5 Canadian myths that just won’t die - Macleans.ca

5 Canadian myths that just won’t die

Our Book of Lists checked the facts on Canuck alcohol content, beaver parts, taxation and guns


White House (Shutterstock)

1. Our beer is stronger than American beer: That’s bogus, a myth born out of the different methods once used to measure alcoholic content on labelling. Americans long listed percentages of alcohol by weight on the bottle, while Canadians used a measure of alcohol by volume. The difference distorts the picture somewhat, because alcohol weighs less than water, making Bud and other sudsy U.S. staples appear weak in comparison to Labatt and Molson, for example. Actually, most beers around the world hover in and around the five per cent mark, in terms of alcohol by volume—that includes the much-maligned Bud—meaning that it will get you as stinko as fast as most Canadian brews.

2. Beavers will bite off their own testicles when confronted by a predator: This myth has an old pedigree, going back to ancient times, with commentators such as Pliny and Claudius Aelianus describing how the beaver, confronted by hunters, would sacrifice its testicles, which were prized for their medicinal value, in the same way a man who is mugged might immediately present to the robber the contents of his wallet. Both NDP MP Pat Martin and literary icon Margaret Atwood have played a role in perpetuating this legend. Actually, male beavers hold their family jewels within their bodies (not like Papillon carried his money, but you get the idea).

3. Canadians burned down the White House: It’s a story a lot of Canadian kids grow up believing—that in 1814 we sacked D.C. and put our torches to the president’s house, setting it aflame (and in this way produced that indelibly American relic, the half-burned portrait of George Washington). But actually it was the British who did it.

4. Canadians own a lot fewer guns than Americans: The U.S. is a pistol-packing country, but it’s not also true that Canada carries an entirely empty holster. According to a 2007 International Small Arms Survey, there are 30.8 guns in this country for every 100 citizens. Not quite the 88.8 guns for every 100 American citizens, but enough to place Canada 13th on an international ranking of gun ownership—five times that of England.

5. Canada’s taxes are higher than America’s: We are socialists who tax the stuffing out of business, particularly in comparison to our southern neighbours, right? Not quite. Last year, for the first time, Canada ranked in the top 10 in PricewaterhouseCoopers’s global comparison of the most advantageous places to pay corporate taxes, placing eighth. Canada’s total average tax rate on medium-sized domestic companies weighed in at 26.9 per cent; it’s 46.7 per cent in the U.S., putting the Americans in 69th place.

The Maclean’s Book of Lists, Vol. 2, is now available at www.macleans.ca/bookoflists, in the iBookstore, and on newsstands. Don’t forget to tune in to City on July 1 and test your knowledge of all things Canuck with Maclean’s Great Canadian Countdown, airing at 7 p.m. EST.


5 Canadian myths that just won’t die

  1. I rate number four as true. We may own more guns than people realize, but we still do own a lot fewer guns per capita than they do in the U.S.

    • Yeah, even the text in the article seems to confirm the myth. I’ll admit that it’s been a long time since I took math, and I wasn’t that good at it at the time, but I’m pretty sure that 88 is a lot bigger than 30.

      • Agreed. If the numbers are correct, it’s actually more per capita by almost a factor of three. Less than a third of people vs. almost 90%. One wonders what would be a significant difference?

    • The entire list is a little lame.
      Number 2: I had heard this myth but never believed and I suspect that very few people have ever believed. (People keep talking about the Easter bunny as well.)
      Number 3: Fair enough, but at the time Canadians existed (as a colony) and we were British. (I don’t believe any Canadian played a role in the attack but I believe it was the result of a request from the Canadian Governor General.
      Number 4: We have about 1/3 of the guns (per captia), that is a lot less.
      Number 5: When people talk about “our” tax rates they are referring to personal tax rates, which are much higher than the US.

      Finally Number 1: Some interesting info but it is certainly true that getting drunk on Bud is a challenge. Between the tendency of the stuff to flow right through you, and the crappy taste I have never accomplished it.

      • It is pretty hard to get drunk on Bud or Coors because of all the exercise you get walking back and forth to the bathroom all the time.
        Seriously, most US beer falls in the 5%-5.5% ABV range with some craft beers going anywhere from 8-14%

    • Yes, number for is ture and not a “myth”. ALso agree with @StewartSmith both that we mean personal taxes when we say “we pay more taxes” and that this list is lame.

  2. Lol beaver is like you never take my testacales