Damn smug Canadians … or were they Americans?

Queuing up to board a recent flight, I noticed this half of a matched-set couple:

Canadian flag backpackerThe pair of tan, sandal-clad travelers carried black backpacks slung over their shoulders. Onto each backpack they had hand-sewn small, but prominently placed, Canadian flags.

They spoke like Americans, they looked like Americans, but they did not want to be mistaken for actual fat, loud, gun-loving American heathens. They were Canadians* and they wanted everyone to know it.

As an American, if I felt compelled to display an instant-disclaimer, a sewn-on patch like the following would be required:

American backpacker comic

But instead, I’ll just proudly hold my family’s stack of American passports in every immigration line and try to demonstrate through my actions that many of us are not “Ugly Americans.”

*Or perhaps they were Americans who thought they’d receive better treatment from locals and fellow travelers alike, if they were thought to be Canadians. 

Post-script: Having just written this post in the morning, I spent the evening watching Argo, where Americans pose as Canadians to escape post-revolutionary Iran. It appears pretending to be Canadian can be frightfully useful!

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14 responses to “Damn smug Canadians … or were they Americans?

    • I hadn’t heard of Brits trying to pass as Irish before. I suppose, sometimes it’s hard to feel like we’re dragging around 100s of years of history with us when we travel.

  1. When I was teaching elglish in seoul years ago, I had a canadian coworker who hated korean food. So/he would only shop at the expensive import food store and only eat at applebees, tgi fridays and other american places that were actually pretty costly. Because of this, his paycheck would be gone in a week or two. One of my other coworkers ran into him Begging for money in a subway station – and to top it off, he was wearing a baseball cap with an american flag on it! As if we needed a canadian to make us look any worse!

  2. Great observation! I remember backpacking through Europe long ago and wondered then why so many Canadians backpackers were suddenly so “patriotic.” I’d never seen so many “Roots” shirts and Canadian flags in my life! I guess the trend hasn’t changed in 15 years, and Canadians still hate being mistaken for Americans. That said, I do remember having a conversation w/my fellow American expat friends brainstorming ways we could try to become Canadian citizens so that we wouldn’t have to pay double taxes while working abroad. No one could come up w/anything good, other than marrying someone Canadian… 🙂

    • Frankly I was also surprised to still see someone with a sewn on Canadian flag patch. I’d also thought it must be “over” by now. The fact that they both had the patch made it all the more humorous to me!

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