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8 Things Americans Need to Realize About Canada

by Becky Hutner Sep 18, 2013

Canada. Cold, vast, smells like maple syrup. We Canadians know that the usual associations with our country don’t exactly fire the imagination, but here are a few things that might.

1. It’s multicultural.

In fact, Toronto is the most multicultural city on Earth. The classic pasty lumberjack still exists, but in our major cities you’re more likely to run into a Tibetan expat or a fourth-generation Russian Jew.

Toronto’s Caribbean street party Caribana draws two million people annually, and Winnipeg’s Folklorama is the world’s largest and longest-running multicultural festival. To see just how varied we are, check out this video of Vancouver’s Canada Day Parade.

2. Many of your favorite Americans are actually Canadian.

The secret’s long been out on Mike Myers and Jim Carrey, but did you know Captain Kirk, Ryan Gosling, Seth Rogen, Pamela Anderson, Neil Young, James Cameron, and the creator of Saturday Night Live are Canucks too?

Since Hollywood’s early days, we’ve had this uncanny knack for inserting ourselves into America’s most iconic roles. The original “America’s Sweetheart”? Toronto-born Mary Pickford. The father of American satire? Montrealer Mort Sahl. Peter Jennings was Canadian. As was almost every comedic actor in the ’80s and ’90s, including Dan Aykroyd, Martin Short, Leslie Nielsen, John Candy, Rick Moranis, and Michael J. Fox.

It’s not becoming to brag, but I ask you — if we don’t toot our own horn, who will?

3. We have oil.

More than Iran, the United Arab Emirates, and most other places in this world. And that’s not necessarily a good thing (see item #4).

4. Canada is dirty.

Yes, it’s the birthplace of Greenpeace and home to vast swathes of unspoiled nature, but even most Canadians don’t realize our carbon emissions per capita are second only to the US, close at that. Why? Not only are we as fossil-fuel dependent as our gas-guzzling neighbors, we also operate the controversial Athabasca Oil Sands, a far more toxic operation than its conventional counterparts. Rare cancers have emerged in nearby communities, and oh…a flock of ducks landed on a local lake and promptly died!

Along with being top polluters, we try to bring other nations down with us, sabotaging an international agreement on global warming at the UN Climate Change Conference in 2010 and 2011. On a lighter note…

5. Mounties are less common than you think.

In fact, the first cop I ever saw on horseback was in Los Angeles. According to their website, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) discontinued mounted policing in 1936.

But if you’re dead-set on seeing one, the RCMP Musical Ride tours the country in a flurry of equine pinwheels and synchronized flag tricks. See for yourself.

6. Canadians are sexy.

Since the ’80s, catwalks have been filled with a disproportionate number of Canadian supermodels, from Linda Evangelista and Shalom to Coca Rocha and Jessica Stam. And Montreal has some of the world’s best strip clubs. So I’ve heard.

7. Canada has gangs, serial killers, and subterranean knifings.

In some parts, our violent crime and sexual assault rates are comparable to those of the US. We have all manner of street gangs, a deep-rooted Italian Mafia presence, and several branches of Hells Angels. Toronto-born child rapist Paul Bernardo and his accomplice wife Karla Homolka are two of the most brutal serial killers in recent history. And on my last visit, my subway commute was stalled a half hour as law enforcement dealt with a neck stabbing on the train ahead of us.

Ending on an aptly neutral note…

8. Canada is the second-largest country in the world.

After Russia. This seems like an obvious one to Canadians, but I couldn’t possibly count the number of Americans whose eyes bug out when I tell them we’re bigger. Geographically speaking, of course. Population-wise, we’re smaller than California, which means, hey — less traffic on the mooseback ride to work.

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