Polite Canadians a myth?

Canadians may have a reputation for being polite but I always thot that included a good dose of mythology. I have noticed some not-so-polite things done by Canadians.

Two stories caught my attention that might shed light on the subject.

A while back there was a short public debate on whether our national symbol should be changed from a homely beaver to a stunning polar bear. Of course I jumped in with both paws in support of the obvious choice. I was stunned to find fellow bloggers and friends siding with the toothy tree cutter. Many other Canadians shared that view and the issue quietly slid away like a beaver in water.

Looking back on the discussion, I may have missed a critical part of what people were saying. When they claimed to support the industrious nature of the beaver and other honourable characteristics, it may have been because they were shying away from the symbolism of a ferocious and powerful predator – even if cubs look cute on a Christmas card. In short, they were being polite.

More recently, Canadian Geographic noted that Canada didn’t have an official bird. They graciously offered their website for people to make their case for various birds and vote. The results will be forwarded to the Canadian government. Great idea.

The odd thing was that when you went to vote, they asked for some identifying information including whether you lived in Canada or United States. Well that tickled my funny bone! What other country in the world would ask their neighbour’s opinion on their national bird? Hilarious!

Maybe Canadians really are polite!

In keeping with the spirit of this post, I have politely offered two candidates for Canada’s official bird – snowy owl and common loon. What do you suggest? Of course it doesn’t matter where you live!

_B5A9192, snowy owl, tree

Now if only a snowy owl could practice and make the sound of a loon, then it would be the perfect choice!

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Latest Comments

  1. Linda says:

    Please do not let a few bad apples tarnish your feelings for Canadian people. 🙂 Warm greetings from Montreal, Canada. I am Canadian and consider myself to be polite, kind and honest. There are good and bad in every race and place. You have a lovely blog and some very beautiful photos. I was ready to respond to your latest post but then this one on Canadians caught my eye, and being Canadian and all, well….:)

    Like

  2. whichwaynow101 says:

    The reason the magazine asked for nationality was so that they could discount my opinion and that of my fellow Americans! Hahaha!

    Like

  3. MJF Images says:

    I guess, being a visual creature, I’m going to go with the owl. But my opinion shouldn’t matter at all, haha!

    Like

  4. dweezer19 says:

    I am in love with this owl. Gets my vote. So does the bear. Sorry if that makes me impolite. 😁

    Like

  5. Cornel A. says:

    Both birds look great. But, as you wrote above, if only the snowy owl could make the sound of a loon, that would be the best choice.

    Like

  6. alba10 says:

    Beautiful photographs Lyle 🙂

    Like

  7. caleephotography says:

    Owls are the coolest birds there is, so there’s my vote. 🙂 Although when I think of Canada and birds, the first that comes to mind is of course the Canadian Goose…

    Like

    • Lyle Krahn says:

      No argument on the coolness of owls. They fascinate me all the time. Maybe we goofed and should have named the snowy owl the Canadian owl. Maybe it’s not too late …

      Like

  8. Phil Lanoue says:

    I agree with your owl caption, it’s gotta be a snowy that can make a loon sound. There’s your winner!

    Like

  9. donna213 says:

    I love the loon, but the word gives other connotations, so my vote is on the owl. After all, we have that fish stealing thief of an eagle. So no problems in the predatory nature of the owl. I am glad we did not get the turkey as as our symbol. Another word with connotation. Beautiful images of both birds in your post. I finally saw two critters we don’t have in NY here in Hawaii, but still nothing that can eat me.

    Like

    • Lyle Krahn says:

      I think lots of birds might have connotations even if they aren’t as obvious as the loon. I suppose it’s like baby names – a person gets used to just about anything after a while.

      I’m no expert on Hawaii but I think you might have to go in the water to find creatures that can eat you! By the way, I feel honoured that you are in Hawaii and commenting on my blog.

      Like

  10. Dalo 2013 says:

    Oh please make the Loon the national bird of Canada…not just for the fact that I love the loon, but it would make my arguments with my Canadian friends that much more interesting 🙂

    Like

  11. hannele says:

    I would suggest Macaroni penguin! Because I can!

    If you Canadians want a bird that actually exists in Canada, then the loon certainly looks more polite, and the ‘common’ part of its name is a bit more humble, perhaps? Incredibly beautiful birds, both of them!

    Like

  12. cconifer says:

    my initial instinct was the LOON. i love loons and i love their call and i’ve seen them both in the U.S. and Canada. the snowy owl is Gorgeous and i’ve never seen one and they fly at night, not an excellent symbol of canadians. i don’t know if i would call loons polite but they are rather good parents and since they hunt with sonar (or something sort of similar) it’s like they have magic powers. ‘course so do owls who can see in the dark and your photo of the owl is beautiful so why not have a day and a night bird to represent 24 hours a day of canada? (and as to the animal: aren’t polar bears disappearing? what happens to canada if it’s your symbol?!)

    Like

    • Lyle Krahn says:

      A day and a night bird is an interesting idea – a person could open this up and collect all the creatures we like to represent something. You are certainly correct about magical powers – the loon and the snowy owl cast quite the spell on me. As for the polar bears, they are amazingly resilient, so I am still hopeful.

      Like

  13. Mary says:

    Great post – the Snow Owl

    Like

  14. krikitarts says:

    Definitely the snowy owl. The common loon is the state bird of Minnesota, and though all Minnesotans are inherently at least as polite as Canadians, I wonder if that politeness would extend to sharing their feathered flagship symbol. Canada, on the other hand, has even more snow than Minnesota, so the owl is the obvious choice.

    Like

  15. Tim Timmis says:

    Great shots Lyle. Good job getting down low on the Loon. Both of these are on my bucket list. None around my neck of the woods near the Gulf of Mexico.

