Tuesday, January 18, 2005

Proud to be Canadian

Today I like: my country!

1. We take our liquor seriously!

"Canadian beer is like moonshine."
Okay, maybe not, but don't offer us a beer that's less than 6% - it's an insult; here, it's strictly for children and the elderly. Give me a nice two-four of the good stuff and we'll be all set. Actually, I prefer Crown Royal myself. We do whiskey right. Here it is legal to drink at 18 or 19, so we start at 12, and our elders put a lot of work into getting us ready for downing our first mickey. That way, when we get drunk out by the grain elevators we all have in our backyards, it's a pleasant and not too barfy experience.
And if you happen to be American, my grandparents probably sold liquor to your grandparents during the prohibition. No wonder we make it so well and can hold more liquor than countries 10 times our size!

2. We are a mosaic.

I think one of the biggest reasons why our country is so great is because of its diversity. Some countries have conversely been described as a 'melting pot' where all the new people coming in are encouraged to assimilate. Here, we encourage people to treasure their heritage and keep their individuality while at the same time being very inclusive.
"In a world darkened by ethnic conflicts that tear nations apart, Canada stands as a model of how people of different cultures can live and work together in peace, prosperity, and mutual respect."
U.S. President Bill Clinton

We're also really big on being bilingual. Most people don't speak both languages (French and English), but because of packaging on our favourite breakfast cereals, everyone at least knows both terms for fat-free, reduced-fat, and low-in-sugar!!

3. Gay marriage

I thank heavens that we can be reasonable about this. Love is not an accident, if you can find it, you deserve to keep it.
Brett Hull (yes, a hockey player) on SNL: "That's what happens in Canada when there's no hockey. Guys have more time to hang out, talk about their feelings, next thing you know they're in love with each other."

4. Poutine

Oh. My. Gawd. Don't even get me started! Fries with curds and gravy: what more could a girl want? Sooo delicious I can't even tell you, but most Canadians live a life-long quest to find the perfect poutine. Here, even McDonald's has it. Just try to remember that it is a french word, so if you pronounce it poo-teen, I will have a violent seizure.

5. Pretty Money

Foreigners compliment us on our pretty money all the time, and we like it too. Money, here, is like a work of art. The $5 is blue, the $10 is purple, the $20 is green, the $50 is pink. They have original Canadian artwork on them, and sometimes prose or poems (the $5 has a picture of children playing hockey, and an ode to a popular children's book called The Hockey Sweater.
And yes, we do use $1 and $2 coins, called the loonie and the twoonie. No one will be surprised when they announce the advent of the "fivie".

6. Health Care

On Sunday night, Homer Simpson crossed the border looking for free drugs. It's strange to me that anyone should pay to see a doctor, or stay in the hospital. My health has never depended on whether or not I could afford it. I've never had a very serious condition, but somehow I do have many emergency-type situations, and thank goodness you can just show up without a penny in your pocket, and receive treatment. In fact, in all my years, I have only once received a bill from the hospital. Want to know the one thing our government doesn't spring for? Neck braces. When I was in a car accident, I had to 'purchase' the brace; they sent the bill to me a couple of weeks later, and I didn't even know what to do with it. How do you even go about paying the hospital $17? Can you write them a cheque? Do they take interac, and if so, where the hell do you pay? Well, the bill just got sent to my car insurance company anyhow, so I never did discover the answer to those questions, and I'm glad of that.

7. Relaxed politicians

We don't expect our politicians to be perfect; they can make mistakes. We elect people amid scandals because apparently we're a very forgiving people, and also, we don't let those little trifles colour our judgement. We have openly gay members of Parliament, we've had a female Prime Minister, and we've had a slew of really nice people representing us. I know, I worked on Parliament Hill for a couple of summers, and while I was there, the current PM would go around with drinks and smiles (we miss you JC!), and a former one actually held a door open for me once. Humble folk,indeed. We rarely know (or care) about their religious affiliations, and if they are having sex, we don't want to know about it! Personal lives remain very personal. The most publicity a member of Parliament has lately received was the guy who stole a ring up for auction, apparently intended for his (gay) lover...he later gave it back, apologized, and took a leave of absence due to stress. And then we all (including the justice system, apparently) forgave him.
The thing I really love about Canada though, is that politicians are not so anxious about votes that they coddle their citizens. Lately, my province has launched a campaign to call several of their consituents 'stupid'. Their new ad campaign, www.stupid.ca, is aimed at smokers. Commercials declare that pouring chemicals on your breakfast cereal, or standing on a golf green with a lightning rod during a big storm is still less stupid than smoking. Man, I love this country.

