The 49th parallel -- the view from both sides

this hub answers a request from MissusSmith, a new hubber

Who writes:

I'd like to hear your views on the differences of Canadian society versus U.S. society.

I've read some of your writing about your experiences in the U.S. and find your view somewhat refreshing. Can you expand your view into a hub. What is the major difference between Canada and the U.S?

Suddenly I feel like I've just been tossed a sprung grenade.

My two countries

This request sounds like one of those “no way to win” scenarios set up to test one’s character. Will she have the strength of character to speak the truth, or will she waffle out of consideration for her American husband, American friends and American address, or prevaricate for her Canadian children, Canadian friends and Canadian address?

Believe me, it’s a close call.

Yes – there are major differences in our societies, and they are not the sort of things that one expects, things that jump out at you, that give you that “I’m in a foreign country” feeling. No – more subtle. It’s a bedrock kind of thing. The foundations are different.


Canadians love to laugh at themselves

A Patriotic Canadian's Love Poem to Canada

It's winter in Canada -- ah!

And the gentle breezes blow

Seventy miles an hour

At thirty-five below.

Oh, how I love Canada

When the snow's up to your butt.

You take a breath of winter

And your nose gets frozen shut.

Yes, the weather here is wonderful

So I guess I'll hang around.

I could never leave Canada;  

I'm frozen to the friggin' ground!

a Canadian analogue to "as American as apple pie." The winner was "as Canadian as possible under the circumstances."


U.S. is the older of the two

For one thing, Canada is a younger country, only in existence since 1867 (July 1 to be precise) -- one hundred and ten years after American independence. The part of the country I grew up in, Alberta, has only been an official province since 1905. I've lived through more than half of Alberta's history. Have you lived half of your state's history?

Canada never had a dramatic beginning – no revolution, no declaration of independence – more of a slow maturing, a child growing up under the tender guidance of benevolent parents that one day wakes up ready to go out on his own. Such an amicable parting -- we're still part of the family.

As a result, Canadians don’t grow up listening to “THE STORY” – you know, the snippets of history that make good drama (one if by land and two if by sea,) and (I regret I have but one life to give for my country) and those national myths that replace truth and reality in the country's psyche. (Did George Washington chop down that cherry tree? Was Abe Lincoln really more honest than any other lawyer of his time?)

Americans cling to their national icons. Canadians don't have any.

When there's a major social problem: Canadians turn to their government and demand they fix it. Americans turn to their government and demand they stay out of it.


One of those "only in America" phenomenons -- tea parties . Civil dissent and poor spelling in action.

Is it my lack of wits? I don't get it.
Is it my lack of wits? I don't get it.
C-O-M-P-E-T-E-N-C-E
C-O-M-P-E-T-E-N-C-E
They're not asking for "amensty", darlin'.
They're not asking for "amensty", darlin'.
Yeah -- look out for those youth in Asia.
Yeah -- look out for those youth in Asia.
I thought this went out with McCarthy, but then some things just will not go away.
I thought this went out with McCarthy, but then some things just will not go away.
Well -- what is America's official langauage?
Well -- what is America's official langauage?
Definitely no PUBIC option -- you're stuck with what you were born with.
Definitely no PUBIC option -- you're stuck with what you were born with.
Descent into illiteracy ...
Descent into illiteracy ...
Oh yes -- please control your boarder -- he's running amok across the border.
Oh yes -- please control your boarder -- he's running amok across the border.
Bottom line.
Bottom line.

Americans take their country (and themselves) very seriously

Despite a childhood filled with American broadcasting, American movies, American books, magazines, ideas -- nothing prepared me for how seriously Americans take themselves. If any one thing in my life in the U.S. strikes me as foreign and alien to my way of thinking, it is how intensely Americans cling to ideals, beliefs (real and imagined) and how quickly they rise to temper when questioned or challenged. Forgive me for saying so, but there are times when in the face of empty sloganism, I want to say, "Good God, people, try thinking for yourselves."

How Americans eat up this nationalism!

From afar, I heard it all but didn't really believe it to be true, all this politicking, tempests in tea-pots, wrapping oneself in the flag and claiming the high ground, this fuss and bother over every little thing.We dubbed you the Excited States of America, and shook our head at such foolish shenanigans.

Now here, living, working and writing in the U.S., I find myself limp with astonishment, witless in surprise. "You were serious about that?"

In Canada I'd often discuss and debate with those whose political views are different than mine. (A little left of center, a little right of left -- kind of middle of the road conservative liberal -- in other words, an uncommitted Canadian who votes in accordance with the issues.) Not even on the fieriest issues to pass during my lifetime -- les Seperatistes of Quebec for example -- would debate lead to hard feelings, and certainly never to being ordered out of someone's home due to my politics. Never would I feel afraid to speak my mind.

Not so in the U.S. One of my acquaintances, a woman who professes to be a staunch Republican (but is going back to school on Obama's education assistance programs; her children receive Medicaid; her husband, injured in a motorcycle accident gets Social Security and she's in a subsidized house on her state's program to assist low income families -- but definitely doesn't believe in socialism) shouted at me because I said I thought Sara Palin unfit to be President. I'm serious -- she shouted at me and called me names because I expressed an opinion. The apology two days later didn't do much to improve my estimation of her intellect.

A couple of times I've been in the uncomfortable position of feeling afraid -- yes afraid for my physical safety after asserting my opinions. (In this case my thoughts that the U.S. uses the same arguments as Britain once did to justify "policing" the world: without us there will be a blood-bath; we are maintaining order in the world; we are bringing democracy/civilization/christian salvation/whatever to those lacking these qualities -- sorry, irrelevant to this argument.) Yes, the response to the thought that the elite had any motives beyond an altruistic desire to save the rest of mankind was met with suggestions as to what part of my anatomy could best contain my thoughts and did I need help in stowing them there. And these were supposedly educated, intelligent people.

