Non-Canadians Share The Things They Don't Understand About Canadian Culture
Whether it's the weird bacon or their extreme politeness, Canadians confuse a lot of people. With a scarce amount of legitimate representation on T.V. and in film, everyone's perception of them is completely different. People around the world got together to discuss what makes them scratch their heads at the Great White North. From their obsession with a popular restaurant to carrying around pockets full of coins all the time, Canadians are clearly a mystery to everyone. Unfortunately, we'll never understand why they say, "Eh" all the time.
I'm from Brazil and I'm really really curious about one thing: why you guys usually end sentences with "eh"? Like, what's the origin of that? Is it part of the Canadian culture or this is just a way people found to usually mock you? I literally don't get it. Once I saw a Johnny Test episode where he was being chased by the American army, then he crossed the Canadian border and ol' 'Murica couldn't do anything, a couple mounted police officers came by and their lines usually ended with "eh?". To this day I still don't understand this, but I bet it has a rather intriguing reason.
34. You (Kinda) Speak My Language
How your English usage is stuck in a perpetual identity crisis between UK and the rest of North America.
Like, you randomly adopt US spelling conventions for things with -ize or -ization (as opposed to -ise everywhere else) but still write color, favorite, center, bank check, behavior, program, etc. the British way.
Your signs are in kilometers but I hear quite a few people speak in miles.
You say progress and process as "prowgress" and "prowcess" but say "project" like the American's ("prah-ject") in the noun form. But produce as in vegetables is said "prawduce?" This I've only heard from one person so the small sample size may suggest this is an insignificant finding.
33. Outta My System
Given I'm sensing a similar just not as intense racial climate, I'm curious how the voting system works. States have more diverse cities and coasts but the middle more rural plains and prairies not so much... and yet, they wield heavier political voting power with the electoral college and congressional system. Does Canada have a similar system? I'm an American that's completely ignorant and unaware of how other nations have structured their political systems.
32. It's Time For Tims
Why do you guys love Tim Hortons so much? I drove through Canada recently and they are everywhere. One small town I went through apparently had enough people to support three fast food restaurants. Two of them were Tim Hortons, about four blocks from each other on the main road in through town.
31. All The Lonely People
Doesn’t it get a bit lonely? Everyone seems to be crammed into a couple of cities and there are five people in the middle. If I have to drive across England I pack some water and get there in a day. What’s it like for you when you drive long distances?
30. Getting That Bread Early
Living in New York, I make it up to Niagara Falls a lot, mainly on the Canadian side. One thing I noticed is that the fast food workers are all quite young... I was at one fast food place and noticed most of the staff were under 18. Is that common? It was refreshing to see young people working. In the states, it seems people are delaying working as long as possible.
29. Brother, Can You Spare A Dime?
Do all of you really enjoy using coins as regularly as you do? I used to travel to Canada very regularly and the thing that annoyed me the most about the currency was that you were constantly overloaded with coinage. A $20 bill quickly became a bunch of quarters, loonies, and toonies after a purchase or two. So instead of using a wallet, near the end of your trip, you're just digging in your pocket for your toonies to get rid of them.
28. Where Were Canadian History Classes?
Most of your history. Here in America, they didn’t teach me a single thing about Canadian history, unless it was directly correlated in the development of the U.S.A. There was a moment in high school when I realized this hypocrisy as I knew some of my foreign friends had an abundant amount of knowledge about our country's history. I came to the realization that our education system teaches A LOT of misinformation (in terms of history). Anyway, getting back on track, I’m still super upset they didn’t teach a single thing to us about your beautiful country's incredibly rich history.
27. Lax To The Max
Lacrosse is a co-national sport along with hockey. People always link hockey and Canada together, but is anybody actually super enthusiastic about lacrosse? In America, baseball is known as "America's Pastime", and even though, like lacrosse and hockey, it definitely is not as popular as football, it still is extremely popular and a strong part of Americana.
26. A Tasty Mystery
WHAT THE HECK IS A POUTINE? Is it just fries with cheese and gravy? Potato with cheese and gravy? Is there gravy at all? If so what kind of gravy? (I'm from the southern US and we have brown and white gravy.) What is it?
25. Healthcare For Everyone
I don't understand universal healthcare. What about elective surgeries? I'm trans, would I have to pay for gender reassignment surgery? How about, like, abortions? Is that legal/covered by the universal healthcare? I do not understand and it all sounds too good to be true.
24. He Needs Some Milk
Two words: Bagged Milk.
