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15 things you should never say to a Canadian

Two women waving Canadian flags in front of the CN Tower in Toronto encounter offensive remarks about Canada.

Canadians are universally recognized as some of the nicest people on the planet, but did you know we don’t all walk around the woods in plaid shirts and Mountie hats every day? We’re a complex people, and we’d like to set the record straight on some of the stereotypes, questions and misconceptions that we can’t seem to shake.

So before you meet one of us and ask a million questions that you think we’ve never been asked before, take these 15 off your list and learn a bit more about us Canucks, our Canadian etiquette, and the Canadian mentality…

Canadian? So you’re basically American, right?

Confusing us for an American is an innocent enough mistake, but insisting that we’re ‘basically American’, or ‘America Lite’ is not cool. We have our own unique customs, culture and values, and our two countries aren’t the same. We’re patriotic too, so please don’t be dismissive of our identity.

A woman is looking at a lake covered in snow in Canada.

I thought Canadians were supposed to be nice…

We try to be, but that doesn’t mean we aren’t entitled to our bad moods, or that we’ll just put up with bad behaviour from others with a smile. Plus, every country has bad apples – we’re not all accurate representations of the majority.

No, but where are you really from?

If we say we’re Canadian, then that’s either how we identify or truly all we are. Although we do have a strong immigrant population that we’re proud of, we also take pride in our diversity and have tons of first, second, third, fourth (and beyond) generation Canadians who identify as such, and there are over 1 million indigenous people in Canada as well.

I hate hockey/ The Tragically Hip/ Neil Young/ Drake

These things are our national treasures, and we don’t take lightly to people insulting them.

How do you follow the puck when watching a hockey game?

The more you watch, the more obvious it will become. Things in hockey move quickly, but if you pay attention to the players, what they’re doing with their sticks and start to understand how plays tend to run, it’s pretty easy to know where it is without seeing it all the time.


A group of hockey sticks lined up on the ice, representing a quintessentially Canadian scene.

It must suck to be so cold every day

This may come as a surprise to some, but Canada has 4 seasons, including summer. The further north you go, the colder it gets generally, but seeing as most of the population lives within 100 miles of the US border, we have hot summers, comfortable spring and fall temps as well.


Most of us don’t say that… Sorry but we just don’t, and if any of us do, we’ve yet to meet them. It’s a weird myth that haunts us and we wish people would stop saying it. About could sound more like aboat or abut, but not aboot.

Do you live in Toronto?

Only about 8% of Canadians live in Toronto, and the rest live in one of the 5,000+ cities, towns and villages that exist here. As the second biggest country in the world, we have a lot of space to live in, and the entire country doesn’t revolve around Toronto.

A man is standing in front of a Toronto sign at night, representing Canada.

I know another Canadian, do you know (insert common name here)?

We have over 36 million people here, so maybe, but probably not.


Poutine? That sounds disgusting

OK, but have you tried it? If not, you’re missing out. Real poutine is one of the tastiest things ever invented, and you can’t judge it prematurely just based on your misconceptions about whether or not gravy and cheese curds belong on fries.

Your money looks fake

Yes our money is different, but we like it that way. The different colours and shapes of our coins help us distinguish between them quickly, and likewise, the colours of our bills do the same. Plus, many of the visual elements you may think are strange are security features to help with counterfeiting, and the plasticky texture helps with durability.

We have many historic Canadians we love and elements of our culture we like to showcase, so we do that on various bills and coins as well.

A pile of Canadian banknotes on a white background.

Why do you say ‘sorry’ all the time?

Because we like to be polite, is that a bad thing? And when we say sorry it doesn’t always mean sorry. Sometimes it means ‘excuse me’, it’s a reflex for being uncomfortable or startled, or a way to diffuse any situation, and it’s also the default response to someone saying sorry to you; just throw it right back to acknowledge their apology.

Bagged milk? Gross

Not sure why it’s such a big deal for some, but it’s just a plastic bag. Just like boxed wine – which has a bag of wine inside – it’s an easier way to store more liquid. Plus, it’s cheaper to buy and package, requires less packaging and is recyclable.

American beer is better

Canadian beer is so much more than just Molson Canadian and Labatt Blue. We have an amazing craft beer scene, and some of our best breweries rival those anywhere in the world. Don’t judge us solely by our cheapest stuff.

Do you live in an igloo?

No, for the millionth time. Most of us live in condos, apartments, houses, RVs, trailers – but not igloos.

Colorful houses on a dock with canoes in the water, featuring Canadian elements.

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