Canada vs the U.S.: 15 Unique Differences That May Surprise You

Canada and the U.S. are next-door neighbors, but they’re not as alike as you might think. While these two countries share a lot, like speaking English and loving hockey, they’ve got some pretty big differences, too. From how they spell words to what they eat for breakfast, there’s more that sets them apart than you’d expect.

Healthcare System

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In Canada, healthcare is free for all citizens, and the government pays for most medical services. In the U.S., people usually need health insurance to pay for doctor visits and hospital stays, which can be expensive for some Americans.

Metric vs. Imperial System

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Canada uses the metric system for measurements. They talk about kilometers, liters, and Celsius. The U.S. uses the imperial system with miles, gallons, and Fahrenheit. This can be confusing when crossing the border!

Thanksgiving Date

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Canadians celebrate Thanksgiving in October, while Americans do it in November. The Canadian holiday is about giving thanks for the harvest. On the other hand, the Americans remember the Pilgrims’ first feast with Native Americans.

Milk Packaging

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In some parts of Canada, milk often comes in bags, which people put in pitchers at home. In the U.S., milk is usually sold in plastic jugs or cartons. Bagged milk in Canada helps reduce plastic waste.

Political Systems

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Canada has a Prime Minister as its leader, chosen by the party with the most seats in Parliament. The U.S. has a president who is elected by the people through the Electoral College. Canada also has a monarch as head of state.

Spelling Differences

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Canadians use British spelling for words like “colour” and “centre.” Americans have a different take on this, where these are spelled as “color” and “center.” This comes from their different histories with Britain.

Snack Foods

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Canada has unique snacks like ketchup chips and Coffee Crisp bars. The U.S. also has its own treats like Twinkies and Cheetos. Given their differences, it’s obvious that each country has flavors that might seem strange to the other. Which one do you like better?

Tipping Culture

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Tipping is expected in both countries but is more ingrained in U.S. culture. Americans often tip 15-20% at restaurants, so if you’re eating at a fancy restaurant, you better have some extra with you to save face. In Canada, tipping is common but sometimes at lower rates.

Chocolate Bars

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Some candy bars have different names in Canada and the U.S. For example, the U.S. “Milky Way” is called “Mars” in Canada. There are also some candies you can only find in one country or the other.

Maternity Leave

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Canadian mothers can take up to 18 months of paid maternity leave. However, the U.S. does not have a nationwide paid maternity leave law, so many American moms return to work much sooner after having a baby.

Multicultural Policies

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Canada officially promotes multiculturalism as a national policy. While the U.S. is often called a “melting pot” where cultures blend. Both countries are diverse, but they approach it differently.

Sports Preferences

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You may think that these countries have the same taste in sports, but that’s where you’re wrong. Hockey is huge in Canada, often called their national sport. In the U.S., football, baseball, and basketball are more popular. Both countries love sports, but their favorites differ.

Money Colors

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When you look at Canadian money, you’ll see a rainbow of colors. Their bills come in shades like blue, purple, and green. In the U.S., all paper money is the same green color. This makes Canadian cash easier to sort—you can tell which bill is which just by its color. It’s a small difference, but it makes handling money a bit simpler north of the border.

Potato Chip Flavors

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When you’re snack shopping in Canada, you might find some chip flavors you’ve never seen before. “All dressed” and ketchup chips are big hits there. The U.S. has its own special flavors, too, but they’re not the same as Canada’s. These different chip choices show that even when it comes to snacks, Canadians and Americans have their own favorite tastes.

National Symbols

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When you think of Canada, picture a beaver. For the U.S., imagine a bald eagle. These aren’t just random animals—they’re the official symbols of each country. The busy beaver represents the hard-working spirit of Canadians, while the soaring eagle reminds Americans of their freedom. It’s interesting how each country picked an animal that shows what it cares about.

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Mary Apurong

Mary Apurong is an experienced editor and ghostwriter who enjoys writing and reading. She loves researching topics related to life and creating content on quotes, gardening, food, travel, crafts, and DIY. Mary spends her free time doing digital art and watching documentaries.

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