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O Canada, Why Must You Wear That Flag?

2010 June 10

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I like Canada. It’s a beautiful country and they’ve always been our friendly neighbors. It’s got the best ski holidays in North America (Whistler), has the better side of Niagra Falls (Maid of the Mist anyone?) and has way cooler-sounding (*not* town as corrected by my readers) province names (Saskatchewan). Canadians people are also very nice and easy to get along with. Hell, I even work for a Canadian company.

But there’s one thing about Canadian backpackers that annoys the hell out of me. You might be thinking that it’s the infamous “eh” (not “ey” as corrected by my readers) but it’s not. It’s the Canadian backpackers who have that little Canadian flag stitched to their backpack. I just don’t get it. I swear, 90% of them must have that little flag. Sure it’s harmless and doesn’t really affect me directly, but it’s one of those little pet-peeves that just gnaws at you.

You know what EXACTLY I’m talking about. Courtesy of World Hum.

I’m all for national pride and it’s always a riot to get drunk and sing your national anthem louder than the group at the table next to you. But do you really need to wear that little flag around, all the time, for everyone to see? Granted it’s subtle, but still you’re announcing “I’m Canadian!” for the whole world to hear. You don’t see Americans, Brits, Aussies or Europeans waving their country flags and I’m certainly not going around telling strangers that I’m from California.

So what is the compelling reason for doing it? Is it the code to some secret bond amongst Canadian brethren that the rest of the world will never be able to experience? Could it be that Canadians have some kind of existentialist crisis that can only be solved by stitching the Maple Leaf to one’s bag? Or maybe it’s a retort to the over-the-top, nation-loving stereotype of Americans?

I could see it making some sense between 2000 and 2008. Bush was screwing up the world and everyone hated Americans. Even some Americans sewed on the Maple Leaf to deflect public animosity. But guess what, Obama is our president now and he’s a rockstar. If you only saw the faces of people when I told them I had voted for Obama. Everyone loves America now (well maybe that’s a bit too far but at least not everyone dislikes America) so that reason is pretty much null.

Putting that little flag there also kills one of the best aspects of traveling. When backpacking, you start with a clean slate. No one knows who you are, where you’re from or what you do. People are able to make an objective opinion of you without prior biases or influences and vice versa. Of course, there will always be stereotypes and you can’t change your skin color or what you look like. But why label yourself with a flag which instantly associates yourself with stereotypes of that country’s backpackers, even before a single word is spoken?

If that were the case, I’d assume every Australian was a party animal, every Irish a drunkard and every American loud, obnoxious and ignorant. While there is some truth to every stereotype, we’ve all met amazing people who don’t fit that mold.

The point is, by putting on that flag, you’ll bring on a lot of judgment and preconceptions that otherwise wouldn’t happen. If that’s your modus operandi, then so be it but I’m willing to bet that most people don’t like to be judged before someone gets to know them.

So Canadian backpackers, take off those flags. Join the rest of the world in no-flag patch fashion. After all, we’re all backpackers here; not Canadian backpackers, not American backpackers, not Australian backpackers or European backpackers. Just backpackers.

255 Responses leave one →
  1. June 10, 2010

    It’s so that when people from Canada travel, they don’t get mistake for Americans…I’m not saying I agree with it, but that’s why!

    • June 10, 2010

      It also avoids the embarrassing moment asking them if they’re from the states with such a similar accent.

    • June 10, 2010


      In Italy, our luggage was over the allotted weight and the clerk behind the desk let us go because she said: “voi siete canadese.” (you’re canadians).
      If you read between the lines, she was really saying “you’re not Americans” like 90% of the other travellers (we flew via Detroit).

    • June 10, 2010

      I’m American and I wouldn’t want to get mistaken as a Canadian – so I understand where they’re coming from 🙂

    • June 10, 2010

      Actually, its true. It’s not necessarily to be seen as anti-American (as my guide from France explained), but to be seen -as- Canadian. Apparently much of Europe has a high opinion of people hailing from Canada (not sure if their opinions on the Canadian gov’t, but I digress) because we’re generally polite and culture-conscious people. Thats not to say we don’t have our share of assholes (oh trust me, we do), but apparently as a whole we’re less likely to demean someone from another country, especially in their own fraking country, as well as respecting their culture, whether modern or ancient.

      Even if we’re not all polite all the time, Canadians ARE known for being overly polite. And I think thats why Canadians are encouraged to wear a Canadian flag on their backpack, because people from overseas cultures (Europe, Asia, etc) appreciate that kindness. I’m not saying Americans can’t be polite, but American culture isn’t KNOWN for being polite. i.e. American fought a bloody political war to gain its freedom from Britain; Canada asked nicely.

      • Lisa Hibbs-Wright permalink
        November 27, 2010

        So, my daughter who is American-Canadian should be embarrassed? She is 10 and I am her American parent. Shame on all of you who look down on my country, USA. My daughter say this and is disgusted with Canada and any other country who thinks like that. Oh, and I am from TEXAS. SO TAKE THAT!

        • Joel permalink
          February 25, 2011

          Canadian here.
          I love America. It’s bomb shit. You might have a Democrat president (I’ll forgive you), but you guys MADE THE WORLD! Imagine if you hadn’t been the awesome super-duper power that you’ve been for the lasting oh, seventy years. We probably wouldn’t have iPad’s or Tomahawk cruise missiles, that we wouldn’t. The Russians would be the ones with all the new toys.

          Like seriously guys, unadultered Capitalism made the world. That’s what I love about America. My country sucks because we’re a nanny state that believes ‘if you’re born, you have the right to be alive’, which is nonsense.
          I’m moving to your country soon and after I get my citizenship I’m going to go buy one of those shirts. Fuck Canada.

          Also I miss the founding fathers, don’t you guys? They understood government had to be small and self limiting in nature.

          Canada has one redeeming quality – good weed. And you can grow that in a basement anywhere.

          • ScumbagSteve permalink
            March 30, 2013

            BS!!! You were born and raised an American trying to act Canadian. No Canadian would think like you. Invented the Tomahawk cruise missle. No Canadian would brag about that.

  2. June 10, 2010

    badkidsgoodgrammar’s right. As a Canadian, the last thing I want is to be mistaken as an American. Speaking wise, we sound “like” Americans. Since so many out there like to make assumptions, we sew our flag on to our bags to avoid confusion. It’s got nothing to do with patriotism. When you’re Canadian, there’s a large chance that you’re loving more than just Canada.

  3. Peter permalink
    June 10, 2010

    There’s a true funny joke in Canada. How can you spot a US traveler from an Canadian one? US one has the bigger Canadian flag. You’d be surprised how much better customer service is when people know you’re not American. I haven’t done any major trips post Bush so you might be right, time to throw away the flag, but everyone generally loves Canada and it’s very easy to confuse a Canadian with an American.

  4. June 10, 2010

    Saskatchewan is a Province… NOT A TOWN!

    Obama is no different from Bush, and you guys are just as arrogant abroad as ever. Don’t think the “we elected a slave” is fooling people.. Have you been to Europe or Africa or South America recently? The attitudes are the same… I’ve traveled before, during and after Bush.. obviously a few people will say “we love obama” but they arent the ones that you had to worry about under Bush… I hate Nationalism, but I’m sure the Canadian Flag has saved my life a few times..


    Half of the “Canadians” you see with flags, are actually Americans, who agree with everything I just said.

    • June 10, 2010

      As a Canadian, I sort of take it to offence if I were to be mistaken as an American. I would never want to be associated with such a horrible and corrupt government. I don’t want to be labeled as supporting tyranny.

      And, as it’s been said multiple times in the comments now, Americans wear Canadian flags themselves because they know that the entire world thinks the same way as I do about the US. How can you tell between the two? The American’s flag is bigger. Us Canadians will probably sew a 1″ x 2″ patch on our chest or arm, while the American has the big flag like in the picture in this blog.

      • June 10, 2010

        Do you assume that every American supports tyranny? Do you think that every American voted for what you describe as “a horrible and corrupt government”?

        Perhaps you shouldn’t generalize so much.

        • Bro permalink
          January 2, 2014

          Well you’re not doing anything to prevent your government from ruining the world, now, are you? Because that’s what it’s doing. Long live Israel, amirite? No you’re not.

        • Jay permalink
          September 11, 2015

          No but the majority did!

      • June 10, 2010

        I have to agree with pduan. Actually there are millions of Americans who don’t like the govwernment. There’s really no difference in who ever we vote for. Either way we get the same old bull crap. I think we were better off hundreds of years ago before the government swept in and took over. You really shouldn’t generalize so much. The irony my country has is we accuse all other countries that “THE GOVERNMENT” not “MY COUNTRY” doesn’t like of not having a real choice. The truth is we don’t. Corporate America and their money has a hand in everything. You’d be surprised how many of us would love to see the government representatives jailed. Only problem is there would be no order.
        Too many fn greedy people in control only making it good for the people at the top who rarely work, while the little guy at the bottom gets f’d over working more than 40 hours a week. It’s funny how people accuse us of making assumptions without really knowing what the hell they’re talking about.

      • manhattan85 permalink
        June 10, 2010

        Love it when Canadians get high and mighty, spewing anti-American venom from their self-important pedestal that stands tall nowhere but in their own hypocritical minds. I’m saying that and I’m 100% Canadian. Corrupt governments? Have you paid any attention to what Stephen Harper’s been up to? Or are you busy watching Jersey Shore? Then there’s the Canucks who admonish Americans for “not knowing anything about us” when they themselves would have trouble naming the capital of said province of Saskatchewan.

      • June 10, 2010

        Oh! Oh! I know this one. It’s “Boston,” right? I’m right, aren’t I?

        That or Moose Jaw.

      • June 11, 2010

        Just as any government in the Western world (the Belgian included) they’re built on the backs of other nations and people, in general also the lower classes in the respective Western societies at some point in their histories. That said, perhaps the Maple Leaf might be better depicted with drips of blood trickling down from the sides. Take a good look at your own history, the indigenous peoples of both federations (US & Canada) have paid the price for the so-called great democracies of the modern world. A flag often ‘covers’ more than what is visibly detectable …
        As a Belgian I am however thankful for the sacrifices that young men and women from both Kanata and the US made to free Europe from the tyranny of Nazism. Doesn’t mean that pardons injustice or corruption in any of those states (nor my own country).

        Just my five cents!

    • June 10, 2010

      SASKATCHEWAN is a Province not a Town!!!!! Love it!!
      I am a proud Canadian and I have a flag on my backpack!! And whenever I travel I am usually with Americans and everyone is telling the locals where they are from…..America……America…..America………..then it gets to me and I say Canada and the locals go……..CANADA!!!!!!!!!!!!

    • June 10, 2010

      I just studied a semester in Europe. As an American, I wanted to break the stereotypes that people have of Americans because obviously not all fit the stereotype. Even though breaking a embedded stereotype in a persons thinking is tough. I went through seven different European countries while I was there and Ireland was the friendliest but like you said the views are still the same. I traveled with a study abroad friend from America too and had a bad time traveling with her. I wanted to remain under the radar and not be THAT American. My appearance did not scream American until someone heard my accent. However, my traveling buddy did not get the idea that I wanted to just be an anonymous traveler, when she talked she was loud and definitely set in American ignorant ways. When I wanted to break those stereotypes about us, she just reinforced them. I tried. I really did.

      Had a great time backpacking though.

      For wearing a flag though, we were in Berlin taking a walking tour through the city. And a newly wed Canadian couple actually mentioned saying they did not want to wear a Canadian flag because they do not want be like those Americans. They said that Americans are the ones who wear their American flags. So, there was a different perspective.

  5. June 10, 2010

    First off, good blog– I say this so You don’t think I’m squashing you. They are right, we travel with it so when we go to Europe (the biggest stereotypers of the US) or Cuba, we don’t get ‘mistaken.
    Take what I say with a grain of salt because I too live in California and am marrying an American next week.
    PS. It’s ‘Eh’, not ‘Ey’. 😉

  6. russellsfeet permalink
    June 10, 2010

    All those comments are true – it’s just one of those things we do. Oddly, within Canada, we are so indifferent to our status. Our government always trying to protect us from the Cultural Imperialism that surrounds us. To be Canadian is often defined at ‘different than American’. No Team America songs of pride for our country. As for the Americans walking around in USA flag shirts – I see PLENTY visiting Canada sporting them. It makes me laugh.

  7. June 10, 2010

    Unlike Americans, Canadians are quiet about their patriotism. Americans don’t need to wear a flag because as soon as they open their mouths everyone knows they’re American. Usually they will announce quite loudly where they’re from in the first ten minutes of meeting them. The flag on the Canadian backpack is a subtle but visible way to tell the world how proud we are to be Canadian. Also, as a seasoned traveller, Canadians are treated very well overseas and that little flag goes a long way when we’re mistaken for being American. It’s thought that Canadians are more tolerant of the culture change they experience while travelling and find it easier to try new things. For example, we don’t go to Japan and expect to eat a hamburger at a sushi restaurant and then get all uptight when we can’t get one. I’ve seen this happen.

    Sorry, but the flag on the backpack stays.

    Oh, and it’s “eh” not “ey.”

    • June 10, 2010

      I’ve seen Americans visiting Canada who get upset that our bank machines don’t dispense American money.

    • June 10, 2010

      @Franco. I think you’re taking a few bad examples and extrapolating it over the entire population.

      I’ve been through Europe, Southeast Asia and South America and to be honest, the only place where I felt I was treated differently was Vietnam (gee I wonder why…).

      All of the Americans I met were not ordering hamburgers or screaming “I’m American!!!” either.

  8. jm rode permalink
    June 10, 2010

    Canadians sew the little flag on because, to other ears and eyes, we are often mistaken for Americans and Canadians don’t like that. We look and sound too much like you and that translates into poor service and negative stereotyping. Sadly, the impression abroad is that Americans are buffoons and loudmouthed bullies. Now you and I know that’s not always true, but that’s the greater worldwide opinion and what innocent Canuck would want to to wear that label? We’re not advertising our nationality; we’re telling the world, “I’m not American, it’s ok to talk to me.”

    Also, George Bush or Barak Obama don’t come into it. The world has been afraid of Americans since Teddy Roosevelt started your country down the regrettable path of invading other nations for fun and profit. I daresay the little flags will stay.

  9. Raul permalink
    June 10, 2010

    It’s simply a pride thing I am sure. You said that you would not want people to judge you by seeing the flag of your country on your backpack. However, that’s the thing about pride…no matter what, you are happy to be from America and you want people to know. They are happy to be Canadian, no matter what that means to other people. I think that’s great and more Americans should be that way. It’s great to have pride in the country you come from and to want people to know about it. It doesn’t matter what other people think, it’s what you think. Great post!!

  10. matxil permalink
    June 10, 2010

    It´s probably for the same reason as that after the second world war, Dutch tourists travelling through Europe often wore a Dutch flag to avoid being taken for Germans.

    • June 10, 2010

      I find this constant and cheap tendency to equate U.S with Nazism tiresome and offensive. It’s lazy, self-satisfied and exceptionally rude — which of course, we Canadians NEVER are.

