It’s a cruel world, they say, but not if you visit Canada! In a materialistic era where good people are rare, and mostly anyone will ever be polite to you for some personal gain, it’s hard to encounter genuinely nice people. Such a world makes the Canadians stand out as one rare nation with generally good manners and a helpful nature, making them known for their niceness and public courtesy.
A survey done by The Canada Project found 66% of its people to support this cliché, thinking they’re actually as nice as the world deems them to be. The reasons for this positive attitude have long been speculated and debated, with many dismissing the notion as a mere stereotype. Of course, generalizing a certain attribute over an entire nation makes it obvious that it is meant for most, not ALL. There could be mean Canadians, but the number of nice ones overrules them!
How Nice Are They?
Juan Gavasa, an author on panamericanworld.com, goes as far as saying, “Canada is to niceness as Saudi Arabia is to oil.” Travelers to the country are mostly left raving about the positivity of its natives, except for a select few who claim to have had less than ideal encounters. Polite sign boards and friendly locals have made the ‘nice’ image of Canada even more accepted.
Canadians also have interestingly been the butt of jokes since a long time for being ‘too nice’. Even arguments among Canadians have been noticed to be more polite than normal!
Wise Choice of Words
Cannucks are generally known to ‘think before they speak’, one of the golden rules of society. Even if they aren’t thinking, they’re just used to minding their Ps and Qs. Incidentally, Canadians frequently use words like “awesome”, “amazing” and “great”. Such appreciative and motivational words could surely make someone’s day. Moreover, these people have been observed to use somewhat neutral language instead of coming on strong, with phrases such as “could be” and “not bad”. They are also profusely apologetic; “Sorry” is a staple in Canadian language.
On the other hand, it is said that the Americans frequently use curse words, and negative words like “hate” and “damn”. This negativity by the neighbors makes the nation immediately stand out even more for its politeness!
A Happy, Well Off Nation
If you’re well fed and rich, you won’t have a problem being nice. Niceness comes easy when you’re one of the world’s wealthiest countries, as in this case. This could be a stereotype, but it’s also true in most, if not all, cases.
The country, apart from its niceness, is also known for its maple syrup, Niagara Falls, low crime rates, free healthcare system, beautiful landscapes, Ryan Gosling and ice hockey, among other amazing things. According to Huffpost, there are over 8,000 businesses in Canada responsible for producing 80% of the world’s maple syrup. Moreover, three of its cities — Calgary, Toronto and Vancouver — have been declared the most liveable in the world, thanks to their excellent education, low crime rates and rich culture. For lovers of winters, pancakes, security and kindness, the country seems ideal.
Who wouldn’t want to act nice when surrounded by such positives? Living in such cheerful conditions could potentially be a mood lifter, making you sound cheery and be polite, even to random passersby.
The ‘Fragment Theory’
Louis Hartz, an American Scholar, put forth the Fragment Theory, which is an interesting approach to the origin of Canadians’ nice nature. The theory suggests that since Canada has a colonial past, it still retains ‘fragments’ of European societies including their old-world values and culture. This gives the nation a conservative streak that could account for the courteous nature of its inhabitants.
Warm People Braving the Cold Together
Being a cold desert in itself, temperatures as low as -40 degrees are not unheard of in Canada. With such conditions outside, being nice and looking out for each other comes as a natural instinct for mutual survival. If your car breaks down in the winters on a snowy night, you could be in major trouble if no one decided to help you.
Hence, Canadians could just have a deep rooted habit of helping each other instead of just ignoring any strugglers and moving on, which could have originated as a survival mechanism. You won’t survive if you aren’t nice. This perspective makes Canadian niceness come off as a necessity rather than a merely pleasant social attitude.
Neighboring An Overbearing Country
The country is located just next to the world’s superpower, America. Pierre Elliott Trudeau, late former Canadian Prime Minister, once deemed living next to the US similar to “sleeping with an elephant.” This implies that you can expect it to roll over and crush you any time!
It has led some people to believe that the mystery of Canada’s mostly unexplained niceness stems from a timid behavior in response to its powerful neighbor, although this opinion has not gained much popularity, especially among the nationals.
Nelson Wiseman, a Canadian Studies specialist, also brings to attention the fact that America values the individual more, hence making Americans being perceived as more selfish. The Canadians, being immediate neighbors, automatically look good in comparison, with their altruism and collective nature.
Another great difference is the possession of weapons. The Canadian government has zero tolerance for guns, as opposed to its more liberal neighbor.
With all the above said, it is safe to assume that Canada may be a diverse nation with a blend of American, British and French cultures, but niceness is one thing most Cannucks seem to have in common. It is still a topic of much debate whether they are actually as nice as they are projected to be, but even if it is a stereotype, it has to have a somewhat factual basis. The thought that there are still nice people left in the world is comforting in itself, so it doesn’t hurt to assume that the nation has some good people.