True or False – A Look at Six Stereotypes About Canada

I admit, in the past I may have made some jokes at the expense of our friends to the north. I seem to remember a quip involving America’s hat in particular. But those days are gone, I’m now an avowed lover of Canada and her people. What convinced me? It’s simple, over the last three years I’ve visited Canada several times and each time I really enjoyed myself. I grudgingly began to accept the fact that Canada isn’t all that bad and in fact it’s pretty awesome. So now I want to set the record straight and address some popular stereotypes of our Canuck friends. Eh? (sorry, couldn’t resist)

Unboring poutine

1. Canadians are boring - I’m not sure how this one started, maybe it’s because Americans sometimes confuse Canadians with the British, but I can attest that our friends to the north are in no way boring. How can I prove this? Well, although they have a pretty intense love affair with curling, they adore hockey which is anything but boring. Also, they invented poutine, the most unboring of all snack foods. Stereotype – False.

See, no snow

2. Too cold and snowy - Ok, winter in Canada can be cold, very cold. When we left Banff it was -24 Fahrenheit. That’s damn cold. But it was also winter and you know, it should be cold and snowy in the winter. I did get an appreciation though for why so many Canadians flee to warmer climes in January and February, I would too. But Canada in the summer is gorgeous and decidedly unsnowy, unless you’re in the Arctic I suppose, but that doesn’t count. Stereotype – False.

Hockey on Snowy Lake Louise, Alberta Canada

3. It’s all lumberjacks and curling - I can’t say that I have ever seen a lumberjack in Canada, although I’m sure they exist, but curling does happen. I was in a hotel in Canada once, waiting for a friend, and the TV in the lobby bar was tuned to a sports channel. To be more accurate, it was tuned to a curling game (match?). Later in the day I was walking through town and a winter festival complete with curling lessons was going on. I can’t say I’ve ever seen this in the States. Stereotype – Half true.

4. Canadians don’t like/are rude to Americans - Not only isn’t this true, the opposite is actually the case. Whenever I’m in Canada I am always surprised at how nice everyone is. It’s the little things; saying please and thank you and holding doors for people. When I was last in Canada I remember thinking to myself that this is how all people should act and sadly it’s not an experience I have all the time at home. Stereotype – False.

Banff, Canada

5. Weird Words - Bring up the words ‘eh’ and ‘aboot’ to a Canadian and watch them cringe. While it’s true that not everyone in Canada talks this way, many do. Sorry Canadians, it’s true. I hear these quirks of the Canadian tongue all the time when I visit, to the point where I find myself elongating my own vowels. It’s ok though, we still love ya. Stereotype – Partly true

6. Everyone plays hockey - True. No debate necessary.

Ok, well this experiment didn’t go as well as I thought. Turns out stereotypes tend to be based on a kernel of truth, but that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s a bad thing. Yes, it’s cold in the winter and yes, I saw a lot of TVs tuned to hockey and curling, but so what? That doesn’t mean everyone in Canada is always drinking beer and saying ‘eh.’ Canada is a diverse, dynamic country that has a lot to offer. So instead of harping on stereotypes, get up there and take some curling lessons while downing a Molson, eh?

What are some common stereotypes about Canada or Canadians you think need to be addressed?

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31 Responses

  1. Lane

    Poutine is French fries with curds and gravy poured over. Delicious! (Especially with Canadian beer).

    Reply
    • Jessica

      I was wondering what Poutine is…it sounds revolting! and what is curds?
      NZers do they ‘eh’ things as well at the end of most sentences! Although we make it sound like ‘a’

      Reply
      • Me

        I believe curds are like…. cottage cheese. Not sure but just guessing here.

      • Matt Long

        It’s hard to explain but not quite like cottage cheese, more like little cheese balls. And so good!

  2. Cam

    Hah! I always get a chuckle learning how others perceive us.

    Our “eh” is usually used as a semi-question of approval. “That’s a pretty sweet looking car, eh?”