    Like

    • Lyle Krahn says:

      When special birds are relatively common, it’s easy for me to forget others haven’t seen them. Then again, I wish I could see some of birds you capture. By the way, your amazing low angle shots have inspired me to get lower and this time it actually worked.

      Like

  16. Stefano says:

    Two beautiful shots as always, Lyle, particularly that of the snowy owl.
    As to your question, to me it is a no brainer: snowy owl without hesitation. 🙂
    But now please don’t to shun it just because it is a predator, you polite Canadian! 😉 😉 😉

    Like

  17. Mike Powell says:

    Your spectacular shots of both birds make this a tough choice, but I think I would go with the loon. I love its pattern and coloration and I hope someday to hear its famous call.

    Like

  18. Suze says:

    I’d vote for the owl 🙂

    Like

  19. Lavinia Ross says:

    The Loon makes me think of wilder, northern places. My uncle was a cigar smoker, and smoked “White Owls”. I can’t look at a photo of a snowy owl without thinking of him, or cigars! He did love Canada though, and his ashes are buried up on PEI.

    Like

    • Lyle Krahn says:

      It’s interesting how powerful image memories can be and how long they can last.

      My favourite loon memory came after a long day of paddling through some pretty rough water after a weekend of camping. As the sun was setting, we paddled into the last set of lakes with the water like a sheet of glass. With the sky turning red, we were serenaded by loon calls from both sides of the lake. Absolutely pristine!

      Liked by 1 person

  20. Vicki says:

    I am forever hearing about the Loon (and seeing pics too) so I might suggest the Loon is an obvious choice. (as an opinion from this Aussie down under).

    By the way, that’s a stunning photo at the beginning of this post.

    Like

  21. Tuxedo Sophisticated Cat says:

    That would be a difficult decision for me. I LOVE the loons. It was our state bird in Minnesota and the call of the loon brings me back there. On the other hand, I LOVE the snowy owl. In fact, I like all owls. So this would be a draw for me.

    Like

    • Lyle Krahn says:

      It is a tough choice. They are both wonderful wild creatures with distinctive beauty and sounds. I love them both too. Wouldn’t it be something to get a photo of both in the same photo?

      Like

  22. sheketechad says:

    Gosh tough call from down south here, although terrific photos of both potentials. I thought perhaps the Snowy Owl was more ‘all yours’ than the stately Loon, but I see both dip down into the States. I still think the Snowy Owl – I just associate the Loon with Maine in mah head.

    Like

    • Lyle Krahn says:

      Yes the birds tend to ignore the artificial human borders – we may have to set up an international inquiry about that!! It’s interesting how memories of certain creatures affect our reactions to them. Glad you enjoyed the photos of both.

      Like

  23. Mandy says:

    Your education has me loving the call of the loon, but that Snowy Owl is spectacular. Australia’s national bird is the Emu – and it can’t even fly!

    Like

  24. Jeff | Planet Bell says:

    Full Disclosure: I’m American. I think you need to go with the Snowy Owl. Ben Franklin wanted the humble turkey for our national bird, we instead chose the scavenging bald eagle. I think you should also have a predator so we don’t look like jerks compared to you.

    Like

    • Lyle Krahn says:

      I find it fascinating that people’s choices of national birds tend to focus on either how they look or what they do. My bias happens to be for the former which typically puts the predators in play. The other side of your humorous comment is an amusing response I got on Facebook where someone said we shouldn’t have a bird that eats by other national birds!

      Like

  25. Stéphane Cassin Photographie says:

    Magnifique shoot!!!

    Like

  26. Jacey says:

    I vote for the loon, but only because it’s cuter than the snowy owl 🙂

    Like

  27. Seenorway says:

    What an extremely sharp picture! Taken at what actual distance?

    Like

  28. Steve Gingold says:

    AS much as I like the Snowy Owl, to me a loon speaks of the north more than any other bird. The sound of a loon carrying over the waters in a wilderness just says wild to me.

    Like

  29. Gunta says:

    Hard choice here. The loon is indeed regal and classy, but then would folks start thinking of Canadians as loony? Perhaps I’m leaning toward the Snowy. It’s so white and fluffy and cuddly looking. That might do for my thinking on Canadians. That’s coming from your neighbor down south here.

    Like

    • Lyle Krahn says:

      I’m not sure if you are aware that our one dollar coin has a loon on it and is always called a loonie – so we may have already passed that bridge! Your descriptions of both birds are spot on. Always good to hear from one of my favourite southern neighbours.

      Like

  30. Fritz Prugger says:

    They are both spectacular but I would opt for the loon, mainly because I have had more contact with them and they are spectacularly unique and beautiful.
    This opinion is coming from a Sakatonian who lives in Spain, where we have vultures and flamingoes. I’m not sure if there is an official bird here though…

    Like

  31. Anonymous says:

    You mean that we shouldn’t vote for the CANADA Goose?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Lyle Krahn says:

      Ha. You can happily vote for it. I think perhaps my familiarity has reduced my fondness – their honks are wonderful indications of fall and quite beautiful in the distance but rather annoying in closer quarters.

      Like

  32. Scott Marshall says:

    Loon – only because I have seen them when I illegally paddled in to Canada many moons ago. In fact Phil recently posted a Loon variant recently which had reignited my thoughts and now here are you posting. I think it is so regal and the colouring so classy. Your shot isn’t bad either Lyle 😉

    Like

    • Lyle Krahn says:

      That’s what I aim for – not too bad 😉

      Illegally crossing the border sounds like a fascinating story. I’ve never heard of anyone going to those lengths to see a loon! Regal and classy is a great description.

      Like

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