Canadian Contractor

Steve Maxwell   

Why Canadian contractors are the toughest on the planet

Maybe it's because the country has descended from people who, until recently, were living in pretty primitive conditions. Whatever, Canadian contractors are tough as nails.

In February I was at a tool show, and an opinion I’ve long held about Canadian contractors was confirmed with a story I heard. The event was held by Stanley Black & Decker, and those of us in the media were seeing some of their new tools for the first time. As this was going on, I got chatting to a well-known TV contractor. Originally from small-town Ontario, he mentioned that he often does filming for his show outside of Canada. When I asked him about that, he brought up a point that I’d heard from other Canadian contractors who have worked abroad.

“Wherever we go outside Canada and build,” he said, “their contractors are surprised at the pace we set. We build all our own stuff for the show, and we work just like we do in Canada: 12 hour days – or longer – in all weather, moving fast, getting lots of stuff done. Canadian contractors are often way different than many you’ll find in other places. We’re used to working hard in nasty, winter conditions, and that makes everything else seem easy.”

I’ve noticed the hands-on nature of Canadians in general, and it goes beyond just the toughness of our contractors to the culture itself. Ever been to Europe? Most homeowners there are no more likely to tackle home improvements than they are to do their own dental work. Have you ever talked to someone from South America about the amateur woodworking scene south of the equator? They’ve never heard of such a thing. Even our TV entertainment includes hands-on construction dramas that could only connect with an audience that has at least some small sense of what it means to build.

I’m not sure why Canada has a culture that breeds tough contractors, but I have a theory. Could it have something to do with the fact that many of us are no more than three or four generations from ancestors who cut firewood by hand to stop from freezing to death, farmed under primitive conditions, and either built things, fixed things or did without?

Now, unfortunately, we seem to be producing a new generation of Canadians who seem more interested in thumbing on their smart phones rather than getting outside and tackling wet, cold, tiring outdoor challenges, So I’m not entirely sure Canada will keep producing great contractors. But for now, at least, we can be proud to come from a nation that breeds some of the world’s hardest working, most hands-on, most get-it-done-no-matter-what contractors anywhere.



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