Aug 012011

(asked by Katie from… I guess Canada)


I’d be interested to know how the French view Canadians…and if they can they tell the difference between Canadians and Americans?


Well Katie,

First of all, click on the link to get a little reminder about what the French think of Québécois (that’s “French Canadian” in English, even though they’re not French, they just speak the language).

Now concerning “English-speaking Canadians” or Canadians as they’re called in English, it’s going to be an easy answer really.

The French think that Canadians are Americans with less guns and more ice hockey, and if there are no guns nor ice hockey involved, they can’t tell the difference between both.

The good thing is that there are no jokes about Canadians in France.

The bad thing, is that you don’t really “count” in the eyes of the French.

I guess I don’t have much more to add (I’m sure some commenters will).


Oh and they have the Mountie too, I almost forgot about the Mountie.


More Questions Answered:

  17 Responses to “How do the French view Canadians? Can they tell the difference between Canadians and Americans?”

  1. Hello Katie,

    I think (we) the French make a difference between “English-speaking Canadians” and “French-speaking Canadians”. The first ones are seen like Americans, with the same origins, culture, way of life etc. Whereas the second ones are seen like French with an american way of life but with the same cultural and political opposition towards Americans.

    But, as a whole, “Canadians” are seen like Americans without the bad sides of Americans : Canadians live in the nature, they are peace-loving, they let us having some peace and quiet…

    • Thanks Alain for your comment and helping me answering the question.

    • Hi,

      Just find this blog.It’s nice.

      As said by Fabrice:
      Canadians are seen in France as more peaceful thant Americans.
      We also have the feeling that they are a more thoughtful people.
      We also tinik that Canadians care less about money and goods than americans, it’s also true about religion.

      And you are absolutely right, it’s well known in France that guys from Quebec don’t like to be called Canadian. And it’s also true that by the way that QC is a french spoken state, we feel closer from them than English-speaking canadians.

  2. Oh dear! Do they really think we are as right-wing and religious as Americans? No, please no….

    Ahem, the last time I checked, French-speaking Canadians were “Canadians” too. The term actually applied to them first, in fact. The Anglos joined in the party afterwards.
    (Not all of them are Québecois either…I know you know that, I’m just saying! And we usually say “francophone” these days instead of French-Canadian.)

    • The trick is that the French don’t realize how screwed up American religion and politics is. Their hear the news, but most of them don’t really comprehend the context, the background and those things.

      Yes, Québécois are Canadians, but last time I talked with one (oh wait, this was on this blog ) I had doubts they considered themselves as such. I “excluded” them from my answer here because I already delt with them in that previous topic. And you Anglophone Canadians say “Francophone” but do you think that Americans know that word? Most of them don’t, and some even think that “French Canadians” are Canadians that are also French.

      • Well, I’m very glad that at least one Frenchman does understand how screwed up it is, because woah mama is it ever! Okay, also:

        Many (most) Quebeckers consider themselves to be Québécois first and Canadian second, certainly, but as for outright rejecting one’s Canadian identity I think that’s fairly rare. There are plenty of francophone federalists out there (the ones who want to stay in Canada). They are not as noisy as the separatists (in terms of control of the media, the unions, the political discourse etc.) but they may possibly be in the majority by now.

        And, if Americans don’t know the word “francophone” then they may just as well learn it! Francophone = French-speaker, ladies and gents, it’s not hard… ; ) What you mentioned at the end is actually a valid issue because we have very large numbers of French people (French? Like French from France French? Yeah, French from France French!) immigrating to Canada these days. What should they be called when they get their citizenship if not French Canadians? (I know…French-like-French-from-France-French Canadians….)

  3. I’m American and I can add that Americans consider Québécois to be Canadians who speak just happen to speak French. I’ve been to Quebec and I understand this is not how they see themselves. And I’ve never heard any American use the term Francophone ever.

    • I am American and I use the term francophone all the time. I also understand that the Québécois view themselves as very separate from the rest of Canada. Now, of course, I also lived and studied in Montréal so of course I have an advantage in understanding the culture.

      But, Americans are not all as uninformed as you imagine. Please remember that the United States is a large country, geographically, and population-wise. Despite cable TV and the internet, there are still regional differences, although the differences are not as great as they used to be. Most people from outside the United States do not realize this, and I would venture to say that many Americans don’t even think about this. People in the northeastern United States tend to be more aware of Québec issues. And, in my experience growing up in Maine, people in the northern New England region often feel culturally closer to areas of Canada than they do to, say, California.

