During my travels in Canada, local people have often asked me: “Why are there so many Australians here? Why do they come to Canada and why do they like it so much?”
Canadians are intrigued as to why their country attracts so many Aussies. Here are the reasons why, I think, Australians like travelling in Canada so much and why Australians and Canadians are kindred spirits.
1. Australians and Canadians, primarily, speak the same language
OK, it’s a pretty simple reason but a significant one.
One of the difficulties of travelling in a foreign country can be the language barrier. For Australians, Canada is an easy destination, especially for those taking a first trip to a foreign country. English is spoken throughout the country, even in the French-speaking province of Quebec. In Quebec’s biggest city, Montreal, although predominantly Francophone, you’ll find most people here are bi-lingual and can easily converse in English. The Aussie twang is well recognised in Canada although sometimes the locals find the accent a little difficult to understand. Despite this, the ‘Ozzie’ accent is apparently enchanting. I have been begged to say “G’day Mate!” by a guy and his friends. They had never met an Aussie before, which I found unbelievable! I obliged with an exaggerated “Geeeeedaaaaayyy Maaaaaattte!” and they were completely bewitched with amusement. I felt a little like a parrot in the circus. But, I have to say it is flattering to get attention in Canada, simply because of the way I speak.
Tips for Aussies: You may be asked to speak more (in English or French, it doesn’t matter) – people just want to hear you speak.
2. Canada has mountains that Australia does not
If you’re into snowboarding or skiing, there are only a few mountains in Australia that offer decent slopes, however most are long drives from any major city. In Canada, slopes are often no more than a few hours away from hubs such as Vancouver, Calgary, Montreal and Banff and they offer more extensive runs and bigger resorts. Australians flock to the Canadian slopes seeking a greater challenge, longer runs and more skiable areas. For example, Perisher in New South Wales, Australia, five to six hours drive away from Sydney or Melbourne, is the largest ski field in the southern hemisphere with a top elevation of 2054m (comparable to 2182m at Whistler). It has 1245 hectares of skiable area and the longest run is around 4km. Yet Mount Whistler only two hours from Vancouver offers runs of around 11 km’s with 1925 hectares of skiable area.
Almost three times the length of the longest run in OZ – of course Whistler attracts Australia’s “snow bunnies!”
3. We share a resilience to extreme weather and have a ‘get out there and do it’ mentality
Whether it is tackling the ski slopes, climbing a mountain, biking down rocky ridges or navigating a waterway, Canadians and Australians share a ‘get out there and give it a go’ mindset. Both peoples face challenging climatic conditions such as extreme hot (Australian outback) or extreme cold (everywhere in Canada!) which seems to toughen both nationalities up to be daring and intrepid adventurers.
Aussies are inspired by the Canadians’ adventurous spirit and their strength in dealing with extreme temperatures.
4. We relate to living in a big, big country
The second largest country after Russia in the world and the largest in the western hemisphere, Canada is immense. Australia is the largest country without land borders and the largest entirely in the southern hemisphere. Canadians and Australians know what it is like to live in an extensive geographical nation.
Both countries take 4-5 hours to fly from one end of their nation to another, and 40-45 hours to drive across. Travelling vast distances doesn’t faze Aussies.
5. We share a deep appreciation for nature
Both countries offer diverse natural environments, which lend themselves to outdoor activities and a love of nature. Both nationalities hold a fondness and appreciation for their landscapes. Canadians are proud of the natural beauty of their country and they enjoy camping, water activities and hiking in the mountains. Comparative to other countries, Australians live amongst great vast areas of wilderness and it is a nature lovers’ mecca thanks to our coastline, forests, Great Barrier Reef and wildlife such as kangaroos and koalas. As a result, Australians are also very proud and grateful for nature, which is at their doorstep. Whilst Canada has bears, Aussies have sharks, spiders and snakes, meaning we both share a humility and caution whilst out in nature.
Australians like soaking up the natural beauty in Canada, which, with its mountains and lakes, offers a stunning, but stark, contrast to Australia’s environment.
6. People are relaxed and friendly
How could Aussies not love Canadians? I have met a lot of friendly people on my travels but here in Montreal I have been astounded to witness some great acts of kindness – strangers stepping in to carry a couple’s baby stroller up the subway stairs for them, cars stopping for pedestrians everywhere, smiles given effortlessly and freely on the streets, patience, encouragement and enthusiasm for my effort and attempt to speak French. In fact, all over Canada you will find really welcoming people. Canadians often tell me that Australians treat them with the same friendly manner, whilst they have been travelling Down Under. The nationalities are very similar in terms of their warmth and down to earth attitudes.