Stereotypes of Canadians

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This is an essay about Canadian stereotypes in media, and whether they are positive or negative.

Submitted: May 22, 2017

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Submitted: May 22, 2017



Canada. The Great White North. The land of igloos, beer, and people in red uniforms on horses. Well, that’s just what people think. All around media, there are different stereotypical portrayals of Canadians, some created by Canadians themselves. “Second City Television” (“SCTV”) is a Canadian show riddled with Canadian stereotypes, predominantly in their series of segments, “The Great White North”, where some of the Canadian stereotypes began. “The Great Canadian Joke Book” is a book of classic jokes about Canada and Canadians, claiming to “offend everyone”. “Due South” is a TV show about a member of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, Benton Fraser, who traveled to Chicago to find his Father’s murderer, but stayed to be liaison with the Canadian Consulate. He works with Raymond Vecchio to solve crimes in and around Chicago. “Anne of Green Gables” is a Canadian book about an orphan named Anne Shirley who was adopted by Marilla and Matthew Cuthbert to work at the Green Gables farm. They were originally looking to adopt a male, but because of a misunderstanding, they got Anne instead. The scholarly article, “Common Portrayals of Aboriginal People”, contradictory to the previous sources, talks about how Canadian First Nations are negatively portrayed in media, and how they are “dehumanised” in multiple ways. With all of those media sources, it is obvious that Canadians are positively portrayed as kind, beer-loving, talkative types of people, but are not very smart and hate Americans, as Canadian First Nations are negatively portrayed as primitive, violent, and devious.

SCTV’s “The Great White North” (first aired September 19st, 1980) was televised media about Bob and Doug McKenzie, two dim-witted beer-enthusiast Canadian brothers in heavy winter jackets and toques. They were created to embody every aspect of the humurous Canadian stereotypes. In short, two minute segments, Bob and Doug (played by Rick Moranis and Dave Thomas) talk about generally Canadian topics, like back bacon, beer, the Canadian Arm on the Space Shuttle, and snow routes, while drinking beer, smoking, and cooking back bacon, all of which real. The segments were all improvised, and were created for two minutes of filler, but became SCTV’s most popular segment. While talking about all-Canadian topics, the two characters use words and phrases like “hoser”, “knob”, “take off”, and most often, “eh”. Bob and Doug act very brotherly towards each other, in a way where they mostly get along, but still engage in friendly banter. In almost every segment, they say, “Take off, eh,” or “Ya hoser!” Overall, Bob and Doug cover many of the Canadian stereotypes,  and have, in fact, caused the stereotypes to exist.

The Great Canadian Joke Book, by Glen Warner, is a book about Canadian jokes. It literally has a joke about every Canadian stereotype imaginable. Whether it’s joke about Canadian politeness, stupidity, beer addiction, politics, First Nations, diversity, or “those gosh-darn Americans”, you can expect it all. The following is one of the jokes taken from the book. “Two Newfies are out drinking beer and hunting. One of them suddenly grabs his chest and collapses on the ground. The other guy pulls out his cell phone and dials 911. ‘My friend is dead!’ he screams at the operator. ‘What should I do?’ ‘Now, calm down, sir,’ replies the operator. ‘The first thing you must do is make sure that he's dead.’ Suddenly, the operator hears a loud gunshot. The Newfie comes back on the phone and says, ‘Okay, now what?’” (page 34, lines 15-23) This is showing that Canadians drink beer, hunt often, and aren’t smart. On the other hand, “How many Canadians does it take to change a light bulb? None. Canadians don't change light bulbs. We accept them the way they are,” (page 79, lines 5-6) shows that Canadians are polite, accepting, and diverse. The jokes range anywhere from offensive, flattering, relatable, or just plain funny. To sum it all up, the Great Canadian Joke Book displays every single Canadian stereotype.
Due South, a form of televised media, is a TV show about Benton Fraser (Paul Gross), who is a member of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, moves to Chicago and works with Ray Vecchio (David Marciano) to investigate and solve crimes. Fraser is excessively polite, and opens the doors for everyone, no matter what the occasion. Vecchio finds this utterly annoying,.Raymond Vecchio and Benton Fraser are almost exact opposites of each other, and were created to show the differences between the Canadian and American stereotypes. This is not only shown in the fact that Fraser is kind while Vecchio isn’t, but also by the way that Fraser is drastically thorough on crime scenes, and does things like taste the evidence, while Vecchio has a bad habit of cutting the corners, and getting the job done as quickly as possible. Fraser can talk for several minutes about his adventures as a member of the RCMP in the Northwest Territories, and how he got his wolf that he now owns as a pet. To conclude, Benton Fraser is a Canadian with positive stereotypes who works with and American with negative stereotypes, to create a comedic effect with the two opposite characteristics.

