Canada, Abundantly Nice

Eric Weiner wrote this article – Can Canada teach the rest of us to be nicer?’ for BBC Travel. In it he talks about why he and his family make Canada a destination for their annual American road trip. If you are a Canadian, take a moment to read the article, then stand up and be proud to call yourself Canadian. If you’re not, read the article anyway. 🙂

“Canada is to niceness as Saudi Arabia is to oil,” Eric writes. I couldn’t agree more. I’ve shared some of my thoughts on Canada in previous posts here, here and here.

Over the seven years that I’ve lived here, I’ve been continuously amazed by Canadian niceness. Never mind the ease with which they strike up conversations with strangers, or the way drivers let you into traffic, even during rush hour. There’s a degree of road courtesy only seen in Canada. I’ve met polite, friendly wait staff everywhere I’ve gone and courteous, friendly, often helpful TTC staff. Polite, friendly public transit drivers?, you ask. Yes. This was one of the most difficult things for me to believe as being true in Canada – but it is. TTC drivers wait for you when they see you rushing for the bus.

It’s inherently Canadian to be polite, and over the years, I’ve picked up many of these Canadian habits – hold the door for the person behind you, say ‘thank you’ when the person in front of you holds the door for you. Simple, common courtesy. Stuff that’s not common in many other parts of the world.

For a Canadian, ‘sorry’ isn’t the hardest word. It’s the easiest, and they are often mocked for it. ‘Hello’, is another word that’s easy for a Canadian. Walk down the street and smiles and hellos are exchanged with real ease, whether you were born here, if you chose to make this your new home, or if you’re only passing through.

So, go ahead Canada, teach the world what you know.

I look forward to your thoughts on this Canadian trait.

Note to new drivers in Canada: Learn Canadian road courtesy. Then practice it – it’s good for you.

Welcome to Canada

When I finally stepped off the plane at YYZ (27 hours after take off), I was exhausted, but excited. I was at the start of something new. It’s one of the best places to be – the beginning. It’s the place where you’re often caught up in such a wide mix of emotions all at once, that the only thing you can do is take the next step and work through them all, one at a time. But I digress.

I funnelled my way  through the long lines to the immigration desk and dutifully presented my paperwork, all neatly organized in a clear plastic folder – I was not going to be caught out for missing any paperwork – you know what immigration officers can be like.  Paperwork cleared. The officer, much to my surprise, was pleasant (unlike stern-faced immigration officers the world over). He even smiled and asked if I had a good flight. “Long,” I said, trying to match his smile. “Welcome to Canada,” he added, and handed me my PR card and paperwork. I found my way to the baggage carousel, picked up my bags and walked out into Canada.

On the other side of the sliding doors, my husband greeted me with a single red rose and a copy of these two books.

How To Be A Canadian (Will Ferguson & Ian Ferguson); Why I Hate Canadians (Will Ferguson)

How To Be A Canadian (Will Ferguson & Ian Ferguson); Why I Hate Canadians (Will Ferguson)

Ahh…an instructional manual on How to be a Canadian (authors, Will Ferguson & Ian Ferguson). How useful, I thought.

I didn’t get the Why I Hate Canadians title tough (author, Will Ferguson). It kindda rubbed me the wrong way. Why should I hate Canadians? I don’t want to hate Canadians… I just got here! I gave my husband a slight sideways glance, wondering what he was thinking (or even up to) giving me this book.

But, let me tell you…both books are hilarious and definitely worth a read. The best part: it only gets funnier once you’ve stayed awhile. I think Immigration Canada should be handing these out with their Welcome Packages.

PS: I started with Part 4 of Why I Hate Canadians – Sex in a Canoe and Other Delusions. With a title like that, it was hard to resist. 🙂