What does it mean to “be Canadian”?

I’ve lived in Canada for twenty-four years. I was born in a small town in northern B.C. I’ve traveled from British Columbia, through Alberta, to Saskatchewan, and back again. I like the taste of maple syrup. I’ve used the word “eh” a lot when talking to people. I’ve used slang such as ‘Timmy’s’ to describe Tim Horton’s, “Rotten Ronnie’s” to describe McDonald’s, and I’ve consumed alcohol from a ‘two-six’ and a ‘Texas Mickey’. I own a Canadian flag and a large winter jacket. I’ve been outside in -45 degree (Celsius) weather and lived to do it again. But do these things REALLY make me Canadian?

What makes Canada the greatest country in the world (as some claim)? I would guess that most of the people who make such a claim have never traveled to any other country. They watch TV, see horrible things happening in other countries, then look out their windows, see nothing happening, and judge from there. But there are those who HAVE traveled far and wide in this world and have returned to this country and proudly spouted the same statement; I say good for them! They have the right to say that Canada is the greatest country in the world because they’ve done some research and have their own reasons to back up such a claim.

Because I like destroying myths, clichés and breaking tradition, I’m going to post the infamous “Proud to be Canadian” chain letter (that I’m sure we’ve all received at some point in time) and do what I can to eliminate the illusion that we’re somehow better than every other country.

