There are a million and one stereotypes pertaining to those residing in the great big country of Canada. While a lot of them are true, some of them are just plain hilarious. It’s pretty insane what some people believe to be true about the poutine-enthusiast, overly apologetic country.
While some of them are insanely inaccurate, they all do kind of have some truth to them. For example, while we don’t all live in igloos, there are still certain communities in the northern territories that use igloos for recreational activities. And while we don’t ski to school, there have been cases where the streets have frozen so harshly that people have skated down them. Lastly, while we don’t experience winter all year round, our summer months are definitely not the longest in the world.
I mean, we can’t complain about a lot of these accusations. Being known as overly polite is definitely better than people thinking we are rude. And even if the stereotypes aren’t true—what’s more epic than people thinking we have polar bears as pets and our mode of transportation is a dog sled? We’ll let the outsiders believe what they want—we’ll be up here basking in our maple-syrup-loving glory.
We hope that this list of stereotypes clears up any confusion one might be having about the reality of our lifestyle over in Canada. Clichés aside, the people of Canada are extremely proud of where they come from and will be the first to tell you that. We do have it pretty good up here, eh?
20 We live in igloos
While this is pretty laughable, you would be surprised how often people genuinely think this is true. Honestly, I wish we did—it’s cheap rent and you can light a fire in the middle of your room. Unfortunately, we have to follow the rest of society and live in an actual brick house.
However, this isn’t just a hoax. The Inuit people of Canada once built igloos in order to adapt to the harsh Arctic conditions. Today, igloos are used for the occasional hunting trip and you can actually spend a night in one at the Quebec Ice Hotel during the winter months.
19 We ice skate or ski to work
The country has hit record-breaking temperatures in the past causing the streets to freeze to a thick layer of ice. This resulted in a few adventurous locals grabbing their skates and having a casual skate down the street (naturally). However, this is definitely not a regular occurrence.
While cross-country skiing to work in a winter blizzard might actually be more efficient when the snow is too deep to walk in, few people have been smart enough to start the trend. Maybe one day this will catch on, but for now, we will just have to suffer walking through the deep piles or attempting to ride our bikes through it.
18 It’s winter all year round
While Canada does have a reputation for being cold all year round, this is definitely not the case. It is true that winter can last up to 8 months in a majority of the country, however the summer brings hot and extremely humid weather, with the temps reaching 30-40 degrees Celsius.
Western Canada, particularly Vancouver, showcases mild weather year-round with snowfalls in the city being quite rare. While Calgary may be experiencing a snowstorm in the negative temperatures, Vancouver could be as mild as ever sitting at 10 degrees Celsius, a merely 10-hour drive away. Canada is a huge country that experiences a million different climates, depending on where you are.
17 We say a-boot, not about
Despite popular notions, people living in Canada do not, probably never did, and probably never will say ‘a-boot’. While it seems to outsiders that we do say the word slightly different, there is no way that we go around saying “A-BOOT”. That is simply ridiculous.
I believe that this stereotype has stemmed from a particular region of Canada: the Atlantic Provinces of Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island. However, I still think this is slightly exaggerated, as I have never heard anyone say the word in this regard. I’m sure at one time this was the case, but it definitely isn’t today.
16 We have polar bears as pets
This is one thing I definitely don’t wish was true. While polar bears are majestic and beautiful creatures, they are still in the bear family therefore pretty darn scary. I wouldn’t want to come face to face with one of those bad boys.
Polar bears are actually quite rare to come across, as they, unfortunately, are an endangered species, primarily due to global warming and the melting ice caps. They are mostly spotted in the northern territories in Canada, however they still reside in more southern provinces such as Ontario, Manitoba, and Quebec.
And no, and we don’t have beavers as pets either.
15 Everyone plays hockey
We don’t all play hockey, but we probably did at some point. If you are from Canada, you most likely grew up in a pair of skates with early morning practices and a whole lot of Timmies runs. Whether you were a hockey player, figure skater, or were cheering on your siblings from the side-lines, weekend mornings at the rink were the norm. However, for a lot of people this probably ended by the time were a teen.
