It is a stereotype that Canadians are among the friendliest and politest people on the planet. But, as a stereotype, that tends to put everything into a one-size-fits-all category. The truth of the matter is that Canadians ARE some of the friendliest and politest people around, bar none. Funny, too. Great music also. I could go on.
It’s almost as if it’s a law that they dare not break or even bend. One will see and experience this on a day-to-day basis just in visiting stores and offices even government ones! But, it is also manifested in a way different from any other I’ve experienced. Now, this becomes a chicken or an egg issue. (No, not the political football being tossed around currently.) Which came first?
What I’m referring to is the highway system – specifically the TCH or Trans-Canada Highway. In Newfoundland, (I can’t speak to other provinces on this issue as not having visited in many years), the THC crosses the entire island and driving it is at a comfortable 110 kph or about 65 miles per hour. People do speed on it and risk being pulled over by the RCMP – but they will be accosted politely.
In the course of photographing for this book, I’d spend many hours and many more miles on the TCH. It is largely a two lane highway, one way; each way – unless there is room for a passing lane. And that is just what it is – a passing lane. Used for passing and passing only unlike here in the US where the passing lane is considered a through lane. Drivers actually use it to pass and then they almost immediately move over. They do not hog the lane. They do not speed up to prevent you from passing them. Hell, if you want to pass them at higher speed (and risk hitting a moose), why go ahead, after you, please, we insist. They’re serious about this politeness, even on the highways. It’s…refreshing.
So, we can count friendly, musically-inclined, funny, AND polite driving as typical Canadian traits. And if Canadians are some the friendliest, etc., then Newfoundlanders take it even further. There is something to be learned from this.