Oh, Canada! Shining Some Northern Light on a Few of Those Canadian Misconceptions and Stereotypes, eh

I was flipping through the Community Pool here earlier today, and came across a blog called Floridian Lifestyle, written by an English girl named Rosie.  I was inspired to read her latest post, A Weekend in Los Angeles, because hey, I’m a northern girl, and that California dreamin’ The Mamas and the Papas and The Beach Boys sang about is really a thing up here.  I was further intrigued when she said she had gone down to Compton to meet her fiancé’s family and to see where he had grown up.  “The same Compton of which the streets Dr. Dre proudly proclaims to be from?”, I thought.  If you were thinking the same thing as I, as you read just up to this point, then you can safely assume what I was prepared to see was what you probably also had in mind.  What I saw reading through her post were many beautiful landscapes, references to getting to see where Rosie’s beloved walked to school each day, getting to meet his family, some pictures of a quaint residential area, and a couple of pics of an attractive, well dressed young couple – a proud and happy L.A. man, side by side with his charming English midwife.

“I’m not prejudiced!”, you say, but I will echo that same thought right back to you.  You see, I’m not prejudiced or biased towards any group of people, but when it comes to places I’ve only just heard about and never experienced, I have to admit my perceptions are coloured through the bias of other’s experiences and encounters.  So while I learned today that Compton is more than just a mythical place featured in gangster rap lyrics, and tomorrow when I read through more of Rosie’s work I will likely discover that England is more than just some country cottages, circled around Buckingham Palace, inhabited by people who sing and dance in perfectly coordinated step together a la Julie Andrews (whilst the queen overlooks from her balcony drinking the world’s largest cup of Earl Grey), today YOU are going to learn just a little bit more about us Canadians, and what’s really going on here in the strong and free true north.

The Northern Lights

Unless you have a real burning, intense need to see the dancing technicolour display you have seen only heretofore in the Imax or planetarium, there is no need to buy a thousand dollar plus set of arctic gear and put all of your life savings towards a once in a lifetime trip to the deep north to see the northern lights.  You can see the slightly less vibrant version of those things just about anywhere the light pollution is kept to a minimum.  But don’t ask me what time of year.  I forget.  That’s because it’s just common enough an occurrence even here, just an hour or two away from the US border, that we take that s*it for granted.

Language

English is the primary of our two official languages.  The second one is French.  And none of us really know why.  Some people’s European ancestors came here and did some bad things throughout history and imposed the English language upon the indigenous inhabitants of this country, so yes, we can understand where the English came from.  But aside from Quebec and it’s border, and maybe a small faction of Manitoba, French really is not that common of a language here outside of those areas (though heavily populated, where 21% of the population speak it – which still leaves 79% of the population that has no knowledge of or no fluency in it).  We are then given a very rudimentary introduction to it in schools all over the remainder of the country, ‘because it is our second national language’.  I have never once needed to use it.  Not even in Montreal, where everyone seemed to prefer to practice their English with me.  Native languages were spoken here well before the European invasion, and many are still spoken today.  Why are one of them not one of our two national languages?  We don’t know either.

Wildlife

Yes, we have polar bears.  And besides the inhabitants of the far, far north, you know how many Canadians have actually seen the Coca Cola mascot in real life?  (And the zoo doesn’t count.)  About 10.  And yes, that is an exaggeration.  A good beaver sighting (pause for the lame chuckles from those of you who think everything is innuendo) is only slightly more common than the polar bear.  What we do have in abundance and what we are really better known for (at least amongst ourselves) is our antlered mammal (cervidae) population…. think deer, moose, elk….  And let us not get started on those pesky seagulls, geese and mosquitoes.

20885000_10159170198645254_405265857_n
Just another walk around the block

Food

Ketchup chips ARE a thing.  The best thing.  They are second only to All Dressed.  Think of them as BBQ’s sweeter, zesty, and infinitely more palatable little sister.  And syrup is delicious; you know you like it.  Stop making fun of us for enjoying it too.  We also eat blue/rasp/straw/goose berries, lobster, fish, wild game, tex-mex, Italian and take out pizza and Chinese just like the rest of the developed world.

