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Topic: American's Perceptions of Canada and Canadians
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sammy

4/21/2013 7:13:53 PM
Member since:
Sep 2010
Total posts:8038
American's Perceptions of Canada and Canadians

We have our perceptions of them and they have theirs of us. I am wondering if anyone wants to share some of the funny perceptions they have heard or things Americans have asked you about being Canadian. I also want to know if you find their knowledge(or lack of) of us and our country funny or sad or both?  
 
I find it sorta sad that so many Americans who live so close to us have never even set foot here. Is it because of the dollar difference? Do we not have enough attractions to encourage tourism from them? Is there something else? What do you think?

 
 
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Pita

4/21/2013 7:17:53 PM
Member since:
Jul 2009
Total posts:925
Doe in headlight syndrome

We Canadians are taught American History in school (at least we were in my day lol) and the only the about Canada we studied was geography.  
 
I don't think our neighbours to the south study Canadian History and they really are just clueless, hence the doe in headlights reference.

KKoooo

4/21/2013 7:26:40 PM
Member since:
Mar 2011
Total posts:309
i

Was shopping in Bismarck and told the cashier to keep the change which was just a few cents. She asked why and I said I'm from Canada and i don't want to keep any American change. She asked where, I said Manitoba and she replied - wheres that? I said you're kidding right? Just straight north of you across the border. She was so confused.  
 
When i was in high school i had to memorize every state and capital and most Americans don't even know where Toronto or Vancouver is never mind the province of MB just 4 hours away. Pretty sad.

southwest

4/21/2013 7:26:42 PM
Member since:
Nov 2010
Total posts:488
..

ask an american about american history and you will get that same deer in the headlights look . a lot of them really are off in their own little world .

Brenda

4/21/2013 7:34:06 PM
Member since:
Jul 2005
Total posts:8816
Minot

While in Minot many years ago, I was asked where I was from. When I told them Manitoba, they asked me how many days it took to drive there.  
 
Same trip, I was asked if we still had President Trudeau. I old them he could be president as long as he liked in our country.

sammy

4/21/2013 7:35:25 PM
Member since:
Sep 2010
Total posts:8038
I think I may be american.....

I have to admit that as a Canadian, I would have to stop and think of the order of the provinces(the Maritime's get me every time!!) and the capital cities of each one. I have no clue how many states the US have(52?), would never be able to name them all and would never, ever be able to place them on a map. I SUCK at geography!! I am lucky if I know my directions on a good day haha. I honestly give directions by saying things like "go past the red barn, you will pass so and so's house, turn at walmart and then at the end of that road you will find me" LOL  
 
We are always asked where MB is while in GF. The Bottineau people usually know that and the cashiers there almost always ask if we are from MB when they see what we are buying!! (cheese,yogurt,cherry coke)  
 
I play scrabble on facebook with an American and he teases me about having a dog team and an igloo. At least I hope he is teasing and doesn't honestly believe it

traveller

4/21/2013 8:44:54 PM
Member since:
Jun 2007
Total posts:8911
>

i do find there lack of knowledge about us a little amusing but besides geography i don't know remember much about their history either, being asked where canada is or how far ect while just an hour away is nuts tho but you have to remember they only know what they're taught

TEN

4/21/2013 9:02:26 PM
Member since:
Jul 2006
Total posts:2145
.

Considering that 90% of all Canadians live within an hour of the US border it makes sense that most of us know more about them than those who live a lot further south. I can't say that I have run into too many Americans from the Northern States that don't have some ideas as to what we are all about.  
 
The worst example of American ignorance of Canada was/is Madeline Allbrights(sp) (former secretary of state) insistance in telling evryone that the 9/11 terrorist came to the States through Canada. Totally untrue.

Vida

4/21/2013 9:09:41 PM
Member since:
Apr 2013
Total posts:7
I'm an American living in Canada

And the informed know as much about Canada and the world as anywhere else.  
 
The uninformed have misconceptions about regions in their own country, too.  
 
The funniest things I've heard involve the snow and having to fly supplies in.  
 
There's also a lot of misinformation about how socialism is destroying religion and gun-ownership in Canada.

