The Friendly Canadian Myth

There’s this rumour going around. It’s not new; it’s been going around for years now. I’m referring to the myth that Canadians are a really friendly group of people, especially to tourists.

If you’ve ever seen the film Canadian Bacon with John Candy (and I might be showing my odd humour but I love this movie), there’s a scene in which John Candy is rushing through a group of Canadians, pushing them down and the Canadians are apologizing, for being in the way! Ha! That wouldn’t happen now. Heck, I don’t know if that would ever have happened.

Obviously that scene is a bit of an exaggeration, as is the whole film, but in my experience Canadians aren’t as friendly as the world perceives us to be.

I’ve just come back from visiting friends in the United States. It’s incredible how different the people are there. In the United States people are more likely to strike up a conversation with you in line (you’ll be lucky to get a smile from a Canadian) and the number of times drivers cut you off, drive in the incorrect lane, don’t let you in or don’t thank you for letting them in, seems to increase as soon as we cross the border, into Canada.

Perhaps it’s the city I live in. Perhaps people are more stressed about finances and job stability. Maybe it’s because I’m in vacation mode and that changes how I interact with people  I’m visiting versus those I work and live and deal with day-to-day.

Whatever the reason, I think unless we as Canadians start living up to our reputation we need to stop perpetrating the myth. Maybe I’m looking at this backwards but I would rather visitors have a lower expectation of Canadians and be pleasantly surprised versus being dreadfully disappointed.

Do you believe friendly Canadians are a reality or myth?

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