      • richard permalink
        May 27, 2012

        Canadians are never lazy!? Ok..this is a new one. I have friends …a lot of them from canada who complain about how laziness is an epidemic in canada. But from my perspective it looks likes canadians are just as loud and proud as americans but they save it for posts like these so the rest of the world doesn’t physically hear them…id say humans in general are tyrants of the world who choose to express it in different ways based soley on geography……yep…all the same..americans just aren’t afraid to admit it I guess. Yeah..I’m an american …could you tell?

  11. June 10, 2010

    i live in tanzania, and have traveled all over the world. just for the record…

    american males have their equivalent of the canadian flag — it’s called the baseball cap.

    and european guys have a “flag” of their own — they’re called capri pants.

    asians carry cameras.

    • debbe permalink
      June 10, 2010

      Haha, as an asian and a Canadian, I find this hilarious.

      • June 10, 2010

        in our backpacking travels, my wife, friends, and i always play games trying to guess where people are from without hearing their language or accents. the above are generalizations and stereotypes — but there’s a reason they are…

  12. June 10, 2010

    Maybe the flags come with the backpacks…”eh”.

    My daughter is Canadian and married to an American in the US Air Force.
    He is stationed at Ft. Nellis so her reality has really changed.
    As a newly married couple they are daily exploring their differences, and similarities and working for a better understanding of each other.

    She will always be what she is.
    As will he.
    But as for their kids…
    I can hope they will be the better for the experience of knowing about BOTH countries!

  13. June 10, 2010

    so i’m guessing that when i spend five weeks in canada later this summer, i shouldn’t wear my ‘these colors don’t run’ t-shirt in public?

    • June 10, 2010


    • June 10, 2010

      Taylor that is hilarious. I have to say.

    • harebell permalink
      June 10, 2010

      Are you suggesting that Canadians run?
      Because you seem to suggest that offence might be taken if you wore such a shirt.
      I hope that is not the case. The CF have a pretty proud history of operating successfully in conflicts where the enemy out number them. Including a wee jaunt to burn down the White-house a wee while back in the War of 1812, in response to American aggression.

      • jknitt permalink
        June 10, 2010

        “These colors don’t run” refers to the American flag being a constant symbol of the country. It has nothing to do with implying any kind of cowardice toward Canadians. The Forces have fought valiantly through many wars without a doubt. The “American aggression” isn’t entirely correct, though. The War of 1812 was fought because the Brittish were attempting to ignore the results of the American Revolution. Since Canada was a Brittish territory at the time that was the cause for the sacking of Toronto.

  14. June 10, 2010

    Firstly thanks to those who corrected you on the Saskatchewan and Eh. Though there are cool town names too.

    I am American and Canadian, and have spent part of my life living in both places and abroad. As someone else said, pre, during and post bush. The attitude was never any different. My cousin is a Canadian living in Greece at the moment, and she is there for only a few years, but she has a canadian bumper stikcer on herr car, and a canadian wrist band she always has with her should she run into trouble. Cars there with diplomatic plates easily get torched and rolled over and vandellised because people think they are Americans. A lot of people from the American embassy even have canadian bumperstickers to avoid it. After all the embassy there did get torched just a year or two ago… And as for the wrist band, whenever someone starts to act like a jerk calling her american she pulls it out. She told me of a time just a short while ago when she was walking her dog with a friend, speaking English. Two women passed them and assumed she was american. SHe’s lived here and visited me many times, but she hates being called something she is not. So she literally stopped the women and explained that more nations than jsut America speak english, that she spoke greek and could understand that they were scorning her and that they shouldn’t say someone is a foreigner just because their dog is groomed, well fed, well behaved and on a leash. I’m not promoting greek stereotypes, but a lot of people will buy a dog at christmas and by easter (when they realise how demanding and big a dog will get) the cities can become full of strays.

    But good email, maybe canadians should be a little more subtle about their identity…

  15. June 10, 2010

    Um, I don’t know how people do things in California, but here people put American flags all over EVERYTHING. I have no idea what you’re talking about. Sure, maybe they don’t go advertising it in other countries (Since a lot of us know we are not liked).

    My girlfriend is Canadian, which is what drew me to this. We’re getting married and I’m moving there. I hope I am not too hated there, but then again, I am not the average American anyway. For instance… I’m a socialist. And I rather dislike America and its values haha.

    • June 10, 2010

      If you look over the entire history of Canada you will find that the majority of the immigration has been from the states. That majority is becoming slimmer of course with immigration from other countries. Both of my grandparents came here from the states and we are as proud as proud can be to be Canadians and well into our fourth generation.
      It has been my experience that the best Canadians are usually Americans who have chosen to come here. One of this provinces favorite politician is Corky Evans, he was a draft dodger and he is a truly great Canadian.We don’t hate you. We love you and we welcome you, in the same way that like a church loves converts.

      andthenwe laugh

      • June 10, 2010

        Not sure where you’re getting your information from, but the majority of immigration to Canada has definitely NOT come from the US. Not by a long, long shot.

        1901 Census: 57% of immigrants were born in the British Isles, 19% in the U.S., 5% in Russia, 4% in Germany and 2.5% (17,043 people) in China.

        1911 Census: 49% of immigrants were born in the British Isles, 19% in the U.S., and 6% in Russia

        1921 Census: 52% of immigrants were born in the British Isles, 19% in the U.S. and 5% in Russia. 1,760 immigrants were born in South Africa;

        1931 Census: 49% of immigrants were born in the British Isles, 15% in the U.S., 14% in Central Europe and less than 3% in Asia.

        1941 Census: 44% of immigrants were born in the British Isles, 14% in the U.S., 7% in Poland and 5% in Russia. There were 29,095 immigrants from China (of whom only 1,426 were women), 9,462 from Japan and 5,886 other “Asians” (includes “Arabian, Armenian, Hindu, Syrian, Turkish…”).

        1951 Census: 44% of immigrants were born in the United Kingdom, 13.7% in the U.S., 9% in the USSR and 8% in Ireland. There were 37,145 immigrants from “Asiatic countries”, of whom 24,166 were from China. I

        1961 Census: 34% of immigrants were from the UK, 51% from other European countries (Italy by itself represented 9%), 10% from the U.S., 2% from “Asiatic countries”, 0.6% from “other countries” (which includes all of Africa apart from South Africa).

        1971 Census: 79% of immigrants were born in Europe (28% in the UK, 12% in Italy, 6% in Germany, 5% each in Poland and the USSR). “Asiatic countries” were the birthplace for under 4% of immigrants. All African countries are grouped under “other countries” (2% of immigrants).

        1981 Census: 67% of immigrants were born in Europe, 14% in Asia, 8.5% in North or Central America, 4.5% in the Caribbean, and 2.7% in Africa.

        1991 Census: 54% of immigrants were born in Europe, 25% in Asia, 6% in U.S., 5% in the Caribbean and 4% in Africa.

        Source: A Hundred Years of of Immigration to Canada, from The Canadian Council for Refugees.

      • June 10, 2010

        Yeah, my girlfriend comes from a family of immigrants from the Phillipines. After hearing about Toronto, I have a hard time thinking most immigrants to Canada are American even without census data.

      • June 10, 2010

        Toronto has now officially passed the half-way mark: as 0f 2006, more than half the people living here are from other countries — and most of them are from countries that don’t speak English. (I know, I know — Americans don’t speak “English” either, according to some people, but I’m not talking about that.)

  16. June 10, 2010

    I’m not Canadian, nor did I even know that Canadians stitch their flag to their bags until today, BUT, I dont see how its that big of a problem. We Americans do in fact show pride for our country, just as much as any other country does. I mean, come one, have you seen us on the Fourth of July? You see so much Red, White and Blue you start spinning. So, the Canadians have a way of showing pride (and seperating themselves from the Americans), so what? Let them be. Everyone has got their own little quirks. We’re too busy hating on other countries, and yet, we’re probably one of the most hated countries in the world, and we wonder why. Right now, we have other problems to worry about besides flags on backpacks.

  17. June 10, 2010

    This post made me wish I was Canadian! I’ve always thought the Canadian flag was beautiful. Don’t get me wrong, I love the Stars and Stripes, but nowadays (for whatever reason) it has started to become associated with rednecks, and if you wear it (as the model in that photo in the post is doing) “loudly” you are made fun of (not saying this happens all the time…but if you saw the man in the flag shirt in public, would you turn around and snicker at him? I would!). It must be nice to live in a country where you can wear your beautiful flag around and not be accused of redneckery.
    Granted, I am a college student living in a city full of college students who are fascinated by rednecks (they have redneck-themed parties that are FULL of flag shirts! Strange?). So perhaps my view is skewed just a little.

    • June 10, 2010

      haha, i would LOVE to see a redneck-themed party. i’ve been called that (or hillbilly) a few times, and would be fascinated to see just how one ‘dresses up’ to resemble my kind! 😀

  18. June 10, 2010

    I am a Canadian (and proud to be). Although I may not exhibit the amount of national pride that Americans do, when my husband and I travelled Europe, it became necessary to wear out flag. Why, as you asked. Well because on a few occasions, Europeans mistook us for Americans and threw rocks and bottles at us. No, we did not aggravate them or anything like that. It is because other nations are familiar with the rudeness that comes along with being an American. So I’m sorry that we wear our flag, it’s simply because we don’t want to be mistaken for you.

  19. June 10, 2010

    As a Canadian, I used to cringe a little seeing the flag on people’s backpacks while traveling, but I’ve come across too many Canadians, with flags, backpacking with Texan, Boston, and New York accents to make me feel anything … other than highly suspicious.
    It must be strange to put another country’s flag on your backpack. It must be strange to put your own country’s flag on a backpack as well, but it happens.

    You are very wrong about other countries not putting a flag on their backpacks. Norway is probably the biggest offender… if this has become offensive somehow.

    note: congrats on getting on “Freshly Pressed”.

  20. June 10, 2010

    When I first started travelling my dad sewed the Canadian flag to my backpack. And honest to goodness, at that time I had no idea other countries didn’t do the same. Then while travelling I quickly realize no one else wore a flag.

    But I left it on. Because why not? People who backpack are open minded, so as far as judgement is concerned it is never a problem. And being away from Canada, and seeing all these incredible cultures and countries, has strengthened my Canadian identity and now when I meet a fellow Canadian (because I live in England), it’s like visiting home again.

    We’re proud, and we can get away with it. Those are two reasons we wear the flag.

    (Incidentally my husband is Hungarian and we met backpacking. He didn’t have a flag, so I asked why, to which he replied: “what if you meet a country whose your enemy?” That was certainly an eye opener for this naive Canadian.)

  21. June 10, 2010

    It’s better than wearing frat letters. Ugh.

    Please stop with all the meanie stereotypes some of you commenters. Goodness gracious. I’m American but I’m not a rich, loud, & obnoxious businessman. Please be my friend, I like Ryan Reynolds.

    • June 10, 2010

      ditto. (to more than just the ryan reynolds shoutout, might i add.)

      • June 10, 2010

        I agree, being Canadian I always get the “why do you guys hate us so much?” (along with the “oh, is you’re igloo still frozen up there…EEEEHHHH”). We don’t hate you –well most of us–contrary to what some of these commenters are saying. But we do get ALOT of grief from Americans for whatever reasons (there’s a few) and so we just try to ‘avoid’ being called one. Especially because of the harsh stereotypes that come with it. Ours are much nicer.
        But like I said in my comment, I’ll be married to an American soon and he’s from Texas of all nationalistic places (I keep getting reminded that Texas used to be it’s own country once) and he is loud sometimes and very American, but I still love him1 😉

  22. June 10, 2010

    Well that stirred up a bit of a hornets nest didn’t it? Well done!

    • June 10, 2010

      Thanks 😉 It’s always interesting to hear both sides of a story.

      Certainly the greatest number of riled up Canadians I’ve ever seen.

  23. June 10, 2010

    Do people have preconceptions about Canadians? The only one I’ve ever heard is that they’re polite. I lived near the Canadian border for a lot of years and spent time up there and knew a lot of people from there … and they WERE polite! 🙂

    Well, one of them ended up relieving me of that notion. But the rest were pretty awesome.

  24. June 10, 2010

    Interesting blog and it was also very interesting reading the comments. Us Brits need a little flag when we go to USA as well because everyone there says we sound Australian! It happens all the time!!

  25. June 10, 2010

    Backpacking is not without hazards. Apart from being mistaken for a US citizen (it seems that those who should not represent their country manage to get abroad most often), there’s bears, lions, mushrooms, trucks, lunatics, and weather. The flag is so whoever stumbles on the corpse will know where to ship the body. I don’t know why more people don’t adopt this sensible precaution.

    • northpike permalink
      June 10, 2010

      That is the most awesome reason to wear a flag I’ve ever heard.

    • June 10, 2010

      Right. Because if there’s no other identification then they’ll just ship the body to Canada with a “Return to Sender” stamp on, and if there is identification — well, it’s just easier to look at the flag on the knapsack (which may not even represent the country the person is from) than to look at their bloody passport.

      No, really. I believe you.

      • thesundaygap permalink
        June 10, 2010

        Frank, your seeming lack of a sense of humor is funny.

        For argument’s sake, let’s dissect the joke.

        If the remains of a human were found without proper identification, the local police would go through procedure to attempt to identify the body. This of course would vary from country to country, but it is safe to assume that if there IS someone investigating the death of an as of yet unidentified person, before checking teeth and fingerprints against national databases (if these records exist in said country), these policemen and women would look around a bit for evidence as to who the deceased was and how they came to be deceased.

        No wallet (stolen, eaten or left behind in the hotel)? Skin coloring notably different from the majority of the local populace? Clothes on the body not of the local style? These investigators, upon finding any nationally identifying item WOULD likely check with that particular embassy (i.e. the country whose flag was stitched onto the backpack found nearby) in order to find a match in that embassy’s visa records.

        It might not help – circumstantial evidence is, well, circumstantial. But a phone call is a lot easier than an autopsy.

      • June 10, 2010

        Thanks, sundaygap. But couldn’t they simply identify the person as being Canadian by the halo and number of forest animals paying homage to a fallen saint?

      • June 11, 2010

        That is amazing. I love it.

      • June 11, 2010

        Thank you. I’m here all week.

  26. June 10, 2010

    I am proud to be the citizen of my country. But showing it off like saying “hey, take notice! I am from bla bla bla coming to your country. ” It’s just not the way I believe I should follow. Physically, I guess people can at least guess where I am from. I can see how dangerous it is to be chauvinistic.

  27. June 10, 2010

    I always though it was because they were a bit geeky, but now I see the reason behine it.

    There was a comment about people from the USA putting up flags and stuff – “Um, I don’t know how people do things in California, but here people put American flags all over EVERYTHING” – the point here is that these people don’t leave the USA though and it’s probably good that they don’t.

  28. June 10, 2010

    It isn’t just that they sew their flag on their backpacks, they plaster the maple leaf on EVERYTHING. I’ve traveled all over the world (China, Thailand, Turkey, Egypt, Italy, Greece, France, Spain, Portugal, Mexico, Costa Rica, Croatia and Canada) and no one else puts their flags on everything they way Canadians do. Great post. I thought I was the only one who thought the overuse of the Canadian flag was a little odd.

  29. kdstonebraker permalink
    June 10, 2010

    There is a prejudice expressed here that Americans are considered loud and obnoxious and Europeans find them unattractive. My experience backpacking the Camino de Santiago two summers ago confirmed just the opposite. We Americans were never treated with anything but kindness and graceful curiosity. Nearly everyone who found out we were Americans were friendly and eager to know more about us. So give the Europeans and us Americans the credit we deserve, please. We got along just fine, thank you.