Adam

4/21/2013 9:17:29 PM
Member since:
Aug 2008
Total posts:14949
Province

Can remember being just across the border at Metigoshe as a kid on a school trip. One of the kids in our group mentioned to one of the locals that we were from Manitoba, to be met with a "what province is that in?"  
Points for knowing we had provinces  
 
Have made a few trips to Florida and always enjoy chats with locals and other tourists (usually from Northeastern USA). Hunting, the cold, snow and hockey come up quite a bit as stuff they associate with our area. Even though the US and especially Florida isn't as much of hockey country, its surprising how many know about the Jets coming back. Locals can be surprised with our temperature extremes, how cold and especially how hot it can get.  
 
Earlier this year on a Florida trip after a random chat that initially had nothing to do with where I was from I was asked if I was from Minnesota based on my 'accent.' To me Minnesotans sound pretty distinctive, but obviously some similarities!  
 
Edited by Adam, 2013-04-21 21:29:12

summergal

4/21/2013 9:58:40 PM
Member since:
May 2009
Total posts:1432
....

I remember years ago chatting with someone from the states online and they kept asking me about polar bears and how often I see them, he must of thought the whole country was always cold and covered in snow. He must not know anything about wildlife either because he thought they would be cuddly.  
 
Through conversations I've had with various people while visiting the states things I've heard include: them thinking we have a president, have only heard of Montreal, Toronto, Vancouver, and Alberta but don't know which are cities or provinces, think its always cold here (guy at airport asked if I had a winter jacket with me since I was flying back to Canada, it was summer). I've actually been asked if I know so and so from Vancouver.  
 
I know not all Americans are ignorant and have met many who have come up here to hunt but it would be nice if they were taught some of the basics of their neighbouring countries. When I was in school we were taught some American history and learned all 50 states and I could still list off the vast majority of them and the general location of them.  

hermione

4/21/2013 10:30:59 PM
Member since:
Jul 2009
Total posts:2942
I

was having my hair done in Grand Forks, and the woman asked where i was from. I said Canada, she said 'canada. oh, i love canada. Where is that again?' It was hard to keep a straight face when i said 'uhmmm, and hour north of here!'  
(She must not have been a local though, as most there are used to canadians.)  
 
Further to a previous comment-you don't have to live close to a country to know something about it or where it is... i hope they are still teaching world geography in school.  
 
Edited by hermione, 2013-04-21 22:33:19

JR

4/21/2013 11:30:38 PM
Member since:
Nov 2007
Total posts:1816
Stories

The best story I was told involved a friend driving in the US and stopping for gas. The guy at the register had his rear plate up on the video screen as my friend went in to pay for the gas. The clerk looks at the screen and then says to my friend, "traveling, are you? So whereabouts in Manitoba is Friendly?"  
 
The best that happened to me was at 16 on a family trip to Florida. My younger brother and I were in an arcade and had just spent our last quarter. I dug into my pocket and found a $2 bill (shows how old this story is). When I took it to the change clerk and asked if he could give me quarters for it, he looked it over and over and finally said, "I've never seen anything like this. This is real money? Will you take $5 for it?" Ummmm... OK.

frivolouspink

4/22/2013 12:45:38 AM
Member since:
Aug 2011
Total posts:405
l

wonder how many Americans judge all of us,based on the ignorance of a few,like we seem to do. I find it rather sad how many comments are all Americans this,and all Americans that. Really,any comment made only reflects on the person making it,and I think if Americans think of us at all,they'd wonder why we care so much what others think of us. It's a sign of insecurity.  

patriot

4/22/2013 2:18:46 AM
Member since:
Mar 2011
Total posts:288
...

  
Vida said "And the informed know as much about Canada and the world as anywhere else.  
 
The uninformed have misconceptions about regions in their own country, too.  
 
The funniest things I've heard involve the snow and having to fly supplies in.  
 
There's also a lot of misinformation about how socialism is destroying religion and gun-ownership in Canada. "

Working Stateside I was surprised by the entrenched belief Canadians have a socialist Health Care System...  
Interesting statement ! "There's also a lot of misinformation about how socialism is destroying religion and gun-ownership in Canada''  
Agreed!  
 