I get that you have the pitcher, but do you pour the milk in the pitcher, or just cut the corner and put the whole bag in there? If you pour the milk in the pitcher, does it have a lid? If you cut the corner and put the whole bag in there then how do you stop the bag from slumping down and the milk spilling out anyway? Endless questions. Zero answers.
23. Riding Dr. Who's Train
I preface this by saying that every Canadian I’ve met in the states has been of a special sort of cool. Really great people. Then I went to Montreal. Weird town; seemed like it was having an identity crisis. They spoke French, although they would speak English if need be and it sounded as if they were really just being reluctantly kind by speaking English to us. Also, the Queen of England is on their money (which I think is plastic, great idea but I was warned not to forget about pocket money in the wash, specifically the dryer). So my question is this: why would an independent and very sovereign nation with a wonderful and proud history of their very own, honor a foreign head of state? I get the French-speaking, as France had a lot to do with the early history there, as well as the English, so I get that part, but why the Queen on their money? PS: Their subways made me feel like I was on the set of Dr. Who.
22. A Useless Hand-Me-Down
While I agree that there are things about America’s gun laws that are confusing but what confuses me most about Canada’s gun laws is the fact that a pistol with a barrel length of 4.1 inches or less is a “prohibited weapon".
And also anything after World War Two requires a special permit or you have to have owned it before the law was instated and from what I understand you can only pass it on to a next of kin. Then they can’t sell it or hardly even shoot it and when they die they can’t even pass it on. What happens to the gun then? That’s what’s confusing to me.
21. More Room For Skiing
How does a huge territory like Nunavut have like 60% the population of the tiny little rural Kentucky county I live in when it's like 786,000 square miles larger? I mean I get it's probably cold as hell but I just have a hard time imagining such a large area having such a tiny population density.
20. Put A Ring On It
Do people have to wear wedding rings after they get married? I actually did a whole street interview about that in China, just because every time I tell someone I have a husband, they would be like "what?" and look at my fingers (no rings). Well, not everybody can afford a ring and not everyone likes to wear rings.
19. Kill Them With Kindness
I've always hated the false idea that "Canadians are nice" that is always spread around, as clearly seen in this topic as well.
The ratio between jerks and nice people is generally the same around the world, but looking specifically to Canada and the US it's almost identical (this speaking from experience, no way to test).
I've lived half my life in the US, half in Canada. I lived in over seven states in the US, so I got a pretty big range of people, from the South to the Northeast. The ratio is the same people.
It's funny because no Canadian who has lived in both countries will tell you Canadians are nicer than Americans. If anything, they say the opposite. The Canadians that say we are nicer in Canada are the ones who either never lived outside of Canada, or vacation down in the US and have had some personal bad experiences. Nothing wrong with that, but it hurts to generalize a population.
18. Sometimes, You Need A Reminder
From the States but lived in Canada for a year. What gives you the nerve to make fun of America's supposed blind patriotism when you guys plaster that damned Maple Leaf on every square inch of leaf-free property you can? In case you forget they're in Canada?
17. Numerous Ways To Say "Eh"
I have spoken with natives from Saskatchewan and Ontario and as best as I can tell their accents are indistinguishable. In the US over such wide distances, we have innumerable dialects and accents here. Am I just not picking up on it, or do Saskatchewan and Ontario sound similar but maybe someplace like Newfoundland would have more what I'm thinking about?
16. Asking Too Many Questions
The Canadian Mounties. On one hand, I hear that they are doddering fools. On the other hand, I hear that they are the equivalent of highly effective Special Forces mercenaries. What's up with that?
Oh, and where do they fall within, like, hierarchy? Are they elected, or appointed, or hired? How big of a territory is each Mountie, or group of Mounties, responsible for?
15. Two Thumbs Down
What's up with Canadian cinema? I keep coming across Canadian films and they're very relatable except that in the films that I've seen there's a much greater use of foul language in casual situations and it's even somewhat uncomfortable. Then, there are the extended intimate scenes where I'm like, "Um, okay... what does this add to the film?" Nothing revealing even really, but just kind of awkwardly long.
14. Life Is A Highway
I love you guys and gals, but I have zero idea how you folks get onto your highway system in cities. I went to Ottawa a few months ago and trying to get from the surface streets onto the highway took a solid five to ten minutes of confused driving.
13. Ooh La La
What is the distribution of accents/dialects up there? I watch a couple Canadian YouTubers who don't sound any different from people in the US, and I've heard people with the stereotypical "Canadian" accent with the super over-pronounced "O"s (most people in the US call it a Minnesotan accent, though I haven't heard anyone in this state talk like that), and I know a ton of people in Canada speak French but I've never met a Canadian that does.
