Canada vs. United States

If you’ve never been to Canada, it’s easy to hold onto the notion that because it is an English-speaking country in North America that the people, places, and things are comparable to the United States. And based of that paradigm, maybe it is. But the minute you touch down in the True North, the differences start revealing themselves. They range from charming (“jeepers” is the new “wow”), to wild (um, polar bears showing up to breakfast?!). Here are a few of the Canadian quirks that we picked up on while tracking polar bears and testing the Arctic Heatzone coat in Manitoba:

SEE ALSO: Guidance Through The Canadian Arctic


  1. The great thing about Canadians is that you’ll never exhaust conversation, because they are always speaking in the interrogative. With a simple, “Eh,” affixed to the end of a sentence, everything becomes a question. It’s nice to feel like someone is interested in what you have to say.
  2. Snacks are different. Rice Krispy treats are Rice Krispy cake. Candy bars are chocolate bars—even if there is no chocolate involved.
  3. There are polar bear jails. It’s where naughty polar bears that are getting too close to town go to think about what they did in solitary confinement. And it actually looks like a jail, holding cells, gated doors, and all.
  4. The Northern Lights are their version of a starry night. In northern Canada, a good, clear night happens more often than not. And when you are that close to the North Pole, a good clear night means Northern Lights.
  5. Beef can be substituted anytime with moose meat. And it will be.
  6. In the wilderness, certain areas are known for and referred to by their geographical characteristics. Locals refer to territory to as one would refer to neighborhoods in a town. “I saw the bear sleeping at The Willows earlier,” and “We made a fire in The Thicket.”
  7. Wolves in Canada howl with accents (not really). So do Canadian wilderness guides (really).
  8. The government has their own Directors of Toughness, called Saskatchewanderers. You submit a video, win a contest, and are paid $60,000 to take a trip around the province of Saskatchewan for a year on the dime of the Ministry of Parks Culture and Sport, Economy, Agriculture, and Tourism Saskatchewan.
  9. Canada takes their maple syrup seriously. People have been arrested for pouring maple syrup onto the streets. And no one will ever forget the Great Maple Syrup Heist of 2012.
  10. Canadians are very polite (which is incredibly disarming for someone like me coming from New York City). In fact, Canadians are so polite and say “sorry” so often that the Ontario legislature passed the “Apology Act,” which mandates an apology as a “nicety” instead of an expression of regret or sympathy.


Follow Columbia Sportswear’s Directors of Toughness, Lauren Steele and Zach Doleac, as they journey around the world and put our latest gear through the harshest conditions on TwitterFacebookPeriscopeInstagram, and Snapchat (columbia1938).

Lauren Steele is a Midwestern farm girl turned migrant. She is a writer who knows that the unknowns in life make for the best stories—and for the most amazing adventures. Chasing those stories from Chile to Switzerland have prepared her to become Columbia Sportswear’s Director of Toughness. You can follow Lauren’s journey as Director of Toughness here and social channels including: Twitter | Instagram



Zach Doleac is an adventure travel and sports photographer (and full-time outdoor junkie) born and raised in the Pacific Northwest. Traveling through places such as Central America, Canada, and the mountain ranges of the U.S., he only pauses long enough to make photographs of the people and places that he encounters along the way. You can follow Zach’s journey as Director of Toughness and social channels including: Instagram | Twitter