guest posters

Shooting them Down One by One.

Oh Canada

This post is from Danita from Drowning in Laundry. Thank you Danita aka Sleepynita!

It is hard to believe that with the accessibility of the Internet and the ability to research ANYTHING you want that some people out there have completely false ideas about Canada and it’s people. So today while I am posting on one of my favorite American blogs I thought I would clear up some of the misconceptions about Canada.

Myth #1: It is cold in Canada and there is snow all year round. By the time February/ March rolls around it sure as heck feels like winter will never end in some areas, especially in Edmonton, Alberta where I am from. We are the farthest north major Canadian city and we pay dearly with cold. Now that being said the snow usually starts right after Halloween and is gone by mid-April. Our temperatures get warm in May, June, July, August and we have the odd HOT September day before transitioning into fall. Hot enough that I have central air conditioning in my house and it gets used almost every day. In the past month we have had many days where the temperature has hit 90 degrees Fahrenheit. The downfall (where I live anyways) is that we really don’t get much of a fall season and I have always wanted to live somewhere where the trees change color before getting fozen up with snow. I keep thinking of how pretty Michigan is during that time of year.

I once had a guy from Miami ask me if it was hard to shop for a bathing suit for the first time ever. I was a little confused by this comment and asked him what exactly did he mean by that? He said “well it is so darn cold up there and everything freezes that you had to buy your bathing suit in the States right”? Trust me it gets HOT here, and many people are quite surprised when they come to visit. You should see my farmer tan.

Fun Fact: In most areas of Canada you need a block heater for your car, and you plug your car in for a while before using it so that it is not frozen when you go to start it? If it doesn’t start you can call a cab company to come boost your car for $15? That is a silly thing to need to know, but handy….Also? Get some snow tires. All season radials are only all season if you live in Vancouver.

Myth #2: Healthcare is free in Canada. Not really. Actually we pay dearly for “not so universal anymore” healthcare. Our taxes are really painfully high to pay for our healthcare system. A person making $80,000 a year can expect to pay 36% in Federal Income Taxes alone, and another chunk on top of that to provincial taxes. On top of this some provinces have heath care premiums you pay each month which can run about $110 per month for a family of four. The laboratory I work in has a user fee on top of all the taxes; an extra $250 for a test. That is all sorts of ridiculous. Give me a co-pay any day. Monthly Health care premiums are not tax deductible. We also can not use the interest on our mortgages as a tax deduction (although if I was ever Prime Minister that would be the first thing I would change). All across Canada there is a Goods and Services tax (5% it used to be 7%) that we pay on any non-essential items and many provinces also have additional Provincial Sales Taxes added to the Goods and Services Tax.

You think with all the tax we pay we would have a larger and better equipped military? Nah. But there is a Tim Hortons in Afghanistan for the troops.

Fun Fact: One donut is taxable under the Goods and Services Tax rule, but if you buy a 1/2 Dozen donuts this constitutes a meal and you likely will not be charged GST on that purchase. All I have to say is that if you are eating meals of 6 donuts at a time you are probably very thankful of the “free” healthcare that will save your but from re-mortgaging your home in case of a heart attack.

Myth #3: Canadians do not have the same technology as Americans and don’t get the same TV shows and movies. This is a tricky little myth to clear up. First we get the same movies, usually on the same release date as the Americans. Overall, Canada has less severe censorship then the Americans when it comes to movie ratings. Now as far as technology goes we have all the same technology, we just may call it something different. Like a TiVo here is called a PVR (Personal Video Recorder) or DVR (Digital Video Recorder) and sadly the PVR does not make the cute TiVo noises. Sometimes we have to wait for things to get released here and usually the longest wait is for small Apple items like the iPhone (lets not even talk about how Rogers – the cell phone company – is screwing people over on iPhone contracts right now) or even the iPod Mini when it first came out. This isn’t because we are in Canada and behind the times, it is more because of supply issues.

Now I must point out that Canada’s iTunes store SUCKS compared to the American store. We can not get any decent TV shows on it and the music choices are quite limited in some genres. It seems like it is all Can-Con (canadian content – sadly our TV shows suck). Honestly? If I had access to the American iTunes store I would totally cancel my Satellite dish and buy what little TV I watch from iTunes. Sometimes we may wait a little longer to get some TV shows on regular cable but we will have them available on specialty channels. Like Dexter, we just got that on cable but it has been on the Movie Channel for some time now.