12. Large And In Charge
How are there large-ish cities in the plains area? Like, I understand Vancouver because of the coast and Toronto because it's not actually that far north, but how are Calgary and Edmonton even a thing?
One time I visited Glacier National Park in Montana near the Canadian border. Really desolate place. Only one town anywhere near there with, like, 20 thousand people. And then, just 200 miles due north is Calgary, with a metro area of 1.3 million people. Then almost 200 miles north of that is Edmonton, another city of the same size. How does that work?
11. Get With The Digital Times
Expat Canadian for over 25 years. I have 2 questions: 1) Why are cheques still used when they've been rendered obsolete in many countries? 2) Why is one-step authentication (instead of 2 step) still used for accessing bank accounts online? All someone needs to do to gain access to your account is still that one single password.
10. High Cost Of Driving
I'm an American living in Ontario, and I don't understand why anything having to do with my car is so damn expensive. Rear brake pads estimated to be $500... across the border in Buffalo, $80. Winter tires are, like, more than $600 here... got 'em in Buffalo around $250.
9. Home Is Where The Heart Is
My impressions are that Canadians never want to leave the country much. That they like to travel inside their borders, consider their country the most beautiful. Don't get me wrong, Canada is beautiful, but the world is huge and beckons to be explored for both vastness and differences. I think their love for the physical Canadian nature and happiness that makes them want to just stay there makes Canadians different from many other countries that I have traveled to. Almost everywhere else I went, people were curious about traveling abroad. The opposite of the Canadian mentality seems to be the Australian one, where seemingly every person under 30 is about to leave the country for a road trip around some other continent.
8. Sportsball For Life
Can you explain the status of football in Canada?
New Zealanders practically define themselves around Rugby and can win world championships at will. The UK managed to invent three football codes all by themselves, not least the World Game. Australia has the greatest football code in the world but we still find time to play every other football code.
And the US views colleges mostly as an excuse to fund more football stadiums.
We know you guys play hockey and curling but do you play sports outside or is the weather too bad?
Ice is something we put in drinks here and I can't help but think your obsession with hockey is driving a wedge between us all.
7. Missing Some Quality Items
How their KFCs don't serve mashed potatoes and gravy or biscuits, just french fries.
I love visiting Canada but we stopped at a rest stop in Ontario once with a KFC in it and asked for mashed potatoes and we were floored when they told us they don't serve them. Here in the US I ONLY go to KFC for the biscuits and mashed potatoes.
6. You Better Shop Around
Why do all of you come down to our malls in America to shop? Do you not have the stuff we sell? If so, what items? I genuinely don't understand why Canadians make up 7/8 of the customers at my local mall (Washington State, by the way).
5. The Need For Speed
Why does every Canadian speed 40 kph over the limit!? Every logger truck and semi we saw nearly tipped over because of how fast they weave around mountain corners. People always passed us while we ourselves were speeding 20 kph over the max.
4. Thorn In My Pride
I'm an American who lives in Asia. One night out on the town several years ago, I met a couple of Canadian girls. We were having a nice chat. Then one of them said one thing she hated about living in Asia was always getting mistaken for being an American. I said it shouldn't be too surprising since Canada's population is only around 1/10th the size of America's and both countries speak North American English. Both of them went off on me and accused me of lying and said no way was Canada's population only 1/10th the size of America's. Needless to say, their anger put a big damper on the evening; up until then had been a very congenial conversation.
Why would something like this trigger a Canadian so easily?
3. Skipping Tea Time
Recently moved from Southern US to British Columbia. Kids in drink stores threw me off. They even have shopping carts with kids seats! Kids are not allowed in drink stores in the states. (At least my home state) Fireworks on Halloween! You guys do that right! Canada knows how to do Halloween! I don't understand your version of Wheat Thins. That is one thing the US has on ya there. I do not appreciate your Wheat Thins. And I don't understand how you can call that on-brand-fountain, "tea". That isn't tea, that's nasty.
2. A Cheesy Situation
Why is your cheese so terrible and so expensive? I get that you can pick up some nice cheeses from deli-type stores, but then they are even more expensive. Why is supermarket cheese weird and plastic? Why no normal, nice, crumbly cheddar? Why?!
1. Freshen Up The Joint
I'm a Minnesotan and have met a few guys from Thunder Bay over the last few years. They're all just... a little off. Not making this up, I used to work with one who had a pine-scented air spray he'd spritz in his office now and then. He hated people, though.