While we were probably forced by our parents to engage in some sort of ice sport (it would be unpatriotic if you didn’t), personally I only made it a few years of figure skating before I got tired of the 6am practices and fancy outfits. Unfortunately, being from Canada does not mean you are a good skater.
14 We put maple syrup on everything
Let’s be honest—the word ‘Canada’ and ‘maple-syrup’ go together like peanut-butter and jelly. And rightfully so, since the maple syrup that is brewed up north is the only kind worth having on your Sunday morning pancakes (it HAS to be 100% maple syrup…no golden syrup nonsense). However, we usually keep it to just the breakfast category.
We definitely aren’t pouring maple syrup on everything we eat, nor do we drink it straight from the bottle (although that’s not a bad idea). We would probably all have diabetes by the time we hit our teens if that were the case.
13 Dog sleds are our main form of transportation
Oh man, if only this were true. It would probably make trekking through a foot of snow on the way to school a whole lot easier as kids. Another stereotype that stems from the early settlers of Canada, the Canadian Eskimo Dog originated from the aboriginal sled dogs used by the Thule people of Arctic Canada. They are still used by some rural communities today.
However, there are a ton of places in the country where you can experience dog sledding in a recreational form on a snowy winter’s day. Pretty much every province offers some sort of dog sledding activity in the winter months.
12 We all speak French
Although French is the native language of many people residing in Canada, that isn’t the case for everyone. Most native speakers of the French language in Canada live in Quebec, as it’s the only province in the country with its official language being solely French. The rest of Canada has both English and French as its official languages.
A majority of the country can speak at least a little bit of French, as kids from years 4 to 8 are required to study the language every year. However, it is definitely not the case that everyone can speak it fluently.
11 We have free healthcare
It’s true that most things relating to medical doctors are covered by our universal health care, such as check-ups, sexual health clinics, and operations. However, there is a lot that isn’t covered unless you have insurance from your job, educational institution, or if you are young enough to be covered under your parent’s job.
Things such as dentistry, prescribed medication, and other forms of medicine such as chiropractors and naturopathy visits, all come from out of pocket (unless you are insured). While we are extremely lucky that we have the health care services that we do, it is definitely not all completely free.
10 Totally Accurate: We are very polite
It is definitely true that Canada folk are notorious for their politeness and niceness. As a local, it’s hard to recognize this from day to day, until you visit another country and someone mentions to you: “You’re from Canada? I LOVE people from Canada, they are so nice!”. Also, If you find yourself in a grocery store in Canada, the classic line you’ll hear from someone walking past you is “I’m just going to sneak past you there.”
I don’t really know why this is the case, but I think we have such a reputation for it now that we HAVE to be overly nice to keep it up. I mean, we live in a pretty epic country, so what reason do we have to be unhappy or rude?
9 Totally Accurate: We are overly apologetic
Being known as the country with the manners is not the worst stereotype in the world. Most Canucks are so polite that if you bump into one, they will probably apologise for standing in your walking space. I actually apologised to a chair once because I bumped into it, thinking it was a human.
Those from Canada would simply rather apologise than find themselves in some sort of conflict. While this obviously isn’t the case for everyone in the country, it’s generally pretty spot on that we are excessive apologisers. Not surprisingly, I am not sorry for this stereotype.
8 Totally Accurate: We love poutine
I mean, who wouldn’t? Poutine is a delicacy that is perfected time and time again, with gooey cheese-curd goodness and gravy sauce atop crispy French fries. We have probably all had poutine for breakfast, lunch and dinner at some point (on separate occasions of course). You can have it with the original cheese and gravy, or can top it with an endless amount of toppings. It’s just SO versatile!
Poutine is actually a Quebec slang word meaning “mess”, which is fitting considering you definitely need a few utensils and napkins to eat it. The key to a great poutine are the cheese curds, as it’s simply unpatriotic to use shredded cheese.
