While Canada has a reputation for being one of the world’s most polite nations, there are certain stereotypes that can get under our skin. We may not lose our tempers, but don’t expect us to treat you to a Tim Horton’s coffee if you whip out any of these stereotype blunders.
- Ask us if it’s always cold there. While Canada does stretch north all the way to the Arctic Circle, the majority of our residents live with 100 kilometers of the US/Canada border. That puts us in line with France, the UK and Germany etc. Would you ask people from those countries if it’s always cold or if they all live in igloos? I think not.
- Assume we all speak French. Yes there is one province, Quebec, that speaks French in Canada, but that doesn’t make the rest of us instantly bilingual. Depending on what part of Canada people are from they may or may not have French instruction in school and limited opportunities to use it on a day to day basis. With a large immigrant base in the country people are just as likely to speak Mandarin or Italian as their second language.
- Make jokes about our “accent”, our use of “eh” and how we say “about”. Our over politeness perhaps does lend the use of “eh” at the end of many of our sentences, but not in the frequency that is often suggested by the stereotypes. As for the pronunciation of “about” it’s only pronounced “a-boot” on the east coast of Canada and more in line with “about” across the rest of the country. Also, Canadian’s do not have an accent, ever, period.
- Assume there is not much difference between Canadians and Americans. While we both happen to reside on the same continent and have comparable economies, that is where the similarities end. From our free healthcare system to our dislike of firearms (unless you’re from Alberta), Canadians and Americans have a number of fundamental differences. Canadians are more laid back, employ a completely different governmental system, have a strong separation of church and state and for the most part are more welcoming of different cultures, races, sexual orientations etc. America’s got some great things going for it too, but our Canadian pride is going to be hurt if you refer to us as the 51st state.
- Ask us how many states we have. See above. Canada is NOT the United States. If you don’t know how our country is divided, ask.
- Make fun of our Royal Canadian Mounted Police Force. Contrary to popular belief, the symbolic red jackets, wide brimmed hats and leather gloves are actually only worn for ceremonial occasions, photo ops and other dignitary duties. On a day to day basis, our police force looks the same as other federal agents and performs the same duties as the FBI, except they can ride horses if necessary. Pretty badass if you ask me.
- Assume we’re all lumberjacks in plaid jackets living in the woods. Seriously you’ve never heard of Vancouver? Voted the #1 city in the entire world to live in? Most Canadians live in and around our major cities and suburbs. True, Canada is home to the world’s largest stretch of intact forest, so there are bound to be some lumberjacks around somewhere. However as the forest regions are sparsely populated it’s not likely you’ll bump into one walking down the street.
- Come to Canada and not drink Tim Horton’s coffee. Founded by one of Canada’s hockey legends, another thing we’re pretty proud of all together, Tim Horton’s is a staple in Canadian culture. From affordable coffee, to freshly baked donuts, timbits (donut holes) and muffins, Tim Horton’s is Canada’s leading coffee franchise. Sure you can pick up a cup of Starbucks in most cities across Canada too, but as they say, when in Rome . . .