Intra-canadian stereotypes?
February 22, 2011 8:41 AM   Subscribe

Stereotypes about different Canadian provinces/cities? What are they and how valid are they?

Example: In the US, New Yorkers are stereotyped as loud, NYC as dirty, etc.

I'm trying to familiarize myself with the various regions of Canada, as Canadians see it.
posted by the young rope-rider to Society & Culture (41 answers total) 17 users marked this as a favorite
Newfies are Canada's version of dumb-Polish jokes.. (No idea how valid the stereotype is, but newfies tend to be the punchline of dumb-person jokes)

(Not a Canadian, worked with many Toronto folks, played lots of hockey)
posted by k5.user at 8:49 AM on February 22, 2011

Canada is fantastically large, and there is a lot of racial and cultural diversity, as you'd expect in a place so damn big.

The traditional breakdown would be:

"The West"

British Colombia
--Resource rich. Mountainous, forested. Expensive. Huge gap between the rich and the poor in Vancouver. Very urban in the Vancouver area, but lots of scenic cottage country inland.

The Prairie Provinces (Alberta, Manitoba, Saskatchewan.)
--Breadbasket. Rural. Farming. Lots of natural resource extraction. Alberta is still one of the more economically affluent provinces, for all its troubles. Saskatchewan is notoriously an NDP stronghold, Alberta has been a one party Reform state for years.

"The East"

--Probably the most concentrated and urban population in the country. Notoriously the seat of power.


--French, and culturally distinct.

The maritime provinces. (Newfound Land, Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, PEI)

--Coastal. Formerly resource rich, but in recent decades there's been a lot of unemployment.

"The North"
The Yukon Territory, North Western Territories, Nunavut.

--Largest percentage of land mass (I think?) But sparsely populated. Largest concentration of indigenous peoples. Relatively impoverished. Some resource extraction.

There are huge regional differences, but generalizations about provinces of this scale tend to be inherently inaccurate. Again, it's a damn big country. Toronto stereotypes don't always apply to Ottawa. Edmonton and Calgary may be in the same province, but are quite distinct. And so on.

You may want to narrow your scope? As is, the entire topic seems like a powder keg anyway. Currently, it's kind of impossible to answer in any satisfying way, and just begging for racism/regionalism and other problems.
posted by Stagger Lee at 9:07 AM on February 22, 2011

...anyway, if nothing else some of the generalizations and assumptions in my response might spark conversation.
posted by Stagger Lee at 9:07 AM on February 22, 2011

Y'know, when I was little, it seemed that these kinds of stereotypes were more prevalent than they are today. West-coasters were hippy-drippy, east-coasters (particularly Newfies) were rural, backwards and depicted as a bit dim, Ottawa was full of boring bureaucrats, Toronto considered itself to be the centre of the known universe, etc.

But as the years have gone on, I've been seeing considerably less of those kind of characterizations. Even here in Ottawa, it's rare to see the newspapers trot out "Fat Cat City", which was what Ottawa used to be called jokingly.

Talking out my arsehole here, but my guess is the increasing multiculturalism of much of Canada - we have people from all over the globe here now, and ten years of encouraging landed immigrants to celebrate their unique culture in the folds of Canadian society. It gets really hard to characterize places now, since there is so much diversity!
posted by LN at 9:11 AM on February 22, 2011

I'll take a crack at this. I should say upfront, I've lived most of my life in various parts of Alberta and B.C.

Disclaimer: These are stereotypes, not facts.

Vancouverites: a strange mix of pot smoking hippies, upscale yuppies, and homeless crack addicts. Through housing prices, the yuppies are winning. Vancouver's large Asian population (and other immigrant and minority communities) have spawned the nickname "Han-couver" from those who would stoop to such things. British Columbians definitely get a reputation for marijuana consumption and lefty politics.

Calgarians: a bunch of redneck cowboys and self-centred oil executives; a hotbed of regressive conservative values and politics; Canada's Texas. These stereotypes apply to Alberta as a whole as well.

