How to Spot a Canadian

Tracking down Canadians one toque at a time.

About this Site...

Canadians are a tricky people to distinguish. They are often able to blend into a society and appear to be American, British, French or any other number of nationalities. This site will provide you with some tips and tricks to help you recognize a Canadian no matter where you are.

 

This site is for entertainment purposes only. "How to Spot a Canadian" is filled with humour, satire, hyperbole, parody and sarcasm. All statements here should be taken with a grain of salt or a bottle of maple syrup, whatever the case may be.

Their Milk Comes in Bags

One of the most puzzling aspects of Canadian culture is bagged milk. Bags of milk appear in a few other nations (India, Scandinavia, Poland, Israel, Hungary, Argentina and Uruguay, according to Wikipedia) but Canada is the largest nation where bagged milk is a common sight.

It's one of the few truly Canadian images. Maple leaves, Canada geese and beavers all appear in the United States, but not bagged milk. It's the one iconic Canadian symbol that refuses to cross below the 49th parallel.

And it completely confuses and scares Americans.

Bagged milk is one of the easiest ways to spot a Canadian. If you present a Canadian with a plastic bag filled with white liquid they will say "Oh, a bag of milk." An American presented with the same scenario will tilt their head slightly to the left and blink repeatedly. Bagged milk is a completely bizarre sight to an American. They can't understand it. Some Americans have even been known to run away from bagged milk. It's that powerful.

Apparently bags of milk are more environmentally friendly. They use less plastic and take up less space in landfills. Even if that's true, you have to wonder what was going through the mind of the first person who decided to put a liquid into a bag. It boggles the mind. The two things seemingly do not go together. You don't see bags of juice or bags of vodka do you? Though, I think the vodka bag would probably sell quite well.

There are few things that are more Canadian than bags of milk. Jugs of milk are almost unheard of in the Great White North. A few convenience stores sell them, but real Canadians want to drink their milk from a thin piece of flexible plastic. It's the truly Canadian way.

Perhaps it's the fact that the milk bag more closely resembles a cow's udder. But then again, you don't see Canadians running around and drinking directly out of cows, now do you? No, we save our energy for moose chasing and beaver racing.

They Consider Things Named "Loonies" and "Toonies" Legal Currency

Canadians have weird names for things. They call a couch a "chesterfield," a winter hat a "toque" and states "provinces." But the strangest names by far refer to Canadian currency. A one dollar coin in Canada is called a "Loonie." If that doesn't make it sound worthless, I'm not sure what will. It also makes Canadians sound crazy. Who names their money "Loonie?" Canadians, that's who. And maybe Warner Brothers.

At this point it's important to clarify that Canada has a dollar coin, not a dollar bill. And it's a real dollar coin, not like the Sacagawea and Presidential coins that they have been trying and failing to make commonplace in the United States. In Canada the one dollar bill has been taken out of circulation and replaced with a coin. The two dollar coin becomes even more amazing to Americans, who don't even have a two dollar bill.

The Canadian dollar has a picture of a loon on the back and thus Canadians have taken to calling it a "Loonie." Despite the ridiculousness of the name, it actually makes sense. It doesn't do much to raise the world's opinion of the often-ridiculed Canadian dollar, but it makes sense.

And Canadians like the loonie. They like it so much that the two dollar bill was also replaced by a coin. And that coin became known as the "Toonie." It initially had other names, such as the "Doubloon," but "Toonie" seemed to stick. A "doubloon" sounds like something pirates would search the seven seas for, so I guess Canadians made the right choice. Of course, the spelling is debatable. Some would say it should be spelled "Twonie," like the number two, but that might bring legitimacy to the strangely named currency, so instead it's named "Toonie." It could be worse. They could have spelled it "2nie" like "2Pac" if they were aiming to capture the gangsta rap feel of the mid-90s when the coin was released. And don't think that Canadians are above naming things after fleeting trends. Look at the Toronto Raptors.

The strangely-named money is loved by Canadians, who are very quirky by nature. Having one and two dollar coins has also helped the nation's famed strip clubs, as the smallest bill you can shove down a woman's g-string is now a five. Sure, you could try sliding a loonie in there, but you'd probably look like a cheapskate and be openly mocked by the strippers and men cheating on their wives inside the club. Plus, no one likes to have their underwear filled with change. Not even homeless people. Believe me, I've tried it.