One final example: the City of North Port, here in Florida recently mandated that all garbage pick up should be done from one side of the street only. Well! -- this was definitely an infringement on the civil rights of our fine residents, possibly unconstitutional and "What do we pay taxes for anyway?" Demonstrations were arranged; petitions began, circulated and signed; marches on City Hall commenced; angry interviews on television aired. And if someone said, "Look folks, what's the big deal? It will save the city hundreds of thousands of dollars. You can walk your garbage bin across the road," they were in danger of getting a black eye. I'm not making this up.

One mustn't speak out in the land of the free. It's becoming increasingly dangerous to do so.

So, yes -- the biggest difference in our two societies is how Americans pick sides, join a team (or so it seems), take a stand and once publicly stated that becomes the prevailing directive of life, immutable and unchangeable -- even when it is contrary to their own best interests!

I've never before lived in such an angry country. I want to climb a high mountain with a giant loudspeaker and shout "Chill out, will ya! None of this is really of any importance at all. Stop being so mad -- and mean-minded. Life goes on no matter what."

Canadians already know that. We replace our government like used bed sheets, and nothing really changes. We're just as indebted. Our politicians are just as corrupt. The little guy gets screwed while the big guys gets rich -- and if you're not sure which role you play in this game, here's a hint. Look down -- if you can see your own hands you are the screwee, not the screwer.

But trust me --your hyperbole, rhetoric, marching, chanting, shouting, yelling, (voting), team picking, slogan repeating, constitution pounding, name calling, and tea-partying won't make any difference at all. That is the big lie. So chill. Have a cold one. (Now that's Canadian.)

Statistics show that 71% of American students graduate from high school, compared to 79% of Canadian students so it's likely -- should Canadians take up the practice -- signs in Canada wouldn't show superior spelling. (Though we'd put all the U's back in labour, humour, neighbour.)

A popular teeshirt in Florida reads, I'm exercising my first amendment rights and if you don't listen I'll exercise my second amendment rights. Threatening with guns -- yes, the path to democracy.
A popular teeshirt in Florida reads, I'm exercising my first amendment rights and if you don't listen I'll exercise my second amendment rights. Threatening with guns -- yes, the path to democracy.

Other differences

Canadians tend to be better informed about the rest of the world -- all of it. Americans seem to have decided if it didn't happen here, it's of no importance, unless we have troops in the place, and then it's an act against us.

I asked one or two Americans -- my neighbors here in Florida (and yes I accept that Florida is a very conservative, RED state, and not necessarily representative of the entire country -- I make do with what's available. And this article is supposed to be on the light-side -- remember?)  about this insular point of view. One fellow said, "We figure if we mind our own business then they'll leave us alone, too."

I bit my tongue so badly it bled.  Definitely what America is famous for -- minding it's own business. Oh, sorry -- it slipped out.

But it's true that Canadians know a fair bit about what's happening in Europe, Asia, Australia, South America and the U.S., as well as home, and discuss it -- openly and without fear of being hit, and or losing friends if someone doesn't share our views. Statistics show Canadians travel outside of their country more than Americans do. Canadians are more likely to speak a second language than Americans. Canadians are more likely to study abroad than Americans.

I lay the reason for this at the feet of the American news media. The coverage of world happenings aside from those locales of specific American interest such as Iraq and Afghanistan, is next to nil. And I do mean nil.

This leaves Americans poorly equipped to decide the truth of matters as presented to them. If they are told their health care is the best in the world, they blindly repeat it -- without knowledge of reality.

In fact, I find sloganism the bane of rational thought for many Americans. If it's American. it's "the best" and that's an end to it.

"Proud to be an American" is slapped across every fifth or sixth bumper sticker I see here. And that's great; good for you; three cheers; rah! rah!-- except understand that others may be equally proud of their own home, culture, country. Unlike the American mind-set, one does not have to believe theirs the biggest and best to be proud. Strangely enough, many Americans seem to think that what they believe is automatically the truth, and anyone who believes otherwise is automatically wrong..And if you don't agree -- we can't be friends and get out of my house!! Very much an American trait -- sorry to say.

This need of Americans to believe themselves the biggest, the best, the greatest in all things and in all ways is something uniquely theirs. Another major difference between my two home countries.

Canadians don't need to be the biggest (actually land-wise Canada's second biggest in the world; population-wise barely makes state status) or the best, or the greatest. Canadians are proud of their country -- yes -- but don't make a big deal about it. You wouldn't find yourself in a fist fight because you insulted Canada.

A Canadian would be unlikely to suggest if you didn't listen to him, he'd tote a gun to ensure you did. (Even though Canada does have a higher rate of gun ownership than the U.S.) A Canadian doesn't feel so attached to the political party of his choice he'd refuse to associate with you because you held different views.

So, I can honestly say these two ideas are more of the ideology that seperates us.

But the truth is, we have so much more in common than we do differences. I think I might write another hub about Canada and the U.S. -- and how much we share.

I've written other hubs on this subject and I've linked them to the right for convenience, should you want to learn more -- and then write a damn good rebuttal. I hope someone does.


You might be Canadian if:

  • You design your kids' Halloween costume to fit over a snowsuit.
  • You take the kids trick or treating in a blizzard
  • You have more miles on your snowblower than your car.
  • You have 10 favourite recipes for moose meat.
  • You have Canadian Tire money in your wallet. (Or you know what this means.)
  • You live in a house that has no front step, yet the door is one meter above the ground.
  • Driving is better in the winter because the potholes are filled in with snow.
  • You owe more money on your snowmobile than your car.
  • Your snowblower gets stuck on the roof.
  • You call Montana (or Maine) "going south."
  • You frequently clean grease off your barbeque so the bears won’t prowl on your deck.
  • You know which leaves make good toilet paper.
  • You find -40C a little chilly.
  • The trunk of your car doubles as a deep freezer.
  • You attend a formal event in your best clothes, your finest jewelry and your Sorels. (Sorels are snow boots made up of a rubberized outer layer and a thick felt inner boot. We aren't sure but we think Sorels may be the origin of Big Foot legends.)
  • You know 4 seasons – Winter, Still Winter, almost Winter and Construction.
  • The municipality buys a Zamboni before a bus.
  • You actually get these jokes.