Fun Fact: For some reason DVD’s and CD’s seem to be less expensive here, unless you are on, which is FAR SUPERIOR to Did you know that you can order groceries for delivery (in some cities) through Amazon? How. cool. is. that? Colour me jealous. Yes that is an extra u in the word colour…….

Myth #4: Canadians say eh? a lot. Honestly? I have no idea where this comes from and I can not think of anyone I know who says this or “a-boot” instead of about. I must admit that I do say eh? when in the States for some reason and I think it is to counteract all the y’all’s I hear. Either that or I am trying to fulfill the Canadian stereotype. :)

Fun Fact: We call winter hats toques (pronounce it tooooook) and some people call a sofa a chesterfield. Although we do have Starbucks on every corner – for some reason the national coffee is Tim Hortons.

Other things to note:

Canada’s National Sport was Lacrosse until 1994 when a bill went before government to change our National Winter Sport to Hockey and our National Summer Sport to Lacrosse. Yeah, we needed our government to decide that for us.

Canadian policemen are not all Mounties. Each city and some provinces have their own police force that look just like the American police do. The Mounties only wear the funny red outfits on special occasions, other then that they dress like any other police officer as well.

Canada’s Greatest Canadian is a man named Tommy Douglas, who was the Premier of Saskatchewan and “invented” the healthcare system. More notably he is also Kiefer Sutherland’s Grandfather.

Our shopping somewhat sucks here. We have no Target (but there are Wal-Marts all over boo. hiss.), Neiman Marcus, Macy’s, Bloomingdales, Anthropologie, J. Crew, Nordstoms or Victoria Secret’s. We are getting Bath and Body Works, Williams Sonoma, Pottery Barn, Apple Stores and whole ton of other things. Yay! You can imagine I spend a lot of time shopping when we go State-side.

The Mall of America is not the biggest in North America. This place is: West Edmonton Mall. It is the worlds largest entertainment and shopping centre all under one roof. When you spend as much time indoors as we do this place just makes sense. South China Mall in China is the worlds largest mall with the most lease-able square footage at 7.1 MILLION square feet of shopping.

Also, I do not know Bob from Toronto, sorry.

If you would like to guest post on this website, please email me. I will be posting guest posts from now until September 15th


  • Camels & Chocolate

    HA, funny, I was just in BC and Alberta, and while on my final stop in Lake Louise, so many people asked me if I planned to head up the West Edmonton Mall. I was like, “really? A mall’s that special that I should drive an additional three hours?” I mean, maybe when the Canadian dollar worked in us Americans’ favor, but not no mo!

  • The Chatty Housewife

    I loved this. Great post. I grew up in Regina, SK and once when doing paperwork for immigrating to the USA, was asked by a US gov. worker if Saskatchewan state was beside Florida. Um…. no!

  • Liane

    Great post! I have a couple good Canadian friends so I didn’t have too many misconceptions but there were some eye-openers. I’m glad you filled us in on the healthcare bit especially. A lot of people have false ideas about that and how much better you have it.
    My Canadian friends do say “eh?” a lot though and I always loved that…wish I could pull it off.

  • Abbey

    Fantastic Post, Danita! My husband and I are contemplating Canada when we leave California…though more the Toronto area. I knew a lot of what you talked about…after much internet research…except about iTunes and some of the stores I would be missing. And now I’m a little bit sad. ;) But only because I’m addicted to iTunes.

    Like Canadians, people from the South (which is where I am originally from) totally get a bad rap, too! If only everyone in the US would stop believing that Southerners never wore shoes, rode horseback all day, and have the IQ of a gnat. Dang y’all…give us a little credit. :) hee hee hee

  • bethany actually

    Danita, I’m an American who lived in Ottawa for two years, and I can tell you that MANY Canadians in that part of Canada say “eh?” as conversational filler. In fact, I knew one lovely woman who was a native of southeastern Ontario who said “eh?” so often that it was almost like a parody of a Canadian accent.

