There seem to be many stereotypes about Canada. But even the most experienced travelers aren’t sure how many of them are actually true.
When people ask us about Canada, the topic of healthcare is often brought up. Other times, people ask us about our identity and how we speak. We thought it would be a good idea to clear any misconceptions you may have about our homeland, The Great White North.
Stereotypes About Canada
Here are some top Canadian stereotypes that are either 100% true or completely false.
1. Canadians Say Out and About Like Oot and Aboot
We know it is hard to believe, but it isn’t true.
This stereotype is brought up almost every time we are abroad. And it’s one that we find utterly unable to explain. Canadians simply don’t say oot or aboot.
It would be interesting to learn where this stereotype originated. Americans pronounce “out” differently than we do. It sounds more like an “owt,” while in Canada, it is more like an “oat.” They pronounce it with a more open mouth and a more orch sound. We tend to be more closed in our pronunciation and lean more toward the word “oat.”
No pronunciation is right or wrong. Different accents are found all across the world!
2. All Canadians Can Speak French
Again, this Canadian stereotype isn’t true — although we wish it were.
Quebec is a French-speaking province, which is probably why so many people think every Canadian is fluent in this language. Still, most of us aren’t bilingual.
While we learn French in school, it is usually not enough to get a good grasp of the language. To make matters even worse, the French curriculum in many schools is terrible.
Growing up, we wanted to learn French. We were hard workers in school, memorizing all our verbs every day. The problem was that we kept learning the same French verbs until our senior year of high school. As a result, we never got fluent.
3. Canada Is Always Cold
Yes, Canada can get very cold, especially in winter. However, it isn’t true that it is always cold.
Contrary to popular belief, Canada enjoys a very hot summer. And yes, it has all four seasons. It is usually only freezing in the winter months, from November to March.
Temperatures regularly exceed 30° Celcius (86° Fahrenheit), and we have even reached 40° Celcius with humidity. Our air conditioners are turned up like in warmer tropical countries when we have heat alerts. British Columbia’s temperatures hit 46 degrees Celcius (114° F) this year!
So, as you can see, Canada can get unbearably hot. Even the Arctic gets hot in summer! Another one of the Canadian stereotypes that are false.
4. Canadians Skate to Work
Sometimes, this is true.
Winter months are when Ottawa is home to the largest skating rink in the world, the Rideau Canal. The same can be said for Winnipeg. It is the home of the longest skating rink in the world.
These waterways are famous for winter commutes. It is faster than driving, and you can get your morning workout while you are at it.
5. Canadians Love Hockey
Okay, it might be true.
Most Canadians (who grew up in Canada) played hockey or learned to skate at some point. But Canada has not won the Stanley Cup since 1993! And Canada’s most well-known hockey team, the Toronto Maple Leafs, hasn’t won the cup since 1967, either!
On the other hand, we often win the Olympics and win the world’s and junior’s a lot. These events are a big draw for Canadians. When they are happening, the whole country suddenly talks about hockey!
6. All Canadians Can Skate
Yes, that’s true!
If you grew up in Canada, we’re sure you’ve been to the rink more than once. There are many public skating rinks in our cities where you can either play pick-up hockey or just go around the track. Many parents have their children learn figure skating or hockey at an early age. Schools even offer skating lessons.
7. We Drink Tons of Tim Hortons Coffee
This stereotype is true.
Whenever we go on road trips, we stop at Tim Hortons to get coffee. Similarly, a Timmies Run is a common thing in the workplace. The coffee is inexpensive and very addictive.
8. All Canadians Love Maple Syrup
Although we are the largest maple syrup producer in the world, most of it is exported. It is fun to snowshoe in winter through maple forests (where maple syrup can be tapped), but not everyone likes maple syrup. We don’t even have maple syrup in our house!
Sure, it is delicious on pancakes and arguably the best pancake topping ever. But everything has its limits, and not everyone in Canada is fond of this syrup.
9. Polar Bears Roam the Land
Canada has the highest number of Polar Bears, but we live in harmony. They don’t go in our way, nor do we go into theirs. Except in Churchill, Manitoba, where the polar bears do indeed hang out downtown. They are free to roam the land there.
Fun Fact — In Churchill, no one locks their doors or cars. It is supposed to serve as a means of escaping a polar bear. Polar bears can only be found in Canada’s far north.
10. Canadians Are Always Sorry
There is some truth to it.
It’s unclear what it is about Canadian culture that makes us so apologetic, but we always like to express remorse. Always! Canada’s stereotype of being always sorry is very accurate. People always share their humorous “sorry stories” whenever we ask them on social media.
“I have apologized to a tree that I stepped into.”
“I have apologized to another person for bumping into me.”
We are sorry for everything. We might as well use the word sorry to describe Canada’s national language.
11. Having Free Healthcare Is Bad
Sorry, but free healthcare is an excellent solution. If we feel unwell, we simply visit the doctor. And we can go to the emergency department free of charge if we have an accident. If we need open-heart surgery, we get it. Radiation treatment for cancer is also available. There are no bills and no worries.
If I visit the emergency room with a cut or minor injury, staff will first take care of the victim of a car accident or heart attack. They won’t let anyone die. The severity of an injury is what determines how people are treated, not their bank balance.
12. Canadians Use the Imperial System
Kind of true.
Officially, Canadians use the metric system. However, we still use the imperial system from time to time.
- Canadians follow speed limits and measure lengths in meters. We go a bit against the grain and measure heights in feet.
- We measure the temperature in Celcius outside but cook in Fahrenheit.
- We weigh ourselves in pounds but weigh and buy our food by the kilo.
We like being weird. It makes us unique.
13. Canadians Live in Igloos
It is not true!
Many people asked us this question several times. And our answer always is no.
Igloos are even uncommon in areas like Inuvik, the Yukon, or Nunavut. Sure, they can be sporadically used as temporary shelters. More specifically, the Inuit of northern Canada may use them as temporary shelter while they hunt.
That said, they usually live in warm homes with electricity and all the other necessities.
These are the Canadian stereotypes that we wanted to debunk. What other things did you hear about Canada that sound dubious or unbelievable? We’d love to hear from you in the comments!