    • June 10, 2010

      I agree, kdstonebraker. I spent six months in Edinburgh, working in a place where I met people from all over the world. No one treated me badly when they found out I am American (and this was during the Bush years). Although some times I was mistaken for a Canadian! 🙂

      Stereotyping anyone, be they American, Canadian, or whatever, reflects poorly on the people doing the stereotyping.

  30. June 10, 2010

    The Maple Leaf actually is a secret code: In many areas of the world where we have been peacekeepers or liberators (legit liberators), it’s a fast-track to being liked by the locals. In the Netherlands there are many stories of people who get free room and board at a B&B because they are Canadian. Furthermore, because we more or less look and sound like Americans (with the exception of regionalised dialects like Newfoundlander, Nova Scotian, Quebec English, and British Columbian English) it deflects the assumption that we are Americans, one we don’t appreciate.

    In short, it’s all your (Americans) fault.

    • Dean permalink
      August 30, 2010

      huh, I never realized we had a distinct accent here in BC.

      “it deflects the assumption that we are Americans, one we don’t appreciate.”

      That’s why I sewed a flag on my bag when I backpacked in Central America. Sure, it’s a bit pretentious. But I think the only people annoyed by it are other tourists, and not the locals. In places like Nicaragua, Guatemala, and Honduras there are still hard feelings about ham-handed US foreign policy, so what can I say? I don’t want to be automatically identified as American.

      Also it’s a conversation starter with locals. A lot of the locals I met on my trip are curious about Canada. They have an impression of Canada being this exotic land of snow and igloos (which is funny for someone from Victoria, where it never snows)

  31. June 10, 2010

    Haha to Renee! People always say they can tell I’m Canadian casue I say sorry and thank you and your welcome and such way too much! Though Ill take that as a complimetn!

    As for Puerto Escondido, my art teacher is welsh, and for a long time her worked on various cruise ships as a photographer, traveling the world and bein artistic about it. He tells us the story that he was on a ship in Alaska with a bunch of Americans and they go to him and say “Hey, Mark, I love your accent, where ya from? no wait let me guesse… Austrailia?”

    “No, try the other side of the world.”
    “Ok, then New Zealand?”

    He doesn’t have anything against him though he dislikes how they CAN make assumptions and be pig headed and such (not saying they are but merely can. My parents were very strict about bringing us up so as not to believe stereotypes, especially after we moved to New York from Montreal (and its not even THAT far away) and adults were asking us if we enjoyed the warm weather… and then thought we were dillusional to tell them it was the same back home that time of year…) No but serioiusly people asked if we had pet polar bears and how we kept our igloos from melting in the sun. We’ve gotten over it, and though Im not saying every american is as naive as a 5 year old, cause I half consider myself american too, depending on how I feel, people abroad really have come to believe the stereotypes about americans because they have been proven true too many times.

    • June 10, 2010

      haa, yeah my fiance says that “you can tell any Canadian, accent or not, by the way– not necessarily the amount (though we do say it A LOT!)– we say “sorry” and “been”. ie.:
      CAD: “so-ree”
      USA: “saw-ree”

      CAD: “bee-n”
      USA: “bin”

      I say “bag” funny too, but I don’t know how to describe that one cuz I can’t hear the difference. I’m like The Pink Panther saying “ham-burger” I just don’t see a difference…

      • June 10, 2010

        I noticed the “sorry” thing with Michael J. Fox on Family Ties! It was always so jarring to my ears because here he was supposed to be this kid from Ohio (I’m from Ohio) and then he’d say, “sorry,” and it would just totally kill it for me.

  32. June 10, 2010

    True, canadians are seen as more peaceful. Also Having been to other embassies for other countries not just american and canadian aroudn the world I can say that nearly everyone has pins, stamps, stickers, patches and even pencils with their country emblazoned on it. My favourites are the double falg stamps, canadian (or american) with the domestic country as well. I collect them because I think they are so great and diplomatic. These nick nacks are on offer everywhere.

    I though, contrary to kdstonebraker have found that i am much more openmindingly recived when people know that I’m Canadian, though even I get mistaken for being british! I don’t understand how much people can get accents mixed up, but for the aspect of how everyone is saying “Canadians just don’t want to be mistaken for Americans…” totally acceptable, who wants to be something they are not! And its the same thing, do you think Japanese or korean or Tiwanese like being mistake for Chinese every time they travel by a touch of ignorance on a random person’s part?

    (just realised Ive posted three times and never congratulated you on Freshly Pressed. This is a…entertaining and… occupying article, it certainly takes some stimulation of the mind! looking at things from different points of views).

  33. June 10, 2010

    Even Canada’s Sears Roebuck has a little maple leaf on its signs, though I, for one, find it rather charming.

    The Codger

  34. June 10, 2010

    you know what? i’m Canadian and the whole flagpatch thing never made much sense to me either. when i was traveling, i loved being anonymous, and after a while the sight of the infamous maple leaf patch on nearly every other Canadian’s backpack filled me with annoyance.

    sadly, i actually think it comes from ignorance. the idea of advertising our nationality so that we won’t be mistaken for Americans. so that we’ll be treated better. it’s sickeningly passive-aggressive.

    but you know what else? we do it at home too. so it isn’t just an international backpacking thing. it isn’t as annoying on Canadian turf, and obviously the message at home is one of pride rather than a not-so-subtle declaration of superiority.

    i love my country, and i’m proud to be a Canadian. i wave the flag on Canada Day. and that’s enough for me 🙂

  35. June 10, 2010

    Personally, I wear a pin. Very discrete.
    And it’s because I am always accused of being from America.

    I get questions like: ” I know I am going to sound terribly thick, but is Canada actually attached to America?”.

    I love Americans. The ones I have met anyway.
    I scratch my head over American policies sometimes.

    I vacationed in Cuba this spring. (No need to wear the flag there BTW.)
    What a blown opportunity, if only the Americans of the 50’s were just a little less greedy and corrupt. Beautiful people and culture that dared to stand up to corruption and greed, the only way that was going to work.

  36. June 10, 2010

    I have backpacked quite extensively and I can guarantee you that seeing Australians and Americans and other backpackers with flags on their backpacks was primarily the reason why I returned home and put a Canadian flag on mine for future travels. You’re wrong to assume the whole world hates the U.S. In some regions, such as Central America, and parts of Latin America, Canadians are actually the most hated people of all. Dear Canadians, you can thank the practices of the mining industries for that.

  37. June 10, 2010

    Canadians have the flag for pretty much the same reason everyone has said: So people know we’re not American. And it’s not from the Bush years. My dad went to England in the 70’s and it wasn’t until the English found out he was from Canada that they would treat him well. He told me one story about a guy who was about to knock him out because he thought he was American. My dad corrected him and the guy took him to a pub and bought him some pints by way of apology.

    Another quick story: A coworker (British) was living in France. A French guy came up to him and asked if he was American. The Brit said, “No” and was promptly punched in the face. The French guy thought he was lying.

    From personal experience, I HATE being mistaken for American. Always have, always will.

  38. June 10, 2010

    Sorry to break it to you…. but

    1) it’s Eh, not Ey

    and 2):

    Us Canadians wear a flag when we travel so we aren’t mistaken for dumbass Americans. Everyone loves a Canadian. We don’t fight, we’re a peace keeping country. We are respectful to our people, our cultures, our environment… Americans are greedy war hungry ignorant people. And the world knows that. As a tourist/traveler with a Canadian Flag, we get paid a lot more respect and kindness than when we don’t have one. People are fascinated with Canada because we are the peace keeping gentle country, plus the world is ignorant and think it’s really “cool” that we all live in igloos and travel by dogsled.


    (And btw, yes, I know not EVERY American sucks, just like I know that not EVERY Canadian is a hero, but if you compare actual statistics, studies, and polls, what I’ve stated above is true, sorry dudes.)

  39. Marco permalink
    June 10, 2010

    I have wonder the same about americans with USA flags outside of their houses, and they are still in the USA. But I guess that is the same, it’s easy to identify americans because they are the only ones with huge camping bags, shorts, sandals in the middle of the city’s downtown (not a rural town) or trying to get into a nice restaurant and asking why they are not allowed to enter.

    Every time I think of a Canadian, I always remember: Nice people, helpful, fun, easy going, and educated.

  40. June 10, 2010

    Here’s a bit of irony: A lot of people here are talking about how Americans are hated around the world based solely on the actions of a few and patting themselves on the back and feeling superior for feeling that way.

    I’m American. I have seen people from other countries come here and act like boobs. I don’t assume everyone in their country is also a boob.

    I also know a lot of people from other countries who came here TO LIVE and love this country and the people in it. That includes several Canadians who emigrated to the US.

    I don’t think I’m a superior human being because I’m American, but I am incredibly greatful to live here and enjoy the freedoms we still have. I don’t see anything wrong with that.

    • Borninthebush permalink
      June 10, 2010

      As a Canadian, I have never worn a flag when travelling in other countries. However, I must say that I have occasionally encountered animosity when people thought I was from the USA. Asked if I was from America, I answered, “yes, from Canada,” only to find that they often do not know the difference. I have on occasion sketched a map to indicate where Canada lies in relation to the USA and Mexico. An example: Entering a pub in Dublin I was greeted by silence and icy stares before they realized I am Canadian. After that it was a merry and delightful evening. And yes, at times there were threats of violence in some situations where I was believed to be from the USA. I find this unfortunate because when in the USA I have found people tremendously hospitable and generous, polite and respectful. However, that said, there seems to be a transformation beyond their borders, when many Americans – not all by any means – become loud, rude and disrespectful, as though superior to the “natives.” I’ve seen this attitude in Canadians as well. It’s truly a puzzle. It seems that many people of all countries hold stereotypes of those from other countries or cultures, though Americans, due I believe, to their government’s policies, are more often targets. For some reason that eludes me, I have also seen anti- Swedish attitudes when travelling. Go figure, eh.

  41. June 10, 2010

    When I was in England a few years ago with my sister, we stopped at this coffee shop in the train station before boarding a train to Central London. The attendant at the coffee shop was talking on the phone. My sister and I politely waited to be served. He must have heard us speaking to one another because he put down the phone for a second and asked us, “Are you American?” We said no, we were from Canada. After confirming we weren’t American, he hung up the phone and served us. Afterward he asked us about Canada. That’s why we wear flags. Most people are at best ambivalent towards Americans and at worst flat out dislike them. Conversely, most people like Canadians. It’s unfair, but that’s the way it is. Blame Ann Coulter and Bush.

  42. June 10, 2010

    They do it not just to avoid be confused for Americans, but for their own safety. Americans don’t exactly have a great reputation in the world, so it helps protect them against haters and terrorists.

    I love it. I love seeing the Canadian flag on backpacks. Makes me know I’m traveling with nice folks. 🙂

  43. Kaffejenta permalink
    June 10, 2010

    Just a side note: some Europeans stitch flags on to their backpacks when they’re backpacking. Especially Scandinavians. 🙂

  44. June 10, 2010

    Since we’re sharing stories, word of note first off: I don’t think ALL Americans are like this BTW…
    My dad had to make a business call to the US to order some parts. Speaking with the secretary, it came time for the shipping details, and the conversation is as follows:
    DAD: “OK, so the address is ________ Calgary.”
    SEC:”Where is that?”
    DAD:”in Alberta”
    SEC: “OK, where is that?”
    DAD: “…, in Canada!?”
    SEC: “And where is that sir?”
    DAD: “….. um….. it’s the country above you…”

    Come on really? I didn’t believe it myself, but it’s true.
    I’ve also heard a story about a lady in the US who thought that Alaska was an island (so it’s impossible to be cold). When questioned, she took out a map and showed them that alaska was indeed right beside Hawaii…in a cropped box.

    • Borninthebush permalink
      June 10, 2010

      Re: the posting by Kristi. It can be quite hillarious at times. In Hawaii a couple on a bus asked me where I lived. Not thinking, I replied “British Columbia.” There was a thoughtful pause after which the gentleman said ” Oh, South America!”
      To be fair though, I must add that I spent two months in New Jersey and found that the average person I talked to knew as much and in some cases more than the average Joe in Canada. I was truly surprised at that. They’d learned it in their schools they told me.

      • June 10, 2010

        The lady collecting billing infromation at an Amercian hospital my girlfriend unfortunately had to go to thought that Canadians had social security numbers, ans her argument was like, “My sister is from Alaska and she has a social security number.”


        Americans often are very unaware of existence outside of their little part of America.

  45. June 10, 2010

    Probably everything I say will have already been said.

    The truth of the matter is that Americans are not well respected abroad. Canadians wear their flag so they aren’t mistaken for Americans. We don’t get as ripped off as our neighbours do, and we get to hear what people really think of Americans. Unfortunately or fortunately, the distinction between us works in our favour.

    Perhaps Americans should learn more about their foreign policies and proxy wars. Their arrogance in trying to tell people how to live, and what to believe. Perhaps, the infiltration of media and pop culture is really not as desirable as Americans think it is. Some people see your multinational corporations as a disease and trap to enslave. Some people are quite content with their own traditions and values. Freedom is a word tossed around so lightly in American vocabulary. Some people out there know it is just an illusion and are quite content with their own ideals, without Americans telling them there is a better way, or forcing upon them a way which is not compatible with their own vision of what happiness is.

    And while I’m here, what is it with Americans who travel to foreign countries and cannot stomach ‘foreign food’? I’ve witnessed Americans embarrass themselves, with an absolute lack of respect towards beautiful tasty foreign cuisine. If you really want McDonalds in India, China or Thailand, then seriously, just go home.

    I am not a Canadian who wears a flag, but, the reasons mentioned above are only some of them. Sorry to be so brutally honest but it’s the truth. Americans are making life increasingly difficult for the rest of the world, including Canadians who tend to be dragged into your crimes and having your views also imposed upon us.

  46. June 10, 2010

    The over-the-top use of the Canadian flag inside Canada has to be understood in context of Trudeau’s “just-watch-me” forceful keeping the rest of Canada prisoner in the union with Quebec when the majority of English speakers wanted to be rid of such resentful, and Roman Catholic, non-Anglo-Saxon aliens.

    I am British (English with a large portion of Scottish roots) with siblings who emmigrated to Canada, and nephews and nieces who were born Canadian, plus their kids now.

    I supported Quebec indpendence. I remember the bitter anti-Trudeau resentment of the English-speaking population when bilingual labels and signs bloomed over everything.

    Finally, we must not forget that the old Canadian flag had the British Union Flag in the top left corner. When the new, maple leaf, flag won the competition, it was necessary to fly it and flourish it everywhere to impress it firmly into the minds of both young and old.

  47. June 10, 2010

    I really thought Americans knew why we wore a flag on our luggage overseas? Sorry but I’ve seen first hand at several places in Europe in many establishments peoples faces change when they hear a North American accent and then they find out I’m from Canada. It’s like some sort of relief on their faces. I was a Travel Agent for many years and travelled a lot and I think one thing other countries appreciate about Canadians is that we know and take the time to know about the rest of the world, it’s taught in our schools.I travelled with American travel agents quite a few times and they admit they weren’t taught about the rest of world, it was something they had to pursue by themselves. So there’s another reason beside politics that Americans are looked at with some trepeditation by the rest of the world. A little knowledge about your host countries goes a long way.