    We LOVED living in Ottawa, by the way, and found Canadians in general to be kind and welcoming to us despite the fact that we are Americans. ;-)

  • Sleepynita

    Oh dear…. Canadian TV shows. Corner Gas is OK and Degrassi and The Beachcombers are classics, but what is up with Trailer Park Boys? Oy. They scare me.

    I digress, maybe the eh? thing is an eastern trait in Canada?. Here in oil country you just do not hear it all that much. It is a big country now so there could be a little division that way….

    And I confess I have never had beaver tail, the closest I have come to a beaver was the one that was chewing down all the deck supports on the decks built over the ravine in our neighborhood. He was an expensive little rascal!

    Caribou is pretty tasty though. And poutine is a classic must have, sadly my thighs must have hung on to all of it over the past couple years…..

    Also, never seen a sled dog, igloo or a real life seal (contrary to popular belief, Canadians do not go seal clubbing for fun but the media sure wants everyone to think that).

  • Mr. Noodle

    I think Red Green did more to promote these myths than anyone else.

    Since my company is in very deep negotiations about opening a Canadian office I found this VERY informative!

    Thanks for the info!

    Mr. Noodle

  • Joy

    Yay! I love Canadian content on one of my favourite American sites! I am a Canadian currently living in London.

    Eh and a-boot are mostly Central Canadian things (I come from Halifax), but are occasionally heard in the Eastern part.

    Oh, and Beaver Tails have nothing to do with beavers. They are like fried dough.

  • K

    I dated a Canadian once (from Northern Quebec). I went up there to meet his parents and to see where he grew up. It was quite an experience since he lived in a very small town where you can only fly or boat (snow mobile in the winter) to get there. Anyway, they weren’t too prone to say eh or a-boot but I used to tease about it anyway. I used to always get him to say “out and about on a boat” in the accent just for fun. :)
    Thanks for the great list! :)

  • lynne

    I think its great having a Canadian guest blogger! I’ve only been to British Columbia and a smidge over into Alberta. I studied in Vancouver for a short while and lost my heart to this beautiful city by the sea surrounded by mountains. I’d go back in a shot.

    I’ve never met a Canadian who said “eh and a-boot”, but then I’m Welsh and I’ve never heard a Welsh person say “look, you”. I have heard that the funniest comdedians often come from New Foundland.

  • Shelly

    I live in southern Alberta and tend to say EH all the time. I find it is said quite often and definately notice the y’alls when I hear one! I just spent vacation out in Montreal and couldn’t believe the difference in the heat. Out in Alberta it is a very dry heat, while in Montreal it is humid and sweaty like Mexico. For the most part, southern AB weather in the summer is beautiful, anywhere from 25-40 degrees Celsius…which I believe is anywhere from 75-100 degrees Fahrenheit. Our winters have been pretty mild, but Edmonton which is 5 hours north of where I live definately has a much harsher winter.

    Thanks for clarifying to those who believe some of the Canadian myths!

    P.S I LOVE beavertails…with chocolate…yum!

  • Clownfish

    In the 80’s I was a US Sailor aboard a Destroyer. I made port stops in many countries in the Mediterranean, Caribbean and up noth to Canada. While in uniform, the country that made me feel the most welcome was Canada! (even over my own country, times have changed for the better thankfully) – Yes, Joy, I pulled into Halifax! Great people!!

  • Island Mummy

    Canadian from the best coast here (oh sorry that should be West coast…) lol

    Healthcare may not be free in Canada, but for those in lower tax brackets it is. If you are living below the poverty line you do not have to pay a monthly fee.
    So this means that you do not have to worry about ending up on the streets if you get sick and lose your job. Which to me is a huge benefit and worth every penny of extra tax. We also get a lot of other services for those taxes.

    In my part of Canada we get about 3 days of snow a year. You do not need block heaters but all season radials are great for the rainy months… November to the end of April… it IS a temperate RAIN forest.

    The GST thing is the stupidest invention ever by a Conservative government, and that’s saying something.

    We like your shopping, especially now the dollar is in a better place.

    Rupert is a British tv show, not Canadian.

    Real life seals can be seen in the harbour here, and we also see sea lions and whales (Orca) regularly. I also have deer that roam through my yard on a regular basis and I live in town…

    Newfoundlanders are funny, but mostly not intentionally… Newfie jokes are like Irish jokes in England.

