Canada's culture has historically been influenced by European culture and traditions, especially British and French. Canada's federal government has influenced Canadian culture with programs, laws and institutions. In general, the way of life, family structure, cuisine, and dress are closer to those of the United States than to those of Britain or France.
Canada has become a cultural mosaic in which immigrant groups have been able to retain much of their ethnic culture. The major metropolitan centres have provided several focal points for artistic activity stimulated by a rapidly urbanizing society. Like the cultures and customs of other countries, culture and customs of Canada are very distinctive and unique. Canada occupies a very specific piece of the world's geography.
Food plays an inextricable role in our daily lives. Food is such an essential element of people's lives that many people think of countries first and foremost in terms of their food and cuisine. While Canada is not known internationally for its culinary contributions or accomplishments the way China, India, France and Italy are, it is known in many parts of the world for its diverse foods and foodstuffs, as well as its regional specialties and escalating gastronomic achievements. This is due to the incredible diversity of the country's environment, its multicultural character, and its rapidly growing coterie of world-class chefs, cooks and culinary specialists.
Canada is well known throughout the world today for the quantity and quality of its fresh-water fish, ocean fish, and shellfish - Atlantic and Pacific salmon, Arctic char, cod, eel, clams, oysters, mussels, lobsters, mackerel, sturgeon, gold eye, white fish, mullet, pickerel, pike, bass, trout, and the like. Many of these delicacies are packed up in fresh, frozen, or smoked form and shipped off to destinations in other parts of the world in response to the high demand for them. While drink is an essential part of the food and cuisines of all peoples and countries in the world - think of what tea means to China and Japan and wine and beer mean to Germany, France, and other European countries - Canada does not have a long tradition in this area.
The country is also well-known for its fruits, grains, vegetables and berries, particularly wild rice, an international favorite, fiddleheads, wheat, corn - a basic staple enjoyed originally by the aboriginal peoples but now loved by all Canadians as buttered corn on the cob - peaches, potatoes, pears, plums, blueberries and apples.
While Canada?s oceans, lakes, agricultural lands, forests and wilderness areas yield many of the foodstuffs that Canadians and people in other parts of the world enjoy today, dietary and culinary practices have changed considerably in Canada over the last fifty years. Like many countries in the world, Canada is rapidly becoming a "fast food nation," with more and more people anxious to "eat on the run."
Like food and cuisine, housing and architecture constitute an essential part of Canadian culture and customs. Since most of the population was engaged in farming rather than fishing and trapping by this time, farmhouses were built with increased regularity in most parts of the country. Built of stone, wood, and occasionally brick, most were heated with large wood stoves in the kitchen.
Towns and cities were also the places where people started to become aware of architectural styles and fashions popular in other parts of the world. Since France and Great Britain exerted a powerful influence on Canada in the seventeenth, eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, French and British architectural styles and fashions had a particularly powerful impact on architecture in Canada at this time.
In a country like Canada with four seasons, especially a country where all the seasons are dominated by one season and climatic changes are frequent, a great deal of clothing is required as well as numerous changes in it. Most people in the world would consider this to be excessive in the extreme. And perhaps is it for Canadians who are hooked on shopping, clothes, and fashion. But for most Canadians, it is merely protection against the elements and precaution against the numerous changes that take place in climate and the seasons.
Canada's National Emblem is the maple leaf, featured predominately in the Canadian Flag. No one single person can be credited with the design of the maple leaf flag. Indeed, the design arose based on a strong sense of Canadian history and a result of a collaborative effort.
When Canada was officially formed by Confederation in 1867, Canada was still very much a British colony and therefore used the well-recognized God Save the Queen as its national anthem. Today, Canada's official national anthem is O Canada. It was written in 1880 by Calixa Lavallee (music) and Judge Adofphe-Basile Routhier (words). In 1908 Robert Stanley Weir wrote the translation on which the current English lyric is based. It was July 1st, 1980 that O Canada was declared our National Anthem.