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How to Be a Canadian: Even If You Already Are One Paperback – Jun 1 2007

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Douglas & McIntyre; 2 edition (June 1 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1553653114
  • ISBN-13: 978-1553653110
  • Product Dimensions: 1.9 x 12.7 x 19.7 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 408 g
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (28 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #7,754 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product Description

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How to be a Canadian. Don't worry: here, the phrase is not punctuated by the usual soul-searching question mark. Instead, the Ferguson brothers boldly assert that, since they have both been Canadian their whole lives, they are uniquely qualified to dissect Canadian society. Besides, Margaret Atwood told them to do this book, but that's another story.

As a guidebook, How to Be a Canadian contains "a wealth of information gathered from fact-filled articles that [the authors] sort of remember reading somewhere," but frankly, the facts are there as a framework for a wicked sense of humour. The jokes, which fill every page, are sometimes juvenile: "There are 30,000,000 people in Canada-- all of whom have, at some point, frozen their tongues to the side of a flagpole." They are sometimes pointedly amusing: "Often, when the UN needs a cereal box translated, they call in the Canadians, who parachute out of stealth bombers clutching boxes of Capitaine Crounche." And they are often laugh-out-loud, fall-out-of-bed funny: "There is the assumption that Canada has only two seasons: Winter and Not Winter...In fact, Canada has no fewer than six distinct seasons: Tax; Hockey; More Hockey; Still More Hockey; Summer (also known as the July Long Weekend); and finally Good God, Isn't the Hockey Season Over by Now?!"

Will and Ian Ferguson divide their guidebook into such useful sections as How to Find Canada on a Map; Canada: A Rich Tapestry (Who to Hate and Why); and my personal favourite, Twelve Ways to Say "I'm Sorry." Nothing defines the national character more than our "sorry," especially vis-a-vis the Americans. As the authors point out, "once you learn how to properly say 'I'm sorry,' you will no longer be trying to become Canadian, you will have rewired your brain to such a degree that you will actually be Canadian." For a true Canadian, the opportunities for saying "I'm sorry" are endless, but there is one uniquely Canadian "sorry": the one you use when someone else steps on your foot.

The book concludes with a quiz designed to evaluate your level of Canadianness. For example, if you hear the name "Elvis" and think of figure skating, you get 1 point. If you can't remember if you've ever curled or not, because of how drunk you were, you get 50 points. If you know the words to "Barrett's Privateers" but not the national anthem, you get 10 points. And so on. The perfect score is zero points; I'll let the Fergusons explain why: "So, you couldn't even be bothered to do the damn quiz. Too much effort, eh? You just skipped to the end. Talk about slack. Talk about lazy. Talk about Canadian! Congratulations. You are now one of us." --Marven Krug --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.


A hilarious exploration of what it means to be Canadian. The Ferguson brothers let no foible sneak past their wit. -- Airlines Magazine

The book should be mandatory reading material for new and old Canadians alike. -- Calgary Straight

This book is a reminder of what Canadians do best: make ourselves (and others) laugh. Bring on some more Ferguson brothers. -- The Globe and Mail

