This article originally appeared on VICE Canada.
Just ahead of the US's most patriotic holiday, Canada celebrates its own "birthday" with the creatively-named Canada Day on Wednesday. Most of us here in Canada are planning to get wasted off our faces and watch fireworks to celebrate the midsummer holiday. But to really amp up the patriotic fervor, there's no better way to celebrate our great nation than some neurotic hand-wringing about what it means to be Canadian. Navel-gazing made this country great, and don't you forget it.
Thankfully Historica Canada commissioned an Ipsos-Reid poll to see how some classic Canadian clichés hold up in the harsh light of social science. These folks are the descendants of the organization whose Heritage Minutes convinced an entire generation of Canadian children that smelling burnt toast meant they were about to have a brain seizure, so you know they're legit.
They surveyed just over 1,000 people online and weighted the results by age, region, gender, income, education, and family size to make it as representative as possible. Most of what they found was about what you'd expect.
It turns out that almost 60 percent of Canadians are pretty big on hockey, and a full 18 percent believe it's the greatest sport on Earth. We can only assume that the 13 percent who said they're "sick to death of hearing about it all the time" work for ISIS (and will be soon featured in a Conservative attack ad targeting Justin Trudeau) and have already been removed by the Mounties to an undocumented black site. Even the Soviets had the decency to enjoy hockey.
About 65 percent of people have seen Canada's mascot—the noble beaver—in the wild, and more than half have also seen either a moose, a loon, or a bear somewhere in the great outdoors. However, people in Atlantic Canada or the West were slightly more likely to have gone outside (likely for nature in the West, or getting fucked up in the East). Those pulling in upwards of six-figure incomes were also marginally more likely than us plebs to have either seen one of our fine national animals in their natural habitat, or gone canoeing (88 percent) or dogsledding (16 percent). Indulging yourself in rustic Canadian authenticity takes a lot of money, I guess.
Speaking of national symbols, other surveys have shown that Tim Hortons is neck-and-neck with the Monarchy as a venerable Canadian institution. But I guess the pollsters figured that asking anyone what they thought about the great (mostly US-owned) Canadian doughnut shop this year risked triggering a flurry of racist threats on Twitter.
Celine Dion (!!!!!!!!!!!!!!) was the artist 38 percent of those surveyed were proudest to call Canadian, and it spiked to 63 percent in la belle province. It's tempting to read the fact that only six percent wanted to give the throne to Drizzy as another damning indictment of the country's whiteness, although then again, they didn't ask about Rush at all, so maybe it's just bad polling. I mean, how in the fuck you run a respectable survey about the Most Canadian Musicians without bringing up Geddy, Neil, and Alex is totally beyond me. Lord tunderin Jesus, indeed.
Close to 30 percent of people nationwide aren't planning on doing anything to mark Canada Day, although this goes up to 49 percent in Quebec. Vive les patriotes__!, and Moving Day and all that. Only 14 percent of East Coasters plan to skip the day's festivities—which makes sense given there's shit all to do and the Holy Canadian Trinity (The Tragically Hip, Our Lady Peace, and City and Color) are usually in town for the region's One Big Show for the Year. Even in Newfoundland and Labrador, where we spend the morning in sombre reflection on the grotesquerie of war and the tragic folly of Man, we still manage to get the barbecues and beers going by the early afternoon. It may be less a celebration of Confederation's birthday than giving the Rock's lost generation an eternal Irish wake, but hey: a party's a party.
A full 81 percent of Canadians have "eh" as part of their regular linguistic rotation, although only about a quarter drop it in everyday conversation. Half of us only blurt it out occasionally, and another six percent only use it when they want to play themselves up as a hyper-hoser dancing bear for Americans. This is actually the only question in the survey that even comes close to broaching the subject of anti-Americanism, which is weird, because knee-jerk hate for the USA is actually the most defining feature of Canadian identity. Aside from constantly over-analyzing Canadian identity, anyway. Sorry.
Confederation was built on "not being American." The Revolution in 1776 was a civil war and the British loyalists who carved a country out of northern North America never got over the loss. We chafe at these kitschy stereotypes of Canada as a nation of poutine-munching liberal lumberjacks, even while we wrap ourselves up in them. One of the highest watermarks in patriotism during the past 20 years was the Joe Canadian commercial, and that was just a dude disputing the same tropes Historica polled for in an effort to one-up the States. We need to neurotically preen ourselves for Uncle Sam because otherwise we have to get down to the brass tacks of figuring out exactly what this country stands for. Stuff like rectifying the fact that the country was built on genocide and stolen land, figuring out how the fuck we're supposed to get along with Quebec, assembling a society that actually welcomes refugees and immigrants instead of cutting them adrift, or settling the cultural Cold War that's been simmering between Calgary and Toronto for the last 60 years. You know, the fun stuff.
But that's some pretty heavy shit. In the meantime, there's no harm in taking the day off to think about how far we've come, how far we have to go, and how best to blow up some blunts at the fireworks display with your gay-married, multiethnic friends. And on the off chance you get too drunk and overdo it, they'll pump your stomach for free. That's pretty fucking rad.
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