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What are the important cultural differences between Canada and the US?


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Guest American Woman

I will try to balance out the list:

In many ways, Canadians are more arrogant than Americans, because we often boast about how much better we are than the Americans. (I partially agree with our Senior Mocker - but would not go as far as saying that Canadian identity is defined by comparisons to the USA). A common boast by Canadians is that we are less arrogant than Americans - to me this IS arrogance and hypocrisy at its finest!

Thank you for that. :)

***

viewed from outside our continent, English Canadians and Americans are seen as having the same culture. Our day-to-day lives are really not that different.

I agree. People outside our countries can't tell an American from a Canadian. That's why some Canadians feel the need to have a big Maple Leaf on their backpack to distinguish themselves. But seriously, if they think the Maple Leaf, and not their individual selves, is going to make them loved, what does that really say?

From the inside, the cultural differences between different regions of a country are greater than the differences between Canada and USA. For example, those living on the Pacific coast, Rocky Mountains, Great Plains, Atlantic Coast. Also, our countries share many common sub-cultures: Rednecks, Metrosexuals, ethnic communities, Soccer moms, gamers, "progressives", etc...

Again, agreed.

IMO, the most significant cultural difference is the presence of a French-speaking culture in Canada.

We have the presence of a Spanish-speaking culture in the U.S. as a counter-balance, though.
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In many ways, Canadians are more arrogant than Americans, because we often boast about how much better we are than the Americans. (I partially agree with our Senior Mocker - but would not go as far as saying that Canadian identity is defined by comparisons to the USA). A common boast by Canadians is that we are less arrogant than Americans - to me this IS arrogance and hypocrisy at its finest!

OK, but out of respect, M Dancer was the original Senior Mocker. He gave his MLW life for the cause. I only hope to continue the mocking jihad.

IMO, the most significant cultural difference is the presence of a French-speaking culture in Canada.

OK, but this is something that Canada struggles with irrespective of the USA. See comment below....

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We have the presence of a Spanish-speaking culture in the U.S. as a counter-balance, though.

Good observation, but the difference compared to Quebec/French is that, for the most part, American Hispanics seek to be included in the American experience without serious friction and separatist militancy. The U.S. has historical experience with Spain and Spanish America that Canada has never known. Chased from the Maritimes, the many French Acadians ended up Louisiana, and live as Cajuns to this day.

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smallc had a good list on the 1st page of this thread. I'll add:

- Americans are much more patriotic. History is more important to them in schooling, and they are brought up to the think they're the best country in the world (so my mother says, who spend years of her childhood in US schools)

For the most part, the only things Americans know about their history are what they saw in Hollywood movies.

Which is why their view of their own history is so wildly distorted.

Nor are they more patriotic. They are simply more openly, braggingly patriotic, whereas Canadians tend to be more smugly patriotic.

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Here is another difference.

Canadians don't 'hate' America, just your government. I am sure most of you are fine upstanding citizens with good morals and loves your fellow man. Good thing the few Americans we have on here don't actually represent real Americans... or do they?

I don't hate the American government. I hate how chaotic and corrupt it is, though. It offends my sense of "Peace, Order and Good Government".
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Another big difference is that Canadians (think) they know all about the U.S., but most Americans ignore Canada with complete indifference. They don't know, don't care, and don't care that they don't know. This drives Canadians nuts, but Americans don't care about that either.

Americans know little about America, and virtually nothing about the rest of the world. That doesn't drive me nuts. It makes me feel sorry for their poor education. I can't think of another nation on earth where a political candidate would be mocked because he spoke a foreign language in addition to his own.

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I was referring to the whole post, hence the [...] following the beginning of the quote, but yeah, thinking we're the best country in the world is a real compliment. :rolleyes: As if Canadians don't think that about Canada, at any rate. So yeah, that is how I took it, because that's how it comes across. What part wasn't insulting to Americans? The part where we are loud and obnoxious to Canada's polite? The part where we're violent, to the point that we fear a gun being pulled if we give another driver the finger? The part where we only partake of our media, and know nothing of the rest of the world while Canadians are so very knowledgeable? And then there's the "black guilt" claim. What utter nonsense. Not to mention your praise of smallc's list.

