In this post, I am going to take the seven most commonly believed myths that you likely still believe about Canada and explain the truth behind them.
1. Most Canadians see snow year-round
One of the biggest cliches about Canada is that we all live in igloos and get around by dog sled. And as fun as that sounds, it’s just not true. In fact, most Canadians have never even seen a real-life dog sled, let alone traveled on one.
The truth is, though most winters can be super harsh, most of the country’s population experiences summers that could make a Californian sweat. See, the majority of Canadians live close to the Canada-U.S. border and thus experience similar weather to that that you’d expect in places like Boston or New York City.
2. Toronto is the capital of Canada
With the largest population and standing as arguably the most famous Canadian city, Toronto seems like the perfect place to call the nation’s capital. But while it does hold the title of the capital of Ontario, it’s actually Ottawa, another Ontario city, that holds the big label.
As the designated center of political power, a capital city needs to be well protected as well as have access to an abundance of resources, not to mention transportation networks.
Queen Victoria chose Ottawa to be Canada’s capital on December 31st, 1857. Not only was it in an excellent defensive position, but Ottawa was also chosen because of its location right on the border between French and English speaking Canada. With convenient access to two different waterways, Ottawa was accessible to both populations and made for the perfect place for capital.
3. Canadians don’t have guns
This myth comes up most often when comparing laws and murder rates between Canada and the U.S., but we’ll do a little comparison. For instance, it’s an incredibly rare occasion to have a license granted in Canada to carry a gun for personal protection. However, to say that Canadians absolute hate guns, or that no Canuck owns one is an absolute falsehood.
Under the Firearms Act of 1995, over 7 million Canadian citizens possess firearms, but these are mostly for sporting and recreational use.
4. Canadian beer is stronger
This myth’s creation is mostly due to a misunderstanding of how alcohol percentages are represented in each country. In the United States, percentages are determined by weight and displayed on the bottle’s label. But in Canada, we measure the alcohol content by volume.
What this means is that seeing 4% alcohol in a beer in America and 5% in Canada doesn’t actually mean that there’s 1% more in the North.
Alcohol weighs less than water, making it seem like American beer is weaker, but the reality is that most beers around the world ring in at around 5%. So whether it’s Budweiser or a Molson Canadian, it’s going to hit you the same.
5. Canada is policed by Mounties in red coats on horseback
In Canada, we absolutely do have Mounties, more formally known as the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, or RCMP, but they’re our national police force and only wear the red ensemble for official or ceremonial purposes.
Additionally, the most populated provinces, Ontario and Quebec, are policed by their own provincial police forces.
6. Canada is ruled by Britain
Canada is a parliamentary democracy and a constitutional monarchy. The Queen herself is only a figurehead in country, but she really only fills ceremonial and symbolic roles. She’s actually represented by the Governor General here in Canada. As for who makes the decisions in Canada, we have our own prime minister and government. They’re the ones who are elected in and decide which laws need to be adhered to, much like the United States.
7. People don’t lock their doors in Canada
In 2002, documentary filmmaker Michael Moore made a bold statement that Canadians felt so safe they refused to lock their doors in a movie called “Bowling for Columbine.” His theory was that we were totally unafraid of crime, which is ridiculous.
Now according to Statistics Canada, this is definitely a safer country than the United States when compared to violent crime rates like aggravated assault and homicide. But believe it or not, there are a few crimes, like property and car theft, in which the Great White North actually has higher rates in, and because of that fact, most of us absolutely lock our doors.