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Tillie

okaree in canadian_yank

shoes

Canadians take off their shoes when they enter a house; Americans don't.

Is this generally true, or was I just raised in a barn?

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Many Americans do this as well, so I'm guessing barn ;-)

(It really does keep the floors much cleaner!)
It does! I can't stand wearing shoes inside when I visit my family. Think of the rugs!
I've found that it's more true in the country than in the city, and also more true in area's with bad weather.

It was always done when I lived in Michigan, hardly every out in Southern California
I think it's a reflection of the amount of road snarf we would track in if we didn't do so... at least that's what my American raised wife thinks.
There's the exact same discussion happening on Lonely Planet's Thorn Tree travel forums, here:
"TAKE 'EM OFF?"

There were 88 responses to that forum posting the last time I looked!
... and to elaborate, for those who don't want to browse through the posts, the general consensus was that Canadians always take off their shoes when enterting a home, while only some Americans do.
I'm originally from Denver Colo, and was in Albuquerque New Mexico for years, and people in neither city made a point of taking off their shoes.

My family has always done it, but my mother is German, and it is a very German thing to do.

For me it was a welcome surprise to find that folk in Canada take their shoes off.
Over the course of twenty-five years in the US, I lived in Pennsylvania, Colorado, Oregon, and Michigan, and I think I maybe encountered two or three hourseholds in which taking off shoes was the rule of the house. But I find it is customary procedure here in Toronto, widely regarded as the most American place in Canada.
I was raised in Houston, Texas, the fourth largest city in the US, and I only took off my shoes upon entering a house when visiting the homes of my japanese friends. Until I came to Canada. And here in Toronto and the suburbs, everyone does it!

I will gladly do it, and we both do it now when we visit my parents, but I never really had a problem with wearing shoes in the house. Sure, if they're dirty with THINGS falling off of them, take them off, but I never really worried about tracking in "cooties" even when living in NYC.
Also I'm going to go ahead and say that "that's what doormats are for." I know at home in the US I would have gotten in trouble for tracking in dirt or mud, but on days when weather is not an issue, wouldn't think twice about walking throughout the house in shoes, or walking into a friend's house in shoes. That's what "No shoes on the couch!!" rules are for -- people who are wearing shoes!! Taking your shoes off when you enter someone's house seems very intimate, like taking off clothing. It doesn't seem obvious to me to sit down and start unlacing shoes and pulling out your stinky socks (or worse, naked feet) when you've just come inside to pick someone up for the evening and are about to walk back out. It's not something I would do unless settling down for a while to get comfortable, or unless specifically asked to do so. I was at a little party recently, and was totally unprepared to take off my heels upon entering the residence. Sitting around in a nice skirt and bare feet is not my idea of being dressed up, more like my idea of being accomodating.
We just immigrated to Toronto from Denver where we never removed our shoes - here, it always happens. You will notice that even the utility company service people remove their shoes when they come into your house (unless you tell them it's okay to keep them on.) It's refreshing, actually.
Generally true, at least in my experience!
I was raised in PA and we had a shoes off in the foyer! rule for all my life. Then again my mom was crazy and got white carpetting when she had 3 kids running around :)
i always got the impression it was due to weather... grew up in California, hardly anyone takes off shoes immediately on enterting a house. moved to Montreal and with rain and snow for months on end, people always take off the shoes. then found it continued into summer as well, so i have no clue as to why :) but, most people/families i know here in Canada do take off their shoes upon coming in the door while in California the only people i knew that did that were a few Asian families in the neighborhood i lived in.
All the Canadians I know (in southern Ontario), except for a few who were all raised in the states, take off their outdoor footwear at the front door, side door, or in the mud room. With me, it's an unthinking habit/custom and I certainly bring in enough snow, water, dirt and sand that I wouldn't want to get it all through the house.
In my experience, Canadians take off their shoes, but Americans wipe their darn feet! I am constantly sweeping the front entry because people come in and just track stuff around and then take off their shoes. ARGAGAGAH. I honestly don't care what people decide to do with their shoes, but please wipe your feet first. For our house, we have a tiny entrance, but I got a bench to sit down on and a place for shoes, but I absolutely don't insist on it, though I really want a mat outside with "Wipe Your Damn Feet, Y'all" on it, instead of "Bless This House". With a smiley face, maybe.
I grew up taking my shoes off outside if they were dirty and wiping elsewise. And I had a Japanese friend down the street growing up in Atlanta, so I'm totally used to taking off shoes, but they gave me slippers to wear inside if I wanted. I don't like when people insist on me taking off my shoes when a) I have to do it standing up, b) their floor is dirty (and my socks are not!) or c) my shoes are as clean as my feet and will take me 5 minutes to unlace.

This is definitely one of the biggest differences I've noticed coming to Ottawa. The tyranny of offshoes, I call it.
Oh yeah, I didn't realize till now that a lot of places don't have wipe mats in front of them. That would explain how I manage to go up 4 flights of stairs and down the hall in the winter, and I still get mud, salt, and pebbles everywhere when I take off my shoes!
I've noticed most Canadians take their shoes off at the door. Americans usually look around to see what everyone else is doing, and usually end up keeping them on anyway, unless there's already a big pile of shoes. It seems to be something weird about the possibility that somebody might actually want to steal the shoes.

I was in one house, where they told me specifically to leave my shoes on. The cats were sick, and they didn't want me accidentally stepping in cat vomit with only my socks on.

Not sure if you were raised in a barn or not, but I always take/took my shoes off when I entered a home. Born and raised and lived for 28 years in MN.
Minnesotans are honourary Canadians, eh?
Yeah, pretty much! :)
It's an Indian custom to take your shoes off when entering someone's home, so we do that when it comes to family gatherings or visiting others originally from the subcontinent. Otherwise, I've never had to do it here nor there. The only exception is winter boots. We'd wipe our feet, then take off the boots to let them dry.

In school, during the winter, I'd usually keep a pair of sneakers in my locker or carry them in a bag to school. I'd wear the boots outside and the sneakers inside.

As for other seasons and other friends, I usually kept my shoes only if I wasn't wearing socks. It was for the sake of being polite. I didn't want to walk around in my bare feet because the floor would feel funny, but my socks were OK because they were always clean, never smelly. Most others wouldn't take their shoes off at all, but the hosts never seem to mind.

OMG shoes!

it's a debris thing, like most here have mentioned. And I think it's a very good custom...except when the home in question is chilly!