11 Things I Learned To Love When I Moved To Canada From The UK & Now I Can't Live Without

KD ... I love you! 🥲

Helena in Whistler. Right: Helena drinking a beer in Canada.
Senior Editor

Helena in Whistler. Right: Helena drinking a beer in Canada.

The opinions expressed in this article are the author's own and do not necessarily reflect the views of Narcity Media.

What a place to call home, eh? When I first moved to Canada from the U.K. back in 2019, there were a number of things I was totally unprepared for.

Bagged milk was a big one, as were Canadian slang words, the price of beer, haircuts and cellphone plans, and the absolute brutality of the winter months.

As well as those, there were some absolutely amazing surprises in store too, including the wonders of drive-thru banking, regular stat holidays and delicious, delicious KD.

Three years later, here are the things I learned to love in Canada and now literally cannot live without.

The Timmies

A Tim Hortons donut and coffee.

A Tim Hortons donut and coffee.

Helena Hanson | Narcity

It's an obvious one, but how did I ever live without Tim Hortons? It's got affordable coffee and tasty snacks, and you can find one around almost every corner in Canada.

Of course, the U.K. has popular coffee shops too — like Starbucks or Costa Coffee — but both are expensive and inconsistent, and you'll pay double-double for any sort of food there.

The maple syrup

Maple taffy.

Maple taffy.

Helena Hanson | Narcity

Before moving to Canada, I thought I didn't like maple syrup. I found it to be too sticky, too sweet and too much hassle overall. OMG, how wrong I was.

After experiencing proper maple syrup (directly from a tree — who knew?) I realized that what I didn't like was pretend maple syrup.

The real stuff is incredible, and one of the best things about Canadians is that they're cool with you putting it on pretty much anything.

The scenery

Helena in Whistler.

Helena in Whistler.

Helena Hanson | Narcity

Canada is absolutely breathtaking, and it's almost impossible to describe it to those who have not experienced it.

From snow-capped mountains and crystal-clear lakes to sprawling provincial parks, glaciers and jaw-dropping natural wonders, every province has countless places to explore.

If that's not enough, there's also iconic wildlife around every corner. Just wow!

The poutine

After making the rookie mistake of assuming poutine was just fries, cheese and gravy, I soon learned that this iconic dish is everything. Just everything.

There are hundreds of poutine variations to warm your heart on a cold, wintry day, and each one will make you feel just a little bit more at home.

You also basically can't buy poutine (as Canadians know it) in Wales, so it was pretty cool to taste the different types all over Canada.

The dollar stores

This is pretty random, but Canadian dollar stores are just the best.

As well as being jam-packed with so much obscure junk that you can't help but buy, they're also full of useful and affordable everyday items at a cheaper price.

We do have "pound shops" in the U.K., which are pretty similar, but they just don't have the VIBE of places like Dollarama and Dollar Tree. There's just a je ne sais quoi about the Canadian versions that makes me want to spend hours there!

The drinks

Helena drinking beers in Canada.

Helena drinking beers in Canada.

Helena Hanson | Narcity

Before living in Canada, I'm ashamed to say that I had never even heard of White Claw, let alone tried it.

There are so many cool drinks and tasty alcoholic bevvies in Canada that it's hard to pick a favourite. While White Claw probably won't win any awards for flavour, it's light and refreshing and just hits the spot on a warm day.

If that wasn't enough, there are also beers from Flying Monkeys Craft Brewery and sour beers from literally anywhere. Is there anything better?!

The holidays

Helena in Montreal.

Helena in Montreal.

Helena Hanson | Narcity

Canada has so many statutory holidays that the U.K. just doesn't have, and sometimes it feels like a well-deserved day off is always just around the corner.

This includes Canada Day (obviously), Labour Day, Thanksgiving and Victoria Day.

The hockey

Helena watching the Ottawa Senators.

Helena watching the Ottawa Senators.

Helena Hanson | Narcity

Because there isn't too much snow and ice where I'm from in the U.K., there also isn't too much ice hockey.

The first thing I learned is that everything happens so freaking fast. Do NOT take your eyes off the game for even a second because you may miss something huge. In fact, just don't look away. Ever.

The second thing I learned is don't call it "ice hockey" because everyone will know you're a visitor — like, immediately.

The third thing I discovered is that it is so dang addictive. Once you're hooked, there's no going back.

The KD

OMG. Two tiny letters, so much cheesy goodness.

If we do have Kraft Dinner in the U.K., I've never seen it or tried it before, and it's definitely not a common thing to have stashed away in your cupboard.

It was one of the first things I was introduced to upon my arrival in Canada, and after being initially cautious, I was pleasantly surprised. It's so quick, easy and quintessentially Canadian. What's not to love?

The thrift stores

Having thrifted in countries all over the world, I can confirm that Canada is a great place to find amazing deals and one-of-a-kind finds.

There are so many awesome thrift locations all over the country that donate to good causes, as well as for-profit organizations that are like thrifting superstores.

And Value Village … well, if you know, you know.

The fall

Helena Hanson | Narcity

Is there anything in the world more spectacular than fall in Canada?

Before arriving I knew it would be special, but I underestimated how short-lived the golden season is.

While there are only a few short weeks of that perfect autumnal glow, they're absolutely worth waiting the whole year for. Glorious!

The drive-thru

One of the coolest (and most hilarious) things about this country is that you can "drive thru" pretty much everything.

In Britain, the only proper drive-thrus are at fast food spots like McDonald's or Starbucks.

In Canada — OMG — you can use drive-thrus at many restaurants, the liquor store, the pharmacy, the bank and so much more. It's both ridiculous and amazing at the same time.

Love you, Canada!

This story has been updated since it was originally published in October 2021.

Helena Hanson
Senior Editor
Helena Hanson is a Senior Editor for Narcity Media, leading the Travel and Money teams. She previously lived in Ottawa, but is now based in the U.K.