Will and Ian are very funny and very Canadian, and yes, these two

categories overlap beautifully. -- Douglas Coupland

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Customer Reviews

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29 of 31 people found the following review helpful By Steve H. MacDowall on June 30 2002
Format: Paperback
You must be able to honestly look at our Canadianism, with an open mind, and a quirky, humorous attitude to peruse this book. If you think Canadian's are, just perfect, do not even open this book, as it will just upset you.
However, if like me, you love to revel in our differences, and laugh at our little idiosyncrasies, you will enjoy this, sometimes subtle, and sometimes very, in your face mock at the Canadian species.
Brothers Will and Ian Ferguson somehow get away with saying the most outrages things...
"If Canadians were porridge, Goldilocks would find us just right" In describing Canada's newest northern territory, Nunavut ..... "the world's most expensive guilt trip"
They describe the official emblem of Vancouver as an umbrella turned inside out. With an activist chained to it. Drinking a latte.
They give equal opportunity in their ridicule to all parts of the country.
They offer the "Twelve Ways to Say I'm Sorry"
The Ferguson Brothers, both comedy writers of other venues, have joined together to create this very funny, impertinent account of the Canadian life way. And it's good.
Steve MacDowall
Thursday File
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26 of 28 people found the following review helpful By Janet on Sept. 14 2002
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book is absolutely incredible. I received it for Christmas last year, and just could not put it down. The Ferguson brothers are astute and insightful, and do it all with such sarcasm and wit that you're left laughing out loud - even if you are a little embarrassed. I've advised all of my Canadian friends - and my expatriates as well - to purchase a copy of this book. It's "smart funny", poking fun at everything from "Create Your Own Bryan Adams Song" to "How The Government Works." That one, by the way, is a one page chapter. The chapter giving details on every province is a hoot - they obviously did their homework on this one. What can I say? The book has been sold out at nearly every store I have visited - get your hands on it!
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful By J.J. McCullough on March 9 2003
Format: Paperback
This is truly one of the best books ever written about Canada.
Forget the pretentious pontifications of Pierre Burton and Margaret Atwood, this book tells the real story of Canadian society in hilariously frank language.
Will Fergusons really has a talent for writing hilarious, iconoclastic Canadian literature. "Bastards and Boneheads" was clever, "Why I hate Canadians" was funny, yet rambling, but "How to Be Canadian" is truly hits the mark.
The book is written in a very fast-paced, self-referencing, Dave Barry-eque style, with footnotes, script-style conversations, and hilarious chapter titles. Unlike some of the other Ferguson works, this is a book that is 100% humor, and contains no hidden morals or agendas. It's giant in-joke that only true Canadians can get.
I think one of the best parts was the province-by-province synopsis, especially his description of Prince Edward Island as a repressive police state unwillingly subjected to the massive personality cult of Anne of Green Gables. His ill-fated attempt to describe Canadian sex is similarly hilarious.
This is a book that all Canadians should read.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on April 28 2004
Format: Paperback
I thought this book was wildly entertaining and hilarious. It may poke some fun at canadian things, but they are so true and you can't deny it. I recommend it to anyone who wants a light and VERY funny all CANADIAN book! Enjoy!
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on March 22 2003
Format: Paperback
This book is so witty. Very funny. I laugh out loud reading it. It covers all aspects of Canadian culture, landscape and people. Excellent!
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Bundt Lust on Jan. 23 2003
Format: Paperback
I first heard about "How To Be A Canadian" on CBC's "Basic Black," in which Arthur Black interviewed the Ferguson brothers (Will and Ian) and they read some of the best parts of the book out loud. What can I say...I was hooked and rushed out to buy a copy at Chapters ( didn't exist then...sorry guys, I'm now a loyal customer!). "HTBAC" reads fairly quickly, but it is an immensely enjoyable read, and explosively funny in spots (don't read this at work if you don't want coworkers giving you looks of sympathy after your random hyena laughter).
"How To Be A Canadian" conveniently packages our national heroes, cuisine, regional differences, literary endeavours, phobias, and odd social customs into a laugh-out-loud tome that is the literary equivalent of Timbits: tasty, bite-sized chapters on "Who To Hate and Why," "How To Waste Time Like A Canadian," "Mating Rituals," "Art and Stuff," "Progressive Conservatives, Responsible Government and Other Oxymorons," and "Twelve Ways To Say You're Sorry," along with how to insult Canadians, the official Canadian haircut and dress code (mullet, plaid shirt, skidoo boots with fake buckles), provincial "fact sheets" (Ontario: "Gaze Upon our Humble Magnificence and Bow Down Before Us!" Formal name: The Centre of the Universe. Provincial motto: "Celebrating over 100 years of narcissistic self-absorption") and more. To top it off the Ferguson brothers have written a clever little quiz at the end to test your Canadian knowledge (If you hear the name "Elvis" and immediately think of figure skating, give yourself one point. If you still don't know what the capital of New Brunswick is, give yourself 10 points. If you can't remember if you curled or not, because of how drunk you were: 50 points) You get the idea.
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