Most people's conception of Canada goes little beyond appreciating its vastness, recognizing its flag and identifying a few well-known physical features. And while it's true that the majority of travelers are attracted by the opportunity to explore Canada's wilderness areas, natural wonders and low-key rural charm, there is a lot more to Canada than maple trees, Niagara Falls and wide open spaces.
It's the edginess between Canada's indigenous, French and British traditions that gives the nation its complex three-dimensional character. Add to this a constant infusion of US culture and a plethora of traditions brought from Europe, Asia and Latin America by migrants, and you have a thriving multicultural society very much in the process of forming its own identity. Those expecting Canada to be a blander counterpart of the USA should check their preconceptions at the door - Canada's wild northern frontier, which has etched itself into the national psyche, and its distinct patchwork of peoples have created a country that is decidedly different from its southern neighbor.