During the winter and snowy roads, the Canadians were thrown behind the wheel, it eased the Americans to feel safe, the definite trust in Canadians in certain situations is evident. The dog sled experience paid off! We know how to drive and not hit the igloo's.  
 
Although we will never agree on a took and a toboggan , try as you will, in Canada you will never wear on your head something we slide down a hill on!!!  

don brown

4/22/2013 7:21:15 AM
Member since:
Aug 2010
Total posts:4304
Americans

I have met far more Americans online than I have in person, and they are just like us, and by that I mean that usually no one goes out of their way to learn something new unless forced to. I was part of a social medi site that was composed of mostly Americans, and like on here I did talk way to much, but over the years that I was on that site I learned much about the US, and I noticed that many of them did try to learn more about us.  
 
One American asked me why they needed to know anything about the rest of the world since the US had it all when it came to just about everything, and in a way he was right, but I asked him wouldn't it be nice to know something about his neighbors, his reply sort of set me back a bit, but it was sort of an American reply, he said, "your not my neighbor, your a Canadian". Americans are taught about two things, one is individualism, the other is their country, and at times these two things discourage them from looking at the world, but if you meet Americans that have been exposed to the world whether through business, the military, or even travel for holidays, you will see that they likely will have expanded their understanding of other countries as much as we think we have.

Abbysmum

4/22/2013 7:44:54 AM
Member since:
Mar 2009
Total posts:2885
Yes

  
don brown said "I have met far more Americans online than I have in person, and they are just like us, and by that I mean that usually no one goes out of their way to learn something new unless forced to. I was part of a social medi site that was composed of mostly Americans, and like on here I did talk way to much, but over the years that I was on that site I learned much about the US, and I noticed that many of them did try to learn more about us.  
 
One American asked me why they needed to know anything about the rest of the world since the US had it all when it came to just about everything, and in a way he was right, but I asked him wouldn't it be nice to know something about his neighbors, his reply sort of set me back a bit, but it was sort of an American reply, he said, "your not my neighbor, your a Canadian". Americans are taught about two things, one is individualism, the other is their country, and at times these two things discourage them from looking at the world, but if you meet Americans that have been exposed to the world whether through business, the military, or even travel for holidays, you will see that they likely will have expanded their understanding of other countries as much as we think we have. "

I too have lots of contact with Americans via social media, and on the most part they are very similar to us. Many are interested in Canada, and ask very good questions.  
 
One thing I have noticed, however, is that they have a tendency to be very black and white, meaning things tend to be one extreme or another, and it's hard for them to see a middle ground or spectrum.  
 
I think a lot of that has to do with their politics, where you are either right or left, but there's not a lot of territory in the centre there. Here, our parties are spread out more across the left, centre and right, and you don't necessarily "need" to be polarized to either side to align yourself. My experience has been that necessity seems to force them to pick sides and stay here.  
 
Just my two cents.  
 
On a side note, one of the forums I participate in recently had a thread about (mis)conceptions that Americans have about Canadians and vice versa... it was really interesting! One of the Americans mentioned that it was popular perception that the best rock bands came out of Canada!

don brown

4/22/2013 8:08:24 AM
Member since:
Aug 2010
Total posts:4304
social media

Abbysmum- you are right about them choosing sides and sticking with it, either you are right or you are left, but one thing that I did notice was during the Obama healthcare debate, was many of the people who were on the right would send numerous private messages looking for more information on our system. In their minds I was the Canadian socialist, and yet because of circumstance many of them were very interested in how things worked, and at times I was hard pressed to provide the answers that they were looking for, some of the most interesting times I had were during the healthcare debate in the US., where through private messages people were able to express concerns that they would not do openly because of their political beliefs.  
 
I got to know many Americans while I was on the site, and I will say that it didn't really matter whether they were right wing or left wing, if you got to know them you soon realized that a greater group of people would be hard to find. The greatest problem with a lot of people in the US is the loss of individualism once the patriotic card is played, then it seems that they quickly adopt a mob mentality, which at times gets them into trouble as a nation.

