Hockey is Like Everything… Really

One common Canadian stereotype is that all Canadians like hockey. Obviously that’s not true. There are probably some Canadians out there somewhere who don’t like hockey, just like there are probably some Americans who don’t like college football. However, these people are very difficult to find and even if we did find them, we wouldn’t want to get to know them. Who do they think they are anyway, refusing to give in to a stereotype?

The good news is that you don’t even need to worry about finding these Canadians at all. Canadian hockey fans more than overcompensate for those who don’t enjoy the sport. And when we say “overcompensate” we mean “go freakin’ nuts whenever hockey is discussed at any level.”

No where is ludicrous display of obsession more obvious than when Team Canada plays in a tournament. Any tournament. “Team Canada” is a truly uniting force in this country. Sure, Canadian hockey fans spend most of their time fighting out brutal rivalries between Montreal and Toronto, Calgary and Edmonton and Vancouver and not burning stuff after a loss, but international hockey is different. These tournaments allow Canadians to get together and join in a united front.

They allow the people of Canada the chance to wave their flags and paint their faces and sing the national anthem in true drunken glory. Normally Canadians shy away from being patriotic, but not when international hockey is concerned. When it comes to hockey, Canadians are willing to do anything to support the team.
But they don’t just offer support. You see, when you’re “Team Canada” you’re expected to win. That guy who painted his body to look like a Canadian flag isn’t hoping for a good showing or a competitive run that comes close to victory. He wants his team to win. He wants to celebrate over the battered bodies of his enemies with an unhealthy dose of poutine, Canadian beer and showmanship.
That means that every single aspect of any team representing Canada is analyzed extensively. Is Hockey Canada choosing a bunch of under 20 year-olds to play a sport? Yes? Well there had better be a ridiculous amount of over the top coverage! Canadians wouldn’t have it any other way. And if these kids lose the game? Prepare for meltdown.

Coffee Is Very Serious Business

We’ve mentioned before how anything Tim Hortons does is treated with great fanfare and attention and that trend continues.
Canadian coffee chain Tim Hortons is going to specialty coffee drinks. A coffee shop selling coffee? No big deal, right? WRONG. It is big news in Canada.

How big of a deal is it? The story was discussed on the national news. Not during the business section, not during the life section. No, it was reported during the news segment of the national news. On several networks including CTV and CBCThe Globe & Mail and the Toronto Star gave the story big coverage as well.
This story got so much attention across Canada that you would have thought Celine Dion and Justin Bieber were taking a canoe guided by beavers to a maple syrup factory. Okay… that’s pushing the stereotypes a bit. But you get the point.
Also, we’re back! =)

Their Summer Lasts About 10 Minutes

If you were ever going to rank oxymorons in terms of relevance, “Canadian summer” would be at the top of your list.

Everyone knows that Canadian winters are cold. It’s not uncommon to see your breath turn into ice the moment it leaves your mouth. Cold and Canada are synonymous, everyone knows that. However, what you may not know about Canada is that summers there last about 10 minutes. Depending on what part of the country you’re looking at, sometimes if you blink for too long, you’ll miss the entire season.

A good way to spot a Canadian is to tell them that summer lasts three months. If they instantly turn into a confused, stuttering mess, you’ll know that they are a Canadian.

In Canada summer realistically lasts about a month. And that’s in a good year. This year Toronto had about one week of summer weather. It’s hot during the summer, but the heat doesn’t normally last long enough to give the average Canadian a chance to climb out of the three parkas they’ve been wearing for the last eleven months.

However, don’t think that the short summer means there is nine months of spring and fall either, because that couldn’t be farther from the truth.

Fall and spring don’t exist in Canada. They are simply called “early winter” and “late winter.” In these two seasons it’s still cold, just not cold enough to build an igloo in the middle of a downtown street. It is however cold enough that vistors to Canada think Canadians live in some weird hemisphere and that winter takes place at during different months there.

Winter in Canada, as has already been discussed, is cold enough that only the heartiest Canadians survive it each year. Bagged milk has been known to freeze solid for several months and beavers relocate their dams into the local Tim Hortons during the winter months.

In case you’re wondering, summer in Canada is already over.

A Doughnut Shop Opening in New York is a Huge Canadian Story

We’re back.

We couldn’t resist this one.

Tim Hortons has taken Manhattan.

The once-again Canadian company has expanded into New York City.

And Canadians couldn’t be more proud. Newspapers and television programs presented the news as if it were a successful Canadian invasion. And, in a way, it was. Not since the War of 1812 have Canadians felt so proud and victorious when entering the United States.

Maybe now Americans won’t give us strange looks and point us to a basketball court when we ask for a “double-double.”

