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Key Cultural Differences Between the USA and Canada

Although they share a common border, and a common language, there are lots of key cultural differences between Canada and its southern neighbour the United States of America. Here Hamiltons Removals, experts at business and home removals to Canada, outline some of the key differences between the two if you are thinking of moving to either country.


Many public holidays such as Christmas, New Year, Easter are celebrated in both the US and Canada in the same way that we celebrate them here in the UK. Both countries also celebrate Labor Day (or Labour Day, as both the UK and Canada would say) on the first Monday in September. And while both countries celebrate Thanksgiving, they are celebrated at slightly different times – the holiday is celebrated in October in Canada and November in the USA.

Despite all the similarities, there are several differences.  The US celebrate:

  • Martin Luther King Day in January (after the famous civil rights leader, whose statue in Washington DC is pictured)
  • President’s Day in February (originally to commemorate George Washington and Abraham Lincoln, but since extended to all presidents)
  • Memorial Day in May (honouring war dead) Independence Day on July 4th
  • And Columbus Day in October (to celebrate the explorer’s arrival in the continent in 1492).

The Canadians, in contrast, mark:

  • Victoria Day in May (originally to mark Queen Victoria’s birthday, but now to recognise the Canadian monarch’s official birthday)
  • Canada Day on July 1st (to mark the day the country became a dominion independent of the USA in 1857)
  • August 1st is also a civic holiday to mark the end of slavery in the British Empire in the 1830s
  • The Canadians also mark the November 11th as Remembrance Day instead of Memorial Day.

The English Influence Lives On

The Canadian holidays are more in line with English or UK ones – not just because of the timing but also the spelling (as mentioned above with Labour/Labor Day).

Canada was part of the British Empire and remains part of the Commonwealth today. Some say Canadians take after the English and are more reserved/less brash than their US counterparts, who they humourously regard as ‘noisy neighbours’.

Certainly, some Canadian expressions have more in common with the UK than the US – they still use ‘petrol stations’ and not ‘gas stations’, ‘flat’ rather than ‘apartment,’ and they ‘go on holiday’ rather than ‘take a vacation’.

In the Workplace

On the subject of holidays, in Canada there is a sliding scale of entitlement for employment leave – usually two weeks of paid leave after you have been with the company for a year, three weeks after you’ve been with them for five years, and four weeks after 10 years’ service (this can vary slightly from province to province).

In the USA, there is no federal or national stipulation – it’s all down to the individual employer how much paid leave they offer. Although, in reality, it may not differ much from the Canadian model (and many US businesses operate a similar sliding scale based on years’ service) it is underpinned by a free enterprise culture where workers’ rights are not at the forefront.

On a micro level, Canadian employees are legally entitled to a 30-minute break every five hours. No such stipulation exists in the US where workers have the (probably undeserved) reputation of being ‘chained to their desks’. Some studies have suggested that Americans don’t use all their annual leave for fear of being replaced or giving the impression of laziness.

Sport and Leisure

In America, it’s the big four sports which dominate; American football (some of you may have just caught the Superbowl, which took place early Monday morning), baseball, basketball and ice hockey.

In Canada, only ice hockey (above) has the same place in the national psyche, with every city, school and college having its own rink. Lacrosse is the country’s summer sport, but ice hockey is comfortably the country’s most popular sport almost all year round (the NHL season typically wraps up in June and starts up again in early October).

They do play the other top three sports in America but either not to the same standard or the same rules (for instance, Canadian football rather than its US equivalent).

Away from that, both Americans and Canadians list watching TV and reading as their favourite pastimes (although reading may count as looking at a tablet, laptop or Kindle rather than an actual book or publication).

However, in terms of overall health, Canada has higher life expectancy (around 80 years old for men, and 84 for women, compared to 73 and 79 in the USA). This may reflect a sportier lifestyle (certainly Canada has more of a flourishing winter sports industry) or a healthier diet.

Overseas Removals to the USA and Canada with Hamiltons Removals

If you are considering removals to Canada or the USA, then Hamiltons Removals can help you. We offer deep sea removals to both the two countries, so you can be assured that all your belongings will make it over safely and swiftly.

We offer dedicated shipping containers, groupage (meaning your belongings are shared with others en-route) and air freight, giving you lots of options for your international move.

Any questions, call Hamiltons on 01379 855203.

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