The Average Yank Divides Canadians into Two Classes—Wild and Tame

Toronto Star Weekly/October 9, 1920

Seeing ourselves as others see us is interesting but sometimes appalling. Remember the unexpected glimpse of your profile caught in one of those three-way mirrors at your tailor’s?

This refers to men and nations—women see full face, profile and their back hair at least every day and therefore are not appalled.

William Stevens McNutt, in a recent issue of Collier’s Weekly, told his version of what Canadians think of Americans.

Herein is the opinion and views of that average American, whom cub reporters delight to call the man in the street, on Canadians.

Just as a tip to budding journalists, there is no such thing as the man in the street in either the States or the Dominion. The phrase is French and is applicable enough there where nearly all human intercourse is carried on in or on the streets. But here the only time an American either north or south of the border is in the street is when he is busily going somewhere.

An average citizen should be called the man going hungry from the quick-lunch joint to the man standing in the streetcar or, even, the righteous man afraid of a policeman.

In the States the average unseated male in a public conveyance has a vague idea of Canada.

Canada is, for him, the North-West Mounted Police, winter sports, open snowy places replete with huskie dogs, Canadian whiskey, race reports from Windsor, the Woodbine and Blue Bonnets, and a firm and dominant passion that no one will slip him any Canadian silver.

He remembers that when Taft was president there was a big fuss about reciprocity—but he isn’t quite sure how it all came out. He is sure to have heard of Sir Wilfrid Laurier and may have heard of ex-Premier Borden but is apt to confuse him with the milk manufacturer. That covers his knowledge of Canadian politics.

Surprising as it may be to many Canadians, the average American is tremendously proud of Canada’s war record. An American who served with the Canadian forces, whether in the A.S.C. or originals, is a hero to his fellow countrymen.

A typical Canadian as pictured by the man in the pressed-while-you-wait shop in the States is of two types, wild and tame.

Wild Canadians mean Mackinaw blanket pants, fur caps, have rough bewhiskered but honest faces and are closely pursued by corporals of the Royal North-West Mounted Police.

Tame Canadians wear spats, small mustaches, are very intelligent looking, all have M.C.’s, and are politely bored.

Both wild and tame Canadians are in contrast with the average American man munching peanuts in the ballpark’s conception of the British.

All inhabitants of Great Britain are divided into three classes, to wit, sanguinary Englishmen, cricket players and lords.Sanguinary Englishmen are so considered because of their penchant for qualifying all remarks with the term sanguinary. They wear cloth caps and eat raw herrings.

Cricket players stalk in flannels through the best American fiction, and lords are dealt with by the comic supplements.

Then there is a type of Englishman created for American consumption by Mr. William Randolph Hearst, who is a combination of the Emperor Nero, the worst phases of the Corsican, George the Third, and whoever wouldn’t give the Bay three grains of corn.

Jesting aside, there is a lamentable lack of sympathetic understanding between Canada and the United States. It is a fact that Canada is a closed book to the average Yank, a book with a highly colored jacket by Robert W. Service.

Americans admire and respect Canadians. There is not the slightest trace of anti-Canadian sentiment anywhere in the States. And among the roughneck element there is a positive love for Canada.

But you know what the average Canadian roughneck thinks of a Yank.

Maybe when Hearst dies and the war is a longer way off and exchange gets back to normal and there is an exchange system between Canadian and American universities and Americans lower their voices and Canadians lower their pride, or say there was a good war and we both went in at the same time, maybe we’d be pals.

(Source: William White, ed. Ernest Hemingway: Dateline: Toronto. Simon and Schuster, 2002.)