Tim Hortons is an icon in Canada and, in a world where American companies have invaded almost every aspect of Canadian life, Tim Hortons opening in New York City represents a rare victory for Canadians.

In fact, if Canada really wants to claim victory over New York here’s a simple plan they could use: After about six months they should suddenly close all of the Timmies in NYC. By that point New Yorkers will be hopelessly addicted to the coffee and fatty treats. Suddenly taking it all away will weaken them severely. That’s when the Canadians can strike.

Tim Hortons: the first shot in the war against America.

It sounds good, doesn’t it?

Of course, it will be hard for Canadians to fight while they’re full of Timbits.

They Like Beavers

You can tell a lot about a country by its national animal. The United States uses the bald eagle: a large bird of prey. The United Kingdom has a lion: an imposing carnivore. China has a dragon, Germany has an eagle, India has a Bengal tiger, Italy has a wolf. All of these animals are strong, proud and majestic. They are regal. They show the world that the country is question is large, grand and impressive.

Canada has a beaver.

Beavers are large rodents. Of course, they’re not the largest rodents. No, choosing the largest of a species would be very un-Canadian. No, beavers are the second-largest rodents in the world. They are very slow on land and they frighten easily. They would probably lose in a fight to any of the other national animals listed above.

Well, that’s not entirely true. Dragons are fictional. Even a beaver could beat up a fictional creature. It would be a close fight though.

However, what beavers lack in size, strength and imposing physical stature they make up in ingenuity.

A beaver dam is a pretty impressive structure. Beavers are hard workers and quite intelligent. The dams that they build are quite strong and beavers are able to build new dams or repair damaged ones quite quickly. Beavers work together with other beavers in order to build their dams.

Small, hard working, social and intelligent?

Yes, it makes sense that the beaver is Canada’s national animal.

Of course, those traits are not the reason why the beaver is the national animal. No, like many other great symbols, the beaver is a martyr. When the Europeans originally began settling Canada, the fur trade was very important. More often than not it was beaver pelts that were being traded.

That’s right, it was in death that the beaver became the symbol of Canada.

The conversation that decided this designation must have been completely bizarre:

“So… this country needs a national animal.”
“Hmm… you know that little annoying rodent we’ve been killing for a while now? How about that?”
“Works for me! Well, now that we’re done with that, let’s play hockey.”

And thus, with that ridiculous conversation, the beaver was given its iconic status.

Yes, that conversation is pretty much verbatim.

They’re Polite

You don’t have to be a frequent reader of this website to know that Canadians are polite. If you have ever met a Canadian you instantly noticed that fact.

But Canadians aren’t just polite. They’re obnoxiously polite. If they bump into someone THEY apologize. But that’s not all. Canadians have been known to apologize for bumping into inanimate objects. It’s quite common to see a Canadian bump into the edge of a table and say “Sorry.” And that’s not just a slip of the tongue. Canadians are actually concerned for the table’s feelings.

But it doesn’t end there.

Canada is a country filled with people opening doors for others, smiles, thank yous and orderly line-ups. Canadians help and share and love whenever possible, even if it is completely inappropriate to do so. It’s like some bizarre utopia that also happens to include beavers, poutine and hockey.

Ironically it is the game of hockey that causes Canadians to throw their politeness out the door. It’s a proven fact that if you put even the kindest, gentlest Canadian in front of a hockey game they will almost instantly be turned into an aggressive, blood-thirsty, angry monster. All of the rage that they build up while helping and thanking others comes out when the puck hits the ice.

Why do you think hockey is the one professional team sport that allows fighting? It’s because Canadians need it. They need the outlet. They’ve spent their lives apologizing to tables and now they need to get that anger out. And hockey is the one socially acceptable place for them to vent their frustrations. This fact is true for Canadians who are watching the game as well as those who are playing it. To a Canadian it’s not real hockey unless someone is bleeding.

I’ve watched as a little old lady baked a batch of cookies, kissed a child on the forehead and then sat down in front of an NHL game and screamed “KILL HIM! KILL HIM!” for three straight periods.

Hockey is also where riots come from. Montreal’s famed “Richard Riot” was caused by a hockey game. In fact, if you look at some obscure history books that are no longer in print, you will likely find that the war of 1812 was also caused by a hockey game. Unfortunately the modern media has repressed that fact.

Or not.

Regardless, a good way to spot a Canadian is to see how polite they are. True Canadians will respond to even the most brutal insults with an apology and an offer to join them for a warm cup of maple syrup back at their igloo.

A better way to spot a Canadian is to sit them in front of a hockey game. If they instantly turn into a vicious goon that feeds on the blood of the opposing team, you have definitely found a real Canadian.

