Happy Canada Day! (And Some Stereotype-Busting)

Canadian flag superimposed on map of Canada

Happy Canada Day! On our nation’s birthday**, I thought it would be fun to look at a few stereotypes about Canadians.

Where we live

We live in igloos

It takes skill to build an igloo, especially if you don’t want the roof to collapse. It also takes snow, which we don’t have year-round. Inuit people in Canada’s north will sometimes build igloos on hunting expedition, but that’s pretty much the extent of the igloo-ing.

I must know your cousin’s former neighbour who lives in Toronto

I’ve actually encountered this when I’ve travelled. Lots of people seem to have relatives in Toronto or Montreal, and they think there’s a very good chance that I know them. Vancouver is 3364 km (2090 mi) from Toronto as the Canada goose flies. That’s a pretty big barrier.

How we talk

One of my favourite Canadian slang terms is “hoser”, meaning an unsophisticated person.

We say “aboot” instead of “about”

I don’t know why this stereotype exists, because I’ve never heard a single Canadian say aboot.

Every sentence ends with “eh?”

Use of “eh” for emphasis at the end of pretty much any sentence is regional, at least to some extent. In my neck of the woods, it’s not common, and I very rarely say it. I think it’s more of a rural thing than an urban thing.

We all speak French.

Most of us learn French in school, but very few people retain anything beyond bonjour, oui, non, or merci. We’ve got one primarily French-speaking province, Québec (which also seems to be our most racist province) and one bilingual province (New Brunswick).

Pass me the Kokanee

We’ve got a few alcohol-related terms.  A two-four is a 24-pack of beer, a two-six is a 26-ounce bottle of hard liquor, and a mickey is a 13-ounce bottle of hard liquor.

Molson Canadian and Kokanee are your basic Canadian beers. Then you’ve got Unibroue, a Québec micro-brewery that makes high alcohol content beers like Maudite and La Fin due Monde.

We say “sorry” a lot

This is very true. If you bump into someone they will almost certainly apologize to you. Sorry is less an actual apology and more polite social lubricant.

We’re polite

There are assholes in Canada just like anywhere else, but on average we’re pretty polite. This is one of the main reasons Canadian travellers tend to have a much better reputation internationally than American travellers do.

And speaking of social lubricant, I found this tweet from a few years ago that illustrates this rather nicely. It may not be said by every Canadian, in every single grocery store, but it comes close.

Canadian life

We are mostly metric, except when it comes to people’s height and weight, and then we rock it old school with the Imperial system.  I have no idea what 70ºF is, but I also haven’t a clue how many kilos I weigh.

Some Canadians buy milk in bags.  Where I am, this hasn’t been around since I was a kid, but it’s still going strong in some parts of eastern Canada.  Oh, and you just might choose homo milk, which is our term for whole milk, not milk with a sexual preference.

Double double

Tim Hortons is a Canadian institution best known for doughnuts and coffee.  There was no Timmy’s in the little town where I grew up, so it wasn’t until I was older that I learned that a “double double” was the classic Canadian order of a coffee with two creamers and two sugar.  There’s also a brilliant creation known as the Timbit – these are scrumptious doughnut holes.

We all love hockey

Hockey is Canada’s favourite sport, and with that comes hockey hair (mullets gone wild!) and puck bunnies (the hockey equivalent of groupies).  I was a wannabe puck bunny as a teenager – not actually cool enough to hook up with a hockey player, but would have been ready and willing should the opportunity have spontaneously arisen.

What do we wear?

The Canadian tuxedo is a not-so-stylin’ outfit involving denim both top and bottom.  When I was working at a community mental health team there was a dude who worked at a nearby shelter who always rocked the Canadian tuxedo.  It was all very unattractive, but also the source of much curiosity.  Did he wear denim underwear?  Was he going to wear denim at his wedding?  And who agrees to marry someone who lives in a Canadian tuxedo?

Canadians get creative when talking about men’s underwear.  The classic tighty whities may be referred to as gotch, ginch, or gonch, with the preferred term varying regionally.  My Dad grew up in a gotch area of the country, so that was the term used in our family home.  Personally, I think it sounds gross, but my perception may be tainted by the fact that Dad always did like to wander around in his underwear (shudder).

We have sex in canoes

Very few people are talented enough to pull this off. I most certainly am not, and if I tried, I suspect it would result in me drowning in a lake.  If you wish to know how to go about it, the New York Times gets the scoop from a Canadian expert.

We all have a polar bear/beaver/moose in the backyard.