You both sound as if you just attended a mini course in Canadian Stereotypes About Americans 101.

I don't know any Canadian who hasn't been to the US, most of them multiple times. Most Canadians are also routinely exposed to the same media and cultural touchstones as Americans. Your repeated dismissal in all topics of the opinions of Canadians as if they couldn't possibly know or understand Americans is pointless and silly.

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IMO, the most significant cultural difference is the presence of a French-speaking culture in

I disagree. The most significant cultural difference is that Canadians, by and large, trust government, and expect and require a lot of it, often too much. Whatever problem comes up they expect government to deal with it. Any issues of the day, people or industries in trouble, they expect government to take care of it.

Americans, by and large, don't trust government, some of them to a degree most in the world would call paranoid to the point of insanity (they're called Republicans).

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Americans know little about America, and virtually nothing about the rest of the world. That doesn't drive me nuts. It makes me feel sorry for their poor education. I can't think of another nation on earth where a political candidate would be mocked because he spoke a foreign language in addition to his own.

Again...Americans don't care how or what you feel about them, while Canadians long to be "loved". More "foreign" languages are spoken in the U.S. than in Canada.

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I disagree. The most significant cultural difference is that Canadians, by and large, trust government, and expect and require a lot of it, often too much. Whatever problem comes up they expect government to deal with it. Any issues of the day, people or industries in trouble, they expect government to take care of it.

Americans, by and large, don't trust government, some of them to a degree most in the world would call paranoid to the point of insanity (they're called Republicans).

No, I think that the differences that you point out are mythical or at best minor.

First of all, average Canadians and Americans share an incredible apathy and ignorance of government and politics. For the great majority of all North Americans government and politics is not even on the cultural radar.

There is a crazy anti-government sub culture in the USA that does not seem to be present in Canada. I would argue that the numbers are too small to call this a significant difference. So, excluding the gold, gun, ammo, and canned food hoarding wacko's: Fact or myth, per capita, are governments in Canada really bigger and more trusted than those in the USA?

-Is there a difference in the percentage of people employed by the public sector?

-US military spending is 4-5 times that of Canada's.

-How about all government spending? I could be wrong but it looks higher in the US

-How about infrastructure - the USA seems to trust their government with a lot more projects.

-How about the US corporate bailouts?

-Canadians and Americans seem to have equal expectations of their governments helping out with natural disasters.

-How about farm and other industry subsidies? Seem to be higher in the US, although Canada has Supply Management.

-How about American governments exerting more control over people's personal lives (sex, drinking, etc..)

-My favourite Tea Party placard: "Get your government hands off my social security."

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I don't hate the American government. I hate how chaotic and corrupt it is, though. It offends my sense of "Peace, Order and Good Government".

We believe in "life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness."

Americans know little about America, and virtually nothing about the rest of the world. That doesn't drive me nuts. It makes me feel sorry for their poor education. I can't think of another nation on earth where a political candidate would be mocked because he spoke a foreign language in addition to his own.

Back in April 2007 my wife took me and my children to Niagara Falls, Canada to celebrate my 50th birthday.

I was chatting with a guy at the hotel bar after the Leafs lost, again. He stated that he was sure he knew more US history than I did (similar to the views of this poster), and certainly more US history than I knew about Canadian history. He asked me to test him. I asked him which two elections were decided by the House of Representatives and not the usual way, by the Electoral College. He answered, wasn't it the "Taft" election.

I responded that the Taft election, in 1912, was one of the few where a major party, the Republicans, got less votes than a third party, in tihs case Ted Roosevelt's "Bull Moose Progressives". I said "sort of like your 1993 and 1997 elections where the Bloc and the Reform got more than the Progressive Conservatives.

He said "I rest my case", and said he was astounded an American could quote Canadian elections from memory.

So guys, not always.

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Again...Americans don't care how or what you feel about them, while Canadians long to be "loved". More "foreign" languages are spoken in the U.S. than in Canada.