    Canada is a HUGE country and there are so many regional differences. Aside from the Maritimes we really don’t have an accent.
    Although people do say EH – not many in my area, but my brother lives in Northern BC and he says it. Not that often though…

  • calee

    We were talking about Canada just last night. Is it true that something like 80 percent of the population lives within 50 miles of the US border? As for health care, in the last 2 years we’ve gone from paying 243 to 616 a month plus 25 a visit. But as freelancers, we haven’t had too bad of tax bills so I guess there’s a trade off.

  • Erin

    Loved it! I’m a Toronto girl, born and bred, although I have lived in Montreal and I don’t say eh or aboot either.

    I do have to say that T.O. has had Pottery Barn, Williams Sonoma and Apple Stores for awhile now (hope that helps Abbey), but I think that has more to do with T.O. being a test market then anything else! I must admit to looking forward to Bath & Body Works and wouldn’t mind if Victoria’s Secret finally crossed the border!

    Also, it’s August and it’s actually a shockingly cool 70 degrees here today and even though I own huskies, I don’t attach them to my sled to get around. ;)

  • leanne

    absolutely loved this! i live in vancouver but have a lot of american friends and relatives and a lot of these points are things that they ask me about. ps. i say eh? all the time :)

  • Island Mummy

    Quote: 616 a month plus 25 a visit. But as freelancers, we haven’t had too bad of tax bills so I guess there’s a trade off.

    Yikes. Our taxes aren’t that bad. Not enough to make up $6000+ a year.

  • Sleepynita

    Actually the taxes are that bad – depending on your income level.

    My partner and I pay 22,000$ more in taxes then what an american couple making the same amount pay. That difference more then covers a good HMO for a family of four (my dad was American so I am all to familiar to the pitfalls of HMO’s as well). Add to that we could actually write of part of the interest on our mortgage if we lived in the USA – and that write off could cover a substantial part of medical costs. If someone makes below 35,000$ a year – Canada is the place to be for sure.

  • Monna

    Hi there. As a fellow Canadian (and an expat at that) I really enjoyed your guest post. I agreed with almost everything you wrote except…

    Some Canadians do say “eh”. They absolutely do. I’m not sure which part of the country you are from, but in the Ottawa Valley, people use “eh” all the time. I was embarrassed by this figure of speech when I was in high school but I have grown to love it as a sweet and authentic part of the speech patterns of people in the Ottawa Valley.

    I think it’s important to be proud of who you are and where you come from. The thing abut Canada is that we are such a big country – so spread out geographically – that relatively few things can be true about all of us.

    Have a good day, eh.

  • carrien (she laughs at the days)

    Hey Danita, can you say hi to my little sister? She lives in Edmonton too. Kidding:)

    But I have to tell you, because I have finally solved this mystery after living in the states for 4 years or so, you do say aboot. We all say aboot. (I grew up in Red Deer.) Thats how it sounds to the american ear and this is why. We Canadians don’t really open our mouths that wide when we form our vowels. Maybe that’s some of the famed politeness going on, I don’t know. Americans say ah bah out and stretch it into almost 3 syllables with the mouth wide open. If you’re not doing that it does sound like aboot.

    I’ve spent 4 years researching this cultural phenomenon and I feel quite confident about this bit of information I’m sharing with you. I can now pretend I’m not Canadian if I want to.:)

  • BeachMama

    Hey Danita, Great post. Can I admit to saying ‘eh’ all the time. I even type it sometimes, then remember to erase it after. My accent, so I have been told, is more of a Eastern Shore Southern American then Canadian, but I can turn it on if I need to. I don’t know if you have traveled outside of Alberta (I am thinking East) as most of us in Ontario, don’t need a block heater and cry for you daily during the winter for your cold weather and lots of snow. Last year was my first year with snow tires and since we had the most snow since 1970, it was well worth it. But, watch this year we won’t need them :).

    Great to get to know you, eh….

  • jenB

    As someone from and still living in Edmonton, awesome post. Heath care may not be free, but I will take it as it is, flaws and all. Yes, there are flaws.

    They are currently renovating the Timmy Hos nearest to me and my child has been mourning and whining for tiiiiiiiiiiim bitttttttts (donut holes) for weeks.

    again, fab’ post, my fellow canuck!