So if you're trying to determine if someone is Canadian, ask them if they have change for a five. If they whip out a combination of loonies and toonies, they're Canadian. If they start fumbling through bills, they're American. If they give you two nickels and a dime, they either can't do math or they're ripping you off. If that's the case you'll need to conduct further testing to find out if they're Canadian.

They want a Canadian team to win the Stanley Cup... but not the Leafs

Canadians love hockey. I don't think that statement needs to come with any sort of proof or statistics attached to it. It's a well known fact. Hockey to Canadians is like soccer (football) to the world outside of North America. It's a religion. It's a way of life. Canadian children learn how to skate before they can properly walk. And nothing upsets a Canadian more than the domination of American-based teams in the Stanley Cup finals.

Sure, they can say "Well, most of the players are Canadian," but when the Detroit Red Wings won the Cup in 2008 they did so with Niklas Lidstrom, a Swedish-born player, as their captain. Yes, Canadian teams have reached the finals, but a Canadian-based team has not won the Stanley Cup since 1993. It killed Canadians to watch Calgary lose to Tampa Bay, to watch Edmonton be beaten by Carolina, and to have Anaheim victorious over Ottawa.

Canadians desperately want a Canadian-based team to win the Stanley Cup.

However, that team cannot be the Toronto Maple Leafs.

If there is one thing that unites Canadians across the country, it's a dislike for Toronto. If the Toronto Maple Leafs were the team that broke Canada's Stanley Cup drought, it would be a sad day across Canada. Canadians would rather have a Nashville/Florida final than have the Leafs win hockey's ultimate prize.

That's because, outside of the hatred for Toronto, the Leafs are not seen as a true Canadian club. They don't succeed based on hard work and dedication. They play steps away from the country's financial district. They're owned by a conglomerate of owners that includes the Ontario Teachers' pension plan, CTV and TD Bank Financial Group. They're the highest-valued team in the NHL. They run their own specialty cable network. They're building a condominium and hotel complex. All of this may mean good business, but it doesn't exactly mean "old time Canadian hockey."

A true Canadian hates the Toronto Maple Leafs. Fans in and around Toronto may support the team, but the rest of the country does not. A good way to spot a Canadian is to ask them about hockey. He or she will eventually mention how it's a shame that a Canadian team hasn't won the Stanley Cup in a while. Hockey is "Canada's game" and the Cup "belongs here." To test if that person is really a Canadian mention that it would be great if the Leafs won the Cup. Then you'll hear a rant that will send you running back to your igloo in a search for a warm glass of comforting maple syrup. Then you'll know that you've found a Canadian.

A Beer Commercial is a Source of National Pride

In the United States, beer commercials showcase parties, girls and talking frogs. In Canada they play a completely different role. Canadian beer commercials are filled with hockey, beavers, snow and everything else stereotypically Canadian.

Canadians aren't a very openly patriotic people. They typically wear their Canadian pride underneath a snowsuit, rather than hang it from a flag on the front of their house. But this isn't true in beer commercials. Watching an ad for Molson or Labatt's will convince you that you are not truly a Canadian until you have a "two-four" under your arm.

Never was this more true than in Molson Canadian's "The Rant."

This commercial tackled numerous Canadian stereotypes. In the ad, a man named Joe stands up on stage and spouts off how perceptions of Canadians are false. They don't say "aboot." They don't live in igloos. They aren't lumberjacks. (Not even Molson would deny a Canadian's love for the beaver however, saying beavers are "a truly proud and noble animal.") Of course most of what Joe mentions defines Canada as "Not American."

This wasn't just a beer commercial for Canadians. It was a cultural event. It was up there with the 1972 Canada/Russia hockey series and the birth of Celine Dion's baby. The speech from the commercial was printed on t-shirts and posters and it was performed at National Hockey League arenas around the country. It was more than just beer. "I AM CANADIAN" became a mantra for the True North Strong and Free.

You see, in Canada beer is different. It's not just a way to get over a fight with your girlfriend; it's part of the national identity. Beer and hockey are tied together and they're both cornerstones of Canadian culture, like Anne Murray and bagged milk.

A good way to spot a Canadian is to ask them if they want a beer. Not only will they say yes, but a true Canadian will respond with "None of that weak American stuff."

Canadians hate American beer. It's considered unpatriotic to drink. You can't play hockey and run through the snow chasing beavers while holding a bottle of Budweiser. It just doesn't work. Despite the fact that most major Canadian beer companies are owned by foreigners, Canadians are still very proud of their beer.