      I think it’s also important to remember that our government is not the same as our people! Sure, some people are aggressive and carry guns, but for the most part, American PEOPLE are not militaristic, in thought, speech, or action. Though some people are “in your face” patriotic ( especially when America is at war), the vast majority of people are silent on the matter, but that goes unnoticed.

      The main difference I noticed when attending university with Canadians was that they were more passive in class discussions. Americans are taught that debate is a GOOD thing. We are taught that you should not take at face value everything someone else says - question it, look for a factual basis. Our schools instill this kind of “critical and analytical thinking” in students. But in Canada, even at the top university, this kind of behavior was looked upon with shock, as though it were rude. From my perspective, this is a thoughtful way of approaching academics… it’s not about being aggressive, it’s about thinking and analyzing. But from what I experienced, Canadians found it to be aggressive.

  4. For french people there are clearly two kinds of Canadians. The French-speaking Canadians (to who we refer as Quebecers even if all of them are not necessary from Quebec). In France we have a lot of contacts with Quebecer celebrities that come to french public to increase they audience (and inversely most french singers or celebrities are famous in Quebec)… singers, humorists, etc. Most of them usually insist for being Quebecers, and not Canadians (even if they are, legally speaking at least)

    We usually see Qubecers (or french canadians) as somehow intermediary between our french culture and north American Anglo-Saxon culture. We usually feel closer to them because we speak the same language and communicate easily. We have a lot of commun cultural references, despite many strong differences. They are seem as some sort of cousins that have the same cultural roots as us, but who live in a compeltly different world. very similar and very different at once.

    As for English-speaking Canadians, well, we don’t make a big difference with Americans. We don’t notice any differences in dress, accents, behaviours or looks. Well we see English Canadians as Anglo-Americans. English Canada is seen as culturally very close to the US, but with a more peacefull image (without the violent image often associated with the USA, and without the political association with some negative former presidents).

  5. This is a little pedantic, but “Quebecois” is “Quebecer” in English. “French Canadian” includes natives of the various (and, admittedly, generally small) Francophone communities scattered throughout the country.

    • Well, I want to say it’s all a question of perspective and of what English you use.
      While I learned the term “Quebecker” (that spelling) in college in France, my Canadian civilization teacher there used the term “Québécois” even when speaking English (and if I remember correctly she was a Francophone Canadian from British Columbia).
      Once in the US, I started using both terms, but nobody understood me and I quickly found out that in US English, people living in Quebec and speaking French are called “French Canadians” and I don’t think there’s a term for Francophone Canadians out of Quebec, maybe they’re also bundled up as “French Canadian”.

      But the main point here is that not only I have never heard “Quebecer” in US English, no American I have used it with understood me either (except those with ties to Quebec, of course)

      • You took a Canadian civilization course… That’s pretty cool. : )

        I think I can add that if Americans say “French Canadian” (or “French-Canadian”) that’s because it’s the old term that we used to use here too, before the 1960s. I’ll guess that the only distinction between Quebecker and Québécois is that when used in English the second refers to francophones whereas the first includes everyone…but that’s probably open to discussion!

        There is another blog I like to read (with some sort of in-your-face opinions, so the easily offended should avoid it) called (The ‘French guy’ is Québécois….just to….you know, confuse things.) There is a whole category of posts called “Who is Nous?” and it gets pretty funny - people vote on whether someone is Québécois or not, and if that person is cool or famous (ie Oscar Peterson, Jack Kerouac, Leonard Cohen) then he tends to get a “Yes” vote. Of course there is a little side discussion about how well the person speaks French which leads me to believe that if you are a jazz great, it’s enough to be able to just muddle through the French bit, but if you are less cool, and particularly if you are critical of separatism, the standards about length of residence and French language abilities get stricter… ; ) Feel free to laugh, it’s okay…

  6. Most French I’ve met are interested in visiting or living in Canada or the US but have more of a preference for Canada - maybe because of the language. They have exposure to more American media but the talk shows on French TV have more Canadian personalities than American…..and my French husband always laughs when he hears a French-Canadian speak French. It seems that the French think the Canadians are “cute” and the Americans “cool”.

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