Characteristics of Canadians—happy Canada Day 2014

For Canada Day 2014, I am repeating a section of a post that I placed on this blog on August 8, 2011. It is a based on a passage from the book, Arse Over Teakettle, Book One of the Toronto Trilogy.” The main character in the novel is a young boy named Tom Hudson. In the story, he relates his father’s version of the ten most common characteristics of Canadians. It is readily obvious that Tom’s father had a tongue-in-cheek sense of humour. As a proud Canadian, similar to Tom’s fictional dad, I cannot resist poking fun at my fellow Canadians and myself.

1. As Canadians, we are possessed with the seasons and thus never stop talking about them. Without weather to grumble about, we would be forced to remain silent in elevators, or heaven forbid, go out and vote in an election for something to do.

2. Before we will believe that something or someone is great, we require confirmation by other nations, especially Americans. However, after we guzzle two bottles of Canadian wine, we concede that our vintages are among the world’s finest and our hangovers are “world class.”

3. Those of us who do not live in the Toronto area, all know that it is an evil place, even if we have never stepped foot within its precincts. Astute political observers expect a Toronto Separatist Party to develop sometime in the near future.

4. In a crowd, we prefer invisibility to being obvious. We are invisible when in foreign lands, despite the fact that we are the only people in the world who speak the English language without an accent. Also, we are the only North Americans who know that the final letter of the alphabet is pronounced “Zed.” We know that “double-double” means. In summer, we have barbeques, not “barbies” or “cook-outs.”

5. Though Canada is not a Christian nation by constitutional law, the majority of us believe in a code of ethics that is similar to “Christian values,” whether we are a Muslim, Jew, Buddhists, atheist, or agnostic. The phrase, “I’m going to put up an agnostic tree next Christmas,” is as Canadian as hockey, maple syrup, or Tim Bits.

6. We strive to see both sides of an argument. Tolerance and compromise are preferred to dogmatism. However, if our favourite hockey team does not make it to the play-offs, we allow no arguments over the statement, “Well, there’s always next year.”

7. We are passive by nature, hate to make a fuss, and prefer to keep our opinions private. (The latter quality, I might add, is now being destroyed by Facebook, Twitter and blogging.) However, if we are aroused, we can become a potent force. An international hockey tournament is a sure-fire way to arouse the land of the maple leaf. We are quick to adopt Europe’s finest sporting traditions (Google articles written about “crazed” soccer fans at professional games.)

8. We believe that patriotism is an internal emotion, independent of flags, symbols, and rousing anthems. Besides, most of us do not know the lyrics of our national anthem. We would hold our hands over our hearts when saluting the flag, but during most of the year, it is too cold to take our hands out of our pockets.

9. We are usually practical by nature, though it is said that we are the only people in the world who step out of the shower to take a pee.

10. We hate the “HST” with a passion and love asking, “Can I pay cash?” (wink-wink). As well, we believe we should obey the law, even if it is inconvenient. However, we do not recognize any customs that refer to “tipping,” and resent adding the expected fifteen or twenty percent to our restaurant bills.

I might add that if Americans are asked the difference between a canoe and a Canadian, some might reply, “Unlike Canadians, a canoe tips.”

Happy Canada Day—from Doug Taylor

I have written eight books that employ Toronto as a background. Their titles are listed on my Home Page.

To view the Home Page for this blog:

To view links to other posts placed on this blog about the history of Toronto and its heritage buildings:

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My most recent publication is entitled “Toronto’s theatres and the Golden Age of the Silver Screen.”


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