Canada Culture has been interpreted differently by different nationalities around
the world. Ask a foreigner to describe Canada and you will get some interesting
Ask the Chinese and they might tell you that Canada is "Gold Mountain" due
to their Chinese ancestors who were part of the Canadian gold rush in the 18th and
19th centuries. Ask another nationality, and they might tell you that "Canada is
cold with Eskimos" or "Canada speaks French" or "Canada is just like the United States"
or "Canada, they all play hockey".
While none of the comments are one hundred percent
true by itself, the aggregation of all those comments accurately describes Canada
and Canada Culture.
As a nation Canada is huge stretching over 3,000 miles from coast to coast, but it
only has approximately 1/10 of the population of the United States or 30 million.
Unlike the U.S. which is a cultural melting pot, Canada prides itself as a cultural
mosaic with diverse ethnic groups from the influx of immigrants over the past century.
The European influence is quite evident as both English and French are the official
languages of the country.
Regional Cultural Differences
Regionally, there are also cultural and political differences. The Atlantic Provinces
on the eastern part of the country are full of tiny local towns heavily influenced
by the fishing industry. The French and their culture dominate the province of Quebec.
The vast majority of English speaking Canadians live in Ontario which is the industrial
heartland of Canada. Toronto, Ontario often considered as Canada's New York City
is arguably the most cosmopolitan center in Canada.
West Versus the East
The western provinces also claim to have their uniqueness due to its agricultural
influence. British Columbia on the most western part of Canada is considered the
California of Canada. Due to its geographic location, British Columbia has the warmest
weather of all of Canada. It also has a heavy Asia Pacific influence due to immigration.
Canada Culture: Beliefs and Values
Due Canada's ethnic composition, it is one of the nations which demonstrates significant
tolerance and acceptance of ethnic differences. Unlike the U.S., Canada encourages
its immigrants to retain their ethnic background as they settle in this vast land.
It is the composition of the many cultures that makes up Canada's cultural mosaic.
Canadians work best when someone shows respect and tolerance. It is no wonder that
the Canadian culture clashes with the more aggressive, competitive nature of American
Canadians as a society are more conservative than their American counterparts. In
business, Canadians tend to take longer to make a decision than their American neighbors.
They prefer to have all the detail information before a decision is made. Canadians
will also appear to be more reserved in nature. They will appear to be more reserved
and formal in their business dealings. There is no yelling or other signs of emotional
outbursts. As a foreigner doing business with Canadians, you are advised to behave
Business Greetings - Kiss or No Kiss
Business greetings are typically conducted with a hello and a firm hand shake. However,
the European tradition of kissing on the cheek can be seen with the French speaking
Canadians especially in the province of Quebec. The English tend to stand farther
away from each other than the French. The French tend to speak more with gestures.
It is all these characteristics which blend together to form a cultural mosaic for
Canada. Keep these beliefs, values and behaviors in mind as you are dealing with
the Canadians in business.