5 Ways to Wind A Canadian Up

Tim Hortons sign on bus shelter
Tim Hortons - nourishing a nation
Tim Hortons sign on bus shelter
Tim Hortons – nourishing a nation

[dropcap]C[/dropcap]anadians have a global reputation as peacekeepers and pacifists but, just like the rest of us mortals, their patience isn’t limitless; some things are guaranteed to get them fired up. Here are five situations where you’re unlikely to see them at their best…


  • A hockey-less winter

    Hockey is MASSIVE in Canada and the recently resolved NHL lockout left a big dent in the happiness index of many Canucks – that was 113 days of missed game-time. Add another mild winter here in Southern Ontario, that refuses to support the existence of backyard ice-rinks and you have some very cheesed off Canadians. Best not to mention hockey for the time being…

  • Mistake them for a US citizen

    It’s an old one but a gold one, pretty much guaranteed to elicit a curt response along the lines of, “You do realise that Canadians wear maple leafs from head to toe when travelling outside North America so no one will mistake them for Americans. Americans wear maple leafs from head to toe when travelling outside of North America so no one will mistake them for Americans.” Either that, or, “Yeah, you Europeans all look the same to us too.”

  • Put them in a car

    Polite and courteous Canadians undergo a complete personality change once they get behind the wheel. Driving is about getting from A to B in the shortest amount of time by the shortest possible route, hence the suicidal lane-changing, tail-gating and swerving on the expressway. Driving is no obstacle to eating, drinking, texting or reading the paper and snow just adds to the fun. Cyclists or pedestrians that make so bold as to get in the way of a motorist in some delusional idea of sharing the road, are alerted to their stupidity by loud horn-blasts and too-close-for-comfort passing. They can be recognized by their wing-mirror-shaped bruising.

  • Make ‘em wait

    Canada espouses the American demand for fast service. Unlike Brit’s whose capacity for queuing is legendary, Canadians will get jumpy if forced to stay in one spot for too long. The exception to this is the Tim Hortons drive-thru queue…

  • Say that again?

    Ask a Canadian to say “Out and about” – everyone does…

Whitby Shores, Whitby, Ontario

By Aisha Ashraf

An autistic Irish immigrant in a cross-cultural marriage, Aisha Ashraf is the archetypal outlander, writing to root herself through place and perspective. Published in The Rumpus, The Maine Review, River Teeth, HuffPost and elsewhere, her work explores the legacy of trauma, the nature of being an outsider and the narrow confines of belonging. She currently lives in Canada.


  1. I am not a big hockey fan, but my husband enjoys it, so what the heck, I will watch it with him. Point 2, you are correct, I really don’t like being mistaken for an American, only because I am a Proud Canadian. Point 3, I have never been a person who wants to get from point a to b fast, I like to enjoy the scenery. Waiting in line is no longer a big deal for me, but it was!. Lastly I have no clue what you are referring too.

  2. I heard about the hockey lock-out the other day (we don’t get much Canadian news here) and was amazed. They actually don’t run the hockey until it’s resolved. Can you imagine that happening in other sports? Me neither. They all need to have a Tim Horton’s coffee and chilli bowl… and sort it out! (‘out’ said in that particularly Canadian way).

  3. This is so funny. I had no idea Canadians were crazy drivers! I wonder if they are as wild as Jamaicans? And although they are always seen as polite and quiet, what about ice hockey itself? So violent! 🙂

  4. Oh Aisha and Russell, don’t either of you quit your day jobs to cover global sports, lol. As an American who has always respected our good neighbors to the north (and never once confused them as being part of the US), I don’t think Canadian driving is all that bad compared to many, many other countries (I’m thinking of you Mexico, Egypt, Morocco, Italy…). I think of Canadians as kind, family-oriented, sensible, friendly and matter of fact. And yes, ‘out and about’ always gets a smile.

  5. Ha, so very true of us. However, as a Quebecer, I’d say that our ire behind the wheel is 10 times worse than the other provinces mainly because our roads are 10 times crappier. It’s a metric that you can actually measure.

    P.S. First time visitor and I love the blog

    1. We’re still working up the courage to visit Quebec. I’m thinking Ottawa for Winterlicious, and apparently we can drive for 15 minutes and cross the border – dip a toe! Good plan?
      Thanks for the compliment by the way – happy reading and tell all your friends 🙂

      1. Yep, you can drive across the bridge and visit Gatineau. But if you want some real action, 2 hours will bring you to Montreal. If you’re worried about the language though, no need. Most everybody is bilingual.

        1. I’d heard tell of rolling brush and stoney silences in some out-of-the-way places when a “stranger” turns up… Our multi-racial family means we have to be careful about situations we put ourselves in unfortunately. Are rural Quebecers insular or is it just down to random bad experience?

          1. I’d probably chalk that up to a bad experience. However, one never knows when they’ll come face to face with ignorance. Unfortunately it’s a global phenomenon and it exists in the cities too.

    1. It seems to apply to almost everyone but the Brits. Maybe that’s part of what people mean when they talk about the British reserve – you can cut them up and tailgate them and they still pretend they haven’t seen you!

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