There’s a joke about the attitude of Canadians, and it’s confirmed by several sources. It goes like this: If an American is mad at his neighbours because they are bothering him continuously, the American would say: “Now it really gets to me, I’ll get my gun and I’ll shoot my neighbour.” A Canadian in the same situation says: “Now it really gets to me, I’ll sit down now and write him a letter.”
We experience this politeness of Canadians every day in traffic. The drivers are very considerate and cautious. There’s hardly any aggression on the roads. If a pedestrian wants to cross the street, cars usually stop immediately, whether at a pedestrian crossing or not. Pedestrians must be careful not to be just standing there, looking around and not wanting to cross the street, otherwise traffic will be congested right away. But even that wouldn’t be a big of a deal. In Whitehorse we felt like walking on the red carpet. We were standing at a crosswalk at a four-lane road with very heavy traffic. It didn’t take more than two seconds before traffic from both directions stopped.
But even among the drivers people are very considerate. If you want to change lanes, other drivers slow down for you. Even with our big motor home people gave us plenty of space to merge onto the highway. Also, if we drive slowly on a country road, most drivers stay far behind us and don’t seem to be in a hurry to pass us. On multi-lane freeways people are polite; no tailgating and no high beams. Only the truckers seem to be in a hurry and drive close up to us.
What totally blew me away is the line up at the bus stop in the pouring rain! Instead of standing underneath the protecting roof of the bus shelter, the Canadians formed a snake – in the rain. The bus hadn’t even arrived yet. However, all people were equipped with an umbrella or rain jacket. That was in Vancouver, where it rains quite a bit. Obviously, the umbrella is standard equipment here.
Apparently Canadians have a very considerate attitude and are very careful not to disturb or harass others. Examples are the use of excessive deodorant and perfume which is not welcome and smoking has been prohibited in public areas for a long time now.
On the other hand, Canadians are not reserved when it comes to contact with other people. They are usually very open and communicative. We experienced that it’s very easy to talk to other people and we are often approached unexpectedly by Canadians. Next to that, in terms of helpfulness, we found out that Canadians are very active – always ready to help.