The power of the force has stopped you, you hosers.

It’s funny hearing about all the myths and misinterpretations regarding Canadians. Being a former New Yorker I too am guilty of either cracking jokes or being misinformed about at least a couple of them. I have the unique perspective of having lived on both sides of the fence of ignorance and I feel compelled to clear up the fog of confusion regarding the World’s Most Friendly Country:

  • It’s always cold in Canada and everyone lives in igloos – The latter is more playful ribbing than anything but one of the most popular misconceptions is that it’s always cold in Canada. The majority of the country is  along the same latitude as the United Kingdom yet you never hear any cold jokes about the Brits. Some of the northern regions are of course in the Arctic circle and tend to have rather frigid conditions but for the most part Canadians experience the same weather one would receive in any northern state in the US. In fact I can recall quite a few days just this past summer where highs Toronto beat out those in New York and Boston. Winters may last a little longer but the temperatures are pretty consistent. Here’s the averages in January from various locales across Canada:
    (Source: The Weather Network)  

    • Vancouver, BC: 32 / 43°Fahrenheit (0 / 6°Celsius)
    • Edmonton, AB: -2 / 18°F, (-19 / -8°C)
    • Yellowknife, NWT: -24 / -9°F, (-31 / -23°C)
    • Inukjuak, NU: -17 / -4°F, (-27 / -20°C)
    • Winnipeg, MB: -9 / 10°F, (-23 / -12°C)
    • Ottawa, ON: 5 / 23°F, (-15 / -5°C)
    • Toronto, ON: 14 / 28°F, (-10 / -2°C)
    • Montréal, QC: 7 / 23°F, (-14 / -5°C)
    • Halifax, NS: 16 / 30°F, (-9 / -1°C)
    • St. John’s, NF: 19 / 32°F, (-7 / 0°C)
  • Canada has better beer than the States – I’m not going to touch this one for fear of being hung from the gallows by overly-patriotic Americans. Everyone is proud of their nation’s beer. Germany is probably the world’s undisputed King of the Brew but as far as who follows after is dependent on each individual’s personal taste. I for one am not a huge beer drinker (heresy I know) so it doesn’t really matter to me. All I do know is that two of the American big guns, Budweiser and Coors, taste like someone spilled their crappy beer in some club soda. Labatte Blue (known locally as just a Blue) and Molson Canadian are far stronger beers and are way easier to down – that’s just a personal opinion though. While Canada may or may not rank in the top 5 worldwide I seriously doubt they fall below the US in that category. I invite anyone from abroad to come sample the ale before making rash judgments. You’d be quite surprised with the results.
  • Canada only has poutine and maple syrup as their only contributions to fine cuisine – Canada has a very diverse range of dishes that spans from coast to coast. Canada, like most large nations, is a melting pot of cultures so you can see a lot of Eastern European, South American, African and Asian influences in the cooking. Some examples of regional foods are:
    • From the East Coast – Irish Stew, Fish Chowders, Bangbellies (a pork/rice bun), Toutons (Pork Bread), and Duffs (like a dumpling), Molasses Tarts and Partridge Berry Coffee Cake, chocolate bread pudding, oat bread, Cape Breton scones, Creamed Potato Balls, Baked Stuffed Lobster
    • Native – Posole Stew (uses hominy), corn casserole, Frypan Fork Bread, Cornmeal pudding, Maple Fudge, Wojape (a berry pudding)
    • Quebec – Crème Caramel, French Onion Soup, Split Yellow Pea Soup, Garlic Pork Pot Roast, Cipate (Chicken, meat and vegetable casserole with biscuit topping), 3 crust blueberry pie, poutine
    • Ontario – Pine Nut Stuffed Quail, pickled yellow beans, apple butter, headcheese, smoked ham, creamed potatoes, vanilla pie, ice wine, BBQ’s, hot sauces, doughnuts, perogies
    • Prairies (I’m not too familiar with foods from this region of Canada) – Crusted Pork Tenderloin, Wild Mushroom Barley Ragout & Summer Vegetables, Grilled Asparagus, Saskatoon Pie
    • B.C. – Goats Cheese Terrine, Raisin scones with clotted cream, sablefish, Nanaimo Bars, Poached Salmon, Maple Glazed Chicken Breasts, Oysters, Flatbreads, Vegan cuisine and anything disgustingly healthy (i.e. tofu, miso soup, etc.)
  • Canadians always say “eh” and “aboot” – I can honestly say that I have never heard a Canadian utter the words “aboot” in the 10+ years I’ve been here. Course I’ve only been in the Ontario region for the most part so who knows what goes on in the rest of the country. I don’t know where it came from originally but I found it funny as hell when South Park would make fun of it (even if it was confounded). “Eh” on the other hand is something you hear quite frequently though. I’ve even mastered the dialect well enough to use it like a true Canadian as well. Oddly enough it’s not used any more frequently than New Yorkers use “yo” or “aye”. Basically all I had to do to fit in was replace my yo’s with eh’s and say cah-fee instead of cawfee when referring to coffee and all is well.