IMG_7217
Four types of berries, straight from the ground

Clothing

Bunny hugs.  These are something you get from people dressed in fuzzy costumes at malls during Easter, not what Saskatchewonians think they are.  And what is it they would be referring to?  Hoodies.  You know, hooded sweatshirts with the pocket in the front.  We wear those.  We also wear snowshoes, though only recreationally, and only during winter.  We wear cold weather attire only outside, either performing an activity, or en route to the next indoor destination we are headed to, where we promptly remove it all and leave it in a generally big soggy cold pile at the door.

20884915_10159170194150254_1245135667_n
Extreme weather look only

We also wear stilletos, dresses, pants, shorts, whatever we saw in the latest issue of GQ or Vogue, or whatever was the right price in the clearance section of the local department store.  But back to bunny hugs; Even the rest of us Canadians outside of Saskatchewan can’t figure this one out.  But we really aren’t putting too much thought into it – we’re still too busy wondering how they came up with the word Saskatchewonian, when Saskatchewanian would make so much more sense, or Saskatchewanese would be that much more kick ass to say.  Which leads me to the next heading of…

Colloquialisms

We say ‘eh all the time.  All the freaking time.  We don’t even realize it.  We make fun of each other for it and laugh at American parodies of it, but it’s oh, so true.  However, our neighbours to the south say huh and y’all, so we’re at least in good company.  And seeing as how we all think we are the only ones calling things by the right name, if there is something I am calling a name completely contrary to what you would call it, unless you pointed it out to me, I wouldn’t know.  And vice versa.  So we’re all right.

Pronunciation

‘Ruff’ is the sound a dog makes.  ‘Roof’ is what we call that thing over our heads.  Americans make fun of us for calling it a ‘ruff’, and we make fun of Americans for calling it a ‘ruff’.  None of us are right.  The truth is, the only person I’ve ever heard pronounce it that way is Tim Allen in Christmas with the Kranks.  On a side note, we Canadians are rumoured to speak the ‘most perfect’ English of any English speaking nation on earth, second only to the ‘Queen’s English’.  So you may want to quit laughing at our accents right.about….. now.

Housing

Our homes may get buried under so much snow here that they can resemble igloos, but again, after extensive travelling back and forth across the country I call home, I have yet to ever see one in real life, I do not know anyone who lives in one or who has lived in one, and if we all did live in them, then considering our summers easily hit 40 degrees Celsius with the humidex, we would all be homeless the other 9 months of the year.  We live in houses, condos, high rises, split levels, and apartments with neighbours who party like teenagers in the kitchen on the other side of our bedroom walls just like everyone else in the developed world.  With thermostats, plumbing and electricity and all!

20863944_10159170194120254_1394744386_n
My igloo grew stairs!

A little FYI for ya: since the longhouse was thought to represent the earliest form of permanent structure in many cultures, our indigenous people actually invented our current wooden housing structure (amongst a few others from around the globe).

Reputation

We are not the most polite people on the planet.  You need go no further than to observe the traffic down the TransCanada Highway or through Winnipeg to realize that we are not.  My travels through Mexico lead me to believe the inhabitants there have us beat.  We just place a high emphasis on manners, having learned long ago that we can use them to get what we want.  Anything we want.

Beverages

Not beer, but the all mighty Caesar is our National beverage.

20864049_10159170179100254_1781293360_n
Homemade Caesar; can now be purchased at your friendly neighbourhood alcohol peddler pre-canned or bottled

It is a clamato juice and vodka based drink that goes down real, real nice on a hot summer’s day, but has enough zip to warm up the guts on a cool fall evening.  Argue with me all you want that it’s beer (thanks a lot Joe), but in 2010 the Caesar was pronounced our national beverage by Parliament, and it has it’s very own day of celebration – mark your calendars for May 18th people!  However, not everyone enjoys the Caesar, and many of us do not enjoy beer – coffee, tea, wine and whiskey all also rank quite highly in our collective hearts and homes.  We are also known to enjoy a nice refreshing glass of all of that cool, crisp freshwater we have pools of just lying around here, there and everywhere (otherwise known as lakes).  Over 891 thousand square kilometres of it.

