7 Peculiarly Canadian Rituals to Experience

  1. Order whisky with a toe in it in Dawson City, Yukon. The Downtown Hotel’s Sourdough Saloon serves a Sourtoe cocktail with a real (mummified) digit. The inaugural toe once belonged to a 1920s rum–runner, until it was frostbitten, lopped off and preserved; new toes are now acquired by donation.

  2. Kiss the cod and drink a shot of screech (local rum) in Newfoundland. Pubs and bars offer the tongue–in–cheek “screech–in” ceremony to come–from–aways, who also oft partake in eating some Newfoundland steak (bologna). As for the fish smooch, it’s said to be a nod to the traditional mariners’ bon voyage.

September 25, 2019
A group of people in swimsuits pose in the snow with the carnival snowman mascot, Bonhomme Carnaval
   Photo: Audet Photo
  1. Strip down to your beachwear for a snow bath at the Carnaval de Québec. Braving winter like a Canadian means it’s not too cold—even in February—to slip into a bikini or swim trunks and lob snowballs.

  2. Request a ceremonial white–hatting in Calgary. The city has been welcoming visitors with its iconic Smithbilt white felt cowboy hat since 1950, with the Dalai Lama; Oprah; and Prince William and Kate Middleton, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, among the VIP honourees.

A woman in winter clothing holds a Caribou cocktail in a glass made of ice
   Photo: Dan Harper Photography
  1. Sip a Caribou cocktail from a glass of ice at Winnipeg’s Festival du Voyageur. Made with red wine, whisky and maple syrup, the cocktail hails from Quebec, and according to lore, it originated with coureurs de bois, who kept warm with the sweet, stiff drink.

  2. Cheer on the wacky sport of “tubbing” in Nanaimo, B.C. Contenders for the title of fastest racer in a bathtub boat – exactly what it sounds like: a boat modified with a bathtub – have been converging in the city since 1967 to compete in the Great World Championship Bathtub Race.

  3. Take your sugar on snow throughout Eastern Canada. Making maple taffy (tire sur la neige) – by pouring boiled sap onto the frozen surface and rolling it into a lollipop – is a quintessential tradition, especially in Quebec, the maple syrup mecca of the world.  

Click here to see more ritual–themed points of interest on our radar this October.