Things You Should Never Say to a Canadian
Want to put our reputation for being polite and easygoing to the test? These Canadian insults will make any resident of the Great White North turn as red as a maple leaf.
Anything in a fake Canadian accent
Want to insult a Canadian? Just put on a fake Canadian accent. Although the origins of this exaggerated accent are obscure, it must have been invented shortly after the country’s inception in 1867—because it’s really starting to show its rust. As cute and quaint as it might sound, the “Canadian accent” sounds nothing at all like how actual Canadians speak. That’s not to say we don’t have our own unique way of speaking, it’s just that we’re a lot more Wayne Gretzky than Doug Mackenzie.
See how you fare on our Canadian slang quiz.
Disparaging comments about hockey
Be careful before you utter a disparaging remark about a hockey player or team in Canada. As a general rule, Toronto Maple Leafs insults can fly pretty much anywhere across the country, even in Toronto where fans mostly have a sense of humour. Montreal Canadiens insults, on the other hand, can get you in trouble whether you’re in Beaver Creek, Yukon, or Blackhead, Newfoundland. (Check out more funny place names across Canada.) Habs fans are everywhere and there’s nothing funny about the most storied team in NHL history. So when it comes to insulting the sport of hockey, just don’t do it, unless you really want to see the gloves come off.
“Cheese and gravy? Ew.”
No one can deny the magical relationship between french fries and ketchup. However, if you’re ordering fries and you’re asked if you’d like poutine instead, your answer should always be yes. For the uninitiated, poutine is a common Canadian dish that consists of french fries topped with squeaky cheese curds and gravy. If you’re concerned about that expanding gut of yours, many restaurants offer a healthier, vegetarian gravy substitute. Some diehard poutine fans might call mushroom or vegetable gravy sacrilege, but the only real Canadian insult is opting for boring old french fries when you can indulge in a true Canadian delicacy.
“Hey! I’m walking here!”
Whoa, whoa, whoa. Where do you think you are, New York City? Unless you’re actually trying to deliver a Canadian insult, there’s only one thing you say when someone bumps into you, and that’s “Sorry.” The classic apology can mean anything from sincere acknowledgement of a mistake to passive aggressive annoyance. Just be sure you don’t put any stink on the word; as annoyed as you might be, it’s important to say sorry without sounding like you’re trying to start something.
What’s the Great White North like for a newcomer? Here, a recent Canadian immigrant shares what he wishes he’d known before moving to Canada.
“Canada is the 51st U.S. state.”
Canada is not the same country as the United States. Everyone in Canada knows this, which is why it’s so frustrating when people around the world don’t seem to realize that our home isn’t simply the 51st state of the U.S. Their confusion is somewhat understandable: Canada and the U.S. are such strong allies and many Canadian celebrities hop the border to find success in Hollywood. But if you ever want to insult a Canadian, ask them if they voted for Trump or Biden, or why we drink milk out of bags. You’re bound to get some major eye rolls.
“Canadian beer is awful.”
It’s not that we can’t take the criticism or that our taste buds are numbed by years of drinking “moose urine,” as the Americans like to call it, it’s simply that we don’t understand why a nation of light beer guzzlers think they have the right to insult Canadian beer (or German, Polish, British or Japanese beer, for that matter). It’s a bit like someone who grew up on cheese-in-a-can screwing up their nose at free-range, organic chèvre. If you don’t know how beer is supposed to taste, please keep your comments to yourself.
Had a few too many? Here’s the best hangover cure from every Canadian province.
The F-word (in Quebec)
The next time you stub your toe in Quebec, you might also want to bite your tongue. It’s not that Quebecers are prudes or dislike foul language, per se, it’s just that they happen to have their own heavenly style of swearing, which involves cursing the sacred items of the Catholic Church. It might seem a bit weird until you let an angry tah-bar-nac (the box where the Eucharist is kept) roll off your tongue. It has to be one of the most satisfying words to utter in a fit of agitation. Other popular swear words include os-tee (the communion wafer) and ka-lees (the cup from which you drink the holy wine). For extra punch, try combining the words into super swears: os-ti tah-bar-nac or ka-lees tah-bar-nac.
Here’s what one Maritimer wishes he’d known before moving to Montreal.
It’s true what they say about accents: everyone has one and you can’t always hear your own, but this whole business about Canadians saying a-boot instead of about is just confusing. If anything, we say a-boat or, more accurately, a-beh-out. So, don’t say a-boot unless you want to get kicked by one.
Now that you know the Canadian insults to avoid, check out the Canadian road trips everyone should take at least once.