  48. June 10, 2010

    I remember it starting back in the late ’60s, early ’70s, and the reason given then was to avoid being mistaken for Americans, who were universally disliked because of the Vietnam War. Since then the specifics have changed, but the underlying reason has stayed the same.

    Speaking as a Canadian, I found it somewhat offensive then, and even more so now. I’m especially tired of the “Oh, we Canadians aren’t as loudly patriotic as Americans” schtick. Truth is, our patriotism is smug, annoying, and based almost entirely on NOT being American.

    I like Canada. I do. I’m happy to live here, and I think I may prefer it over the States in some ways. (And it is true that in some ways we’re not as patriotic — at least in terms of having the flag in front of our houses, hanging from out windows — as Americans.) But our anti-Americanism pisses the hell out of me.

    The reason Canadians wear flags when backpacking is because we don’t like the States, and know that most of the rest of the world shares our predjudice. Wearing the Canadian flag in other countries is a way of pandering to them. “See?” we’re saying, “we’re like you — we don’t like America either. Don’t hit us.”

    When you’re a huge, successful country donating billions of dollars in foreign aid and relief to less fortunate (or more poorly-run) countries, there are two reactions possible from the rest of the world: admiration or hatred.

    Admiration calls for a bit of humility, so hatred is pretty much the default position.

    • June 10, 2010

      Thanks, Frank. I really appreciated reading this, especially in light of all the negative comments.

      I, too, hate that we’re so demonized for our mistakes (which are many, no one denies that) but no one ever acknowledges all the good we’ve done. As you say, that requires humility. It’s acceptable to hate Americans, but it’s not really acceptable to openly ridicule any other nationality: that gets you labeled a racist, or intolerant, or bigoted. Soon enough the forces of time will change the world landscape and America’s time of power will come to an end, and people will re-direct their anger to the new big player.

      I’ve never received overtly poor service or even an unwelcome look because of my nationality from people who were serving me. The only people who received me with animosity were drunk people who would corner me in the toilet and demand to know why “all” Americans were terrible human beings. I’d then have a calm, civilized conversation with them, and they’d come away from it saying something like, “You know, I like you. You’re not like most Americans.” I’d ask how many Americans they know and more often than not they’d stammer, “Er, um, well none, actually.” *sigh*

      But I never, ever received poor service from anyone serving me in any capacity, and I really have to wonder how people manage to make their flag patch (which is presumably usually on their backs and which numerous Canadians have noted is usually quite small) noticeable to their waitress or airline attendant or hotel concierge. That must take some awfully impressive contortions and not so subtle maneuvers. I can’t help but think that the “better service” claim is imagined and invalid in almost every instance, and that it has more to do with, as you say, smug pandering than it does with any actual difference in the service received.

      Finally, to everyone who claims “American schools” (as if, like everything else in America, our school system is one big homogeneous system with no differences across the entire country) don’t teach Canadian or world history and geography, I spent half a year on Canadian history alone and was required to memorize “O Canada.” It’s like there are, you know, differences between education levels and personality and political leanings between Americans, just like in every other country in the world, and that we’re not all exactly the same. Craziness!

      • June 10, 2010

        I teach college English in Toronto. The students in my classes are pretty well evenly divided between foreign born and Canadian born. Hardly any of my Canadian students know a damned thing about the States. Not saying they should, just stating a fact.

        Hell, for years I thought Boston was sort of around the Great Lakes.

        Turns out I was wrong.

        I don’t know how the rumour got started that Canadians know way more about the States than they do about us, but it’s a half truth at best.

        And even if true — well duh! The States has ten times our population and a hell of a lot more interesting history than we do. Not putting our history down, but it’s been nowhere near as dramatic. You guys had a war of independence, a civil war, civil rights riots, and Abraham Lincoln.

        We had courier du bois and John A. MacDonald.

        Really, which would you rather read about?

    • June 10, 2010

      Well said, both of you. I think a lot of the commentators are missing the point I’m trying to get across: stop judging based on nationality.

      America is so easy to hate on and you can see it here throughout many of the comments. A lot of people are also taking the actions of *America* and blaming it on *Americans*, an unfair assumption.

      Canadians, it seems, stereotype quite a bit.

      • GOODLAD permalink
        June 10, 2010

        “Canadians, it seems, stereotype quite a bit.”

        – Isn’t this also a steroetype??(unless you were trying to be ironic)

  49. June 10, 2010

    It’s so we don’t get mistaken for Americans–we’ll be treated much better that way.

    And you’re not doing the ignorant American stereotype any favours by calling Saskatchewan a “town.” It’s a province, which is comparable to one of your states.

  50. June 10, 2010

    Personally, I put the flag on my bag for one very simple reason. I was given the bag as a gift. It had an ugly logo on the top that I didn’t like, but was otherwise a very good piece of luggage. So I slapped a Canadian flag over the offending logo and travelled on my merry way.

  51. Car permalink
    June 10, 2010

    I’m proud to be a Canadian and proud to wear my flag on my backpack for all the reasons aforementioned. I was in Germany two weeks ago and before I left I debated as to whether I would attach our flag to my luggage. I chose not to and once again (as it always does) the topic of me being a Canadian who sounds like an American came up. Those of us Canadians in the group were (once again) admant about the fact that we were not Americans even though we kind of sounded like “ya’ll.”

    I will say though, that I do love and appreciate you Americans but I am definitely and wholeheartedly Canadian…

  52. June 10, 2010

    “America” is NOT a country, is a whole continent you guys…. United States of America is the name of the country you constantly refer as America.

    Even Canadians are American, Mexican too, Paraguayans, Chileans….all of us american, I hate it when people say it wrong

    • June 10, 2010

      Actually you are wrong. North America is a continent, which includes the USA, Canada and Mexico. South America is a separate continent. They are collectively known as The Americas. However, all USA citizens refer to themselves as Americans, because it is the United states of America.

      • June 10, 2010

        not separate continet, one continent, divided by 3: north, central and south…just for the location, but not as 3 different continents.

        In Canada I had a teacher, Mr. Lemieux, who told me Mexico was South America…. and he was a teacher!!! Of course, we are not called americans, but it bugs me when people refer as Americans on US. citizens, that’s all.

      • June 10, 2010

        Do you live in Europe or Latin America, Red Anana? If so, what you’re saying is true. But in most English-speaking countries and China, they’re taught that there are seven continents, with North and South America counting as two, with Central America being part of North America.

        In Japan, Russia, and the former USSR, they also teach six continents, but while they have North and South America as separate, they combine Europe and Asia into Eurasia.

        “Continent” is largely a matter of convention, rather than reality.

    • June 11, 2010

      I have to say that while what you say is accurate it ignores the appropriation of the term by those who live in the United States of America and those overseas who define … things … from North America as American, regardless of whether or not a thing is Canadian or Mexican or even “American”.

      Frankly unless it is a mountie, an inuit / eskimo a moose or a seal clubber, it won’t register as anything but American or from America.

      • June 11, 2010

        I don’t think it’s fair to call it “appropriation.” If you belong to a country called “The United States of America,” you’re going to naturally shorten it to “America.” I’m sure the early United States of Americans weren’t trying to appropriate anything. They were just saving time.

  53. jackolina permalink
    June 10, 2010

    When I’m travelling, I like to make my bag as easy to find as possible on a baggage carousel. A Canadian flag patch and a bright scarf wound tightly around the handle works for me. When a Canadian visits other parts of the world, the last thing we want is to be mistaken for American. I was once in a restaurant in France and when they heard me speak (in French) they picked up on an accent and asked if I was American. When I corrected them, we were moved to a better location in the restaurant. Fair? No. But internationally Canadians do have a better reputation than our Southern neighbours. We’re polite, considered unassuming and our political policies are by and large respected by other nations.

    I know it’s been noted already but Saskatchewan is a Province, not a town. A Province is similar to a State. And those kind of gaffes that point to an American education system that is not big on teaching world geography is why we proudly show our flag. It also makes us chuckle at our neighbours in our good natured way.

  54. June 10, 2010

    I must say that it took me a few weeks into traveling to meet another American traveler, I met Canadians first, so maybe you see more bc there are FAR less American travelers.

    I’ve seen some patch collectors as well as some Europeans wear their flags.

    I think it’s more than Bush that gave us Americans a bad name, it has to do with the way that Americans travel. All you can do is become someone that puts Americans a better light. Although people that have never met a German may have a predisposition about them, they were some of the nicest people that I have traveled alongside and people I am still in contact with.

    Red Anna… the same way people say you’re in America, speak English… English is the language of England. People from Mexico are proud to say they’re Mexican and people from Colombia, Colombians… I don’t think that they would prefer to be called Americans. A South American would say they’re South American and a North American North (with the exception of Central American at times).

    I say rock whatever you like on your pack as long as you are proud of it and it doesn’t offend the places/people you are visiting.

  55. kevin permalink
    June 10, 2010

    You highlight the reason we wear the Canadian flag beautifully in your blog post- your ignorance is astounding. The exact reason I wear a Canadian flag on my backpack is because nothing is more offensive to me than being called American. Its not pride, it is the simple fact that I want people to knwo that although I sound similar I am not American. Not to say we don’t have our fair share of biggots, morons, fast food and over consumption but I would say we share a fundamental difference in the way we look at the world. You mention the look on peoples face when you say you voted for Obama as if you saved the world yourself. *heavy sarcasm* Round of applause please, this guy voted! The fact of the matter is that in the rest of the world, they are not constantly focused on the United States. Listen to what you said, you are telling these people your voting preference to prove to them that you are an American that shouldn’t be hated. As far as your whole blank slate theory of traveling, a blank slate sounds great if you are someone completely ashamed of where you come from and who you are. I for one am glad to share my culture with people and am not afraid of what they will think of me because I am Canadian. Blog posts like this are why I will continue to try my best to never be associated with your country.

    • June 10, 2010

      I’m not sure how you developed your vitriol towards America but you shouldn’t confuse America with Americans. While every country does things that are regretful, you shouldn’t blame it on an individual nor judge them for what their country did.

      Do you also hate Germans because of what they did in WWII? What about the Japanese and Italians?

      And the Obama point wasn’t there to prove that I “save the world”; it was to illustrate that foreigners like Obama.

  56. June 10, 2010

    Come to Canada and wear whatever flag you want wherever you want to wear it!

    • June 10, 2010

      Actually, don’t. If you wear an American flag (sorry, a U.S.A. flag) you’ll face a lot of antagonism. If you don’t believe me, re-read most of these posts.

  57. June 10, 2010

    Wearing the Canadian flag is just a good move, as mentioned by many already. People are only too happy when learning we’re from Canada. What’s wrong with wanting to be treated better during your travels? And in regards to Obama – despite his ‘rockstar’ charisma, attitudes towards the United States haven’t changed that much, believe me.

  58. June 10, 2010

    The reason Canadians wear the flag is because the moment you open your mouth to speak while backpacking people make assumptions about where you’re from. Just the accent gives away that you’re from some part of North America and usually that’s all it takes for someone to assume that you are from the U.S.A. and thus you have all the stereotypes associated with Americans.

    As another note, Saskatchewan is not a town.

  59. jabertra permalink
    June 10, 2010

    I’m so glad that people have already mentioned the errors in this post – saves me from mentioning them!
    I am a Canadian and I have lived outside of Canada for so long now, I am so used to being mistaken for an American. In fact, I almost wait for it. My accent is very ordinary (not exotic like an Australian or South African accent) and so I understand that it is hard for people to tell the difference. I sometimes mix up different accents myself. But… for me the litmus test for Canadians is how they feel about maple syrup.

  60. June 10, 2010

    This reminds me of when I went to college in Canada, and attended a class on Nationalism. One time we were discussing whether we thought Canada or the US were more nationalistic. I am from El Salvador, and had not (yet) lived in the US. I raised my hand and offered my opinion that Canadians were more nationalistic than Americans, because wherever they went, I had noticed they displayed their flag on their bags. Just then, someone said out loud from the opposite side of the auditorium: “It’s not that we are more nationalistic, it’s just that we don’t want to get killed!”.

    Guess that despite Obama now being president, Canadians may still be concerned that other people still remember what happened before he was elected.

  61. Bubs permalink
    June 10, 2010

    I travelled through Europe in the 70’s and we put a small Canadian flag sticker on our luggage, so it isn’t anything new. At the time, Americans were critisized for being occupiers in other countries and killing innocent people in Viet Nam. I encountered a lot of anti-American sentiment overseas.

  62. June 10, 2010

    My husband and I just spent the fall (2009) backpacking through Europe, with a Canadian flag on ONE of our packs–and when we stopped to ask for directions, people would sneer at us and say, “Oh, you are American.” And we would answer, “No, we are Canadian.” And their demeanour would change, and they would happily give us directions, even some of them taking us directly to the place we were looking to go and giving us their phone number to come by later. The same thing when I travelled Central America in 2005-2006. Hostility, until I mentioned “soy Canadiense.”

    Obama or no, some people don’t have the bad American taste our of their mouths just yet, as other readers have mentioned.

  63. June 10, 2010

    So it looks like I’ve hit a touchy point amongst Canadians and hopefully I have not offended anyone greatly.

    This point of the post was to use something that annoys me and expand into a broader topic: accepting someone for who they truly are.

    Backpacking, is the truest sense of that. In our everyday lives, we are not afforded that luxury because our friends, our coworkers, our family already know us. But on the road, no one does and that’s the beauty of it. You get a chance to meet someone and see who they really are. By putting on a flag, that judgement is already skewed even before meeting them.

    As I’m scanning through the comments, I’ve noticed a lot of anti-American sentiment. I hope people realize that a country’s political actions do not determine the ideals and personalities of its citizens. Not every American is a war-mongering, loud-mouthed, get-in-your-face person. Likewise, not every American backpacker are as some described above.

    Don’t let a couple rotten apples spoil the basket and judge each person as an individual, not based on what their country’s president does. I think if we tried doing this a little more, instead of having our judgement clouded by stereotypes and politics, the world would be a much better place.

  64. June 10, 2010

    I’m a Canadian living in the U.S. I try to keep a flag with the U.S. flag on one side and the Canadian on the other. That way I can flip it according to which way the wind is blowing.

    As a totally sexist and unrelated comment, the guy in the U.S. shirt would be welcome in either country, I suspect, at any time.

    When I moved here I was floored at how little Americans new about Canada, seeing as we DO border one another. People were asking me if there were polar bears running around the neighborhood and assumed that I lived in an igloo. Many people had no idea that Canada had provinces and not states. One person thought that B.C. was the only “state” in Canada and that it spanned half the continent.

    I love living in the U.S. I love Canada. I do at times, however, feel that Americans forget to move outside their borders and familiarize themselves with other countries. Just my humble opinion.

  65. northpike permalink
    June 10, 2010

    Oh, man. Your note about people who are US natives pretending to be canadians made me laugh.

    A lot of US people trying to escape our own stereotypes pretend to be Canadian because it’s easy, because the vast majority of Canadians speak English.

    As for me, I happen to be a Chicagoan (Chicago is in the Midwest area). What would I do when I go abroad? I’d pretend to be Mexican.

    I’m good at Spanish and have a decent Mexican accent, because I often watch Mexican videos and things on the internet.