UKadian

4/22/2013 8:14:04 AM
Member since:
Jun 2009
Total posts:65
Currency

While living and working in Washington DC my wife joined me for a few weeks. She had Canadian currency and wanted to change it. We went to 3 banks and were told that it would take 10 working days to convert foreign currency. So we went to Washington Dulles airport and changed it.

Adam

4/22/2013 8:41:24 AM
Member since:
Aug 2008
Total posts:14949
another perspective

As luck would have it, a good piece I came across this morning by Brandon's own James Ehnes (lives in US, travels a ton) that fits well with this thread is at the link below. James shares thoughts on what he gets asked about not just in the US but abroad:  
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/mobileweb/james-ehnes/from-the-land-of-hockey-b_b_3051934.html?utm_hp_ref=fb&src=sp&comm_ref=false

Livindedgrl

4/22/2013 8:48:26 AM
Member since:
Dec 2012
Total posts:118
this story

I have family in Minnesota, and they come down maybe every five years, sometimes less when a child is born or family illness and I can share a few stories, I dunno what's with there attitudes but they come across rude. We always meet at my grandparents who live outside of Brandon, a mile or two from Shiloh in there mobile trailer turned into a house but still resembles a trailer, well they come by and literally state in front of everyone are we poor cause they live in a trailer... I found this rude, and explaining still didn't seem to help, cause they made there opinion of us it was over, after we took them to dinner with their two kids, the oldest boy 8 at the time went up to me and told me "Black ppl are bad and that Canadians should be shanked" Yes this surprised me so much, I couldn't believe my ears and yes i politely talked to the parents, telling them what their son said and they simply blew me off. And told me to mind my own business... Since then they haven't came back but I'm glad really that's disgusting behavior for any child yikes!!!!!

lovemystery

4/22/2013 9:08:25 AM
Member since:
Nov 2012
Total posts:447
....

Years ago I was at a party and there was a girl there from Florida. We got talking about our winters and when I told her we had to plug our cars in so they would start she said "how long are your cords? How far can you get before you have to plug in somewhere else?" It was a good thing she was cute!!

Campfire

4/22/2013 10:01:27 AM
Member since:
May 2010
Total posts:54
questions we were asked in Florida...

1) Do you have hamburgers in Canada?  
2) Do you have basketball ? (they didn't believe it was invented by a Canadian...  
3) How many people speak English ? (thought we were all French)  
4) what kinds of cars (brands) in Canada  
5) what types of TV shows do we get?  
 
Not picking on anyone as there are many Canadians that are unaware of what is going on right next to them... Like Brandon people stopping in Souris and asking where the McDonalds and Tim Hortons were...

Prairieflower

4/22/2013 10:11:37 AM
Member since:
Apr 2012
Total posts:10
Funny Americans

We were in San Diego, near our motel and in a tourist area when the waitress heard us talking, came over and excitedly asked if we were Canadian. When we told her we were she seemed delighted, then paused with a confused look on her face. "But I thought you'd look different" she said. I assured her that most of us do just looked like people.

Abbysmum

4/22/2013 10:53:14 AM
Member since:
Mar 2009
Total posts:2885
Amen

  
don brown said "Abbysmum- you are right about them choosing sides and sticking with it, either you are right or you are left, but one thing that I did notice was during the Obama healthcare debate, was many of the people who were on the right would send numerous private messages looking for more information on our system. In their minds I was the Canadian socialist, and yet because of circumstance many of them were very interested in how things worked, and at times I was hard pressed to provide the answers that they were looking for, some of the most interesting times I had were during the healthcare debate in the US., where through private messages people were able to express concerns that they would not do openly because of their political beliefs.  
 
I got to know many Americans while I was on the site, and I will say that it didn't really matter whether they were right wing or left wing, if you got to know them you soon realized that a greater group of people would be hard to find. The greatest problem with a lot of people in the US is the loss of individualism once the patriotic card is played, then it seems that they quickly adopt a mob mentality, which at times gets them into trouble as a nation. "

The Healthcare debate is very interesting down there exactly because of the polarity. I think more Americans would like a middle ground on this subject, but because of party lines it virtually impossible to publically declare that without getting tarred and feathered.  
 