Edmontonians: a blue collar, "working-man's" city of industry, agriculture and farming. Calgary and Edmonton have a long-standing rivalry. Edmontonians revile Calgarians on principal. Calgarians don't really think about Edmontonians at all.

Saskatchewanites: a bunch of farmers and bumpkins.

Manitobans: not sure what to say about these guys.

Torontonians: seen by much of Canada as a bunch of stuck up snobs who believe Toronto is the only "real" city in Canada. T.O. is mockingly referred to as the Centre of the Universe by some of those outside of it.

Ottawa(ians?): a bunch of lawyers and greasy politicians.

Quebecois: can't say a ton on this, but a lot of working-class, English-speaking Canada resents French-speaking Canada's claims to unique culture and special rules. There's a love it or leave it mentality among some people.

Maritimers (including Newfoundlanders, or Newfies): generally thought of as a friendly sort, if a little slow on the uptake and/or prone to quirky behaviour. There is a whole subset of bad jokes about Newfies in particular (much like blonde jokes, really).

Northern Canadians (Yukon, NWT, Nunavut): a desolate land of Inuit, polar bears and eccentric frontiers-people.

There is also a bit of an East vs. West mentality overall, with the East thinking the West are a bunch of selfish exploiters of environmental resources and short-sighted conservatives, and the West thinking the East are a bunch of ungrateful liberal asses, hypocritically reaping the benefits of the West's economic successes while roundly condemning it overall.

I hope that, uh, helps, insomuch as a collection of stereotypes can ever help anyone. Actually, I hope you can visit some of these places if only to see how shallow stereotypes like these actually are. Canada is a very diverse place, and a lot of Canadians move around and end up in different cities, so it can actually be difficult to meet a native Calgarian in Calgary, or a real Torontonian in Toronto.
posted by hamandcheese at 9:12 AM on February 22, 2011 [5 favorites]

You may want to narrow your scope? As is, the entire topic seems like a powder keg anyway. Currently, it's kind of impossible to answer in any satisfying way, and just begging for racism/regionalism and other problems.

I'll second this. I feel quite passionately about my hometown, Edmonton. It is quite distinct from Calgary, where I live now. But if the occasion rises, I will also speak passionately about my province because I hate the broad brush that Albertans get painted with. Just so you know :-)
posted by Calzephyr at 9:14 AM on February 22, 2011 [1 favorite]

Very urban in the Vancouver area, but lots of scenic cottage country inland.

Ontarians: Think that anything outside a major city is cottage country. In general, we don't even have cottages in BC.
posted by ssg at 9:18 AM on February 22, 2011 [4 favorites]

Please note that the following is loaded with what I perceive the stereotypes to be, not what I believe about these places / people, and not necessarily the popular stereotype. My perspective is that of a 20-something from Manitoba...

Bc is full of hippies and flower children. With their CSA's and hemp and granola and smoking the dope and what not. They sneer at our intense cold and snow and we shudder at the thought of their constant cold rain.

Alberta is full of rednecks and cowboys. The closest you get to "mercuns" in Canada. Rodeos and oil! Manitobans head out here to make a bunch of money in the oil sands, realize it's way too expensive to live and then come home.

Saskatchewan is boring, flat, cold, small, and boring. This is where you move when Winnipeg is just too much of a big city for you.

Manitoba folks are cranky, cheap, alcoholic, and cold. So, so, cold. We wear that fact like a badge on our sleeves. Also cheap. We will drive an extra 20 minutes to save $2.

Ontairio (away from Toronto) are hockey loving, tim hortons swilling simple folks. The typical foreign view of a "canadian" I think.

Toronto area folks are the uppity "big city" crowd, with their fast moving lifestyles and inability to deal with a bit of snow. Also close to being Americans, but still second place to the Albertans.

Quebec folks are unfriendly and very french. The possible exception being folks from Montreal, who are likely young and hip and urban. Poutine and fois gras and maple syrup and strong beer.