    It’s easy because with Canadians, there’s always a chance that it might be a USA’an in disguise, but the distaste that some of my fellow countrymen have for our southern neighbors is famous as well.

  66. June 10, 2010

    Every country should be proud to represent their flag where ever they go. Americans should feel differently. I am an American who would rather have been born and raised in Canada. The Great Canada should wear their flag proud, even on their backpack.


  67. Cdn_in_GA permalink
    June 10, 2010

    My backpacking days were pre-Bush and the Canadian Flag on the backpack was pre-dominant as ever.

    Personally, I didn’t don one on my backpack, but most Canucks I came across did. The only people who really seemed to take offense to it were the other American Backpackers.

    The Canadian folklore is that the you’ll get better service if you distinguish yourself from the Americans. I’m a Canadian living in the US for over 10 years now and I don’t really buy into it. I got good service in France, only when I opened my mouth and started speaking French. German in Germany and so on. I’m not saying you have to be fluent in every nation you visit, but learning the pleasantries goes a long way, regardless of your country of origin.

  68. June 10, 2010

    As a Canadian, the answer to the blog post question seems so obvious and the comments bare this out. Our subtle little Canadian flag stitched to the back of our backpack gives us safer passage and better service when traveling. So much so, that an American may sew a bigger Canadian flag on their backpack:))))

    What surprises me however, is how carefully we Canadians explain our reason for Canadian flags on our luggage to an American blogger – not once but over 70 times… Is it self-defence or patience? Thank you pduan for setting the stage to gather some great Canadian flag wearing stories.

  69. Dennis permalink
    June 10, 2010

    The most frustrating part about it is the MOMENT they take their backpacks off (to experience the city) everyone assumes their AMERICANS!!!!! It kills me!!!! We went to Europe and i swear every Canadian we met was effing RETARDED, not funny, and had the most immature personality… aahhhhhhhh!!! it kills me!!!!!

    • June 10, 2010

      Because misspelling “they’re” as “their”, calling people retarded (in capital letters) and using up half the world’s supply of exclamation marks is an indicator of maturity.

      • June 10, 2010

        Thanks Frank, that’s what I was thinking. The use of CAPITALS ;0) indicates yelling = what everyone is talking about “loud Americans”. But hey, who am I to judge? Get a couple drinks in me and I’m yelling too.

    • June 10, 2010

      yes. it’s canadians who are immature.

      • June 11, 2010

        Mature people also often use capitals at the beginning of sentences. I know it’s complicated, but it can be learned.

  70. June 10, 2010

    As a dual citizen of the US and Canada (born in the US) I proudly exclaim that ‘I am Canadian!’. Our pride for this beautiful nation was represented well at the 2010 Olympics in a poem by Shane Koyczan “We are more”… I think the poem shows exactly why Americans pretend to be Canadians when they travel…

    …some say what defines us
    is something as simple as please and thank you
    and as for you’re welcome
    well we say that too
    but we are more
    than genteel or civilized
    we are an idea in the process
    of being realized
    we are young
    we are cultures strung together
    then woven into a tapestry
    and the design
    is what makes us more
    than the sum total of our history
    we are an experiment going right for a change…

  71. June 10, 2010

    and PS — congrats on being freshly pressed!!

  72. June 10, 2010

    pduan, you nailed it. When I was traveling in Asia, I was frustrated with the way someone’s attitude would change when they found out I was an American. They would immediately start talking about our leaders’ foreign policy decisions, pointing out weaknesses, and blasting the country on many fronts. Broad generalizations would be made (you must own a Hummer… did you vote for Bush?… you guys just don’t understand China… you probably can’t wait to eat at McDonald’s, to name a few).

    After telling them I’m an American, I would often get “You don’t seem like an American.” Which makes me wonder, what makes an American after all? Where did you develop this belief about the homogeneity of Americans? We aren’t all the same. Sure, we have our weaknesses as a country, but with EVERY country, each citizen is different. Each citizen has things they are proud of about their homeland. Each citizen has things they aren’t proud of about their homeland. And no individual represents the entirety of the citizenry.

    So next time you encounter a foreigner, take pduan’s advice, and remember– we all have more in common than we think.

  73. June 10, 2010

    you no when you said ” and im certainly not going around telling strangers im from california” well, you just kindda did.

    anyway i love canada <3 its my home , nova scotia, sidney crosby <3 and im gald im canadain <3

    btw, not all of us say eh

  74. gweny permalink
    June 10, 2010


  75. Nina Lytton permalink
    June 10, 2010


  76. Larry permalink
    June 10, 2010

    that’s a lot of comments over a fun piece of copy. Eh?

  77. June 10, 2010

    oh how fun to read the comments from both Canadians and Americans …
    I am Canadian who lived as an expat in Mexico for many years and married an American from New York! I am proud to be GLOBAL!

    Only since the Vancouver winter olympics did I consider wearing anything with a Canadian flag… Love it and yet proud to be Global.

  78. June 10, 2010

    Most of the Canadian flags you see when traveling are on Americans who are hoping it will stave off the anti-American sentiment. First-time Canadian travelers tend to see that flag and run up and say, “Yay! I’m Canadian too! Where are you from?” Seasoned Canadian travelers don’t bother, because we’re so disappointed hearing, “Um… Toronto?” in a Texas accent.

  79. andydbrown permalink
    June 10, 2010

    I’ve heard that 90% of the backpackers with Canadian flags out there are American!

  80. June 10, 2010

    If I were Canadian, I would be happy to proclaim that I’m from the the same country as Rush. I see no need for any other justification.

  81. June 10, 2010

    Perhaps because they are proud for their country?

  82. June 10, 2010

    Reading over these comments has reinforced my decision to wear an American flag on my pack. I find the Canadian use of their flag as a shield against ignorance one of the most self-serving things I’ve ever read. I will wear an American flag on my pack because I am not the
    American stereo-type, I earn peoples respect with my own acts.
    Instead of throwing up your flag and cowering behind a Canadian stereotype, do what you all are doing here, defending individuals actions, and not buying into intolerance.
    Oh, but that may mean you have to sit in a less-great seat, or wait a minute longer to be served.
    And if you are having bottles thrown at you, you may want to re-consider what it means to be a western traveler in a foreign country.
    But you would never judge a country by the actions of the few, you’re too polite for that.

    • June 10, 2010

      Well said skye, well said.

    • June 10, 2010

      PS. It’s not so that we get extra service, free things, better seats, superb treatment, what people are saying is that the “flag wearers” don’t get BAD service, like the Americans UNFORTUNATELY do. But you are right, that if you’re in a place, having bottles thrown at you, maybe you should reconsider being there. But I bet if the bottle-throwers knew the victims were Canadian, maybe they wouldn’t have thrown the bottles. I’m just sayin’.

  83. June 10, 2010

    Oh, dont forget those Americans that wear a Canadian Flag on their backpacks while traveling in Europe. Yes, there are some that do!
    Check the video at this link.

  84. June 10, 2010

    As an American who lived in the US for a year, I can attest that Canadians don’t like people thinking they’re Americans. Canadians often get treated better overseas. I know a few Americans who attached maple leaf flags to their bags when traveling overseas so people didn’t treat them like Americans.

    I have a Canadian flag patch on my backpack, actually. I also have one from Sweden and Ecuador. I like to get them from countries I have visited.

  85. June 10, 2010

    the point of backpacking is to meet people from all over the world and to see the world. so what does it matter if i have a canadian flag sewn onto my backpack, if when i meet you i’m going to tell you i’m canadian anyway? just like i would ask where you were from. it seems to me that you’re the only one judging here…

  86. June 10, 2010

    oh and congrats on freshly pressed! it got me looking!

  87. June 10, 2010

    exactly, why cant we all do that? I have a back pack that is now, just a patch work of patches, cant see any of the original bag any more cuase ive sewn flags and pathces of my favourite soccer teams from all nations, and music patches too. Ive already mentioned the collection of pins.

    I believe in being proud of who you are. what you are. what YOU stand for. peoplee shouldnt just you for “what” you are becasue you aren’t that. You can however say that you are proud to be something for what it stands for. For example (in pre Harper years- fyi the curernt Canadian Prime minister) I was proud to be canadian for our hospitality to other nations, our policies and our eco-friendlyness. I was proud of our standing in NATO. now, sadly all that has gone to waste. I cant say I’m proud to be canadian for our eco friendliness what with the tar sands and the other negative aspects that have happened since. I’m proud to be American because there are much better oppertunities for education. Creatively at least. Dance, music, art centers here do not compare to those back home (I’ve ntoiced that I always refer to back home as the place I’m not. WHen in the US canada is ‘back home’ when in Canada the US is ‘backk home’)

    I think that Canadians are just tired of being stereotyped against and that you did hit a soft spot here and thats why they are lashing out. (we are lashing out) so many of us, austrailians, europeans, so on have had problems with americans calling us eskimos or whatever. Its just a thing that every nation has. The Irish, scotish and welsh hate being called english, the new Zealanders hate being called austrailian… its all equivalent, no reason to think that the way canadians are (dont know if i should say it) acting out here is special. A friend of mine once went on a 5 minute rant when someone asked if she was austrailian. I had never even thought much of her accent…

    oh well, what can you do, maybe this post will help us see two sides and come closer (emotionally, not geographically).

    THough another point, when I told people I was moving to Athens for a year everyone in the states thought I meant Georgia where as in Canada people said “you mean as in GREECE?”. Then we’d explain to the americans, no as in the birthplace of democracy and they would have this notion that we were off our rocker because they though America was the first independent, democratic country. Yes I realise that plenty of Americans are well educated, as most of my friends are, but they have learnt a lot from me. Proud to be GLOBAL as someone put it beautifully. cant we all just be?

  88. June 10, 2010

    Well, I highly doubt that every single Canadian backpacker sporting the red and white is doing so out of some desire to not be mistaken for an American. Speaking as a proud Canadian, I like to think that most of them are simply doing it as a way of proudly stating, “I am Canadian.” Is that so hard to believe? Having said that, if the comments I’ve read are true and the maple leaf causes people to treat you better, then why wouldn’t you put one on your backpack? And don’t get angry at Canadians for wearing their own flag abroad. If anything, take this up with the ones who treat travelers differently based on their country of origin.

    Now, I’m no backpacker, but isn’t the point of traveling to meet and talk to new and interesting people? It seems to me that wearing a flag (any flag) on your bag would be a good way to open up conversation with a fellow traveler. It also seems that it would be a good way to identify other people from your country. You never know when you might need to speak to someone that understands where you’re coming from.

    I guess what I’m trying to say is that perhaps a better questions would be this: why don’t travelers from every other country attach their own flag to their packs?

  89. June 10, 2010

    The fact is there are assholes in every country.

  90. blackwatertown permalink
    June 10, 2010

    Lots of other travellers have their countries’ flags stitched on to their rucksacks. It’s not just Canadians. But they are particularly prone to it. More mature travellers sometimes wear little red maple leaf badges in their lapels. I think it is to ward off trouble, or to show that they are neutral non-combatants. That was the thinking behind it for Canadians visiting Northern Ireland during more violent times. It was worn as a talismanic shield.
    Though I think it’s also a little bit to mark them out as non-USA north Americans.
    Somebody earlier mentioned the more hospitable treatment they received when transport staff abroad realised that they were not USAers. The same thing used to happen to me and friends when other Europeans realised we were not English, (though to be fair to us, we did not walk around with flags, it was only when they saw our passports that they realised).

  91. June 10, 2010

    And there are FLAG BEARING assholes in every country.

  92. June 10, 2010

    This has undoubtedly been my entertainment for the day. However, aside from the repetition of information, it’s starting to remind me of 4th grade recess with “I know you are, but what am I”‘s and “I don’t like them because they don’t like us”‘s!
    Which actually reminds me of an american, protesting Bret ‘the Hitman’ Heart being in the US (I know poor reference). When asked “Why” he didn’t like Canada, his actual response was “uh….uh…’cause they don’t like us!”

    So Americans and Canadians, I ask you the old and somewhat rhetorical question: “Can’t we all just get along?”

  93. June 10, 2010

    it’s so we don’t get mistaken for Americans. Not because we dislike Americans, or because we’re afraid people will throw rocks at us and be mean if they think we’re American, or give us better seats, but probably because we’re so sick of people assuming we’re American because we’re white and don’t have a European accent. Also, it probably has something to do with the fact that (in general) we get lumped in with Americans. I came from Canada to the US for college. The school I went to required any student from outside the US to attend a special orientation for international students before classes started– they even sent me a letter reminding me to come to it. When i showed up to registration that day every single person running the orientation event laughed at me. Even the head of the International Student Office told me “You’re not really international, you’re pretty much American so you don’t have to stay for Orientation”… I’ve heard that A LOT since I came to the U.S, and so have some other Canadians I know. Yeah we’re not exotic, but come on! We have our own history and we’re pretty damn proud of it.

    • June 10, 2010

      Canadians are not white. Last I checked, we were a country of immigration and pretty much everything is represented here. I think you need to re-check your statements. If anything, we are quite exotic and Canadians come in all colours, speaking languages from all around the globe.

  94. June 10, 2010

    Ha–when I was traveling in Greece, it was so easy to identify the Canadians! Even though my group was American it was really useful, though; you can’t assume anyone speaks English when you’re traveling. As long as the people with the flags are open and friendly (which they were, much better than the majority of my group), I don’t think it’s a probelm.

  95. June 10, 2010

    Nothing wrong with good ol’ patriotism, eh? Hell, my brother’s room is painted in the white, blue, and red stripes of the Russian flag. Haha. So, Americans, enjoy your steaks in your flag attire, Canadians! go back packing with your cute little flag stitched on your bag packs, and I’ll go eat beets and drink vodka wrapped in my genuine mink fur coat and that furry hat… you know, the box shaped hats?

  96. June 10, 2010

    Wow. Thats amazing. I have NEVER heard that Canadians are being too proud before. Ever. In fact, I think we need more pride.
    Actually, it is Americans that are annoyingly patriotic, remember?

  97. BTKO permalink
    June 10, 2010

    As a Canadian I like the flags because it’s kind of a Canadian tradition, but I don’t like them because it’s dorky. That said, I usually put one on my backpack 🙂

  98. June 10, 2010

    Yep, you got Obama now, but you need about 10 more like that in a row before people will stop hating you. It takes more than a single term for people to forget about all the US murders committed on foreign soil. Sorry to break it to you so bluntly.

    Murder aside for a moment, Scottish people do something similar by affixing stickers of the Scottish flag to their cars when they drive in England…. Maybe there’s some interesting analysis to be done by a psychologist there.

  99. June 10, 2010

    I was in Europe a couple months ago, and although I didn’t have a flag on my backpack, it was sewn onto the sweaters we received (it was a group school trip) and we were treated so well when people found out we were Canadian. I had the chance to experience a German homestay for four days, and our German friends would always introduce us as “the Canadians.” My homestay’s extended family was SO excited to meet a Canadian, they wanted to know everything about Canada. My point is people are generally more friendly and welcoming to Canadians than Americans. We are the “polite nation” after all. I think it may be a pride thing. If you’re proud of your country why wouldn’t you wear it? It’s just like wearing your team’s colors to the game. You love and support it, and you want the whole world to know.

