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Taorluath's avatar

If I wanted to pretend to be a Canadian, what facts should I know?

Asked by Taorluath (3points) January 10th, 2008

America is viewed very negatively by the world, as opposed to Canada, demonstrated through this study: (

My family is going to Europe over the summer. Just out of interest, I want to see how people would treat me if I was Canadian. (Which I’m not.)
What facts should I know about Canada if I want to pretend to be Canadian? What else could I do to be more convincing?

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2 Answers

jonno's avatar

What I think you’re not understanding is that America as a country is viewed negatively because of all those political reasons etc… but the reason why Americans are viewed negatively is because there is a stereotype that American tourists are rude, fat, loud and ignorant (I know not all Americans are like that, but, hey, stereotypes always come from somewhere).

If you want to not be marked as an American, don’t be that type of American tourist. I assume you aren’t anyway, so it’s not that hard. Just don’t be loud, don’t expect others to know English outside of the tourism industry, learn a bit of the local language to use in shops and restaurants and don’t wear typical tourist clothing.

As for pretending to be from Canada, I wouldn’t think you’d be expected to know any more about Canada than any normal European would – so you should be fine, unless you run into a real Canadian! If you’re going to be having conversations with other people, make up a backstory first (like what city you’re from etc.). I’ve also heard of Americans stitching Canadian flags onto their bags, and wearing clothing that have small Canadian flags (don’t make it look deliberate though).

paulc's avatar

Well you see, Canada’s reputation is going “south” too due to its current government but that’s another topic alltogether.

jonno is right about the stereotypes about American tourists – not everyone is that way but there are quite a few who fit right in to that generalization. However, Israelis have the worst reputation in all the places I’ve travelled (they use the term hutzpa to describe their own behaviour.)

Again, jonno is right on what to assume when you get there. Most Europeans won’t know jack about Canada so you don’t need to know much to get by. Although I think its a fun exercise to think of the things that could pass you off as a Canuck, so lets have a shot at it.

1. Your demeanour should be apologetic and reserved. If someone says “Look ‘ere, see how ‘uge our Eifel Towair eez?” don’t boast (eg. you shouldn’t say “Well the CN Tower in Toronto is like way bigger.”) Which brings us to…

2. Toronto. The basic rule is that if you are from Toronto, you love it and if you are not from Toronto you hate it. Its the one city most people will know if you mention Canada (followed by Vancouver and Montréal [especially in France]).

3. Being frugal. For the better part of recent history (present not included), the Canadian Dollar has not been the strongest of currencies and most Canadian travellers are going on shoe-string budgets.

4. Drink a lot of beer. Some Canadians pride themselves on their beer and how much they can consume. This is one of the topics you are allowed to boast about but only if you are comparing Canadian beer to American beer (as you will find in Europe, their beer is better than everyone’s).

5. Wax poetic on any of: socialized medicine, hockey, peace keeping, those damned Americans, the Québecois, Tim Hortons (its a coffee chain people are addicted to), CFL vs NFL, hockey (pond hockey, air hockey, table hockey, twist hockey, ball hockey, etc).

6. Europeans have a good understanding of the history of the two world wars and are more aware than most of Canada’s role in those wars so you can always exploit that somehow (especially in France, Italy and the Netherlands).

The funny thing is that even though people from outside Canada can’t really identify what “Canadian” is neither can Canadians. Of all the countries I’ve been to Canadians have the least sense of identity (with the exception of Québec). Its not that there isn’t any substance to the country or its people, its just that there’s really no well-defined characteristics. And of the characteristics that do exist, the stories about them aren’t known outside the country. Now I digress. Hope this helps.

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