Halifax is a cool city, but the rest of the maritimes are a write off. Good seafood and slow people.

I look forward to your letters.
posted by utsutsu at 9:22 AM on February 22, 2011 [2 favorites]

I am not familiar with all provinces' stereotypes, but these are the ones I know:

Yes, "Newfies" are often the butt of jokes, where they are usually portrayed as being uneducated and provincial. My husband works with quite a few Newfoundlanders, and though he doesn't go as far as calling them Newfies, he says they are amongst the most racist Canadians he's ever known. It seems obvious, but I would point out that (although I've only ever never been to Newfoundland) some Maritime cities/towns I've been to have are not very ethnically diverse; people are likely to be less open-minded in those areas.

Quebec is supposedly full of people who can read and speak English, but won't. A stereotypical Quebecois is Catholic and depressed. (I've often read about this--but can't find a link about it.) They hate anglos. There's also lots of Jewish people and bagels.

Ontario, especially Toronto, is often ridiculed by people in other provinces (especially the more far-flung ones) for being "elitist" and puffed up with inflated self-importance. An (in)famous incident is the storm of 2000, which is still brought up as a joke: "Out here in [insert other province or other city in Ontario] we get [a lot] more cm of snow and we never had to call in the army! Those Torontonians are latte-sipping wimps!" etc.

Western Canada (Alberta especially) is like the Canadian equivalent of the southern U.S.-- home of cowboys, rednecks, and wealthy right-wingers. However, Calgary recently elected a South Asian as its mayor, which seems to contradict that stereotype.

British Columbia is left-wing and full of lotus-eating, granola-munching utopians. Many of them are wealthy, and their houses are ginormous. Lots of them are Chinese, or are the descendants of Chinese immigrants.
posted by methroach at 9:24 AM on February 22, 2011

I am an anglophone. Here goes.

BC: pot smoking hippies, or yuppies really into sushi and organic food. Mostly true for the cities. You get a lot of lumberjacks/fishermen in the smaller towns. They have more of a rough and tumble convservative image.

Alberta: crazy-conservative right wing cowboys. Kind of unfair really, there are a lot of very decent folk who counter that image. Alberta has some great natural beauty, and with the destruction going on in the oil sands region, there are a lot of people springing up to fight for preservation. Also the origin of this - which is an entirely believable portrayal of many a Canadian (the accent is particularly endearing).

Saskatchewan: no one there. Also unfair, I have met people from Regina and I liked them.

Manitoba: I have no idea. I rarely hear about it. But Guy Maddin's My Winnipeg made me think that Winnipeg is the quintessential Canadian city.

Toronto: stuck up money-obsessed assholes inhabiting a cold, heartless and ugly city. Totally unfair, that only describes like 20% of the city. It has some great neighbourhoods, thriving arts scenes, and lots of great parks. Also, there are plenty of friendly people there.

Ottawa: boring. Right on the money!

Montreal: hip-central, but no one can get a job, and its full of sleazy stripper joints. Kind of true.

Quebec (the province, outside of Montreal): french-speaking ingrates who think they're so special, when all they do is just whine and complain while getting all the tax money. 100% unfair and untrue. Quebec is a beautiful place, full of beautiful architecutre and beautiful people. Francophones in Quebec get pretty great treatment from the feds these days, it is true, but there are still a lot of living memories of how terribly they were treated up until about 40 years ago. And given the way a lot of anglos in the rest of Canada talk about them, I would say they have some pretty valid concerns that things could go back to the way they were. And their concerns about keeping their culture and language seem entirely valid to me also - they are surrounded by powerful English-speaking cultures on all sides.

Newfoundland: the butt of many jokes and often seen as being a welfare-province. Totally unfair. Obviously the 'stupid' stereotype is totally unjustified. As to the welfare situation (1) their primary industry just disappeared in the 1990s due to overfishing, and (2) they got totally screwed by Quebec on a hydro deal back in the 70s. The whole point of being in a union is so that the others can help you in hard times, and then you can do the opposite in the future. Today you, tomorrow me.