Canada -- ten little provinces and three territories

TOP 10 REASONS TO LIVE IN BRITISH COLUMBIA

1. Weed.

2. Vancouver: 1.5 million people and two bridges.

3. The local hero is a pot-smoking snowboarder.

4. The local wine doesn't taste like malt vinegar.

5. Your $400,000 Vancouver home is just 5 hours from downtown.

6. A university with a nude beach.

7. You can throw a rock and hit three Starbucks locations.

8. If a cop pulls you over, just offer them some of your hash.

9. There's always some sort of deforestation protest going on.

10. Cannabis.

TOP 10 REASONS TO LIVE IN ALBERTA

1. Big Rock between you and B.C.

2. Ottawa who?

3. Tax is 7 percent instead of approximately 200 percent for the rest of the country.

4. The Premier is a fat, alcoholic who is easy to make fun of.

5. Flames vs. Oilers.

6. Stamps vs. Eskies.

7. You can exploit almost any natural resource you can think of.

8. You live in the only province that could actually afford to be it's own country.

9. The Americans below you are all in anti-government militia groups.

10. You can attempt to murder your rich oil tycoon husband and get away with it.

TOP 10 REASONS TO LIVE IN SASKATCHEWAN

1. You never run out of wheat.

3. Cruise control takes on a whole new meaning.

4. Your province is really easy to draw.

5. You never have to worry about roll-back if you have a standard.

6. It takes you two weeks to walk to your neighbor's house.

7. YOUR Roughriders survived.

8. You can watch the dog run away from home for hours.

9. People will assume you live on a farm.

10. Buying a huge John Deere mower makes sense.

TOP 10 REASONS TO LIVE IN MANITOBA

1. You wake up one morning to find you suddenly have beachfront property.

2. Amusing town names like "Flin Flon" and "Winnipeg".

3. All your local bands make it big and move to Toronto.

4. The only province to ever violently rebel against the federal government.

5. Hundreds of huge, horribly frigid lakes.

6. Nothing compares to a wicked Winnipeg winter.

7. You don't need a car, just take the canoe to work.

8. You can be an Easterner or a Westerner depending on your mood.

9. Because of your license plate, you are still friendly even when you cut someone off.

10. Pass the time watching trucks and barns float by.

TOP 10 REASONS TO LIVE IN ONTARIO

1. You live in the center of the universe.

2. Your $400,000 Toronto home is actually a dump.

3. You and you alone decide who will win the federal election.

4. There's no such thing as an Ontario Separatist. Separate from what? You are the centre of the universe.

5. Your grandparents sold booze to the States during Prohibition.

6. Lots of tourists come to Toronto because they mistakenly believe it's a cool city.

7. The only province with hard-core American-style crime.

8. Much Music's Speaker's Corner - rant and rave on national TV for a dollar.

9. Baseball fans park on your front lawn and pee on the side of your house.

10. Mike Harris: basically a sober Ralph Klein.

TOP 10 REASONS TO LIVE IN QUEBEC

1. Everybody assumes you're an asshole.

2. Racism is socially acceptable.

3. The only province to ever kidnap federal politicians.

4. You can take bets with your friends on which English neighbor will move out next.

5. Other provinces basically bribe you to stay in Canada.

6. The FLQ.

7. Your hockey team is made up entirely of dirty French guys who can't skate.

8. The province with the oldest, nastiest hookers.

9. NON-smokers are the outcasts.

10. You can blame all your problems on the "Anglo bastards".

TOP 10 REASONS TO LIVE IN NEW BRUNSWICK

1. You are sandwiched between French assholes and drunken Celtic fiddlers.

2. One way or another, the government gets 98 percent of your income.

3. You're poor, but not as poor as the Newfies.

4. When listing the provinces, everyone forgets to mention yours.

5. The economy is based on fish, cows, and ferrying Ontario motorists to Boston.

6. No one ever blames anything on New Brunswick.

7. You have French people, but they don't want to kill you.

8. Everybody has a Grandfather who runs a lighthouse.

9. Just as charming as Maine, but with more unemployed fishermen.

10. You probably live in a small seaside cottage with no television.

TOP 10 REASONS TO LIVE IN NOVA SCOTIA

1. The only place in North America to get bombed in the war by a moron who set ammunition ship on fire. (Halifax Explosion)