So if you want to spot a Canadian simply take him or her to a bar and see what he or she orders. It will always be a Canadian brand and, if no Canadian brand is available, a Canadian will settle for a European beer. In rare situations, given no other choice, a Canadian will order a Coors. But that's only because Coors owns Molson.

Canadian beer is a national identity and any real Canadian would know that.

They Wish They Could Have Voted for Obama

Canadians love Obama.

During the 2008 Canadian election, there were Obama for Prime Minister t-shirts and Canadians took to the frozen streets in celebration when Obama won the election. and it's not that Canadians are just so interested in politics that they watch elections in other nations either. Canadians don't care about their own politics; only 59.1% of Canadians turned out to vote in the country's last election. It was the lowest voter turnout in history. But that Canadian apathy did not spread into US politics. Nope, Canadians held parties to celebrate the US election.

But why?

Could it be that Obama's message of hope and his ability to inspire people stretched across the border and into the Great White North? Could it be that the influence of American culture has caused Canadians to identify more with their neighbours to the south than their own people? Or could it be the fact that the US only has one election every four years, while Canada has had three in the same four-year period?

Whatever the reason, a good way to get a Canadian talking about politics is to mention something about Obama. It doesn't even have to be his policies. Just mention the words "Yes We Can" and a Canadian is interested. From there you are likely to hear about how inspiring Obama is and how there isn't anyone in Canadians politics like him. Then you'll almost inevitably hear that fateful phrase, "I wish I could have voted for Obama" and you'll know that you've found a Canadian.

All Obama needs to do to win the next election is to convince some of those Canadians to head south. Canadians don't even have to move very far. There are states on the Canadian-American border that could use some additional Obama supporters. States like North Dakota, Montana and Idaho were won by John McCain in 2008, but they could belong to Obama in 2012 if enough Canadians settle there. Liberals don't stand a chance in the Canadian west anyway, so why not shift those votes south and support Obama? Then it would become even easier to spot a Canadian. Just look for the guy in the Obama shirt in Lemhi County, Idaho (where 76.6% of people voted for John McCain) and he'll be a Canadian.

They define themselves as being "Not American"

Outside of stereotypes, there isn't all that much to separate Canadian culture from American culture. They eat McDonald's, drink Coke and have their local businesses destroyed by Wal-Mart on both sides of the border. The prevalence of American music, movies and television programs in Canada far outnumbers local Canadian programming. This dependence on American culture is especially true in large cities and almost crushing in Toronto. It can make it quite difficult to distinguish Canadians from Americans.

So how do you spot a Canadian in this situation? It actually ends up being easier than you would think.

You see, Canadians themselves actually want to be identified and they desperately want to separate themselves from the Americans. However, the closeness between the two nations makes this quite difficult. Therefore, it's quite common that you will find Canadians trying to prove that they are not American. Whether it be through the strength of their beer, the date of Thanksgiving, or the usage of Celsius, Canadians do not want to be American and they will do whatever possible to prove that they are not from the USA.

Do you think they like hockey just because it's played on ice? Of course not. The Canadian love for hockey comes from the fact that Americans don't like it. The same can be said for Don Cherry, Nickelback and world peace. Canadians don't actually like these things, they only pretend to like them so that you don't think they're American.

Those Canadians sure are tricky.

A great way to spot a Canadian is to ask them about something Americans typically hate, like Iraq. A typical Canadian will state how they love Iraq and that they feel the war there should end. But that Canadian doesn't actually love Iraq, they've probably never even been there. They will, however, pretend to like Iraq just because they know Americans don't. Once you know this spotting a Canadian becomes much easier.

Minus 10 isn't cold (and it's measured in Celsius)

The fact that Canada is cold is a well-known fact. But non-Canadians don't truly understand how cold it really is. Until you've stepped outside in February and your breath is not only visible but turning into a solid, you just don't understand.

The remarkable thing about Canadians is that it's never too cold to do anything. In the coldest, darkest, nuclear winter-like days you'll find Canadians outside skating, playing hockey and chasing beavers. Maybe the free health care gives Canadians the confidence to head outside in conditions that cause even thermometers to freeze. Maybe it's the stronger Canadian beer. Maybe it's the lack of oxygen in the Canadian Rockies. Whatever it is, Canadians are not afraid of the cold. They are, however, afraid of bears. I've made that mistake before and it didn't end well.

Since Canadians are so used to frigid temperatures, what's considered "cold" in the rest of the world is considered "mild" in Canada. (Note, what's considered "mild" in the rest of the world is considered "hot" in Canada. The rest of the world's "hot" is non-existent in Canada and is instead replaced by more cold.) It's common to hear a Canadian refer to a late December day as "nice outside" and a January snow storm as "not bad today."