1. Smarties (Created in 1882 by Rowntree’s, a company based in York, England, now owned by Nestle, whose headquarters are in Vevey, Switzerland. Just because Smarties are sold nationwide in Canada doesn’t mean we’re special; Smarties are sold all over the world!)
2. Crispy Crunch, Coffee Crisp (So why aren’t 1 & 2 combined? Methinks the reason is that the author needed to gloat with 27 points instead of the realistic 24…and since when is this candy so much more superior to the candy of any other country? Some companies add chemicals to their food to make them taste better [read “Fast food nation” by Eric Schlosser], so why is it that we should be so proud of our country simply because of candy? What about Dempster’s bread or Dairyland milk? Why are THEY not part of the list? They’re Canadian products made by Canadian companies!)
3. The size of our footballs fields and one less down (Canadian field: 110 yards x 65 yards. American field: 100 yards x 53 yards. WOW, such a BIG DIFFERENCE. Yes, that’s why I wave the flag and sing the national anthem.)
4. Baseball is Canadian (No, the English invented a distant form of modern baseball, and Alexander Cartwright, an American, brought it close to what it is today.)
5. Lacrosse is Canadian (Yet another thing we “borrowed”, “took”, “stole”, “adapted” from the Natives of this country.)
6. Hockey is Canadian (The first game of RECORDED hockey was played in Canada, but what of its origins? Some say Europe, others say ancient Egypt. So, does something exist before the first record of it? If not, then you could say that hockey is Canadian.)
7. Basketball is Canadian (So why is there only one Canadian team in the National Basketball Association [NBA]. Why doesn’t basketball get the same attention as hockey in this country? It’s true that the sport was created by a Canadian, but the majority of the best basketball players in the world are, by and large, African-Americans!)
8. Apple pie is Canadian (WRONG. The English created apple pie in the 1300’s.)
9. Mr. Dress-up kicks Mr. Rogers ass (How? What makes one better than the other? Interesting to note that Mr. Dressup himself, Ernie Coombs, was born in Lewiston, Maine, United States of America, and was an understudy to Fred Rogers [of Mr. Rogers’ fame] in 1963.)
10. Tim Horton’s kicks Krispy Kreme’s ass (When I have a Tim Horton’s donut in one hand, a Krispy Kreme donut in the other and I’ve taste-tested both, I’ll form my own opinion. I am NOT going to take someone else’s word for it.)
11. In the war of 1812, started by America, Canadians pushed the Americans back…past their ‘White House’. Then we burned it…and most of Washington, under the command of William Lyon MaKenzie King who was insane and hammered all the time. We got bored because they ran away, so we came home and partied…Go figure.. (This description of ‘historical events’ sounds like something a burned-out teenager came up with while in history class back in the mid 1990s. ALSO, according to Wikipedia, William Lyon Mackenzie King held FIVE UNIVERSITY DEGREES, NOT TO MENTION BEING BORN IN 1874, WHICH IS 60 YEARS AFTER THE BRITISH BURNED THE PRESIDENT’S HOUSE [LATER RENAMED ‘THE WHITE HOUSE’] ON AUGUST 24TH, 1814! Don’t try and tell me that you meant to say William Lyon Mackenzie, because you’d be wrong as well. This “insane and hammered all the time” description sounds suspiciously like ANOTHER wacky-tabacky claim from the same burned-out teenager. I question the quality of our current education system.)
13. We have the largest English population that never ever surrendered or withdrew during any war to anyone. anywhere. EVER. (The British never surrendered to Nazi Germany and the estimated population of Great Britain in 1939 was 46 million people; by contrast, Canada’s population in 1939 was 11 million.)
14. Our civil war was fought in a bar and it lasted a little over an hour. (What was the name of this historical civil war, “The Battle of Maple Leaf Bar & Grill”? I’ve seen MANY fights fought in alcohol-serving establishments such as bars. Does that mean I was a witness to yet ANOTHER Canadian civil war? Canada has never had a civil war, and don’t tell me that the Rebellions of 1837 were considered a civil war, because they were NOT.)
15. The only person who was arrested in our civil war was an American mercenary, who slept in and missed the whole thing… but showed up just in time to get caught. (Great way to include the Americans in this little Canadian-toting ceremony….by insulting them. I wonder if Canada is proud of the fact that we live north of a country that holds at least 10,000 nuclear warheads and is our number one trading partner?)
16. We knew plaid was cool far before Seattle caught on. (And it’s a great shame we didn’t have the ingenuity to combine it with grunge music and sell it to young people as if it was the latest, coolest fashion.)
17. The Hudsons Bay Company once owned over 10% of the earth’s surface and is still around as the worlds oldest company. (The claim to ‘World’s oldest company’ can be disputed by the Japanese [Sumitomo corporation], the Swiss [Stora], and the British [Royal Mint]. Also, the Hudson’s Bay Company is currently owned by the Hudson’s Bay trading company, which is an American holding company for a private equity company called NRDC Equity partners. Are you Canadians proud that an American currently owns Canada’s oldest company?)
18. The average dog sled team can kill and devour a full grown human in under 3 minutes. (So what exactly are you trying to prove here? Maybe the guy who was arrested in the lower mainland because D.N.A./body parts/evidence of prostitutes were found on his pig farm should have had sled dogs instead? Are you trying to insinuate that it’s handy to have a dog around in case you want to kill someone and conceal the body? Also, it’s true that dogs can eat humans, but almost any animal can eat human flesh if it’s hungry enough. And dog sled teams aren’t exactly common in this country. Thanks for pushing the myth that Canada is a continually snow-covered country. I’m glad my Internet router hasn’t frozen, being inside this igloo and all.)
19. We still know what to do with all the parts of a buffalo. (No we don’t. That was NOT taught in my elementary OR high school. My parents didn’t teach me and neither did my grandparents. A lot of my friends don’t know what to do with all the parts of a buffalo either, and we all lived in a SMALL TOWN IN NORTHERN B.C., a place that is considered to be “Redneckville” by people who live here in the lower mainland!)
20. We don’t marry our kin-folk. (Once again, prove it. Go to every single place in Canada and inspect every single married person there. EVERY SINGLE ONE. Especially those in Alberta and Northern Manitoba.)
21. We invented ski-doos, jet-skis, velcro, zippers, insulin, penicillin, zambonis, the telephone and short wave radios that save countless lives each year. (Coincidentally, some of these things can also cause the DEATHS of thousands of people each year.)
22. We ALL have frozen our tongues to something metal and lived to tell about it. (NOT TRUE, because I have not, and no, it’s NOT some silly initiation rite. What many people who don’t live in Canada may believe is that EVERY SINGLE INCH of Canada is cold and covered in snow. And NOT EVERYWHERE IN CANADA IS SO COLD THAT YOU HAVE TO WEAR WINTER CLOTHING.)
23. A Canadian invented Superman. (I believe “co-created” is the correct word here, because Superman was created by American writer Jerry Siegel and Canadian-born artist Joe Shuster in 1932 while both were living in Cleveland, Ohio.)
24. We have coloured money. (Is this a REAL reason to be proud to be Canadian, or a reason to be seen as an eccentric? Also, we’re aspiring to imitate the game “Monopoly”, are we? By the way, Monopoly was invented by an American.)
25. Our beer advertisments kick ass (Have you done a national census to come up with this blanket statement? I wonder how many foreign beer commercials the author of this list has seen, because the Germans have some pretty damn funny beer commercials.)


