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What is a white Canadian called?

There are a few ways to refer to white Canadians depending on the context. In general, white Canadians are simply called Canadians if race or ethnicity isn’t specified. However, there are more nuanced terms that may be used as well.

Quick Answer

The most common terms for white Canadians are:

  • Canadian
  • Caucasian Canadian
  • European Canadian
  • Anglo-Canadian
  • Franco-Canadian (French descent)


The simplest and most common term is just “Canadian.” When race or ethnicity isn’t specified in a context, it’s generally assumed the person being referred to is white. This reflects the fact that white Canadians make up the majority of Canada’s population.

As of the 2016 Census, over 77% of Canadians identified their ethnic origins as European, while visible minorities make up less than 23% of the population. So in most cases, referring to someone simply as “Canadian” implies they are white.

Caucasian Canadian

“Caucasian Canadian” is a more technical term that specifies white racial identity. Caucasian generally refers to those of European descent. So this term makes it clear the person being referred to is white and Canadian.

This term may be used on forms or surveys where racial demographics are being tracked. It provides an unambiguous way of identifying white Canadians versus other racial groups.

European Canadian

“European Canadian” is often used interchangeably with Caucasian Canadian. It emphasizes the European ancestry of white Canadians.

The vast majority of white Canadians trace their ethnic origins to various European countries like England, France, Germany, Italy, etc. Referring to white Canadians as European Canadians reflects these European roots.


Anglo-Canadian refers more specifically to white Canadians of primarily English ancestry or heritage. This distinguishes them from Canadians who identify as French-Canadian.

The Anglo- prefix refers to the Anglosphere – countries that have historic ties to England such as Canada, the United States, Australia, etc. So Anglo-Canadian identifies white Canadians with English roots as opposed to French roots.


In contrast to Anglo-Canadians, Franco-Canadians are white Canadians with French ancestry, generally descended from the original French settlers of Canada in the 17th and 18th centuries.

About 21% of Canadians identify French as their mother tongue. Concentrated primarily in Quebec and parts of eastern Canada, Franco-Canadians are a major subset of white Canadians.

Other Potential Terms

Some other less common terms used for white Canadians may include:

  • Old Stock Canadian – Referring to white Canadians descended from the original European (British and French) settlers.
  • Native Canadian – Used to distinguish white Canadians from non-white immigrants.
  • Pure Laine – A French term used in Quebec to refer to those of pure French-Canadian ancestry. Often implying multi-generational Quebec families.
  • White French Canadian – More specifically identifying French-Canadians in contrast to non-white groups.

Context and Connotations

Some terms like “Old Stock Canadian” and “Pure Laine” carry implied connotations of being more “authentically Canadian” than non-white immigrants or minorities. They should be used carefully to avoid marginalizing diverse modern Canadians.

In general, neutral terms like “Canadian”, “Caucasian Canadian”, “European Canadian” or specifics like “English Canadian” or “French Canadian” are recommended when race and ethnicity need to be identified.

Regional Variations

Different terms may be more predominant regionally based on historic settlement patterns and demographics:

Region Common Terms
Western Canada Canadian, Anglo-Canadian
Ontario Canadian, Anglo-Canadian, Franco-Canadian
Quebec Franco-Canadian, French Canadian, Pure Laine
Atlantic Canada Canadian, Anglo-Canadian, Acadian (French descent)

So terms like Franco-Canadian and Pure Laine would be more commonly used in Quebec, while Anglo-Canadian would be more widely used in Western provinces for example.

Historical Usage

Going back historically, “English Canadian” and “French Canadian” were commonly used terms before Canadian confederation and nationalist identity emerged. Other archaic terms like “Canadien” referred specifically to descendants of the original French settlers.

As a Canadian national identity coalesced, “Canadian” became the preferred term over regional, linguistic or ethnic signifiers for white citizens.


In summary, white Canadians are most simply called Canadians. More specific terms like Anglo-Canadian, Franco-Canadian, Caucasian Canadian, or European Canadian may be used when ethnicity requires clarification. Regional terms also exist based on historic settlement patterns. But the consensus is to identify all Canadian citizens simply as Canadians wherever possible in an inclusive spirit.