  100. debbe permalink
    June 10, 2010

    That’s an interesting point that you bring up. Speaking for myself, the flag is a pride thing. It tells people ‘I’m Canandian’ and I’m proud of it. Conversely, I think it’s similar to Americans hoisting up flags in front of their houses. I mean, you could argue that everyone knows you’re in America, there’s no need to fly a flag in front of your house, but that’s not the real reason behind it. It’s patriotic pride. At the same time, when a Canadian travels, or at least, when this Canadian travels, it’s telling people that I’m proud to be a Canadian. It’s also a good conversation starter, people see it and want to talk to you.

  101. June 10, 2010

    “. You don’t see Americans, Brits, Aussies or Europeans waving their country flags and I’m certainly not going around telling strangers that I’m from California.”

    no, i disagree, you do see people toting around flags.

    There was a lot of good done in WWII and some generations still acknowledge that with respect. what was done in holland, i’ve heard stories from my grandpappy that the people treated him very well whenever he went back to visit many years later.

    now a lot was said already so i’m probably resowing whats been said somewhere, but i think you should tote your flag too and feel the power. knowing everyone knows where you come from or who you represent. I feel proud to wear my flag and would stitch it on my coveralls to show my respect, but thats uneeded since i live and work in the town i was born in so i dont have to represent myself as a canuck to this community.

    Aside from skiing and pretty water, this place has wonders from east to west, and a north that is unscathed by man where heards of animals run free. imagine why these people tote it around so openly. From there point of view, what they’ve seen in canada.

    I am saying more than needed on this, but i hope you can get over a patch on a back. Wear your own on your sleeve, maybe you’ll feel better about others wearing theirs.

  102. June 10, 2010

    Yeah, I see a lot of people wearing American flag shirts and ball caps, jackets, etc. Actually, I think it’s still against the protocol of how to properly display the U.S. flag, but it’s become a totally acceptable practice. So what’s your point? People who feel pride or love of country display that in some little way. So what? Maybe all those backpackers you’re running into are just celebrating the Canadians Olympic Hockey victory – SO WHAT? As an American who traveled to Belgium and Kenya in the 1970’s with a student exchange program I can tell you that many of the American tourists we observed were obnoxious and showed very little respect for the culture and practices of the country they were visiting. You going balsitic over Canadians sporting their flag really doesn’t do anything counter-balance that.

    Remember one thing – when many of our young men sought refuge from being drafted into a war they did not believe in and refused to support in the 60’s – Canada received them with open arms and no judgment. So what purpose does your judment serve now?

  103. June 10, 2010

    Yes, I totally agree that the aspect of having a little maple leaf flag stiched on the back of the knapsack or whatever, might be annoying.

  104. Stefani permalink
    June 10, 2010

    Hmm. I wonder if Canadians are mistaken for Americans because it is they who act like the American stereotype. When I was in Europe studying, people mistook me for British. Or they didn’t mistake me for anything in particular. Try speaking the language instead of English, and THEN you will be treated right. (For example, I didn’t find the people of France to be rude at all–at least not any ruder than anyone else from any other country.)

  105. June 10, 2010

    Ha ha, great article, but here is the reality, if you did backpack with your american shit (as in the picture lol), in most countries you’d find peoples attitude towards you a bit… shell we say… different, then if you are wearing a Canadian flag these days.

    Just so we are clear, I am a supporter of the USA and of Canada (as I am Canadian), that said, I have traveled a lot, and seen the reality of what wearing a Canadian flag can actually do, and the doors it opens.

    In either case, thanks for a great article. I just saw this post on the main page, and I had to click it. I’ll keep following!

    Thanks again!

  106. June 10, 2010

    I am an American born and raised in Washington DC. All the anti American comments should upset me. The problem is that they don’t. I can understand where the Canadians are coming from. A very large percentage of Americans are extremely dense. A few of the comments left here by proclaimed Americans did nothing to help our image. Riddled with spelling and grammar mistakes the Americans did not do well. Even the post by an American about Canadians was full of mistakes. Three quarters of the post was a rant about peeving on a nations flag and the display of it. Maybe just maybe the posting of a blog about how another countries flag annoys you at the sight of it, maybe that’s why Canadians and the rest of the world have such a big problem with America. But what do I know I’m American right?

    • June 10, 2010

      Hey Christopher Beverly,

      I love your comment! Well put sir! But I do have to agree with you, while there are a FEW people who do make US citizens look bad, not all are alike. Furthermore, I don’t care to get into a discussion of politics or what the USA has or has not done around the world, but I will say this much in defence of the USA and Canada….

      I don’t think the argument should be why Canadians wear the flag when traveling, or how annoying it is, vs. why the reasons why Americans don’t…

      What I think we should be talking about and asking is this…

      Why is it, that in today’s world, we still judge a group of people as a collective, rather then understanding that each person regardless of the group they belong to or represent, is an individual, and can not be painted with the same brush.

      Be it a Canadian flag, or American or Iranian, NO ONE has the right to prejudge the individual wearing that flag purely based on it. I suggest we judge people based on their actions first!

      Once again, regardless of how we all feel, I have to say, look how many replies this blog entry caused.

      Paul (the blog owner), Thanks again, you got yourself a new follower!

      Feel free to check out my blog at:

      I prefer to publish quality over quantity, but my goal is to “Translating passion into action, one post at a time.”

      Thanks again !

      • June 12, 2010

        Hey Shai I agree with your view on judging people as individuals instead of as a group. While I agree I still believe that most of the American travelers who have bad experiences abroad do so because they carry themselves in a way that just asks for it. A stereotype is a stereotype because enough people observed a certain behavior or trend with a commonality such as being American or Canadian. The worlds patience with America is running out and unless Americans stop believing we are superior to every other country it will become increasingly difficult to travel as an American citizen. Let us not judge at all let us tolerate and observe the right of others to do what they want so long as it doesn’t infringe on my safety then I don’t care what you wear on your backpack or what country you claim to be from. We are all in this together right?

  107. June 10, 2010

    All I’m going to say is WOW!

  108. libertinechick permalink
    June 10, 2010

    I think the assumption that Americans get bad service while traveling abroad is greatly exaggerated. I don’t doubt that some of you may have had some bad experiences. But, I have traveled extensively (Europe, Africa, Middle East, Latin America) as an American and other than getting a few snide remarks (which I agreed with) about Bush while I was studying in Germany, I have never had any flak. I didn’t act like an idiot and I wasn’t treated like one.

    My husband is Canadian. Since I’ve started traveling with him, he insists on telling everyone that we are Canadian. He put Canadian flag luggage tags on our packs as well. Guess what, I haven’t noticed a difference in how I have been treated. Honestly.

  109. June 10, 2010

    And just for kicks.. insert obligatory “Manitoba > Saskatchewan” inflammatory statement here.

    Oh snap.

    (This will probably not make sense to anyone outside of these two provinces, but I’m sure someone will come along and understand it. 🙂 )

  110. June 10, 2010

    I’m old enough to have backpacked in the sevenites OK.
    Even then they wore those maple badges.
    As someone else has said it was undoubtedly
    to distinguish them from Americans.

    And if you think everyone now loves America because of Obama
    think again…you obviously have not been out of the USA for a while
    or ever…

    • June 10, 2010

      I’m sorry that you had bad experiences while abroad, luckily I had great experiences “despite” the fact that I am American.

      I’m also surprised that you think I can write a travel blog without ever stepping foot outside of the USA.

  111. June 10, 2010

    I’m a dual citizen – American and Canadian. Whenever I’m backpacking, I always have a Canadian flag sewn on my backpack. My reasons are simple and similar to the ones already mentioned above.

    America is far from the world’s most popular country, but Canada is right up there. Hasn’t invaded any other country since 1812 probably. And when Canada has fought in wars, it has almost always been to liberate other countries (France, Holland, etc. in WWII and Korea). Nobody accuses Canada of waging war to steal other countries’ resources.

    Americans are also (rightly or wrongly) seen as rude, loud and insensitive towards other cultures. Canadians are seen as polite, mild and very open to learning about and respecting the ways of the countries they visit.

    If you want to reduce it to marketing terms, I guess you could say Canada has a better brand 🙂

    I know from experience how valuable that Canadian flag is when backpacking. I’ve received countless kindnesses that I would not have had I been travelling with an American flag. People have treated me to meals and drinks, practically forced me to let them play tour guide, and they have let me stay in their homes.

    That little Canadian flag of mine is the ultimate door opener.

  112. steve permalink
    June 10, 2010

    I’ve lived in both countries for at least 15 years. The bottom line is that Canadians are very proud of who they are and we love our national symbol and it’s received very well all over the world. The difference between Canadians and Americans, as generalized as it is…..America has become 2 countries, with two groups of people hoping the other will fail. Americans show more national pride then any country, but b/c no body teaches the country’s youth anything that happens outside it’s borders, all that pride is simply harbored at home, used as a weapon at home by right and left wing crazies…and they use it against each other so very well.
    Canadians have ACTUAL cultural differences, but what I love most about Canada, is that we may disagree at home, whenever we are abroad we feel a sense of duty to represent our homeland. And we do it well.
    (I can picture her now, the All American mom, yelling at the french waitress because “how come you have never heard of Ranch dressing!?!?!” )

  113. Visitor permalink
    June 10, 2010

    Funny comments. I am Canadian and yes I have a little Canadian flag on my backpack. The reason? It is very useful for meeting other Canadians. Imagine being in an unknown town in France or Spain and seeing another Camadian flag on a backpack. It is an instant bond. Hey, where in Canada are you from? Where are you staying? What are you doing tonight? Know any good places to eat? While traveling you are surrounded by strangers and in unknown locations. A familiar flag is always great to see.

  114. James Anderson permalink
    June 10, 2010

    Perhaps our mutual history might have something to do with this. After all, the U.S. tried to invade Canada twice – during the American Revolution and then again during the War of 1812, Then again, many Canadians are descendants of former Americans who were dispossessed of their homes and property as a result of the American Revolution (dispossessed – lovely word, so neutral sounding) which actually means that their property and homes were confiscated and the means for leaving sometimes involved hot tar and a rail. Could be reasons to advertise that one is not an “American’. Go figure.

  115. June 10, 2010

    I really enjoyed this, most excellent. 🙂

  116. June 11, 2010

    As you can see from the comments, Canadians have a huge chip on their shoulder about being mistaken for Americans which is why they are always at great pains to point out they are Canadian.
    Also confirmed in your comments is the Canadian misconception that they are better liked and more welcome than Americans. I have worked in tourism for over 25 yrs in more than 10 different country’s and when Canadian season (the cheap time of year) comes around the tourist industry goes into recession because Canadians are known as stingy and tight.

  117. manhattan85 permalink
    June 11, 2010

    As I can see by further comments, many Canadians fail to understand the simple point that just because we might have a slight advantage over Americans in landing a stinking room in a Czech Republic hostel, we’re not winning any medals. And still, most Canadians on this board cannot name the capital of New Brunswick as they mightily look down on Americans.

    Listen, I hate this crap. My American brothers are the lesser of two evils. I’d rather live next to them than anyone else in the world, and if someone with a brain can prove me any different, I’ll kiss your naked butt in Times Square. Chalk this stupidity up to at best, sibling rivalry, at worst penis envy.

  118. J. Nelson Leith permalink
    June 11, 2010

    Apparently it’s time to make it known around the world: if you see a Canadian flag on a bag, it’s a one of those selfish, tyrannical Americans trying to trick you into being nice and giving them free stuff!

    Spread the word!

  119. June 11, 2010

    If you are simply going to compare the worst examples of Americans abroad yet only the highlights of the travelling Canadian, why bother at all? As numerous people have pointed out, both nationalities have had their “dumbass” moments, inevitable gaffes that will occur when adapting to a new country, language, culture and mindset. I’m American, and I lived/worked/studied in the UK and backpacked through a dozen European countries for a year. I met many wonderful Canadians, and it is certainly true that many of them are polite (many, not all. The one who puked on my shoes can go fuck himself.) And of course I met Americans (we tend to find each other) and cringe-worthy moments abounded, but not in the cripplingly ignorant way as described above. A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. How is a “stereotypical American” supposed to become “atypical” (aka worldy) without first experiencing life and making mistakes and learning from them?

    • June 11, 2010

      Definitely seems to be the case. A lot of people here are simply choosing one specific example and projecting that upon the rest of the population.

      Which completely misses my point of seeing people as individuals, regardless of what country they might be from.

  120. Sunshine permalink
    June 11, 2010

    Inevitably, we’re all ambassadors of our own country when talking to someone with a different nationality. With our actions we create an image of our country and not necessarily the other way around. Speaking from a European point of view (worked and studied in Germany, UK, France and Eastern Europe), I’d say that backpackers from whatever (!) country are usually the more open minded, friendly and welcomed travellers.

    It is more the “organised” group / all inclusive tourists that (mis)behave in a certain way, confirming stereotypes irrespective of their home country. I assume it has to do with group dynamics and certainly being a “foreigner” in a place and culture not familiar to you.

    I have extensively travelled the world for business and pleasure the last 15 years and while every country is beautiful and special, and every nation has something fascinating, I found Canadian’s, Aussie’s & Kiwi’s to be the most interesting and nicest people to meet in whatever context. They seem to have no prejudice about other nations; they are friendly, polite, outgoing, have an interest in the world and other cultures. Again, I judge only by personal experience, don’t care about politics at all.

    My impression is that you are welcomed everywhere around the world as long as you behave like good guest should – with due respect for culture and customs. When anyone takes the effort, time and spends money to come to Europe from such a distance, we tend to acknowledge this, and it has not been once that we have helped out backpacking tourists in having them join us for barbie (Barbie : barbecue) or giving them a place to stay in our house at the beach (as long as they don’t look like serial killers).

    So far I don’t have developed any animosities towards certain nations (although some stereotypical “dress codes” really make you chuckle), but due to my real life experiences, I simply love some nations more than others – and Canada is certainly one of them. Please keep on carrying those stickers, as every time I see them, it just warms my heart and makes me smile. 🙂

  121. June 11, 2010

    Canadians are not he only ones to wear their flag, Puerto Ricans do it as well. Every Puerto Rican usually has a flag somewhere on their car or a real one in the closet somewhere.

    You will find the Puerto Rican flag on hats, bathig suits , flip fops you name it. And when I traveled to Europe I told people I was Puerto Rican not American and I got a much better reception.

  122. June 11, 2010

    I am hitting the road for a non stop year of just walking around the UK and Ireland. I do not know WHAT to put on my back pack yet, but I do not think it will be a flag. All it has right now is a couple of ribbons. What do you think I should pepper it with?

  123. manhattan85 permalink
    June 11, 2010

    Love how there’s a hate on for Obama too. I know he’s a politician and all, but this coming from “multicultural” Canadians whose national game is the whitest team sport in the world and will likely never elect a visible minority to the highest office in the land. As many of my non-white Canadian friends tell me, we’re just as racist as Americans, we’re just more polite about it.

  124. June 11, 2010

    so true. hubby is a former marine and wearing the american flag is a major no-no.

  125. June 12, 2010

    Maybe Canadians are afraid to be mistaken for Americans (anywhere else than the N.American continent no one can tell the difference!) Americans are so unpopular here on the old continent- unduly so. They are loud and stupid etc are the comments you mostly hear. (I do not subscribe to this notion I might add, I have lived in America most of my adult life and proudly so!) It’s all about prejudice and misinformation….