8. The language

First off, I just think that the "british" way of spelling things looks a lot more polite. Canadian students are always 'correcting' their dumb textbooks by filling in all the missing u's...But let's face it, we may all speak English, but Canada does have a language all of it's own.
If I decide a toque is minty, I expect that other keeners will follow suit, and if not, they must be real hosers, eh? But in the end, we'll all head to out for some timbits or a two-four and be fast friends again.

hoser; unsophisticated friend
minty; cool
keener; someone who is eager and enthusiastic

However, the one things about Canadian language that is not true is the pronunciation of about. The only times I have ever heard it pronounced 'aboot' is in dumb American movies making fun of Canada. Where did they get that idea in the first place? And have they ever heard their own people talk? Look no further than NY or Boston for astonishing examples of the supposedly-english language.

9. Tim Hortons

Now, I don't even drink coffee, but if you grew up where I did, you know that this is a cultural institution. In a town of 40 000 people, we didn't have museums, and sometimes not even a movie theatre, but we did have 6-12 Tim Hortons, and then at least that many other coffee places. At Tim Horton's, they know how to spell doughnut correctly. You can go for 'a coffee' and stay for the timbits (um, donut holes to the rest of you, I think). Literally, it's where you go to spend time chatting with friends. There are more coffee/doughnut places here than anywhere else, and that takes dedication! Tim Horton's is the place to be; it's where you eventually take your date, it's where proposals take place, business deals go down, shoulders are cried on. We had 2 Tim Horton's inside our University campus, and the lines between classes were astronomical. Tim Horton's is where Canadians get their healing, and it goes for about $0.69 a cup.

10. The politeness factor

Sometimes, it's almost silly how careful and polite Canadians are. When 2 people bump into each other on the street, both will stop to see if the other is okay, both will apologize, blame themselves, shake hands, and probably exchange pleasantries about 'this darned weather we're having' before they part ways. In Canada, even the mosh pits are polite. They're intense, but no one will ever get crushed underfoot. If something happens, I've seen the entire audience participate in retrieval. The band will stop playing the song until things are okay, and then ask how the person is doing. It's cozy.

Our road signs all say please, or thank you, or both.


Kelsey said...

hmm... canada sounds nice. i'll have to visit there some day. and that pic of the sign was hilarious!

transience said...

i have a few relatives who live in toronto. reading your post makes me miss them. hilarious sign, btw. =D

amy said...

Jay, once again you prove that you're the most adorable blogger in the stratosphere. Having grown up not far from the Canadian border myself, I have to comment on a few things:

I still have loonies rattling around in my wallet.

Because of my adverse reaction to all things of a particular texture, I plan on tormenting you by saying "poo-teeen, pooooo-teeeeeen, pooooooooo-teeeeeeeeeen." Blech.

I've actually heard real Canadians say "a-boot." But then again, I've heard my husband's relatives (from Maine) say it too. Don't get me started on accents. In my next life, I'll be a linguist (and a cunning one at that - sorry, couldn't resist)!!

There is nothing like growing up with the three sacred donuts establishments: Tim Horton's and Dunkin' Donuts (ah, the joys of being in the U.S., but living so close to Canada), and Krispy Kreme (whose coffee is pas tres bon) for those visits to see the kinfolk in the South. Mmmm ... good stuff.

Another thing you may have forgotten (and this may just be something Tara and I adore) is CANADIAN TELEVISION. Where else could a girl grow up watching "Kids in the Hall?" before it landed on Comedy Central? And those cheesy high school dramas ... and and CURLING ... I watched CURLING! And more Sesame Street than should be allowed (Toledo, Ohio stations, Detroit stations, and Canadian stations ... so much public television!)!!

Ok ... this was a long-ass response. Rock on, Jay!

Rimmy said...

Heh. I used to blast past that sign all the time on my roller blades, and in the summertime it was rare to not see people lining up to take each others' pictures in front of it. :)

I've wondered about the a-boot thing too. A story:

Several years ago I went for a walk. I walked from the Okanagan (southern BC, about in the middle) and headed south. Crossed the border and just kept walking. After six days I was in Wenatchee (possibly spelled wrong) and I spent the night in a Sally Ann (Salvation Army for those of you who don't use the slang).

The woman who was the administer for the place was utterly charmed by my "accent". I couldn't tell that she was speaking any differently from me, but apparently it came out. Possibly because I said "eh" a few times, possibly because I said mum instead of mom, or possibly because I said please and thank you more than she was used to.

I spend a fair thwack of the night fielding questions from her like "What's the difference between a kill-aw-meter and a keelo-meter?", and explaining that even though I have in fact dog-sledded, it's not a typical means of transportation for most people.

