There’s a widespread perception about Canadians being very friendly. Over time, this has become a stereotype, with many even making jokes out of it. But are Canadians really friendly?
There’s no way to prove that Canadians are very friendly, but many visitors believe so. This perception is due to the politeness of Canadians. It can be attributed to factors such as the weather, sparse population, choice of words, quality of life, immigration policies, and comparison with the US.
Regardless of whether this stereotype is true or not, you’ll find plenty of nice and friendly people in Canada. But you may also have some unpleasant encounters with Canadians. This article discusses whether Canadians are friendly and what has contributed to this perception.
Friendliness of Canadians: Myth or Truth
There are no empirical ways to show that Canadians are friendlier than others nationalities. Nevertheless, this stereotype has become widely accepted by foreigners who visit the country. When Global News asked immigrants and travellers what they think of Canadians, most described them as amiable people. But not native Canadians don’t consider themselves as friendly. To them, what most outsiders see as friendliness is just general politeness and respect for other people’s space and privacy. All the same, most Canadians are friendly and non-confrontational people, qualities that many find endearing.
Why are Canadians Perceived as Friendly
The perception of Canadians as friendly and nice people is due to various factors, which include:
The cold weather influences the attitude of Canadians. Due to the harsh winters, Canadians are more open to helping one another when there’s a need for it. For example, if you’re stuck in a ditch due to an icy road in Canada, the next person will likely stop to help you out. This is more of a survival mechanism because this help can make the difference between life and death. Thus, the extremely low temperature in Canada has helped people form the habit of helping others. Thus, what most people see as niceness is more of a necessity for Canadians.
2. Remote Nature of the Country
As the second-largest country in the world, Canada has lots of land area but a very limited population. Its small population means people have more space to themselves but also encourages more close-knit communities. This is more common in the smaller towns and villages where almost everyone interacts with one another.
3. Choice of Words
The perception that Canadians are friendly people can also be traced to their choice of words. Canadians usually use positive words in their conversations more than most people. Coupled with this is neutral language and the commonness of “sorry” in Canadian vocabularies. Even though saying sorry doesn’t necessarily mean they’re apologetic, it shows that they’re always willing to avoid confrontation. A study by Canadian Linguists at McMaster University discovered that Canadians usually use polite and positive words on Twitter compared to Americans on the same platform.
The study, which analyzed 40 million tweets from Canadian and American accounts, discovered that Canadian tweets had more positive words while American tweets had more negative words. The study also discovered that Americans tweeted more swear words, racial slurs, and emotionally charged negative words. Canadians, on the other hand, tweeted more emotionally charged positive words. While the choice of words doesn’t necessarily reflect how friendly and polite a group is, it mirrors the stereotype of Canadians being more friendly.
4. Happy Country
Canada is a happy country where residents enjoy a high quality of life. It’s part of the top 15 happiest countries in the world in 2021. This is due to its strong economy and several social programs. One of such programs is the universal healthcare program in the country, which covers most of the residents’ healthcare costs. The low crime rates and wonderful natural environment also improve residents’ happiness. Coupled with this is that several cities here have been rated as part of the most livable places in the world. Given how Canadians experience several positives, the country’s overall mood is cheerful, which influences their positive social interactions.
5. Fragment Theory
Another explanation offered for the supposed friendliness of Canadians is the Fragment Theory. Louis Hartz propounded this. The theory holds that Canadian niceness can be traced to its colonial past. Having been colonized by Britain, Hartz believes that the country still retains some fragments of European societies, including their culture and values. He believed that these fragments reflect the conservative nature of the country, which explains why inhabitants are courteous.
6. Comparison with the United States
Canada’s location right next to the US might also have contributed to its friendliness stereotype. Since the US is a superpower, it gets more international coverage. The US is always at the forefront of every issue, from economic sanctions to waging wars; this has contributed to its reputation as an aggressive country. On the other hand, Canada is mostly diplomatic and rarely in the news, so it has maintained a positive reputation.
The fact that the US has an individualistic approach further makes Canada look better. While Americans are perceived as selfish due to their individualistic nature, Canada’s collective and altruistic nature makes it look like a friendlier country. Moreover, the proximity of the two countries means they’re always compared, and Canada always emerges as the more peaceful and calm option.
7. Immigration Policies
Canada’s open immigration policy has also helped its reputation as a friendly country. With hundreds of thousands of immigrants entering the country every year, many people view the country as a welcoming place and consider that residents are friendly and approachable. The fact that Canada doesn’t get many illegal immigrants also means the bad publicity that comes with the mishandling of illegal immigration is largely absent here.
Even though there’s a stereotype of Canadians being very friendly. There’s no evidence to prove that they’re more friendly than people from other countries. Just as every country has nice and mean people, Canada has both. However, it’s possible to explain the perception of Canadians as more friendly than other nationalities by looking at some factors.