Do Canadians Ever Honk?


Last Thursday I was on vacation in Vancouver with my parents and husband. We spent the day in Stanley Park and then rested in my parent’s hotel before going out to dinner. We planned to eat in downtown Vancouver, which meant crossing the Lion’s Gate Bridge.

We got on the road and the traffic was bad. We were stopped at a light waiting to cross over to the bridge for the longest time. I watched again and again as the light turned green and we either didn’t move at all or only moved a few feet because cars were blocking the intersection.

My parents and I began discussing if we should just give up going downtown and eat somewhere else instead. My husband, however; had his heart set on going to the restaurant he picked out. So we continued to wait.

The traffic was so horrendous that it took us 50 minutes to get to a restaurant that should have taken us 13 minutes to get to. Despite this, no one in the traffic jam honked their horns. I didn’t hear a single honk.

This floored me. In a similar situation in Boston, where my husband is from, there would have been a honk fest along with fists in the air and shouting of obscenities. Even in California, where my husband and I now live, there would have been honking.

When I shared this observation with my husband and parents, my mom remarked, “Canadians are known for being polite.”

This made me wonder, is “politeness” why there’s less violent crime in Canada? I don’t know the answer to this, but I have to admit that I appreciated the politeness on the road. It was bad enough being stuck in traffic, but if people had been angry and honking their horns it would have been much worse.

Photo courtesy of Flicker.

About celestedimilla

Hey there. I’m Celeste, California girl, writer, psychotherapist and burgeoning plant-based foodie.
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31 Responses to Do Canadians Ever Honk?

  1. Mike Lince says:

    Interesting. I don’t hear a lot of horn honking here in Scotland either. When I do it is usually a driver trying to get the attention of someone he knows just to say “Hi.” Such a pleasant change from Latin America where honking was a language of its own.

    • I’ve never really thought about it before, but now I’m curious about this honking thing. Why are honking habits so different in different cultures, and what does it mean? Anyway, thanks for your comment Mike and I’m glad you’re enjoying Scotland and it’s honking habits. Celeste 🙂

  2. I remember being stuck in traffic in Vancouver…it’s horrible traffic. I didn’t pay attention to the honking part since my 8 months old was way too loud in the car and kept crying whenever the car stopped in traffic so I was cursing the traffic whole time ;).

    • I think having a crying child inside the car is even worse than having honking outside the car. That doesn’t sound like it was fun at all!! Thanks for sharing. Celeste 🙂

  3. natarunmore says:

    I’m from the other end of Canada (southern Ontario) and it’s the same here. When I worked full time I sat in horrible traffic everyday on my way to and from work, and I would rarely hear honking. Only if someone really cuts you off, or isn’t moving when the light turns green.. you MAY hear it. It’s probably been a year since I’ve honked haha. I never really noticed how rarely we honk until you mentioned it. BUT I’ll honk to being vegan anytime 🙂
    Hope you had a good time in Vancouver!!

    • Wow, that’s wonderful!! I used to commute 45 minutes each way to go to work when my husband and I lived in San Diego. It was horrible! I felt like I was putting my life on the line everyday with the fast and crazy driving out there (there was lots of honking too!). I was always stressed out before I even started my work day.

      I’m so glad that you’re a honking vegan, and I know that lots of other Canadians are honking vegans too. They have lots of yummy vegan restaurants that I’ll be sharing about soon. I guess Canadians honk for all the right reasons. Celeste 🙂

  4. bloomlisa says:

    At least you were slightly appeased from the awful traffic by our polite nature. I used to live in Manhattan and the rules of the road there took me by surprise to say the least….Sorry I missed you but I hope Vancouver proved to be a delicious pit stop on your journey! Hugs, Lisa

  5. I love this Celeste! As a Canadian girl, I can attest to the fact that we Canucks are generally a very polite bunch. This ends up being the butt of a lot of jokes since we don’t always speak up and/or speak our minds enough and can be seen as a nation of push-overs. However, I am personally proud of my Canadian roots – even if I won’t be honking about it ; )

    • Hey Lori! I’d be proud of being Canadian too! From what I’ve seen of Canada, it’s beautiful, clean and the people are friendly and lovely. And I don’t think there is anything wrong with being polite – maybe there would be less wars if more nations were like that. Celeste 🙂

  6. sophiazerg says:

    Oh, I love this post! Well, I’ll tell you which Canadians DO honk – Quebecers! Montreal is notorious for jay-walkers, aggressive drivers, and lots of honking. Although I had to think about it for a second, I turned to my husband, and he said ‘yeah, for sure, we honk a lot’. Haha! Driving is pretty much a nightmare here for Americans or Canadians from other parts. Hope you loved BC!
    Sophia 🙂

    • Hey Sophia! So you mean all Canadians aren’t polite? Now you’ve ruined my Canadian stereotype – ha!! With all that stressful traffic, it’s no wonder you took up yoga girlfriend. Celeste 🙂

      • sophiazerg says:

        We’re french, we’re different! LOL
        I only started driving 5 years ago, the easiest way to get around is public transportation! And ironically enough, I did take up yoga 5 years ago as well!
        Sophia 🙂

    • Yea, I figured it was the French influence. Anyway, maybe the yoga was a subconscious need – who knows!! Celeste 🙂

  7. Anna says:

    No idea why honking is not added to the life in Canada, but all those beautiful parks might chill out people… Wonderful vacation you just had.