20863854_10159170179055254_1369855487_n
Here a lake, there a lake, everywhere a lake, lake…

Seasons

We have four of them.  They all come at the appropriate times.  Spring, summer, fall and winter.  And they are glorious.  Except maybe winter.  It gets cold here.  So, so cold.

20864071_10159170221760254_1522477638_n

 


That’s just a brief overview, hopefully adding a bit of clarity to some of our better known Canadian stereotypes.  And since I know you’re all still wondering, we really do obsess over Tim Hortons just as much as you may have heard.  And hockey really is a thing here; a big, big thing.  Even though we actually invented lacrosse and basketball.  Oh yes, and we really do exist outside of Toronto (which is 630.2km sq. in size), Montreal (431.5km), Vancouver (115km), and even Ottawa (2.778 thousand km).  We exist all over Canada’s 9.985 million square kilometres.  That’s a lot of land.  For relativity’s sake, you can compare that to the US’s 9.834 million sq. km, or Japan’s 377,962 sq. km.

Feel free to leave any questions or anything else you feel like you might want to say in the comments.  If you really want to know about that weird tradition, or if that thing you heard about that one time that you swear is too ludicrous to be true really is, or want to know about some landmark or directions to the nearest gas station I will happily inform you as best I can with my fully biased and tainted view of my country, based solely on my own experiences, encounters and what I can find through google.  Perhaps I’ll even ask a friend or two.  But not Mark from Toronto.  I regret to inform you that I do not know him.  And that I have never been to Toronto.  The same goes for Andrea from Vancouver.  But what did you say their last names were again?  And did their parents ever visit Calgary that one time back in 2001?  Hmm… well, maybe I just might after all…..

Author: thebrokegirlsguidetobetterliving

Welcome! I am "thebrokegirl", aka Mandy. And what makes me a broke girl? Being a single income household, living the best life I can alongside my big grumpy dog obviously, but also because I'm not perfect - I'm broke - I'm a work in progress, which is exactly how I want to stay! My passion for writing, research, trying new things and wanting to help and inspire others are what inspired me to start this blog. So what makes me an expert on better living? Nothing! I'm just a girl trying. And what is better living? It's mindfulness, small changes, simple acts, baby steps to help make your day, your health, your environment, your life just that little much better. I'm on a lifelong journey to level up my life, and invite you to share that journey alongside me!

20 thoughts on “Oh, Canada! Shining Some Northern Light on a Few of Those Canadian Misconceptions and Stereotypes, eh”

  1. I love love love this! What you’ve said is so beautiful. Thank you! Opened my eyes to read what you have when all I did was give your a glimpse in a weekend away! Your inspirational! I can’t wait to read your stories and share mine!
    Much love! 😘

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Awww, that is so sweet!! The grass is always greener, isn’t it? I thought that your post of your weekend was just detailed enough to make me see LA through new eyes and want to go there, and I just generalized my entire nation in a few short blurbs lol. I enjoy writing about anything that pops into my head for more than a few minutes – which is just about anything and everything the way my brain works haha. I’m looking forward to more from you (and others) and getting to see the world through your eyes 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      1. So lovely, I’m so new to this & it amazes me how I’ve had so many positivity from people I’ve never met, yet on Facebook etc you don’t from the people you do know! Crazy. It will be lovely getting to know you
        ☺️

        Liked by 1 person

      2. I’m maybe three months in? lol. I still consider myself very new, and am also amazed at how warm and welcoming everyone here is. I thankfully have a very large immediate family who make sure to like all my facebook randomness when no one else does 😉 Welcome to the blogging world!

