Local Etiquette In Canada

Local Etiquette In Canada
Visitors to Canada should not have trouble fitting in and feeling welcome thanks to the easy-going and friendly attitude carried by most Canadians. This is a country that takes things in its stride, is fairly tolerant and open to new ideas and ways of living. The etiquette in Canada is essentially a mix of the common denominators from Europe and America.

Whether you're a man or woman, it's common to shake hands when you meet someone for the first time and often each successive time you meet again. Eye contact is important to assess your trustworthiness and a firm handshake suggests that you are confident and have nothing to hide. In Quebec, however, things are quite different from the rest of Canada. In this thoroughly French society, it's common to kiss on the cheeks when meeting.

In general, Canada is more formal than America when it comes to age and titles. The use of ‘Mr' and ‘Ms' as well as ‘sir' and ‘ma'am' is normal when speaking to someone older or who deserves respect. Last names should be used in business situations or when addressing someone older, but first names are fine with peers and friends. In the western part of Canada these social rules are slightly more relaxed than in the east.

Both English and French are official languages in Canada, though English is by far the most common. In Quebec it's expected that visitors can speak French, and a touch of aloofness and attitude is not uncommon from Quebec locals.

Canadians are also more sensitive about personal space and body language than Americans. Keeping an arm's length distance between yourself and someone you're speaking to is important, and it's rare that you should need to physically touch someone for any reason. French Canadians are much more animated when they speak, using heavy hand gestures and other movements.

Punctuality is important to Canadians, whether it's a business meeting or just a lunch reservation. Table manners in restaurants are the same as in America, but again, when in Quebec you'll find that everything is a little more Frenchified. Eating while walking is considered bad form in Quebec, as is ordering a cocktail before your meal.

Overall, in Canada it's hard to anger the locals. Don't compare them to Americans, as this is the single sticky point for most Canadians. Be prepared to use a little French if you visit Quebec and while in Vancouver you'll find you can relax more in public than in Toronto. The indigenous people of Canada prefer the term ‘people of the first nations' instead of Native Americans, which is acceptable in the United States.