  8. lizziefit says:

    This is true! I live in New Brunswick and people think its pretty rude to just honk for nothing. Honking won’t make anyone move anything move any faster, right? Not that I don’t curse under my breath in traffic sometimes but I would never contribute to a bunch of useless noise 😉

  9. elle says:

    Haha this is so funny =P
    I grew up in a smaller town and Vancouver’s the only big city I’ve ever lived in, so I always kind of felt like they honked a lot. Now I’m curious to visit Boston!
    By the way, do you remember the name of the restaurant that you went to? I’m always looking for more vegan-friendly restaurants in Van.

    • If you think people honk a lot in Vancouver, then you’ll be blown away in Boston. Drivers just seem to be so angry there that you can sense the tension. I won’t even drive there – it makes me too nervous!

      As far as the restaurant we went to, oh girl – you don’t want to go there! I’ll be writing about it soon under the heading of restaurants in Victoria and Vancouver to avoid. It was an Ethiopian place called Afro Canadian that got great reviews on Yelp. When I saw the place, however; I had the feeling we’d made a mistake because looked rundown. When we walked inside and I saw how filthy it was I wanted to leave, but the owner had already come out to greet us, so leaving would have been rude. The food was actually okay, but I felt uncomfortable eating it because I wondered how sanitary the kitchen was. I’ll write more about it in my review. Thanks so much for your comment! Celeste 🙂

      • elle says:

        Oh okay haha, thanks for the heads up! I’m looking forward to that post on restaurants to avoid – sounds really useful!! I’ve actually never gotten to try African food yet. I’ve always been curious, but there’s only one place I know of downtown called “Simba’s”, but I’ve checked out the menu and it’s unfortunately almost nothing but meat.

    • Oh my gosh, if you ever get to San Diego you’ve got to go to Muzita Bistro. It’s Ethiopian food and it’s amazing. It’s one of my favorite restaurants. Celeste 🙂

  10. ediblevie says:

    haha!! Oh my god — not honking is my biggest pet peeve! Especially if a driver does something completely ridiculous!! but yah for the most part – canadians’ don’t honk. I enjoy an “assertive honk” every now and then if the person deserves it… hahaha. We are too polite, way too polite in some instances, always apologizing for no real reason i.e. if someone is in the way, instead of just saying “excuse me” it’s usually goes as “oh I’m sorry, excuse me”… it’s just our culture I suppose. I enjoy the stereotype – being Canadian has gotten me many extra perks while travelling abroad 😉

    • Hey Kasia! Maybe I belong in Canada, because I can totally see myself over apologizing if I bump into someone – haha! But I don’t like cold weather, so where is a country where people are polite that also has lots of sunny weather? Hmmmm…maybe I’ll just stay in SoCal! Celeste 🙂

      • ediblevie says:

        Yah the weather in Cali rules!! I agree! I think the **closest** place that has similar weather would be Vancouver/ Victoria because “winter” is still in the mid-teens (celsius not fahrenheit!). Maybe you can be a reverse snowbird and come up north during the summer! haha! Except you are much younger than what I consider to be a snowbird – so maybe in a while! 🙂

    • I did really love Victoria, so maybe that would be fun. But, like you say, I’m not quite ready to be a snowbird (or reverse snowbird) yet!! Thanks so much for your comments girlfriend – I always love hearing from you! Celeste 🙂

  11. gratefulvegan812 says:

    Hi, Celeste. I would enjoy a place where people don’t honk (unless it’s a safety thing).
    One thing that jumped out at me, though. If Canadians are such polite drivers, what are they doing blocking up the intersection so others can’t get through? That drives me crazy:) Also, I guess if your blog were read a lot by Canadians, you’d have to change the name. Kind of long, but how about Cheers, Celeste!

    • Haha – I love that Canadian inspired name for my blog! Too funny!

      And you’re right – blocking the intersection isn’t polite. I suppose I blocked this out of my brain while we were in traffic because we were so far back that I couldn’t actually see the cars blocking the intersection for most of the time we were stuck. Out of site, out of mind. Celeste 🙂

  12. Lorrie Wenzler says:

    That was a long commute to get to the Ethiopian restaurant and it was nice that no one honked as we waited through 4 to 5 lights. So you won’t give the restaurant 5 honks. None of us got sick.

    • Welcome home Mom! I hope the remainder of your vacation was nice. And yes, that was a long commute. And for what? I could have done without eating at that restaurant. Oh well, Paul tried. Celeste 🙂

  13. Pingback: How Not to Pick a Restaurant | Honk If You're Vegan

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