The Maple Leaf, Salmon and Beer: Canadians Assess What is Quintessentially Canadian

June 28, 2012

The Maple Leaf, Salmon and Beer: Canadians Assess What is Quintessentially Canadian

Thursday June 28, 2012—Toronto, ON— As Canadians prepare to celebrate Canada Day, a new Ipsos Reid poll commissioned by The Historica-Dominion Institute reveals that characteristically modest Canadians aren’t so shy about showing their pride: 31% fly a flag at school or work year-round; 77% would encourage other Canadians to be more patriotic; 74% think that displaying the flag and patriotism any way is OK—including on underwear (60%); and a surprising 19% (and a whopping 40% of Canadians 55 and under) would consider getting a tattoo of the flag on their body. In addition, a majority believe that Canada has a better flag, anthem and political system than other countries such as the USA, Great Britain, France and Germany.


"We tend to think of Canadians as modest in demonstrating patriotism," said Jeremy Diamond, Director at The Historica-Dominion Institute. "We’re thrilled to see that in fact, Canadians are ready to show their pride in all kinds of ways, both traditional and non-traditional and that we have a national symbol so definingthat Canadians overwhelming choose to display it in their spaces, on their clothes and even on their bodies."


Canadians, however, do appear to be reassessing some of the traditional symbols of Canada as the maple leaf, salmon and beer rise to the top of the list as the symbol, food and beverage that are quintessentially Canadian Interestingly, differences vary greatly based on age. Canadians aged 55 and older are more likely to choose some of the traditional symbols, such as the beaver (13%), compared to those aged 18 to 34 (4%). Also informing a shift, only a slim majority (55%) of Canadians believe that the Queen should be displayed on Canadian currency, stamps or in public places while almost half (45%) believe that the Queen should not be displayed in any of these ways.


Other findings include:


  • 59% of Canadians would choose the tried and true Maple Leaf as Canada’s national symbol, far over the beaver (9%), polar bear (7%). 
  • Nearly half (48%) of Canadians would make Pacific or Atlantic salmon Canada’s national food.
  • 21% chose poutine as Canada’s national food, including 40% of younger Canadians
  • 42% chose beer as Canada’s national drink, while one quarter (23%) would choose ice wine.
  • Nearly half (47%) believe the Queen should appear on Canadian currency. 
  • Seven in ten (69%) correctly indicated that Sir John A Macdonald is on Canadian money, while six in ten (58%) knew that Wilfrid Laurier is.
  • Just 44% believe that Mackenzie King is on Canadian currency while 8% erroneously believe that Pierre Trudeau is.
  • Surprisingly, two in ten (20%) didn’t think that any listed Prime Ministers appeared on currency.
  • Canadians are actually more familiar with who is on certain denominations of American currency than their own: 74% correctly identified that George Washington is on the American paper note, and seven in ten (70%) knew that Abraham Lincoln is also on a bill. 
  • Two in ten (19%) Canadians say they would ‘consider getting a tattoo of a Canadian flag – including 36% of those in Saskatchewan and Manitoba, and 25% of Canadians 55 or younger.
  • Three-quarters (74%) of Canadians think that ‘displaying the flag and Canadian patriotism in any way possible is appropriate’.


The Historica-Dominion Institute is the largest independent organization dedicated to history and citizenship in Canada. Its mandate is to build active and informed citizens through a greater knowledge and appreciation of the history, heritage and stories of Canada. To view the factum, click here.



For more information:

Davida Aronovitch

Communications Manager