Also, Canadian temperature is measured in Celsius, which makes temperatures appear even colder to those in the United States. Many are convinced that this is a Canadian trick, used to fool Americans into thinking that Canadians are much more adapted to cold than they actually are. As we've stated before, Canadians are a very tricky people.

One of the best ways to spot a Canadian is to throw them outside in relatively cold weather. If they complain about the cold they are not really Canadian. If they immediately start making snow angels and organizing shinny games, they are truly Canadian. If they suffer frostbite and need medical attention, it may actually be too cold outside and you should probably give them their clothes back. Then take them to a hospital. If they're Canadian the health coverage will be free (this is another great way to identify a Canadian which we will cover later.)

They are either from Toronto or they hate Toronto

Canadians have a love-hate relationship with Toronto.

On one hand, Toronto is Canada's most populated city and home to most of Canada's largest financial institutions and international corporations.

On the other hand, Toronto is Canada's most populated city and home to most of Canada's largest financial institutions and international corporations.

The same things Torontonians love about Toronto are hated by the rest of Canada. It's big, it's loud, it's uncaring. It tries to be New York. It's full of itself. It thinks it's the centre of the universe. And, for those who aren't aware, large financial institutions and international corporations aren't exactly popular these days.

There was even a film made about this phenomenon.

There is really no middle ground here. If you ever meet someone who says they are from Calgary but they love Toronto there are only two options: 1) That person is lying to you, or 2) That person is not Canadian.

Cities like Calgary, Vancouver, Montreal and Halifax have admiration across the country. A real Canadian is quick to say "Oh I love Montreal! There's so much culture there!" or "Calgary is so beautiful." These things will never be said about Toronto. In fact, if you mention Toronto to a Canadian who does not live there you should expect spitting and swearing in response. It's that bad. Seriously.

In fact, sometimes you'll find a Canadian who is from Toronto and also hates it. They will typically be found saying things like "I'd love to move to Montreal, but I don't speak French" or "If I didn't have family here I'd move to Vancouver so fast." These people aren't lying. The hatred of Toronto is so ingrained into the Canadian psyche that even some Torontonians experience it.

So, if you ever meet a Canadian who doesn't hate Toronto, run. They're lying. The only people that like Toronto are some Torontonians and self-absorbed Los Angeles film producers. And that's only because the film producers have never been there in the winter.

FAQ

Are you Canadian?


Yes. The creators and writers of HowToSpotACanadian.ca are all proud Canadians.

Are you serious?


Everything written on HowToSpotACanadian.ca is somewhat based upon facts. Then we take those facts, distort and twist them, and whatever comes out the other side ends up on the site. This site is for entertainment purposes and tries to be funny. Hopefully we succeed.

What is the point of this site?


HowToSpotACanadian.ca hopes to chronicle Canadian society, culture and history in a humourous, satirical way. The site is a meant to be a funny look at Canada from the eyes of someone who has never seen a real Canadian.

I'm from Canada and I'm not like the people you're talking about.


First, that's not really a question, it's a statement.
Second, there are many, many regions in Canada and all of them have different cultures and traditions. It would be impossible to make sweeping statements about the citizens of an entire country like we do and have them be entirely accurate. Again, the site is meant as a humourous look at Canadian culture.

How can I contact you?


You can reach us via email at HowToSpotACanadian@gmail.com or by commenting on any of the posts on this site.

I have any idea for How To Spot A Canadian! Can I send it to you?


Absolutely! We're always looking for new ideas. It's easier than thinking them up ourselves. If you'd like to share an idea with us you can reach us via email at HowToSpotACanadian@gmail.com.

About this Site

Should it be "Aboot This Site?"

HowToSpotACanadian.ca hopes to chronicle Canadian society, culture and history in a humourous, satirical way by forcing our way through the igloos and the beavers to get to the heart of what it means to be Canadian.

Canadians are a tricky people to distinguish. They are often able to blend into a society and appear to be American, British, French or any other number of nationalities.

This site will provide you with some tips and tricks to help you recognize a Canadian no matter where you are.

Keep in mind that while many of the statements made on this website are somewhat based in reality, a great deal of the site's content comes from exaggeration for the purposes of comedy. The site is a meant to be a funny look at Canada from the eyes of someone who has never seen a real Canadian.

Also, note that all statements here do not apply to all Canadians across the country. There are many cultural differences between the different regions of Canada.

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