our neighbo(u)rs up north, eh?

I noticed on a previous post that I have quite a few Canadian readers, so I thought I would talk about that nice little country a couple hundred miles away from me. Please don’t be offended, because this is a joke and I love Canadians. In true spirit, I guess I’ll apologize for this post before I post it.

If you know me well, you’ve probably heard me talk a LOT about Michigan. And you’ve likely learned some new terms. One of those might be “UP,” which is the affectionate shorthand way of saying Upper Peninsula, the “little top part above the mitten,” as some (non-Michiganders) have called it. And then, you’ve probably heard me say that it is “basically” Canada.

But what is it that makes it “not-Canada” then? Besides the line in the dirt, what are those key differences? Is it because Yoopers don’t say “eh” quite enough to count? Or is it that they keep their milk in jugs instead of bags?

I’ve had a few close Canadian friends over the year, and I have met several more Canadians since coming to college. I’ve noticed that there’s a slight rivalry between the countries for whatever reason. As someone who grew up travelling, I’ve always wondered about the rivalries that exist: between countries, coasts, or even states. What is that all about, anyway? Maybe it’s the typical Christian Calvinist in me, but I never got why the borders were so built up between us. Why don’t we have a more unified sense of North America?

Obviously we’re not going to combine into one country. The politics of the two countries are way too different for that. And we act pretty different sometimes. I mean, really, how could us fast-paced Americans get anything done if we spent our time apologizing to everyone?

I decided to address what I’ve learned about Canadian stereotypes over the years (from my humble American opinion).

1. Canadians say “eh” all the time. So, this one can be true. I’ve met some consistent eh-sayers in my day. But it seems to me that most Canadians don’t say it nearly as much as one would expect. From what I’ve witnessed, the eastern side of the country uses it more. Basically, the word eh just turns a statement into a question. It’s actually a really great way to initiate conversation, because people feel they should respond to a question as opposed to simply agreeing with a statement.

2. They have weird accents. Also semi-true. Just like the whole “eh” thing, it varies depending on location. Americans have tons of different accents. There are the Italian accents of the northeast, southern drawls, and nasally midwestern dialect. The typical stereotype is that Canadians say “soory,” “aboot,” and the like, lengthening the o’s in words. Some Canadians I know fulfill this stereotype to a T while others have no accent at all. I’ve heard a lot of variation. Point being, don’t ask someone to say “about” the second you discover they are Canadian.

3. Canadians say “sorry” a lot. In their accents, of course. I guess a lot of the Canadian stereotypes are based off how they speak, eh? Again, this is something that doesn’t apply to everyone. But I’ve heard the joke from everyone, even Canadians themselves. I once was sitting at a table of Canadians when I repeatedly said sorry, and one of them asked if I was Canadian. I guess there must be some truth to the stereotype if even they joke about it.

4. They all like country music? I’ve heard this before, but it confused me when I first heard the joke. Most of the Canadians I met way back when were from bigger cities, like Toronto or Edmonton. Since then, I’ve met tons of small-town Canadians and started to see where this stereotype comes from. It’s good music though, so what’s the problem?

5. It’s always cold there. Ok, this one is mostly just a lie. Just because Canada is attached to Alaska does not mean that it too is a barren wasteland of snow year-round. In fact, some parts of Canada have great weather. The west coast of British Columbia actually has some awesome beaches. They do not ride moose, live in igloos, or keep penguins as pets. Although many parts of Canada do get very cold for a long time in the winter.

6. Tim Hortons is their second home. There does seem to be an obsession with Tim Hortons. I mean, coffee is a great addition to their usual snack of maple syrup, right? There are plenty of exceptions, as not everyone has the same taste. I for one can see where all the love comes from, because I do really appreciate their coffee/donuts/timbits and generally enjoy going to my little local Timmy’s.

7. They all play hockey. Well, I can’t lie. While I know many Canadians who play other sports, almost all of them I’ve met have some interest in hockey, or at least know how to skate. I can’t even count the amount of Canadians who swished past me while I struggled to learn to skate at the local rink. It’s just in their blood, I suppose.

If you’re Canadian, I’d love to hear your feedback on these stereotypes… can someone explain where they came from? Did I do your glorious country justice?

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