Thursday, 10 July 2008

Ask A Canadian

Kanani gave me a great idea. I scooted over to her blog to check out her friend Gustavo Arallano's book Ask A Mexican, and it got me thinking about how the rest of the world views Canadians.

We seem to come across as some mysterious entity that insists it doesn't want to be noticed, and yet performs in such a way that we
are noticed. For example, look at Jim Carrey or Mike Myers. Not exactly shy fellows.

I think I'll have some fun and invite questions about us from non-Canadians. You can try me with anything from beer to moose to hockey. I don't promise to be accurate - in fact, I'll probably be wildly inaccurate.

Kanani asked me in a post:

Dear Canadian,

What's with the aboot? Do Canadians say this because there's no other way to distinguish themselves from Americans, or to put a barrier between them and the rest of the Commonwealth? Or is this just some natural genetic flaw?

Dear Non-Canadian,

I honestly don't think I say 'aboot' but maybe some Maritimers do. When listening to Americans speak, they seem to broaden their vowels and say 'abaaawhut'. Maybe it's because they're warm and lazy from sitting in the sunshine drinking mint juleps.

We Canadians tend to shorten our vowels and speak faster. Maybe it's because we're so damn cold all the time we need to get the words out quickly so we can go inside where it's warm.

Canadians have no genetic flaws. We are perfect.


Kanani said...

I think you should start a column in your small paper. Gus's column runs in all of the Village Voice papers, which includes the OC Weekly. He even landed an agent! So yeah, even if you have to give snarky answers to all things Canadian, then go for it!

So here's another?

Dear Canadian,
Canadians are said to have very good manners and are restrained in nature --I assume this is in comparison to their louder more abrupt cousins just south of them. However, how do you account for Pamela Anderson and Jim Carrey?
Were they mistakes or something? Was their passage to the US paid for by the Canadian government to maintain a certain dignity up north? Was Celine Dion payback for Kentucky Fried Chicken?

jjdebenedictis said...

If we Canadians come across as polite and restrained, it's only because the rest of the world hasn't yet comprehended the glorious depths of our passive-aggressiveness.

Examples? Pamela Anderson and Jim Carrey. Oh, how we chortle about that.

Chumplet said...

Our Editorial department is unionized and requires a degree in journalism to write articles. That being said, stranger things have happened. Maybe I'll get lucky someday.

Now, on to your question:

Dear Kanani,

Our dear Pam must be doing something right, 'cause Borat wanted to marry her. I think she moved to LA so her implants wouldn't freeze up.

Jim was born here in Newmarket, and since he became famous he hasn't called or written. Not even an email. We don't want him back.

I like Kentucky Fried Chicken so that must mean you like Celine.

Chumplet said...

JJ, maybe Jim and Celine are true examples of our passive-aggressiveness. Heh, heh...

Bernita said...

I've never heard a Canadian say "aboot," actually.

Barbara Martin said...

Not being an American, but wondering how you would answer a question asked of me during a job interview in Charlotte, North Carolina: "What is the difference between Canadians and Americans?" It was an ernst query by an attorney, who truly wanted to know.
I will return later to see your answer and then provide the one I gave.

Chumplet said...

Ohhh... a trick question. If I was in your situation, I don't know what I'd say. I'd probably come up with something lame or diplomatic, like Canadians are more adaptable. They have the ability to blend in. This might come in handy if I was applying for the CIA, but probably not in a lawyer's office.

But since I'm not in your situation, I can safely say that Canadians have more humility. Since I'm not the cutthroat type, I wouldn't have got the job.

Zara Penney said...

Chumplet we had a Canadian at our restaurant. Dave and I knew each other so well because we were in the kitchen. I think 'aboot' links directly to Scottish heritage. Your accident is more pure to a scottish import. 'oot and aboot' LOL

Zara Penney said...

I once read that the difference between Americans and the rest of the world is that "Americans don't stutter"


Chumplet said...

We don't have time to stutter - we talk too fast. Maybe it just sounds like a stutter, eh?

Kanani said...

Oh, I think that degree in journalism rule is really dumb! I understand it completely, on the other hand, there are some very VERY good writers sans degree, and some very good journos who also don't have degrees! There are bad ones too, who have the paperwork!

Anyway, who knows? Maybe you can find a way to pull this off. I know Gus's column is very political and cultural in tone and is linked to those pages with the OC Weekly (I think it appears in all the Village Voice owned papers).
Hope you'll get to read it. It's a smart book!

Chumplet said...

Heck, just like IT guys -- some have the know-how to fix any computer and communicate with users without the 'sheepskin' and others have a degree as a Microsoft Certified Specialist and don't know jack, especially how to talk to end users.