2. The province is shaped like the male genitalia.

3. Everyone can play the fiddle. The ones who can't, think they can.

4. If someone asks if you're a Newfie, you are allowed to kick their ass.

5. The local hero is an insane, fiddle playing, sexual pervert homo.

6. The province that produced Rita MacNeil, the world's largest land mammal.

7. You are the "only" reason Anne Murray makes money.

8. You can pretend you have Scottish heritage as an excuse to get drunk and wear a kilt.

9. The economy is based on lobster and fiddle music.

10. Even though it smells like dead sea animals, Halifax is considered Canada's most beautiful city.

TOP 10 REASONS TO LIVE ON PRINCE EDWARD ISLAND

1. Even though more people live on Vancouver Island, you still got the big ass bridge.

2. You can walk across the province in half an hour.

3. You were probably once an extra on "Road to Avonlea".

4. This is where all those tiny red potatoes come from.

5. The economy is based on fish, potatoes, and CBC TV shows.

6. Tourists arrive, see the "Anne of Green Gables" house, then promptly leave.

7. You can drive across the province in two minutes.

8. It doesn't matter to you if Quebec separates.

9. You don't share a border with the Americans, or with anyone for that matter.

10. You can confuse ships by turning your porch lights on and off at night.

TOP 10 REASONS TO LIVE IN NEWFOUNDLAND

1. The poorest, drunkest province in Confederation.

2. If Quebec Separates, you will float off to sea.

3. In the rare case when someone moves to the Rock, you can make them kiss a dead cod.

4. The economy is based on fish, seafood, and fish-related products.

5. If you do something stupid, you have a built-in excuse.

6. You & only you understand the meaning of Great Big Sea's lyrics.

7. The workday is about two hours long.

8. You are credited with many great inventions, like the solar-powered flashlight and the screen door for submarines.

9. If someone asks if you're from Cape Breton, you are allowed to kick their ass.

10. It is socially acceptable to wear your hip waders on your wedding day.

The Excited States of America (All 50 of 'em)

State Slogans:

Alabama: Yes, We Have Electricity

Alaska: 11,623 Eskimos Can't Be Wrong!

Arizona: But It's a Dry Heat

Arkansas: Literacy Ain't Everything

California: By 30, Our Women Have More Plastic Than Your Honda.

Colorado: If You Don't Ski, Don't Bother

Connecticut: Like Massachusetts, Only The Kennedys Don't Own It Yet.

Delaware: We Really Do Like The Chemicals In Our Water

Florida: Ask Us About Our Grandkids

Georgia: We Put The "Fun" In Fundamentalist Extremism

Hawaii: Haka Tiki Mou Sha'ami Leeki Toru (Death To Mainland Scum, But Leave Your Money)

Idaho: More Than Just Potatoes...Well Okay, We're Not, But The Potatoes Sure Are Real Good

Illinois: Please Don't Pronounce the "S"

Indiana: 2 Billion Years Tidal Wave Free

Iowa: We Do Amazing Things With Corn

Kansas: First Of The Rectangle States

Kentucky: Five Million People; Fifteen Last Names

Louisiana: We're Not ALL Drunk Cajun Wackos, But That's Our Tourism Campaign

Maine: We're Really Cold, But We Have Cheap Lobster

Maryland: If You Can Dream It, We Can Tax It

Massachusetts: Our Taxes Are Lower Than Sweden's (For Most Tax Brackets)

Michigan: First Line Of Defense Against The Canadians

Minnesota: 10,000 Lakes And 10,000,000,000,000 Mosquitoes

Mississippi: Come Feel Better About Your Own State

Missouri: Your Federal Flood Relief Tax Dollars At Work

Montana: Land Of The Big Sky, The Unabomber, Right-Wing Crazies,& Very Little Else

Nebraska: Ask About Our State Motto Contest

Nevada: Whores and Poker -- WOO-EEE!!!

New Hampshire: Go Away And Leave Us Alone

New Jersey: You Want A ##$%##! Motto? I Got Yer ##$%##! Motto Right Here!

New Mexico: Lizards Make Excellent Pets

New York: You Have The Right To Remain Silent, You Have The Right to An Attorney...

North Carolina: Tobacco IS A Vegetable

North Dakota: We Really Are One Of The 50 States!

Ohio: At Least We're Not Michigan

Oklahoma: Like The Play, Only No Singing

Oregon: Spotted Owl... It's What's For Dinner

Pennsylvania: Cook With Coal

Rhode Island: We're Not REALLY An Island

South Carolina: Remember The Civil War? We Didn't Actually Surrender

South Dakota: Closer Than North Dakota

Tennessee: The Educashun State

Texas: Si, Hablo Ingles (Yes, I Speak English)

Utah: Our Jesus Is Better Than Your Jesus

Vermont: Yep, syrup!

Virginia: Who Says Government Stiffs And Slackjaw Yokels Don't Mix?

Washington: Help! We're Overrun By Nerds And Slackers!

Washington, D.C.: Wanna Be Mayor?

West Virginia: One Big Happy Family...Really!

Wisconsin: Come Cut The Cheese

Wyoming: Where Men Are Men...and the sheep are scared!


Homeland Security Request

As we all know, the Taliban considers it a sin for a man to see a naked woman who is not his wife. So, this Sunday at 2:00 PM Eastern time all American women are asked to walk out of their house completely naked to help weed out any neighbourhood terrorists. Circling your block for one hour is recommended for this anti- terrorist effort.

All men are to position themselves in lawn chairs in front of their house to prove they are not Taliban, demonstrate that they think it's okay to see nude women other than their wife and to show support for all American women.

And since the Taliban also does not approve of alcohol, a cold six-pack at your side is further proof of your anti-Taliban sentiment.

Homeland Security appreciates your efforts to root out terrorists and applauds your participation in this anti-terrorist activity.

God Bless America!


Another big difference: There are more jokes to be found about Canadians than Americans. As I mentioned before, Canadians love to laugh at themselves, whereas Americans take it rather badly when you poke fun at them. I wonder why. Don't believe me -- go online and check it out.


How many Canadians does it take to screw in a lightbulb?

Twelve.

Four to form a Parliamentary study committee to decide how to solve the problem, one Francophone to complain that I didn't translate this joke into French, one Native Canadian to protest that the interests of Native Canadians have been overlooked, one woman from the National Action Committee On the Status Of Women to say that women have been underrepresented in the process, one to go over the border to the Niagara Falls Factory Outlet Mall and buy a new bulb and not pay duty on it on the way back, one to actually screw it in, one to collect taxes on the whole procedure so the government can afford it, one to buy a case of Molson for everybody to drink, and one to drop the puck.


I am Canadian

My name is Bob, and I am Canadian.

I am a minority in Vancouver, Banff, and every casino in this country. I was born in 1972, yet I am responsible for some Native's great great grandfather who screwed himself out of his land in the 1800's.

