With over 21,000 Canadians living in New York City, the number doubling since 2000, Canadians make up the eight-largest population of foreign-born residents, with 70,000 to 99,000 unauthorized Canadians in the nation: although most of the 2-5 million self-identifying French-Canadians live in Louisiana, a wide majority of the Canadian population in New York haul from the francophone provinces of Canada, including Quebec and parts of Nova Scotia' inarguably, they represent the largest francophone group in North America.
Due to the long history of French/British colonization of Canada, Canadian French has certainly taken a flavor of its own, blending old French with English words to formulate a unique language variation. For example, whereas in France, money is ‘argent’, in Canada, the word for money is ‘bacon’. Also, instead of the word for 'copine' or ‘petite amie’, meaning girlfriend, French Canadians commonly say, ‘ma blonde’ even if the girlfriend isn’t blonde at all.
To immerse yourself in the French-Canadian community in New York City, feel free to join the Canadian Association of New York, which has over 500 members, known for hosting a glamorous ‘Maple Leaf Ball’ in New York. For a more low-key, casual environment, join the ‘Canadians in NYC’ Facebook group, which boasts of having over 1,000 members or New York in French’s very own social group, “Culture Québécoise”.
According to a French-Canadian living in New York City, “as a displaced Montrealer, I naturally miss the tastes of home. Of course, living in New York, it's not too hard to stay gastronomically satisfied”, and he is certainly right.
Below is a list put together by CBC, of shops and restaurants to help one ‘feel Canadian in New York City’:
1. Tim Hortons
It all begins with this doughnut chain. I wish that wasn't true but it is. They now have 11 locations in NYC and it really is comforting as a Canadian to see them sprinkled around the city. Yes, they signed some sort of Faustian pact with Cold Stone Creamery to do it, and they may have single-handedly destroyed the coffee shop lifestyle in Canada, but they're Tim Friggin' Hortons!!! Besides, Tegan (or was it Sara?) wore a Tim Hortons shirt when they played Letterman, so how bad can they be?
Still not convinced? Looking for a less "mainstream" Canadian treat? Head to dirtcandy. Owned and operated by a proud Canadian, this small and popular place (Note: You will need a reservation) is one of my favourite vegetarian restaurants in the city, and their Ice Cream Nanaimo Bar is as addictive as Tim Hortons' coffee.
Looking for bars that aren't of the Nanaimo persuasion? There are a few good places to grab a strange brew and watch the hockey game in NYC. The Blue Moon Mexican Café has been adopted by a loyal and boisterous group of Sabres fans (NAFTA at work!) and serves bottles of Blue during every hockey game they can find on the dial.
Of course, for my slightly more valuable money, the most Canadian bar in New York City is Ontario. Look, it's not perfect, they don't have a TV and it's in Williamsburg, so if you joke that there's a mouse in your beer you'll be met with blank hipster stares, but they serve Canadian, Blue AND Moosehead (and a better than average selection of Canadian whiskys) and their jukebox - packed with Neil Young, Constantines and Stars - is unrivaled. Plus, they have an air hockey table and a fireplace in the back and there's nothing more Canadian than that except, maybe...
I know, I know, how can poutine be this low on the list?! Well, truth be told, even with socialized medicine, I don't know a single Canadian who eats this stuff on a regular basis and it's kind of annoying how it's become something of an ironic delicacy here in New York, particularly in Brooklyn. But, like Tim Horton's, it's one of those exclusively Canadian things and despite what that snobby French Canadian sitting next to you on the plane says, you really can find decent poutine here. My favourites can be found in Brooklyn at Mile End (a Montreal-style delicatessen), Sheep Station (an Australian pub that also has a good selection of Canadian beers) and Corner Burger, or in Manhattan at Pommes Frites and Shopsin's. The hearty traveler can hit them all in one day and the walk across the bridge in-between will keep your pants loose.
Speaking of pants, New York also offers an interesting selection of Canadian food-themed clothing. This fall, a low-priced clothing retailer called Joe Fresh will open its first store in Manhattan. Hugely popular in Canada, it's most notable for operating out of grocery stores. The company's expansion into the U.S. is reportedly modeled after the one taken by the Vancouver-based retailer lululemon, which sounds more like a dessert than a yoga line.
5. Terry Fox Run
Those exercise clothes will come in handy during this year's Terry Fox Run on October 15 in Central Park. The annual non-competitive charity run is held worldwide in memory of Canadian cancer activist Terry Fox and his Marathon of Hope. It has already raised hundreds of millions of dollars for cancer research. Coffee, hot chocolate, juices, fruits and pastries will be available before and after the run courtesy of the Four Seasons Hotel and, of course, Tim Hortons. Maybe Tegan and Sara were right.