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Bienvenue au Canada! – Settling in tips for this French speaking nation

Bienvenue au Canada! – Settling in tips for this French speaking nation

canadianflagCanada is an attractive destination for people that want to move abroad, with its cosmopolitan cities, unblemished landscape and multicultural society. Comprising of ten provinces and territories, Canada is the second largest country in the world in terms of greatest total area mass.

It can be easy to feel lost in such as a colossal country, but sticking to a few top tips from David Hollins, Regional General Manager at Crown Relocations, can make settling in to the Canadian lifestyle much easier.

1. Learn the language

There are over 9.5 million French speakers living in Canada, representing nearly one-third of Canada’s population. The province of Quebec is home to the majority of French speakers in Canada, and whilst 85% of Canadians can speak English in varying degrees, certain districts favor the French tongue, making it important to maintain an understanding of basic French phrases.

Since many of us haven’t practiced our French since our school days, taking up lessons can be a great way to brush up, and even meet other expats in a similar position. Just a couple of refresher sessions could be enough to help you converse like a ‘Canadien authentique’.

2. Manage your money

The Canadian dollar is the official currency of Canada, and is usually abbreviated to C$ to distinguish it from the neighboring American dollar. Owing to the image of a loon on the one-dollar coin, the currency is sometimes referred to as the ‘loonie’ or, similar to American currency, the ‘buck’.

Carrying a range of currency denominations is advisable, as some retailers have a tendency to refuse large payments for small items. Paying for a $1 item with a $50 bank note is just one example of a transaction which is likely to be refused, due to concerns about counterfeit currency.

Comparisons to America can also be drawn in relation to tipping. Tipping is an expectation in Canada, and figures of between 15% to 20% are the usual rate for gratuities in a restaurant. Don’t be offended if you see a tip automatically added to your bill – it’s not unusual for foreigners to be charged an ‘auto-grat’ on top of their bill, particularly if they are from a nation where tipping is not a standard practice.

3. Be season savvy

Temperatures in Canada are prone to fluctuating and vary widely based on time of year and location. The average range fluctuates from 28°C to -30°C. If you’re moving to Montreal or Toronto, summer temperatures are more prone to soaring, whereas areas such as Winnipeg experience the greatest chills during winter.

Extreme fluctuations in temperature have repercussions beyond just swapping the sandals for snow boots and, to avoid being stuck indoors during the greatest extremes, investigating social activities to suit all seasons can avoid a sense of cabin fever during the peaks of cold and warm weather.

4. Join a club

Staying social can be a great way to meet new people and build a network of friends within the country. Arguably sport forms a huge basis of friendships in Canada, and sport comes in a wide variety of shapes and forms within the nation.

Top favourites among Canadians include ice hocking and lacrosse, the official summer and winter sports, but Canadian football, curling and baseball are all other top picks. For the less sporty among us, Canada has a wide selection of theatres, cinemas, galleries, concert halls and community centres, each with their own individual allure.

5. Understand the culture

Canadian customs are similar to those of the United States. The country is a melting pot of different cultures and has a rich number of expats within the country, which has introduced a hybrid of backgrounds and customs. However, whilst Canada may be less strict on customs and behaviors than some other nationalities, there are still some quirks of the country which are worth understanding before you move.

Socially, guests to a dinner party are expected to send flowers in advance of the event taking place, and should neither clear their plate, nor leave too much food, at the end of a meal. Meanwhile, in business, meetings tend to be more informal, but small talk is less prevalent than it is in European nations. Reading up on customs before moving can be a simple way to avoid a faux pas once relocated.


Crown Relocations is a division of the Crown Worldwide Group. Crown Relocations operates from more than 200 locations in almost 60 countries, providing end-to-end relocation services.
  • LJ

    Umm… guests should send flowers before a dinner party? What? And not clean one’s plate? These are not things here. Bring wine or flowers to a dinner party maaaaybe, if you’re trying to be super polite, and eat as much as you want. Don’t send flowers in advance, that’s weird. Also, outside of Quebec, Ottawa, or New Brunswick, knowing French is almost no more helpful than knowing any other language.

    I’d say the only real quirky thing is that we take our shoes off in our homes, and expect guests to as well. Maybe that’s common in the UK or elsewhere, but Americans don’t do it for whatever gross reason. They just muck up the place.

  • Patricia Parker

    My family has been here since 1636. I am a chef and caterer…flowers at the door, perhaps, but wine will do or a small token, but sending flowers ahead; not with the distances and the climate we have.

  • Patricia Parker

    As to French. Quebec and smaller pockets in the huge land, but I have never been some place where I was not understood. If you decide to live in Quebec then probably you should in consideration of your host take French lessons and try to speak the language. Europe has many different languages, same thing.

  • DanEdgcumbe

    Hilarious. I actually wonder whether the author of this article has ever been to Canada.

  • Natnasci

    The only thing the ” loonie ” has in common with the ” buck ” is that both are nicknames, like ” Bob ” in the UK.
    As for ordering flowers ahead of time….NEVER heard of that NEVER do it. Bring them along, or a bottle of wine.
    Leaving food on your plate? No.
    The only restaurants that will add a tip automatically is if you are in a large group. It will be stated on the menu that they will do so.