I was sitting at the Cottage, during the typical Muskoka rain storm, contemplating about what I wanted to write about for our new Northern River blog. I was also watching the Canada Day celebrations from Ottawa as Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is coming up on stage to speak. What is the first thing that Justin does? He thanks and recognizes the fact that Ottawa is situated on Algonquin land. He then proceeds into talking about our diversity and equality. This is so needed in the world today given recent troubles and headlines.
Canadians are united and share the same values. This was echoed in the words of President Barak Obama who visited Ottawa this week and made a speech in the House of Commons that truly inspired me and, I’m sure, all Canadians. His talk was so full of love for our Nation, I almost blushed. What captured me is his statement: “The world needs more Canada”
This got me thinking about what that means to the world. How does the world see a Canadian? For Canada Day, I thought I would explore some famous Canadian clichés and stereotypes about Canadians. Nobody really knows when all of the Canada jokes started being made. In the era of the Internet, Canada has all but become a meme of a country, with people poking fun at everything from our food to our weather to how we talk. And yet us Canadians don’t really complain – I guess it’s because we really are as nice as they think we are.
We’re sorry, eh!
Sorry if you’ve heard this already, but Canadians apologize a lot. They have inherited the British sense of being somewhat self-effacing and apologetic whereas Americans tend to be more self-confident and assertive. While foreigners might think of Canadians as super nice, those not accustomed to how often we apologize might not see the subtle differences behind each one. Many Canadians admit they apologize frequently, even when it’s unwarranted and even to inanimate objects they’ve bumped into, but I can’t quantify the trend. For this, I am sorry. In fact, I’m just sorry everyone thinks we’re so sorry.
We’ve all made “it” in a canoe
“A Canadian is someone who knows how to make “it” in a canoe.” That’s a quote attributed to Pierre Berton. Though statistics on it are hard to find, it’s a bucket-list item for many Canadians. Its hard to confirm how many Canucks have made it in canoes or whether the endeavour is an indicator of patriotism, but canoes are readily available for those who want to try, at their own risk. I have six of them and I need them all. In fact, I’m even buying a new one. Don’t know why.
What are you talking a-boot?
It’s pronounced about not a-boot. The US stereotype is that we pronounce the word “about” differently. It has some validity. While it differs across the country, the actual sound in most of the country is closer to “boat” than it is to “boot,”and this can be attributed to regional British dialects brought to Canada. Though it has its origins in discernible linguistic differences, this stereotype is for the most part much ado “a-boot” nothing.
We’re obsessed with hockey
Flights get delayed here when there are important hockey games going on because the passengers won’t board until they find out who won. We riot when we lose. We riot when we win. We’re a crazily tolerant bunch, but wear a Montreal or Ottawa jersey in Toronto and you’re asking for trouble. And it will be your fault.
We’re really serious about our beer
If our international reputation for brewing beer wasn’t enough, there’s a famous photo of the athletes on the Canadian women’s hockey team right after winning gold at the 2010 Olympic Games. The team didn’t even wait to get off the ice to crack a beer. Remember the stubbie? Now the lead has been taken over by the extreme growth in Canadian craft brewers. In fact, there is even a brewery in Muskoka who will deliver to your dock. Go figure, eh!
We’re surrounded by moose and beavers
We’ve all seen a beaver at least once. They’re an extremely common part of Canadian wildlife. As for moose… they’re a real threat. We have moose crossing signs on some of our roads, and hitting a moose is usually a death sentence (the moose will brush it off). And, occasionally, they’ll appear the out of nowhere. I guess they’re not reading the signs.
We survive off of poutine, beavertails, Nanaimo bars, maple syrup, and Timmie’s
We may eat other foods, but let’s be real, we all need poutine, beavertails, Nanaimo bars, maple syrup, and Timmie’s double doubles to stay alive. We learn to love winter as children by playing hockey and visiting the cabane à sucre, or sugar shack. We’ve all got a sweet tooth for Nanaimo bars. We need our cup of Tim Horton’s coffee to start the day. Poutine is just plain delicious. And, no beavertails are not from real beavers.
We live in a frozen wasteland
Okay, not quite. But we do have short summers and winters that are typically anywhere from -5 to -40 degrees celsius. Canadians don’t even bat an eye when it inevitably hails at least once each summer. Except we don’t say winter is coming, because winter’s usually already here. No matter, we wear shorts all year long anyways.
We’ve got out sh*t together
Free healthcare. Literacy rate in the high nineties. Life expectancy in the eighties. Religious tolerance, long maternity/paternity leaves, and while we haven’t started any wars, we’ve sure finished a few. And our money smells like maple syrup.
Canada isn’t perfect – no country is. But all in all, we’re doing great. Canada clichés are just a testament to what it means to be Canadian. There are those who find it hard to distinguish us from our US cousins. Our clichés help identify us as Canadians. Our stereotypes are things to be proud a-boot.
We will be celebrating our 150th birthday next year and that’s when the party will really happen. All someone has to do is watch Canada Day celebrations, and the sea of red, to see our true north national pride, strong and free. Raise a beer or toast a Timmie’s. I wouldn’t have it any other way.
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