After four years of unemployment and sporadic temp positions, my non-certified husband recently landed a nice job as an in-house computer geek because he has the experience and not the paperwork.

It can happen.

Holly Kennedy said...

Ooooh, I love this post, Sandra.

As a fellow proud Canadian I think you should also add that we tend to learn faster because the air up here in Canada is so much cleaner than it is in the U.S. (that always gets everyone going!)

Holly Kennedy said...

Did that make any sense!?!!

ie., my kids get out of school one hour earlier than my girlfriend's kids do in Chicago every day. I tell her it's the altitude and the clean air here in Canada. We learn faster and therefore we don't require as much classroom time.

Chumplet said...

Maybe your air is cleaner, but ours is thick as French Canadian pea soup right now.

With the time difference, your kids are just having lunch when mine are out of school!

laughingwolf said...

tis said, canucks are really yanks, with the crap kicked outta them ;) lol

frankly, i prefer to be that way :O

but yes, i hear a lot of 'oot n aboot' here in nova scotia, so it likely has to do with all the scots around here....

The Anti-Wife said...

I have a question.

Dear Canadian,
What's with the Royal Canadian Mounted Police? Who's mounting them? Is it animals - like dogs cause they're known for that - or is it other people? And why do you Canadians put up with having your police mounted? It doesn't sound like something you should be advertising to me.

Chumplet said...

Our heroes in red are not mounted BY anything, they are mounted ON something. Like... a pedestal, or a mountaintop, or one of those wooden plaques on the wall.

Taken from

The Mounted Police Foundation was set up in 1995 to handle the licensing issues (uniforms, hats, figurines) to ensure only high-quality souvenirs were sold. However, as the Mounted Police Foundation did not have the expertise on licencing and marketing, they contracted these responsibilities out to Walt Disney Co. (Canada) Ltd. This had generated some controversies, as some people feared that the deal would threaten the Canadian autonomy in representing Canada. The contract with Disney expired in 2000. The licencing program is now operated by the Mounted Police Foundation.

Yeah, Mickey Mouse in a Mountie uniform really got on our nerves, even more than the cheap plastic souvenirs at Niagara Falls.

Laurie Ashton said...

Yeah, I'm from the west, and I've never heard anyone say aboot. Except for strange American tourists who were trying to make a funny. :)

Vesper said...

Excellent idea!
The Great Unknown North...
Yes, tell them how we are. :-)

wordtryst said...

Dear Canadian,

I must say that I admire your country very much. It seems to be a very civil and civilized place. Also, it's nice to be able to mention something like 'A' Levels and have people know what you're talking about.

My question: Why on earth did you let Alaska go to those guys down south? Couldn't you have outbid them or something? Or simply kicked the Russians out?

Chumplet said...

Dear Wordtryst:

Why on Earth would we want more cold, snowy land? Don't you think we have enough of it?

We're too nice to kick anyone out of anything. Our bars don't have bouncers.

Anonymous said...

I live adjacent the Maritimes, and I have heard a few say 'aboot'. More eh's than you can shake a stick at, too. The accent I like is the Acadian French one. I think that the people I know are not unpolite; but their humor is more subtle. Canadians in my experience don't feel the need to ensure you GET IT with follow up eyebrow waggles and elbow jabs. Yannow?

Anecdote: When I went to Paris and spoke my pidgin learned-in-Canada french, boy did I get literally yelled at! I called a button a bouton, which is what the guys called it up here. Heh.


Chumplet said...

I say 'eh' all the time.

I loved to listen to my Acadian Uncle Edgar tell his story about when his wife "took out da 'Oover to vacuum the rug after I patch up a cigarette burn from a secret party with da boys from da Legion."

'Dat's anudder story, eh?

ChrisEldin said...


I think I'd like to read more about Canadians. And pics of hockey players.

Barbara Martin said...

For my answer to the question I commented on July 11th, was a straight forward answer and not diplomatic: "The United States was founded as a penal colony and a haven for religious persecution. Canada was founded by merchants."
No, I didn't get the job. The area had other qualified people for the position so I wasn't granted a Green Card.

Barbara Martin said...

On the Royal Canadian Mounted Police:
Anti-wife: 0 Chumplet: 10

Also, the RCMP have a history of less violence than their American counterparts in police work. They also have unequalled respect through Interpol.

Chumplet said...

Yes, we're trying to forget those coupla tazer incidents. All in all, they have a pretty good record.

Chumplet said...

The Pilgrims landed on Plymouth Rock to escape persecution, and the Acadians landed in Port Royal and the Minas Basin to farm the land.

Chumplet said...

At least, that's my take on it. I didn't say I was gonna be accurate!