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This article is about the slang term for people from Canada. For the NHL hockey team, see Vancouver Canucks. For the jet fighter, see CF-100 Canuck. For other uses, see Canuck (disambiguation).

"Canuck" /kəˈnʌk/ is a slang term for a Canadian. The origins of the word are uncertain.[1] The term "Kanuck" is first recorded in 1835 as an Americanism (American term), originally referring to a Dutch Canadian or French Canadian.[1][2] By the 1850s the spelling with a "C" became predominant.[1] Today, Canadians and other countries use "Canuck" as a term for any Canadian.[1][3] Although its etymology is unclear,[1] possible origins include:

Usage and examples[edit]

Canadians use "Canuck" as an affectionate or merely descriptive term for their nationality. It is not considered derogatory in Canada.[5]

If familiar with the term, most citizens of other nations, including the United States, also use it affectionately, though there are individuals who may use it as derogatory term.

Usage of the term includes:

  • The Vancouver Canucks professional ice hockey team, with their former goaltender, Roberto Luongo, having a depiction of Johnny Canuck on his goalie mask.[6]
  • Johnny Canuck, a personification of Canada who appeared in early political cartoons of the 1860s resisting Uncle Sam's bullying. Johnny Canuck was revived in 1942 by Leo Bachle to defend Canada against the Nazis. The Vancouver Canucks have adopted a personification of Johnny Canuck on their alternate hockey sweater.
  • As the historical nickname for two Canadian-built aircraft from the 20th century: the Curtiss JN-4C training biplane, with some 1,260 airframes built; and Avro CF-100 jet fighter. The CF-100 was the only Canadian-designed and built jet fighter to enter operational service. From 1950–1958, 692 CF-100 Canucks were built. They remained in service until 1981.
  • One of the first uses of "Canuck" — in the form of "Kanuk" — specifically referred to Dutch Canadians as well as the French.
  • The Canada national rugby union team (men's) is officially nicknamed "Canucks".
  • The Canucks rugby Club, playing in Calgary since 1968.
  • The Crazy Canucks, Canadian alpine ski racers who competed successfully on the World Cup circuit in the '70s.
  • In 1975 in comics by Richard Comely, Captain Canuck is a super-agent for Canadians' security, with Redcoat and Kebec being his sidekicks. (Kebec is claimed to be unrelated to Capitaine Kébec of a French-Canadian comic published two years earlier.) Captain Canuck had enhanced strength and endurance thanks to being bathed in alien rays during a camping trip. The captain was reintroduced in the mid-1990s, and again in 2004.
  • Operation Canuck was the designated name of a British SAS raid led by a Canadian captain, Buck McDonald in January 1945.
  • "Canuck" also has the derived meanings of a Canadian pony (rare) and a French-Canadian patois[7] (very rare).
  • Soviet Canuckistan was an insult used by Pat Buchanan in response to Canada's reaction to racial profiling by US Customs agents.
  • During the Vancouver 2010 Olympics official Canadian Olympic gear bore the term.
  • The Canuck letter became a focal point during the US 1972 Democratic primaries, when a letter published in the Manchester Union Leader implied Democratic contender Senator Edmund Muskie was prejudiced against French-Canadians. Soon, as a result, he ended his campaign. The letter was later discovered to have been written by the Nixon campaign in an attempt to sabotage Muskie.
  • The Marvel Comics character Wolverine is often referred to affectionately as "the Ol' Canuklehead" due to his Canadian heritage.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e Orkin, Mark M. (2015). Speaking Canadian English: An Informal Account of the English Language in Canada. Taylor & Francis. p. 175. ISBN 978-1-317-43632-4. 
  2. ^ Leiden University
  3. ^ Random House
  4. ^ Random House Dictionary
  5. ^ Cheng, Pang Guek; Barlas, Robert (2009). CultureShock! Canada: A Survival Guide to Customs and Etiquette. Marshall Cavendish International Asia Pte Ltd. pp. 262–. ISBN 978-981-4435-31-4. 
  6. ^ Johnny Canuck
  7. ^ The Oxford Companion To The English Language

External links[edit]