    It’s kinda like Americans with the term “y’all”. We get a laugh whenever we hear it and know we are speaking to an American.

    I’d say your pretty close on your assessment. We don’t live in igloos either. In fact, it’s way colder in New York and Boston then Vancouver.

    Although, as a Canadian, I find curling super boring and Molson Canadian is the equivalent of drinking Budweiser – most Canadians that love beer never touch the stuff (it’s terrible)

    Reply
  3. Dalene

    Ahem. As a Canadian, AND A CURLER, I am offended, friend. :)

    You Americanos only wish you had our curling prowess, and are trying to ramp up efforts to get it. Check this out: http://www.curlingrocks.net/news/curling-demos-underway-super-bowl-village-indy You are turning to CURLING to spice up your Super Bowl!!

    I insist that you make an effort to attend the 10 day party of our Canadian mens curling championships and you will definitely not find it boring. What other sporting event can you drink with the competitors in a 3,000+ person party afterwards? None.

    Reply
    • Matt Long

      Ha! Sorry if offense was taken. I would actually love to try curling, it’s the only way I could possibly get in the Olympics. :)

      Reply
      • Dalene

        As crazy as it is, that might *actually* be *maybe* coming true for us! (Check the link in my URL)

      • Matt Long

        Really? That’s amazing!

  4. Sarah

    These stereotypes about us Canucks always amuse me!

    I once heard the stereotype that Canadians will always play the game, “Did you know _____________is Canadian?” or “Did you know _______ was invented in Canada?”

    And IT’S TRUE!

    I love busting out facts about zippers and basketball being invented here and that Brendan Fraser is Canadian. (Lame, but kind of patriotic right??)

    Reply
  5. Jesse

    Where do you go in Canada that people actually say “aboot”? I can honestly say i have never in my life heard a fellow Canuck say this, although I admit we do say “eh” regularly.

    Reply
    • Matt Long

      I’ve heard it a bunch of times, really. It’s more of a different vowel sound with several words than it is just aboot. Not a big deal, but the vowels do stick out.

      Reply
    • Kitty

      We say it in NS, and I say it.

      Reply
  6. Tash

    Weird words….everywhere has weird words! That’s what makes meeting people from different lands so interesting! It would be sooooooo boring if we all spoke American, no?
    Whattya reckon, mate? Ha!

    Reply
  7. Kelly @LifeOptimist

    Aww, thanks for the love! I promise if we ever meet ooot and abooot in these parts, eh, I’ll give you a big bisous with poutine gravy covered lips! (I’m a Quebecer, so we kiss a lot more than the rest of Canada :)

    Reply
  8. Leigh

    AS a Canadian I have yet to try poutine but am in love with maple syrup.

    Played hockey earlier in my life and my son and husband are addicted. It was worse when my daughter worked for the Toronto Maple Leafs.

    When I lived in the States people would ask me to say out and about – just so they could laugh.

    Fun article.

    Reply
  9. Corbin

    Hahaha great post! Nailed us to a tee.

    I hear ya in regards to the Canadian “accent” – head anywhere east of Quebec City and prepare for some strong friggen vowels.

    I had a legit conversation last week with a local maritimer that went something like – “Yup, we’re headin’ to the baaar after we finish playing some geetaaar. Oh and don’t ferget aboot that there show we’re sposed to see later on eh?.”

    Gotta embrace the quirks of Canada! Nothing but love for our brothers (and sisters) to the south – drop by anytime!

    Reply
  10. Taylor Roades

    Haha, I love the Stereotypes…and I secretly love living up to them :)

    Reply
  11. Krista

    I’m a non-hockey playing Canadian, but everything else is pretty close to the mark.

    Curling is awesome. I would posit that it’s one of the few Olympic sports where you can drink beer on/near the playing surface.

    I live on the opposite end of the country from Cam, but we get very little winter here in Nova Scotia, too. LOTS of weather, just not much snow.

