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Myths and Truths About Being Canadian

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There are many stereotypes about Canadians. If you are Canadian, and you just read that sentence out loud, you probably just hit one of them when you undoubtedly said "aboot." Am I right? Actually, as a Canadian, I'd have to say, no, I'm not right. I've yet to meet a Canadian who does that, yet that particular impression persists.

So what can I tell you about real Canadians? Do we say eh? You betcha. Do we over-say the word "Really?" Of course. Catch a Canadian saying "Really, eh?" and that's like a linguistic double back flip in the land of moose and beavers.

And aboot those moose and beavers... Not sure when I saw one last, if you don't count the dead beaver floating near a friend's cottage in Georgian Bay. The last moose I saw was on a highway in Alaska. I'm not saying we don't have moose and beavers -- we do. But they're just not at any risk of overrunning any of our major cities.

Yes, we have major cities. Toronto would be the fifth largest U.S. city if it were, in fact, a U.S. city (behind New York, Los Angeles, Chicago and Houston, and ahead of Philadelphia, Phoenix, and San Antonio). Montreal and Vancouver are also quite populous, but as a true Ontario-Canadian, I am programmed to only talk about the true centre of the universe.

Sure, we play hockey. Mostly in the winter. Sure, we might have the occasional doughnut or two. Mostly at the hockey arena. And we might even apologize too easily, even when it was you who bumped into us, or insulted our kids. About their hockey playing skills. Sorry about that. Really.

We celebrate a "May two-four" weekend. Even though May 24 only lands on an actual long weekend day about one year in every four or five. A "two-four" is our clever Canadian way of describing a case of 24-beer; the minimum requirement for a successful May two-four weekend.

We produce only singers that annoy (Céline Dion, Justin Bieber) depress (Leonard Cohen, Jann Arden), scare us a bit (Alanis Morrisette, Avril Lavigne), or do all three (Nickleback).

We don't have a national costume, food or dance. Diversity Day at large organizations scares all of us first, second and even third generation Canadians and we're most likely found either just painting our face red and white or slipping into an old ancestor's kilt. Because nothing says being truly Canadian like a red faced kilt-wearer.

We have no idea what a junior, sophomore, or senior student is or does. We like to put our numbers behind our grades (Grade 2, not 2nd Grade), and we have the sense to place our Thanksgiving a good two months before Christmas. Please just don't ask us exactly what we're celebrating on Thanksgiving though, as the whole Pilgrim thing never really played out here.

We wear runners, not sneakers, and it's called a Muskoka Chair, not an Algonquin Chair. We buy our milk in bags, we're not quite sure what American Cheese is, and we serve our iced tea sweetened, thanks very much.

Mostly, though, we like to define ourselves as what we are NOT. Mostly I've compared us here with Americans, but William Shatner takes it one step further, and says it best:

"I am not a Starfleet commander, or T.J. Hooker. I don't live on Starship NCC-170, or own a phaser. And I don't know anybody named Bones, Sulu, or Spock. And no, I've never had green alien sex, though I'm sure it would be quite an evening. I speak English and French, not Klingon! I drink Labatt's, not Romulan ale! And when someone says to me 'Live long and prosper', I seriously mean it when I say, 'Get a life'. My doctor's name is not McCoy, it's Ginsberg. And tribbles were puppets, not real animals. PUPPETS! And when I speak, I never, ever talk like every. Word. Is. Its. Own. Sentence. I live in California, but I was raised in Montreal. And yes, I've gone where no man has gone before, but I was in Mexico and her father gave me permission! My name is William Shatner, and I am Canadian!"