And no, for the hundredth time, I do NOT have any weed on me. :P

Jay said...

Aww,you don't? Crap. I was hoping you'd be holding. You know what they say about the weed in B.C.

Amy, you big bully...or,little bully. Meany! Whatever. I loves me poutine!

If any Canadian has ever said aboot, they were perhaps southern-Ontarians, who make up about 1/800th of the population. Most of us have never heard it.

I've been to Dunkin' Donuts once, our town had it briefly in the 90s. I don't even think it stayed open a month. People didn't take kindly to it. I've never had a KrispyKreme, though several episodes of SATC have convinced me I should crave them anyway. Any place that doesn't offer excellent but cheap coffee just doesn't stand a chance here.

And no, I did not forget about Canadian TV, it's just that I had already written a whole post about it some time ago:

It's mostly about a new TV show I've been loving this season, Corner Gas, which I wish you guys could all see, because it's adorably Canadian.

To Trans and Kelsey, that sign is by no means unique. That one is found in Vancouver B.C. but funnier signs can be found through the country. I think I need to take a trip just to take pictures of them all...except that it would take a good 2 weeks to actually do it.

Woody said...

Two summers ago I purchased a Subway Sandwich at the Meteor Crater in Winslow, Arizona. I gave the lady behind the counter exact change, but in that change was a Canadian Quarter. She questioned me as to what kind of coin that was and I told her that it was one of those commemorative quarters - you know the one for Canada, the 51st State? She nodded, said OK, and threw it in the till with the rest of the coins....

I've lived on the American side of the Canadian Border for about 25 years, and both our kids were born in Fort Frances, Ontario because local doctors were indisposed when my wife was pregnant with the first. Might end up moving over there. - woody.

citygurl said...

I love canadians! I mean, come on, anyone who takes their liquor seriously is quite all right in my book.

Harry said...

Now I see why I always wanted me a couple of Canadians. I knew they were minty, but just didn't know the right word to use.

Only Canunk I ever met in real life (where do they keep you guys, anyway?) said two words I thought odd: Stocks for socks, and Whowers for whores. And no, I never borowed either.

Loved the sign!

Jay said...

Not whowers, hoors!!
(not that I know anything about it, of course)

random-girl said...

I'm proud to say that I've been to Canada once though sadly just for a few days, and even more sad, on a business trip so I spent most of the time doing work.

I would like to add one of my favourite sayings:

Alcohol is the root of evil. Buy me a drink, I'm a wicked root.Cheers.

BeckyBumbleFuck said...

The language conversions were a hoot! The sign, adorable. But really I didn't *need* any extra incentives to migrate North; I'd already decided that your political environment was just what I wanted...especially the part about keeping religion out of it. It really helps that you don't have a dumb-ass for your president (OK, prime minister), too.
Oh, and there's some Canadian bands that could boost your list, as well.
Blog-on, sister. You're my fav, right now. And I've never met you. Very odd.

weenie said...

Hi, thanks for stopping by my blog. Hey, sometimes I think Lancashire is a fictional place, but then I wake up from my dream and find that unfortunately, it's all REAL! ;) Canada is on my list of "to visit" countries - your descriptions and anecdotes have made me move it closer to the top of the list! Great blog!

hyphenated L said...

ooh! must visit..

Shane said...

It is decided.
I'm moving to Canada.
I think J you will be responsible for the next surge in Canadian property prices - whose payroll are you on?

Kelly said...

for those reasons, and many others, i am so proud to be canadian.

a note on poutine [pronounced puts-in. it's good enough to puts-in your mouth]: travel far and wide in this country, and you will discover the best poutines are in eastern ontario, and better still, quebec. many often try to imitate the real poutine, but lack the fresh cut potatoes, real cheese curds [St. Albert's is by far the greatest], and the right gravy. even in toronto they do not know the fine art of poutine making. all this talk of poutine makes me miss home.

our mosaic, our country. an excellent point, jamie!

now let's grab a beer, order a poutine and do what we do best in canada... watch american television.

JeN said...

I like the country too : )
And, I live in Southern Ontario and have never heard anyone say "aboot" (unless they said it on purpose).
You also gave me a craving for poutine. So gross and yet so good!
I can't pronounce anything written in French (like "poutine", "bouquet" or "ensemble") without a French accent. Damn you bilingualism!

And I hate it when people pronounce "Moulin Rouge" like "Mulan Roudge"... ARG!

Jay said...