I pay import tax on cars made in Ontario.

I am allowed to skydive and smoke, but not allowed too drive without a seat belt.

All the money I make up until mid July must go to paying taxes. I live and work among people who believe Americans are ignorant.

These same people cannot name this country's new Territory.

Although I am sometimes forced to live on Kraft Dinner and don't have a pot to piss in, I sleep well knowing that I've helped purchase a nice six figure home in Vancouver for some unskilled Chinese refugee.

Although they are unpatriotic and constantly try to separate, Quebec still provides my nation's Prime Ministers. 95% of my nation's international conflicts are over fish.

I'm supposed to call black people African Canadians, although I'm sure none of them have ever been to Africa, or east of Halifax for that matter.

I believe that paying a 200% tax on alcohol is fair. I believe that same tax on gasoline is also fair. Even if I have no idea what happened to that old rifle my grandfather gave me when I was 14, I will be considered a criminal if I don't register it.

I DO know Jeff from Toronto.

I often badmouth the United States, and then vacation there three times a year. I'm led to believe that some lazy ass unionized broom pusher who makes $30 an hour is underpaid and therefore must go on strike, but paying $10 an hour to someone who works 12 hour shifts at forty below on an oil rig is fair.

I believe that paying $30 million for 3 stripes (The Voice of Fire) by the National Art Gallery was a good purchase, even though 99% of this country didn't want it, or will ever see it.

When I look at my pay stub and realize that I take home a third of what I actually make, I say "Oh well, at least we have better health care than the Americans" I must bail out farmers when their crops are too wet or too dry, because I control the rain.

My National Anthem has versions in both official languages, and I don't know either of them.

Canada is the highest taxed nation in North America, the biggest military buffer for the United States, and the number one destination for fleeing boat people.

I am not an angry white male. I am an angry broke taxpayer. My name is Bob, and I am Canadian.

The last word

A final note from the author:

I found this a difficult request to fill as I love both countries and have close ties and friends in each, and have no wish to insult anyone. However, I was asked and I've given the best, the most honest answer I could. I hope, Missus Smith, you feel your request was fully answered.

 Love to all and God Bless America and God Bless Canada.

Lynda

More by this Author


Comments 45 comments

Jeff Berndt profile image

Jeff Berndt 6 years ago from Southeast Michigan

Brilliant. And not all of us Americans take ourselves so seriously.

Here's a joke to prove it:

What do you call someone who speaks two languages?

Bilingual.

What do you call someone who speaks three languages?

Trilingual.

What do you call someone who speaks one language?

American.

Cheers!


E. Nicolson profile image

E. Nicolson 6 years ago

I enjoyed this very much -- very brave and balanced. I guess there is no doubt, I truly am Canadian as I understood all too clearly (and experienced many) the "You might be a Canadian if ..." list:) Thanks again for a wonderful Hub.


Kendall H. profile image

Kendall H. 6 years ago from Northern CA

This took a lot of guts to write and I congratulate you on writing what you really felt. I did find myself laughing about what it means to be an American. We do tend to get quite excited about government issues without realizing that life will go on no matter what. I like this quote from Teddy Roosevelt, "We [Americans] get a little blind and reckless at times." The 50 state mottos were laugh-out-loud-great!! I always look forward to reading your hubs!


MissusSmith profile image

MissusSmith 6 years ago from Montana

Just excellent, lmmartin, more than I could have hoped for. You are so right; you capture our strange arrogance completely: if you don't believe what I believe then you are wrong. How true of us. And you're very wise to advise us that life goes on, no matter what.

Thank you. You fulfilled my request above and beyond, gave me much to think on and some new jokes on top of all the rest. Thank you lmmartin. Missus Smith


"Quill" 6 years ago

Great Hub Sister from the North...well written and filled with much truth. The only thing that separates the US and Canada is a line on the map.

Blessings


Hello, hello, profile image

Hello, hello, 6 years ago from London, UK

You are just great. I grew up in a small town and across the street were the American army with their family. Although we never really mixed them, only certain girls, but somehow or the other we still got the attitude. My parents did have social evenings because the army had to mix with the locals, to show us that they were our friends. Therefore, I can agree with all your statements. Thank you for a great read.

What is that Tea Party business I hear so much about it? Itried to find out but no success.


homebuoy 6 years ago

This was great! Thank you for undertaking the task, and performing it so perfectly.

Faves:

"I'm Teabagging 4 Jesus", and "Canada: Not as cool as it seems"


lmmartin profile image

lmmartin 6 years ago from Alberta and Florida Author

Thanks Jeff Brandt -- first for reminding us not to generalize and assume all Americans take themselves seriously. My American husband does not, but then he does have twenty years of living in Canada to influence his outlook.

Thanks for your comment E. Nicolson -- that's what makes these jokes so good -- they are true!! The other day I grabbed a purse I hadn't used in a while, was out with friends for lunch, opened the inner pocket and found $8 in Canadian Tire money. My Florida friends thought me mad as i sat staring at it, laughing.

Hi Kendall, thanks for the Teddy Roosevelt quote. It is apt. And thanks for your comment.

Nice to hear from you MissusSmith. I'm glad you found my response satisfactory. Thanks (and you must know I'm dreaming up some suitable revenge.)

Thanks Quill, nice to hear from you as always. True- but that line on the map denotes more differences than you might at first be aware of. On the surface, our two societies look the same -- but they are very different. Thanks for your comment.

Hi Hello,hello -- good to hear from you. What is this Tea Party business you ask? It's a long story, hello. It is supposed to commemorate the civil disobedience of the Boston Tea Party way back in 177? but in truth, as far as I can see, has become an excuse to get out, carry poorly spelled and sometimes moronic signs (some are so insulting they are obnoxious) drink beer and act out. I guess it's a way for people to let of steam. I don't know -- doesn't look like a group I'd want to spend time with.

