As with any country, outsiders have their stereotypical images of what the people in that country are like and what they do in their day to day lives. Canada is definitely no exception. The international image of Canada is a constant source of entertainment for us northern neighbours of the United States. What follows is a list of the biggest stereotypes about Canada and Canadians and whether they are true or not.
Canadians learn to skate before they learn to walk. Not true. Canadians learn to skate long after the skill of walking is learned. Often, formal skating lessons don’t start until the age of 3.
Polar Bears run rampant and steal random children for dinner. Not true. For most Canadians, even seeing a Polar Bear involves a long trip in an airplane of questionable quality and a whole lot of money. However, for those few thousand that do live among Polar Bears, yes, they do lose the odd child.
Downhill skiing is a year-round sport. True. If you have access to a helicopter and a whole pile of money anything is possible. However, you will look like an ass if you drive over the Rainbow Bridge in Niagara Falls in the middle of July with skis on the roof rack. Believe me, this has been witnessed on more than one occasion. But don’t worry, I drove from Phoenix to Flagstaff in the middle of January with the convertible top down and shorts on. Who knew that it snowed in Arizona?
The word about is pronounced a-boot. Not true. I am not sure where this one ever came from. There must be a secret culture of people living in Canada that speak quite differently from the rest of us. However, we do say ‘eh’ much more often than we should. Most Canadians will deny it because they don’t even realize they’re doing it. For fun, record a conversation with a Canadian then play it back to them, pointing out each time they say ‘eh’. It would make a great drinking game.
The police are all Mounties riding around on horses with their cool red and black uniforms on. Not true. The RCMP only dresses like that on special occasions and their presence is limited to airports, federal government buildings and the western provinces.
Our health care system is free. True. But… we are also one of the most taxed countries in the world. Most of us lose half our salaries to income tax and we pay upwards of 13-15% retail sales tax, depending on the province. These taxes, of course, go towards paying for our health care system. In the end, nothing is free.
Canada harbours terrorists and fugitives. True. Don’t mess with us or we’ll blow you up! Just kidding. Canada is very welcoming to immigrants from all nations. This makes it very easy for the United States to use us as scapegoats whenever something unexplained happens.
Besides the USA, France is next closest neighbour to Canada. True. Most don’t know that there are two tiny islands just off the coast of the province of Newfoundland that are under French rule. St. Pierre and Michelon have been controlled by France since the 17thcentury. The next closest are Greenland (Denmark) and Russia.
Bryan Adams is our greatest talent. Not true. Along with Celine Dion, we apologize profusely for unleashing this crap on the world. Youtube ‘The Trews’, ‘Our Lady Peace’ or ‘Serena Ryder’ for some serious Canadian talent.
Canada is small and sparsely populated. Not true. Canada is very large and you cannot walk from Toronto to Vancouver (this question has been asked). 30+ million is not sparsely populated and pretty much makes it impossible for me to know the ‘Bob from Vancouver’ that you met in Punta Cana last year.
In all seriousness, we are happy with these stereotypes because in our constant fight to be different than Americans, they give us a unique identity, true or not.