Kel, you are absolutely right about the geographical goodness of poutine...and as for the St Alberts cheese, my grandmother mails my uncle in B.C. that very cheese twice a year!!

and JeN, you read my mind: the thing with Moulin Rouge being massacred by bad accents has been killing me for years!

Monica said...

Yes I say POOOO TEEN , I am from New York, (how do you say it???) I went to Montreal 14 years ago and I still have a can of St. Hubert Poutine unopened.....

I love the U's in words Colour, ahh it looks nice-but this is the way it was when I was born...

other languages?? all my friends speak other languages, italian, spanish, chinese, yugoslavian, russian, I wish I knew another language, spanish is everywhere , but I dont want to learn that......

Healthcare..sucks here, thanks to our WONDERFUL president & government(hey man, I didnt vote for HIM!!) I have no healthcare at the moment and if I get sick , Im screwed!!!

Gay Marriage-Im all for it! thank goodness Im not from MIDDLE AMERICA, they scare me sometimes....

I want to see this Tim Hortons place , we need one.....

ALOT of my favourite(!) actors and comedians are from Canada, and a fellow co worker was from there who I admired(he said ay, ay, ay, all day), and BNL my boys!

But in New Yawk here-all of the accents are different from on section to another, Queens is different from Bronx and Brooklyn and Long Island Is different all over the island, Manhattan is different all around

I happen to have the Lawn Guyland accent which I dry to disguise, but when I have a drink or 2 I am waulking the dawg and hangin with my mutha and fatha,
Im hungry.. Jeet yet? No didnt jeet, lets go get a burger!
also if the actor or actress is NOT from NY they CANT do the accent right, they mess it up!!! you have to be from here, out acccents here are like the Sopranos, yes sounds low class and from the gutter but this is where Im from!!!

and in NY there is just alot of rude people, many nice, but alot more rude...we were only polite for a bit after 911, then it was all downhill from there.......

Jay said...

Oh, gonna insult my Shania Twain, eh? :P Well Canada sucks. I'd never live in Canada, except for the lumberjacks. I think I'll BE a lumberjack someday.

Brandie said...

I have passed the beer prayer on to everyone I know. I love it! I wanna be a Canuck!

Jay said...

Monica, you are a hoot...as always.

And Brandie,I do think we're taking applications, we have 2 available spots, so if you can sing the theme from hockey night in canada while log rolling, you're in.

And to clear up any confusion, the Jay who posted above is an imposter...well,okay not an imposter, just a fellow also named Jay, the rest are legitimate me. :)

Jay said...

Hmmm.... Should have clarified that. Apologies.

Jay # 2

Calaloola said...

I'll have to keep my reply brief. I have to call my friendly travel agent and enquire about the price of a one way ticket to Canad-i-a...

People often draw a lot of comparisons between Australia and Canada. I know that Aussies love Canada -- when I was there I met more Australians that Canadians some days! -- and we both have pretty money with poetry on it (is yours plastic and machine washable too?) and fairly liberal cultures (rolling a joint at a reggae club in Vancouver, for example, is as easy as sucking on a bong near St Kilda Pier, Melbourne: in both places its technically illegal, but tolerated and altho I'm not much of a toker myself, I like that its ok to toke). But there, I'm afraid, the similarities end. Out healthcare system is abysmal compared to yours and seeks to emulate America's exhorbitant prove-you-can-pay-or-go-bleed-outside-please system more and more each year. Gay marriage is a long way away from being legislated here (altho as one MP pointed out we have laws in place which treat de facto relationships almost akin to marriage, thus including gay couples in a way which is apparently not possible in the US). But essentially our entire history is that of a paranoid exclusivist colony and its a history that plagues us to the day. We are multi-cultural but have a disturbing racist streak. We imprison Arab and Asian refugees -- including children -- for years an end and put the onus of proof on them. And that's just the tip of the iceberg. Carlo Goldini said, "a wise traveller never despises his own country" -- apart from being sexist I'm pretty sure that Goldini was a dickwit. Or else not from Australia. Lord knows that while I love some things about living here, I don't love my country.

Jay said...

It's too bad to live in a place that you don't feel 100% welcome in. But keep in mind you guys do have one major advantage over both Canada and the US: your dead sexy accents. My friend Rhys has such a sexy timber, I can never understand why he doesn't have women just falling all over him. And then I remember that he lives in Australia, where the accent is pretty common...he needs to move here, where he would be an overnight succcess!

Tara said...

Amy emailed me to make sure I read this blog and now I can see why. I love, love, love Canada! LOVE IT! All my friends know that I want to live there someday. In fact i have a blog in the workings that is Canadian related (so be on the look out).

Great post Jay :)