Anne of Green Gables, by L. M. Montgomery, is a form of print media. It is a book about a girl named Anne. She was mistakenly adopted by Marilla and Matthew Cuthbert, two siblings, to work on the farm with them. They were looking to adopt a male, but through a misunderstanding, they received Anne Shirley instead. They live in Bolingbroke, Nova Scotia. Anne is a kind, talkative Canadian girl, similar to the Canadian stereotypes. Anne and her adoptive parents all live in Bolingbroke, which is a stereotypical Canadian rural town, where everyone knows each other, and are all really nice. At first Merilla was firm against Anne, telling her to go back to the farm, but Matthew grew a fondness towards Anne, so they decide to keep her. Anne is imaginative, and, of course, talkative, so she quickly brightens up Green Gables, the farm she lives in. To close off, Anne is a Canadian girl, positively stereotyped with being kind and talkative.

“Common Portrayals of Aboriginal People” is a scholarly article about exactly that. It touches in on how Canadian aboriginals are negatively portrayed in common media. They claim that, “Portrayals of Aboriginal people as being primitive, violent and devious, or passive and submissive, have become widespread in movies and TV programs and in literature ranging from books to comic strips.” (paragraph 2) Completely contradictory to the others stereotypes addressed in this essay, the scholarly article touches in on all of the negative stereotypes of Canadians portrayed in media. And all of the stereotypes are about Canadian First Nations. Why are they portrayed so badly? Ward Churchill argues that the stereotypes were created by the “advanced cultures” to be, “Portrayals of Aboriginal people as being primitive, violent and devious, or passive and submissive, have become widespread in movies and TV programs and in literature ranging from books to comic strips,” (paragraph 23) so that the so called “advanced cultures” could in a sense justify their actions to “erase the achievements and very humanity of the conquered people.” (paragraph 23) This article greatly contrasts the other parts of this essay, but goes into play with how Canadian First Nations are depicted as “primitive, violent and devious, or passive and submissive.” (paragraph 2)

In closing, Canadians are portrayed positively in media, excluding the First Nations. In all of the sources, the Canadians are loved by everyone. This research was not surprising, because Canadians are frequently stereotyped in common media, and it is difficult to be ignorant of this topic, especially as a Canadian student who is relatively up to date in pop culture. The stereotypes for Canadians are generally positive, like how Benton Fraser is really nice and thorough in his work, and how Anne Shirley is talkative, imaginative and kind. There is the exception, however, as Canadian First Nations are wrongfully negatively stereotyped as primitive, horrible human beings. As a Canadian, the positive stereotypes are flattering, but also as someone who appreciates and respects everybody, aboriginals definitely included, equally, the negative stereotypes targeted towards Canadian aboriginals is disturbing. Therefore, it is concluded that Canadians generally have positive stereotypes, but not all groups of Canadians, which should be fixed to allow all people to have equally positive or negative stereotypes.


Works Cited

Anonymous. Common Portrayals of Aboriginal People. Anonymous, 15 June 2015. Web. 16 May 2017. <>.

Haggis, Paul, dir. "Due South." Alliance Communications. CTV/CBS. 1994. Television.

Montgomery, Lucy Maud. Anne of Green Gables. 1908

Moranis, Rick, and Dave Thomas, dirs. "The Great White North." Second City Television (SCTV). CBC Television. 19 Sept. 1980. Television.

Warner, Glen. The Great Canadian Joke Book. Lone Pine Publishing

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