Hi Homebuoy -- thank you for your comment. Your Faves are also mine. Lynda


Hello, hello, profile image

Hello, hello, 6 years ago from London, UK

I read quite a number of time, on Hub, about the tea party which got my nose twitching. Thank you for your information and I am sure I won't join.


thejcrevelator2 profile image

thejcrevelator2 6 years ago

I have been very lucky in my business life to be able to make business calls on Canadian companies across Canada. Over a period of 30 years my visits took me to smaller towns Red Deer, Hamilton, Regina, and large cities Montreal, Toronto, Vancouver, etc. I often try to list all the places I have been in Canada and the list runs to many dozens.

In most of these towns and cities people in the business world took me to both lunch and dinner and shared their ideas and opinions and wanted very much to hear mine.

I can remember sitting in a neighborhood restaurant in Montreal and discussing American imperialism with six engineers and thinking no one I know in the US knows this much about the world. In fact I doubt that Americans even know the world puts these two words together when describing the USA.

The single biggest difference between the USA and the rest of the world is Americans simply don’t care about anything but themselves. We are a country that is selfish, self-centered, uncaring and uninformed when compared to other countries.

It was stunned to see how little Canadians, even business people, seemed to be driven by money. In fact many told me that 50% tax rates were fair and not being able to write off home mortgage interest was also fair, because these two things helped Canada “be a better place to live.”

The majority of Americans would scream socialism and demand their taxes be cut further.

I found that most Canadians are far more Christian than most Americans in their public policy.

Matthew 22:39-40

39"The second is like it, YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF.'

40" On these two commandments depend the whole Law and the Prophets."

Matthew 7:12 GOLDEN RULE -

12 “Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them: for this is the law and the prophets.”

John 14:15 “If ye love me keep my commandments.”


Jeff Berndt profile image

Jeff Berndt 6 years ago from Southeast Michigan

I've found that the biggest difference between how Americans and Canadians approach public policy is rationality. There are exceptions, but most Americans are ideologues. We tend to assume that our opinion is the right one, and anyone who disagrees is a scoundrel. Most of my Canadian friends, however, tend to be more rational, to examine ideas on their merits, no matter where the idea came from, and accept or reject the idea based on rational thought. This is not to say that Canadians all agree with each other! But they seem to disagree far more agreeably.


lmmartin profile image

lmmartin 6 years ago from Alberta and Florida Author

Hi Jcrevelator -- well first, thanks for dropping by. I'm not sure your harsh disapproval is deserved by the American people. In spite of their quirks, they are warm-hearted and generous,quick to care for others when disaster strikes. If I have not stressed these virtues in my article, it is because I was asked to write on the differences between us, and this rabid politicking and blind acceptance of slogans is what makes the most of that difference. I have spent half my life in the U.S. and hold the American people (most them) in high regards and do not hold them to blame for what they do not know. As far as I can see, they are the product of a planned program of keeping the U.S. insular and isolated from the rest of the world. They don't know what they don't know. If you get what I'm saying here. But thanks so much for sharing your views and I am proud and happy to know you were well cared for by my fellow Canadians.

Hi again, Jeff. Glad you came back. Yes, I think I agree with you -- Canadians are not so "set" in their ideas and willing to examine new ones. The other day when someone told me the U.S. had the best medical care in the world and I asked what made them think so, the speaker looked confused and sputtered, "Well it just is -- everyone knows that." There was no budging this person from that blind point of view no matter what facts and figures (and U.S.health statistics are shameful and a disgrace) were offered in evidence, or what anecdotes shared. That was the "party" line, and therefore fact. Yes, this is one good example.

Canadians are not so vested in being the biggest, best and greatest, and possibly better informed so therefore better able to be flexible in forming opinions.

Again -- this is not a universal statement. I have American friends who see the reality of the situation in the U.S. for what it is.

Thanks so much for sharing.


Rafini profile image

Rafini 6 years ago from Somewhere I can't get away from

Wow Lynda, I really enjoyed this hub. The entire time I was reading I was either laughing or nodding my head in agreement. There were even a few times I had to stop and think long enough to say, Nope, I'm not Canadian!

It was quite refreshing to see the USA through (please pardon the term) 'foreign' eyes and ears. Although I've felt your truths I've never run into anyone else who would admit to them. You spoke the truth with a touch of sarcasm and a splash of humor. Remarkable writing.

Now, as for US Citizens (still) being ignorant of the world - I've come to realize it's up to the individual and with the availability of the internet there are many chances to learn. I feel the problem belongs with whoever is in charge of Education and online information. It isn't our choice to be ignorant of the world, but the choice of our leaders. I ask: Why??

You speak of suitable revenge for Missus Smith - thanks for the warning! I won't be submitting any questions to you!! LOL


lmmartin profile image

lmmartin 6 years ago from Alberta and Florida Author

Thanks Rafini, as always nice to hear from you, and I appreciate your thoughtful comments. Perhaps the solution to Americans learning more about the world also lies in the other problems we discussed -- America is the greatest therefore there is no reason to learn about anyone else. That's how it seems sometimes. At any rate, the times they are a-changing. We'll see if Americans can change with them. LOL.

And you can submit questions to me whenever you want, but if you give me a tough one like this -- look out.


Tammy Lochmann profile image

Tammy Lochmann 6 years ago

Hi my fellow Canuck-living in the States...A tea bagger or tea bagging was a naughty thing to do I looked it up to see...I was right. I left the link.

http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=tea...

Thanks for the chuckle I totally had a good time reading this one. I sure remember wearing my Halloween costume over my snowsuit.


JannyC profile image

JannyC 6 years ago

I got all the jokes so am I Canadian? Take me home Canada!

Kudos to you!