  • Canada has no military – I’ve always made fun of the Canadian Armed Forces having to fight with sporks but the Canadian military is no joke indeed. This one institution consists of three main branches: Maritime Command (MARCOM), Land Force Command (LFC), and Air Command (AIRCOM), which are together overseen by the Armed Forces Council, chaired by the Chief of the Defence Staff. Their annual funding comes to approximately $21.8 billion (ranked 13th), and are presently ranked 74th in size compared to the world’s other armed forces by number of total personnel, and 58th in terms of active personnel, standing at a strength of roughly 67,000, plus 26,000 reservists, 33 warships spread out amongst 2 fleets, 391 aircraft (which is the third largest in the Americas) and over 3600 currently deployed in the Middle East. The statistics are truly humbling and I tip my hat to all those men and women across the world who are serving for their respective countries. It’s a thankless task but your efforts are truly appreciated by many.
  • Canadians are always nice – True to an extent. Every country has their fare share of assholes, douches and idiots. You tend to find them once you’ve lived there for a while. Canada just does a good job of not letting them be the face of the country.
  • Canada has no contributions to science – Blasphemy. In fact Canada has burned a trail in many fields and is a world leader in regards to contributions to scientific advancement. From Canola Oil to the Blackberry Canada has had it’s hands in the development of many of the technologies and medical breakthroughs we take for granted. I could probably ramble on for days about all of the innovations but if you’re really interested have a peek here and see for yourself.
  • Canada has no film industry – It’s hard to find a movie or TV show that isn’t shot in Vancouver or Toronto nowadays. Chances are if it’s shot in Canada, it has some Canadian actors in it as well. They’ve assimilated into Hollywood so well that many of you don’t even realize some of the best stars are in fact Canadian. From Playboy’s Pam Anderson to Star Trek’s William Shatner Canadians have infiltrated all facets of media. Okay so Keanu isn’t the greatest star ever, but you all ate the Matrix up with a fork and spoon so he did his job.The actual Canadian film industry is a budding one. It makes me laugh whenever I hear Canadians say “Yup, that’s definitely a Canadian film” having only seen a few minutes of whatever is on. It’s not from lack of effort. Despite many film and television projects being funded by the government, it nowhere near the same league as Hollywood in regards to financial backing. The Toronto International Film Festival, founded in 1976, l is one of the most prestigious film festivals in the world now. In 1998, Variety magazine acknowledged that “the Festival is second only to Cannes in terms of high-profile pics, stars and market activity.” If you think Canadians haven’t got their fingers on the pulse of the movie industry, you’re sorely mistaken.
  • Everyone speaks French in Canada – While that may be true to a degree in Quebec, the majority of the country does in fact speak English – well. In fact most Canadians are bi-lingual.
  • Canada’s national sport is hockey – True. In 1994, the Federal Government introduced Bill C-212 that officially made hockey Canada’s National Winter sport and Lacrosse Canada’s National Summer sport. Canadians are definitely passionate about their hockey but don’t believe for an instant that is the only sport accepted up here. Baseball, Football (American and Soccer), Golf, Curling, Boxing and MMA as well as pretty much any winter sport you can imagine from skiing to snowboarding.
  • Canadians have no guns or crime – Oh there’s crime here, believe me. And guns. Domestic violence and Robbery/burglary crimes seem to be the most prevalent. There are probably more guns in Canada than in the States based on the fact that this is a hunting nation with the vast majority of the country being wilderness. The big difference is that Canadians aren’t shooting one another. Their preferred methods tend to be fists and knives. It still strikes me as odd to read about small businesses being robbed at knife-point. You don’t hear about that much in New York.
  • All Canadian cops are mounties – That’s probably as ignorant as it gets. The RCMP (Royal Canadian Mounted Police) is the national police force of Canada, and one of the most recognized of its kind in the world. It is unique in the world as a national, federal, provincial and municipal policing body. The RCMP provides federal policing service to all of Canada and policing services under contract to the three territories, eight provinces (the RCMP does not serve as provincial or municipal police in Ontario and Quebec), more than 190 municipalities, 184 Aboriginal communities and three international airports. They’re like the Feds in the States. Every province has their own police service such as the OPP (Ontario Provincial Police) which are the equivalent of state government agencies such as the NYPD or LAPD. The RCMP have jurisdiction over them all. Cool, eh?
  • Toronto is the nation’s capitol – With over 2.5 million residents, it is the fifth most populous municipality in North America. I think the popular misconception is that Toronto is in fact the capitol of Ontario. Ottawa, the second largest city in Ontario, is the nation’s capitol.