    Truthfully, “a-boot” jokes drive me up the wall. Largely because the pronunciation with accent is closer to “a-boat.”

    All that to say, thanks for the fun take on my people. Next time you’re here, I’ll buy you a (legitimately good) Canadian beer!

    Reply
  12. Archibald

    Just a quick comment. If you’ve never met a Canadian lumberjack you aren’t looking very hard. Last time I was up that way it was for a bare knuckle boxing tournament and seemingly every other person there was a lumberjack.

    Love hockey and, some, Canadian beer (Molson is terrible), but curling is insanely boring. Let’s be honest, it’s shuffleboard on ice. When’s the last time someone told you how fascinating shuffleboard is? Never, that’s when. Until they start being able to hit each other with those brooms, I, like everyone else in the world especially when the olympics aren’t happening, will pass.

    Love Canada though and would strongly recommend everybody go. Great mix of cities (Toronto is a blast) and the wild outdoors. Plus some of the nicest people you’ll ever meet…at least outside of parts of Montreal.

    Reply
    • Matt Long

      Oh I want to see the combat version of curling! :)

      Agree, love Canada and can’t wait to explore more of the massive country.

      Reply
  13. Chrystal McKay

    Hey! The last stereotype is NOT true. ahah I do not play hockey, nor have I ever. My brother and most of my friends have not either – and we come RURAL Canada. Which means more snow and more time on our hands. But we still didn’t revert to Hockey. Instead we went snowboarding and camping in the winters. But great article – glad some American’s are coming to realize we aren’t the foreign northern yeti’s we are made out to be! Its just the bulky winter jackets – we promise! :D

    Reply
  14. Jean

    Poutine was invented in the province of Quebec – that’s where you HAVE to have a poutine… In the rest of Canada, they make them but not the same thing AT ALL!

    Thanks for the article, it was fun to read!

    Reply
  15. Sven

    My parents are from Jersey (NOT FREAKING NEW JERSEY DAMNIT) so I can’t really say anything about the majority, but here is my personal experience of myself, and the people around me. The “eh” after sentences stereotype: Half true, I use it what seems like a little more than necessary, and my friends use it about the same amount. I have NEVER heard anybody say “aboot” unless it is part of a joke. I don’t play hockey, nor find any interest in it whatsoever, and none of my friends do either. It is most certainly snowy and cold, but we still have great summers, sometimes going up to 37 Degrees (not Farenheit of course). And I generally make fun of Americans, but I am sure Americans do the same thing about Canadians. And this is off-topic but I love the British.

    Reply
    • Matt Long

      To be completely honest, my Canadian friends say ‘eh’ all the time, and they don’t even realize it. The aboot linguistic quirk is geographical in nature, not widespread throughout Canada and can be found as well in some US states. And I love Canada, this was just meant to be a fun post.

      Reply
  16. Hunter

    Yep that’s pretty much us. For those who don’t know poutine is fries covered in gravy and white stuff is cheese. Also hockey isn’t our national sport, Lacrosse is.

    Reply
    • Hannah

      Actually, lacrosse is only our summer sport. Hockey was added as our winter sport because apparently one national sport is not enough.

      Reply
  17. debbie

    I’m Canadian and I don’t play hockey or curling. I don’t even watch it. I don’t understand them at all. I’m not boring at all. In fact, I’m the opposite. Ok, it can get really cold here. But that’s only for about 4 months. Then it’s too hot to do anything. In my whole life I have never heard anyone say “eh” or “aboot” unless they were talking about all these stereotypes. I have never said either. I love Americans. I love people in general. And I’m a pretty polite person to all, no matter where they come from.

    Reply
  18. Ryan

    Ha, I actually thought a lot of these stereotypes were true before I actually went. Though I experienced some that were partially true, like “eh” the further central and west you get, my perspective has completely changed.

    Reply
  19. Cole

    I personally hate hockey. So maybe you should have left that stereotype partly true.

    Reply

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