Those expecting Canada to be a blander version of the USA should check their assumptions 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 brash neighbour.
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 by migrants, and you have a thriving multicultural society.
Canada has four distinct seasons, although their arrival times vary across the country. The single most significant factor in climate is latitude. As a rule of thumb, it gets colder the further north you go, so it's no accident that the warmest areas in the south are also the most populated.
The western and eastern coasts are both very wet, though much of the rain falls during winter. In Saskatchewan, Manitoba and eastern Alberta the prairies are fairly dry all year. Canadian winters are long and hard: in more than two-thirds of the country, the average January temperature is a shivering -18°C (-0.4°F). July and August are the warmest months, when temperatures in the south are usually in the upper 20°Cs (low 80°Fs).