Is there a difference between English and French Canada?
Canada is a unique country that’s split between two distinct regions – French Canada and English Canada. As with all countries, Canada has its own distinct culture, history and way of life. But does the culture vary wildly depending on where in Canada you choose to move? And is there more to culture in the Quebec region of Canada than speaking French?
First thing’s first, the difference in language is fairly important. Canada has two official languages, but for the Quebecois French is their first language. And because language is one of the biggest determiners of culture, there is a cultural difference between French Canada and English Canada.
While people in Quebec do learn English at school and almost the entirety of French Canada is at bilingual, you’ll find that most people in the province use French in their daily life. People in English Canada are usually pretty good at French too, though the average fluency usually isn’t of the same level. Of course, with a lack of a national standard curriculum in Canada, the degree to which people study French varies from province to province, territory to territory.
This brings us onto the national cultural stereotypes of Canada. There is a common misconception that all Canadians have the same accent, that everyone says “aboot” and ends every sentence in “eh?”. As the world’s second largest country, Canada is unsurprisingly home to a large number of different accents and only a small number of Canadians have the accent this stereotype is based on. People in Alberta, for example, sound different to people from Vancouver, and people from Toronto sound different from them both. The same is true of French Canada – people from Quebec sound different from area to area. And importantly, people from Quebec sound different from people from Paris.
Language aside, the differences in culture are mostly due to the fact that French Canada’s history is linked to France, whereas the English-speaking provinces and territories are more closely linked to the UK. Despite all this this, the biggest cultural differences simply come down to media and food consumption. By and large, most of Canada has a fairly similar culture.
A cultural stereotype of Canada is that everyone is polite and friendly. Fortunately, this is very much a truism; Canada is routinely ranked in the top 10 safest, most peaceful countries to live in, on a par with New Zealand, Switzerland and Japan. The Canadian people as a whole are extremely polite, incredibly friendly and very welcoming towards the expat and international communities. However, just like any country, the culture you’ll find in Canada’s individual provinces and territories will have its own unique quirks and differences. People from Vancouver have been likened to people from California, for example, whereas people from Toronto have been likened to New Yorkers and Londoners. However, if you’re moving to rural Quebec with no French language skills you may struggle to communicate with the locals no matter how friendly they are!
All in all, Canadian culture is as similar but varied as you would expect from any country of its size. Whether you’re moving to British Columbia, Manitoba or Quebec, you’re naturally going to experience a slightly different culture – that being said, you’re in for the same polite, friendly, welcoming group of people that Canada has become world-famous for.
If you have any questions about moving to Canada, or Canadian culture during your relocation, feel free to contact a member of our expert relocation team today.