When travelling abroad there are a few general things you should know about the people you meet, particularly if they are from the non-Mexican part of North America. This can be explained using the entirely accurate and not at all offensive practice of stereotyping.
It can be said that behind every falsehood rests a grain of truth but there is no truth in saying everyone of a nationality possess a fixed set of characteristics. You can blame the media, you can blame it on a few bad experiences or you can blame it on hearsay and ignorance, but stereotypes are all around us. So let’s look at a few between the two countries that share the world’s longest undefended border because while some groups may be okay with being confused, like Chinese and Japanese or Aussies and Kiwis, don’t mix up these two nations!*
*Which in itself is a generalization. And a joke. I’m joking. Please don’t get angry.
1. Americans are Fat
Yes, we’ve all read the statistics about the horrendous obesity rate in the U.S.A. but come on… not everyone is fat. Just watch American movies or television – many are anorexic too!
2. Canadians are Hockey Players
Oh you better believe Canadians love hockey. Did you know over half of all NHL players are Canadian? (If you don’t know what the NHL is, you’re probably asking ‘does he mean field or ice hockey? Ugh) But not everyone plays or cares about hockey. Case in point: me.
3. Americans Like to Fight; Canadians Don’t
If you consider the 3+ wars America has going on, you would think that is all they do. Keep in mind America is also the home to countless hippies and peaceful protestors of war and violence as is Canada. If you base it on averages, you’re likely to find Canadians more in favor of peaceful means than Americans, but again, averages don’t apply to all. Ever watched hockey? Fighting is a part of the game!
4. Americans are Ignorant
This could be said about almost any country – particularly when referring to young people – but take a look at the geography of North America. It’s huge and a long way from the rest of the world. So maybe you can forgive Canadians and Americans for not being as worldly as other citizens, but don’t you dare forgive Americans for the Canadia cracks or not being able to find Canada on a map. Some call Canada the apartment over top a fantastic party. Well I guess you have lots of time to party when you don’t have any jobs. Too soon? And no, you can’t come upstairs to score.
5. Canadians Are Bilingual
Ha! Yeah… this is not true. While the official languages of Canada are French and English but most can only speak one or the other – mostly English. It’s shameful, I know. Maybe just don’t tell the rest of the world – it makes us look sophisticated.
6. Americans Are Boors; Canadians Are Polite
Did you know I’ve never been verbally accosted while in Canada? It’s true. Except that it’s not. All of the biggest jerks I know are Canadian and I know many kind hearted Americans. It’s kind of a self-fulfilling prophecy – if you tell someone their countrymen are assholes they are unlikely to respond favorably to you. Maybe you are the asshole? Oh yeah, and nothing goes to a Canadian’s head like telling them they’re polite. Thank you, you are too kind.
I love this–so funny! I think that you’re one cool Canadian. Especially because you ‘get’ us–the Americans! Perhaps I’ll have my students in Reading and American culture read this post. I think they’d enjoy it!
PS: I speak Spanish almost fluently and some Arabic–and I like WWII movies. I try not to go to McD’s more than once every 6 weeks or so. I’ve been to Canada twice: Toronto AND Vancouver. And I’ve had two Canadian boyfriends (love the accent, btw.) What does this mean?
It means you’re awesome.
Thanks for the reply!
It means you secretly want to date me
Very funny — and oddly good timing! We’ve been pondering a move back to North America after over a decade away in Australia and Europe and Canada is high on our list of spots to explore since we are both British Commonwealth citizens. Thanks for the humorous take on the stereotyping debate.
No problem! If you’re hesitant towards the cold, move to BC – particularly if you like mountains and skiing. You won’t get the 50-60 C temperature differential between winter and summer.
Brilliant!!! Love this. 🙂 Esp. the “too soon” jab.
Haha thanks! It’s good to know we can joke about these things lol
I will never tell a Canadian he or she is polite ever again.
how dare you!
HOW DARE YO… I mean, whatever you think!
HAHA great minds think like Hogga… I mean ‘alike’… yea, that’s what I mean
GET OUT OF MY HEAD!
hahaha, it will cost you: $5, a new soul and a banana.
I’M FAT AND I CAN KICK YOUR ASS.
Not really. Please don’t hit me.
But hitting people is my favorite past time !!
Too funny! The “too soon” bit made me laugh too. I’m enjoying the comments as much as the post. :0)
Glad we could entertain you!
What are you talking about when you say Canuck’s don’t all play hockey. I was born wearing skates 😛
I don’t play hockey! And the only reason I watch it is because it means people will drink beer with me on weeknights!
Hahaha all of this is so very true. Love.
Is it wrong that I love watching Rick Mercer go to Ivy League schools in the US and ask them ridiculous questions about Canada? I guess that would make me an asshole…
Then I’m an asshole too, that shit is hilarious!
The family and I spent an awesome 10 days in Canmore, Banff, Lake Louise and Jasper. Incredible scenery and awesome hiking on the Mt. Robson Trail in BC. (We’re from Dallas, Tx)
One of the highlights for my boys was the O’ Canada dinner theater show in Canmore. My boys still joke about the Canadian stereotypes sung and danced by the performers. Trappers, Fur Traders, Fisherman, Hockey Players & Beer Drinkers all puncuated with an emphatic – EH!
