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How To Be A Canadian [Paperback]

Will Ferguson
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (27 customer reviews)
List Price: CDN$ 19.95
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Book Description

June 1 2007

A new format for the little book that has become a Canadian cultural icon, still a best-seller six years after its first publication.

When Margaret Atwood suggested Will Ferguson follow up his runaway best-seller Why I Hate Canadians with a "tongue-in-cheek guidebook for newcomers on how to be Canadian," Will thought it was a swell idea, and he quickly recruited his brother, comedy writer Ian Ferguson, creator and executive producer of the television series Sin City. Together, the Ferguson brothers have created the ultimate guide to Canadian cultural quirks.

This is a hilarious inside look at that unique species, the Canadian, and their thoughts on such diverse subjects as beer, sex, dating rituals, sports, politics, religion -- and, of course, their trademark death-defying search for the middle of any road. Over 200,000 copies of this guide have been sold north of the 49th parallel.

Frequently Bought Together

How To Be A Canadian + Why I Hate Canadians + Canadian History for Dummies
Price For All Three: CDN$ 43.80

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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 out of print or unavailable edition of this title.


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

Most helpful customer reviews
29 of 31 people found the following review helpful
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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25 of 27 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars My Canadian Bible Sept. 14 2002
By Janet
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
5.0 out of 5 stars The best Ferguson book yet! March 9 2003
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
5.0 out of 5 stars So True! April 28 2004
By A Customer
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
5.0 out of 5 stars So funny, so true, so...CANADIAN March 22 2003
By A Customer
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
5.0 out of 5 stars The hoser's guide to being Canadian, eh? Jan. 23 2003
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 (Amazon.ca didn't exist then...sorry guys, I'm now a loyal Amazon.ca 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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Most recent customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars quick and decent
I appreciated the fast shipping. I was very smooth and enjoyable purchasing! I highly recommend it as a dependable online dealer.
Published on Nov. 22 2011 by lesi
1.0 out of 5 stars Trash
There are many Canadian comedians... and these two are not.

This was poorly written. The more I read the more outlandish is got. Read more
Published on Nov. 7 2010 by Jeebs
3.0 out of 5 stars Non-serious but slightly pretentious.
The book is humourous and did provide me with a few giggles. However, the annoying part of it was that it held too many 'in jokes' that required say, a Canadian background to... Read more
Published on May 26 2010 by Cecile Nguyen
4.0 out of 5 stars Entertaining.
This book is very entertaining. If you are looking for more distinctly Canadian humour look to Beaver Tales and a Canada Goosing (see ArtisanPacificPublishing Website)Beaver Tales... Read more
Published on May 19 2010 by Reign Chelsin
5.0 out of 5 stars Hilarious
This was a delightful read. "How to Be A Canadian" is the perfect book to take with you while on holiday or vacation. It is the kind of book you will read more than once. Read more
Published on Nov. 26 2009 by PEI Librarian
5.0 out of 5 stars Laugh 'till it hurts
I am about halfway through this book and it is one of the top funniest books I've read. I love Will Ferguson, so having the tag-team comedy duo of Will AND Ian Ferguson is a... Read more
Published on July 3 2007 by Lauren Martin
4.0 out of 5 stars A book that will make you laugh, but not one you willl learn a lot...
"How to be a Canadian", written by Will and Ian Ferguson (both Canadian), is a short book that aims at making you laugh by making fun of some stereotypes regarding Canada and... Read more
Published on March 16 2007 by M. B. Alcat
4.0 out of 5 stars great book
This is a great funny book its hard not to laugh at our selfs
for some of the stupied things we do. Read more
Published on April 25 2006 by Kirk M. Carr
5.0 out of 5 stars Hilarious book on Canadian life and culture
Whether or not you are Canadian, or have even been there, this book is funny. Nothing is safe from the Ferguson brothers. Read more
Published on Jan. 19 2006 by C. Hill
5.0 out of 5 stars Can you make love in a canoe?
If you can, then this book's not for you! Wil Furguson's book is a tongue-in-cheek preview of what to expect in each province. Read more
Published on Jan. 4 2006 by Cielledee
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