Prince Edward Island: Anne of Green Gables.

New Brunswick: I have nothing here.

Nova Scotia: along with Newfoundland, home to funny people with funny accents. Funny as in laughing with and not laughing at.
posted by molecicco at 9:26 AM on February 22, 2011

I should add to my post above: narrow-mindedness occurs in small towns anywhere, of course, not just in the Maritimes! I only mentioned that as a counter to what my hubby says.

Oh, and a recent stereotype about New Brunswick that I just remembered: low employment, but lots of low-paying dead-end call centre jobs.
posted by methroach at 9:36 AM on February 22, 2011

New York City:Bridge and Tunnel/Jerseyites::Vancouver:Surrey
posted by klangklangston at 9:38 AM on February 22, 2011

The only accurate stereotype is that Toronto is full of boring, soulless people who think they are more important than everyone else. You know that it must be accurate, because it is the only stereotype held by the entire country. (Except Torontonians, who are of course biased.)
posted by jeather at 9:49 AM on February 22, 2011 [1 favorite]

I find it interesting (but obvious in retrospect) that these observations will be vastly different depending on which part of Canada the perspectives are being held in.

Much like the east coast/west coast/middle divisions in the US, one region is going to perceive other regions in vastly different ways, in context to where they're coming from.
posted by artificialard at 10:00 AM on February 22, 2011

Montreal anglo here.

BC: pot-growing capital, but with a redneck culture on the inner side. Wimps about cold weather.

Alberta: as noted, mountains and rednecks and oil. Also lots of hockey.

Sask: wheat

Manitoba: cold, with lakes and deadly mosquitoes.

Ontario: Toronto is, as noted, derided largely because a lot of English Canadian media are centred there so you can get the idea that cultural goings-on in Toronto are supposed to matter to the rest of us; they don't. Maple Leafs keep them down. Ottawa: bureaucratically dull. Rest of Ontario: Red Green.

Quebec: Huge northern expanses are full of Cree, caribou and hydroelectric dams. Quebec City is pretty but snooty. Montreal is big, ill-governed and full of bagels, smoked meat, dead Mafia dons and corrupt politicians. (Even so, it has low crime rates.) I love the place but you asked.

The Maritimes: pretty but poor and a tad inbred.

Newfoundland: This has changed. They used to be the butt of jokes, but so many Newfies have come through on their treks that people here had to recognize that a lot of them are better educated than we are. Also they have some of their own oil and their premiers have to square off against Quebec over hydro dams and stuff, so we know they're not fools.

Nunavut: Poor. Sad.

Yukon: Like BC only more so. Hippies that wanted to homestead.
posted by zadcat at 10:01 AM on February 22, 2011 [1 favorite]

It depends very much on what your point of view is. An Torontonian's view of the place is sort of like this:

Newfoundland-Everybody has a great sense of humour even though they can't fish any more. Should still really be part of Britain.

Nova Scotia-french/english hodgepodge with fiddles (that may be New Brunswick, I get them mixed up. Many roofers that work in Toronto are from this area and when they yell at each other, your house sounds like a pirate ship.

PEI- Anne of Green Gables Island. Has a bridge now. People seem inoffensive.

Quebec- mostly French malcontents. Would be separate country if not for big business and ethnic vote (veiled reference by head ethnic nationalist towards anglophone Jewish/Italian/English minority)

Ontario-Toronto and vicinity is multi-ethnic and urban and smug. Much of the rest is full of English malcontents, sitting in coffee shops, bitching about taxes, darker peoples and Quebec.

Manitoba- is freezing in the winter and full of mosquitos in the summer. Capital has inexplicable cultural richness and some of Canada's most depressing true-crime stories.

Alberta- cows, oil, rednecks and "churchy" types.

B.C.- beautiful place. Billions of log barges float past Vancouver every morning.

