Amazing Canadian Road Trip Movies & TV Shows
If you’re travelling to another country and need a shortcut in getting to get know their culture quickly, one good way is to watch their movies. It’s an immersive way to get a feel for their feel. Knowing what people laugh at is a great way to get to know them. Here are Canadian comedies that have something to say about the Canadian soul.
Canadian Bacon is overtly and aggressively Canadian: it features Canadian comedian John Candy in a film satirizing US and Canada relations. The title is an allusion to “back bacon,” sliced pig rather than sold in strips. This variation on pig is a touchstone in US-Canada relations, hence they named the movie after it. See, Americans love to rip on Canadians for being backwards, slow but endearing beer-guzzling hosers, and Canadians make fun of Canadians for this too. The movie plays on this dynamic. Many of the scenes were shot in Canada, and feature cameos from Canadian icons like William Shatner and Alex Trebek. While the "reviews" aren't resoundingly positive it is still a fun watch. You can watch a trailer for the movie on YouTube to get the jist as well.
Slapshot and Goon are two especially classic Canadian movies because they both are about hockey. (Ice hockey has a prominent place in the Canadian soul and psyche – but we simply refer to it as "hockey" – why would you require the word Ice?.) Slapshot is from 1977 (clip of the action), whereas Goon is more contemporary (clip of the action), but they’re both laced with hockey culture. The sport itself has generated its own lingo and attitudes. In a broad sense, less kids in Canada are playing ice hockey because it’s expensive and even dangerous, and it’s worth mentioning that many Canadians don’t care about hockey at all. But anyway, these are both hilarious and even at times poignant movies with much to say about the country.
Perhaps Canada’s best in-house TV show is the Trailer Park Boys (Trailer for their acclaimed movie). It’s very crude on the surface--the characters are constantly drunk and high and in or on the way to jail. There’s sex and robberies. But it’s a very sweet show with a big heart! There is a sweetness and an innocence in the people, despite all the crimes they commit. The writing has surprising depth. The characters are not shallow archetypes, they get fleshed out with complexity. The relationship between Ricky and Mr Lahey is nothing less than epic. With that said, it definitely isn't for everybody!
Heritage Canada Commercials are exactly what they sound like--commercials we all saw as kids to make us proud of our country. They half worked: there are indeed things to be proud of, but the commercials were so corny, and it was hard to know if this was done on purpose, ironically or not. These commercials cannot be understood without knowing about Canada’s cultural inferiority complex from years of living beside America. The commercials are supposedly addressed to Canadians, but, for example, the one about how James Naismith invented basketball, might actually be meant for Americans (full commercial here). Another great one about the Klondike gold rush with a bit of a jab about our neighbours (full commercial here)
An important thing to note is that Canada has many distinct cultures. The local movies and experiences will vary across the coasts and within provinces. For example, if you grew up in Quebec this list would be drastically different – along with other provinces and communities as well.
Brief Interlude: Your free guide to exploring Canada well – regardless of how you travel!
Planning your adventure in Canada can be overwhelming. For a start, the country is massive. And each region is completely different with their own unique transportation, travel options – along with secret gems. Most locations have little information for the traveller (although a lonely planet/ rough guide is a great start!). There are over 2 million rivers, 1 million moose and 1000+ provincial parks.
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Back to the entertainment!
Anyways, hope you like this small taste of entertainment when taking a break on the road, or prepping for an amazing road trip in Canada!
Please also find a longer list here of our top Canadian movies that you might enjoy and may suit your mood
Rock Em Sock Em: Don Cherry from Hockey Night in Canada, has countless hockey highlight videos – one for almost every year for over 30 years! Most notable for the highlight reels organized by categories from best goals, to best fights. Here is a clip from the first edition.
Bon Cop Bad Cop helps show the differences between Ontario & Quebec as detectives are forced to work together after a crime is committed on the border of these two provinces.
Anne of Green Gables: Based on Lucy Maud Montgomery's novel from 1908 - this classic children's novel has been turned into TV shows, movies and beyond. Focused on life on Prince Edward Island in a small fictional town.
The Last Waltz: A concert documentary filmed in 1976 highlighting "The Band's" farewell concert – one of, if not Canada's best band. Filmed by Martin Scorcese and with performances including Bob Dylan, Eric Clapton, Neil Young, Van Morison and many more. Brought to life by small clips and interviews behind the scene. It is considered one of, if not the best rock movie ever made.
Strange Brew: Dave Thomas and Rick Moranis help save the world that is being controlled by a new additive in Beer in these slapstick satire that pokes fun of Canadian stereotypes throughout.