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.

They Take Their Shoes Off Indoors

Canadians take their shoes off when entering a home. There isn't any questioning it. As soon as you enter the front door you're taking off your shoes. That's just the way it is. As a Canadian myself, I find this practice completely normal. For most of my life I assumed that everyone did this.

Apparently that's not true. From what I've heard, Americans generally leave their shoes on at home. I would see this practice on American television programs and think they're leaving their shoes on because it's TV. That's not true. Most Americans leave their shoes on indoors.

Canadians do not. In fact, only under very strange circumstances would a Canadian leave his or her shoes on in a house.

It's probably because Canadians are a very polite people. They don't want to cause a fuss. They don't want to draw attention to themselves. They don't want to make a mess. And so the shoes come off.

It doesn't matter how clean the home is, Canadians are removing their shoes unless explicitly told otherwise. I've been to vacant apartments and taken my shoes off at the door. It's just second nature now.

Of course, I also say sorry when someone bumps into me. Even when they're completely at fault and I did nothing wrong I'm still going to apologize. It's the Canadian way.

An easy way to spot a Canadian is to bring them into your home. Yes, I understand that inviting a Canadian into your home is a dangerous action. Because of this you should attempt all other forms of Canadian identification before trying this step. Once you allow a Canadian into your home you will find that they will fill your fridge with Canadian beer, turn your TV to a hockey game and crank the air conditioning to make it colder. That's just how Canadians are.

However, if you do decide to invite a suspected Canadian over, you will immediately know if they are truly Canadian or not. It will be evident within 30 seconds. A real Canadian would not think of leaving their shoes on when they're in your house. A real Canadian would also not think of locking the front door behind them, so you will need to do so once the Canadian is safely inside. Canadians do not lock doors because there is no such thing as crime in Canada.


  1. julie said...

    This is a really funny site. I was just in Austin, Texas and was talking to someone about toques trying to explain what they were!! :)

  2. Gina Collia-Suzuki said...

    I think I would like living in Canada. I take my shoes off when I enter a home, but here in the UK fewer and fewer people do it. People can actually become offended when you ask them to remove their shoes. I also say sorry when I bump into people, even if they've smacked into me and almost taken my arm off. Perhaps I am a Canadian, and I was adopted... I hadn't considered that.

  3. said...

    I think you just spotted the Canadian in yourself! Congrats!

  4. Jeff said...

    Minor correction: A Canadian would not crank up the air conditioning when entering an American's house. A Canadian would be more likely to simply stare at the air conditioner in bafflement, as such things are rarely used up here.

  5. said...

    That's very true. A Canadian rarely needs to use an air conditioner, since it's winter for 11 and a half months of the year.

    Besides, it's very hard to fit one into an igloo. The windows are very small.

  6. Anonymous said...

    all I can say is wow, you americans really are naive, winter for 11 and a half months, where do you get your information!

  7. said...

    Thanks for reading.
    However, I am not an American. I'm not sure what I wrote that made you assume that I was. I am a Canadian and this site is here for humour purposes only.
    I hope you enjoy it!

  8. Venom said...

    Good point - Of course we take our shoes off, to do otherwise is just rude. A person only has to think about all the gross stuff they've walked through in a day to know this is just common sense. I can't believe everyone doesn't take off their shoes... non-Canadians must have a lot more time & inclination to scrub floors every day than I do.

  9. Alberta Oil Sands Investor Abroad said...

    What about the Japanese? They take off their shoes in the house. Canadians and Japanese a lot more alike than we think!

  10. mark uk said...

    I am from the UK and have been married to a Canadian since 1987.It was clear from the start that shoes were to be left at the door,(then slippers on!)Now its second nature for all us all,and no big deal.

  11. J Wynia said...

    I see this in the states, but mostly in cold climates, driven largely by people trying to avoid tracking snow through the house.

  12. Anonymous said...

    How true. I too thought that the characters on TV shows left their shoes on because it was TV. And as someone already commented, we take our shoes off and substitute them with slippers (most of the year). Not only that, you'd have to think twice about an open house that DIDN'T ask you to take your shoes off - what kind of slobs live there?!?