Once that Canadian is found using this method it is best to leave the room until the … Read the rest

They Spent Childhood Watching a Giant Talk to a Rooster in a Sack

The following tip only works on Canadians of a certain age, but it will definitely help you weed some Canadians out of the pack. As always, spotting even one Canadian is preferred to letting them run wild.

The Friendly Giant was a children’s television show that aired on the CBC for almost thirty years. Much like many children’s programs it focused on a human actor and his puppet sidekicks. However, unlike many children’s programs, the human actor played a giant (named Friendly) and one of his puppet sidekicks was Rusty, a rooster that lived in a sack that hung from the giant’s castle wall. The other sidekick was a giraffe named Jerome who stuck his head through the castle window to converse with Rusty and Friendly.

The show would always start with a shot of a giant boot in the middle of a small town. You would then hear Friendly asking his viewers to “look up, waaaaaaaay up” in order to see him and then he would welcome them into his castle. Inside the castle Friendly would arrange some tiny chairs for the children watching to sit in. Of course, the chairs weren’t actually tiny. They were normal-sized chairs that only appeared tiny due to the fact that they were being held by a giant.

This show ran for many, many years and generations of Canadians were practically raised by this giant and his animal companions. Sometimes Friendly would tell stories and other times the trio would play instruments. It was an entertaining, and definitely bizarre, show. I would have liked to be in the room when the show was proposed to the network.

“Okay, we’re going to have a show about a giant. Except this giant isn’t mean, he’s friendly. He’s so friendly that his name is actually ‘Friendly!’ He lives in a castle with a rooster and a giraffe. Well, the giraffe lives outside the castle, but the rooster lives inside in a bag that hangs from the wall. Of course, the rooster is also huge in size as a regular-sized rooster would be too small for a giant to interact with. Oh yeah, the animals also play instruments.”

And thus a children’s classic was born!

But The Friendly Giant wasn’t the only bizarre program Canadian children were introduced to. There were many more:

  • Mr. Dressup – A man who had an endless variety of costumes inside his “Tickle Trunk.” He would dress in these costumes to entertain his puppet friends. The original puppets were Casey (a human child in puppet form) and a dog named Finnegan. The puppets spent most of their time in a treehouse in Mr. Dressup’s yard. The puppets were later changed as the puppeteer retired. Mr. Dressup often drew pictures or made crafts for the children as well. A puppet alligator named Al ran a local trading post.
  • The Elephant Show – Three singers (Sharon, Lois & Bram) went through a series of wacky adventures accompanied by a group of children and their
Read the rest

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.

Sewing a Canadian Flag on a Backpack is their idea of Blatant Patriotism

Canadians are not flag wavers. While their neighbours to the south hang Old Glory from anything they possibly can, Canadians are much less flashy with the Maple Leaf.

There isn’t a flag pole in front of every house in Canada. Canadians don’t have ticker-tape parades where flags hang from buildings in celebration. That’s just not their style. No, Canadians prefer a more subtle type of patriotism, one that can only be seen in beer commercials.

The most patriotic a Canadian will ever get is when they are traveling abroad.

As we’ve previously discussed, Canadians do not want to be considered Americans. They will do anything within their power to avoid being lumped into the same group as those from the United States. This is never more true than when outside of Canada.

Due to the many similarities between the two cultures, Canadians are frequently mistaken for Americans when they are in Europe or Asia or anywhere else abroad. This is something Canadians definitely do not want. They have spent their entire lives defining themselves as “Not American” and some guy in France is not going to screw this up for them!

So, to stop this from happening, Canadians make a bold statement. They go against all of their values. They sew Canadian flags on their backpacks.

But don’t worry, they aren’t going crazy here. It’s not like they sew large flags. No, Canadians would not want to upset anyone. They find the smallest flags they possibly can and they use those. It’s a very Canadian way of saying “I’m Canadian, but I’m not going to rub your face in it, and it’s cool that you’re not Canadian.”

Unfortunately, as always, spotting Canadians is not so simple. It’s not a cut-and-dry issue

Canadians enjoy such good reputations overseas that now many Americans have started sewing Canadian flags on their backpacks as well! This makes it quite difficult to distinguish between real Canadians and fake Canadians. In these cases you will need to use some of the other tips you have learned to separate the Canucks from the “Faux-nucks.”

Important Note: This “quiet patriotism” with its lack of flags completely disappears when it comes to hockey. Only during hockey games will you see giant Canadian flags flowing through the crowd and seas of maple leaves in the streets. In these situations it is best to allow Canadians to watch their hockey undisturbed. You can come back and question them later when something else is on, like baseball. Interrupting a Canadian during a hockey game is never encouraged and could prove dangerous.