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Parkas, Maple Syrup and a Cold One – Canadians Pick Their Favourites

Toronto, June 27, 2006 – Canadians have selected beer as the most priceless national beverage and maple syrup as the country’s top food. The Canadian flag is the most priceless symbol, however the country is divided over whether parkas or toques are the most distinctly Canadian clothing; this according to newly released findings from MasterCard Canada’s 2006 Priceless Index™, a barometer of Canadian patriotism.

“Canada Day is our chance to reflect on the qualities of our life that make us proud citizens of this great country,” said Jennifer Reed, Vice President, Public Affairs, MasterCard Canada. “The 2006 Priceless Index acts as a roadmap to what Canadians hold most dear, both socially and culturally.”

Happy Birthday Canada!

According to the 2006 Priceless Index, one in three Canadians (33%) say the most priceless way to celebrate Canada Day is with family, friends, and neighbours.

  • Lighting up the sky! Fireworks are a popular choice to ring in Canada’s birthday, with one in five (20%) planning to celebrate with fireworks.
  • What better way to celebrate than in our nation’s capital? Eleven per cent of Canadians think spending the day in Ottawa for Parliament Hill festivities is the most priceless way to celebrate Canada Day.
  • Alfresco dining was top choice for another nine per cent, who preferred an outdoor picnic or barbecue.

Red on the outside, white on the inside, with a maple leaf in the centre… Priceless

Of all the icons that evoke national pride, more than one in four (28%) selected the Canadian flag as the most priceless national symbol.

  • The Charter of Rights and Freedoms was a close second, with 27 per cent of Canadians identifying it as our most priceless national symbol followed by Medicare (24%).
  • Respondents in Atlantic Canada (28%) and Manitoba and Saskatchewan (32%) ranked Medicare first.
  • In Quebec, Canadians ranked the Charter of Rights and Freedoms first (32%).

Beers all around

It’s the one thing we Canadians can agree on hands down: all across the country, beer was selected as the most priceless Canadian drink, with more than half (56%) of those surveyed reaching for a cold one. Rye was a distant second with eight per cent.

Priceless Canadian cuisine: beef and poutine with maple syrup on the side

We have our own distinctly Canadian food and we’re proud of it. Maple syrup topped the list across Canada, with almost one in five (19%) choosing this versatile sweetener as the most distinctly Canadian food; beef/steak placed second (11%) and poutine a close third (10%). Regionally, we tend to select cuisine that’s close to home:

  • As the world’s largest producer of maple syrup, it’s no surprise respondents from Quebec ranked maple syrup the most priceless (35%).
  • Similarly, as Canada’s leading cattle and beef producer, Alberta residents ranked beef/steak the most priceless Canadian food (24%).
  • Further west, many British Columbians (17%) chose salmon.
  • Or how about some lobster? In Atlantic Canada a catch of lobster is most priceless (18%).

Dress code: the Canadian collection

The 2006 Priceless Index asked Canadians to name the most uniquely Canadian clothing. In a heated contest, the parka came out on top (21%) followed closely by its rival, the toque (20%).

  • Respondents nationwide picked jeans/denim as their third favourite (10%) item of Canadiana clothing.
  • Almost one in four Quebecers (23%) picked the parka as their top choice.
  • Western Canadians love the toque, with respondents from Manitoba and Saskatchewan (31%), Alberta (30%), and British Columbia (25%) all ranking it first.
  • Ontarians (22%) and Maritimers (20%) also picked the toque as the most unique Canadian clothing item.

Near, far, wherever you are… Canadians love Celine

Despite living in Las Vegas, Canadians still revere songstress Celine Dion, as the singer was named most often (12%) as the most priceless Canadian star, followed by Jim Carrey (5%), Michael J. Fox (4%), and the late John Candy (4%).

  • Quebec is loud and proud of their homegrown talent! A generous 44 per cent of respondents voted Celine Dion as the most priceless Canadian star.
  • In Atlantic Canada (5%), Ontario (8%), and Manitoba and Saskatchewan (5%), Jim Carrey was considered most priceless.
  • Albertans (9%) and British Columbians (7%) selected Michael J. Fox above all others.

Literary stars and legends

Canada is world renowned for its literary talent, and the 2006 Priceless Index ranked Margaret Atwood and Pierre Berton as the top Canadian authors (10% each). Farley Mowat came in third (5%).

  • The literary battle of the sexes: nationally, women picked Margaret Atwood (12%), while men chose Pierre Berton (12%) as the most priceless Canadian author.
  • In Quebec, Michel Tremblay ranked first (16%).
  • In Ontario (15%), Manitoba and Saskatchewan (11%), and Atlantic Canada (10%), Margaret Atwood was voted the most priceless Canadian author, while British Columbians (16%) and Albertans (14%) prefer Pierre Berton.

Oh the good ole hockey game... Er… Beneath this snowy mantle cold and clean…

Canadians were hard pressed trying to choose the most priceless Canadian song (excluding “O Canada”). Nationwide, they couldn’t decide between top ranking Stompin’ Tom Connors’ Hockey Song and Anne Murray’s 1970 hit Snowbird (5% each).

Other popular Canadian songs include This Land is Our Land, The Maple Leaf Forever and The Wreck of Edmund Fitzgerald. The three classics tied for third place (3% each).

“Canadians were unanimous on certain staples, like food and drink, yet opinions vary dramatically when it comes to music or icons of pop culture,” says Reed. “From unique local flavours to deep national pride, the 2006 Priceless Index shows we clearly know who we are and where we stand come Canada Day.”

Neighbourly collaboration

Sixteen per cent of Canadians chose free trade / NAFTA as the greatest joint Canadian-American achievement, followed by the longest undefended border in the world (10%).

  • Other valued achievements in co-operation were the space station (7%), our alliance in previous World Wars (5%), and the overall friendship and peace between Canada and the U.S. (4%).
  • In British Columbia (16%) and Manitoba and Saskatchewan (12%) the longest undefended border in the world was seen as the greatest joint Canadian-American achievement.

Daylight Saving Time: go / no go

In the U.S., Extended Daylight Saving Time comes into effect under the Energy Policy Act in March 2007. An overwhelming 63% of Canadians agreed we should follow suit and extend Daylight Saving Time in Canada by four weeks. Respondents in Manitoba and Saskatchewan were on the fence with 47% voting yes and 47% voting no, since neither province has Daylight Saving Time.

About the survey

The Priceless Index is a national survey carried out regularly by MasterCard. This national survey of 2,006 Canadians 18 years of age and over was carried out by telephone between April 17 and May 4, 2006 by Environics Research Group on behalf of MasterCard Canada. Results to a survey of this size can be considered accurate to within plus or minus 2.2 percentage points, 19 times out of 20.

About MasterCard International

MasterCard International (NYSE:MA) advances global commerce by providing a critical link among financial institutions and millions of businesses, cardholders and merchants worldwide. Through the company's roles as a franchisor, processor and advisor, MasterCard develops and markets secure, convenient and rewarding payment solutions, seamlessly processes more than 16 billion payments each year, and provides industry-leading analysis and consulting services that drive business growth for its banking customers and merchants. With more than one billion cards issued through its family of brands, including MasterCard®, Maestro® and Cirrus®, MasterCard serves consumers and businesses in more than 210 countries and territories, and is a partner to 25,000 of the world's leading financial institutions. With more than 24 million acceptance locations worldwide, no payment card is more widely accepted than MasterCard. For more information go to

Note to editors: Regional results are available.