        Liked by 1 person

  2. There is a lot of people who don’t know own country and as bigger is the country it’s more probable, that they know their city/town and maybe few other places. And as bigger the country is as bigger differences may be within the people living there and their traditions or even speach etc. This is why, when I meet someone from different country I’m asking from where exactly he’s from.
    Nice and houmorous article 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I couldn’t agree with you more! I tried to make it lighthearted and pretty generic, but could easily have described my own town as being a typical Canadian one, with it bearing no resemblance to pretty much anywhere else I’ve yet to stumble across. Because we’re such a large and diverse population and country it is typical for even people who live out west to not realize that there is anything further east of them than Toronto. I frequently get asked where in Toronto I am from, when I say I am from Ontario… from my own countrymen! I may have changed planes there once, but (gasp!) I have never been to Toronto!
      Smart move on your part 🙂
      Thanks for the read and the comment, and I’m glad you enjoyed!

      Like

      1. Of course I enjoyed and I will check your other posts as well and I hope to find it as humorous as this one 🙂
        It’s interesting subject and I’m going to write something similar with mentioning your post as well. It will be more like how people see own country and how many differencies you can found in one country, especially when it’s “long” country from north to south like Italy or Norway. Also it will be about how people see other countries by prism of stereotypes.
        I think Ontario is best known from all Canadian states, but you surprised me by saying, that even Canadians can ask you where in Toronto you are from when you said you are from Ontario… even I know more Canadian cities and towns…
        Have a nice day 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Aww, that’s very sweet of you, thank you! I can’t wait to read it 🙂
        lol I have to admit humour is something that I’m generally a bit lacking in. I’m working on trying out different types of posts to see what works best and feels best for me and adding a bit more diversity to my blog. I write things that reflect my current mood and train of thought at the time, so my blog is reflective of how I am at any given time, and a little all over the place!
        I’m so thrilled that you know that little bit of our geography! I’ve found it especially shocking to my friends from Alberta to explain that it takes longer to drive from my part of Ontario to Toronto than it does to get across the BC border!
        Again, looking forward to your post – I’ll have to keep my eye out for it!

        Like

      3. Maybe it’s because I like traveling and I’m interested about history a little bit, so for me good way to check interesting places is the map, which make easy to find out what cities are in which part of which country 🙂
        I don’t see you lacking sense of humour, at least in this post 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

      4. I know where it is. It’s where I have to turn the atlas page from the real Ontario, to that part where the page is all white, or blue with lakes – no red lines for roads, no black dots for towns. I have a blog-friend who started beside a reservation near there. They moved to Winnipeg, then to Calgary. Now that her husband’s retired, they moved back to The Peg.
        I’m so far south of all that, I say “y’all” 😉 :lol:.

        Liked by 1 person

      5. Haha, I like to think of that part as where the ‘real’ Canada is 😉
        I know Winnipeg quite well! And have lived in Calgary also. I now work everywhere between Thunder Bay, Fort Frances, Kenora and Hudson’s Bay… 6 or 7 different towns and cities, and roughly 14 fly in only ‘reserve’ communities (though I have worked in many more than that at various points over my career). My favourite part will always be the lakes, but flying around all the way to Hudson’s Bay I will never get enough of watching the drastic changes in topography, the vegetation just in my little section of the world. It really is quite incredible, and I feel fortunate every day for the experiences I have been afforded living and working where I do.
        Good for your friend, getting back to where they are happy, though it might be hard to explain to others who have experienced both the sense in uprooting from Cowtown to Winterpeg lol 😉
        I’ll see if I can’t up my ‘eh’ game for ya, and we’ll balance those scales out yet!

        Like

  3. Well said. Although I would argue that we really only have two seasons: the one where it’s above freezing, and the one where it’s below. I grudgingly concede that there are transitional periods between the two, but they’re too short to be called seasons.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Spot on. I usually recognize fall only because my birthday just happens to land in it 😉 However, when I was back in Alberta and BC we would generally get those brief periods in between summer and winter that bore more of a resemblance to those fantastical spring and fall things to which you are referring than what we experience in our neck of the woods. Another couple of weeks and I’ll be back to wondering why I live here again, for another 9 months.

      Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s