The weirdest myths and misconceptions about Canada.
If you were at least a teenager before the internet became a ‘thing’, you remember a time so far removed from today’s modern world of technology. Aside from what we read in scholarly history books, the people of one country rarely knew much about the culture of another. Most of our knowledge came from misbeliefs and hearsay, like the common misconception that the United Kingdom is a country, and that most French women elect not to shave their armpits. Both are false.
When the internet did come along, the world got a lot smaller. Suddenly, people were communicating with other people from all over the world. At the age of 18, one of my best friends was an Australian. I spoke to numerous people in England, New Zealand, the United States, and, of course, many more right here in Canada.
You would think that, after all this time—all this communicative mingling of cultures—we’d have learned more about one another by now. Apparently, that’s not the case. To this day, there are a multitude of common myths about Canadians, and the Great White North in general. Some you may be surprised to hear. Others you won’t.
Weird Myths & Misconceptions about Canada
#1 Tout le Monde ne Parle Pas Français?
Not all of you will be able to read that question, because it’s not true. Not everyone in Canada speaks French. According to the most recent 2016 Canada Census data, only 21.64 (7.45 million) Canadians still consider French to be their mother tongue. 27.2% of Canadians speak it regularly. English is by far the more popular language, being the natural language of 56% (19.57 million), and the chosen language of 73.6% of the population.
#2 Hybrid Units of Measurement
Everyone thinks Canadians use the metric system exclusively. Metric is the primary unit of measurement, but it’s nowhere near exclusive. Most of us use a mixture of metric and imperial measurements. We consider distance in centimeters, meters and kilometers, but our CFL games are played on 100-yard fields. We purchase milk, wine and gas in liters, but cook with cups and teaspoons. We gauge the weather in Celsius, but set our ovens to degrees Fahrenheit.
#3 Canadians Get Free Healthcare
This is a very common misconception, mostly because it’s advertised as a truth. Yes, we can walk into a hospital or clinic and get treatment for anything for the common cold to broken ribs, without receiving a bill. But we do pay for it. Everyone does. We share the cost of universal healthcare when paying our taxes. However, that does not include other basic medical needs like prescription drugs, dental, or vision.
#4 Hockey is the Only Sport that Matters
Ice Hockey may be an awesome sport, but it’s not the only sport we care to watch or place a little action on. Most people know (or can correctly guess) that Hockey is the national winter sport of Canada, but few foreigners would infer our affinity for lacrosse; the official summer sport of Canada. Most don’t know it was a Canadian, James Naismith, who invented basketball, either. We also enjoy football (hello, CFL!), baseball, cricket, soccer, rugby, curling, and wrestling.
#5 It’s So Co-o-o-l-d!
This is a major misconception about Canada. Many people seem to think that it’s all covered in ice and snow year-round. Our nickname, the Great White North, doesn’t help. But in truth, the only part of Canada that suffers this fate is the northern most region, falling within the Arctic Circle; mostly the Northwest Territory, Nunavut, and Yukon. It’s worth noting that, while this region makes up 39% of the country, it’s home to just 1% of Canada’s population. Vancouver, Montreal, Calgary, Edmonton, Toronto – these major cities enjoy all the four seasons with no exceptional accumulations of snow.
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