BillC 6 years ago

Loved the hub. We are Americans from Oregon, now living in Alberta - Grande Prairie. We not only got the "You might be Canadian" jokes, we're living them. When it snows in Portland - usually about an inch (that's about 2.5 cm)the city shuts down, schools are closed, people save up on food rations for the long haul. Here, if it snows an inch, it must be June. I do feel out of place, though, when I get together with my co-workers in the oil patch; I've never shot a moose, and I don't own a snowmobile or pickup truck. I've also noticed that although the US calls itself a melting pot, I've experienced more ethinic diversity in this small town, than I've experienced in 46 years in Portland. Of course, most of them are medical professionals.

It's true that the Canadians I've met are kind, courteous, and easy to get along with - except when they're in their cars. Although, people here actually stop for people in cross-walks - in fact, if you're half a block away from the cross-walk, they stop in anticipation. In Portland, if you're a pedestrian, you better run across the street - road kill is road kill.

And, in the two years we've been here, not only do we not know who is in the government, neither do most of the Canadians we've talked to.

Yours was a wonderful Hub page, and I'm looking forward to sharing it with my co-workers - most of whome are "Newfies."


paul_gibsons profile image

paul_gibsons 6 years ago from Gibsons, BC, Canada

i remember a few years ago I was in Florida and needed to post a letter to Canada. So, I went to the Post Office in Orlando. "That will be 50 cents" (or something like that) the lady behind the counter said. "Really?", I said, "for Canada?". "Yup" she said, "all internal mail is the same". "But Canada..." I said. Her response was priceless and so typical: "is that a different country then? Let me look it up.. gosh yes! ok that will be 65 cents then"(or whatever it was). And that from the Post Office in Florida... I guess all snowbirds there were hit with higher postal costs after my little enquiry....


lmmartin profile image

lmmartin 6 years ago from Alberta and Florida Author

Okay Paul -- that was your fault? Don't come back to Florida then, there's a contract out on you. Thanks darlin' for comin' by. (Southern enough for ya?) Lynda

Hi Bill -- I just finished tellin' ya how sweet you were on the other hub, Lynda's Guide to Americans Livin' In Alberta (or somethin' like) and hi again. You must be in Fort McMurray -- right? Thanks again for dropping by and leaving such a fun comment.

Oh crap! I just realized there are other comments I haven't answered yet. (Did I mention I'm entertaining Canadians visiting Florida again, which automatically involves drinking and bad typing.)

Hey Tammy -- tomorrow okay? And thanks to you too, my fellow Canuck among the Americans. If you were Albertan you'd understand Mississippi.

If you understood all the jokes JannyC, you are in serious need of a real life. You are not Canadian -- sorry. Love ya' darlin' and good night.


Jeff Berndt profile image

Jeff Berndt 6 years ago from Southeast Michigan

Hey, here's another difference that many folks who don't share my particular hobby might not have noticed: Canada and the USA take care of their historical sites in very different ways.

I've visited several historic sites in both countries as a tourist and as a reenactor, and the Canadian ones are universally better maintained, better staffed, better funded, more authentically appointed. The American ones are often run-down, minimally staffed, and have anachronistic novelties and modern conveniences stapled onto them.

For example, Fort Malden, in Amherstburg, Ontario, has a large staff of interpreters in period dress (they represent Ft. Malden as it was during the rebellion of 1837), doing chores and demonstrations with period equipment.

Ft. Michilimackinac, in Mackinaw City, Michigan, in contrast, has only a handful of costumed interpreters and relies heavily on unpaid volunteers. They recently built a playground on the fort grounds, in hopes that more tourists will come if there's something for the kids to play on.

This is not to disparage the fine work that the staff of Ft. Michilimackinac are doing. They do a great job with the resources they're given. But if they were as well-funded as Ft. Malden, they could do so much more.


lmmartin profile image

lmmartin 6 years ago from Alberta and Florida Author

Interesting observation. Both countries do an outstanding job of their national parks.


JannyC profile image

JannyC 6 years ago

Was joking on getting all the jokes I did not so Im safe.


resspenser profile image

resspenser 6 years ago from South Carolina

How in the world do you have time to write such great info filled hubs?

By the way South Carolina's slogan has been changed to:

"Roadkill. It's not just for breakfast anymore!"

As far as knowing about other places in the world, I watched Shogun a few decades ago. So there. LOL!!!


lmmartin profile image

lmmartin 6 years ago from Alberta and Florida Author

Hi resspenser -- it's what I do. Change in slogan duly noted. And not only did you learn a smattering of Japanese, you also became an expert on bad acting. (Dick Chamberlain -- cute but not too swift.) Thanks for the comment.


Mardi profile image

Mardi 6 years ago from Western Canada and Texas

lmmartin,

Haha I found some Canadian Tire money the other day in an old wallet, brought back some fun memories!

As an Albertan living in Texas I think you are spot on with your hub and funny to boot. Have to keep my political views largely to myself, safer that way (grin!). Can't wait to go home this summer and swat at the odd mosquito and drink Kokanee! Heading to Ponoka, Red Deer, Calgary and Innisfail, my old stomping grounds.


lmmartin profile image

lmmartin 6 years ago from Alberta and Florida Author

Have a Kokanee for me, Mardi. And say hello to my mountains. Thanks for coming by and leaving your comment. Lynda


True Blue Tips profile image

True Blue Tips 6 years ago

I must be Canadian; I have Canadian Tire money in my wallet!


lmmartin profile image

lmmartin 6 years ago from Alberta and Florida Author

You must be -- no one else would have any.


Mystique1957 profile image

Mystique1957 6 years ago from Caracas-Venezuela

Lynda...

