Stuffs Canadians Like (Part 2)

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After living in Canada for almost 6 years now, this is my best shot at a sociology study: “Stuffs Canadians Like“.

The Tragically Hip: Ever heard of the Tragically Hip? Chances are if you did, you hold a Canadian passport. If no, don’t worry — you’re just a foreigner. The band from Kingston Ontario has been around for around twenty years but it just doesn’t work outside Canada. Could that be because their songs mostly revolve around hockey, small Canadian towns and Canadian history? As a result, when touring in Canada, the Hip typically play to sold-out arenas whereas when touring in the USA, they play in clubs. And performances are usually attended by Canadian expats. The only time they were famous in the USA is when the song New Orleans Is Sinking (to non-Canadians: “My memory is muddy what’s this river I’m in; New Orleans is sinking and I don’t want to swim“) was banned from the US radios after hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans.

Weird Sports: Ever played Lacrosse, Canadian football or curling? Once again, if you’re not Canadian, the typical answer would be no. Lacrosse is originally a Native American game while Canadian Football is a type of rugby football, like American football. Both are very popular, but curling beats them both. Imagine playing chess on ice. Or darts on ice. There you go, this is curling. Two teams take turn sliding heavy granite stones down the ice towards the target. Two sweepers with brooms accompany the rocks and try to direct them as close as they can to the target. It’s actually more complex than it seems, given all the yelling involved… A movie was even dedicated to curling: Men With Brooms (2002). And yes, the Tragically Hip make a cameo appearance — why did you even ask!

Don Cherry: The former NHL player and coach who now co-hosts Hockey Night In Canada‘s “Coach’s Corner” is worth watching once. Voted the 7th greatest Canadian on the CBC, controversial Don Cherry is mostly known for his bright and loud suits (polka-dots ties, huge French collars and cuffs, and original patterns led me to believe he was color-blind, or even blind altogether), his staunch patriotism and his politically incorrect views on both politics and hockey. His embrace of hockey violence, his dislike of French Canadians and Europeans, and his borderline xenophobic rants are sometimes way too much — yet, he is somewhat entertaining. Go figure.

Saying “eh: In Canadian English, “eh” is a keyword. Famous joke goes: “How do you spell ‘Canada‘?” “C, eh, N, eh, D, eh.” First, “eh” can be used to confirm the attention of the listener: “I’m writing this post, eh, so people will know more about Canada“. It can also be used to turn a declarative sentence into a question: “fucking cold, eh?” (meaning “today’s –40ºC feels rather chilly, don’t you agree?“). It can also means the speaker agrees with you: “I know it’s cold, eh!“. Note that “eh” alone could mean any of the above — this is why there’s a mandatory 3 years wait period before immigrants like me can apply for citizenship. More time to study English Canadian, eh.

The Canadian Flag: The first thing you learn when you come to Canada is to draw the Canadian flag. Not because it’s mandatory. Because the flag is just about everywhere. Governments of Canada’s buildings, airports, military bases, diplomatic offices — of course. But also houses, parks, bridges etc. Canadians just love their flag. An example? Flags that are flown on Parliament Hill (from the Peace Tower and the East and West blocks) are packaged and can be obtained free of charge. However, there is an 11–20 years waiting list for the flags! Oh, and don’t let me forget about the government’s program to promote the flag (which was only adopted in 1965): since 1996, February 15th has been commemorated as National Flag of Canada Day. Not a statutory holidays though…

Anyone to do a list of “things Americans like”, or “things that ____ like”? I’d be curious!

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About Author

French woman in English Canada. World citizen, new mom, traveler, translator, writer and photographer. Looking for comrades to start a new revolution.

43 Comments

  1. The Tragically Hip are dull and boring. Their lack of diversity speaks to their lack of imagination and creativity. I’d toss out their records in an instant. A lot of people dislike them and the majority of people ignore them. I hear more people praise Matthew Good Band, Sloan, Our Lady Peace, Billy Talent, 54-40, Skinny Puppy, Econoline Crush, Great Big Sea and others over them.

    As for hockey, I don’t know anyone who plays it, watches it or attends games. They get more people at the cheese and wine festival here than at hockey games (Kelowna, BC). I see people playing soccer, running, jogging, biking, playing baseball, football, etc.

    Like these myths about everybody skiing and snowboarding. Those are rich man’s sports for people who like winter (not the majority) who have time to go out and do it (again, not the majority). It is warmer here in the winter but the streets are still dead. Every town/city I lived in (Alberta, Ontario, Saskatchewan, BC, Manitoba) were dead as a doornail during the winter. NOBODY was out. So these ideas on being Canadian are out of touch. The only think I agree on is that the beer is good and people drink it.

    Take the obsession with a bilingualism that doesn’t exist. I ACTUALLY speak, write and read French fluently unlike the majority of the population. Quebec doesn’t speak proper French anyway. What has been legislated is the equivalent of Creole gutter slang. At least the Creoles lack the pretense to claim they are really French, unlike Quebecois. Don’t believe me? Spend a month in France and tell me it is the same as Quebec. None of my French relatives even care about Quebec and consider them to be Canadians. Of course, I have always though this was a rather weird, passive-aggressive country with little common sense and a preoccupation with a nonexistent identity, reinforced by negative commentary on Americans living in another country.