  13. Anonymous said...

    Oh wow, I didn't realize everyone kept their shoes on in the states -- to me, that is just odd!

    Maybe part of the reason is it's winter so often here, it doesn't make sense to trudge in all the dirt into the house.

    Also, I totally agree with the "locking the door thing." I remember seeing a Michael Moore documentary about crime and he went to a Canadian home and just opening the front door, to his shock and amazement - it was unlocked. The people inside weren't even violent, they were just confused as to why he came in. Why do you need to lock your door if you're inside? LOL. That's our Canadian thinking.

  14. Anonymous said...

    Haha~ I'm from the USA, and I take off my shoes in somebody else's house, and ask them where'd they like me to put them! :3
    Then again, I'm about 3 hours away from Canada, so maybe the politeness just spreads to where I live... ;D

    That apologizing-for-bumping-into-people segment reminds of when I went to Spain, I kept saying "Perdon, lo siento (I'm sorry), perdon" whenever scooching by people/accidentally bumping into them, but once I bumped into somebody very suddenly and by habit I said, "Sorry!" But then I felt bad afterwards because I had used English instead of Spanish... :(

  15. Ms Muffet said...

    I think this is a generational thing. I don't remember anyone taking off their shoes (winter boots aside) when I was a kid in Ottawa in the 60s - that was considered rude back then. The first I saw this was in Toronto in the late 80s and I didn't like it! I rarely take off my shoes at home but always ask if they want me to when I go to someone else's house. I take shoes that have never been worn outside if I think they will ask me to take off my shoes - I hate walking arund in my sock feet!

    Of course, visitors to my house can leave shoes on or take them off... whatever makes them comfortable.

  16. console tables said...

    You are too kind for words! I am so happy you found us.

  17. Anonymous said...

    Haha! So true! Taking my shoes off when entering the house is just what is done. I think it's rude or weird when you don't. First of all we have snow for most of the year, and in the spring and fall it's often muddy and slushy. Even in the summer you can track in quite a bit of dirt. I never could understand that when I saw people keep their shoes on inside on a tv show. Especially when they climbed into bed with shoes on! Ewww! Aren't Americans concerned with tracking dirt, gum, dog poop (!) into the house? What about in the northern states... some of them get just as much snow as we do. Do they just pull a Mr. Rogers and switch shoes at the door?

  18. Justme said...

    I agree with the poster above who says this is probably a generational thing. I'm 62 and Canadian, and it is only recently that I've come across people expecting visitors to take off their shoes.

    On the contrary, it was considered quite uncouth to walk around the house without shoes, and only super picky people (the kind who would put plastic on the sofas and only use the living room for special occasions) would ask you to do so.

    I feel very uncomfortable walking around in stocking feet or slippers in someone else's home, particularly if I don't know them well - much too casual and intimate...

    Not to mention that especially for women, shoes are part of your carefully planned outfit, and padding around in slippers is probably not a flattering look...

  19. Anonymous said...

    I've been living in Canada for last 20 years (originally from UK) and found it very strange to remove shoes upon entering a person's home. I'm used to it now although still feel uncomfortable doing so...the only time I have an issue is when you're invited to a dinner party etc and you've taken the time to dress nicely for the occasion...I've read that asking your guests to remove shoes in this situation is the height of bad etiquette.

  20. Eddy said...

    I was told you either take your shoes off or change to another pair when you go into your class in school?

  21. Anonymous said...

    To the person who asked about whether Americans are concerned about tracking dirt, gum or dog poo into the house: No. In the U.S. we have sidewalks. People don't allow their dogs to run loose like wild animals and use other people's yards as a toilet. And, you are required to clean up after your pets by law in most jurisdictions. Further we are not so uncouth as to spit gum in a place where people are likely to step in it. As for any dirt possibly picked up after walking down the sidewalk (not likely) that is what doormats are for, to wipe your feet. I guess Canadians haven't discovered this modern convenience yet. :)

  22. Anonymous said...

    Eddy - Kids are required to leave an "indoor" pair of shoes at school and change their shoes before getting into the classroom and change back for each recess and at the end of the school day.

    Besides sanitary and customary reasons, just think that for several months a year, the kids walk to school wearing their winter boots...not really comfortable for all day use.

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