This morning on the CBC radio show Q, there was a segment on a new project meant to help redesign the image of Canada for Americans and vice versa. They played a clip that had various New Yorkers answering two simple questions about Canada:

1. What is the capital of Canada?

2. Who is your favourite Canadian?

The results are not that shocking (it’s a known fact that many Americans know nothing about Canada), but are nevertheless quite sad.

My very favourite is the answer given by the man in a graduation cap and gown: “Is there a national capital?”

To quote my favourite catch-phrase on Arrested Development: COME ON!

You just know that if the tables were turned and those two questions were asked of Canadians about America, we would probably ace the test. (Answers: Washington D.C. and Thomas Edison. We’d all still be sitting in the dark if it weren’t for him.)

So why is it that Americans know so little about Canada? I’m not talking all Americans, I am aware that there are many who do know things about Canada. It’s just that an overwhelming majority don’t seem to know or even care.

This project is interesting to me because it’s not just about rebranding Canada for Americans, but it’s also about rebranding America for Canadians. Sure, we could probably get 100% on that two question quiz, but we Canadians are also at fault for thinking of Americans in the same stereotypical way that they think about us. (No, we don’t all eat maple syrup and no, not all Americans carry a gun.)

The website for the project is here:

What would be your 6 word slogan to give Canada a fresh identity?