Canada is a country created by immigration – a surprisingly high proportion of it from the Old World countries other than the United Kingdom – and Canadian food culture is a result of mixing these various traditions the immigrants brought in over the last four hundred years (yes, that's how old is European settlement in Canada), the environmental conditions of the land and some – but admittedly very slight – influences of the original inhabitants of the land, the latter noticeable more in what is eaten then how.
The US influence is strong – or perhaps it's an American thing in general – and portions, particularly of anything sweet or fast-food related – are enormous.
Most big cities are full of ''ethnic'' restaurants, with the East Asian influences particularly noticeable, and Chinese, Korean, Japanese and Thai restaurant very common. This was especially true in Vancouver which has a huge East Asian population, but other cities also had many East Asian eating places. Sushi appears to be as much of a national food as curry is in Britain, at least in Toronto and Vancouver and is commonly available and quite reasonably priced.
American-style burger and steak joints and assorted diners – often called ''family restaurants'' – are, obviously, very common, and you can find one of those even in small places. Fish and chips is also popular, more so (naturally) in coastal places. We ate very good fish and chips in Nova Scotia and on Vancouver Island; deep fried, often in Japanese style, light tempura batter. Oysters and other types of seafood are also available deep-fried in fish-and-chip places.
Alberta is known for its beef, and steaks abound in the Prairie provinces in general. Not only beef, but buffalo (farmed bison, to large extent) are available. We somewhat failed on the steak front, and only had one steak meal out, on the last day in Alberta. It was OK, but by no means mind-blowing.
Eastern European influences are also common in the prairies and I was surprised in Winnipeg to see fast-food places that offered pierogi and cabbage rolls – dishes popular in Poland and Ukraine. We only tried them once, from a guide-book recommended cafe at Winnipeg's Forks, but I was very underwhelmed. Buffalo burgers, on the other hand, were rather good whenever we tried them.
Nova Scotia boasts not only great fish and chips, but is also famous for its lobster. Expensive as it is in restaurants, you can have it much more reasonably if you buy it and cook yourself. I have never eaten lobster before – in fact none of our party have – and we are all quite excited to be picking live lobsters crawling in the supermarket tank, to be carried home and cooked for our supper by our Halifax host. Eaten just with very garlicky butter, the lobster is divine and easily among the best things I have eaten in my life, ever.
We also ate well in the very interior of Canada, where supermarket prices are high and ethnic restaurants unknown. We spend a magical weekend in Sioux Lookout, a small town in north-western Ontario popular for hunting and fishing and, quite fittingly, while being looked after by the host of people that welcomed us there, we were fed a moose stew and a freshly-caught wild trout: lovely, simple food that shined with the quality of ingredients.
In Vancouver, we ate in various places, but the highlight was an Ethiopian restaurant, a discovery of an entire new set of flavours and styles.
Quebecois have their own culinary tradition, heavily influenced by the French one, and it definitely deserves its own article.