Nunavut-inuit territory with substandard social services that few southern Canadian will ever visit but we claim dominion over all it's peoples and natural resources.

forgot...Saskatchewan-squarest, flattest province. Capital city has lots of petty crime.
posted by bonobothegreat at 10:04 AM on February 22, 2011 [1 favorite]

I recently spent some time in an extremely rural part of New Brunswick.

People there felt that residents of PEI were inbred and snooty. The island is absolutely beautiful, but apparently strangers are regarded with some suspicion.

Also, when I mentioned plans to go to Halifax for a weekend, all of the men immediately piped up, "Not alone?!" As the largest city in the Maritimes, Halifax was viewed as something of a dangerous urban wasteland. Everyone kept telling me how diverse Halifax is, but when I looked it up after returning to Philadelphia, it's mostly white. Certainly, it's more diverse than the rest of the Maritimes, though.
posted by easy, lucky, free at 10:09 AM on February 22, 2011 [1 favorite]

Oh, and Winnipeg is the knife-crime capital of Canada.
posted by easy, lucky, free at 10:09 AM on February 22, 2011

Oh, and Winnipeg is the knife-crime capital of Canada.

Oh come on, they often have to share that crime with Regina and Edmonton.
Which is a shame really, because it's perhaps the only thing anyone actually knows about Manitoba. They should get to keep the title. (I quite like Winnipeg.)
posted by Stagger Lee at 10:33 AM on February 22, 2011

i use the word union very loosely, in a federation-y kind of way.
posted by molecicco at 10:34 AM on February 22, 2011

I have lived from sea to shining sea (within 100 m of English Bay in Vancouver and within 100 m of Halifax Harbour in the east). One nuance I would add about the widespread perceptions of Toronto noted above is that because most Torontonians are born outside of Canada and the overwhelming majority of Canadian Torontonians are from elsewhere in Canada, Torontonians are notably immune to the derision. When we (I speak here as my circa-2000 self, happily living in the Annex) the rest of Canada does not like Torontonians, we all think, "Oh, surely that doesn't mean me -- I am not from here."

BC, and Vancouver in particular, has a reputation as a mecca for disaffected (mostly young) people from the rest of the country: a friend calls BC the Stepford Province because of the reputation for it being full of eerily happy people who all came from "back east" -- and tellingly, that seems to be the usual formulation, even for those who are born and raised there -- who almost audibly murmur join us, join us when you talk with them. My aunt is a stereotypical example: she travelled there from Ontario for a three-month stay in 1973 and has not come back yet.

The territories: rugged and fantastically expensive, while being poor. Gorgeous scenery.

Citywise, the sterotypes that come to mind west to east:

Victoria is expensive and pleasant and home to many retirees.

Vancouver is, as noted above, crunchy granola. When Vancouverites talk about the virtues of the place ("skiing in the morning, sailing in the afternoon") they mostly talk about how easy it is to get out of Vancouver to do something else, which urbanites from the east dismiss as a pallid urban culture.

Calgary is sprawling, cowboy, oil central conservative.

Edmonton is culturally progressive and daring compared to Calgary, but suffers from a second city mentality in Alberta.

Regina and Saskatoon don't have a huge impact in the kinds of much of the country, so no stereotypes spring to mind. Pleasant and orderly, maybe with some extreme weather. Regina figures prominently in limericks.

Winnipeg has some great arts stuff going on as well, but there is a lot of native poverty. Main street north of the core is as dreary a neighbourhood as I have ever seen in this country (plywood windows aplenty, and a lot of panhandlers). Car theft is rampant.

Toronto: smug, media centre. Home to a lot of dismal sports teams and the default point of arrival for many immigrants. Good restaurants.

Hamilton: suffers from being an hour down the road from Toronto. Formerly blue collar lunchbucket kind of place; now the steel mills are much reduced (but the air is clearer). Culturally blighted.

Ottawa: dullish capital with suprisingly vocal liberal-left community (the same week in 2006 that Toronto closed most of its chain of arthouse cinemas for lack of patronage, An Inconvenient Truth was selling out a thousand-seat Ottawa cinema for a week solid).