24. The handles on our beer cases are big enough to fit your hands with mitts on. OOOoohhhhh Canada!! (We’ve once again reinforced the belief that one needs to wear winter clothing while in Canada, and the ‘fact’ that nowhere else in the WORLD can you buy cases of beer where one can wear a glove of any size to fit around the handle…yes, that’s VERY important. It’s more important to carry the case by the handle instead of, say, carrying the thing under your arm or putting it in the backseat of your vehicle or tearing the case open and putting the cans in a cooler. Also, why is this #24 instead of #26?)
25. And we don’t bomb our allies. (Of course we don’t, and you know that for a fact because you’ve actively participated in EVERY MILITARY OPERATION CANADA HAS EVER EMBARKED ON and you have photographic and eyewitness proof to back up this claim, or else you wouldn’t be making it, right?)
oh yeah… and our elections only take one day. (So the elections in every other country in the world take longer? It’s interesting to note that voter turnout has been slowly dropping since the 1960s. If Canadians were truly proud of our electoral system, more would be voting, not less.)
Pass this on if you are proud to be Canadian!!!


Here’s what I think makes ME Canadian by MY standards: I was born on a section of land that the government of this country deemed to be Canadian property and Canadian land and to them that means I am a citizen of this country…that’s it. I’ll do my best to let people be happy and celebrate and say whatever it is that makes them feel proud to be Canadian, just as I try to do my best to not say anything to people who believe in whatever religion they’ve (a) chosen or (b) been raised to believe. But please don’t try and push any of this on me simply to add one more body to the group. When I’ve lived in other countries and realized that living in Canada really was the pinnacle of my existence, then and ONLY THEN will I have a maple leaf painted on one cheek and be singing “Proud to be Canadian” by the Arrogant Worms. Don’t get me wrong, I will gladly listen to what other people have to say about being Canadian and why they love it so much, but those reasons are theirs, not mine. The reason I dumped on the “Proud to be Canadian” chain letter is that (1) It’s a chain letter (2) A forwarded email with questionable facts in it deserves to be analyzed and scrutinized.
Finally, I apologize for my cynicism, sarcasm, and rudeness. (Maybe that is my one defining, stereotyped quality that makes me Canadian: saying sorry.)

Seems I’m not the only one who decided to read up on the ‘facts’ of this chain letter; check the comment section in the following link:

And another, but these comments are more vulgar:

#1, 2 Smarties, Crispy Crunch, Coffee Crisp:

# 3 Canadian vs. American football fields:

# 4 Baseball:

# 5 Lacrosse:

# 6 Hockey:

# 7 Basketball:

# 8 Apple pie:

# 9 Mr. Dressup:

# 11 William Lyon Mackenzie King:

# 11 War of 1812:

# 13 Canada/Great Britain population:

# 14 Rebellions of 1837:

# 17 Hudson’s Bay Company:

# 23 Superman:

# 24 Monopoly:


  1. #1 by Bryan on November 12, 2005 - 1:10 am

    For me, what has always made Canada unique is the sheer size and geographical diversity of this nation. I\’ve found that when someone speaks of a Canadian, they usually speak within the context of Canadians vs. Americans…which is really just a bunch of cliches\’ and stereotypes, reinforced by that silly Molson add campaign. It\’s where we live that makes a Canadian. Oh yeah…you should read Will Ferg\’ s "How to Be a Canadian". Laughed all the way through.

  2. #2 by Snow on December 17, 2006 - 9:02 pm

    on the topic of so called bargaining power, did you know that America and China are
    at odds about human rights as well as trade fairness etc? Well lately
    China is extremely sensitive about it\’s human rights record especially
    since the organ harvesting of live Falun Gong practitioners was exposed
    by Canadian investigators this year.Well, whenever any top
    leaders bring up human rights around China, China threatens that such
    free speaking or criticising will "damage US/China relations" or
    relations with whatever newspaper or whatever institution it may be.
     The insttitution know s that if it wants money and trade with China
    and not conflict, it has to take Chinas stance on human rights or at
    least be silent about it.  This is whats happenning now.So
    anyone who is feindishly greedy enough to comprimise the good of
    humanity for some immediate cash from China knows that they have to
    follow the Communist Party\’s lead about Taiwan, Tibet, Falun Gong, the
    olympics, trade, slave labour, pollution, all sorts of stuff.  China
    says that whats most important is saving face and whenever anyone says
    the truth about their atrocities, they say that its not right for that
    someone to cause them to loose face.  Its really cracked.For
    America they have been so blinded by greed that for fast cash they have
    just made a deal to sell 4 nuclear reactors to China!  It sure paints a
    clear picture of the situation doesn\’t it?!  America sells nukes to
    most populated, hate mongering nationalist,manipulative, cold blooded,
    communist countryheres a BBC article about the nukes deal    http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/business/6187491.stm

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