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Crash Course in Canadian Culture

Canada Day is July 1: learn what to eat, drink, watch, and listen to while celebrating in Chicago.

By Arts & Culture, Uncategorized

A brief guide to celebrating Canada Day in Chicago


Canada has long had a special relationship with Chicago, not simply for its proximity to the border, but because so many Canadians have taken up residence in the city— over 16,000, to be exact.  As Canada Day approaches on July 1, here are a few ways to prepare and celebrate with your Canuck friends.

What is Canada Day?

“Canada Day” celebrates the day in 1867 when three of the colonies forming Canada were united into one semi-autonomous dominion. Today, it serves as a general celebration of Canada’s nationhood, a holiday similar to the 4th of July, complete with barbeques, parades and fireworks.

What Do Canadians Eat?

Poutine. Image couretsy of














Like any major holiday, Canada Day should be celebrated with classic Canadian foods. For instance, try making your own poutine. All you need are french fries sprinkled with cheese curds and gravy ladled overtop. Bake this in an oven for a few minutes, and it’s ready to serve. This French Canadian treat is gaining popularity throughout the city, so if you’re not up to making your own, The Gage on Michigan Avenue serves up a gourmet version made with delicious elk ragout.

Delicious maple syrup. Image courtesy of













There are lots of tasty dishes I could recommend, but what would an article on Canada be without maple syrup? Maple syrup is not just for pancakes; try it on ice cream, in coffee, on sausage, bacon, or toast with brown sugar, and of course, on top of your eggs. The more you experiment with it, the more you discover that everything tastes better with maple.

What do Canadians Drink?

The Caesar. Image courtesy of















While the Bloody Mary cocktail is popular in the U.S., Canada’s number one drink is  the Caesar. This spicy alternative to the Bloody Mary was invented in Canada in the 1960s as a sort of tribute to Italian food. Make your own at home in a high ball glass with one ounce of vodka, two dashes of hot sauce, three dashes of salt and pepper and four to six ounces of Clamato juice. Rim the glass with celery salt, add a garnish of lime and a celery stalk, and you’ve got a refreshing summer cocktail.

What do Canadians do for Fun?

John Candy in Canadian Bacon















The long weekend is a great time to catch up on your Canadian culture. Watch classic films like “Canadian Bacon,” or explore newer indie flicks like “One Week,” starring Joshua Jackson. At The National Film Board of Canada website, you can watch independent Canadian films like “Moon Man” and “Night Mayor” for free.

For your Canada Day soundtrack, take your pick of artists from Justin Bieber to k.d. lang, from Leonard Cohen to The Arcade Fire. There are a multitude of amazing Canadian music acts, but if you’re looking for new sounds, listen to CBC Radio 3, where new and alternative acts debut.

Now that you’ve been primed for celebrating Canada Day, there’s only one thing left to do: go to Ottawa, Ontario for the celebration on Parliament Hill. Prince William and his new bride, Catherine, will be in attendance, so festivities are likely to be extra celebratory. Short of driving 15 hours to Ottawa, do what any Canadian would do: enjoy the beautiful Chicago weather outside and with friends.

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