Montreal: bilingual, European, and a good place for a weekend of revelry.

Quebec City: even more European in a colder way: more separatist in flavour than Montreal.

The cities of the Maritimes do not make a huge impression on the rest of Canada, save maybe Halifax, which has a slightly beery-traditional-music-youthful flavour (four universities and bunch more post-secondary schools in a city of 250,000 will do that) and St. John's in Newfoundland, which has a ring of cultural authenticity with the msic and the comedy that nowehere else on the country has.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 10:41 AM on February 22, 2011 [2 favorites]

with the msic and the comedy that nowehere else on the country has. =

with the music and the comedy that nowhere else in the country has.

O, for an edit window.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 10:42 AM on February 22, 2011

Someone above said "There's also lots of Jewish people and bagels" about Quebec, but that stereotype is only really applicable to Montreal.

Victoria is supposedly full of old retired Anglophiles who drink tea and worship the Queen. This stereotype is not true, although it's a sleepy town.

Winnipeg is known as Winterpeg: freezing cold for most of the year ... but it's a dry cold! Short of visiting, the best way to find out what it's really like there is to listen to the Weakerthans' One Great City.

Note that the images in that video are of Toronto, even though the song is about Winnipeg. "Centre of the Universe" indeed.

Most of the stereotypes about Vancouver (pot, yuppies, hippies, homeless drug addicts, Asians) are 100% accurate, but it doesn't rain quite as much as everyone thinks.
posted by twirlip at 11:26 AM on February 22, 2011

It's illegal to possess brightly coloured balloons in Toronto.
posted by RobotHero at 11:38 AM on February 22, 2011 [4 favorites]

If you can track down a copy of Will Ferguson's How to be Canadian or, to a lesser degree, Why I hate Canadians, you can enjoy hundreds of pages of this kind of thing.

As far as familarizing yourself with the way Canadians see the differences, I would hazard a guess that Ferguson's is a pretty good compendium (with the exception of his white-hot hatred of Regina, which seems less a stereotype than a near-religious conviction).
posted by ivan ivanych samovar at 12:16 PM on February 22, 2011 [1 favorite]

While discussing what the stereotypes of our home towns were in a large group, one Torontonian said, "I've never thought about what other people think about Toronto." This is one of the stereotypes about Toronto.
posted by Gor-ella at 12:47 PM on February 22, 2011 [3 favorites]

Saskatchewan is notoriously an NDP stronghold,

And yet, Alberta currently has more of an elected NDP presence federally than Saskatachewan does.
posted by Kurichina at 1:11 PM on February 22, 2011

The Three Dead Trolls in a Baggie have a song about why Toronto sucks, along with the rest of the country.
posted by jb at 1:42 PM on February 22, 2011

Other gross stereotypes:

Everyone from Nova Scotia is a fisherman and plays the fiddle, everyone from P.E.I. has red hair and is incurably cheery (like Anne). New Brunswick is bland in two official languages.

French Quebeckers hate everyone except pure-bred Quebecquois; all the anglo Quebeckers are Jewish and live largely off of nostalgia.

Ontario is full of red-necks who worship at the alter of Mike Harris (ex-premiere who would have been adored by Bill O'Reilly), except for Toronto which is elitist and stuck-up and self-centered but also liberal (kind of like New York). Torontonians are also cold and mean, and (as noted above) everyone is required to wear suits all the time and no is allowed to have coloured balloons -- except for the bits of Toronto which are dangerous and filled with violent but colourful gang shootouts.

Manitoba, like the North or New Brunswick, doesn't really exist - it's just this blank space on the was to Alberta or B.C. Saskachewan is the blank space completely covered in wheat.

Alberta is filled with gun & oil loving cowboys who hate the rest of Canada for having to pay taxes, but never say thank you when the rest of Canada sends them relief supplies during a drought.

All of B.C. - hippies in the cities, rednecks in the country, native people in the north - is stoned. All the time. Baby bottles are filled with marijuana tea, Nanaimo bars are green from weed.