You have enlightened me about both countries! I always wondered what were their true differences. In spite of being a Venezuelan, I can tell you, at least up to my nephew´s generation(He´s 27), most people like to learn about World´s geography. You can be sure that in spite of a high rate of illiteracy, those who aren´t illiterate know pretty much where every country of the world is, their capital city, their food, some of their customs, and WE ARE NOT RACISTS. The stupid difference is based on status quo, regardless of religion, skin color, or race. Nowadays, the wacko that sits on the Presidency finally succeeded in separating us by political ideas as well. Now there is hatred, before him, It didn´t exist! Sigh!

It was enlightening! Thanks for sharing!

Thumbs up!

Warmest regards and infinite eternal blessings,

Al


lmmartin profile image

lmmartin 6 years ago from Alberta and Florida Author

Thank you mystique. I was in your country for business many years ago (25-30) and enjoyed the warm friendly attentions of the people and the beauty of the landscape. (I was in and around Caracas.) I feel regret for all of you when I read of your current troubles.

Thanks for reading this article and leaving a comment. Lynda


saltymick profile image

saltymick 6 years ago

I'm an Australian who now lives in England but who also used to live in Canada, and whose parents, who still live there, also lived in the States for a while... confusing, but I loved reading your brave hub - the differences in English speaking peoples around the world are both subtle and extreme, oh yea, I lived in New Zealand for a little while too, I think.


lmmartin profile image

lmmartin 6 years ago from Alberta and Florida Author

I imagine the differences between Canada and the U.S. to be based on very different origins and foundations, compared say to the difference between Australia and New Zealand, whose origins were similar. In fact, Canada, Australia and New Zealand have much in common insofar as government structures, law, parliament, and our heritage. Canada and the U.S. may look alike on the surface -- but they are very different countries. Thanks for leaving your comment. Much appreciated.


itakins profile image

itakins 6 years ago from Irl

Gosh,this was interesting and funny-yes.Well done.


mtkomori profile image

mtkomori 6 years ago from Yokohama, Japan

Wow, you hit on some important points regarding the differences in how people think in the two countries! I have to say I laughed out loud and totally agree on "clinging to ideals, beliefs (real or imagined)" and the examples of George Washington and Abe Lincoln. The jokes pertainig to the Canadian were very humorous, too! I can readily identify with the differences as I now live in Waterloo, Ontario but went to school in Madison, Wisconsin some 20 years ago. Keep up the good work!


lmmartin profile image

lmmartin 6 years ago from Alberta and Florida Author

Thanks itakins. I suppose you have to be here to understand completely. (I feel like I'm washing dirty linens in public.)

Hi mtkomari Thanks for your comment and as a fellow cross-border citizen, I'm sure you got all the jokes.


Fangirl 6 years ago

Like you, I have many close ties to the States. My parents lived there and I've lived and worked in California.

I did find the slogans difficult to live with--felt as though I was living in an Orwellian world much of the time.


lmmartin profile image

lmmartin 6 years ago from Alberta and Florida Author

Good way to describe it.


Duchess OBlunt 6 years ago

eloquent

brave

a wonderful read!


lmmartin profile image

lmmartin 6 years ago from Alberta and Florida Author

Thanks, Duchess. But I don't feel brave, just saying it like I feel it and I know a number of Americans who feel the same way about the divisions of the country and the sloganism. Thanks again. Bye.


Genevieve 6 years ago

Thank you for putting this together and sharing it with us all. Being a Canadian I really enjoyed the all of the Top Tens and I Am Canadian type jokes. I haven't laughed that hard in a very long time.

My applause to you for such a witty, accurate, informative and funny comparison of two countries that are at once so similar and different. I enjoyed it very much.


lmmartin profile image

lmmartin 6 years ago from Alberta and Florida Author

Thank you Genevieve for dropping by and leaving this comment. As I have lived both sides of this border for many, many years, I feel like I belong to both. So it is with love to both sides I wrote this. Thanks so much. Lynda


Murray 5 years ago

Very late to comment. Just came across your site. (Never heard of hubpages before). I am a "galvanized" American, having been born and lived in Canada for 25 years, abroad in Europe and Asia for 26 years, and now in the USA for a cumulative 26 years. All the rest of my family is still in Canada. I really enjoyed this write up, and mostly agree, but I find the greatest defensiveness among conservatives and pretty tolerant attitudes among progressives. I think one of the major reasons for the American nationalism is there continuous political campaigning. No other country in the world has an even remotely similar political system. And of course the media is devoted to political campaigning above all else, so the typical American is inundated in politics, which seems to be highly polarizing. I recall an anecdote from many years ago in McCleans about a discussion between an American and a Canadian. The Canadian noted that in Canada the American political conventions seemed like a mild form of insanity. The American replied that there is a very thin line between insanity and genius to which the Canadian replied "Agreed. In Canada we call it the 49th parallel."


Murray 5 years ago

Oh yeah, forgot to add - your first picture of the frozen (f'ing cold) waterfront is really the Rue de Mont Blanc in Geneva Switzerland.


lmmartin profile image

lmmartin 5 years ago from Alberta and Florida Author

Nice to meet you. I've now lived here in the U.S. full time for two years, and I'm still flummoxed by the politics. There's other stuff going on in life and the world, folks! Thanks for dropping by. I hope you'll come back. Lynda

About the picture -- is it? It is as I found it, including the title. Still, seeing as it's lots of ice and snow, it will do.


Murray 5 years ago

Oops! Just read about unfollowers. Better acknowledge your response. Amazed to have a reply so quickly, or at all for that matter. You are unique.

Also have really enjoyed the "hubs?" I have read, but probably won't be here very often because I already spend way too much time on the internet chasing other interests. I do share your values to a large degree so of course I find you amazingly intelligent, observant, cogent, etc.

As a Canadian, do you know the Canadian Engineers Song?

Verse 3 - "Venus was a statue entirely made of stone,

she didn't have a fig leaf, she was naked as a bone

On seeing that her arms were gone an engineer discoursed

Of course the damn thing's broken! Concrete should be reinforced."

All for now. No reply needed unless you feel compelled.

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