Deer, quite possible. Coyote, sure. Bear, maybe. Polar bears don’t make it down south, and beavers aren’t interested in anyone’s backyard unless they’re on the hunt for dam-building materials. A moose is more of a possibility, but not a desirable one. According to Wikipedia, “Males (or “bulls”) normally weigh from 380 to 700 kg (838 to 1,543 lb) and females (or “cows”) typically weigh 200 to 490 kg (441 to 1,080 lb).” That’s one big-ass moose on the loose.

However, the odd moose does get on the loose, and a swimming pool is a great place to cool off.

Happy Canada Day!

Note **: While July 1, 1867 was the date Canada became a constitutional monarchy, it has been home to Indigenous peoples for millennia.

56 thoughts on “Happy Canada Day! (And Some Stereotype-Busting)”

  1. That was très agreable to read, especially as I imagine all the stereotypes together. My guess is that a very friendly moose will sneak past your bbq to join the woodpecker and the snail. Not sure if he will bring his igloo around but when you see his canoe, you need to run for the hills, eh?

  2. Loved this post Ashley. I have been to Canada once but would love to return. Vancouver is on my bucket list. Happy 🇨🇦 Day to you 😘💕 xx

  3. I have heard half of them at least, the polite one being most common.
    At one point I was thinking about moving to Canada when my autoimmune was in full swing and my doctor said “you should try because whatever it is, it will freeze there.”
    have a nice day!

  4. Lol at the Tweet 🙂 Unfortunately, when we were in Cuba there was a rowdy group of about 20 couples from Quebec and they were the most arrogant, ignorant people I’ve come across in a while. They spoke only in French, ignored everyone else, got drunk every day, hogged the pool and made lots of noise.

    Oops, did I say they really got on my nerves.

    And I’m quite sure they’re in the minority, most Canadians I’ve met have been polite and really friendly.

        1. It’s just Quebec. The rest of us are super nice. We love to apologize for everything. I am sorry those Quebec people were so rude and arrogant. A bad representation of Canada for sure.

          1. Oh, I kind of guessed that they were the exception to the rule, particularly speaking only French. SOunds like the Canadians are a bit like the Brits, always apologising lol.

    1. Not all Quebecians are rude and arrogant either. Montreal and Quebec City are very use to tourism, and hence a lot of them have to be welcoming and nice. It is a stereotype that they are ignorant, only speak french and are rude. Lol. It is like anywhere you go, even big cities in Canada like Toronto you will find horrible people. The bigger the population the more mix breed of people you will find I guess. Hence why they call them stereotypes. People often stereotype Americans and the USA, after moving to the states (I am Canadian) I came to find out a lot of those assumptions are not true. We are actually more similar than we like to admit. But of course it always depends where you go in any nation or place.

      1. No, I’m sure they’re not 🙂 And of course we get lots of rude and ignorant people in the UK, particularly London lol. It’s becasue everyone’s in such a hurry, dashing everywhere and expect everything to be at the tip of their fingers lol.

  5. Happy Canada Day!
    I’ll be honest I’ve heard a few of those stereotypes but unfortunately every country seems to have them. Great post!

    1. I think as long as people recognize these kind of stereotypes aren’t actually serious, they’re good for a laugh, because you’re right, every country has them.

  6. I’ve lived in an igloo my entire life and I ride my sled with husky dogs. It’s environmentally friendly. I eat pancakes with REAL maple syrup every morning, in my red, plaid pajamas. If I want to get really fancy, I’ll snack on a bag of ketchup chips or poutine. Typical life of a Canadian, eh? Happy Canada Day! 🍁

    1. I’m not convinced the pancakes are necessary; maple syrup straight out of the container works just as well. I’ve never understood the appeal of ketchup chips, though.

      And that’s so true, igloo living is environmentally friendly, although global warming might make our igloos collapse…

      1. I’m not sure what we are going to do once our igloos melt. I guess we’ll have to switch to log cabins! 😂 Ketchup chips are so good, but it depends on the brand.

  7. Bob and Doug McKenzie did much to instill stereotypes of flannel wearing hosers. _Strange Brew_ is an artistic masterpiece—and the only remake of Hamlet we know of that features a flying dog.

    Yesterday, by coincidence, Spouse and we both wore Canada-themed t-shirts. We had a nice chuckle.

    We had relatives try to emigrate to Canada via the US circa 1900 but they didn’t have the minimum cash balance required, according to family lore. Turned away at the border.

      1. In the 1980s we liked it. Not sure how palatable it would be today (alcohol glorification, murder plot, gender stereotyping). Favorite line of the movie: “If i didn’t have puke breath right now, I’d kiss you.” 🤢

  8. Happy Canada Day from my corner of the UK! Admittedly I hadn’t heard of many of these stereotypes but I’ve always had the vibe that Canada is a friendly place. I just assumed there was something in the water that made assholes into angels. If only. xx

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