For the mob mentality, I find some regions are more prone to it that others. Certain states come to mind that are worse than others.  
 
But by and large they are great people as individuals!

mcginty

4/22/2013 11:15:20 AM
Member since:
Jan 2011
Total posts:362
Americans vs Canadians

I too have relatives living in the U.S.A. In the late 1970's my parents and I went to St. Paul, Minnesota for a wedding ( in February).After the service we were standing outside talking to some of the groom's family. One of them saw our car and asked Dad what was on the side and back windows. Of course Dad was kind of a jokester and said the windows were bullet-proofed.(Actually they were Frostshields that were common in those days). Then the same person saw the block heater cord sticking out the front of the car and asked about it. Naturally, Dad said it was an electric car.(Yes we got the :how long is the cord?,How long does a charge last?)This American had never heard of a block heater and he lived in Chicago.  
Some of these people just are not taught about Canada or don't want to know.  
Another thing I noticed about many Americans is that when they decide to start a new business( one they have no knowledge in), they just jump right in and buy all the equipment required for that business, but not always the right type of equipment. One guy I know wanted to have a relative operate a mobile steam-cleaning business in Cda for him. The guy from the U.S. was told to put his plans on paper, and he and his relative would sit down and sort out all the plans together for the right equipment and it's uses. Well, three weeks later the guy shows up in Canada with all his equipment in an enclosed trailer, thinking he could just start it up and do the job.  
He didn't think about the differences between safety standards in Cda vs Safety standards in U.S.. Nor did he realize you can not transport natural gas around the province in a box truck. Propane had to replace the natural gas burner.It doesn't matter if your a Cdn or American, these types of people are on both sides of the border.

west

4/22/2013 11:28:14 AM
Member since:
Oct 2011
Total posts:1102
happened last month....

We were on a cruise...talking with a nice couple from Iowa...which is not that far from the Border.Anyway...during our conversation..the woman asked...so what currency do you use in Canada??...the Euro??...she actually did not know our currency...and thought it might be the Euro!Wow!

JR

4/22/2013 1:19:58 PM
Member since:
Nov 2007
Total posts:1816
....

The U.S. is a very isolated country for one that is so large. Many individuals are great - interesting, intelligent and witty. Those are the ones who take the time to learn about "the world".  
 
The problem is that for vast numbers of Americans, "the world" extends only to the borders of their own country, state, city or even neigbourhood. If it doesn't have anything to do with the U.S.A., it isn't worth bothering about. They are largely protectionist and can be very close-minded.  
 
I know I am making generalizations, but is there another explanation for the ignorance of the masses?

traveller

4/22/2013 2:14:20 PM
Member since:
Jun 2007
Total posts:8911
>:

another thing i thought of is they all have assumptions we talk differently, when i worked in the usa, when they found out i was canadian they all would say canadian eh, and the funny thing is i never use eh in my speech here but when i'm states side it sure comes out , apparently we all say sorry to much too  
 
i also agree on their perception of our driving abilities, i remember once when a mountain in California was closed due to a light covering of snow when the cop found out we were from canada he said , oh you can go ahead then lol (he was right tho, it was only a light dusting)  
 
hermione - yes they do teach world history but people tend to know more about the countries they are closer to

braid

4/22/2013 4:25:00 PM
Member since:
Apr 2010
Total posts:5335
my

My penpal from Wisconsin & I have been writting / emailing & have had many phone conversations over the last 49 years. We have travelled down to see them several times...usually by car. It's amazing some of the questions you get asked...like " what state Manitoba is in ? " when they see the licence plate. When they were coming up to visit us for about the 3rd time...one of their friends told them they better dig out their winter coats..& yes...they were serious.. It was July! . Penpals couldn't believe how long the sun stayed up..." but it's almost 10 o'clock! ! "  
While in Chicago a few years back...a young fellow who was our waiter  
saw a twoonie I was showing an American friend. He was fasinated! lol  
Needless to say I gave it to him.

 
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