  126. June 12, 2010

    Ok, this just goes out to everyone saying that neither Canadians nor Americans know anything about the Geography of their own Countries… or even their histories. I have been raise and educated in both the United States, and Canada, in both school systems and have found people who had never left their home town with the notion that the world revolved around it… When I was in New York, living in an area near when I do now, I found people who had never been to the City before I took them. They thought they would never need to. I had Just moved to New York and went to the city every weekend. Likewise I found friends in Italy who lived an hour bus ride away from Rome and had never been. I’ve found people in Greece who were stupidly naive enough to think that drug addicts and alcoholics and sexual predators didn’t live in Greece. But you know what? they had never been to Omonia, or Monastiraki especially not at night.

    Mind you, I feel oblidged to say that in all countries (except Greece where I found the person with this misconception to be a real jerk and who really believed he was someone special) the people who had these naive little notions were relatively wonderful people.

    Now I feel I should also mention that no longer am I in either school system. I’m in the British System now, next year will be starting the International Baccalaureate Diploma program.

    so here goes:

    Capital of Saskatchewan: Regina
    Capital of Manitoba: Winnipeg (great ballet)
    Capital of Ontario : Toronto
    Capital of Quebec: Quebec City (though some people argue that it should be Montreal)
    Capital of Alberta: Edmonton
    Capital of British Columbia: Victoria
    Capital of New Brunswick: Fredrickton
    ” ” Newfoundland and Labrador: St. John’s
    ” ” P.E.I: Charelottetown
    ” ” Nova Scotia: Halifax

    Those are the 10 provinces and their capitals, of Canada. The three territories are as follows

    Northwestern Territories: Yellowknife
    Yukon: Whitehorse
    Nunavut: Iqaluit

    I love historical novels, historical fiction novels about the history of just about any nation. Love History, Love Geography, and I try to be open minded, well rounded, and know as much as I can about as many cultures as I can.

    Lets just wrap this up and sign a peace treaty all right all ready! Both Nations have their fair share of dumbasses, just like every nation. Every nation also has its fair share of well rounded individuals, and we should seee them for who they are, and not put them under an umbrella lable of their flag, though people should feel free to travel with whatever flag and accesories they want. why not? However, people might still judge you for them.

    And let me just say this so that people dont go and say I’m only referring to one bad personal experience: In every country I have been to I am accused and looked down upon for being “american” where people mean fromt he USA NOT from North America. I tell them that yes, I spend a lot of time in the U.S. but I am Canadian too. People’s faces rise with that. ON a school trip to Greece, a bunch of boys got into a fight. Some locals started picking a fight and calling them American and our boys didnt know what they were talking about, said even if they were American, so what? locals started threatening, and a fight ensued. As one of the few Greek speakers I was given the task of settling the matter. The local teens said they were tired of AMericans coming, showing disrespect to them and their family and their culture. We ended up getting the whole thing cleared up and once they realised we were an International school with students of all nationallities they were much more friendly and ended up spending time wiht us and teaching us some dances of their traditional Cretain dances (apparently the year before an American school had gone, and the teens had acted as tour guides, however the Americans apparently got drunk found spray paint and started grafitying everythign with radical comments and symbols… dont know how true. just what they told me.)

    In many other cases though, people, once they have gotten to know me, don’t actually care what I am and end up forgetting, just thinking of me as a friend. Thats all we want right?

    Oh well, doesn’t matter. I’ll just go on being me. Canadian, American, Italian, Greek , GLOBAL me. I don’t hold any grudges to American’s, Canadians, Turks, Macedonians, or anyone as the people from my backgrounds are supposed to have. Unless, that is, someone gives me a reason to hold one, in which case it is because of something they have done, not their nation. Not their history.

    Just be educated and live your own life with your own oppinions. Thats all we can really do. Don’t let this post or any other colour your view. Travel and be yoursefl while you do.

    • June 12, 2010

      @Mirellarose…great reply…and as an American Citizen and a Puerto Rican by birth I can sadly say that the negative viewpoints the world has towards Americans from the US are mostly true.

      We have turned into a country of aggorant, biggotted, stupid people who think the sun and rest of the world revolves around us. Europeans have opinions of us but some of us have to live with this ignorance.

      Imagine English only laws and in Europe most people speak 2 or more languages. How ignorant is this?

      And all the recent anti-imigration laws being passed in the state of Arizona. Yet, people of English and Europen descnet forget that they were not born here. the the land was taken from the Native Indians.

      And yes you can spot the Americans while traveling. They are usually loud and complaining about something. And they are wearing baseball caps and carrying backpacks.

      Yes, if you want to be spotted as an American tourist continue to wear baseball caps which no one wears in Europe except for Americans and continue to only speak English and not learn any other languages.

      • June 12, 2010

        So you learn the language of every country you visit prior to visiting?

        Or do you think learning how to say “hi” and “thank you” is “learning another language?”

      • June 12, 2010

        Speaking of arrogance, I’ve often been offended at the European idea that speaking different languages somehow imparts sophistication. Yes, Europeans tend to be able to speak different languages, but with countries only a few miles across, if you walk for more than an hour, you’re in a different language zone. Not so over here.

        As for immigration laws — that’s an entirely different matter. You know how you think it’s arrogant and ignorant for some tourists to go to another country expecting to be able to speak their own language, eat their own food, and have everything done the way they’re used to back home? Know how irritating that is?

        Well, those tourists go home.

        Now consider hundreds of thousands of people coming from other countries to the States, having the same demands, but never going home again. That’s also annoying.

        According to figures from The International Organization for Migration (IOM) Europe had the largest number of immigrants in 2005 at 70.6 million people. That’s a lot. North America comes in second with over 45.1 million immigrants. But how many countries are in North America? (The answer would be two: Canada and the USA — the immigrants coming over aren’t moving to Central America.) Now how many countries are in Europe? (The answer would be: a lot.) Of the North American immigrants, the largest proportion are going to the States. This means that the States is getting far more immigrants than any country in Europe — way, way more.

        With the immigration going up, problems have naturally been arising, and the European countries are beginning to crack down on immigration with an iron fist, especially in countries like Denmark and Spain.

        In other words, immigration is a difficult matter.

        But here’s my favourite bit from your comment:

        “And [Americans] are wearing baseball caps and carrying backpacks.”

        First of all — doesn’t every backpacker carry backpacks? I mean, it’s sort of implied in the term. See it there? “Backpacker.” Yep. There it is.

        The baseball cap, however, really gets me. Let’s try that sentence again, this time replacing “baseball cap” with something else:

        “And [Sikhs] are wearing turbans and carrying backpacks.”

        Nope. Not prejudiced and ignorant at all.

  127. June 12, 2010

    @ pduan…yes I speak English, Spanish, Italian Fluently and can understand French. It is not that hard to do. You take a semester at a city colage (sp?) and you will learn enough to understand and speak to the native people. I am planning a trip to France so yes I will sign up for classes before I go so I will not be another stupid American who thinks the rest of the world needs to speak English.

    And how many languages do your speak?

    • June 12, 2010

      I may not speak 4 languages and understand 5 but at least I don’t ride a high horse with my nose stuck in the air. And I definitely won’t be taking a semester class at a city *college* just so I can justify taking a 5 day jaunt through a foreign country. If you are polite and respectful, does it really matter that you don’t know their language? Don’t you think the people there are smart enough to figure out what you’re trying to say?

      A blanket statement like “another stupid American” is a pretty pathetic argument and I definitely don’t think people are stupid because they “only” speak one language.

      For someone seemingly as sophisticated as you are, I’m surprised how much you stereotype and judge.

      FYI, I’m fluent in English and Mandarin.

  128. June 12, 2010

    @ frank lee I was traveling in Italy when a local said to me you can always spot the American Tourist because they wear baseball caps and carry backpacks. So I sat one day at a patio cafe and observed and guess what everyone wearing a baseball cap was American.

    I am not a back packer—sounds like camping to me. So I don’t carry a back pack. I like to stay in nice hotels but I am a traveler.

    And the issue pointed out on this blog was why Canadians wear the Flag.

    Well, the baseball cap points out who the Americans are…so I suggest to those Backpacking Americans that want to disguise themselves by planting a Canadian Flag on their backpacks may I suggest that you ditch the baseball cap and wear some other kind of hat.

    And as for the immigration issue…check out this vido, if you are not of native Indian descent in the USA you are an immigrant.

    And yes, the majority of Americans are very ignorant, and uneducated and have narrow minds.

    Look at our politcal system for examples of that.

    Sorry, I did not make most Americans stupids, that is just what a lack of proper education does to a person.


    • June 12, 2010

      “And as for the immigration issue…check out this vido, if you are not of native Indian descent in the USA you are an immigrant.”

      Bet the native Indians had wished they’d had stricter immigration policies in effect, right?

      “And yes, the majority of Americans are very ignorant, and uneducated and have narrow minds.”

      As opposed to — whom, exactly? This statement, however, does provide evidence for something I’ve always said: scratch the surface of a sophisticated liberal and you’ll find the soul of a bigot.

    • June 12, 2010

      @ Ivonne. Re-read your comments.

      Do you fall under the ignorant (all Americans wear baseball caps), uneducated (maybe use grammar and proper spelling?) and narrow minded (only travel in nice hotels) majority?

  129. June 12, 2010

    @paduan…don’t riding horses no not on my high horse, but your attitude defianlty reflects the American attitude abroad and why Americans are looked down upon and why apparently Candians put their flag on backpacks and luggage to distinguish themselves from the American, which are mostly ignorant people. I stand by that comment and thank you for proving me right. A few weeks in a class learning a language will get you much more respect from the people of the country you are visiting and you will get more out of your trip.

    I personally don’t like to feel like an idiot traveling because I cannot what sign say or menus…etc….

    I much prefer to be able to read and ask for information in the language of the country and engage people in their language.

    The idiot is the one who thinks expanding the mind and getting eduacation is stupid.

    Oh by the way when you go to Europe it is not usaully for a five day jaunt but a 2-3 week trip.

    Have fun in your travels.

  130. June 12, 2010

    @ Frank Lee …not a bigoted liberal by no means…never claimed to be sophisticated either.

    I am a hard working everyday normal person who holds education to be of higher value than designer clothes or shoes or electronic gadets.

    I hsve great experiences when I travel because of my willingness to learn languages and learn about people.

    But I am really sick and tired of America’s stupid notions and constant “othering”.

    So enjoy your travels.

  131. June 12, 2010

    @ paduan LOL…..I am far from being ignorant. As for my preference for nice hotels…that is what it is my personal preference.

    I don’t like camping and I could not imagine just taking a back pack and traveling. For those of you who prefer that hudos to you. That is just not how I prefer to travel.

    I have never been camping and I don’t intend to. I have nothing against people who travel that way. My pet peeves are people who travel to any country and refuse to attempt to learn the language of that country.

    But even that is my personal preference. I like languages and they come easilty to me. I prefer to know the language of the country I travel to. That is just me.

    Everyone is free to do what ever they want.

    Go backpacking , speak only english etc…..

    Then let’s compare notes about our travels and experiences….

  132. June 13, 2010

    @Sex, Spirit & Soul Mates….Ivonne’s Journey : Thank you.

    I have to say, that though I agree about the baseball cap thing, I do like to wear them. 😛 I have unusually fair skin for my Mediterranean background, and my face will go red (not burn just flush) after two minutes in the sun. Literally. So they are good for me, when walking around, to just keep my face hidden. However a friend of mine from the states ( a guy friend) came to visit me in during the stretch when I was living in Greece, between the 5 people that came with him they had about 30 caps. The guy had at least ten. And you know what? They were all for his favourite Baseball teams. No one guessed incorrectly their nationality.

    On the other hand, I whole heartedly believe in learning many languages. Since the age of three I had learnt French and Greek with already a good understanding of Italian and fluent in ENglish (as my first language unfortunately). Now I am fluent in English, French, Greek, Italian, Latin and am learning Spanish. I’ve only been learning for a few years but because I know French, Italina and Latin, spanish is so similar its just like… a piece of cake to learn. Why do I learn so many languages? I love them. Simple as that. My parents each speak 3 different languages, so from a young age I was learning them. I learn them easily, quickly and my accent is good. I don’t have a very strong accent in english due to moving around so much, which is fortunate because when I speak Greek have a very Greek accent unlike some of my greek-british friends who (despite speaking Greek fluently) have a very ENglish accent when speaking and so often get accused of being “Xenoi” foreign despite being born and raised in Greece. Speaking many languages also makes it easier to do things in everyday life. I alreayd proclaimed my love for history, so ubnderstanding so many languages makes it easier to learn other histories, not to mention I get to read more poetry. I love reading and writting poetry, and some of the greatest poets are foreign (meaing only that they don’t write in ENglish) and refuse to translate because the poetrry looses it’s power, because the connotations and semantics of words aren’t the same. I’d feel horrible if I couldn’t read some of this beautiful poetry!

    That said, I have next to no problem travelling because I almost always find someone who speaks a Language I do, and it makes people more friendly, yes. Listing languages you can use to communicate before finding one is almost like a game. Once in Egypt, my friend who I was with spoke Arabic, but as some of you might know, the Egyptian arabic is slightly different to other dialects such as she spoke. Not to mentions even I could pick up that the accent was drasticly different (and I’m a typical latanic speaker). But by combining French and Arabic we managed to get by quite well.

    I think speaking to natives in their own tongue makes them more relaxed. It expels some prejudices from their mind, and it makes them more willing to try and understand. I think you should learn more than Hi and Thank you, but you can buy a simple ROsetta Stone app for your computer and either just brush up on a language or learn a decent amount of a new one a few months before travelling. It helpped me clarify my Itallian grammar. I highly suggest it!

    Just fyi. I love languages so much, I’ve decided to take a step back from verbal languages. I am currently learning ASL and British Two hand. Belive it or not, even ASL makes it easier to travel. Most of the signs are understandable without know the exact words, and it gives you a better understanding of how to mime if the need arises.

    And Can I just say something to whoever it was that mentioned Caps meaning yelling meaning ammerican? Writting in caps also means a STRESS in the tone of voice. It does not always mean yelling, but a stress can drasticly change the way in which something is interpretted. Seeing as we are communicating via computer screen, its really hard to show different tones of voice. Italics, underlines bold and caps are all we have to work with. Learning Greek really made me take a different view of stresses. Entire words change meaning depending on the stress. and in english a stress can make a sentence or a question or an accusation or a demand…

    A greek example is : malAka (stress on the second A) or MalakA (stress on last A). The first is a swear word meaning… pretty much summs up most english swears but only to be aplied to a human. The second means soft or gentil. Don’t travel to greece and speak greek if you do not have a good accent or else you might offend you host by calling them MalAka instead of MalakA. 😛

    • June 13, 2010

      thanks for the info on the Greek I’ll rememeber that when I plan atrip to Greece.

      I too love languages and meeting new people and learning the culture and trying the food as long as it vegitarian.


      • June 13, 2010

        Your welcome.

        I agree. I love different cultures, and being an artist, I find its so inspiring to try writting, painting, play music, in the styles colloquial to other cultures.

