Canadianisms: What International Students are Asking About the Great White North

Oh, Canada. The snow, the hockey, the wildlife, and the maple syrup. Everything about Canada is beautiful, but for some it can get confusing. Canadian stereotypes and mannerisms, it seems, have been stumping some of our international students at Acadia. We are here to answer your questions! We asked nine Acadia international students what they were most confused by, or what they’ve always wondered, about the country we call home. The following are the results.

Q: Why do Canadians eat dinner so early at 5:00 or 6:00? 

Shelby: I think 6:00 is a pretty normal time for dinner. I don’t understand this question.
Hayley: My roommate says the same thing. Apparently, a normal time to eat dinner is 8:00 for him and a lot of other international students, which is so late to me. I guess we eat dinner earlier because the sun sets before 5:00 most months out of the year, and I’m in hibernation mode. Please do not disrupt my already disrupted schedule.
Shelby: Oh, that makes sense! See, we’re learning about ourselves. I didn’t even know this was a Canadianism.

Q: Why do Canadians say “sorry” all the time?

Shelby: I don’t think this is a thing. Sorry, I just don’t.
Hayley: Dude…
Shelby: Can we keep this out of the article?
Hayley: Nope. Sorry.
Shelby:  Maybe we’re just really polite people. Isn’t that the stereotype?
Hayley: Maybe, but I think it’s a little bit more than that.
Shelby: Yeah it seems like a cultural thing. Like, saying sorry is supposed to be an admission of guilt, isn’t it? Are Canadians just really guilty people?
Hayley: Most of the time, when I say “sorry”, it’s sarcastic. If you bump into me, and it is clearly not my fault I’m going to say “sorry” to you. But what I mean is something like: “oh, I’m so sorry for existing in your vicinity. Watch where you’re going”. But because that’s super aggressive, I’ll just say the word sorry. Does that make sense?
Shelby: Yeah. I do that, too. Did we just discover that Canadians aren’t super polite but just super passive aggressive? Our saying sorry isn’t an admission of guilt at all, it’s a weird way of making other people feel guilty. Or maybe that’s just us.
Hayley: Fun fact: Ontario has a law that limits liability to people who apologize a lot. It’s called The Apology Act, 2009. I’m not even kidding. It’s designed to give lawyers a fair chance at defending people who apologized profusely about the crime they are said to have committed.
Shelby: This gives a whole new meaning to sorry not sorry.

Q: Why do Canadians put ketchup on everything? 

Shelby: Because it’s delicious. Next question. 

Q: Y’all are so nice all the time! Don’t you ever get angry? 

Hayley: I’m not, though. I have the opposite problem where everyone thinks I’m angry all the time.
Shelby: Canadians in general are really nice, though. At least out here. In Ontario, not so much. I’m not sure about Western Canada.
Hayley: I feel like most of these stereotypes are based off a comparison between us and the States. I’m not saying that Americans are inherently mean, just like Canadians aren’t inherently nice. But Canada does seem to be compared to the States a lot, so maybe that’s where this is coming from.
Shelby: We’re nice until you piss us off, but then we’ll just say sorry and have a beer with you.  

Q: So. Much. Plaid. Why? 

Hayley: It doesn’t really help that we go to a school where our mascot is an axe wielding and plaid wearing person.
Shelby:  The plaid stereotype is one I can get behind. It’s warm. It’s classic.
Hayley: I think I only own 6 or 7 plaid shirts. That isn’t a lot. Is it?
Shelby: It’s quite a few, yeah.
Hayley: I could use more, honestly.
Shelby: Bottom line: plaid is warm, it goes with everything, and it looks good on everyone.  

Q: Are you aware that Tim Horton’s coffee is terrible? 

Hayley: I will always love Tim’s coffee, but yes, I am aware that it isn’t the best.
Shelby: How do you take your coffee?
Hayley: Black. You?
Shelby: Double Double! Ew, how can you drink it black?
Hayley: I’m sorry, but how can you taint coffee with cream and sugar?
Shelby: Are you actually sorry?
Hayley: Nope. 

Q: Use as many Canadian slang terms as you can in 5 sentences.  

Shelby: It was a great day for hay, so me and the boys went for a rip and ended up hangin’ a larry and put the truck right in the rhubarb.
Hayley: Ya musta been givin’r! What were ya doin’, a buck 20? Anything slower is pert’ near ten-ply.
Shelby: Well, buddy was tryin’ ta light a dart but his flow got in the way and next thing ya know my double double is all over the rig!
Hayley: Sounds like he needs ta figure it out, eh?
Shelby: I think we went over 5 sentences, but I could do this all day.
Hayley: Mayzel.

Q: Why do you use “uh-huh” or “yep” instead of “you’re welcome”? 

Hayley: Oh, this is a good question and it’s something I’m guilty of for sure.
Shelby: A lot of older people aren’t going to agree with me on this, but I think saying you’re welcome is just a bit off. Like, snide. You know?
Hayley: I feel that. Saying uh-huh or yep as a response just implies ‘no problem’. Like, no need to thank me, this wasn’t a problem for me to do for you.
Shelby: Yes! And for me, saying ‘you’re welcome’ is a tad bit conceited. Like, yes, I did you a favour and I’m awesome, so you should totally be thankful. You’re welcome to my kindness.
Hayley: I generally reserve saying ‘you’re welcome’ for older people because I know if I say ‘no problem’, I’m getting a side eye.
Shelby: I don’t think this is  Canadian thing, I think this is a generational thing.  

Q:  Canadians drink a lot of beer. What are the best Canadian beers?  

Hayley: There are way too many to choose from. Let’s stick with top 3 for each of us, and leave out craft.
Shelby: I’m going to say Alexander Keith’s, Sleeman’s, and Moosehead.
Hayley: Old Style Pilsner, Molson Ex, and Rickard’s Red.

Those are all the questions we have! If you want to know about any other Canadianisms, be sure to email us at [email protected] . Let us make sense of the great white north so you don’t have to.