfriend is American and him and his friends always tease me about Canada. I wonder which one of us will become the expat..

  2. I love Tegan and Sara. I have yet to go to Canada, but have heard great things from Canadian friends and my husband from his camping trips there growing up. One day I will go. I do always joke that if I was to move back to North America, it would be to Canada, not America. I have just seen so many beautiful photos.

    Bonnie Rose | A Compass Rose

  3. Yes! Someone tackled the Canadian brand issue. LOVE IT! Mind you, I expect to continue hearing things like: "Lululemon is American" for years to come.


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