I’m proud to be so average.
A common, dime-a-dozen, typical, wait patiently in line Canadian.
From where I buy my morning coffee to the regions where I produced my children to the snow shovel by my front door, it’s all as commonplace as the queen’s head on our money.
It’s in the opinions about homegrown television shows before I even turn them on, the fact my bones feel the cold deeper with each winter, and what of my habit of saying ‘sorry, can I get…’ before I ask anyone for just about anything?
I’ve unhappily trudged through Atwood and Laurence in public school like so many other Canadians and beam like a cub scout with a new badge, every time my passport gets stamped.
I still feel the loss of John Candy when I see him in an old movie.
I pretend to fully understand why I should care about the senate.
If you ask, I’ll publicly agree that Nickelback sucks — though they remain on my Ipod.
I eat Smarties out of my kid’s Halloween bags.
I’ve daydreamed of being a professional goalie — and I don’t even watch hockey, which takes away two Canadian points right there.
I‘ve run outside in my boxers — under the cover of winter darkness — just to preheat the car.
I know what we have here, and am thankful for it.
So I must, I long ago decided, be typically Canadian.
But it turns out I may not be average at all.
And the common profile of a Canadian isn’t me at all.
Recently, National Geographic unveiled the most typical person on the planet — a 28-year-old Han Chinese male. There are more of him on Earth than anyone else.
Against his profile, QMI Agency set out to construct the most ordinary Canadian.
We dug into Statistics Canada data — some, admittedly a few years old — as well as pulled national polls, called up research, and made some educated guesses. Right-handed seemed safe.
We even put a call out to citizens of other nations, to view the quintessential Canuck.
“A liberal people who value freedom, reward for effort and the pursuit of happiness,” said one Australian respondent, 54-year-old mother of two and business administrator Jane Gibbs.
We took the compliment with awkward shyness, then went further, culling the opinions of academics — assuring them this was more social than science.
We crayoned in white space with recent consumer data and debated whether you should still be classified as married if you’re separated — Statistics Canada says you’re then single.
We madly began to put the pieces together with bolts, prairie lightening and maple syrup and came up with a 39-year-old woman with the qualities you see attached to this article.
But no one we know fully recognized her, but it’s as close as anyone may come.
There’s a new Canadian — on average — born every minute and 22 seconds, Statistics Canada tells us, with expert Hubert Denis cautioning: “It is an average — it does not mean that it is happening in reality.
“Reality is by far more irregular than that.”
Using the same figuring, a new immigrant sets foot in this country about every minute and 55 seconds.
By July 1, there will be — give or take a few people missing their cues — 34,501,798 of us all living in this country.
So we’re not convinced the average is all that typical.
That it isn’t shifting across our brow almost daily.
There are regional consistencies, but no one we know can look at one face and say for sure: “That’s an average Canadian.”
It may have been easier, says pollster Dave Scholz, a half decade ago.
And what’s on our inside may be just what’s morphing our outside.
The Leger Marketing executive VP says of our national pride in being an accepting society: “That alone is what’s changing our profile.”
So it’s likely pointless to lament that I can no longer claim to be so typically Canadian — likely becoming less ordinary every day.
After all, it seems like we all now share that one common trait.
INSIDE LOOK AT THE AVERAGE CANADIAN
• The average Canadian is female.
• Median age — which means one half of the population is older and the other half younger — is 39.5-years-old.
• Their last name could well be ‘Li’, ‘Smith’, ‘Lam’ or ‘Martin’. While Statistics Canada does not release surnames, one study found these to be the most common names in a countrywide telephone directory.
• Mother tongue is English, reports Stats Canada.
• They were born in Canada.
• Family traces back ancestry to immigrants – three generations or earlier.
• Drives to work.
• Believes they’re in good physical and mental health.
• Has likely lived in the same house for the past five years.
• Has a sense of belonging to a community.
• Is satisfied or very satisfied with their life.
• Has seen a doctor in the last year.
• There’s almost a 62% chance the typical Canadian lives in Central Canada (Ontario and Quebec).
• There’s about a 6.7% chance they go about their days on the East Coast.
• But then, there’s a 31% chance they are proud to call Western Canada (Alberta, Manitoba or Saskatchewan) home.
• And only a .3% shot they have settled in the Territories.
• They most likely work in retail or sales.
• She waits until 28 to marry.
• Is right handed.
• Our average Canadian follows a religion, or at least lists an affiliation when asked.
• Likes chocolate. And maybe feels slightly guilty about that.
• Drinks coffee daily. Most often in the morning.
• The average Canadian has a retirement income plan.
• Wishes they could change a part of their body. But likely isn’t going under the knife for it.
• Doesn’t care all that much for the royal family.
• Owns a computer and cell phone.
• Suffers from gingivitis.
• Believes — a Leger Marketing survey found late last year — that technology will solve the challenges of the Alberta oilsands.
• Is not prepared – according to another Leger survey — to take care of their sick relatives or aging parents.
• Disagreed with the banning earlier this year of Dire Straits song Money for Nothing from Canadian radio airwaves.
• Number of credit cards our typical Canadian owns? About three.
• She consumes 5g of salt every day.
• Doesn’t eat enough fruits and vegetables.