My name is Ian and I am proud to call myself an AmeriCan. 😀

17 responses

  1. Pie

    I found this through Oma’s Blurt blog and have thoroughly enjoyed reading it. This is a comprehensive explanation of what Canada is, and what it’s not. I didn’t think I could like a country I’ve never visited any more than I already did, but thanks to this post I love it now. I must make that trip soon.

    April 17, 2011 at 10:51 am

    • I’m glad my post shed some light and sparked some interest for you. I’m sure some of the homegrown Canadians could tell you more but I’m learning as I go. Now that I’m up near the arctic circle I’m being introduced to a whole new aspect of the Canadian Experience.

      April 18, 2011 at 9:15 am

  2. Nice, informative post! I have to say that yes, I ass-u-me(d) Canada is cold most of the time, but NYC is colder than I like it too!
    My hubby, while working in Florida for a few months, played on a local golf course & got paired up with a Canadian who he said said “eh”, evidently VERY frequently. He got a kick out of it and after several beers along the course, ended up using “eh” a few times himself.

    October 22, 2010 at 9:52 am

    • Eh is so easy to get used to. I thought I wouldn’t be able to apply it properly but I use it like a natural now. Course I used to say yo a lot so it was an easy transition. Thanks for popping by!

      October 22, 2010 at 9:57 am

    • Just to clarify…”eh” is used as a term of confirmation.

      Nice weather, eh?

      I personally think it sounds better than “nice weather, huh?”.

      Huh makes you sound doofy. Eh makes you sound…Canadian. 😉

      October 22, 2010 at 10:19 am

      • While yo can be used as a point of emphasis on either the beginning or end of a statement:

        “Yo, I’m tired.” – Translation: Attention person with me, I have grown weary.

        “I’m tired yo” – Translation: I have grown incredibly weary.

        October 22, 2010 at 10:25 am

  3. Pingback: My first 30 minutes as a Canadian. | Blurt

  4. I am completely with you on beer, our most popular ones here in the states are awful.

    Talked to a lot of Mounties and other police up there, their business is as brisk as it is down here.

    And whose Navy was first in the Gulf region after Katrina?

    October 21, 2010 at 10:41 am

    • Very true.

      October 21, 2010 at 11:03 am

    • Wow…didn’t know that about the Navy and Katrina. Tsk, tsk US Navy…course if you’ve already all been sent to the other side of the world, it would take longer to get back…

      October 22, 2010 at 9:20 am

  5. And we’re proud to have you. 🙂

    You’ve certainly done your research. Ahhh, the contributions of Canada to science. I find it funny that people think Canadians haven’t done much for the world of science. I mean…Alexander Graham Bell (while born in Scotland) became Canadian and made significant contributions to telecommunications…and one more near and dear to my heart, Frederick Banting, co-discoverer of insulin (thanks dude…seriously!).

    Awesome post.

    October 21, 2010 at 10:16 am

    • Did I just actually hear you say something favorable about Bell? rotflmao

      October 21, 2010 at 10:20 am

  6. Amy

    Suspicious lack of moose in that list of national foods. I keed, I keed . . .

    This was actually very interesting. I think I just learned more about Canada than I did in my whole high school or college career. My family is all from Michigan and I lived there until I was 8, so the only thing I really knew about Canada is that their change looked funny but it would still work in the vending machines.

    October 21, 2010 at 10:09 am

    • I may have to edit that once in Nunavut. From what I’ve been hearing there are some unique delicacies up there. In any case I’m glad I can shed some light on the mysterious neighbors to the north.

      They’re like Americans… just nicer. 😉

      October 21, 2010 at 10:22 am

  7. Cool, Ian…didn’t know you were an American too! I spent the first eight years of my life in Ohio…

    Enjoyed this post, although your contention that “most Canadians are bilingual” is probably a little flawed. I live in the only “officially” bilingual province in the country, and I can tell you that the majority of New Brunswickers are unilingual (either French or English).

    I wrote a similar post a couple of months ago, which actually got me in trouble with one of my American friends who thought I was “dissing” the military (see the comments):


    October 21, 2010 at 9:59 am

    • Suzanne can’t speak French all that well but she can understand it for the most part. I think that may be the case with a lot of people. I doubt many can speak fluently (both ways) but can at least understand both.

      I’m shocked that person got so upset about what you said. I read through it twice and couldn’t get why it stirred such a response. Then again, I have similar opinion about war too. Just because one side calls it a liberation doesn’t mean the other doesn’t view it as an invasion. War is predicated by who has the bigger army unfortunately.

      October 21, 2010 at 10:18 am

      • Let me put the caveat on that…I can understand French until a 17 year old bubbly French girl starts ripping it off at 100 km/hr at me. Yowsas. That brought my English back REAL quick.

        October 22, 2010 at 9:18 am

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