It’s Different in New Brunswick
Milk Comes in Bags and Cars Roll Uphill
April 23, 2017
It’s hard to believe that a country next to ours could be so different. Last summer I had the opportunity to experience Canada during my family’s vacation to New Brunswick. While there, I learned a lot about the Canadian way of life. We were only there for a week, but that was long enough to get a firsthand experience of the many things to do and see, and how they do some things just a little bit differently than we do.
Let’s start off with food. I noticed that the colors, brands and overall taste, of items we are familiar with, were different. When we first got to New Brunswick, my cousins took us out to eat. When we ordered our food, they asked for chicken with a side of “poutine,” and I did not know what that was. We found out that they are their version of French fries.
Poutine is potato wedges that are deep fried, topped with cheese curds and gravy. It is available with just about any topping at most restaurants in the Maritime provinces. Of course, our version of French fries was available too, but Canadians prefer poutine. Some other food differences are the color schemes on cereal boxes, candy wrappers and drink containers. Also, the most popular peanut butter brand was Kraft peanut butter.
We visited the local McDonald’s, and were greeted by a man wearing a suit who directed us to order our food on a touch screen that was much like our laptop touch screens, just bigger. Payment was also made at this kiosk, using either debit/credit cards or cash.
Another difference was that milk came in bags! We were looking for cartons in the store, but we could not find any. Instead, we found bags of milk on the shelf. My mother was shocked to see this and laughed at the sight. Three milk bags were equal to four liters of milk.
Food was not the only difference we saw. My cousins see moose everyday on just about any country road. And, while driving past the border of Canada, not far from our family’s house, we saw a moose behind a wire fence. The fence was there to keep the moose safely behind it, and away from the highway. It was exciting to see.
We have Dunkin’ Donuts, but in New Brunswick (and all over Canada) they have Tim Hortons. It’s named after its founder, Hockey Hall of Famer Tim Horton who started the business in 1964 while still playing defense for the Toronto Maple Leafs. Mr. Horton died in a car crash in 1974 while he was still playing in the NHL, but the business lives on and has grown to over 4,600 locations, many in New Brunswick.
Money is different too. The coins there are very nice looking and have some different denominations than we use. They do not have pennies, but they do have $1 and $2 coins called Loonies and Toonies. Their dollar bills are made of a slick plastic material that I thought we should use instead of paper.
I’ve been talking a lot about the items of daily life, yet I haven’t mentioned the people. I noticed that many of the towns were very small communities. There would be about four blocks and that was it. We would pass them by in about a minute.
The people were very polite to each other. Toby, my cousin’s father, was well known in their town. Everywhere we went, he would say hello to people that were either walking, in a shop, or at the bank, and they would respond, “Hey Toby!”
I noticed Canadians are always prepared for any kind of weather, and usually have an umbrella on hand. One day, we drove to Moncton in the Bay of Fundy to see the famous Hopewell Rocks, where fast ocean waves rush in and create strange patterns, engravings and tunnels in the rocks. It was on the beach so we just assumed it would be warm, and wore tee-shirts and shorts. Everyone else wore jackets and jeans. When it rained, and we were all soaking wet, we wished we were as prepared as our Canadian cousins.
Yet another unusual attraction in Moncton, was a place called Magnetic Hill. Nothing seemed to be different about this place, it was just a regular pavement road over hill. But as you get to the bottom of this hill and put your car into neutral, your car starts to roll up the hill! Yes, your car rolls up the hill. This is really an optical illusion. Our eyes see the ground as symmetrical to the grass and trees, which makes our brain think the hill is going up when it is really going down. It was a neat and a memorable experience.
One of my favorite things was the graffiti covered wall. At a local skateboard park, there was a wall made just for graffiti. Instead of banning graffiti, they encourage it. I also enjoyed the views of scenery and nature. Outside my cousin’s house, and most places we saw, they had beautiful views of the mountains and land below. There were great tall trees on top of the most beautiful mountain tops, beautiful flower lands covering the grounds for what seemed like miles, open fields below, and amazing land formations providing great photo opportunities.
New Brunswick is a unique place where I learned a lot about Canada. If I have the chance to see it again, I will not pass it up. I am sure there is a lot more to see. Check it out yourself!