        I also agree bout the vegitarian. I don’t eat fish, and I don’t want to eat meat, but my parents say “Not until your an adult” as I’m still growning, (including my taste buds… dont like beans all that much :S and seeing as they are a great source of protein…) plus the being a girl and needing iron part… 🙁

  133. June 13, 2010

    Also, as for staying in nice hotels… nothing wrong with that. My mother absolutely hats camping though I lvoe it. (going tomorrow! Yipee!) and she refuses to go camping. SHe wants to stay in a COMFORTABLe hotel. Doesnt have to be five star. SHe just doesnt want to be eaten alive by insects or have filthy runing water… otherwise (she says) whats the difference between that and camping. I disagree. I love ruffing it. (though i dont want a filthy hotel either… if you get my drift,).

    • June 13, 2010

      Parents are funny about vegitarianism. But there are a lot of good meat protein substitutes out there. Yves, Smart Life,Boca, and Morning Farms are good brands and you can find them in the regular supermarkets.

      When you make the switch youjust have to be more consious of eating protein.

      I usually have a fruit smoothie/portien shake in the morning and a couple chocolate protein shakes during the day, otherwise I tend to gain weight.



      • June 13, 2010

        Thanks for the info. A lot of people fight me when I say I want to be a vegetarian. Its so annoying because they start bringing up all these arguments “But its against Nature blah blah blah ” bull arguments. As a part of the debate team at school, I could easily shoot them down, but tend to feel bad afterwards, so I just say “What does it matter to you? ITs my life! I’ve been living it as I want to so far, and I’m fine. Therefore I will continue to do as I want!” its just really stupid of people to argue to you on your own choices. I mean there are so many creatures which are vegetarian. And sure, humans are now easily omnivores, and it might be “natural” now, but nature never said to poison our food supply, over eat, over graze and deforest(ise?) land and so on to support our own carnivorous habits!

        I think for my parents though its also the fact they they don’t feel the moral or health strain, and so don’t really want to have the dinner table divided and have two different meals every night… Which i see their point.

        Thanks for the hint. I’ll keep that in mind for once I am ready!

  134. inmydesert permalink
    June 13, 2010

    Funny article… Actually, I am French and I live in the US since last summer. Here is what I noticed: maybe Canadians wear flags on their bags, but people in the US wear tee-shirts or other clothes with the name of their state or city. It is the same thing. As a French girl, I would NEVER wear something showing that I am from Burgundy, even if I am proud of it. It is just ridiculous. When I see people around the world wearing tee-shirts with the Eiffel Tower, that’s actually how I know they’re not French and that they’re probably Americans…

  135. June 13, 2010

    Well Paul, it’s been fun, but it looks like the party’s pretty much over. Note the lack of any actual responses to the counter arguments presented against the American haters, and the complete lack of self-analysis involved in so many of their outrageously bigoted statements.

    Amusing, isn’t it?

    Reminds me of a guy I knew back in the ’60s who said, “I’m not a bigot! I just don’t like Negroes because they’re lazy and shiftless!”

    Enjoy your travels, congratulations on being Freshly Pressed, and thanks for hosting this party. And if you’re ever in doubt what to wear, may I recommend a Che Guevara t-shirt?

    Because while Americans are fairly universally disliked, murderous revolutionaries from developing nations are always a favourite.

    Goodbye, or as we say in Canada —

    Well, actually we say “goodbye.”

    • June 14, 2010

      Thanks for commenting Frank. It was nice having someone rational on my side to counter a lot of blatant misunderstanding or stereotyping.

  136. June 14, 2010

    LOL! We look and we speak the same according to foreigners. One of the ways to distiguish ourselves from our cousins down south is indeed to place a Canadian flag on our backpacks. If there is one annoying comment I hear all the time, is “Oh, so you’re American” after saying that I’m from Canada. And, just for the record, I met a few Americans who indeed had the Canadian flag on their backpack… 🙂 Great post!

  137. June 14, 2010

    Call me crazy, but I had no idea so so many people were hating on America until this post– to the degree that you would wear something to announce to others that you are DEFINITELY NOT AMERICAN. and all those anecdotes about being abroad and getting treated poorly for being American… yikes.

    I’m an American, and studied/traveled abroad for 5 months. The Irish, British, Dutch, and French were all nice to me… I never felt like a target once. Maybe bc I am not a jerk people don’t treat me like one.

  138. June 19, 2010

    I am a Canadian and I love wearing the Maple Leaf flag when I travel. I meet other Canadians that way and people don’t mistake me for an American (because despite who your president is – people all around the world dislike you – your manners are definitely not world renowned for a good reason – a sterotype I know – but Canadians want to avoid any bad associations). It is a source of pride and it makes me happy whenever I see one.

    Also, Americans are for the most part one of the most patriotic nations I know of and I constantly see American flags in front yards for miles when I am down there and there is always someone wearing something American nearby.

    Anyways, keep wearing the flag Canadians and other nations – do it too!!!

  139. June 22, 2010

    So you voted for Obama just to be cool with people? Well.. why you don’t try to defend Bush (if you voted for him of course). I have a lot of pro-bush arguments… and I’m Brazilian…

    Not a good deal, I love America… I think Obama is screwing USA.. so now I hate you (AHAHALMAO)

    Funny apart, I think a lot of people hate America because of anti-american propaganda in countries like mine, the defamation is strong… so you guys will be persecuted and don’t matter who you voted to apologize for you.. don’t let the world rule you guys… you guys lead the world and you should be a example for us. Defend your country, I’m doing my part from here, with help of people like Olavo de Carvalho and such..

  140. lou permalink
    June 30, 2010

    There used to be an american website that sold backpacks and other stuff with the Canadian flag already on it so that americans wouldn`t be taken for americans

  141. July 16, 2010

    Nomadic Matt, of, also posted on this issue a few months ago (it opened a can of worms, but not to this extent!)

    I honestly didn’t know that other countries didn’t practice the ceremonial sewing of the flag as well. Canadians have always just done it. In fact, when my Dad backpacked in the 70s he did it too, so it isn’t exactly a new trend, or borne out of the Bush years. I think the majority of Canadians find it amusing that Americans have such an issue with us “waving our flag”. At least in Canada, the Americans have a reputation for being about as “patriotic” as they come (not a judgement, I personally think it’s a good thing). In fact, we Canadians often criticize ourselves for being not patriotic enough. So it is a bit ironic that the notorious hyper-patriotism of the USA doesn’t translate abroad, and yet Canadians seem to bother Americans by showing our own patriotism when we travel. At least I find it ironic 🙂

    Nomadic Matt seemed to be most bothered by the fact that wearing the Canadian flag was NOT in fact a symbol of patriotism, but rather a way for Canadians (or certain embarrassed Americans) to declare that they are NOT American (sort of a USA-centric view don’t you think!). While Canada does exist to some extent under the shadow of our massive American neighbours, and we definitely feel the need, from time to time, to reassert that we are not simply the “51 state”… I really don’t agree that any show of Canadian pride has to be underlined by some sort of anti-american sentiment. That being said, we do enjoy a reputation as peace keepers on an international level (our current government may be doing severe damage to that said reputation), and I think most countries have a lot of respect for that. I often wonder if Americans also had the reputation of a more meek and mild, peaceful country, if they wouldn’t show off their patriotism a lot more while on the road?

    Anyway, this is bit rambling…. but all this to say: I find myself suddenly questioning whether or not I should sew my flag on my bag as I get ready to go see the world? Seriously?!?

  142. steven permalink
    September 17, 2010

    I am American and I too declare myself to be Canadian at times. Why? Well, I go to Thailand every year to visit my Thai family with my Thai wife and unfortunately there are Muslim groups usually located in the southern part of the country often looking to cause problems either by killing local monks or kidnappings foreigners. It is unfortunate my government has gone far out of their way to have some many people hate them. Because one can never be sure who they are talking with it is best to declare being from a country which most people including terrorist don’t seem to hate. It is really as simple as not desiring to be a target because of my government policies.

  143. Jessica permalink
    September 24, 2010

    I am Canadian and have traveled both wearing the flag and not and believe it or not we wear it because we get treated better when people know that we are Canadian, not American. I personally have nothing against Americans but contrary to what you may think that everyone likes Americans now, that is NOT the case. In fact most of the world still holds a grudge for reasons unknown. I actually have a cousin who was travelling in Europe and got mugged. He was not wearing a flag. When they took his wallet and saw the Canadian ID they gave it back to him, apologized and stated that they did not steal from Canadians. So whenever I travel I always where a flag. Plus I’m proud to be Canadian and would not want to be mistake as a citizen from any other country.

  144. Jessica permalink
    March 24, 2011

    It’s true…cab drivers hear your Canadian accent…mistake it for an American one…and take off! So rude…even my American friends wore Canadian flags. So it’s less of a patriotic thing and more of a travel tip.

  145. May 22, 2011

    we ware the flag so that people dont think we are dumb ass americans seeing as there is only 2 nations that speak english with out dialect, but most backpackers know that we are canadian already because americans dont backpack, there either studying abroad or on a 2 week vacation with a suitcase and luggage if you meet them outside the usa, but hey (america is the best country in the world anyways so why travel to other countries)

  146. Dayle permalink
    July 16, 2011

    I am a globe trotting Canadian. When I was 17 I left Canada but before I did I sewed the Canadian flag onto my backpack so that people wouldn’t think I was American and because I had heard that people will treat you better when they know that you are Canadian.

    Every part of Canada is unique there is not much that we share with each other culturally (we don’t even share a language). Don’t get me wrong I’m not saying thats bad; one of the things that makes Canada such a nice place to live is that we are so tolerant. However, if you research the history of Canada you’ll find that part of what caused the provences to unite into the country now called Canada and create a railway across Canada was accually a common desire to not become part of America. We understood that we didn’t share our culture compleatly (in some ways I suppose we do) with each other but we did share this a desire to go in a different direction from Americans (not that we don’t like Americans or that we think your countries direction is a bad one we just wanted a different way that is all). So after forming a country, building a railroad and spending the next 100 years trying to descover what it is to be Canadian imagine our dismay when everywhere we go outside of our own country we are mistaken for the very people we were trying not to be. So is it any wonder that before a Canadian leaves home he or she sits down and sews our flag our symbol on to his or her backpack.

    There is probably more to it then what I have written above but I think that that has something to do with it. I suppose that other Canadians may give you a different answer but the jist of it is this everybody is proud of where they come from so it sucks to always be lumped into the “your American” or “your the same as the Americans” category. This is just our way of saying “hey I’m a Canadian and it’s different from being an American”.

  147. Xavier permalink
    March 2, 2012

    I’m sure many other people have said the same: Canadians wear Canadian flags on their bags, shirts, hats, and so forth when they go abroad so that they do not get mistaken for the “ugly American.” I’m an American and I’ve lived in Quebec so I trust that what they tell me. As an American I don’t feel the need to be cautious about being mistaken as a rude or obnoxious tourist simply because I am not one. I’ve never had anyone treat me poorly while abroad because of my nationality, I suppose that it helps that I speak French, Spanish, and some Italian to get by. My point is that Canadians who are so culturally aligned with the brutish American, will rely on the maple leaf as if it were a government issued stamp for tact and cultivation when abroad. Sadly, Canadian tourists who wear the flag on their sleeve, (or in the case of the mother and daughter in Rome, on their matching baseball caps and sweatshirts, or the chunky blonde wrapped in a Canadian flag beach towel at the Gellert Hotel in Budapest) is simply a little sad, desperate, and tacky.

  148. Joe Naidanac permalink
    May 12, 2012

    Only an American would complain about another countryman being Patriotic.
    The larger question would have to be “Why do Americans wear Canadian flags while traveling abroad”? Perhaps they don’t want to be burned like their flag is in every other nation ^_^

    • SCE2AUX permalink
      June 19, 2012

      “Only an American would complain about another countryman being Patriotic.”

      Because nobody has ever complained about American patriotism, have they?

  149. SCE2AUX permalink
    June 19, 2012

    I have nothing against Canadian wearing their flag for patriotic reasons…but when you say that it’s because you don’t want to be confused with Americans, this is what comes to mind:

    “Look at my Canadian flag. I am wearing it because I think you are stupid enough to have your opinion about me made because of a piece of cloth.

    I’m also of the opinion that you are a potential thug and there’s also a chance that you will physically assault me – as if I were wearing the wrong gang colors.”

    I travel as an American abroad, and as somebody who voted for Bush twice…and will be voting for Romney in November.

    Believe it or not, Americans who can stand up for their policies are actually admired more than quislings.

    @Sex, Spirit & Soul Mates….Ivonne’s Journey – you’ve gotta be a parody of something.

  150. June 30, 2012

    obama is trash.

  151. Richard Prevett permalink
    September 9, 2015

    I’m Canadian and it bugs the Hell out of me too. Like you, I don’t get it.

    Yet, yet.

    Except that I think it may go all the way back to WWII and the Blitz when the British military had CANADA patches on the upper arms of uniforms as a sop to colonial sensibilities in the then British war machine, which until the 70s was actually a thing. Up until 1950 Canadians travelled on British passports, since actual Canadian passports is a relatively recent development. Canada is officially a realm of Great Britain at the present time and its head of state and Commander in Chief is Queen Elizabeth II.

    Canadians go to war to defend the Queen, not Canada. If you don’t believe me, check out the official Canadian citizenship documents.

    Canadians like it that way, even if it makes USer heads explode. Or maybe even because it makes USer (and Parisian politicos) heads explode!

    In your parag. 3 you observe that Europeans and Aussies don’t replicate this maudlin and self-indulgeant practise, but in fact, they do to a certain extent. Scandinavians are (especially Norwegians) notorious tearful nationalists as are Newsy’s. And USer’s don’t need a flag ‘coz you can hear them talking at 1,000 yards!

  152. Jaylor permalink
    September 11, 2015

    Many years ago, I travelled through the UK with a Canadian flag on my backpack. On one train, I was chatting with a British traveller and the woman across the aisle started making quite rude remarks about Americans. When I took my backpack off the luggage rack at my stop, the rude woman noticed the Canadian flag. Her words to me which I’ve never forgotten were “Oh I am sorry for what I said. I thought you were American.” Wearing the Canadian flag when we travel is a sign of our patriotism….at least it was before Harper. Americans are big on their own patriotism. You really shouldn’t criticize anyone else’s. For the record, I’m not anti-American. I’ve met very few Americans I didn’t like.

  153. Dave permalink
    November 11, 2015

    I am Canadian and I proudly wear my Canadian patch on my bag everywhere I go! Why wouldn’t I? I wear it in honor of every Canadian who has been to these places before me and, through their actions and demeanor, has left a good reputation to my homeland.

    It warms my Canadian heart everytime someone is happy to see me because they recall good memories they have of fellow Canadians they met some place, some time. And as a pleasant, easygoing and open minded Canadian, it is my pleasure to leave the same impression around the world for those of my countrymen who will follow!

    Plus, we are a somewhat small nation; it is always nice if that patch help me get recognized from afar by fellow Canadian abroad so that we can share a beer and talk hockey for a bit! =)

    To conclude, it is said in the post that it would be better to be blank and not associated with any nation and not have any flag on bags to not be judged or face prejudices from other travellers… We’ll, first, as Canadian, the prejudices toward me are mostly positive, and I wouldn’t mind people having positive prejudices towards me.

    Secondly, what’s the first thing you do when you meet a fellow backpacker abroad? You ask them where they come from. So what does it change if they get to know it by seeing my glorious red maple leaf, or by me directly telling them..?

    Happy backpacking fellas, to travel is to live!

  154. June 2, 2019

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