    • Whoaa, easy there Missy…

      No need to rage over a simple article…

      I live just outside of Toronto and everyone I know plays, watches and loves Hockey. Everyone in my town is oot and aboot during wintertime – sledding, playing hockey in nearby parks, or just walking around. I will agree that most people don’t speak French or listen to the Tragically Hip, but you need to learn to laugh at our stereotypes a little. Frankly, you seem like an unhappy person who feels they need to down-talk an article on the internet just so you can feel better about yourself.

      Learn to laugh.

      • 🙂

        Some people did take the article rather literally! I’m glad you were able to laugh about it, that’s what I intended. Her comment was even more funny considering I (the writer of the article) am from France and I actually can speak French! 😆

  2. I am Canadian, grew up on Cape Breton Island and now live in Europe. I love the Tragically Hip, as did most of my friends when we were in college. I recall us going to more than a few bashes out on campus where Road Apples was playing.

    Mostly every guy I knew growing up played hockey.

    I went skiing 3x a week with my father and next door neighbour and we were hardly wealthy.

    I’d say it’s pretty accurate.
    .-= Breigh´s last blog ..Random Summer 2009 Tidbits =-.

  3. @Ulquiorra – Mmm… Curling in the hall… I’d be curious to see that! 😆

    @Cori – Right, before my time in Canada! But thanks for telling me about them,

    @Rayanne – I don’t think anybody can not know about the Hip in Kingston. Do they have their own museum, already? 😆

    @Gary – You are very welcome!

    @Baoru – Gotta be Canadian for that 🙂

    @Meg – I love Stuff White People Like (and yes, I ripped off the title!). Always makes me laugh!

    @QuaChee – I don’t know actually… although I know a lot of movie are made in Vancouver. Or so I’ve been told.

  4. @ Stephanie – Take a deep breath and relax! This post was just for fun…!

    The Tragically Hip are dull and boring. Their lack of diversity speaks to their lack of imagination and creativity. I’d toss out their records in an instant. A lot of people dislike them and the majority of people ignore them. I hear more people praise Matthew Good Band, Sloan, Our Lady Peace, Billy Talent, 54-40, Skinny Puppy, Econoline Crush, Great Big Sea and others over them.

    Well, your opinion. A lot of people dislike them… if you want. Majority of people ignore them.. again, your opinion.

    As for hockey, I don’t know anyone who plays it, watches it or attends games. They get more people at the cheese and wine festival here than at hockey games (Kelowna, BC). I see people playing soccer, running, jogging, biking, playing baseball, football, etc.

    Well, I know a lot of people who play hockey, games are sold out in Toronto and Montreal and close to in Ottawa and it’s a popular sport to watch. Sure, people practice other sports too… Again, your opinion, not mine.

    Like these myths about everybody skiing and snowboarding. Those are rich man’s sports for people who like winter (not the majority) who have time to go out and do it (again, not the majority). It is warmer here in the winter but the streets are still dead. Every town/city I lived in (Alberta, Ontario, Saskatchewan, BC, Manitoba) were dead as a doornail during the winter. NOBODY was out. So these ideas on being Canadian are out of touch. The only think I agree on is that the beer is good and people drink it.

    Again, I disagree. There are a bunch of Winter Festivals in the East and people go out, and try to make the most of the winter. Sure, people bitch about it… but winter sports are still popular. I have never been skiing but ice skating for example is very popular in Ottawa. Nobody was out, in any of the cities you lived in? I don’t have the same experience… at all.

    Take the obsession with a bilingualism that doesn’t exist. I ACTUALLY speak, write and read French fluently unlike the majority of the population. Quebec doesn’t speak proper French anyway. What has been legislated is the equivalent of Creole gutter slang. At least the Creoles lack the pretense to claim they are really French, unlike Quebecois. Don’t believe me? Spend a month in France and tell me it is the same as Quebec. None of my French relatives even care about Quebec and consider them to be Canadians. Of course, I have always though this was a rather weird, passive-aggressive country with little common sense and a preoccupation with a nonexistent identity, reinforced by negative commentary on Americans living in another country.

    I could have done without the borderline racist comment but anyway… If you had read this blog, you would have learned I’m French, from French. I actually spent more than a month in France — 18 years exactly. And I teach French. Quebec French is different but not a slang and… well, again, different opinion here.

  5. @ Breigh – I thought so too, but apparently not quite for some readers! 😆

    I understand stereotypes can bother some people but this post was mostly for fun. Oh well, people are entitled to their opinion.

  6. To the person saying Quebecois french is like Creole slang? Seriously? on what do you base that opinion? Quebecois is actually more in line with ‘true’ french. France french is heavily influenced with English, Portegeuse, Spanish, Italian, German…etc… all it’s neighbouring countries… whereas Quebecois has stuck to its roots and although it has its own slang, stays true to original pronounciations, grammar and verb tenses

    • I agree with you, it’s not a “slang”. That said, I won’t start arguing about which one is more “true”, Parisian French or Quebec French!

  7. Your articles are absolutely fascinating! Thank you for sharing. 🙂

    Regarding a post about what Americans like/dislike, such lists would vary greatly. I know no country or culture ever has uniform likes/dislikes, but in America, there are the East and West Coasts, the North, the South, and the Midwest, all which have their own social protocols, etc.

    I, for example, am from the South, and down here people are very friendly and polite, but Northerners tend to keep more to themselves. Sometimes it even makes them nervous if you strike up a conversation with them.

    So, it all depends.

    • I agree, folk from Southern US are super friendly and warm, and appear less distant than people in the North! That’s my experience anyway.

      In smaller countries like France, the population is much more uniform. There are regional differences but less than between two states or two provinces.

      Glad you liked the article!

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