The North doesn't exist. There might be some aboriginal people there.

When I was a kid, we would tell stupid Newfie jokes before I learned it was wrong, but I didn't really know what a Newfie was. But now I would say that the stereotype of Newfoundland is of cool Irish-sounding people who can't get work at home but go all over the country impressing everyone else with their talents (especially the commedians), but are still pissed off about being forced into Canada.
posted by jb at 1:55 PM on February 22, 2011 [2 favorites]

The whole "stupid Newfie" thing probably orginated in a backlash against the massive waves of immigration from Newfoundland to Toronto and other parts of Canada after Newfoundland joined Canada in 1949. Weirdly, my family was sort of part of this immigration, only from P.E.I. (where there were also few jobs). There is a good film about this - Going Down the Road. Unless this was a stereotype earlier?
posted by jb at 2:03 PM on February 22, 2011

British Columbia: Hippies, pot.

Alberta: Canada's Bible belt, rodeos, oil.

Saskatchewan: Flat, full of wheat. People? What people? (See also, Corner Gas.)

Manitoba: Whatever.

Ontario: As above--Toronto thinks it's all that and Ottawa is all politics.

Quebec: Cranky bunch of separatists.

Martimes: Fiddling, Anne of Green Gables in PEI and Newfie jokes. For some reason I have a strong association between the Maritimes and Tim Hortons.

North: Cold and empty.

(For reference, I grew up in Saskatchewan and later lived in BC.)
posted by equivocator at 3:56 PM on February 22, 2011

wow. I can't think of when askme has depressed me so much. I guess that people here are just recounting the stereotypes, but damn, I have actually had people in other parts of the country be shockingly rude to me just because I'm from Toronto. Here's a sample of an actual I-swear-I'm-not-exaggerating conversation:

Me, upon being introduced to a friend of a friend in a bar: "pleased to meet you" (offers to shake hands)
Them: "oh, you think you're the center of the world" (walks away)

That sucked. Rope-rider, just remember that stereotypes are just that, I think that they're particularly worthless in Canada, because everyone's so different. Enough of the hate!
posted by 5_13_23_42_69_666 at 7:12 PM on February 22, 2011

One more thing you need to know in order to 'get' Canada is that most of us really get a kick out of these stereotypes, especially when they're about our own province / region. No feelings are getting hurt here. Canadian comedy thrives on these stereotypes and on making fun of ourselves.

For some reason I have a strong association between the Maritimes and Tim Hortons

Having grown up in Alberta, but spent a lot of time in the Maritimes since I got married, I can say that Tim Hortons's are more numerous there and the devotion to them seems stronger.
posted by kitcat at 7:18 PM on February 22, 2011

Whoa, should have previewed. I guess some feelings do get hurt...
posted by kitcat at 7:20 PM on February 22, 2011

that's ok - I'm done pouting!
posted by 5_13_23_42_69_666 at 7:28 PM on February 22, 2011

It's funny how people seem to agree about other provinces' stereotypes, but not their own!
posted by ddaavviidd at 8:15 PM on February 22, 2011

2nding "numbers" comment that everybody in Canada hates Toronto. I met a nice couple from the Yukon, on vacation at Giant's Causeway in N. Ireland who asked me where I was from and when I told them Toronto, they said, "that's not part of Canada" and then walked away.
posted by bonobothegreat at 9:35 PM on February 22, 2011

Well I met people from Yukon who claimed to have never heard of Winnipeg. Maybe they were just trying to get a rise out of me, or maybe they didn't pay attention in elementary school.

Most people I know from Winnipeg would be all, "Yup, we're cheap, that's totally us!" "And I know a guy who got stabbed!" but when someone says it's, "just this blank space on the way to Alberta or B.C." that's what'll make them angry.
posted by RobotHero at 10:55 PM on February 22, 2011

RobotHero - I'm sorry if I made you feel bad. My actual opinion of Winnipeg is that it seemed like a pretty city in the summer, but I could imagine it got cold in the winter, and that it has (or had in 1997) an excellent art gallery.

