Canadian Culture and Traditions

Canada FoodCanadian food is highly dependent on the locally available ingredients, and hence, there is a wide variety of cuisine available as one travels across the country. Healthy and ethnic food rubs shoulders with the baked goodies and other comfort foods in the country.

Canada MusicCanadian music reflects the country’s unique diversity–its strong English and French heritage, its pre-colonial aboriginal traditions as well as the influence of its immigrant populations. Although Canadian music has been heavily influenced by American music and culture; the close proximity between the two neighbors and the subsequent migration makes this inevitable, the country has nevertheless consistently produced musicians of international renown.

Art and Painting
Art and PaintingCanadian art is a conglomeration of influences from different cultures across the world as well as its own pre-colonial aboriginal art. Before the advent of the first European settlers in Canada, indigenous art was primarily a confluence of the aboriginal culture and music with art itself. In the mid-19th century French Colonial art, largely in the renaissance period featuring religious depictions was patronized mainly by the Catholic Church. Some known painters of this period are Pierre Le Ber, Cornelius Krieghoff and Paul Kane.

A group of landscape painters called the ‘Group of Seven,’ who came into prominence in the early 20th century, are debated to be the most influential artists in Canada’s history. Their art led to a surge of nationalism in Canada. The original members of the group were Franklin Carmichael, Lawren Harris, AY Jackson, Frank Johnston, Arthur Lismer, J.E.H MacDonald, and Frederick Varley. Canadian art achieved a distinct identity of its own only after the Second World War in 1945 when the government also played a vital role in the propagation of art. This was also the period when abstract art came into being in Canada.

The origin of Canadian sculpture is known to be from ship-art, more specifically in the making and carving of ship mastheads. The first known sculpture in Canada was in New France in 1671 when sculptors were commissioned to do decorative work on a merchant vessel, the Canadien. For decades, naval sculpture remained the dominant form in which carpenters doubled up as sculptors and work was entirely in wood, although religious sculpture did follow suit. Other mediums for sculpture made their entrance only in the latter half of the 19th century.

Some of the most inventive art in the realm of sculpting was made in Canada during the period between 1950-80. The period exposed sculptors to a great variety of new materials, and they responded with new kinds of constructions, multimedia works, installations and site-specific inventions, along with more traditional freestanding objects. Walter Allward, Jean-Paul Reopelle, Jordi Bonet, Lain Baxter, Sean Rooney, and Bill Reid, are some of the most noted sculptors of modern Canada.

Design and Architecture
Design and ArchitectureAfter the arrival of the Europeans, architecture in Canada was initially influenced by the Baroque and New England styles and later by the Victorian and Gothic Revival styles. The Château style was used in several public structures, such as the Supreme Court building. The desire for a unique Canadian style led to a revival of the Neo-Gothic style during the inter-war period.

After the Second World War glass skyscrapers started dominating Canada’s skyline. Many Canadian projects of this period were designed by foreigners, who won open contests. Prominent Modernists such as Ludwig Mies van der Rohe and I.M Pei designed major works in Canada. At the same time top Canadian architects did much of their work abroad.

LiteratureModern Canadian Literature can be predominantly divided into two categories–English and French literature, although in recent years immigrant literature from Canada has also made its mark internationally. The first writers in English were primarily travelers, explorers, British officers and their wives. The earliest documents were therefore, simply narratives of journeys and exploration. However, since Canada officially became a country in 1867, it has been argued that the literature predating this was colonial.

In the 1960s, an experimental branch of Québécois literature began to develop. In 1967, the country’s centennial year, the national government decided to increase funding to publishers which gave further impetus to local literature. Prior to this, Canadian English literature was seen more as an appendage to British and American Literature.

Booker Prize winning authors from Canada are: Michael Ondaatje, Margaret Atwood, and Yann Martel; while Alice Munro has won the Man Booker International Prize as well as the Nobel Prize in Literature.

Like its art and literature, Canadian fashion was heavily borrowed and adopted from French fashion when the first European settlers started arriving in the country. Similarly, modern Canadian fashion is seen as more non-Canadian with more global influences. Some of the top fashion houses in Canada include LGFG fashion house, Greta Constantine, Pink Tartan, Smythe, and the top designers include Denis Gagnon and Jeremy Laing.

CinemaCanadian cinema has been largely regional and niche in nature. Notable filmmakers from English Canada include David Cronenberg, Guy Maddin, Atom Egoyan, Allan King, and Michael Snow. Notable filmmakers from French Canada include Claude Jutra, Gilles Carle, Denys Arcand, Jean Beaudin, Robert Lepage, Denis Villeneuve, and Michel Brault.

Predictably, like all its other art forms, Canadian Cinema is intricately linked with the cinema of its neighbor; the US. Canadian directors who are best known for their American-produced films include Norman Jewison, Jason Reitman, Paul Haggis and James Cameron. Canadian actors who achieved success in Hollywood films include Mary Pickford, Norma Shearer, Donald Sutherland, Jim Carrey, and Ryan Gosling.

Many Hollywood films and television shows are filmed in Canada, although often un-credited.

SportsThe sports popular in Canada include ice hockey, lacrosse, Canadian football, basketball, soccer, curling, baseball, golf, swimming, volleyball, skiing, cycling, and tennis. Ice hockey is the most popular spectator sport in Canada and is also its official winter game; while Lacrosse has Native American origins, and is the official summer game of the country.

Famous Canadians
Famous Canadians
One of the most famous and dearly beloved of the Canadians in the last 100 years is Terry Fox, who had his leg amputated due to cancer, and since then he is honored as a secular saint of modern Canada. He organized a one man marathon across the country to raise funds for cancer research.

Other famous Canadians include Dr. David Suzuki, scientist activist and media star; hockey player Wayne Gretzky; Marc Garneau, the first Canadian in outer space; non-fiction author Pierre Berton, and Nobel Laureate in Medicine for his research in Diabetes, Dr. Frederick Banting.

The most internationally renowned Canadians hail from the world of cinema and music and include singers Bryan Adams, Celine Dion, Neil Young, Shania Twain, Justin Bieber; actors Keanu Reeves, Michael J Fox, William Shatner, Jim Carrey, Ryan Gosling, Ryan Reynolds, Ellen Page, Donald Sutherland, Pamela Anderson; director James Cameron and many more.

Last Updated on: October 12th, 2017