7 Totally Accurate: We say “eh” at the end of every sentence
You probably won’t get through a conversation with a Canuck without hearing the word “eh” at least once, if not several times. It’s typically used in place of the word “right” or “huh”. For example: “It’s pretty cold out, eh?”. It’s honestly a part of the Canadian-English language.
If you are always surrounded by locals, you probably won’t recognize the amount of times you say the word “eh”. It’s only until you leave the country or you are around a foreigner that you will notice, since they will point it out every chance they get. However, it’s not the worst stereotype, eh?
6 Totally Accurate: We have the best bacon
This is absolutely true. Any other country that produces bacon is simply a pathetic excuse for the crispy, juicy goodness that is Canadian bacon. I guarantee that no other bacon will compare once you’ve tried the kind from up north, and every visit to every country will just be a disappointment.
From the popular strip bacon to peameal bacon, the delicious cured pork product can be made in so many ways. You can have it alongside eggs, in a BLT, on top of poutine, or simply by itself as a tasty snack. Did I mention we have MAPLE-FLAVOURED bacon? Yup, you heard right. I mean, why even try… all other bacon?
5 Totally Accurate: It can get REALLY cold
While Canada does experience many different seasons, with the different provinces experiencing completely different temperatures years round, there is no doubt that Canada gets extremely chilly. Our winter months bringing negative temperatures as low as -45 degrees Celsius, with the coldest temperature ever recorded in Canada being -64 in Yukon.
While not many people have to deal with the harsh northern conditions, it still gets pretty darn chilly in the dead of winter. There have been many cases in the past where cold weather alerts have been made, suggesting that all individuals stay inside as much as possible. However, this isn’t the case for more mild places such as Vancouver.
4 Totally Accurate: We drink Tim Hortons like it’s our day job
No morning commute is complete without a stop at the Timmies drive-thru (and you will definitely have to wait in the line of cars). If you go to any workplace in Canada you will likely find staff members enjoying their Tim Hortons coffee with a Timbit in hand (which are essentially mini donuts). I mean, where else can you get a coffee for under $2?
For Canada folk, Tim Hortons is more than just a coffee shop—it’s the early morning hockey practices, the chilly winter nights warmed up with a hot chocolate, and the way in which it brings people together. I know, so Canadian of us.
3 Totally Accurate: We are hockey fanatics
Hockey Night in Canada is the biggest night of the week in pretty much every household across the country. While Americans love their football, Canadians love nothing more than a night watching their favourite team hit the ice.
Though there are dozens of teams, the Toronto Maple Leafs are probably the most popular squad in the country, with people either loving them or loving to hate them. Even if you aren’t a fan, you are always secretly excited when they have a winning streak because there is still a small hope inside you that one day they will win the Stanley Cup.
2 Totally Accurate: The East vs West Coast rivalry is real
There is definitely a friendly rivalry between the east coast and west coast of Canada. You are either a die-hard Torontonian or Newfie (those from Newfoundland and Labrador), or you are a Vancouverian or resident of Stampede City (A.K.A Calgary).
While many people from both sides choose to move to the other for work or play, your heart is probably either strictly east or west coast. However, many Ontario folk tend to flock to the mountains for a while and never seem to return, since the west does have a magical aurora to it. Toronto is also a pretty epic city that brings people from all other the globe, so it’s hard to say which coast trumps the other.
1 Totally Accurate: Our bills smell like maple syrup (MAYBE)
Shortly after the plastic bills were introduced in Canada, many speculated that the hundred-dollar bill smelled like maple syrup. Hundreds of people contacted banks inquiring about a seemingly scratch-and-sniff patch that apparently had a sweet scent. To put it simply, the whole country went absolutely nuts. It was a debate that swept the nation, as some individuals did not smell maple at all.
While bank officials have ensured the public that no scent had been added to the new bank notes, many people still aren’t convinced. Did the bank purposefully scent them maple, or is it just a coincidence? We still can’t be sure, but you can’t deny that the bill smells slightly sweet.