Recent research by UCLA has revealed that the vast majority of Americans are mystified and puzzled by claims that a large, independent country known as Canada exists just a few miles away from some major American cities. The survey, which was administered to 5000 Americans in June, revealed that fully 84% of Americans answered "You're kidding" when told that cities like Cleveland, Detroit, and Buffalo were less than one-hundred miles away from the separate, essentially defenseless nation.
Those Americans who do have an awareness of Canada have strikingly similar views on the country. An open-ended question asking for impressions of Canadians returned 313 instances of the word "soft," 246 responses of "vulnerable," and 156 answers of "pale." Nonetheless, 10% of Americans did report having cross-border dating experience or knowledge of others with such experience. For instance, an 18 year-old man from Wichita reported "My cousin dated this girl from Canada once. You wouldn't know her. She was seriously screwed up in the head. He said she was really easy."
Americans also seem to hold fairly consistent views of life inside Canada. When asked to select the best descriptor of Canadian fashion, 67% chose "outdated" while only 10% chose "modern day." A stunning 347 respondents penciled in the word "flannel" in response to the question. Furthermore, when asked to identify the country's most popular food, 73% of those respondents aware of the country chose "pancakes" while 57%, the next largest grouping, selected "syrup."
"Clearly, those Americans who know about Canada think of it as a backwater country where everyone's a lumberjack and all they do is sit around and eat breakfast foods," said Josh Depree, a graduate student in Canadian Studies at the University of South Florida. "These folks are missing out on the fact that Canada is basically a modern country with OK food and some decent chicks. I think it's basically strip malls," he added.
The research also revealed additional shortcomings in the average American command of geography. For example, 62% of respondents could not pick the real countries out of a list that included the choices Lithuania, Batcavia, Ooboo Leh, Mandingo and Thailand. In fact, more respondents identified "Mandingo" as a country than "Thailand." Even more striking, 36% of Americans were unaware of the existence of the state of Minnesota.
However, Department of Education officials were not surprised by the research findings. Ned Smith, spokesman for the department, said, "I mean honestly, what's the point? Americans know about the countries that matter, like Iraq and China. If they have nothing for us to buy and aren't a threat, who cares if they exist?"