Finally, I’m not sure if it was the beautiful scenery, relaxed vacation time or just friendly, courteous Canadian drivers – I found myself slowing down and being much less of a white-knuckle driver compared to the SUV / Pick-up Truck dominated roads of Texas (another stereotype!)
OMG I spent a few months living in Texas. I could go on and on with stereotypes about that state! LOL
Do tell !? I want to know about Texas… I believe OverYonderlust are from Texas as well 🙂
Yeah I’d like to know some too! It’s just one of those places that people immediately generalize.
Years back there was an ad campaign for one of our beers, Molson, that was called ‘The Rant’ and it was about the things that make us Canadian and not American. It’s one of those commercials that no Canadian ever forgets but upset a lot of Americans.
But yeah… check it out on YouTube if you get a chance… plays into most of those stereotypes you mentioned.
Thanks for your comment!
The American stereotypes I get when traveling make me SO mad especially the “do you know only 3/30/[insert randomly low percentage] of Americans have passports?” Well obviously I’m one of the ones who DOES, jackass, otherwise I wouldn’t be meeting you at an airport in Oman. RIGHT?
HAHA! People are smart.
Ok, so a few years ago while in a small village in Turkey, my husband and I were mistaken as Canadians. We’re actually Americans but we didn’t correct the guy. I guess we didn’t do anything to improve the stereotype! Honestly, it made us proud to not be a part of the kinda true, kinda false ideas about Americans. Then we stereotyped the Turkish fella, we were thankful of his mistake because surly if he’d known we were Americans he would have beheaded us- Right?! 😉 Horrible. And thanks for this very human post!!
Haha no problem. It’s awkward sometimes because when I’m overseas (or even at home) I hear people making those generalizations and I laugh at them and make a few of my own, despite the fact that I know most of them apply to Canada as well. But you know… I don’t want to be beheaded either.
You are too funny! I just love how you compare Americans to Canadians. Oh wait, I shouldn’t be complimenting you so much, right? Because you know, it’ll get to your head ‘coz you’re Canadian. Or does that work only when we compliment you for being polite? Alright, kidding. Just kidding. Please don’t hunt me down. We can be friends, you know, but first, I still need some proof that Canadians aren’t bilingual. I swear, I never knew that! I’ve always that all of you guys can speak both French and English. Thanks for clearing that up for me!
Pas de probleme mme.
But seriously, if you want to be really confused, go to Ottawa and check out the road signs.
Ha! We Americans definitely do think that all Canadians are into hockey. I’m glad that you guys know all Americans aren’t fat 🙂 Some of us don’t eat fast food–promise!
It is on the back of our $5 bill… So you are forgiven for thinking that haha
I like hockey because it means people will come out and drink on weeknights haha
LOL, loved the “too soon?” as I am one of those Americans with plenty of time on my hands.
My myth of universally polite Canadians was shattered in Toronto’s customs. As I was leaving Canada. Apparently they thought it was weird that I left a day or two before the hubs.
haha I always found American customs okay when I drive to Boston and Canadian’s dicks on the way back, but it all depends on who you get.
I have a French Canadian friend who speaks perfect English, too. She is bilingual, but her American husband of thirty years has never learned a word of her French. I speak French to her and English to him. Neither one likes hockey, but I do. Even though I was born and raised in Los Angeles, I like hockey so much that I learned to play it (badly), while living in…. Texas! Guess I’m one of those “dumb Americans” who can’t even get their stereotypes right, eh? Great post; great thread!
Some people are just bad at that – I had similar friends in Japan who were married to Japanese women, had kids together and STILL could not speak the language. I find it lazy, rude and pretty self-centered of them – even if you suck at it and can’t do languages, at least try!
See, you’re already defying the stereotype by acknowledging you are dumb – most won’t even do that! lol. Thanks for the reply!
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You people eat ketchup on hotdogs… . GROSS! lol
Or do you spell it catsup?
Get off my blog!
I think you guys should post this up on http://www.formvote.com , see what people say.
All very true – I’ve met lots of impolite Canadians, my boyfriend is American and loves hockey more than any Canadian I’ve ever met and there are probably more fat people in Scotland than there are in America ;-P Funny how we all see each other.
I agree… Scotland is very fat lol.
I wish I could care that the NHL season is probably cancelled this year but I can’t. That being said, I think it was due to the last strike that gave rise to poker being considered television worthy… so maybe hockey does serve its purpose…
I am a Canadian from Vancouver island and I can say Canadians are assholes very unfriendly cant say how they really feel, at least Americans are outspoken and can tell you how they really feel American women are way more approachable, nice and kind to men than these stuck up Canadian girls huge difference in personality.
The only reason people think Canadians are nice is because when a fight breaks out or we really need to talk about something we back down and don’t talk about how we really feel, just ball it all up inside go Canadians go!!! why not talk like a manipulator as well as talk in circles and give someone a weird look and stare them down instead of talking it out like a loud mouth American.
Yes Americans are FAT but I have seen just as many FAT Canadians I travel to the USA all the time and their is a total diff in people you think Americans are ignorant look a Canada
Have to agree brad… While Canada is far from the worst place to live in, I find that culturally it’s a contradiction. People are nice to your face but stab your back to others. Hate on Americans, but worship American identity and content. If you make mistakes, you’re on purpose.
I really like how when I am in California (Which is often), I know the personalities of the people I am dealing with, rather than a set of politeness flash cards who don’t really care about authentic discussion, or much about knowing who truly are either.