Some Americans care so much that they spend time producing 30,000 posts to tell us they don't care.

Guess we can throw in a few more zingers... sorry BAZINGAS .. in there.

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I don't know any Canadian who hasn't been to the US, most of them multiple times.

Do you count people who drive between the capital of L'Belle Provence and the capitals of New Brunswick, PEI or Nova Scotia?
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Why would so many Canadians go to the evil, gun infested U.S. multiple times ? Cheaper gas and cigarettes ?

I live just a couple hours drive from the Canadian border, but have no need to ever cross it. I'm sure it a nice place.

So you do 31,000+ times electronically?
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I spend a couple of months a year in the US and I dont notice much difference at all. Theres more latino influence I definately notice that... Canada doesnt have very many real Mexican mom and pop restaurants, which sucks for someone that likes mexican food.

All the differences posted here are true to a point but they are subtle. When I went to Amsterdam and Europe, I definately noticed I was in a different culture... When I go from Canada to the US theres no culture shock at all... People are wearing, eating, driving, and saying pretty much the same things. In the last year Iv been to Phoenix, LA, Colorado, Newyork, Vegas and SLC, and besides the different climates and some noticable accents they all could have been Vancouver with half the Asians replaced by Mexicans. Same food, same Architecture, same attitudes same thing. No Americans tried to talk to me about war or god or guns. People are polite and friendly.

Vegas was at least different enough to notice I wasnt in Vancouver... New Orleans might be interesting.

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Guest American Woman

i buy some things that are made in china because of their price as well. it has nothing to do with how i feel about their government.

So you travel to China to make these purchases, do you? Because I think the key word was "go." :)

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i buy some things that are made in china because of their price as well. it has nothing to do with how i feel about their government.

Really? Do you have a heavily stamped passport to reflect this ? Or just receipts from an American company named Amazon or Walmart?

Is there something special in Canada I should drive or fly in for to get "low prices" ? How does this impact local economies in Canada ?

I am going to try real hard to think of something I want to buy in Canada that is worth driving 2.5 hours one way with a border crossing....I promise.

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Guest American Woman

I don't know any Canadian who hasn't been to the US, most of them multiple times. Most Canadians are also routinely exposed to the same media and cultural touchstones as Americans. Your repeated dismissal in all topics of the opinions of Canadians as if they couldn't possibly know or understand Americans is pointless and silly.

First of all, the "dismissal in all topics of the opinions of Canadians" that you speak of exists only in your head.

Secondly, Canadians visiting the U.S., even if it's multiple times, is not comparable to Americans living their lives in the U.S.; travelling extensively within the U.S.

Thirdly, the differences Moonlight Graham spoke of are stereotypes, just as I said; the interpretation of the "differences" are Canadian interpretations of said differences.

And I had to laugh out loud at the "Americans are afraid to give the finger to other drivers" nonsense. From what I hear, road rage is a problem, so evidently drivers aren't too afraid to show their rage. That the 'proof' of his statement is one American telling him to stop making silly faces adds to the ridiculous factor of the claim. Why he was making silly faces in the first place remains a mystery, but this is one incident, one American, expressing his concern - in a nation of 312+ million people.

We are so different within our country, yet we are all painted with the same brush. That right there, in and of itself, shows a real lack of understanding of Americans.

Edited by American Woman
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We are so different within our country, yet we are all painted with the same brush. That right there, in and of itself, shows a real lack of understanding of Americans.

That just about says it all....the U.S. is a very diverse place...more diverse than Canada in scope and scale. I think the mark of a successful emigre is when they learn how to "flip the bird" in form and context, and even that differs across the USA.

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Again...Americans don't care how or what you feel about them, while Canadians long to be "loved". More "foreign" languages are spoken in the U.S. than in Canada.

It's certainly true Canadians have an inferiority complex which translates into 'loved to be loved' for want of a better term. But yes, Americans don't know or care what the rest of the world thinks of them... but then most of them don't even really know where the rest of the world is. All they know is its full of people who are inferior to them.

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