Another Amusing Take on Canadian Politeness



Similar to the “Canadian Standoff” cartoon by Roz Chast in an issue of the New Yorker from this past January, the above illustration by Robert Leighton in the August 5, 2013 issue of that magazine pokes good-natured fun at the Canadian penchant for politeness.  Not really a bad reputation to have though.

61 responses

  1. Haha! I encounter similar situations in the Canadian north just trying to cross the street. Of all the “negative” stereotypes, I have to agree that excessive politeness is one of the better ones to have!

  2. i read a funny story on politeness that kills lol a guy comes over for afternoon tea, the hostess is polite and asks him to stay for dinner, the guy is polite and stays, after dinner and too much wine the host and hostess asks him to stay the night, the guy is polite and stays, then to breakfast, lunch dinner again, stay the night again etc etc until the guy dies of old age at their house, too polite to leave 🙂

  3. haha! I think it’s more noticeable in the east. When New Yorkers and Bostonians who go north of the border it’s a different world! Out west here it feels more the same when you go north of the border.

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  5. Thanks for liking my post about Alice Munro. I am a big fan of things Canadian, starting with Ian and Sylvia and Gordon Lightfoot and going through their distinctive personalities. Have to say, though, I’m not a hockey fan, and I don’t care for poutine. But I love their flag and way of speaking. Thanks for an insightful and amusing blog!

  6. The politeness is a bit of a double-edged sword though. It also entails the expectation of politeness from each other. Thus, if the expected overly-polite etiquette is not forthcoming, Canadians can grow rather wroth with one another rather rapidly.

    • As a Canadian, I experience wroth regularly precisely for the reason outlined by Deconquestubritanniae: there is an expectation of reciprocity. All too often our politeness backfires and we become resentful because people aren’t polite in return. Or, even worse, if they are taken advantage of. Oh my! If you ever get a Canadian cornered, a bit drunk, and then ask politely, they may spew forth their woes on the topic. The whole undercurrent of anger is quite ironic and a bit tragic. I try to laugh, but inside I quake. Sad, but true.
      Thanks for visiting my site, Brett. I greatly appreciate the fly-by. I look forward to reading more from you!

      • Yvonne, I get that — putting aside cultural baggage, we’re all just people and share similar feelings and emotions. Stereotypes have some basis but you’re spot on in my book.

  7. Amusing take indeed! *LOL* Sometimes I am questioned as to the validity of my politeness here in Chicago. It is greeted with suspicion! However, I must say I find it quite interesting, and will continue to put the minds of Chicagoans at ease, one, “excuse me, please”, at a time! 🙂

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  9. I agree with you about how friendly the people are up there. I was a long haul truck driver most all of my adult life up until last June when I had to quit working. In my work duties I went to Canada probably about 30 times going all over their country. I have told my wife that if it wasn’t for the cold weather (which we both hate) that Canada is a great place to live, friendly, clean, and extremely low crime rates.

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  11. David from the UK – Love Canada & Canadians and how politely and patiently taught me to play Crokinole so they could smash me into the ground every time : Here is my favourite FAQ from the Mr. Crokinole web site: – and they really mean it!

    Why does it hurt my finger when I shoot a disc ?

    Good question! The answer is simple. If you live in a society that understands hockey or soccer, picture the slap shot (hockey) as opposed to the wrist shot, or the grand swing kick (soccer) compared to a well-aimed toe kick. The secret of an accurate, pain-free shot is to move your finger up as close to the disc as possible. Don’t hit it. Push it!!! Get that finger up really close. Take aim and shoot. Pain will not be a factor, even-as some believe-if you hit the post with your disc. Get your fingernail right on the disc. You will have more accurate shots and no pain.

    Now there’s a lesson for life.

    • Oh, my! Thanks for sharing all this. I had not heard of crokinole before but with a little research I see it’s a board game created in Canada in the 1870s. 🙂

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