I remember being really hurt when I was travelling in Halifax and met a bunch of people who just sat and went on and on about how much they hated Toronto - including two Americans from Chicago (that really rubbed it in). They clearly had never seen the Toronto I had - the rich multicultural, bustling but still polite place with an intricate interweaving of neighbourhoods and parks -- somewhere you could walk for hours exploring but always find something new, but which still has a "small city" feel (as opposed to NYC or London). The people are relatively quiet and formal, but friendly and polite when you talk to them - even at Yonge & Bloor or Bay & King. We're a big enough city that people have to turn inward and ignore others to get by psychologically when walking about, and we do have a relatively formal culture that can come off as cold to others. (That said, good Torontonians say "excuse me" when someone else bumps into them on the street).

But it is also true that we're very insular - we don't pay much attention to what happens outside of Toronto. The Globe & Mail, Canada's "national" newspaper, prints long articles about our spats over transit, spats that often don't even involve the outer suburbs of TO, let alone the greater Toronto Area or Ontario and the rest of Canada. People can live here and almost never travel outside of the city - especially if they are poorer and don't know how to drive.*

This is, of course, a problem shared by every metropole in the world. London never thinks about the rest of the UK, and if NYC thinks about the rest of the US, it's only because they have competition from LA on the cultural side. Looking more widely, the US is a metropole and doesn't pay attention to the rest of the world, but neither does most of the first world pay much attention to the rest of the world other than the US. (We're like Connecticut to the US's NYC).

By talking about the "spaces" in Canada -- Manitoba, Saskachewan, the North in a big way, I was talking about how we (as Torontonians, but also as Canadians in our national media) ignore these places. We hear so much more in Toronto about Ottawa, Montreal and Calgary than we ever do about Winnipeg, Regina or Saskatoon, and most Canadians never even get to see the North. I feel sad about that.

*People outside of Toronto often forget that poverty or even just frugality here often means not having a car, because of the high rent, and no car = no leaving the GTA without great trouble. It's a struggle to even visit my grandparents in Mississauga - what is a 20 minute drive is a 1-1.5 hour trip by bus & GO Train.
posted by jb at 4:55 AM on February 23, 2011

jb - It doesn't bother me personally, but I know many other Manitobans who are touchy about it. If nobody learns stereotypes about Manitoba, at least it'll save me from the, "I'm going to take offense to what I presume about you, rather than anything you've actually done, as an individual," scenarios that a couple Torontonians above listed.

Oh, and I love that the comments of the One Great City video linked above are full of arguments between people going, "the song isn't just about Winnipeg, it's about wherever it is you're from," and other going "No, it's about hating Winnipeg! You can't take this away from us!"
posted by RobotHero at 12:14 PM on February 23, 2011 [1 favorite]

Newfoundland: Unemployed Irish ex-fishermen.
Nova Scotia: Unemployed Scottish ex-fishermen; unemployed Scottish ex-coalminers.
PEI: Everyone works either in a tourist information booth or on a potato farm.
New Brunswick: The boringest place in Canada. Potatoes and wood pulp and Franglais and a whole lot of nothing as far as the eye can see.
Rural Quebec: It's like New Brunswick, only bigger and Frencher and with fewer potatoes.
Montreal: Bagels and smoked meat and a lot of crumbling concrete.
Ontario: Toronto (where the accountants work), plus a million sleeper suburbs (where the accountants live), and cottage country (where the accountants spend their vacations).
Manitoba: Scandinavians and Natives and lakes and cold. Basically, Minnesota minus Prince.
Saskatchewan: Wheat. Barley. Oats. And some people, probably?
Alberta: Texas + Hockey + Ukrainians.
B.C.: Mountains and marijuana.
Yukon, NWT, Nunavut, Labrador: Igloos and seal blubber.
posted by Sys Rq at 4:54 PM on March 31, 2011 [3 favorites]

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