• Gains, according to the latest Sexual Well Being Global Survey, some more carnal knowledge at least weekly.
• Have had (for females) 10 sex partners. Average Canadian males report 23 partners, far above typical American men who report 13.
• Can expect to live to 80.7 years, says Stats Canada — up slightly from 79 years in 1999. That’s 78.3 years for men and 83 for women,
• Likely mispronounces ‘et cetera’ and ‘February’.
• If they say they like a provincial politician, it’s probably Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall they’re talking about.
• Likely doesn’t have a university degree — though almost a quarter of Canadian adults do.
• Has savings put aside.
• If has a child, will most likely to name it ‘Emma’ or ‘Ethan’.
• Though our Canadian is carrying too much weight, they are not medically obese — but 24.1% of their neighbors are.
• Some bad news though. Our average Canadian will likely die of cancer over any other single cause — though heart disease is a close second.
• Their typical meal takes a 2,400 km trip from farm to plate.
• According to a recent study by the Vanier Institute, our average Canadian’s family owes $100,000 in debt.
• Every $1,000 in after-tax income that they earn, they owe $1,500.
• They’re worth about $174,300.
• Our average citizen watches 25,000 commercials annually.
• The Canadian Health Measures Survey has found our average Canadian woman (aged 20 to 39) can not complete a full set of 25 curl-ups — a classic gym class task — while 55% of Canadian men of that age can do the exercise.
• Our model Canadian thinks they’re taller than they really are — by an average of 1 cm for men and .5 cm for women.
• They believe UFOs could be connected to alien visitors.
• Their average weight (in 2009) was 75.27 kg, including both sexes and 83.41 for men and 67.08 for females.
• She doesn’t smoke.
• Isn’t a heavy drinker.
• Doesn’t use a bike helmet.
• The average Canadian makes $42,988 each year.
• A January study by the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives found the country’s best-paid CEO’s made 155 times more than our average Canadian.
• But our typical Canadian will still give around $1,300 to charitable causes this year – if you spread the donations around to every one.
• She expects to retire at 68 — pushed back three years because of economic reality.
• Our Canuck uses social media to talk with family and friends about things like holiday pictures and how crazy Charlie Sheen was today.
• She spent 43.5 hours online every month during the final quarter of last year, comScore’s Canada Digital Year in Review has found.
• They log on more than 95 times a month.
• The majority of meals she eats are prepared in 15 minutes or less, according to Toronto-based consumer and marketing firm, NPD Group.
• Is not interested in the Canadian Football League.
• Tells the truth on embarrassing poll questions.
• Has been in contact with a former love interest after the big break-up.
• Thinks she’s pulling more than her fair share at work.
• Is patriotic when it comes to protecting Arctic rights.
• Gives a blessing to mixed marriage.
• Uses about 100 kg of plastic a year.
• Watches an average of 28.8 hours a week of TV.
• That’s 1,500 hours of television every year.
• Which means a quarter of her life in front of TV.
• But the typical Canuck doesn’t have a TV in the bathroom — but 128,000 of their neighbors do.
• She’s likely not married — according to Stats Canada. But they consider those who are married but separated as single.
• Lives in a single detached house.
• Is more likely to live in a household without children.
• Forgets the words to the national anthem, but is still proud to stand when it’s played.
• Tunes into more American entertainment than Canadian.
• Thinks hockey is cool, though may not be a die-hard fan.
• Likely will vote in the next federal election.
• Uses Internet Explorer as a browser.
• Talks about the weather.
• Doesn’t wear shoes in the house.
• Spends almost twice as much time on the web as the average world inhabitant.
• Spends almost 12 full days a year traveling between work and home.
• Plans to lose a few pounds before spring.
• Doesn’t listen to music while at work.
• Didn’t put up a fuss when they took Canadian Idol off the air.
• Their body absorbs a total of about 9 millionths of a gram of mercury a day, according to the Canadian Dental Association.
• Has a passport.
• Is proud of being Canadian.
AND NOW...MEET JOE AVERAGE
If you haven’t been introduced, Canada’s Joe Average lives a quiet but colorful life on the west coast.
Inside his passport, it reads ‘Joe Average’.
Phonebook and mail slot as well.
A 53-year-old Vancouver man, Joe legally changed his name years ago, after he was diagnosed with HIV at 30 — dedicating his life to art so he’d never have any regrets of not trying it.
The former Brock Tebbutt wanted an AKA like other painters, but didn’t think — in a very Canadian way — he had the personality to pull off anything outlandish and wild.
After thumbing through copies of vintage Canadian lifestyle magazines found in an alley, he kept coming across ads — for milkmen and gas station attendants — featuring men that shared a typical look. They were the average Joes of their day.
“I said it backwards and thought, ‘That’s my name,” he recalls.
With a little Dyslexia, imagination and a $300 fee, ‘Joe Average’ was born — a moniker that has given him a certain celebrity and enough of a career to live happy.
“It’s been a good marketing tool,” he admits. “Most everyone calls me Joe.”
And as Joe Average he isn’t convinced he can now paint a portrait — far from the image they were selling in the 1950s — of one defining Canuck.
“The average person in each country,” Joe’s come to conclude; “ is looking more and more like the average person in the next country.”